By Francisco Salazar
Gilberto Ramirez faces Max Bursak tonight. Lately, many stories online or posts on social media have attached Ramirez’s name to Gennady Golovkin. It is a fight promoter Bob Arum wants to make when Golovkin decides to move up to 168 pounds.
Intriguing or not, Ramirez is flattered by the notion of a possible fight against the popular and hard-hitting middleweight king known as ‘GGG.’ For that or any major fight to happen, Ramirez has to take care of business.
Ramirez will defend his WBO World super middleweight title against Bursak tonight at the Stubhub Center in Carson. The 12 round bout will be part of a Top Rank pay-per-view telecast, beginning at 9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT.
Saturday night will mark over a year Ramirez (34-0, with 24 KOs) has not stepped inside the ring. He was scheduled to fight on July 23 in Las Vegas, but had to withdraw from the fight when he suffered an injury to his hand that required surgery.
Ramirez will finally be able to defend the WBO title he won from Arthur Abraham on April 9 of last year. But the time away from the ring did affect Ramirez, although he believes there was a silver lining to the injury.
“At first, I was depressed because of the injury,” Ramirez told BoxingScene.com at a recent open workout. “But at the same time, I was able to mentally and physically rest. What happened to me was likely a blessing. I feel much stronger and rejuvenated now than before.”
Ramirez is a heavy favorite tonight against Bursak (33-4-1, with 15 KOs), who hails from the Ukraine. He has won four of his last five bouts against modest opposition.
The fighter from the boxing hotbed of Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico is not overlooking Bursak.
“I’m prepared mentally and physically for this fight,” said Ramirez, who is managed by Jesus Zapari and trained by Hector Zapari. “It’s a difficult fight because at this level, there is no easy fight. I’m going to be defending my title for the first time and I’m happy because of it. I’m grateful for this opportunity.”
In recent months, Ramirez has been the subject of a possible opponent for Gennady Golovkin. Boxing fans have clamored for a fight between Golovkin and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and a verbal agreement of a fight between the two is targeted for this September.
If a fight does not happen between Golovkin and Alvarez, promoter Bob Arum is angling for a fight between Golovkin and Ramirez, who he promotes.
Ramirez is intrigued by the fight, but is focused on Bursak.
“That fight could be made at any time. Right now, I’m only focused on the opponent I have in front of me and that’s Max Bursak. We want to defeat him and defend my title. After the fight (Saturday), then we could see what opponents are out there.”
Whether a possible super-fight with Golovkin, after a win over Bursak, or any of the other 168-pound world titleholders is next remains to be seen.
But Ramirez believes he is capable of becoming one of boxing’s biggest attractions from Mexico and could accumulate multiple world title belts.
“I want to fight the best, whether they are in my division or against pound-for-fighters. I’ll even fight those who want to fight me. We’ll give those opportunities to those who want to fight me.”
“We just want to continue winning.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene.com since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper, RingTV.com, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing