Two years ago, as Jose Ramirez was changing his shoes at Wild Card Boxing Gym in Los Angeles, he noticed someone finishing up a workout. As it turned out, it was Johnny Garcia, who just happens to be Ramirez’s opponent Saturday night at Save Mart Center.
“The thing is I was upstairs, and a lot of times fighters who come to spar are upstairs and I train downstairs with Freddie (Roach) and (well-known) fighters, and at that time I happened to be up there because downstairs was closed,” Ramirez said. “At Wild Card, there’s a lot of professional fighters that work upstairs.”
Ramirez and Garcia meet again as the headliners on the “Fight for Water V” card, with their fight a scheduled eight-rounder for the WBC Continental Americas super lightweight title. The seven-bout card begins at 6 p.m., with tape-delayed coverage at midnight on UniMas (Comcast channel 12) as part of the SoloBoxeo Tecate Series.
It’s going to be a good fight because he’s aggressive and likes to fight, and I’m the same way.
Johnny Garcia, the opponent for undefeated Avenal pro fighter Jose Ramirez at Fight for Water V
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Ramirez (15-0, 12 KOs) returns to the ring for the first time since a July bout in Macau, China. The NABF welterweight junior champion had to skip a September fight at Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino in Lemoore because of a thumb injury he suffered during sparring.
The 33-year-old Garcia (19-3-1, 11 KOs) also is coming off a long layoff after ankle surgery. He fought for the WBC International Silver super lightweight title in February, losing by fifth-round TKO to Cletus Seldin.
Ramirez, 23, never likes to look at tape of his opponent during training camp because you then “worry about a lot of things … and can’t train properly.”
But this week, he went against that rule and took a look at Garcia.
“I was looking at the videos and I recognized his face,” the Avenal native and 2012 U.S. Olympian said. “I was like, ‘Oh, I know this guy.’ ”
There was no way for either of them to know two years earlier that they would meet one day in the ring.
Johnny Garcia will come out very motivated because this is his opportunity and I’m his target.
Ramirez, who because of an injury is fighting for the first time since July
“I’ve seen him there,” said Garcia, of Holland, Mich. “Never got a chance to see him spar or spar with him. I never thought I would fight him.”
Garcia has taken notice of Ramirez’s accomplishments and is complimentary.
“He’s a good fighter. I’ve seen videos of him. Looking forward to the challenge,” he said. “It’s going to be a good fight because he’s aggressive and likes to fight, and I’m the same way. It’s going to be a great fight for the fans, and be on TV, and overall it’s going to be good. I’m looking to give it my all.”
Ramirez is eager to step back into the ring in the first-ever boxing event at the arena.
“I’m thankful for this opportunity to fight at the Save Mart Center,” he said. “Really a dream come true. I feel very motivated and strong and very well in shape. I feel very prepared for this fight. Johnny Garcia will come out very motivated because this is his opportunity and I’m his target. He’ll come out hungry and I’ll be ready for it because I have a lot of faith in myself and faith in God, and I feel like Saturday night I’m going to win. I feel very motivated and the hard work is almost done.”
Making his return - Saul Lomas of Fresno will make his long-delayed return to the ring Saturday when he faces Eduardo Dominguez of Los Lunas, N.M., in a scheduled four-round lightweight bout.
Lomas (7-0, 4 KOs) has not fought since 2007 because of a shoulder injury. All of his previous pro fights were at Tachi.
One bout canceled – What was to be an eight-bout card was reduced by one Friday with the announcement that undefeated heavyweight Andy Ruiz (26-0, 17 KOs) of Mexicali, Mexico, won’t fight because opponent Michael Grant wasn’t approved by the California State Athletic Commission.
Seats remain– About 1,200 tickets were available as of midday Friday, with Ramirez promoter/agent Rick Mirigian expecting a crowd approaching 13,000. Tickets, at $20 and $72, can be purchased at the arena box office or ticketmaster.com.
Fight for Water V
- Saturday: Seven-bout card begins at 6 p.m.
- Main event: Jose Ramirez vs. Johnny Garcia for WBC Continental Americas super lightweight title
- Tickets: $20, $72 at arena box office or ticketmaster.com