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Jose Ramirez, a born fighter in and out of the ring

Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank
Fighters Network

Jose Ramirez was born to fight, and not just in a boxing ring.

Ramirez has become a hot commodity in California’s San Joaquin (Central) Valley. Ramirez has decided to use his name not only to help local businesses pitch products, but also to call awareness to social issues.

And he has won a world title belt, thrilling the local area with dominating performances thus far.

Ramirez will defend his WBC world title belt for the second time when he faces Jose Zepeda Sunday evening at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California.

The 12-round bout will air live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes (7 p.m. ET/ 4 p.m. PT).

Ramirez successfully defended his world title belt in his last fight on Sept. 14, dropping Antonio Orozco twice en route to a one-sided decision win before a crowd of over 11,000 at the Save Mart Center.

The 26-year-old Ramirez (23-0, 16 knockouts), who grew up in the local farming community of Avenal, will be facing a fighter in Zepeda who has won his last seven bouts, five by knockout. Zepeda’s only defeat came at the hands of then-WBO lightweight titleholder Terry Flanagan in July of 2015.

Ramirez is not overlooking Zepeda.

“He is going to come to fight and he’s a good punches,” Ramirez told The Ring over the phone earlier this week. “Zepeda is a good fighter and he’s going to come in with nothing to lose. He’s tough and coming to win.”

Sunday will also mark the second time he will be working with trainer Robert Garcia after being trained by Freddie Roach since his pro debut in December of 2012.

Ramirez even rented out an apartment near Garcia’s Riverside (California) gym to work with the famed trainer and get quality sparring with top fighters. Ramirez sees the improvement in working with Garcia and believes he will only get better.

“Robert is such a great teacher,” said Ramirez, who is advised by Rick Mirigian and promoted by Top Rank. “I felt the difference in the Orozco fight where I was able to be more effective with my combinations and attack the body more behind my jab. I used more lateral movement as well.

“In the gym, Robert and I go over what we can improve on. The sparring I get at Robert’s gym is very good. We connect and I’ve learned a lot from him.”

Ramirez will figuratively be fighting two opponents. Besides Zepeda, Ramirez will be drawing attention to cancer research. A portion of ticket sales will go to the Cancer Research Institute in nearby Clovis, along with all money raised from the auction of his trunks, shirt, and shoes from the fight.

This is not the first time Ramirez has drawn attention to social issues. Ramirez traveled to Sacramento years ago to speak to lawmakers about releasing water from reservoirs to irrigate fields in the area during California’s drought period. Ramirez’s father worked in the agricultural fields in the area.

“No water meant the workers could not work in the fields and get paid,” said Ramirez. “A lot of workers depend on working in the fields to support their families.

“With the cancer research, both my grandparents died from cancer. Rick Mirigian’s mom is going through that as well. I met a six-year-old in the hospital recently who, before he passed away, said it was one of the best moments meeting me. Cancer affects everyone, whether it’s your family or friends. I just want to do my part and help out.”

A large crowd is expected at the Save Mart Center for Ramirez’s title defense. Ramirez has been grateful for the support throughout the years.

“I always appreciate the fans in the Central Valley. It means a lot when I sign an autograph or take a picture with them around Fresno. I fight for them.”

Francisco A. Salazar has written for since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper,, and He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at @FSalazarBoxing