By Arne K. Lang
On Saturday, Nov. 5, WBO world welterweight champion Jessie Vargas risks his title against Senator Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines. Senator Pacquiao, a former Congressman who won election to the upper chamber of the Filipino legislature this past May, needs no introduction. But he’s not the only politician headlining a Top Rank promotion in Las Vegas that weekend – not if we define “politician” to include those campaigning for a political office, not just the winners.
Casey Ramos, who appears in the main event of the Top Rank show on the eve of Pacquiao-Vargas, is campaigning for a seat on the Austin, Texas city council. He’ll know how he fared four days after his forthcoming match with Andy Vences at the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino.
An undefeated super featherweight, the 27-year-old Ramos (23-0), isn’t your typical prizefighter. Born and bred in Austin, Ramos, who turned pro at age 17, is on pace to graduate in May from Austin’s St. Edwards University with a degree in economics. He has a keen understanding of the various issues affecting the residents of the district that he hopes to represent, the district that he has always called home.
Austin, Texas, the fastest growing of America’s 50 largest cities, has a fine reputation. Heavily white-collar but with a good-sized smattering of latter-day hippies drawn to the city’s vibrant live music scene, the capitol city of the Lone Star State is routinely rated among the top places to live for both millennials and retirees. Austin’s low crime rate enhances the mystique.
For a more nuanced perception of Austin, talk to Casey Ramos. The residents of his district earn only 60 percent of the median income of the city; many 20-30 percent. The building boom has boosted property values but priced many long-time residents out of the housing market.
Ramos says that one of his top priorities, if elected, will be to increase the supply of affordable housing. In pursuit of this goal, he believes that local residents need to have more input into land development codes. Austin is an auto-centric city, but most of his neighbors are dependent on public transportation. He wants to add more bus routes and expand existing routes.
Raising the minimum wage is a hot-button issue in Austin. Somewhat surprisingly, Ramos is opposed. “If you raise the minimum wage,” he told KVUE-TV reporter Ashley Goudeau, “small businesses are no longer going to be able to employ as many people…we don’t want to raise the minimum wage, what we want to do is reduce the cost of living.”
Typical of any aspiring office holder, Ramos vows to work hard for his constituents. “Waking up early and going to bed late, that will be nothing new,” he says, citing his boxing background as useful in this regard. To achieve success in boxing, he notes, requires hard work and discipline.
Ramos has tough sledding in the political race. The incumbent, Delia Garza, a former firefighter turned attorney, shares many of his views. He may also find the sledding tough when he squares off against San Jose’s Andy Vences. It’s a rare battle of unbeatens at the top of a Top Rank club show. Vences (16-0) isn’t as well-rounded, but seemingly packs a harder punch.
Ramos vs. Vences and an 8-round welterweight scrap between Alex Saucedo (22-0) and Raymond Serrano (21-3) will air on UniMas (11 pm ET/PT) and Univision Deportes (11 pm ET/8 pm PT) as part of the “Solo Boxeo” series. The broadcast will not include what is potentially the best fight of the night, a 10-round contest in the super middleweight division between Jesse Hart and Andrew Hernandez.
Jesse Hart hails from Philadelphia. He is the son of Eugene “Cyclone” Hart, a formidable middleweight in a day when the boxing gyms of Philadelphia were bursting with formidable middleweights. The elder Hart fought such notables as Marvin Hagler, Vito Antuofermo, and Eddie Mustafa Muhammad.
Jesse Hart, a former National Golden Gloves champion, has yet to taste defeat. He’s 20-0 with 16 stoppages. This is his sixth appearance in Las Vegas where he made his pro debut, blowing out his opponent in 33 seconds.
On paper, Hart’s opponent Andrew Hernandez (16-4-1, 7 KOs) is in over his head, but don’t be too quick to write off the 30-year old Phoenix boxer who is a certified spoiler. Hernandez went through a rough patch where he lost four of six, but he’s won six straight since then including a 10-round decision over Arif Magomedov in what ranks as one of the bigger upsets of the year. Magomedov was 17-0 going in and ranked in the top five in the middleweight class by three of the major sanctioning bodies. Hernandez won every round on two of the scorecards.
The Treasure Island card on Nov. 4 will kick off a glorious month of boxing in Las Vegas. There will be five shows in all, three of which are “biggies.” You will be reading a lot more about them here at TSS in the coming weeks.