Super bantamweight looking to bounce back from first pro loss
By: Mike Sloan: Rico Ramos won his first twenty fights as a pro and he was clearly one of the most promising of all the young prospects at the time. He was making his opponents look foolish at times and he usually won his fights easily. Sometimes he’d score a sensational knockout, sometimes he’s score a unanimous decision. Either way, Ramos (20-1, 11 KOs) was on top of his game and it was only a matter of time before theCaliforniaresident was fighting the biggest names in the sport for great money.
Then came Guillermo Rigondeaux, a man with 2/5 the professional fights of Ramos and the unbeaten American was handed his first defeat. The two-time Cuban Olympic gold medalist was too fast and too powerful to be dealt with; Rigondeaux wound up stopping Ramos in the sixth round with a perfect body shot. Ramos also lost the title belt he had won against Akifumi Shimoda in the process.
That fight was five months ago, an eternity for a young fighter trying to prove to himself and everybody else that the loss to Rigondeaux was a fluke. It seems like a light year before he can shake off any doubts he might have about his own ability; the longer he waits to get into the ring, the worse his own confidence levels might become.
“Oh it was hard, it was real hard dealing with that loss,” Ramos said over the phone in an exclusive interview with SecondsOut.com. “You don’t think that you’re going to lose, but it happened. I learned a lot about myself with that fight. I had to really figure out what I did wrong and it was hard personally to deal with it.”
What Ramos did learn was that everybody loses at some point. Oftentimes a loss actually makes a fighter better because it’s a reality check. The feeling of never being able to be toppled sometimes breeds complacency and the first loss usually wakes up the best fighters and teaches them to be at their best regardless of who is front of them.
“I felt invincible and that at that weight, nobody could be able to beat me,” he added. “I felt like I was the best in the world and that I’d never lose, ever. I won that title and then I lost it and it was hard. All I want now is to get that title back and prove that I am the best in the world. I learned to never take anybody lightly at all or to overlook anyone. I know now to always be 1000% ready and focused no matter who it is I fight. I know to never have any distractions and to be prepared for everything that’s in front of me.”
Moving forward, Ramos fights this Saturday inside the Sportsman’s Lodge inStudio City,Californiaagainst Efrain Esquivias, another young and unbeaten fighter. Certain to be a stiff challenge for Ramos, Esquivias does bring something to the table that not many fighters do: familiarity.
“I know him real well,” Ramos admitted. “We fought together in the amateurs and I’ve known him a long time. He’s a very strong puncher and he’s very aggressive. He’s a really good fighter and I know he’s going to come and bring it. It will be a great fight and I’m more than ready to fight him.”
Knowing his opponent could backfire because he could switch up his style just enough to confuse Ramos. However, Ramos understands this and proclaims that he won’t fall into any sort of trap of comfort because they fought years ago as kids. He’s fully aware that Esquivias has gotten better with age and Ramos expects a different fighter when they lock horns this weekend.
“I don’t think I’ll be more comfortable fighting him since I know him,” he said. “But I am more confident in myself and that I know him, I’ll be able to fight my fight. He’s a great, tough fighter but I know what I need to do. I’ll definitely be more aggressive going in. I want to force the issue, make him fight my fight and prove that the loss was a fluke. I’ll take more chances and push the pace.”
Ramos, who said he keeps a small, close-knit circle of friends and family around him for optimal support (he’s not into having a huge group of hangers-on), stated that his training camp was fantastic; maybe the best he’s ever had. He feels on top of the world and everything seems to be falling into place, as it should.
“In Training, there have been no distractions whatsoever and everything has been great,” he said. “I’ve been running at least six miles every single day and my stamina is in top condition. I’ve done a lot of sparring. I do about five minute rounds for twelve rounds and I’ve been doing this for weeks. I’ve had a great team prepare me for this fight and I’m going to be at my best.”