Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez (44-1, 30 KOs) faces the dangerous former WBO light heavyweight champion Joe Smith Jr. (28-4, 22 KOs) two months from now in twelve round cruiserweight contest live on DAZN on October 7th at Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
The Ramirez vs. Smith Jr. fight will reportedly take place at 190-lb catchweight, making it easier for Zurdo to make weight. He’ll only need to drain down 15+ lbs instead of the 30 lbs he’d been doing while fighting at light heavyweight.
This is a new beginning for the 32-year-old former WBO super middleweight champion Ramirez, moving up to cruiserweight to reinvent himself in this weight class after growing out of the 175-lb division.
Ramirez should have moved up to cruiserweight a year ago after rehydrating to over 200 lbs for his light heavyweight bout against Dominic Boesel in May 2022. Gilberto wanted the opportunity to challenge for a world title, and he got his wish, losing to WBA 175-lb champion Dmitry Bivol last November in a one-sided twelve round unanimous decision in Abu Dhabi.
It’s unclear if Ramirez’s poor performance against Bivol was due to him being weight drained or an indication of a loss of hand speed due to age. Whatever the case, Ramirez looked like a shell of the fighter he’d been from 2016 to 2018, when he held the WBO 168-lb title.
Gilberto Ramirez expecting to dominate at cruiserweight
“I am ready to take over the cruiserweight division and prove to myself that I can add another championship belt to my resume,” said Zurdo Ramirez. “We are ready to face a hungry opponent in Joe Smith Jr., who is used to being an underdog.”
Ramirez has good power, but it’s not the one-punch power he needs to excel at cruiserweight. To defeat Smith Jr, he will need to focus on volume punching and hope to wear him down.
Smith, 33, will be coming off a sixteen-month layoff since being blitzed in two rounds by IBF & WBC light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev in June 2022. Beterbiev, a huge puncher, caught Smith Jr. with some big shots in the second round to score an early knockout.
The good news for the New York native Smith Jr. is that he won’t have to worry about getting hit with the kind of shots against Zurdo Ramirez that he did in his knockout loss to Beterrbiev.
On the negative side, Smith Jr. will be coming off a long layoff, fighting a much bigger guy, Ramirez. Moreover, Smith Jr’s confidence may have been dented by that loss so that he may be in top form.
Of course, when facing a guy that is as slow as Zurdo Ramirez, this is an ideal situation for the heavy-handed Smith Jr.
“It feels great to return to the ring in a big way on October 7 against ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez,” said Joe Smith Jr. “I was having a rough time this year. I can’t wait to show the world the Common Man is back.”