Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramírez, the first super middleweight champion in the history of Mexican boxing, will try to become the second light heavyweight champion of Aztec boxing in 2019.
With the support of his team, and promoter Top Rank, Ramirez has made the decision to seek new challenges at 175 pounds.
Ramirez, the 168-pound champion of the World Boxing Organization, said he intends to do his next match at 175 pounds, unless a big bout reappears to make him go through with the sacrifice of staying at the weight.
Top Rank has been stocking up on fighters at 175-pounds, like IBF champion Artur Beterbeiv, WBO champion Eleider Alvarez, Sergey Kovalev, and WBC champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk.
Because of that, Ramirez will be watching Saturday’s Alvarez-Kovalev rematch with a lot of interest.
“We’re going to go up to 175 pounds, I’m happy because it will be a new challenge in my career,” Ramírez told ESPN Deportes.
“We’ve already spoken to the team, we want to make a fight before looking for a world championship, I would love to reign in the light heavyweight division and continue making history for boxing in Mexico.”
Despite the decision, Ramírez does not intend to give up the WBO super middleweight title, because he believes he can make room for an interesting fight.
“I can make the weight, but it comes at a cost. We could stay. If there is a fight with Golovkin, with Canelo, some unification that is worthwhile. But if not, I’ll stay at 175 pounds,” Ramirez (39-0, 25 KOs).
“I know it’s going to be a different challenge, I think everyone hits hard in boxing, but that’s why I’m going to live in Los Angeles to be more focused, there are good fights. We have to see how Álvarez does with Kovalev because I felt that the Russian was winning the fight before the knockout loss.”
Top Rank chairman Bob Arum told ESPN that the plan is for Ramirez to fight a nontitle fight at light heavyweight in April or May and then for a world title.
“He came to us. He was having trouble maintaining his weight at 168 [pounds] and thought he would be much stronger at 175,” Arum said. “So without giving up his 168 title, I think we’re going to put him in a good fight at 175, and then if he comes through that we’ll match him with one of the champions to fight for a title.
“He knows as well as we do who he matches up well with. He has sparred with Gvozdyk so he feels he can handle Gvozdyk. He’s watched Alvarez fight. Our matchmakers think he’s competitive in either fight. With Beterbiev, who knows what you have.”
Ramirez won his super middleweight world title by shutout decision of Arthur Abraham in 2016 and has made five defenses. Most recently, he edged Jesse Hart by majority decision in their rematch in a very rough fight on Dec. 14. Ramirez said he would only return to super middleweight if Top Rank could give him a major fight following his spring light heavyweight bout.
“Bob told me, ‘Maybe you want to move up, fight, and after, if I don’t give you a really good fight like [one against] Canelo Alvarez or [Gennady] Golovkin or Callum Smith, something like that, then we’re going to look for a title at light heavyweight,'” Ramirez said.
“It’s a big challenge for me. I am really motivated to get another belt and be a champion in two divisions.”
If Ramirez wins a light heavyweight world title, he would be only the second Mexican boxer to do so. The late Julio Gonzalez won a light heavyweight title in 2003 by upsetting Dariusz Michalczewski by a split decision and then lost the belt in his first defense by unanimous decision to Zsolt Erdei in 2004. Arum said he believes Ramirez will be well served by the move up in weight.
“I think he’s a big guy whether at 168 or 175, and if he feels stronger by not having the sacrifice to make the weight he will be a lot better puncher,” Arum said. “He’s a great boxer. The question is if he will develop a good punch. I think going up in weight will help that.”