By Mark Butcher in Macao: Unbeaten super-middleweight Gilberto Ramirez has the irresistible looks of a Latin movie star and power just as disarming. The handsome Mexican has drawn gasps and even applause from Chinese women inside the Venetian Casino ahead of his bout against Junior Talipeau on Saturday. Ramirez also has a habit of leaving his opponents similarly weak-kneed.
The Mexican hot shot – nicknamed ‘Zurdo’ (left-handed) – is rated among the top five contenders by all four major sanctioning bodies (WBC No:2, WBO No:2, WBA No:3 and IBF No:4) and appears on the brink of a world title challenge should he overcome uncompromising Aussie Talipeau in their 10-round encounter on the ‘Champions of Gold’ bill at the Cotai Arena.
But the journey of Gilberto Ramirez started on a construction site in his hometown of Mazatlan aged just 14 years old. The Mexican has since moved from construction to destruction. Now his opponents require the hard hats.
“When I had my job in construction I worked really hard,” Ramirez told me through his manager (and on-the-spot translator) Jesus Zapari of Zapari Boxing Promotions. “Then when I started fighting in four-rounders I had a dream to be a great fighter and a world champion. Now I am very happy to be in Macao and thank god for the opportunity I have been given in life.”
The 23-year-old Ramirez, 28-0 (22), hails from the same Sinaloa region in Mexico as the legendary Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. A clash against the great Mexican’s son Julio Cesar Chavez Jr would undoubtedly grip the fight crazed nation which is the driving force behind pro boxing across the American continent.
“That’s my goal to fight with the best and the greatest,” said 6ft 2.5ins southpaw Ramirez, who is promoted by Top Rank and Zanfer Promotions. “Julio Cesar Chavez Jr is a great fighter but I want to fight him to get to the top and then beat the best fighters in my division. I feel like I am very close to a world title, but I have to negotiate this challenge against Talipeau and win on Saturday and then sit down with my promoters to discuss what’s coming next. I have not seen many videos of my opponent because he does not have many videos! I don’t know much about him but we had a really good training camp and I am very confident.
“I feel a lot stronger and much faster, and very secure in myself at this weight. I think this is my division,” added Ramirez, who previously campaigned at 160lbs, but impressed at the new weight stopping three-time world title challenger Giovanni Lorenzo in five rounds in April. “After the Lorenzo fight, I feel more confidence in my skills and experience. Now I feel ready to fight any of the world champions in the ring.”
Promoter Bob Arum has boldly claimed “the sky is the limit” for the young Mexican. Ramirez’s blend of looks, power and charisma certainly hint that a potential superstar could be on the horizon. His popularity in Macao, at least, is undeniable.
“I thank god for giving me the opportunity to be so close to the fans,” said Ramirez, who radiates the same star quality as former sparring partner and compatriot Canelo Alvarez. “I am very glad the fans like me. But I am more handsome than Canelo!”
The Zou Shiming vs Luis De La Rosa and Gilberto Ramirez vs Junior Talipeau bouts on ‘Champions Of Gold’ will be broadcast via same-day delay on HBO2 at 5pm ET/PT in the US on Saturday.
WBA Super and WBO super-bantamweight king Gullermo Rigondeaux’s defence against Thai contender Sod Looknongyantoy on ‘Champions of Gold’ will be broadcast same day delay as the Solo Boxeo Tecate main event on UniMás at 11pm ET/PT.
All three bouts plus the latest comeback fight of three-time world champion Brian Viloria will be broadcast live by BoxNation in the UK at 2pm BST.