Jose Ramirez will take on Jose Pedraza on Feb. 5 in Fresno
Jose Ramirez will finally make his long-awaited return to the ring, but against a very formidable opponent.
Ramirez will face Jose Pedraza on Feb. 5, Top Rank officially announced Thursday afternoon. The 12-round bout will take place at the Save Mart Center in Ramirez’s hometown of Fresno, California (ESPN+)
The fight will be a homecoming for Ramirez, who draws sold-out crowds to the Save Mart Center, where he has fought five times. His last fight there took place in February 2019, defeating Jose Zepeda by unanimous decision in a very close fight.
“Jose Ramirez has always demanded the biggest challenges, and he’s back in there with a tough champion in Jose Pedraza,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “There are few more exciting atmospheres in boxing than when Jose fights in the Central Valley (of California). The fans there love Jose, and he embodies the region’s blue-collar work ethic.”
Ramirez (26-1, 17 knockouts) last fought on May 22 against Josh Taylor for the undisputed junior welterweight championship. Ramirez was the more-effective fighter during the first half of the fight until he was dropped in round 6. Ramirez was again dropped in round 8, rallied late in the fight, but came up short.
The 29-year-old would lose his WBC and WBO world title belts.
The clash between Ramirez and Zepeda will be another chapter of the Mexico-Puerto Rico rivalry. Ramirez, who is ranked No. 2 by The Ring, understands a win over Pedraza puts him back in the hunt again to fight for a world title.
“I am motivated to become world champion once again, and it begins with a tough fight against Pedraza,” said Ramirez, who is managed by Rick Mirigian. “There are no better fans than the ones who pack the Save Mart Center every time I fight. The Central Valley is my home, and it is always a great honor to perform for my people.”
Pedraza (29-3, 14 KOs), who resides in Cidra, Puerto Rico, made his debut at 140 pounds in September 2019, losing by unanimous decision to Jose Zepeda. He has since won his last three bouts, with the last win coming on June 12, stopping previously-unbeaten Julian Rodriguez after round 8.
A win over Ramirez could put Pedraza amongst the elite fighters at 140 pounds.
“The new year will bring a big opportunity to battle against a former world champion like Jose Ramirez,” said Pedraza, a former world titleholder at 130 and 135 pounds. “This fight is very important for me because I know this will be the fight that will give me the opportunity to win a world title in a third weight division.
“There is no space for a loss. Not on my record, and much less in my mind. I know that Ramirez is a great fighter and always comes well prepared. He always comes in shape to give the fans a great fight.”
Also on the Top Rank card, Olympic silver medalist Richard Torrez, Jr. will make his pro debut.
Torrez, who signed a promotional deal last month with Top Rank, was a U.S. National Championships gold medalist in 2017 and 2018. He finished his amateur career with a record of 154-10.
“I can think of no better place to turn pro than in front of my Central Valley friends and family,” said Torrez, who grew up about an hour away in Tulare. “They’ve supported me my entire amateur career, and I am thrilled that they will see the start of my professional journey.”
On the undercard, junior lightweight Karlos Balderas (11-1, 10 KOs) and lightweight Raymond Muratalla (13-0, 11 KOs) will fight in separate bouts. Middleweight prospect Javier Martinez (5-0, 2 KOs) and heavyweight Antonio Mireles (2-0, 2 KOs) will also appear on the Top Rank card.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing