Another year's under way as is the continued professional march of Valley boxer Jose Ramirez, who by summer may be back to fight in front of a hometown audience.
The Avenal native and 2012 U.S. Olympian put together some early combinations and later landed a left hook to the jaw that sent Javier Perez to the canvas in the first round of their fight Saturday night before 5,000 at Laredo Energy Arena in Texas.
Referee Jon Schorl signaled the end of the fight -- Ramirez's first of 2014 -- at 2:36.
Later Saturday night, the boxer's representatives said they're eyeing a major fight this summer at the Save Mart Center. Top Rank director of public relations Lee Samuels confirmed the promotions company has begun preliminary talks.
"We're a big arena company," Samuels said. "It's already being discussed in the offices and with (Ramirez agent/promoter Rick) Mirigian."
Ramirez keeps doing his part, adding to his impressive string of victories to open his pro career.
"I felt good," Ramirez said. "My strength and conditioning really paid off. Now I'm able to see my power. My body is getting stronger and really developing in a way that I didn't think it was going to develop."
That was bad news for Perez, who last fought in 2012 against 2008 Olympic gold medalist Felix Diaz -- a fight that went the distance but saw Perez lose a unanimous decision.
Ramirez started fast from the bell Saturday, trapping Perez in the corner and landing a flurry of punches. Perez slipped away, but not for long.
"He thought he was going to smother me by going too low," Ramirez said. "He also thought my body would go over my punches, but I didn't. I kept my distance and I was able throw my combinations from there."
Fans mobbed Ramirez as he went down the steps after an interview, Samuels said.
"It was something to see," he said. "First time I've actually seen that. He made a statement tonight. He's still very young but on his way."
Samuels said Top Rank's executive matchmaker Brad Goodman was surprised that Ramirez ended the fight quickly against a more seasoned pro.
"He expected the fight to go two or three rounds," Samuels said.
"Ramirez made quick work of his toughest opponent to date," Mirigian said. "He's the future of the sport. He was very calm and very cerebral in the ring. He was very composed and just like a cobra picking the right moment, and that was it."
Ramirez said he was pleased with how his fight went and that he kept to his plan by staying patent after the initial foray.
"Sometimes you've got to be patient," he said. "Keep your range and pinpoint your shots better."
Ramirez, 8-0 with six KOs, next will be featured March 29 as part of a Solo Boxeo series card in Las Vegas.
Perez fell to 8-7.
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