Crowd pleasers: Zurdo Ramirez, JoJo Diaz, Seniesa Estrada win for LA fans Friday
LOS ANGELES, Calif., July 9, 2021 – Local favorites gave enthusiastic Southern California boxing fans the wins they wanted to see and made their case for bigger challenges and paydays in the future.
In the main event, former WBO World Super Middleweight champion Gilberto “Zurdo:” Ramirez of Mexico (42–0. 28 KOs) reminded fans what made him such an exciting prospect with his best performance in many years. In his third fight at light heavyweight, Ramirez took down the durable contender Sullivan Barrera of Miami (22-4, 14 KOs) with body shots, winning by TKO at 1:35 of the fourth round.
After two careful opening rounds, Ramirez saw something he could take advantage of in Barrera, and stormed after him. He scored his first body shot knockdown in the third round. Barrera survived it. Ramirez made the second one stick as referee Thomas Taylor waved off the fight in the fourth round.
“I was ready all this time for that shot,” said Ramirez. “It was beautiful.” It’s hard to disagree with his assessment. “Bivol, you’re next!” said Ramirez, naming WBA Super World Light Heavyweight Champion Dmitry Bivol of Russia, who is also undefeated and in desperate need of a decent opponent.
It’s a significant challenge for Ramirez, but it’s tempting to put up Ramirez’s fourth round stoppage of Barrera against his only other stoppage loss to Bivol. The Russian needed 11 rounds to stop the Cuban, and he didn’t land the eye catching power shots Ramirez did.
“Everybody sees a difference Zurdo Ramirez. This is my division,” he said. “I want all the titles, all the belts.”
It’s a terrific matchup for both men and the challenge they’ve both been looking for. But excitement over the Ramirez victory must be tempered by two facts. First, Barrera had two years of ring rust on him, and it showed. Second, Bivol is a trickier fighter, tactically brilliant at his
Diaz Jr. steps in, steps up against Fortuna
Joseph Diaz Jr. of Los Angeles (32-1-1, 15 KOs) also got back on track, putting in the work to win his first bout in the lightweight division. Diaz Jr. got the decision over veteran Javier Fortuna (36-3-1, 25 KOs) with scores of 117-110, 116-111, and 115-112. Diaz Jr. wins a WBC interim lightweight title.
Fortuna gave Diaz Jr. all he could handle, and it was precisely the kind of fight Diaz Jr. needed. Scores were even through the first half. There was plenty of close quarters action but at times it devolved into a messy brawl. An accidental headbutt opened a cut over Diaz Jr.’s left eye. One round later, referee Raul Caiz Jr. had enough of Diaz Jr. using the clenches to hold and hit Fortuna and docked him a point in the fourth round.
Give credit to Diaz Jr. for doubling down his efforts, digging in, and putting in the work to get the win. He targeted the body and when he was able to cut off the ring and pin Fortuna down, he showed off several impressive combinations to the head.
“I knew he was trying to dictate the pace, move around and box. I needed to stay calm and wear him down,” said Diaz Jr. “He was a warrior. I thought I would easily land body shots, but he’s a slick defensive fighter. He’s very talented. I wish him the best and I hope he continues.”
Diaz Jr. came close to dropping Fortuna in the ninth round. He was visibly tired and had to run from Diaz Jr. to make it back to the corner. Diaz Jr. caught Fortuna again in the 10th round with a hooks to the head and body and at this point, Diaz Jr. was pulling away on the cards to seal the victory, with his legion of LA fans and Golden Boy Boxing matchmaker Roberto Diaz cheering him on.
It was also Diaz Jr.’s first win as a father. He wore his son’s name “Zenith” on his trunks, and he brought his little boy into the ring where he was presented with a miniature WBC green belt of his own. “He’s my motivation to wake up every single day,” said Diaz Jr. “I’ve been busting my ass to have a better future for my son Zenith. I’ve been sparring guys 160, 168 pounds. I’m used to that type of power. I can fight these guys, all the top contenders and all the champions at 135 pounds.”
Diaz Jr. already has someone specific in mind, and he knows him well: stablemate Ryan Garcia. “Ryan Garcia, (Oscar) De La Hoya, let’s make this shit happen baby. I’m ready. 135, let’s get it!”
De La Hoya complimented Diaz Jr.’s performance but made no commitments. “JoJo once again showed a lot of guts, a lot of courage, a big heart. His first fight at 135 was not too shabby. He did a great job against a guy who’s been avoided for so many years. Garcia and Diaz? Do the fans want it? Let’s go!”
De La Hoya’s exuberance aside, it’s doubtful he would put two significant fan favorites up against each other anytime soon if he’s got other options.
Double trouble: Seniesa Estrada wins second division title
East Los Angeles native daughter Seniesa “Superbad” Estrada wanted a knockout win super bad against WBO World Light Flyweight champion Tenkai Tsunami of Japan (28-13-1, 16 KOs). She didn’t get one, so Estrada will settle for a dominant unanimous decision win (21-0, 8 KOs) and taking Tsunami’s title to become a two division work champion. Scores were 99-91 and 98-92 X 2.
