By Jake Donovan
Gilberto Ramirez takes on his stiffest test to date, as the unbeaten super middleweight from Mexico collides with Russia’s Maxim Vlasov in a 10-round bout at 1STBank Center in Broomfield, Colorado.
The bout serves as the televised opener for the 2015 season premiere of Boxing After Dark on HBO. Headlining the show, friendly rivals Mike Alvarado and Brandon Rios collide in their rubber match, looking to break the 1-1 tie.
While the main event players are both in desperate need of a big win to keep their careers alive, there is arguably more at stake in the co-feature. The claim comes from the perspective of Ramirez emerging as a player in a super middleweight division riddled with inactivity at the top level and in dire need of fresh blood.
That’s where Ramirez (30-0, 24KOs) enters the picture. The 23-year old created an industry buzz beginning with his rise through the ranks while fighting exclusively in Mexico before expanding his horizons.
Tonight’s clash with Vlasov (30-1, 15KOs) marks his sixth straight fight away from home, including an eye-opening 8th round stoppage of Fulgencio Zuniga last November in San Antonio. The bout marked his debut on HBO Latino, with this fight serving as his first appearance on HBO’s flagship station.
Vlasov was once a prospect on the rise but managed to slip off the radar following the lone loss of his career, a competitive but clear decision in favor of Isaac Chilemba in Feb. ’11. The 28-year old has since won 11 straight, though only recently returning stateside after having spent the majority of his current win streak at home in Russia.
Can Ramirez continue his rise to fame, or will Vlasov get in the way in the willing spoiler role?
Read on to see how the staff at Boxingscene.com believes the action will play out.
BOXINGSCENE.COM STAFF PREDICTIONS: GILBERTO RAMIREZ vs. MAXIM VLASOV
Ryan Burton (Ramirez UD): “I think the highly regarded super middleweight contender dominates but doesn't get the stoppage in his HBO debut.”
Jake Donovan (Ramirez UD): “Good test for Ramirez, one where he should shine except in the eyes of those whose expectations are that he knocks out everyone he faces.”
Steve Kim (Ramirez UD): “Ramirez by decision as he systematically boxes one round at a time.”
John MacDonald (Ramirez KO5): “Ramirez looks to kick off what could be a big year for him with a win over Maxim Vlasov. Ramirez is simply better than his opponent in every department and this gulf in class should be apparent from the first bell.”
Cliff Rold (Ramirez Dec.): “Ramirez may have some technical struggles here but he will be tougher and that counts in a fight that could go rounds.”
Reynaldo Sanchez (Ramirez SD): “First test for Ramirez, Vlasov lost a very close fight against Chilemba in 2011. If Ramirez does not decrypt this strong lefty hitter early in the fight,. he will have problems at the end.”
Alexey Sukachev (Ramirez UD): “Not much of a take here. Vlasov is durable and skillful but he has been stagnating recentlu unlike red hot Ramirez. Even if he wins he will be mishandled by the judges.”
Gilberto Ramirez – 7
Maxim Vlasov - 0
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America.