By Keith Idec
Jesse Hart produced an admirable comeback Friday night, but it wasn’t enough to take away Gilberto Ramirez’s title.
Ramirez beat Hart by unanimous decision in a 12-round battle between unbeaten super middleweights at the Tucson Convention Center in Tucson, Arizona. Judges Lynne Carter (115-112), Chris Flores (115-112) and Glenn Feldman (114-113) all scored the fight for Ramirez.
Mexico’s Ramirez retained his WBO 168-pound championship and improved to 36-0.
Ramirez floored Hart in the second round and appeared well on his way to an early knockout victory. A determined Hart got his legs back under him and had some moments of his own later in what became a back-and-fourth fight, but Ramirez remains unbeaten.
Hart, 28, was the WBO’s mandatory challenger for Ramirez’s championship. The Ramirez-Hart fight was broadcast by ESPN as the co-feature before a main event that pit WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez against Genesis Servania.
Ramirez, 26, ruined the dream of Philadelphia’s Hart (22-1, 18 KOs), who wanted to do what his father, former middleweight contender Eugene “Cyclone” Hart, couldn’t do by winning a world title. Hart had knocked out 82 percent of his professional opponents prior to Friday night, but he fought mostly a low level of opposition before boxing Ramirez.
Ramirez made the second defense of the WBO super middleweight title he won by beating former champion Arthur Abraham by unanimous decision 17 months ago in Las Vegas.
Hart and Ramirez landed huge power punches in an action-packed 12th round that left much of the capacity crowd standing and cheering. Ramirez really hurt Hart with a left hand when there were 15 seconds remaining in their fight.
Hart’s hard right hand hurt Ramirez with 1:23 to go in the 11th round, but didn’t capitalize on that moment. Hart landed another right with around 40 seconds left in the 11th that stopped Ramirez in his tracks.
Ramirez hurt Hart with a left hand to the body just after the midway mark of the ninth round. Hart eventually fired back hard shots that temporarily kept Ramirez from following up.
The challenger seemed to find a second wind to start the ninth round. He landed a straight right hand that backed Ramirez into the ropes very early in the round.
Hart had some success in the eighth round by landing multiple right uppercuts and a left hook.
Hart landed a hard right uppercut early in the seventh round that snapped back Ramirez’s head. Ramirez kept moving forward, though, and continued to connect with hard left hands to the body.
Ramirez landed several hard body blows in the fifth round, though Hart didn’t appear hurt by those shots.
Ramirez hammered away at Hart throughout a completely one-sided fourth round. The champion connected with an array of body shots, straight left hands and right hooks during those three minutes.
Hart’s heart kept him upright in the fourth round, but Ramirez’s vicious assault in that round was an indication of what was to come.
Hart tried to get his legs back under him in the third round, only to have Ramirez land a very low left hand to his groin that caused a brief break in the action.
Ramirez spent the first round chasing Hart around the ring and couldn’t hit him flush. The southpaw landed a right hook that floored Hart with 1:25 to go in the second round, though, that completely changed the fight.
That shot hurt Hart badly, but he got up before referee Michael Ortega’s count reached 10, and found a way survive the trouble by moving and holding.
Hart opened the bout by moving around the ring, away from the busier Ramirez. The challenger also landed two right hands in the first round that got Ramirez’s attention.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.