Estrada’s speed and counterpunching skills neutralized nearly all of Tsunami’s offense. Estrada was far too fast and far too busy to let Tsunami do much damage. In the second round, Estrada hit Tsunami hard enough to make her stumble. This is when the two-minute rounds are frustrating for fighter and fans. Estrada also used her footwork to stay clear of any offensive effort by Tsunami. Referee Raul Caiz Sr. had to warn Estrada to keep her body punches up, rare with a female fighter. Her hody shots are as good as any female fighter.
Estrada’s right hook could not miss. What few punches Tsunami landed appeared to have little effect on Estrada. Estrada knew the bigger Tsunami would be a tough out. She worked hard for the stoppage and had Tsunami on the ropes twice with referee Caiz Sr. lurking. Tsunami’s vocal fans tried to encourage her ringside and she hung tough. Estrada continued her assault to the final bell.
“I feel I had a good performance,” said Estrada. “I had to really dig deep and show that I can fight on the inside, exchange punches and work the body. Tsunami is really tough, and I was surprised at her ability to take a lot of punches. Body was the main thing in this fight.
“It was very physical. I felt like I should have used my defense a lot more,” said Estrada. “But I have to remember she used to fight at bantamweight. She’s a bigger physical fighter. I didn’t feel her power, but I felt her heaviness coming forward.”
Estrada said it’s difficult finding worthy opponents. “My promoter is doing a great job forcing those fights to happen. A lot of these girls want to hold onto their belts. Maybe it’s their part time job, but this is a full time job for me. I want to be great, I want to fight champions whether in heavier weight classes or my weight class.”
One of those women was sitting ringside, former Olympian and current WBC World Flyweight champion. Estrada defeated Esparza in a near shutout on the cards in 2019 before the fight was stopped in the ninth round.
Asked about a rematch, Estrada said, “Is there unfinished business? I don’t think there is, I beat her fair and square. She can make all the excuses she wants but that’s the truth. She wanted to come here and witness greatness. We can settle it in the parking lot right now.” Ladies, wait until there’s a paycheck involved.
William Zepeda stops Hector Tanajara in six rounds
William Zepeda of Mexico (23-0, 21 KOs) picked up a TKO victory and the WBA Continental Americas Lightweight title with his sixth-round stoppage of Hector Tanajara of San Antonio (19-1, 5 KOs).
Zepeda made his intentions clear, bursting from the corner and letting his fists fly from the start of the fight. By the third round, Zepeda was picking Tanajara apart. His hand speed and combination punching overwhelmed Tanajara, who had to pick his spots to fire back. The Texan landed solid single shots at times, but they were not enough to push Zepeda back.
“I saw from the first exchange that he wouldn’t last with me.,” said Zepeda. “I imposed my will and game plan. He tried to get out, but he couldn’t.”
By the end of the sixth round, Zepeda was blasting away at will. No single punch was a game changer but when the offense was added up, Zepedea’s output was unceasing and relentless. As Tanajara made it on his feet back to his corner after six rounds, trainer Robert Garcia did the right thing and asked for the fight to be stopped for a Zepeda TKO victory. The outcome was inevitable, but more damage did not have to take place. “
“We knew this would be a tough challenge. That’s why we trained at 100 percent,” said Zepeda. “We may have come as the challenger, but we earned more opportunities. And we will keep earning opportunities.”
Naoka Fujioka retains her title
Naoka Fujioka of Japan (19-2-1, 7 KOs) prevailed by majority decision over Sulem Urbina Ochoa of Phoenix (12-2, 2 KOs) to hang onto her WBA World Flyweight title. Scores were 99-91, 96-94, and 95-95. It was the close fight on the latter two cards. The 45-year-old veteran relied in the end on her conditioning and accuracy to fend off Urbina. Urbina put in a terrific effort, but she wasn’t busy or powerful enough to take enough rounds away from Fujioka. Fujioka seemed a little surprised to pull off the win. The all action fight provided an example why the top women pros would benefit from the same three-minute rounds as their male counterparts. Just as one woman seemed she might gain ground, the round was over.
Super featherweight Lamont Roach Jr. of Maryland (21-1, 9 KOs) made quick work of Daniel Rosas of Mexico City (22-5-1, 14 KOs), delivering enough punishment to prompt referee Jerry Cantu to stop the bout at 2:14 of the second round. Roach Jr. hit Rosas with a solid body shot for a knockdown. Rosas got up, but Cantu saw little point in letting Rosas take much more.
Puerto Rican world champion Miguel Cotto was on hand to see his featherweight prospect Bryan Chevalier (16-1-1, 12 KOs) score a decision victory over James Wilkins of Dallas (9-2, 6 KOs). Scores were 97-92, 96-93, and 95-94. Chevalier wins a minor WBO/NABO title. After the victory, Chevalier dropped to one knee and proposed marriage to his girlfriend in the ring. He also got the decision from her in his favor.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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