By Jake Donovan
Luis Ramos Jr. believes he’s on the threshold of title contention, and that his 2012 campaign will bridge the gap between prospect and contender.
Lightweight prospects Michael Perez and Omar Figueroa are so confident in their respective abilities that they’re willing to pit their unbeaten records against one another, with little at stake other than bragging rights and a regional title.
Golden Boy Promotions is high enough on all of the aforementioned that it became a no-brainer to put all on the same card, their first of 2012.
Showtime is impressed enough with the show to include it as a show piece for its Free Preview weekend that also includes free looks at new episodes of three original series (including a brand new series, the network premiere of an Academy Award-winning film and a live offering of Strikeforce.
The irony in tonight’s Shobox telecast being offered on a Free Preview weekend is that the doubleheader in store is well worth the price of admission, no matter the asking price.
If the folks at Golden Boy have their way, the quality of this weekend’s card will be the norm for plenty of shows to come in the new year.
“It’s going to be an exciting card. As a boxing fan, I’m going to enjoy it,” insists Eric Gomez, chief matchmaker and Vice President of Golden Boy Promotions. “A lot of shows you don’t get to enjoy due to the politics. This one is a jam.”
Ramos (20-0, 9KO), coming off of what is described by his handlers as “a progressive campaign” in 2011, takes on yet another tough test in his young career as he faces upset-minded Raymundo Beltran (25-5, 17KO). The 10-round lightweight bout serves as the televised main event at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California.
In the co-feature, Perez (15-0-1, 9KO) and Figueroa (13-0-1, 10KO) face in each other their respective toughest tests to date. Both fighters jumped at the chance to face one another, not even minding that such a fight – which serves as the main event on most other nights – lands in a supporting capacity.
“A lot of people said to me that our fight should be the main event, but that stuff doesn’t matter to me,” Figueroa insists. “I just want to keep getting fights like this. I don’t care where or when they take place, as long as that they take place.”
His desire is matched by that of his opponent, hopefully a precursor for a forthcoming war.
“I hope to move up to the next level, to the Top 15 of the world; I need fights like this to get me there,” Perez states, in describing his eagerness to face Figueroa. “I get to go step by step on my journey to get a world title. This is the first step.”
As a matchmaker, Gomez loves the fact that there is no guaranteed winner in either of the two bouts. An added bonus is that both take place in the lightweight division, which leads to speculation for possible mixing and matching.
“It’s a little tournament itself. The winners can fight each other. The guys that lose can fight each other. There’s so much good that comes from fights like this. I wish all shows can be this fun. It’s our goal to make sure the entire year goes like (tonight).”
If the Golden Boy brass sounds a bit self-congratulatory, it’s well-deserved. It’s not often that a series on this level (read: not the championship-level showcase events offered on HBO and Showtime’s flagship boxing series) comes fresh out the gate, with all fighters involved standing to lose as much as they have to gain. It helps when said talent is willing to endure such tough challenges without hesitation, a mentality of which past generations would be proud.
Gomez was broken in by Hall-of-Fame matchmaker and promoter Don Chargin, who has hosted many a smash hit over the course of six decades worth of dedicated service. Each match he makes comes with his 83-year young mentor in mind, with tonight’s show being no exception.
“We’re proud to deliver a show like this to start off the year and on a free preview weekend for Showtime. I would like to believe that my teacher Don Chargin would be proud.
“He was known as Don-War-A-Week. He made the best fights possible and I hope a show like this puts a smile to his face. As a fan, I can’t wait for this show.”
For fans at home, there’s no better way to enjoy than for free.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]