By: Sergio L. Martinez
On April 11, 2014, the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada will host the next edition of Friday Night Fights on ESPN 2. The Top Rank promotion will feature rising Mexican middleweight contender Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez. Ramirez (27-0-0 with 21 KOs) will face veteran trial horse, Giovanni Lorenzo (33-6-0 with 25 KOs), in a 10 round bout for a minor title. This contest is meant to set the stage for Ramirez to become better known to the American boxing contingency.
Ranked Mexican middleweight Ramirez is a young pug at 22 years of age and comes across as a very humble and affable young man. One would be hard-pressed to believe that he is a professional prizefighter based solely on interaction with him. Still, underneath his genial demeanor, lies a street bully with a true passion for fighting.
Speaking to Boxinginsider.com, Ramirez remembered his aggression as a youth. “I was a street kid and I loved to get into fights all the time. I practically fought every day [on the streets] and I just loved it. I tried other sports like karate, baseball, and basketball, but I just didn’t feel fulfillment. Boxing just really made me feel like I belonged.” Ramirez added, “There was only, like, two gyms in Mazatlan [Sinaloa, Mexico] and I just decided to go in and try it. [Fighting] was just something I really enjoyed so it made sense to me.”
After taking time to learn the sweet science, Ramirez embarked on an amateur career in which he fought less than 50 bouts. In that relatively few amount of fights, “Zurdo” was able to secure several regional, state, and national titles. He recalled his time in the unpaid ranks with some humor. “I first lost more than I won,” Ramirez said with a giggle, “Then, I got better and I was able to win several amateur titles. I was invited to training with the Mexican National team. I really learned a lot during my amateur days; I had fun.”
The “fun” continued as Ramirez slowly grew into a bonafide middleweight contender with an undefeated record. Still a relatively unknown commodity in the U.S., Ramirez built his name in his native Mexico. The lefty is known as a patient and skilled boxer-puncher with solid pop in both fists, but “Zurdo’s” reputation had suffered because of this: he is not recognized to be aggressive early in fights.
Everything changed in February 2014 when Ramirez met hard-hitting Texan Don Mouton in Laredo, Texas. The fight was televised on the “Solo Boxeo” fight series and was to be a “real” test for the Mexican as Mouton had gone the distance with top fighters, including the likes of current world champion Anthony Dirrell and undefeated prospect Brandon Gonzalez. Ramirez came out aggressive early and ended Mouton in the first round with a vicious combination which floored the Texas native twice and led to a stoppage.
“That fight,” Ramirez recalled, “changed everything for me. I’m now more recognized and am getting more attention. [Mouton] was said to be a tough fighter but I ended that fight quickly.” Ramirez added, “[Top Rank] is behind me now and they’ve been great. My training has improved my overall status in the boxing world. I’m looking to continue to rise and show people that ‘Zurdo’ is going to be a great fighter.”
And on the rise he is, as Ramirez is now going to be on ESPN 2’s Friday Night Fights series: the next step for any boxer on the way up the latter. Although many may question the legitimacy of the Mexican’s next opponent, “Zurdo” keeps everything in focus and understands what he is faced with. He said, “[Giovanni Lorenzo] is a very experienced, veteran fighter and he is known to be durable. I expect that he will be ready for this fight but it will not matter. I’ve trained hard and I’m going to show everyone what I can do.” Ramirez continued, “My dream is to be great and my team and I are going to prove that I will be the next great Mexican champion. I’m not looking past Lorenzo, but I am ready to be in the mix with the top fighters in the world and I want to get the big fights next.”
In closing, Ramirez professed, “I just want to thank God for everything that has been given to me and I also want to thank the fans for their support. I want to recognize my family and loved ones as they have been a great support system which has allowed me to follow my dreams. Come this Friday, ‘Zurdo’ is going to give the fans a great fight to show my appreciation.”