Jose Ramirez can finally make plans for this summer. The Avenal boxer is headed to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Following a multi-year odyssey through USA Boxing's often-confusing and convoluted qualifying process, Ramirez finally punched his ticket to the Olympics with a quarterfinal victory Wednesday at the AIBA Americas Qualifying Event in Rio de Janeiro.
Ramirez, 19, defeated Alejandro Rynn of Canada with a score of 23-11 in their lightweight bout. Rynn took a standing-8 count in the first round and two more in the third.
"My family, loved ones, and determination to make my dream come through got me here," Ramirez said in a statement emailed from his business adviser, Rick Mirigian.
"I feel amazing; I can't describe it. I'm still in shock and feel like I can win it all out here."
Ramirez, who next fights in Friday's semifinals, needed two victories in Brazil to earn a spot on the U.S. squad for the London Games. He defeated Michael Alexander of Trinidad & Tobago on Monday.
Ramirez won the lightweight division at the U.S. Olympic Boxing Trials in August but still had to place at an international qualifying tournament for a spot in the Games after losing last October in the first round of the World Championships.
Ramirez then had to re-earn his spot as America's 132-pound contender by winning at the USA Boxing National Championships in March. After winning that competition, he earned a spot in this week's last-chance qualifier.
"This story is one of the best in boxing at any level during any time," Mirigian said. "You will read about it or watch it on the big screen some day. It's what dreams are made of."