Undefeated light heavyweight contender and former WBO super middleweight champion, Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez (42-0, 28 KOs) will headline the twelve-round main event fight this Saturday, December 18th at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas against Yunieski “The Monster” Gonzalez (21-3, 17 KOs). Their fight will be aired live worldwide on DAZN. The winner of this matchup will become the mandatory challenger for the WBA light heavyweight world champion, Dmitry Bivol (19-0, 11 KOs). Bivol retained his world title for the eighth time with a dominating victory over Umar Salamov, last weekend.
Gonzalez, who is ranked fifth by the WBA, has won three in a row, all by knockout, including a second-round knockout over former three-time world title challenger, Tommy Karpency, in his last outing. All of Gonzalez’s losses were to elite fighters: two former world champions, Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Jean Pascal, and former world title challenger, Vyacheslav Shabranskyy. If Gonzalez defeats Ramirez, he will finally get his long-awaited world title shot.
Ramirez, who is ranked second by the WBO and fourth by the IBF, won his first world title (WBO super middleweight belt) with a one-sided, twelfth-round unanimous decision over former three-time, two-division world titleholder, Arthur Abraham in April 2016. Ramirez won every round on all three judge’s scorecards. With that victory, he became the first Mexican super middleweight champion and only the second Mexican fighter to win a world title above middleweight (Julio César González won the WBO light heavyweight belt over Dariusz Michalczewski in 2003).
The thirty-year-old southpaw, originally from Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico made five world title defenses over two and a half years, with wins over Maksym Bursak, undefeated challengers: Jesse Hart, Habib Ahmed, and Roamer Alexis Angulo, and Hart in a rematch. After his victory over Hart, Ramirez vacated his WBO title and moved up to the light heavyweight division. He knocked out Karpency in the fourth-round and scored a tenth-round technical knockout over Alfonso Lopez for the NABF light heavyweight title. In his last outing, Ramirez knocked out former world title challenger, Sullivan Barrera in the fourth-round. He scored a knockdown in the third round and two more in the fourth, all from body punches.
Outside the boxing ring, Ramirez has been extremely busy. He started his own promotional company, Zurdo Promotions, which had its first show last December, where he co-promoted the fight card that he headlined and he has signed several fighters to his company. Ramirez became a principal member of 3 Point Management Group that opened a 6,000 square foot, state-of-the-art boxing gym, Brickhouse Boxing Club in North Hollywood, California in May of this year. At the Brickhouse Boxing Club, he trains for his upcoming fights with his head trainer, Julian Chua, trainer and four-time world titleholder, Brian Viloria, and strength and conditioning coach, Chris Wong. He recently announced a cryptocurrency partnership with Bitcoin led by 3 Point Management Group. Ramirez also signed a three-fight deal with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions earlier this year, with his second fight being against Gonzalez.
Ramirez was gracious enough to take time out of his busy training camp to discuss with me his upcoming fight against Gonzalez, his last outing against Barrera, the prospect of finally fighting Bivol, the light heavyweight division, and much more.
James Stillerman: How is training camp going?
Gilberto Ramirez: It went well. Everything is done already. I just have to lose a couple of pounds and then enjoy the night, December 18th.
James Stillerman: What kind of fight do you expect from Gonzalez?
Gilberto Ramirez: I expect the best Gonzalez. He wants to come forward all the time but my plan is to fight him in the center of the ring and push him back. He is a very dangerous fighter who has nothing to lose. He is trying to beat me. But it is good that he will go after me because it will make for an exciting fight and showcase all of my skills. I want a great performance and to do everything well.
James Stillerman: How do you see this bout playing out?
Gilberto Ramirez: I see myself winning by knockout. The knockout will come by uppercut or body shot.
James Stillerman: What are your thoughts about your last fight against Barrera?
Gilberto Ramirez: It was great. If I graded myself from 1 to 10, I would give myself a 9. I had a great performance and I put on a great show because Barrera is a tough fighter who has fought good fighters and no one has knocked him out like me. This fight gave me more confidence and showed that I am better than all of the fighters at 175-pounds.
James Stillerman: Any update on your promotional company, Zurdo Promotions?
Gilberto Ramirez: I have [bantamweight boxer] “Scrappy” [John Ramirez, 7-0, 6 KOs] my fighter who will fight on the fight card that I am on [against an opponent to be announced]. I have a few fighters who will box on a fight card that will take place on December 18th in Tijuana, Mexico. I will have an amateur tournament in January and another professional show in February. My goal is to make more champions and more Zurdos and my team and I are working on it.
James Stillerman: What can you tell us about the new gym, Brickhouse Boxing Club that you are a principal member of?
Gilberto Ramirez: It is great to have a gym. I can work out any time, any day, any hour I want. I worked out at 10 p.m. the other night by myself. It is clean and has brand new equipment. It is the best gym in LA. A lot of people go there, a lot of celebrities too. I am glad about that because I want to eventually open another gym soon. It is going well.
James Stillerman: How far along were negotiations with Bivol? Was this fight close to being made?
Gilberto Ramirez: We both wanted to fight one another. It was supposed to happen in December between Bivol and me, but it did not happen. He did not sign the contract. Now we have the eliminator fight. He fought his fight and I will fight my fight and eventually we will fight, maybe in March.
James Stillerman: Do you believe that Bivol is trying to avoid fighting you?
Gilberto Ramirez: Yes, of course, because why would he call me out and send me a contract but not sign it. There is no point to it. He can run, but he cannot hide from me now after this fight.
James Stillerman: What did you think of Bivol’s performance over the weekend?
Gilberto Ramirez: It was good, but nothing special. He did well and got the title defense and that is great for him. I am glad that he won the fight. I want this fight and take this belt.
James Stillerman: If you and Bivol fought, who would win?
Gilberto Ramirez: I am 100 percent certain that I will win against Bivol and get his belt but I am really focused on Gonzalez right now and then after that, I will focus on Bivol and the belt.
James Stillerman: What do you think of the current light heavyweight division?
Gilberto Ramirez: This is a great division. There are great champions and good potential matches to be made. People want to see these fights and that is what I want. I want people to recognize my skills when I accomplish my goal of becoming the undisputed light heavyweight champion in 2022. I want all the belts.
James Stillerman: Any closing thoughts?
Gilberto Ramirez: I want to thank all the fans for their support. Do not miss the fight this Saturday, December 18th in San Antonio. Also, follow me on social media: on Twitter @ZurdoRamirezz and @ZurdoPromotions, on Instagram @zurdoramirez and @zurdopromotions, and check out my website www.ZurdoPromotions.com.