Sunday, September 15, 2019  |

News

Jose Ramirez on Maurice Hooker: “The fans are in for a potential Fight of the Year’

Photo by Mikey Williams / Top Rank
26
Jul

Since he first laced up the gloves as a child, Jose Ramirez has accomplished all of his goals thus far in boxing.

Within a five-year span, he became a member of the U.S. Olympic team and won a world title as a professional, single achievements the vast majority of fighters can only dream of.

In the year 2019, Ramirez aims to become a unified titleholder, another goal he fully believes will happen despite the quality of the opponent in front of him.

On Saturday, the 26-year-old Ramirez will face WBO titleholder Maurice Hooker in a clash of unbeaten junior welterweights at the College Park Center in Arlington, Texas. The 12-round bout will stream live on DAZN (9:00 p.m. ET/ 6:00 p.m. PT).

Ramirez has made two defenses of the WBC title he won from Amir Imam by 12-round unanimous decision in March 2017 . After a one-sided victory over Antonio Orozco on September, he had to grind out a majority decision win over Jose Zepeda in February.

The victory over Zepeda was not without criticism. Ramirez took it all in stride, acknowledging that his opponent’s awkwardness caused problems. He also claimed, however, that he had taken the necessary steps to outwork Zepeda in the second half.

“It was a difficult fight because there were a few headbutts early on and I developed a cut over my eye,” Ramirez told The Ring. “He kept moving forward and putting his weight on me. It made it a little complicated, but it’s part of boxing. We live and we learn. Sometimes we have to deal with those fighters that have awkward styles; we learn from that.”

Ramirez, who is rated No. 3 by The Ring at 140 pounds, will have to be at his very best. Hooker doesn’t know how to lose, and, being from nearby Dallas, he will benefit greatly from a partisan crowd.

For Ramirez, however, the location of this matchup was incidental.

“I’m looking at this as the biggest fight of my career,” said Ramirez, who is advised by Rick Mirigian. “I’m a very humble and hard-working champion. I’m training myself as best I can. I have this energy that I’ve never felt before, and it has to do with the magnitude of the fight.

“The fans are going to be in for a spectacular fight — a potential Fight of the Year. These fights don’t happen too often, when two promoters are willing to work with each other and make fights like this happen. I’m thankful for the opportunity, through my promoter, and I make the bigger sacrifice by having the fight on DAZN (instead of ESPN). It’s a dream come true.”

Ramirez (right) cracks Orozco. Photo by Mikey Williams/ Top Rank

This will be the third time that Ramirez has worked with coach Robert Garcia. From his professional debut in December 2012, he had trained under the guidance of acclaimed trainer Freddie Roach, but his inner circle believed Garcia was the better fit.

Promoter Bob Arum told The Ring that Ramirez has improved with Garcia in command. The unbeaten titleholder has also gained a greater appreciation of how the Garcia family works in the gym, whether it’s Garcia’s two sons working the mitts or patriarch Eduardo Garcia giving advice in between rounds of sparring.

“Seeing how the Garcia family works and how strong and close they are really impacts me,” said Ramirez. “Everyone supports one another, Robert and (his two sons) and the father (Eduardo Garcia). You feed off that motivation, and I get excited to train every day because of how close the family is. There are so many fighters in the gym and we all push one another. There’s a good competitiveness in the gym.

“I train hard. I have my strength-and-conditioning coach and Robert to keep an eye on me. When they tell me, ‘Jose, take a day off,’ I take a day off. Or they’ll tell me to focus on strength and conditioning and take a day off from the mitts. I do my best to take care of my body.”

Ramirez will be fighting several hundred miles away from his hometown of Avenal, which is located about 30 miles from Fresno in the middle of California’s vast Central Valley. He has been an outspoken advocate for farmworkers and immigration rights, including releasing more water from reservoirs for local growers.

He hopes to continue using his celebrity on the ESPN platforms – which has an exclusive deal with Top Rank – to continue promoting worthy causes.

“I’m very blessed to be from the community I grew up in,” Ramirez said. “The support I’ve received over the years in Avenal and in the area is a blessing. I’m thankful that I get to represent hard-working and great people from Avenal. I’m very proud to represent Fresno and Avenal. It’s who I am and no matter where I go, I always carry the people in the area with me. I’ve always been open because I want everyone, including boxing fans, to see who the real me is.”

Should Ramirez come out victorious Saturday night, he will attempt to become the undisputed champion at 140 pounds. It’s just another goal that he believes will happen.

“We have goals to accomplish,” said Ramirez. “It started with my goal to become an Olympian and then to become a world champion. Now to win two belts and become a unified champion; not too many people get this far. I’m very blessed. I’m very proud of myself and I train with nothing but pride, thinking about my family, my community and myself.”

 

Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing

 

 

Struggling to locate a copy of The Ring Magazine? Try here or Subscribe

You can order the current issue, which is on newsstands, or back issues from our subscribe page.

No posts found.