It didn’t take much persuasion to get Joe Smith Jr. back in the ring.
There was a little bit of effort involved, though.
The idea of a fight versus Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez and at a new weight enticed the former light heavyweight titlist from Mastic, New York, who will make his cruiserweight debut. The fight wasn’t on Smith’s radar when he was presented with a preliminary offer, which he accepted shortly thereafter once the two sides were able to come to proper financial terms.
“It just kind of came up and they asked if I wanted to take the fight,” Smith told BoxingScene.com. “At first, I was like ‘nah’ because the offer was sh!t. They changed a few things and I was like ‘Alright, let’s do it.’”
Ramirez-Smith will headline a DAZN show this Saturday from Chelsea Ballroom at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
Smith (28-4, 22KOs) agreed to a maximum catchweight of 193 pounds.
It will mark the first fight since the end of his WBO light heavyweight title reign. Smith was stopped inside of two rounds by lineal/WBC/IBF champ Artur Beterbiev (19-0. 19KOs) last June at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York City.”
“It just kind of popped up,” said Smith. I was sitting around, getting bored. So, I was like, I need something to focus on. Let’s do it.’”
Ramirez (44-1, 30KOs) also enters the fight coming off a title fight loss. The former WBO super middleweight titleholder dropped a lopsided decision to WBA light heavyweight titleholder Dmitry Bivol last November. An attempt to return earlier this year saw the Mexican southpaw badly blow weight for an eventually canceled clash versus former title challenger Gabriel Rosado.
One immediate concession for this fight was that it would take place at cruiserweight. Smith was fine with that part as he considered a move up in weight for a while. Once Golden Boy Promotions—Ramirez’s promoter and who will present Saturday’s event—hit the number that really matters, Smith was good with the fight he envisions as a gateway to becoming a two-division titlist.
“I didn’t really see this fight before it was offered to me,” admitted Smith. “But once they mentioned it, yeah, it made sense. The weight is 193, that’s fine. I don’t have to cut weight and now, as long as everything goes our way, I have a chance to enter 2024 with a shot at becoming a cruiserweight champion.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox