On Friday night, in Corpus Christi, TX, WBO super middleweight champion Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez squeezed out a majority decision win over Jesse Hart to successfully defend his title. Scores of 114-114, 115-113, and 115-113 went in the champion’s favor despite a strong rally from Hart in the second half of the fight.
“I won every round. I beat him clearly again,” Ramirez (39-0, 25 KO’s) said. “I hurt my elbow in the eighth round, but if I didn’t hurt my elbow, I would’ve knocked him out. I am going to 175. I am ready to challenge [WBC light heavyweight champion Oleksandr] Gvozdyk.”
The action was very intense in the 12th and final round, as Ramirez battered Hart around the ring until the Philadelphia native turned the tide in final 15 seconds and appeared to hurt the champion, who held on until the final bell.
Hart, who lost a close decision to Ramirez 14 months ago as well, believes he did enough on this night.
“It was no contest,” said Hart (25-2, 21 KO’s). “I did everything to win this fight. Gilberto is a great fighter, and I have a lot of respect for him. He did have a great 12th round, but I came back to hurt him as well.”
Ramirez did effective body work early in the fight but in the later stages it was Hart who stormed back. That may have been because Ramirez appeared to injure his elbow and wasn’t able to effectively use his left hand afterwards.
Ramirez is still just 27 years old and says he will be moving up in weight to challenge the best at 175 pounds. It’s an impressive list of champions, from Gvozdyk, WBO champion Eleider Alvarez (who is rematching former champion Sergey Kovalev in a few months), WBA champion Dmitry Bivol, and IBF champion and power puncher Artur Beterbiev.
But who would the Mexican champion fare at 175? Ramirez definitely has the frame to move up in weight, that’s for sure, but he wasn’t a huge puncher at super middleweight so his lack of power vs. The division’s best light heavyweights could be an issue.
Ramirez is promoted by Top Rank, so a fight vs. Gvozdyk would be fairly easy to make. Bivol was fighting exclusively on HBO before they exited the sport, and Beterbiev appears to be linked to DAZN. Promoter Bob Arum had mentioned Ramirez as a possible foe in the future for either Canelo Alvarez or Gennady Golovkin but a move up in weight would all but kill that idea.
Maybe the winner of Alvarez-Kovalev II, as the fight will be aired on ESPN, would make sense as well for Ramirez. Either way he will have some options at 175.
As for Hart, he may have come up a bit short tonight, but no reason to hang his head. If Ramirez moves up he will likely be fighting for a title once again in the future.