Plenty is at stake as Jose Ramirez and Manny Perez await their April 9 showdown on a superfight card at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Their bout is one of the highlights on Top Rank CEO Bob Arum’s “No Trump” undercard, part of a night headlined by the Manny Pacquiao/Timothy Bradley Jr. III fight. Ramirez and Perez will meet in a scheduled 10-round super lightweight bout for Ramirez’s WBC Continental Americas belt.
The fight card will begin at 3:30 p.m., with the pay-per-view portion at 6 p.m.
A win for Ramirez, the 23-year-old 2012 Team USA member, means the Avenal native keeps alive his dreams for a world title shot this year.
The 31-year-old Perez, meanwhile, is fighting to keep his career alive. His camp has T-shirts reading #UPSETTHEOLYMPIAN.
We come out with different fight shirts for every fight. They asked what shirt do you want to wear (vs. Jose Ramirez), and I said put ‘hashtag ‘Upset the Olympian.’
Denver professional boxer Manny Perez
“(My wife and friends) were kind of tossing stuff around, and they were like (suggesting) ‘hashtag Upset the Olympian,’ ” said Perez, who was born in Waipahu, near Honolulu, and now resides in Denver. “We come out with different fight shirts for every fight. They asked what shirt do you want to wear, and I said put ‘hashtag Upset the Olympian,’ and she said, ‘Really?’ I was like, ‘Yeah. I think it would be a great shirt.’ ”
Ramirez (16-0, 12 KOs), with no need for extra motivation, said he never pays attention to an opponent’s camp.
“I don’t like people to tell me, ‘Jose, make sure you’re training harder,’ ” he said. “I’m sure he’s training hard, and I hope they bring their best. You want to fight somebody at their best, and I hope he brings the best because that’s how I’ll learn more.
To be the best I think I need to go through that adversity and challenges through the journey. To be champion you have to go through the tough road rather than getting an easy path. The feeling will be much bigger when you go through adversity, when you’re rewarded later.
Avenal professional boxer Jose Ramirez
“To be the best I think I need to go through that adversity and challenges through the journey. To be champion you have to go through the tough road rather than getting an easy path. The feeling will be much bigger when you go through adversity, when you’re rewarded later.”
Perez (25-11-1, 6 KOs) is no stranger to big fights. He fought former welterweight champion Victor Ortiz in December in Las Vegas, losing by technical knockout in the third round. Perez since has won three in a row.
“Perez is his toughest opponent to date,” Ramirez manager/promoter Rick Mirigian said. “He has fought some of the biggest names in the sport, is on a winning streak and beat a former world champion recently (ex-WBO light welterweight title-holder DeMarcus Corley).
“This guy is coming to fight and leave it all in the ring.”
Perez, who has a regular job loading trucks at a warehouse and is also a dispatcher, will not arrive in Las Vegas until Wednesday because of work. He said he respects Ramirez and hopes the feeling is mutual.
“I don’t have anything negative to say about the man,” said Perez, nicknamed Manos – Spanish for hands.
“I just know come fight time I’m going to be ready. I gave him the respect he deserves to make sure I’m in the best shape of my career … and I hope he gives me the same respect and comes prepared, as well.”
Perez’s manager and longtime friend Steve Mestas has sent two other fighters up against Ramirez: Alfred Romero lost by unanimous decision in 2014, and Robert Frankel was stopped in the fifth round last May.
Ramirez is more excited about the history he has yet to create rather than those milestone bouts along the way.
“It’s going to be a dream come true to fight on a pay-per-view card,” he said. “Not many get a chance to do it.
“I remember watching Julio Cesar Chavez, Oscar De La Hoya, Fernando Vargas fight (on pay-per-view), and I’m getting to that level and tasting it. Hopefully everything goes right and I get two more wins and become a headliner.”