Monday, September 25, 2023  |



Robeisy Ramirez aims to conquer a new fan base in his defense against Satoshi Shimizu

Robeisy Ramirez - Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank
Fighters Network

It is hard for a Cuban expat to feel at home anywhere in the world. The Revolution scattered many of the embattled island’s sons to dozens of locations around the world, and only those live in a handful of communities in the US feel as if they are fighting in their own backyard.

Add a sizable Olympic and amateur experience to that recipe, and you’ll see why Robeisy Ramirez feels just as comfortable fighting anywhere between Las Vegas, Miami, Scotland or now Japan, where in the wee hours of the US morning he will be facing local contender Satoshi “Diamond Left” Shimizu in a defense of Ramirez’s WBO featherweight belt.

“In February of last year, I was in Scotland fighting (against Eric Donovan) in the co-main event of Taylor-Catteral,” said Ramirez during a halt of his training duties a few days ago. “I believed it was a target for me because the fans are great and it’s a great place to fight. They knew me already from London in the Olympics, and then they saw me fighting there last year again. I honestly don’t have a problem with the location, as long as the fights are good and the fans like it. This is what I want to do in Japan, have a good fight and leave fans knowing a little bit more about me and my career.”

Ramirez will take on Shimizu on Tuesday, July 25, at Tokyo’s Ariake Arena in the co-feature to the showdown between  WBC/WBO junior featherweight champion Stephen Fulton and pound-for-pound king Naoya “Monster” Inoue, in a card that will stream live in the U.S. on ESPN+.

Ramirez (12-1, 7 KOs), a two-time Olympic gold medalist, took the fast track to becoming a world champion. In 2022, the 29-year-old stopped Donovan and then positioned himself for title contention by defeating then-unbeaten contender Abraham Nova in June. He later took care of Jose Matias Romero via ninth-round stoppage in October.

With only a dozen fights under his belt and one of them being a loss, to boot, Ramirez may have felt the pressure to do-or-die in the vacant title bout that came after those fights, but he claims that he didn’t.

“I felt really well,”said Ramirez about the fight in which he defeated former world champ Isaac Dogboe on April 1 to capture the vacant featherweight trinket. “I believe we’ve done a fast job, taking the right steps to get to this first title. We achieved our goal and we are ready for the fights that are already coming.”

Ramirez, who trains in Las Vegas with world-renowned fellow Cuban expat Ismael Salas, learned early in his career that every foe needs to be taken seriously when he was upset by unheralded trialhorse Adan Gonzales in his pro debut.

He’s not making that same mistake against Shimizu (11-1, 10 KOs), a 37-year-old southpaw making his first attempt at a world title after being a two-time Olympian and 2012 bronze medalist.

“No defense is easy. Every opponent has its complications,” said Ramirez about his foe, who is coming off a second-round stoppage win over Landy Cris Leon last December. “I take my fights with a lot of responsibility and I put a lot of attention to every opponent. What I know is that he’s a lefty, (but) as far as him being my rival I don’t know much about him. I believe he was chosen for his record and for being Japanese and fighting at home. He’s a boxer who receives a lot of respect there, he’s well-ranked, so it was a good fit for us.

“(Choosing him as an opponent) was a calculated effort because beyond the opponent and his abilities is the experience of fighting in Japan, a country I never visited. Those who know that country and those who have fought there tell me it’s a great experience.”

Ramirez’s experience in Japan got a bit rough in the hours leading up to the fight, when the Cuban embassy called the card’s promoter and demanded that the Cuban national anthem and flag are not used during the fight, due to Ramirez’s status as a defector and a de-facto “traitor” to the revolution.

Ramirez is unfazed by the whole situation.

Robeisy Ramirez ready to face Satoshi Shimizu in Japan – Photo by Naoki Fukuda

“Today (…) my team informed me of another vicious and tyrannical act of the Cuban dictatorship against me,” said Ramirez in a heartfelt social media post. “Needless to say, I strongly denounce this vile attempt at intimidation. I am a free man. The anthem, like the flag, does not belong to the regime. Both the flag and the anthem I carry in my heart.”

Still, he feels that there is more value in traveling the world as an ambassador of Cuban freedom even though it could be riskier from a boxing standpoint.

“Due to our dictatorship there I can’t fight in Cuba, but Miami is like my house to me. Going to Japan is literally going to my opponent’s backyard’s, but I truly believe that this has never been an impediment to me. Like I said, I’m used to fighting away from Cuba and I truly don’t believe it will have a lot to do with this fight.”

With great names at play in the vicinity of the featherweight division, including a potential fight against Inoue in a future attempt by “The Monster” to invade yet another division, Ramirez will have plenty of opponents to choose from and plenty of places to face them in.

“There are a lot of great quality fighters at 126. I am here to face the best. I am not going to waste my time. The unbeaten record is more a myth than anything else, I don’t see it as relevant to this business and this sport. I simply hope to have great fights and give the fans a good show. With that we’re good.

“I always try to leave a good impression in the ring because I am a fighter who goes out to look for the action. I take the fight to my opponent. My fight plan is always laid out in the ring, and the strategy always belong to my trainer Ismael Salas. My job is to work hard and make the most of the great training camp I had. And then just get to Japan and look great up in that ring.”


Diego M. Morilla writes for The Ring since 2013. He has also written for, and many other magazines, websites, newspapers and outlets since 1993. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and an elector for the International Boxing Hall of Fame. He has won two first-place awards in the BWAA’s annual writing contest, and he is the moderator of The Ring’s Women’s Ratings Panel. He served as copy editor for the second era of The Ring en Español (2018-2020) and is currently a writer and editor for