There is a strategic reason Robeisy Ramirez will appear on the Stephen Fulton-Naoya Inoue undercard Tuesday night in Tokyo.
According to Bob Arum, whose company co-promotes Inoue, if Inoue and Ramirez continue to win Inoue eventually will move up to the featherweight limit of 126 pounds to fight for Ramirez’s WBO belt. Cuba’s Ramirez (12-1, 7 KOs) will make his first defense of the WBO featherweight title against Japan’s Satoshi Shimizu (11-1, 10 KOs) in the Fulton-Inoue co-feature, which ESPN+ will stream early Tuesday morning in the United States.
Inoue (24-0, 21 KOs) has moved up from bantamweight to junior featherweight to challenge Philadelphia’s Fulton (21-0, 8 KOs) for his WBC and WBO championships in a 12-round main event that’ll start at approximately 8 a.m. EDT (5 p.m. PDT) in the U.S.
“If [Inoue] wins on Tuesday and wins two titles at 122, then maybe he’ll face off with the Filipino kid to win all four,” Arum told BoxingScene.com in reference to IBF/WBA champ Marlon Tapales (37-3, 19 KOs). “That’s certainly a huge step. And thinking ahead with our Japanese partners, you see that we have Robeisy Ramirez, who has a 126-pound championship, as another [opponent] down the road for Inoue to attempt to conquer. I don’t think there’s any question about it.”
Ramirez is 12-0 since the two-time Olympic gold medalist stunningly lost his pro debut to unheralded Adan Gonzales in August 2019. Denver’s Gonzales (then 4-2-2) upset Ramirez by split decision in their four-rounder at Temple University’s Liacouras Center in Philadelphia.
Ramirez, 29, avenged his loss to Gonzales four fights later by winning a six-round unanimous decision in July 2020 at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.
In his last fight, Ramirez convincingly outboxed Ghana’s Isaac Dogboe, a former WBO junior featherweight champ. The skillful southpaw unanimously outpointed Dogboe (24-3, 15 KOs) to win a then-vacant WBO title April 1 at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“Robeisy Ramirez is an outstanding fighter, a winner of two gold medals, and a guy who looks fantastic as a professional,” Arum said. “He lost in his first fight, when he had just [come] from Cuba. But Robeisy Ramirez is the next big thing and certainly the next big challenge down the line for Inoue.”
Top Rank’s founder predicted that Inoue would knock out Fulton in their 122-pound title fight.
“I think it’s a really good fight,” Arum said. “Fulton is a very good technical fighter, but you can’t help but feel that Inoue is something really special, something we haven’t seen before, where his power, even at that [higher] weight, surmounts the opposition. Fulton has great boxing ability and so forth, but Inoue has shown in his whole career that he can take on these boxers and conquer them with his unbelievable power.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.