By: Bryant Romero
Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez’s reign as WBO King in the super-middleweight division has been lackluster and in dire need of a big fight. Ramirez (37-0, 25 KOs) defended his world title for a third consecutive time, stopping an over-matched Habib Ahmed (25-1-1, 17 KOs) in the sixth round of a one-sided affair in Corpus Christi this past Saturday. To Ramirez’s credit, it was his first stoppage win in almost 4 years as he battered Ahmed from pillar to post. The cornermen of Habib had to come in and save him as referee Laurence Cole had another bad night when it comes to his judgment in stopping a fight.
While Zurdo did stop a previously undefeated opponent coming in, Ahmed had never fought outside of his homeland in Ghana, never fought someone of note, and appeared to be the much smaller man of the two. It was an easy showcase defense for Zurdo and not the type of win that can make him a bigger star, but he did what he was suppose to do in dispatching an over-matched opponent.
Now the question is where does Zurdo go from here? It hasn’t been exactly smooth sailing since becoming a world champion. After dominating veteran Arthur Abraham in Las Vegas almost two years ago to acquire his first world title, Ramirez looking to build momentum on that win would be sidelined with an injury that would keep out of the ring for over a year. Not only was his momentum lost from his title winning victory but to make matters worse his first defense of his title against Ukraine’s Max Bursak was very forgettable affair. Since he’s defeated a previously undefeated Jessie Hart and now the stoppage win over Habib Ahmed this past weekend.
Zurdo hasn’t faced a murderer’s row of opponents as champion but one has to wonder can Bob Arum who promotes Ramirez deliver a big fight for this kid in the super middleweight division? It’s a fractured industry however, and the obvious unification bout with WBC champion David Benavidez seems like a natural to make but is pure fantasy at the moment since PBC/Showtime and Bob Arum rarely do business together.
Arum however, has left hope and even promised Zurdo to try to get him the winner of the World Boxing Super Series Tournament. Potential fights with Chris Eubank, George Groves, or a Callum Smith could be attractive options for Zurdo down the line. In the meantime, Ramirez may have to settle with a possible rematch with Jessie Hart or perhaps a fight with Australian Rohan Murdock. Ramirez however, feels he’s ready for anybody in the division, the question is will he get the chance to prove it against the biggest names at super middleweight?