There is no question as to who Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez next expects to face in the ring.
The unbeaten former WBO super middleweight titlist is now the mandatory challenger to WBA light heavyweight titlist Dmitry Bivol (20-0, 11KOs) following a fourth-round knockout of Germany’s Dominic Boesel (32-3, 12KOs) in their final title eliminator. Ramirez floored Boesel midway through round four, prompting an immediate stoppage along with the Mexican southpaw not mincing his words in declaring his stated target.
“Everyone knows I want Bivol,” Ramirez told DAZN’s Chris Mannix after the fight. “Stop running. Stop running and sign the contract. I’m coming for you and that belt.”
Ramirez (44-0, 30KOs) has been fixed on a showdown with Bivol since signing with Golden Boy Promotions last spring. Golden Boy and Matchroom Boxing are the primary content providers for sports streaming app DAZN, which has also housed every Bivol fight dating back to his signing a co-promotional pact with Matchroom in 2019.
Three wins have followed for Ramirez since regularly fighting on DAZN, beginning with a fourth-round knockout of Sullivan Barrera last July 9 in Los Angeles. The feat was followed by a tenth-round stoppage of Yunieski Gonzalez last December 18 in San Antonio, with the fight sanctioned by the WBA and Ramirez advancing to the number-two position in the sanctioning body’s light heavyweight rankings.
Ramirez accepted a final eliminator once Bivol agreed to terms earlier this year for a blockbuster showdown with four-division champ and then-pound-for-pound king Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (57-2-2, 39KOs). Bivol soundly outboxed Alvarez, the undisputed super middleweight champion who unsuccessfully moved up in weight to challenge for Bivol’s title.
Alvarez has the option to exercise a rematch clause, though it also comes with a deadline—and seemingly with Bivol prepared to make more demands should such a fight make its way to the negotiating table. Most seem to believe that Alvarez will instead return to super middleweight, leaving Bivol to focus on his next title defense.
The win by Ramirez didn’t necessarily cement his chances of bumping off Bivol, though he has now scored five knockout wins at light heavyweight since moving up from super middleweight in 2019. With the other three belts tied up in a June 18 unification bout between WBC/IBF champ Artur Beterbiev (17-0, 17KOs) and WBO titlist Joe Smith Jr. (28-3, 22KOs), it is only natural for Ramirez to want to pursue the one remaining title up for grabs.
“I deserve that fight,” believes Ramirez. “I think I can beat him since I’m stronger, smarter, bigger and more handsome.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox