Jose Ramirez has had this goal since his days as an amateur boxer: fight for a world title.
It’s a step away.
Ramirez (20-0, 15 knockouts) meets Mike Reed (23-0, 12 KOs) Saturday night at the Save Mart Center in a scheduled 10-round super lightweight bout to be aired on ESPN. The winner is expected to get a shot at the vacant WBC title against Amir Imam, who’s also on Saturday’s card.
Ramirez has followed the same virtual road from Avenal as that of Terence Crawford – and all Crawford did was win all four major world title belts in the 140-pound division.
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Crawford’s fan base grew each time he fought, especially four times in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.
Now that Crawford has moved up to 147s, could Ramirez be the next Top Rank fighter to become a superstar with a big hometown fan base? Ramirez’s last two fights at the Save Mart Center drew 13,100 and 13,700 in 2015 and ’16, respectively.
“The key to that is getting boxing fans to become your fans,” Ramirez says. “Fans that have never saw boxing or fans that have never cheered on other fighters … they believe in you and start following your career, then you become the best fighter in the whole world for them. Those type of people will follow you wherever you go and that is something that I’m blessed to have. Crawford has that, too.”
Ramirez comes from a farming family and earned the support of the Latino Water Coalition early on; Saturday night is Fight for Water 7 as Ramirez works to bring awareness to immigration and farm water issues.
That kind of social awareness stands out to Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum, who sees similarities between Ramirez and Crawford but says, “difference is, in Terrence’s case, there aren’t large social issues and political issues that are connected to his fights in Omaha.
“They are great crowds and everything, but with Jose it’s a double-barrel. Big crowds in Fresno, but also the ability to air very significant issues that are very important to this community.”
Ramirez says, “That’s what a smart promoter does. Have their fighters create a platform from where they come from, so one day when they’re getting bigger and end up fighting in Vegas, they got a platform to fall back on and fans are going to follow you no matter where you go.”
Rick Mirigian has been by Ramirez’s side since 2010 when a close friend, Pete Lopes, insisted that Mirigian take a look at the rising amateur. Mirigian was a concert promoter at the time but quickly shifted gears.
“I drove to Avenal and saw a close-knit family, hard-working, 3.8 student, humble and soft-spoken kid,” Mirigian says.
Mirigian and Ramirez began building the path to Saturday night at the Save Mart Center early on, including a spot on the 2012 U.S. Olympic team. He made his pro debut that same year, in Las Vegas.
It took 11 months before Ramirez was fighting in front of family and friends at West Hills-Lemoore Golden Eagles Arena for the first time. He’s been back five more times between Selland Arena and Save Mart Center in a career that so far has seen him go to places as varied as Macao, the southwest U.S. and Southern California.
Fight for Water 7
Bouts at Save Mart Center for Nov. 11, 2017 to begin at 4:30 p.m.
Also on the card:
Welterweight (8 rounds): Juan Ruiz (20-0, 12 KOs) vs. Alexander Besputin (7-0, 5 KOs)
Super featherweight (10 rounds): Andy Vences (19-0, 11 KOs) vs. TBA
Super lightweight (8 rounds): Maxim Dadashev (8-0, 7 KOs) vs. Clarence Booth (15-3, 8 KOs)
Super lightweight (8 rounds): Arnold Barboza Jr. (17-0, 6 KOs) vs. Dario Ferman (14-3, 11 KOs)
Featherweight (6 rounds): Vislan Dalkhave (9-0, 2 KOs) vs. Fernando Fuentes (13-7-1, 4 KOs)
Middleweight (6 rounds): Quilisto Madera (7-0, 4 KOs) vs. Even Torres (6-5, 5 KOs)
Lightweight (4 rounds): Bryan Lua (1-0) vs. TBA
Tickets: $33-$150 at the Save Mart Center box office and select Save Mart Supermarkets or www.ticketmaster.com