By: Sean Crose
Popular fighters Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez and Joe Smith Jr threw down in a WBA cruiserweight title eliminator Saturday night at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. The 28-4 former titlist Smith and the 44-1 Zurdo both had a lot to prove, as each man’s career had been in a rut as of late. Their fight was scheduled for 12 rounds and was the main event of a DAZN broadcast.
Smith came in aggressively and landed well in the first. Zurdo, however, employed largely defensive tactics and landed some good shots of his own. The second saw Zurdo frequently on the attack…but employing effective movement as well at times, subsequently frustrating his hard hitting foe. Smith was able to get in a few licks in the third, but Zurdo proved willing to trade. The fourth saw a patient Zurdo picking his shots while Smith appeared a bit flummoxed as to what to do.
A hard straight right from Zurdo in the fifth punctuated what had previously been a good round for Smith, who had managed to land well through relentless aggression. A surprisingly fluid Zurdo continued to control the action in the sixth. There were times in the seventh when Smith was missing more than he was landing, and when he managed to get Zurdo on the ropes, Zurdo was able to slip away. With that being said, both men traded in exciting fashion at the very end of the round.
The eighth was exciting and hard to score, as each man performed at his best. Smith tagged his man hard in the first minute of the ninth. He then tagged Zurdo hard and clean again at close to the midpoint of the round. Zurdo, frankly, looked like he might be getting gassed. Still, he was able to put a straight shot onto Smith’s face in the round’s final seconds. The tenth and final chapter saw Ramirez once again asserting control, thudding his man with body shots that appeared to hurt Smith. Smith recovered, however, and kept swinging until the end.
Ultimately, the night belonged to Zurdo, who stepped out of the ring with a unanimous decision win, courtesy of the judges.
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