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Return of Zurdo: Ramirez vs Barrera on the pitch Friday, DAZN

Written By | Jul 9, 2021
Gilberto Ramirez (left) and Sullivan Barrera weigh in for their Friday fight in Los Angeles. Photo: Golden Boy Promotions Ramirez vs Barrerra

Gilberto Ramirez (left) and Sullivan Barrera weigh in for their Friday fight in Los Angeles. Photo: Golden Boy Promotions

LOS ANGELES, Calif., July 8, 2021 –When boxing fans last heard from former WBO World Super Middleweight champion Gilberto “Zurdo:” Ramirez, the undefeated Mexican southpaw (41-0. 27 KOs) had stalled in the division and hit an impasse with his promoter Top Rank. It was a disappointing development in a once-promising career.

Ramirez now looks toward reviving his potential after signing with Golden Boy Promotions starting Friday night in Los Angeles. Ramirez starts his campaign in the competitive light heavyweight division against durable opponent Sullivan Barrera of Florida vis Cuba (22-3, 14 KOs). Ramirez vs Barrera is supported by solid undercard fights, including two women’s championship bouts at the Banc of California Stadium live on DAZN at 9 pm ET/6 pm PT. The full undercard begins early in the afternoon on the Golden Boy Facebook Watch page.

Gilberto Ramirez showed tremendous career potential but stalled out at super middleweight. Photo: Golden Boy Promotions

Ramirez, now age 30, has only fought twice in the past 18 months. He stopped Tommy Karpency in four rounds in April 2019, then stalled out over his promotional squabbles. Last December, he staged a DIY PPV event from Galveston, Texas, and put on a lackluster performance against Alfonso Lopez, winning with a 10th  round TKO in an effort better forgotten.

Ramirez needs to look good against Barrera to resurrect the sense of excitement he once enjoyed. “I see every fight as an opportunity,” said Ramirez earlier in the week. “This is my chance to start my path to becoming a two-division world champion.” It’s also his chance to energize the fortunes of Golden Boy Promotions, which is In rebuilding mode after parting ways with Canelo Alvarez. Both hope it’s good timing for their partnership.

Ramirez: ‘I’m here to take the souls of all the warriors’

“I know Sullivan Barrera very well, and he knows me,” said Ramirez. “We know that each of us always comes well prepared and ready to put on a show. But at the end of the day, I’ll be the one to come out with my hands raised in victory. I’m going to come out with a record of 42 wins and 28 knockouts.”

Standing in the way is Barrera, who’s fought nearly every familiar name in the light heavyweight division and never disappoints even in a losing effort. Barrera has been away from boxing even longer than Ramirez. He lost a narrow decision to Jesse Hart in June 2019.

Sullivan Barrera is battle-tested and a tough challenge at every level. Photo: Golden Boy Boxing

After two years of being away from the ring, it’s great to be able to come back at such a high level,” said Barrera. “This is a great opportunity to show people what I am made of.

“Ramirez is a tough challenge. I know the kind of style he’s going to bring. He’s going to want to push me back and throw a lot of punches. But that’s not the kind of fight that I want. I want to be in the center of the ring, and I’m going to be the one pushing him back,” said Barrera. “Everyone knows what I have done in this division. My experience says a lot. I have some losses, but they were against very tough fighters. My experience will be a big factor.”

Ramirez doesn’t disagree. “I know this is a tough fight. It will be very difficult for me. He has a lot of experience, and he’s fought against a lot of good fighters. But he’s never faced anyone like me.

“This Friday, you will all see the best version of Zurdo Ramirez. I’m here to take all of the belts at light-heavyweight. I’m here to take the souls of all the warriors at this division.”

With opponents like the tricky Dmitry Bivol waiting in the wings and plenty of other popular powerhouses in the division, Ramirez can jump-start his stalled boxing battery with a flashy performance on Friday. Barrera can spoil his plans, but the real pressure is all on Ramirez. Barrera is vulnerable to knockdowns, having been dropped by Andre Ward, Vyacheslav Shabranskyy, Joe Smith Jr., and Bivol. But he’s durable. Ramirez has never been dropped. It’s Ramirez’s fight to lose.

Co-main event: Joesph Diaz Jr. steps in against Javier Fortuna

Joseph Diaz Jr. (left) steps up to the lightweight division for a test against Javier Fortuna. Photo: Golden Boy Boxing

After a disappointing draw in his last bout and losing his title on the scale, Joseph Diaz Jr. of Los Angeles (31-1-1, 15 KOs) moves up to the lightweight division, taking on veteran Javier Fortuna (36-2-1, 25 KOs). To his credit, Diaz Jr. has owned his poor performance in February against Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov. He seized the initiative when he learned stablemate Ryan Garcia had withdrawn from his planned bout with Fortuna and threw his name in the ring. It was a smart move and a great matchup for everyone.

The winner becomes the WBC interim titleholder, with the potential of a fight against champion Devin Haney. It’s nice when a plan comes together – and it doesn’t happen enough in boxing.

Women at war: Estrada vs Tsunami. Fujioka vs Urbina

Seniesa Estrada (right) had too much power and speed for reigning champion Anabel Ortiz. Photo: Tom Hogan, Hogan Photos / Golden Boy Boxing

Seniesa Estrada (right) had too much power and speed for reigning champion Anabel Ortiz. Photo: Tom Hogan, Hogan Photos / Golden Boy Boxing

Two world championship fights open the DAZN undercard. WBO World Light Flyweight Tenkai Tsunami of Japan (28-12-1, 16 KOs) faces rising star Seneisa Estrada of Los Angeles (20-0, 8 KOs). It will be Tsunami’s fourth title defense and by far her toughest. Estrada has delivered impressive performances and is one of the few legitimate women’s knockout threats. Estrada is moving up a division after winning the WBA World Strawweight title in her last bout. She is currently the number one ranked strawweight and has a solid shot at becoming a two-division world champion in two fights.

Naoko Fujioka of Japan (18-2-1, 7 KOs) faces Sulem Urbina Ochoa of Phoenix (12-1, 2 KOs) for Fujoika’s WBA World Flyweight title. Fukioka is a 45-year-old veteran who last fought to a split decision win over Tsunami in 2019. Urbina hopes to get back on track after her first loss to Olympic bronze medalist Marlen Esparza.

Give the Golden Boy Promotions team plenty of credit for featuring two women’s title fights on this card. Matchmaker Robert Diaz and President Eric Gomez delivered two entertaining bouts to advance women’s professional prizefighting.

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.

Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story.  

Copyright © 2021

Gayle Falkenthal

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, MS, APR, is President of the Falcon Valley Group, a San Diego based communications consulting firm. Falkenthal is a veteran award-winning broadcast and print journalist, editor, producer, talk host and commentator. She is an instructor at National University in San Diego, and previously taught in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University.