Golden Boy Promotions, which signed light heavyweight contender Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez last week, is already in talks with the team of world titlist Dmitry Bivol to match them later in the year, both camps told BoxingScene on Monday.
Golden Boy CEO Oscar De La Hoya said former super middleweight world titleholder Ramirez’s first fight with Golden Boy likely will be in April and then he hopes to make the fight with Bivol, envisioning it taking place in November or December.
“I’m hoping in April we can get him back in the ring,” De La Hoya said. “If feel that there are some good name fighters out there for him, some good competition. But eventually down the road we want to get him that big event, that big fight.
“Bivol – that’s a fight we love. We’ve been talking to Bivol and there’s been some progress. We feel very optimistic we can do something with him. That’s the type of fight the public deserves to watch, a fight with those two names. It would be an incredible fight. There’s a very good chance of it happening.”
A fight with Bivol is also one that Ramirez wants.
“Bivol is someone who has always been on the radar and I have full faith in (Golden Boy matchmaker) Robert Diaz to put together the best fights for me,” Ramirez said.
“Unification has always been the goal. I know I’m the best in the division and hope to make this happens for the history books in the near future.”
Vadim Kornilov, Bivol’s manager, confirmed to BoxingScene that indeed there have been discussions with Golden Boy about making the 175-pound world title fight.
“We’ve been talking a long time about Bivol fighting Ramirez and now that Ramirez has signed with Golden Boy, we’re on the same page. We want to do the fight,” Kornilov said. “It’s not hard to make things work.”
Kornilov noted that he has an excellent relationship with Golden Boy, which promotes one of the fighters he manages, super middleweight up-and-comer Bektemir “Bully” Melikuziev.
Kornilov said Bivol’s priority is to get a unification fight but none is currently available. Two-belt champion Artur Beterbiev is scheduled to defend his title on March 20 against Adam Deines and then likely headed to a three-belt unification fight with the winner of the postponed vacant title bout between Joe Smith Jr. and Maxim Vlasov.
“We’re interested in the unifications but we haven’t gotten any offers,” Kornilov said. “If a unification fight doesn’t happen, Zurdo is the biggest fight out there. It’s a good matchup. I think it’s a good competitive fight with Gilberto being a tough Mexican fighter. They will both try to win the fight. I kind of want to see how serous Gilberto is about the fight. Is he ready to face the best? That is the question. But we like the fight and so we are working on it.”
Bivol would also have a fight before the potential showdown with Ramirez. Kornilov said he is working with Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, which has promoted Bivol’s last two fights even though they have no promotional deal, on a spring fight Bivol.
“Matchroom is working on a fight in the U.K. in April or May, a fight to get Bivol back in the ring and then hopefully we can make that fight with Ramirez. I think we can make things work as long as everybody wants it.”
De La Hoya said the Ramirez side definitely wants it, and it’s a fight that could be made with no broadcaster issues as Golden Boy and Matchroom Boxing both have deals with DAZN.
“We’re talking. The progress has been great. I have good feeling about this,” De La Hoya said. “I like Bivol. He’s a true fighter in the ring and he’s willing to fight anybody.”
De La Hoya was also pleased to add Ramirez to Golden Boy’s stable.
“He’s a top-tier add on to Golden Boy and we feel very excited about the future with him,” De La Hoya said. “I think he can give any light heavyweight a run for their money. His record speaks for itself.”
De La Hoya added that he believes Ramirez can make a run at surpassing the 50-0 record that Floyd Mayweather retired with in 2017.
“We feel that with the fights that are out there for him, with the competition that is out there for him we feel that we can make him a big star,” De La Hoya said. “Obviously, with the Golden Boy machine behind him, we feel we can make him a star.”
Ramirez said he is very comfortable with the direction his career will head in under Golden Boy’s guidance.
“Ultimately, Golden Boy understood the goals and agendas I set for myself and I felt the strong support from Oscar and his team,” Ramirez said. “It’s a multi-fight deal with potential for something longer pending this first experience. From all the conversations my team and I have had with Golden Boy, I felt comfortable with them and the future opportunities that will arise from our relationship.
“Oscar is a great guy and it’s been nothing but a pleasure dealing with him and his team. As my relationship with Golden Boy continues to grow, I’m sure we (De La Hoya) will become closer. He’s a champion and one of the greatest to ever lace up the gloves.”
Ramirez (41-0, 27 KOs), 29, a southpaw from Mexico, who had been with Top Rank for years before going out on his own when they parted ways, has only fought once since April 2019 on a card his own company, Zurdo Promotions, put on in December. Ramirez knocked out Alfonso Lopez in the 10th round. Ramirez owns wins over Arthur Abraham, from whom he claimed a super middleweight belt in 2016, Jesse Hart (twice) and Roamer Alexis Angulo.
The 30-year-old Bivol (17-0, 11 KOs), of Russia, has made six light heavyweight title defenses, counting wins over Smith, former champion Jean Pascal and Sullivan Barrera among them. But Bivol has not boxed since a unanimous decision rout of Lenin Castillo to retain the belt in October 2019.
Dan Rafael was ESPN.com's senior boxing writer for fifteen years, and covered the sport for five years at USA Today. He was the 2013 BWAA Nat Fleischer Award winner for excellence in boxing journalism.