By Keith Idec
A game Gilberto Ramirez barely fended off Jesse Hart again Friday night in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Ramirez rallied in the 12th round after Hart had success in the previous four rounds and won their 12-round rematch by majority decision at American Bank Center. Two judges, Javier Alvarez and Chris Flores, scored the fight by the same score, 115-113, for Mexico’s Ramirez (39-0, 25 KOs).
One judge, Lynne Carter, scored their very competitive fight even, 114-114.
“I won every round,” Ramirez told ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna after retaining his WBO super middleweight title for the fifth time. “I hurt my left elbow in the eighth round. I came away with the victory despite that injury.”
Philadelphia’s Hart (25-2, 21 KOs), who lost a close unanimous decision to Ramirez in their first fight 14½ months ago, believes he did more than enough in their rematch take Ramirez’s 168-pound title from him.
“It was no contest tonight, man,” Hart said. “I pressured him, I boxed him. I did everything in the world to win this fight. I’m not mad. You know, Gilberto is a good fighter, but I believe I pulled it out tonight. I mean, yeah, he had a good 12th round. OK. But I came back and I hurt him in that same round. So, you know what I mean?”
A second-round knockdown and a consistent body attack allowed Ramirez to fend off Hart’s strong challenge in their first fight. Ramirez survived some trouble in the 11th round to narrowly win that 12-round bout by unanimous decision (115-112, 115-112, 114-113) in September 2017 in Tucson, Arizona.
Hart’s comeback in that bout generated interest in a rematch, which became a reality because the WBO named Hart the mandatory challenger for Ramirez’s title. Hart went 3-0 in his bouts between fighting Ramirez.
Hart tried his best to extend that winning streak Friday night, but fell just short. Had he fared better for most of the 12th round, their bout likely would’ve been a majority draw.
The 12th round featured by far the best back-and-forth action of the fight.
Ramirez rocked Hart with a right hook about 30 seconds into that final round and continued hitting Hart with his right hand. With about 15 seconds to go in the fight, however, Hart staggered Ramirez with a right uppercut and tried to drop him before the final bell sounded.
Much like he did during the eighth round, Hart went on the offensive and landed hard right hands Ramirez’s head during the 11th round. The champion caught Hart coming in with a short right hook toward the end of the 11th, but Hart took that shot well.
An aggressive Hart bullied Ramirez for much of the eighth round. He backed Ramirez into the ropes and consistently landed right hands to Ramirez’s body in that round.
Hart hit Ramirez with a right hand to the side of his head with 1:53 to go in the seventh round. With 15 seconds to go in the seventh, Hart slipped to the canvas while trying to throw a right hand.
By the fifth round, Hart started moving to his left and began having some success with his right hand.
Hart’s left hook stopped Ramirez in his tracks with about 30 seconds to go in the fourth round. Ramirez trapped Hart against the ropes about 55 seconds into the fourth round, and landed to his head and body.
Ramirez attacked Hart’s body with his left several times during the third round.
Hart’s left hook briefly backed up Ramirez just after the halfway point of the second round. Ramirez’s right uppercut caught Hart several seconds later, but Hart’s lunging right uppercut later in the second round made Ramirez move away from him.
Ramirez’s straight left hand got Hart’s attention about 1:20 into the first round. Hart answered with a right uppercut about 15 seconds later.
Ramirez went at Hart’s body later in the first round, when he also slipped in a straight right hand.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.