Gilberto Ramirez embarrassed himself the last time he was in the spotlight.
The former 168-pound titleholder was scheduled to face veteran Gabriel Rosado in a 175-pound bout in March, his first fight since he was outpointed by titleholder Dmitry Bivol in November, but he came in a whopping 7.6 pounds overweight and the fight was canceled.
The misstep reflected poorly on the 6-foot-2½-inch Mexican but it also told him what he must do: move up to 200 pounds.
Ramirez (44-1, 30 KOs) is scheduled to face former 175-pound titleholder Joe Smith Jr. in the debut of both men as full-fledged cruiserweights Saturday in Las Vegas (DAZN). Weight shouldn’t be a problem.
“This fight marks my move up to the cruiserweight division,” Ramirez said, per BoxingScene.com. “This decision is based on a combination of factors that my team and I carefully considered.
“One of the main reasons is my natural growth and development as an athlete. As I’ve progressed during my career, I’ve gained muscle mass and strength, making it more suitable for me to compete in the cruiserweight division.
He went on: “We believe that this move will provide exciting new challenges and opportunities for me. The cruiserweight division is known for its competitive and diverse talent pool, and I’m eager to test my skills against opponents with different styles and strengths.
“This transition also aligns with my long-term goals in the sport, and I’m confident that I’ll be able to make a positive impact in this new weight class. I’ve worked closely with my coaches and trainers to ensure a smooth transition in terms of training, strategy, and overall preparation.
“While it is a new chapter in my career, I’m embracing the change and looking forward to proving myself at cruiserweight.”
Ramirez wanted to face a big-name opponent in his 200-pound debut to shorten his path to a title shot.
Smith (28-4, 22 KOs) is coming off a second-round knockout loss to Artur Beterbiev in a 175-pound title-unification clash in June of last year, which cost the New Yorker his belt.
“I have nothing but respect for Joe,” Ramirez said. “He is a hard hitter and former world champion. But when I made this move to cruiserweight, I specifically asked my promoter for the toughest guys in the division to create a path to a world title fight.
“I’m a fighter, and there has never been a fight I’ve dodged or turned down in my career and this is no different. Of course, any fight at this level will definitely shape the future and the next possible steps.
“I know how hard the stakes are and I want to prove to myself that I can be a world champion in this division.”