By Jackie Kallen
I am actually getting stoked for the Rico Ramos/Efrain Esquivias fight Saturday night. Neither fighter is a marquee name in the sport and there aren’t too many people who follow the Super bantamweight division. But this should be a good matchup.
At 20-1, Ramos has built up a nice following in the southern California area. Last July 9 he beat Akifumi Shimoda in Atlantic City to earn the WBA Super Bantamweight belt. He could not have been happier and prouder. He stopped Shimoda in the 7th round to win the title. He took a much-deserved six month rest and fought his first title defense in January.
Things did not work out as well for Ramos when he faced Guillermo Rigondeaux at the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas. Ramos was down in the first and sixth rounds and finally succumbed to a body shot in Round Seven. His short reign as champ was over. It’s hard to be a one-fight champ. A fighter likes to hang on to his belt for as long as possible. No one wants to lose it in their first title defense.
Photo: Tom Casino/Showtime
Now it is five months later and after licking his wounds and regrouping, Ramos is out to climb back up to the top again. His opponent this time is tough fellow Californian Efrain Esquivias. These two are well aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses and this should be a war. They fought one another in the amateurs (edge to Ramos) and they have sparred together.
Esquivias is a few years older than Ramos, but has had five less fights. They have both managed to knock out approximately half of their opponents and they are both going into this one to win. In my mind there is no favorite here since either one has the skills to come out on top.
It is a slight edge for Esquivias that he is undefeated and has yet to taste the bitter pill of defeat. He also has no fear of the other man’s experience. When he fought Fernando Beltran last November, Beltran had 43 fights under his belt. It did not effect Esquivias in the least and although he suffered a cut from an accidental head-butt in the 4th round, he fought hard and got his win.
His last fight, in February of this year, wasn’t much of a test. He scored an eight-round decision over 21-23-2 journeyman Adolfo Landeros. It was basically an activity fight and it added another W to his growing record. Now he is stepping up to the plate to test his skills against Ramos.
Both men are fighting for an R. In Ramos’s case the R is for REVENGE. He needs to erase the memory of his embarrassing loss and take revenge on someone. He is hoping it will be Esquivias. For Efrain, he is fighting for RESPECT. He knows that beating a name like Ramos will put him where he wants to be in the ratings.
I would not bet against either man. This match is personal and they are both coming out to win. I expect a knockout and I expect toe-to-toe action. I’m just glad I’ll be there in person to witness it.
Jackie Kallen is a boxing manager who has been in the business for over three decades. Her life inspired the Meg Ryan film “Against the Ropes” and she was a part of the NBC series “The Contender.” www.JackieKallen.com, www.facebook.com/JackieKallen