Back in February of 2019, World Boxing Organization (WBO) super middleweight champion Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez had made a decision to move up to fight in the light heavyweight division, and he was searching for a new head trainer.
Ramirez (41-0, 27 KOs) immediately connected with a then 28-year-old Julian Chua, a former amateur boxer who had been training fighters at Freddie Roach’s famed Wildcard Boxing Club in Hollywood, California. “Zurdo” and Chua are now 2-0 (2 KOs) and preparing for a mega-fought later this year, ideally, against undefeated World Boxing Association (WBA) light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol (17-0, 11 KOs).
How Ramirez ended up with Chua as he head trainer isn’t a typical boxing story. After all, “Zurdo” was the first Mexican world super middleweight champion, sporting a 29-0 pro record, and only 27 when they first met.
Ramirez’ manager, David Suh, conducted a search to hire Ramirez’ chief second. He had a list that included some of the top trainers in the industry, as well as a young, relatively unknown – at least outside of southern California – in Chua.
“I don’t know how I got on that list,” a humble Chua said. “There was going to be a tryout of sorts to determine who would work with ‘Zurdo.’ We trained together in Long Beach (where Ramirez was training) and then I met with David for coffee. He asked if I was interested in becoming the head trainer. We trained together a little more. He liked the way I trained, and we got along well. I texted David saying we liked working together and that I was interested in becoming his head trainer.
“We clicked right away, and we learned things about each other and how we liked to train. I study a lot and do a lot of research of how he had been trained, because I wanted to help him to improve. I was getting four fighters ready in LA and “Zurdo” couldn’t go there for sparring. I said I couldn’t leave these fighters and go to Santa Barbara. “Zurdo” respected me even more for not jumping ship from those four fighters for a better opportunity. We still wanted to work with each other, and ‘Zurdo’ made it work. I went to Long Beach twice a week, he came to Wildcard three times.”
Ramirez won his light heavyweight debut April 12, 2019, when Tommy Karpency (29-6-1) was unable to continue after four rounds, followed last December 18th with a 10th round stoppage of Alfonso Lopez (32-3) to capture the North American Boxing Federation (NABF) title.
Chua was trained by Roach when he was an amateur from Indiana, but when Chua started at Wildcard, Roach’s assistant Eric Brown became Chua’s mentor. During his training career at Wildcard West Boxing, known now as Churchill Boxing in Santa Barbara, Chua has trained several world champions in boxing and MMA.
The 29-year-old Ramirez, who recently signed an exclusive promotional contract with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, is currently ranked No. 3 by the WBA and WBO. “Zurdo” returns to action July 9th in Los Angeles against Sullivan Barrera (22-3, 14 KOs).