UNBEATEN Mexican southpaw Gilberto Ramirez will be aiming to impress on his Golden Boy Promotions debut this Friday (July 9), live on DAZN. Opposing the No. 9 light-heavyweight contender at Los Angeles FC’s Banc of California Stadium is Cuban veteran Sullivan Barrera.
The bout represents Ramirez’s third appearance since rising to 175lbs in 2019. In April of that year, he forced the outgunned Tommy Karpency to retire after four rounds. Owing in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was 20 months before Ramirez was in the ring again. On his return in December last year, the Mazatlan man scored a 10th-round stoppage of the spirited Alfonso Lopez.
Prior to moving up to light-heavy, the 41-0 (27) Ramirez enjoyed a highly successful spell at super-middleweight, where he cemented himself as one of the elite fighters in the division. Among the noteworthy names that he defeated during this period were Maxim Vlasov, Arthur Abraham and Jesse Hart (twice) – all over the long route.
For Barrera, 22-3 (14), the contest with Ramirez will be his first outing in over two years. Last time out in June 2019, the Miami-based boxer succumbed to a clear unanimous points loss against the aforementioned Hart. In March of the previous year, Barrera was dominated and stopped in the 12th by Dmitry Bivol, who has gone on to prove himself as one of the very best 175-pounders around. Eight months after the Bivol reverse, Barrera claimed a comprehensive unanimous decision over the gutsy Sean Monaghan.
The standout opponent on Barrera’s record is Hall of Famer Andre Ward, who inflicted a first defeat upon the Guantanamo native back in March 2016 via wide unanimous verdict. Barrera has, however, got the better of some capable foes, including Karo Murat, Vyacheslav Shabranskyy and, most notably, Joe Smith Jnr. Murat and Shabranskyy were both knocked out, while Bernard Hopkins conqueror Smith had his jaw broken and was unanimously outpointed.
A 2000 Junior World gold medallist, at his best Barrera is a clever mover who puts his punches together smoothly. Although the 39-year-old possesses good boxing skills, he is happy to trade shots on the inside. This has allowed him to display his admirable gameness and grit, yet has also resulted in him being sent to the canvas a number of times.
Tall, rangy and athletic, the experienced Ramirez likes to box and move with his accurate jab. An intelligent operator who boasts impressive variety, the solid-chinned 30-year-old unleashes flowing combinations made up of strong right hooks, looping uppercuts and punishing body blows. Expect the younger fighter to smartly manoeuvre his way to a convincing victory over 12 rounds.
The chief support on a stacked show sees No. 4 super-featherweight Joseph Diaz, 31-1-1 (15), step up to lightweight to meet Dominican Javier Fortuna, 36-2-1 (25) 2NC, who is the No. 10 contender at 135lbs. This will be the fifth fight in a row that Diaz has fought a fellow southpaw.
Five months ago, Diaz (Downey, California) missed weight when taking on the dangerous and undefeated Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov at super-feather, with the match ending in a majority draw. Fortuna (Braintree, Massachusetts), meanwhile, is coming off a sixth-round KO of an out-of-form Antonio Lozada in November.
A tough and talented 2012 Olympian, the 28-year-old Diaz works the body well, while the hard-hitting Fortuna, 31, is able to frustrate opponents with his effective spoiling tactics. This 12-rounder is not an easy one to call, but the pick is for Diaz to prevail on the scorecards.
Elsewhere, a pair of veteran female belt-holders are set for defences over 10-twos. Tenkai Tsunami (WBO light-flyweight) faces unbeaten local Seniesa Estrada, while the near-46-year-old Naoko Fujioka (WBA flyweight) fights Sulem Urbina. Another highlight of the undercard is the 10-round lightweight meeting between Hector Tanajara and portsider William Zepeda, who are each looking to maintain a perfect record.
The Verdict Ramirez aims to replicate his super-middleweight success at light-heavy.