By Lem Satterfield
Once-beaten Terrell Gausha sparred several rounds with unbeaten left-handed WBO 168-pound champion Gilberto Ramirez to prepare for Saturday’s 158-pound catchweight clash with southpaw Joey Hernandez, ending a 14-month ring absence at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on FOX (8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT).
The 31-year-old Gausha (20-1, 9 KOs) returns to the site of his last fight and loss by unanimous decision to then-WBA 154-pound champion Erislandy Lara, a 35-year-old Cuban southpaw who floored Gausha in the fourth round.
Lara was just the second southpaw Gausha had faced, with the other, Ronnie Warrior Jr. being knocked out in the first round of Gausha’s 11th professional fight in July 2014.
“Before the Lara fight I had only fought one southpaw in my pro career,” said Gausha of Warrior, who never fought again, retiring with a mark of 15-9-1 (five KOs). “I stopped [Warrior] in the first round, so I need to get more work with them lefties.”
On Friday at American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas, the 6-foot-2 “Zurdo” Ramirez (39-0, 25 KOs) retained his WBO crown by majority decision over the 6-foot-3 Jesse Hart (25-2, 21 KOs) of Philadelphia in a rematch of Ramirez’s narrow unanimous decision victory in September 2017.
Ramirez, 27, made his fifth defense of the crown he won by unanimous decision in April 2016, dethroning Arthur Abraham.
Gausha is hoping for similar results against Hernandez (27-4-1, 17 KOs), over whom he has advantages in height (5-foot-10-to-5-foot-7) and reach (72 inches-to-68).
“I sparred with Gilberto Ramirez, 168 pound champ, and a couple other guys. Gilberto really pushed me in camp and made me box at a different pace than usual because he brings that pressure,” said Gausha of their workouts at The Legendz Boxing Gym in Los Angeles,
“Gilberto and I really helped each other,” said Gausha, a 2012 Olympian. “We had fights around the same time and held our camp in the same place. So we got some rounds in. I know I'm in shape and ready for whatever.”
The 34-year-old “Twinkle Fingers” Hernandez has won three straight by stoppage after having lost three of his previous four. Hernandez’s 1-3 mark is comprised of a unanimous decision loss to former champion Cornelius Bundrage (January 2014), a seventh-round TKO of Jose Miguel Rodriguez Berrio (October 2014), a unanimous decision setback against title-challenger Julian Williams (April 2015), and a sixth-round stoppage loss to left-handed former titlist Austin Trout (September 2015).
Hernandez was 15-0-1 (eight knockouts) before suffering a second round KO loss to Ed Paredes (February 2010) in an immediate rematch of their draw (August 2009), but is coming off third-round TKO of Jose Antonio Rodriguez in August.
“One thing I know about Joey Hernandez is he has some experience. He's been in there with pretty good opposition, but every time he's made that step up, he’s lost. This time will be no different. I've been watching him and breaking him down,” said Gausha.
“But he’s also taken it upon social media to call me out and do a lot of trash-talking. I don't get involved with all the back and forth talking over the internet, but I don't take disrespect lightly, so he’d better be ready on December 22nd. I'm going to punish him and show him that he's not on my level.”
Gausha-Hernandez supports a deep card featuring WBC 154- and WBC interim 160-pound defenses by the 28-year-old Charlo twins, Jermell (31-0, 15 KOs) and Jermall (27-0, 21 KOs).
“The Iron Man” Jermell is after his fourth defense and fifth knockout in six fights against Tony Harrison (27-2, 21 KOs), and “The Hit Man” Jermall, his first defense, fourth straight stoppage and 20th knockout in his past 22 fights against Russian southpaw Matt Korobov (28-1, 14 KOs).
“I'm glad to be back in Brooklyn,” said Gausha. “I want to show the people and the fans more of my skill set. I'm looking forward to putting on a great show.”