After Jose Ramirez successfully defended his World Boxing Council Continental Americas title with a second-round knockout over Tomas Mendez at Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino in July, the Avenal native and 2012 U.S. Olympian hoped to fight a former world champion in the Valley before year’s end.
Top Rank tried to land a bout against former World Boxing Organization junior-welterweight title holder Mike Alvarado, only to have him twice decline, forcing the Las Vegas-based promotions company to go in another direction.
Ramirez, 24, has learned just how difficult it can be to pay a quality opponent enough to make them willing to fight in front of Ramirez’s hometown fans. This as the former Olympian and rising pro standout attempts to build a résumé that will earn him his own world title shot.
But the road will continue, nonetheless, next Friday when Ramirez (18-0, 13 KOs) is scheduled to face 35-year-old Gabriel Bracero in a 10-round super lightweight bout at Save Mart Center. Bracero is 24-3 with five knockouts and has himself never been KO’d.
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Unless Jose is willing to take a sacrifice, there’s not enough money to pay the opponent.
Top Rank’s Bob Arum on the difficulty of bringing a ‘name’ opponent into Fresno to fight Valley native Jose Ramirez
“To get a name like Alvarado,” Hall of Fame promoter and Top Rank CEO Bob Arum said, “you got to pay Alvarado. We have limited money from the UniMas show and the only (money) we can pay Alvarado out of gate (receipts) is if it comes out of Jose’s revenue. Nothing you can do. On the UniMas show, unless Jose is willing to take a sacrifice, there’s not enough money to pay the opponent.”
Still, Arum calls the Dec. 2 fight against Bracero “the toughest” of Ramirez’s career to this point.
“Let’s see how he does on Dec. 2,” Arum said. “That’s a tough fight for him. The guy is a very good fighter.”
Young prospects often fight a “name” opponent on their way toward a major-title bout, but it typically requires patience.
Take Jessie Vargas for example.
The Las Vegas-based boxer made his pro debut in 2008 at 19. But he was 18 fights in before finally, in May 2012, taking on a name fighter in former IBF world super featherweight champ Steve Forbes at the MGM Grand. Vargas, who improved to 19-0 with a unanimous decision over Forbes, finally got his first title shot (winning the WBC Continental Americas belt) some 10 months later.
We just continued to push forward. Sooner than later the bigger fights came.
former world champion Jesse Vargas on his path to earning a shot at ‘name’ fighters and eventually a major-title bout
Vargas said it was frustrating waiting for a top-level fighter willing to come to him and also securing the eventual title fight, but he came to understand the process.
“Depends on the situation and on the fighter,” said Vargas, who lost by unanimous decision to Manny Pacquiao for the WBO world welterweight title on Nov. 5. “I assume fighters don’t want to take that risk where they have a lower possibility coming out of a victory. I had several who declined, but we just continued to push forward. Sooner than later the bigger fights came.”
In the case of Ramirez, the bigger fight on his horizon could be against International Boxing Federation junior welterweight champion Eduard Troyanovsky in 2017, maybe even in Fresno. Arum cautioned Ramirez ultimately must fight outside the Valley to grow his brand and “move him toward a title.”
“That’s more realistic,” Arum said of the potential IBF fight. “We feel he needs another six months of seasoning and we’ll put him with top-10 guys.”
Ramirez and agent/promoter Rick Mirigian are willing to play the game, even while continuing to recognize the difficulty of treating Valley fans to a matchup against someone like Alvarado.
“Very hard,” he said. “Ramirez must go through top-tier opponents and perform at this point to further his development. But it’s costly and hard to find high-end guys willing to risk an ‘L’ and face one of the most dangerous prospects in the sport. We as a team are prepared to make sacrifices for the end result.”
Ramirez said he won’t be bothered by a change in his timeline.
At the end of the day I’m focused on me and my family. My family and team believes in me and there shouldn’t be a reason why I shouldn’t be able to fight for a world title and win.
Avenal native and 2012 U.S. Olympian Jose Ramirez
“I’m ready to fight whoever it is,” he said. “Boxing is a business and I just have to be patient. Get myself ready as best that I can and I feel like I have the experience and talent to step in the ring against anybody.”
Fight for Water 6
Bouts on Dec. 2 at Save Mart Center. The card begins at 6:30 p.m., with tickets from $20-$75 available through ticketmaster.com or the arena box office.
- Super lightweight, WBC Continental Americas title, (10 rounds): Jose Ramirez (18-0, 13 KOs) vs. Gabriel Bracero (24-3, 5 KOs)
- Super welterweight (8 rounds): Gerardo Ibarra (14-3, 8 KOs) vs. Esquiva Falcao (14-0, 10 KOs)
- Super welterweight, NABF title, (8 rounds): Daniel Valdivia (12-0, 9 KOs) vs. Aaron Garcia (12-6-1, 10 KOs)
- Middleweight, California title, (6 rounds): Joe Louie Lopez (8-1, 5 KOs) vs. Quilisto Madera (4-0, 2 KOs)
- Super lightweight (6 rounds): Saul Lomas (9-0, 6 KOs) vs. Pablo Sanchez (8-1, 5 KOs)
- Lightweight (4 rounds): Bryan Lua (pro debut) vs. Manuel Lopez (1-1-1)
- Lightweight (4 rounds): Isidro Ochoa (pro debut) vs. Oscar Mendoza (1-1, 0 KOs)