•Jose Ramirez, in what many said was the toughest test of his young pro boxing career, scored a fifth-round KO of Denver’s Rob Frankel.
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•A seven-bout card drew a crowd of 8,640 to Selland Arena.
Jose Ramirez stared boxing’s memorial service in the face, humbled yet another foe, blew the roof off Selland Arena before a sellout crowd and remained unbeaten Saturday night.
The 22-year-old Olympian from Avenal not only opposed a fighter 12 years his senior, Denver’s Rob Frankel, he opposed a foe with 36 more professional fights.
And yet Ramirez, in the “toughest test he has faced,” according to Top Rank CEO Bob Arum — who was present in the 49-year-old downtown house on Ventura Avenue, undeniably validating the bout and the rising star — rocked Frankel with a left hook midway through the first round, launching a continuous battering and chase that ended with the southpaw’s signature hook into the ribs 2 minutes, 18 seconds into the fifth round while improving to 14-0.
This is all Ramirez can do now, ignore the doom and gloom forecasts and plow forward — ultimately, Arum said in the ring afterward, “to a world championship.”
Saturday’s fight, before a crowd of 8,640, came a week after the industry’s epic-turned-embarrassment — Pacquiao vs. Mayweather — spun dreadful reviews from most, notably the sports reporting’s preeminent Sports Illustrated: “If this was,” the magazine reported this past week, “as it had been billed: ‘The Fight of the Century,’ then boxing fans can look forward to 85 years of disappointment.”
If that, in fact, was boxing’s obituary, where, then, does that leave Ramirez, the son of a Central Valley farm laborer?
“Boxing’s far from over,” he said after his blood-dripping white gloves were removed in the ring. “There will always be criticism, but it motivates, not just me but all the prospects and contenders coming up to go hard, train hard and perform well. I’m thankful to be a part of this amazing sport and for my (North American Boxing Federation junior welterweight) title.”
Where does that leave the fighter with the eight-ounce gloves and the rib-pulverizing blows that come with them?
On a fast track to stardom, and to heck with the sport’s doom-and-gloom forecast, his promoter/agent, Rick Mirigian, says.
Specifically, Mirigian adds, Ramirez soared to contender status Saturday night.
And what exactly does that mean?
“Now come the big names,” Mirigian says. “That’s what it means.
“We sold out Selland Arena, made history and now we’re off to China for an HBO fight in July.”
It was Ramirez’s 11th knockout, and it came against a boxer who hadn’t been knocked out in seven years.
But such a stoppage was imminent after Ramirez sent Frankel (33-16-1) flying into the ropes with the first-round left hook.
“That put me in control,” Ramirez said. “You know, I was born in the United States, but I’m Mexican bred and use the Mexican style, which is hooks to the body.”
Frankel was a bloody mess after 2 minutes, spending the rest of the fight in a helpless cover on the ropes and in corners.
“He’s very tough and throws nice body shots,” Frankel said. “He was opening me up with that body shot and after a while, they wore me down.”
Editor's note: An earlier version of this report incorrectly stated Frankel had 23 more pro bouts than Ramirez. Frankel is 33-16-1 and Ramirez 14-0.