Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez is back.

For the first time in 20 months, the former super middleweight titlist made his way to a boxing ring for a sanctioned prizefight. Ramirez dug deep to turn away a determined but outmatched Alfonso Lopez in a 10th round knockout win Friday evening at Galveston Island Convention Center in Galveston, Texas.

Ramirez scored knockdowns in rounds two and ten, the latter producing an immediate end to the fight at 0:59 of round ten.

“I felt great,” Ramirez exclaimed to Fite’s Matt Striker after picking up his first win after a career-long layoff. “I was gone for [more than] a year and now I’m back.”

In addition to the lengthy layoff, the bout marked the first for Ramirez since severing ties with longtime promoter Top Rank earlier this year. Now fighting under his own Zurdo Promotions banner, Ramirez has vowed to take full control of his career moving forward.

The unbeaten southpaw fromMazatlan, Mexico began the opening round measuring up Houston’s Lopez, poking his jab upstairs and to the body. Lopez scored the bout’s first significant blow, a straight right hand which snapped back the head of Ramirez midway through the opening round. Ramirez responded with a long uppercut, a weapon with which he found repeat success in the early going.

 Lopez came out strong at the start of round two, landing a four punch combination while Ramirez was along the ropes. It was as much success as he would enjoy to that point, as things would get much worse in a hurry. Ramirez found his groove, landing a shot from long range to send Lopez crashing to the canvas in a heap for the bout’s first knockdown midway through the round.

To his credit, Lopez dusted himself off and insisted on continuing to bring the fight to Ramirez, It worked in the early stages of round three. Ramirez once again found himself lying on the ropes, where Lopez moved in and let rip a left hook which found the target. Ramirez boxed his way out of trouble, spinning around Lopez and positioning him to the center of the ring where he landed a crisp right hook. Ramirez snapped a one-two which snapped back Lopez’s head in the final 30 seconds, rocking him again with a follow-up combo before the bell.

Ramirez connected with a right uppercut and straight left hand to once again hurt Lopez in round four. Lopez never relented, laying on the bigger Ramirez and initiating several exchanges over the back half of the frame. Ramirez closed strong, working his right hook to the body while setting up everything with the jab.

Lopez took the lead for pockets of rounds five and six, with Ramirez boxing at times and biting down to trade when necessary. Ramirez picked up the pace midway through round six, landing in combination along the ropes. Lopez began to drop his guard to protect his body, leaving himself open for a straight left upstairs and with Ramirez landing a six-punch combination to end the first half of the fight. 

Round seven saw an energy surge from Lopez, who began to time Ramirez and get the better of exchanges. Ramirez was still landing the cleaner blows but was warned by referee Jay Nady for excessive holding and forced to work harder to fend off a determined Lopez.

Ramirez regained control of the fight midway through round eight, riding out a mid-ring exchange to catch Lopez with a straight left hand. Lopez responded with a left hook, though acting surprised that it didn’t at all budge the tall and lean Mexican southpaw.

Lopez found himself under siege late in round nine, as Ramirez smartly boxed his way inside before letting his hands go. A brief scare came late in the frame, as Lopez paid the price for attempting to set a trap. Ramirez didn’t bite, instead laying back and scoring with a left hand and right hook to briefly stun the 38-year old Texan.

Time was called prior to the start of round ten, as the ringside physician grew concerned over Lopez’s right eye which began to swell shut. Ramirez jumped on his foe at the start of the round, only for Lopez to rally back and score with right hands. Ramirez took the shots well, immediately turning the tide and ultimately closing the show.

A sweeping right hook put Lopez flat on his back, to which Nady immediately waved off the contest.

Lopez snaps a 10-fight win streak as he falls to 32-4 (29KOs) with the loss.

Ramirez cruises to 41-0 (26KOs) with the win, his first of 2020 and second overall at light heavyweight. The long-reigning super middleweight titlist now has his sights on the upper echelon of the 175-pound division.

“I want [unbeaten titlist] Dmitry Bivol, I want [unbeaten lineal light heavyweight champion] Artur Beterbiev,” insists Ramirez. “I want them all. I will beat them. I will beat them all. You will see.”

The bout aired live on Fite Pay-Per-View.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox