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Gilberto Ramirez Cruises To Win Over Joe Smith Jr.

Gilberto Ramirez Cruises To Win Over Joe Smith Jr. featured image
Gilberto Ramirez (L) after punching Joe Smith Jr. (R) at their cruiserweight non-title bout at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, Nevada, held on October 7th. (Photo by ESPN)

The non-title bout between Mexican contender Gilberto Ramirez and American contender Joe Smith Jr. saw the two light-heavyweights make the leap to cruiserweight while they battled one another. Both fighters had previously suffered losses to the respective world champions of the 175 lbs division. The newly-promoted cruiserweights headlined a Golden Boy fight card at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, Nevada, on October 7th, where Ramirez emerged as the winner by unanimous decision.

The ten-round main event was held at cruiserweight, with both fighters deciding to test themselves 25 lbs above their previous limit of 175 lbs at light-heavyweight. The contest was supposed to feature two fighters with similar styles facing each other, but instead, it featured Gilberto Ramirez (45-1, 30 KO’s) displaying an impressive amount of skill rather than his usual approach, which revolves around pressuring fighters on the inside.

Joe Smith Jr.’s (28-5, 22 KO’s) style relied on toughness and power, and fighting at a higher weight seemed to have suited him, judging by his battle against the southpaw-stanced Ramirez. However, Ramirez proved to be the better man after clearly improving his defensive, boxing, and counterpunching skills.

Throughout all ten rounds, Smith sought to move forward at every point, but Ramirez’s well-developed defense and counterpunching capabilities effectively neutralized Smith’s attempts. The American cruiserweight did prove to be a threat at times, managing to land hard shots whenever he connected cleanly, but Ramirez himself didn’t lack in the resilience department.

It was Ramirez’s carefully planned strategy to remain effective on the backfoot that proved to be the deciding factor in this contest. He won the majority of rounds based on well-timed counters and slick boxing, always ensuring that he was the more active and effective fighter, even with Smith’s hard punches occasionally slipping through his defense.

After ten rounds, Ramirez was announced the winner by unanimous decision, with all three judges’ scores of 99-91 reflecting how efficiently Gilberto Ramirez had performed in the face of Joe Smith’s constant pressure.

Gilberto Ramirez has now become a viable contender at cruiserweight, although given the talent of all four different world champions in his division, he may yet face an uphill battle if he plans to go for world title glory.

As the WBA has dictated, the fight between Ramirez and Smith was ruled as a WBA “eliminator”, though it has not been specified whether the winner would become the mandatory challenger to the WBA title ― currently held by Arsen Goulamirian (27-0, 18 KO’s) who is designated as the WBA ‘super’ champion, or need to face another contender to gain the opportunity to fight for Goulamirian’s world title. In any case, Gilbeto Ramirez’ chances at becoming a world champion at cruiserweight have significantly soared following his victory over Joe Smith Jr.

The competition at cruiserweight is fierce, with several champions and contenders who can be considered elite. Though it is still undecided who is regarded as the cream of the crop, Ramirez faces a difficult journey given the talent he will encounter when looking to challenge for a title. However, the hardships he may face are not without rewards as there are four different titles for him to win, and thus, four different paths for him to take.

The rest of the fight card featured mostly prospects, although there was a significant match between two super middleweight contenders: Uzbek fighter Bektemir Melikuziev (13-1, 10 KO’s) and American contender Alantez Fox (28-5-1, 13 KO’s).

Fox had already been on a losing streak prior to facing Melikuziev, who has been on a path to redemption since suffering a surprising knockout loss to American veteran Gabriel Rosado (26-17-1, 15 KO’s). The Uzbek fighter has been on a winning streak since his first career loss, and in the match prior to facing Fox, Melikuziev avenged this loss in April by defeating Rosado via unanimous decision.

Given the contrasting forms of both fighters, the match was virtually a foregone conclusion for Melikuziev, who went on to steamroll Alantez Fox, eventually stopping him in the fourth round. Bektemir Melikuziev’s performance was solid, though Fox’s poor form over his previous two matches does not indicate that Melikuziev is among the best contenders at super middleweight. He will likely need to step up against one of these contenders if he hopes to make a legitimate bid for a world championship.

The Golden Boy event was further broadcasted by DAZN, with The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, Nevada, serving as the chosen venue where the fighters could showcase their boxing abilities.