Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez has had a forgettable last year mired by a unanimous decision defeat against Dmitry Bivol last November and blowing weight in his originally scheduled bounceback fight in March against Gabriel Rosado. 

Ramirez showed up on the day of the weigh-in well over the contracted limit, and his light heavyweight fight was scrapped altogether. 

Ramirez (44-1, 30 KOs) – a former super middleweight titlist – wasn’t able to score a world title during his six-fight stint at 175 pounds, and now, he’s climbing up to cruiserweight to face former light heavyweight champion Joe Smith Jr. on October 7 at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas on DAZN. 

Ramirez’s promoter Oscar De La Hoya wants to see the 32-year-old Mexican fight with a sense of increased urgency moving forward. 

“I need for him to take it up three notches, you know, three gears,” De La Hoya told in an interview. “He fought Bivol on first gear. I need for him to just jump up to, I don't know, seventh gear. Just go and throw punches, fight elusive, fight with passion. Because he's always fighting in one mode. Switch it up. This is your career. Your window is getting smaller and smaller. Take advantage of it. This is another opportunity with Joe Smith – and he's no walk in the park. But if Zurdo beats Joe Smith impressively, then he's back on top. 

Immediately following his debacle on the scales, Ramirez said he was embarrassed and upset with his actions and promised that it would never happen again.

“I've just given him a lot of encouragement,” said De La Hoya. “You have your team [with head coach Julian Chua], who is training you. Try to switch up your style. That can work ... I've been telling him we're in his corner. I see his training is a little different. He's a little more active, which is great. We'll see come October 7.” 

Ramirez can weigh up to 200 pounds for his cruiserweight debut, but he already has more sizable aspirations, as he’s stated that he’s open to moving up to heavyweight to fight Anthony Joshua. 

But first, he must face the always rugged and ready Smith. 

Smith (28-4, 22 KOs) will also be making his cruiserweight debut after fighting at 175 pounds his entire career, which started in 2009.

The 34-year-old New York native Smith last fought in July 2022 and lost his WBO title via second-round stoppage against Artur Beterbiev. 

Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer, and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, through email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at], or via