Robeisy Ramirez is looking to rectify his pro debut
The red carpet could not have been laid out in a more pristine, smooth manner 11 months ago for two-time Cuban gold medalist Robeisy Ramirez. He had the sensational backstory, escaping from Cuba, defying drug cartels, armed checkpoints and bleached hair to arrive in the United States.
He spit in the eye of the Cuban sports system.
His pro career wasn’t meant to be lit with a match as much as it was supposed to be launched into the boxing stratosphere.
There was just one stubby problem on a humid August night in Philadelphia, at Temple University’s Liacouras Center: Adan Gonzales.
Gonzales pulled off one of the biggest upsets in 2019 when he knocked down Ramirez in the first round en route to a four-round split-decision. It’s been almost a year since Gonzales (5-2-2, 2 knockouts) last fought.
Ramirez (3-1, 3 KOs) will be looking to avenge that loss, fighting for the third time in six months when he faces Gonzales, 23, in a rematch scheduled for six rounds Thursday night.
The fight is on the undercard of the Jose Pedraza-Mikkel LesPierre junior welterweight main event and will be broadcast live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes (8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT) from the MGM Grand Bubble in Las Vegas.
Ramirez, 26, says he’s learned from the loss.
In their first fight, punch stats favored Ramirez. The Cuban southpaw landed 51 (22 body shots) of 161 (31.7%) total punches, with 9 of 41 jabs (22%) connected and 42 (22 body) of 120 (35%) landed power shots.
Gonzales connected on 43 (21 body) of 262 (16.4%) total punches, connecting on just 3 of 79 jabs (3.8%), but it was his punishing 40 (21 body) of 183 (21.9%) power shots that may have spelled the difference.
Robeisy is trying to erase the indelible image that keeps getting repeated (pictured above this story).
“I learned that there are no easy opponents in boxing,” Ramirez said. “There are a lot of things in professional fighting that I wasn’t accustomed to that I know now. I didn’t lock myself in my bedroom after the loss. I tried to stay positive among the negative stuff.
“I took it as a learning experience. That’s what I’ve been working on. I definitely learned from that first fight.”
Ramirez admits Gonzales surprised him in their first fight.
“But that was my fault,” Ramirez said. “Even though I feel that way, I studied him and I started a little slow. I got knocked down, but I still think that I won.”
Gonzales was offered the rematch two weeks ago. He’s coming back from an elbow injury, which he says curtailed his activity after beating Ramirez last year. He also enters the fight very motivated, trying to emotionally recover from the murder of his cousin, Jeremiah Baca, in January during an attempted robbery in Denver.
“I’m fighting for him on July 2,” Gonzales told The Ring’s Ryan O’Hara. “I’m not fighting just for him; I’m fighting for my kids, my family, and my city. All the attention is on me.”
He beat Ramirez once and he apparently feels that he can do it again. Ramirez is angry that the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission changed the first fight with Gonzales from a six-round fight to a four-rounder.
“Otherwise, (Gonzales) would have never beat me,” Ramirez said. “This time around, he isn’t going to surprise me. I know his boxing skills. I have the ‘Doctor,’ Ismael Salas, training me. He’s taught me professional boxing.
“I saw in another interview that (Gonzales) said I would feel his power this time around. I don’t know what he’s talking about, because he knocked me down when I was off balance. What he did the whole fight was push me. He can say whatever he wants.
“I’m taking this fight as just another fight. What I want to show everyone this time around is that I’m completely different from the Robeisy he faced the first time.”
Ramirez is aware that Hall of Famers Bernard Hopkins and Juan Manual Marquez lost their pro debuts. He’s aware that other great fighters have suffered losses early in their careers, too, like Vasiliy Lomachenko dropping his second pro fight. Ramirez stressed the importance of a positive response the next time.
“It’s better that this happened in my pro debut than later on in my career,” Ramirez said. “I’m going to show that I’m getting better with each fight.”
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been working for Ring Magazine/RingTV.com since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on twitter @JSantoliquito.