NORTH HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez says he’s ready to revive his career and rebound after suffering his first professional loss against Dmitry Bivol last year and blowing weight a day before his canceled return bout against Gabriel Rosado in March.
The test standing in front of Ramirez (44-1, 30 KOs) when he returns to the ring on Oct. 7 at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas on DAZN will be former light heavyweight champion Joe Smith Jr. (28-4, 22 KOs).
After no longer being able to make the light heavyweight limit, the former super middleweight titlist Ramirez, as well as Smith, will both be making their cruiserweight debuts.
“The first defeat was tough. But I'm more hungry now and want to prove my best by getting the win. I've been training hard … The hard training is done already. I just need to sweat a little bit now,” Ramirez told BoxingScene.com in an interview after a training session at the Brickhouse Boxing Club.
“This fight is going to be great for me. It's a reset and back on track for me. I'm excited. It's going to be fireworks. I'm grateful for this big opportunity Golden Boy Promotions is presenting.”
After a six-fight run at 175 pounds, the Julian Chua-trained Ramirez said he simply could no longer make the weight.
“My body is growing. I'm still young. I want to challenge myself now and conquer a new division. I'm excited because Joe Smith is a good fighter. I know he will fight every round, and the same goes for me,” said Ramirez.
Ramirez said the scrap with Smith will take place at a contracted weight of 193 pounds.
“Fans can expect a different Zurdo Ramirez. I've reset myself. I'm just grateful to be here. I have one goal – to make a statement and win the fight,” said Ramirez.
In a separate interview with BoxingScene.com, Ramirez’s promoter Oscar De La Hoya urged Ramirez to kick his career into overdrive.
“I need for him to take it up three notches, you know, three gears,” said De La Hoya. “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.”
The 32-year-old, 14-year pro Ramirez has also set lofty goals for himself moving forward.
“Yeah, in the future, why not [make a heavyweight run],” I'm [6 foot 2 inches tall] and I can grow more muscle. It will be exciting to move up. I want to challenge myself. That's why I got into boxing,” said Ramirez.
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]gmail.com, or via www.ManoukAkopyan.com.