Jose Ramirez – remember him? – steps back into the ring Friday night at the Save Mart Center.
The Avenal native who’s on course for a world boxing title shot will face Issouf Kinda in a scheduled 10-round super lightweight bout for Ramirez’s WBC Continental Americas title.
Ramirez (18-0, 13 KOs) hasn’t fought since July, when he knocked out Tomas Mendez in the fourth round.
He had hoped to fight four times in 2016 – twice in the central San Joaquin Valley and twice elsewhere. But that didn’t materialize because Top Rank wanted him to do promotional work and train with Manny Pacquiao in the Philippines before Pacquiao’s comeback fight last month against Jessie Vargas.
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The plan now, Ramirez said, is to fight early in 2017 and potentially for a world title if he can get past Kinda (18-3, 7 KOs).
Ramirez, 24, said he’ll “do whatever I have to do to become a world champion. Stay focused and stay dedicated to the sport. I feel like I’ve been doing that since my last fight. I started training camp two to three weeks before I went to the Philippines. I sparred with Manny four weeks straight.”
Kinda was added late to the fight card because Ramirez’s scheduled opponent, Gabriel Bracero, dropped out.
“I’m focused on him,” Ramirez said of the 28-year-old Kinda, who is on his first trip to California.
Kinda, of New York, said he was already training when the call came to replace Bracero. “You have to be ready for something like that. I’m ready.”
▪ Ramirez has been honored twice this week: He received the CrisCom Co.’s Leader for America award for his work in the community, and the city of Fresno proclaimed Friday “Jose Ramirez Day.”
It will be Valdivia’s first fight at the Save Mart Center.
“Oh, man, huge arena,” he said.
Lopez (8-1, 5 KOs) and Madera (4-0, 2 KOs) weren’t being friendly to each other leading up to the fight.
“He’s probably envious where I’m at,” Lopez said. “I want to make my own pie, and that’s how I got here by working hard like that.”
Said Madera: “When I was an amateur, I had a list of names of guys I want to take out. I’ve always accomplished that.”
“I’m stepping up my competition,” Lomas said. “Not a lot of people get to retire at a high point of their career.”