Rafael Espinoza was unranked and caught off guard when he was ask this thoughts of entering his first major title fight.
The unbeaten 6’1” featherweight didn’t even blink before accepting the opportunity to challenge WBO featherweight titlist Robeisy Ramirez.
“It was the best news I’ve ever received in my career,” Espinoza told BoxingScene.com. “It was the type of call I’ve been waiting to get for my entire career. I was very happy with it.
“When they came to us with the opportunity to face Robeisy, we told them it would be our pleasure. This is my chance to show that I am the best featherweight in the world.”
Guadalajara’s Espinoza (21-0, 18KOs) will hit the road to challenge Ramirez (13-1, 8KOs) this Saturday on ESPN from Charles F. Dodge City Center in Pembroke Pines, Florida.
The fight could not be finalized until a case was made for Espinoza to crack the WBO Top 15 rankings, a requirement for any boxer to enter a title fight. He enters the fight riding a five-fight knockout streak and has stopped 13 of his last 14 opponents.
Ramirez marks a significant step up in competition for the 29-year-old Espinoza.
The Cuban southpaw is a double Olympic Gold medalist who overcame a stunning defeat in his pro debut to win the WBO title in a unanimous decision over Isaac Dogboe earlier this year. The victory was part of a resurgence that has seen him emerge as among the best featherweights in the world and arguably the most skilled boxer in the division.
“I wouldn’t want to face any less of a challenge,” noted Espinoza, who fights in the U.S. for just the third time and in his first stateside appearance since 2015. “I want to be a world champion. To do that, you should have to face the very best.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox