By Keith Idec
If Gilberto Ramirez successfully defends his WBO super middleweight title for the fourth time Saturday night, promoter Bob Arum intends to arrange a 168-pound title unification fight next for the undefeated southpaw.
Mexico’s Ramirez (37-0, 25 KOs) will face an unbeaten but unknown challenger in Colombia’s Roamer Alexis Angulo (23-0, 20 KOs) on Saturday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City. ESPN will televise their scheduled 12-round bout as the main event of a tripleheader set to start at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
“I think it’s a really good fight,” Arum told BoxingScene.com regarding the Ramirez-Angulo bout. “I’m very, very high on Gilberto. I think he’s the best super middleweight around. He’s fighting a very, very tough, hard-punching guy, and I think he can handle anybody in the super middleweight division.”
Angulo’s unblemished record notwithstanding, he is the second straight low-profile opponent for Ramirez this year. He easily defeated Ghana’s Habib Ahmed (25-1-1, 17 KOs) by sixth-round technical knockout February 3 in Corpus Christi, Texas.
If the heavily favored Ramirez gets past Angulo, Arum would welcome fights against WBC champ David Benavidez, IBF champion James DeGale or the winner between WBA champ George Groves and Callum Smith next for Ramirez.
“If Ramirez wins this fight,” Arum said, “and we certainly hope he will, he’s gonna fight at least one more time this year and we’re gonna get the best possible opponent.”
Phoenix’s Benavidez (20-0, 17 KOs) and London’s DeGale (24-2-1, 14 KOs) have mandatory obligations to fulfill against Anthony Dirrell (32-1-1, 24 KOs) and Jose Uzcategui (27-2, 23 KOs), respectively, thus it isn’t clear if those potential unification fights will be available for Ramirez later this year. Groves (28-3, 20 KOs), who’s recovering from shoulder surgery, is expected to meet Smith (24-0, 17 KOs) in an all-British battle by September in the final of the World Boxing Super Series’ super middleweight tournament.
The Groves-Smith winner might not be available when Ramirez is set to return, either. If none of the 168-pound champions are available, Ramirez might fight England’s Chris Eubank Jr. (26-2, 20 KOs), another potential opponent Arum mentioned.
Regardless, Arum assured that his company’s recent dealings with Benavidez wouldn’t prevent Top Rank Inc. from making a Ramirez-Benavidez bout.
Arum thought Top Rank had signed Benavidez to a valid promotional deal in May. Benavidez returned a $250,000 signing bonus to Top Rank to avoid a legal entanglement with Benavidez’s promoter, Sampson Lewkowicz, who filed a lawsuit because he signed Benavidez to a new contract in November.
“I’d like Gilberto to fight anybody that’ll step up to the plate,” Arum said. “Benavidez is a hell of a fighter. There’s DeGale, Eubank. There’s a lot of super middleweights, and I think Gilberto can beat any of them.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.