By David A. Avila
Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez made history by becoming the first Mexican to win a world title in the super middleweight division by thoroughly out-boxing Germany’s Arthur Abraham and winning by unanimous decision on Saturday.
It was a whitewash.
Ramirez (34-0) fooled almost everyone in the MGM Grand Hotel with his footwork and jabs as he shuffled right and left before WBO titlist Abraham (44-5) could unleash his vaunted bombs on the No Trump fight card promoted by Top Rank.
If you had seen Ramirez fight before, he usually preferred close-up, nose-to-nose fighting and rarely used a jab. The tall Mexican prefers battling “Mexican style” and it would seem had never been taught the technical aspects of boxing.
But against Abraham, a veteran of multiple world title fights and intense brawls, Ramirez brought out a bag of tricks he might have borrowed from former Mexican champion Erik Morales. Circling to his right or left, Ramirez snapped jabs and right hooks to the body of the Armenian native. It was a formula that worked throughout the 12 rounds.
Abraham tried to step on the gas in the last four rounds but Ramirez would connect with hard shots to the body and also connected with a right hook to the head that halted further aggressiveness time and again.
When the 12th round came it was Ramirez stifling any attack with his own counters. And when Abraham did connect he discovered, as other fighters before, that the Mexican has a rock chin. All three judges scored every round for Ramirez at 120-108. He is the new WBO super middleweight titleholder.
Featherweight sensation Oscar Valdez (19-0) showed off impressive boxing skills before knocking out former world champion Evgeny “Mexican Russian” Gradovich (21-2-1) at 2:14 of the fourth round.
Gradovich had planned to utilize his machine gun punches to overpower the younger Valdez but could not pin the elusive former Mexican Olympian. For the first three rounds Valdez fired rapid jabs and pot shots at the oncoming Gradovich whose face turned pink by the second round.
Valdez turned on the heat in the fourth round as he seemed to grit his teeth in anticipation of standing his ground to unleash the bombs on the rushing Gradovich. An overhand right connected near the ear followed by a left hook to the chin and down went Gradovich. Referee Russell Mora began to count as the former champion got up early and took a look in his eyes and suddenly decided he did not like what he saw. The fight was called over.
“It feels great. I can’t take credit by myself,” said Valdez. “I’m out there to evolve. I think I evolved a lot since my first pro fight.”
In a fight that looked easier on paper, Jose Carlos Ramirez (17-0, 12 KOs) battled to win by unanimous decision over the super tough Manny Perez (25-12) in their 10-round lightweight clash. The smaller Perez seemed to surprise the favorite Ramirez with some punishing body shots and a counter right early in the fight. But Ramirez was able to use his size, reach and speed to edge Perez down the last half of the fight. No knockdowns were scored but each found their pound of flesh in a gutsy show. Ramirez won by scores of 99-92, 98-92, 97-93.
Russian welterweight Konstantin Ponomarev (30-0, 13 KOs) jolted Brad Solomon (26-1) a few times on his way to a split decision victory that saw one judge curiously score the fight to the loser. Ponomarev is simply too tough for this level. He’s proven it time and again and holds the NABF title.
Ukraine’s Oleksandr Gvozdyk (10-0, 8 KOs) knocked out former light heavyweight contender Nadjib Mohammedi (37-5) at 2:06 of the second round with a perfect short right counter. No count was needed for the motionless Mohammedi who had also lost to world champion Sergey Kovalev.
Egid “The Machine” Kavaliauskas (13-0, 11 KOs) of Lithuania battered Germany’s Deniz Ilbay (15-1) in a battle of undefeated European welterweights all eight rounds and won by unanimous decision. Ilbay showed a well tucked chin but could not hurt Kavaliauskas to keep from getting pounded.
Germany’s Leon Bauer (8-0) out-worked Russia’s Ilshat Khusnulgatin (12-2) to win by unanimous decision. Bauer is only 17 and needed special permission to fight in Nevada. It was his first fight outside of Germany.