by Cliff Rold
California’s San Joaquin Valley already had the makings of a franchise.
After Saturday, the whole of the boxing world might have a star on their hands.
Jose Ramirez won his first major title with a rousing decision over Amir Imam that ticked a lot of boxes. He took some big shots. He showed the aptitude for technical judgments.
And Jose Ramirez didn’t try to sit on a lead.
With three minutes to go and a reasonable expectation of being at least a couple rounds ahead, Ramirez fought the final round like he needed a knockout to win. He didn’t get it and that was a credit to the guts and desire of his opponent. Amir Imam came to win and, short of that, came to finish. Moments like that endear fighters to the fans.
It makes them want to see them again.
Fortunately for the fans, Saturday gave us two men in the main event that should be welcome back soon.
Let’s get into it.
The Future for Ramirez: Ramirez still has more to do to really become a star. He’s going to have a tough time not being a fan favorite either way. He’s shown real improvement over the last few years, and dramatic technical improvement in his last half dozen fights. Watch again the way he started timing the right hand over the left of Imam in the middle of the fight. He’s tucking his chin better, pressing smarter, and displaying the work ethic to refine his game. He’ll need that because now that he has a belt (WBC in his case) it won’t get easier. His mandatory looms in WBC interim titlist Regis Prograis in a fight that could be every bit as thrilling as the Imam fight was. A series of brawls between young, quality fighters still proving themselves is rarely a bad thing and can make more than a single star.
The Future for Imam: Imam didn’t pick up the win but he had to earn some big respect from anyone who tuned in. His face was a mess at the end but he stayed trying to win and refused to fall. Imam was a hot prospect before a loss to tough Adrian Granados; Saturday was a reminder of how much there is to like. Imam’s low left needs defensive improvement and, given his height, Jr. welterweight may not be optimum for him forever. Regardless, he’s made several good fights and Saturday was another of them. He might not beat the very top of any division but Imam may still find a chance to win a belt in the next few years. He’s managed to have three fights in the last year. Keeping his activity up and keeping his name out there are critical. When his next chance arrives, win or lose, we know he’s going to put on a hell of a show.
Rold Picks 2018: 6-4
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]