Gilberto 'Zurdo' Ramirez’s pursuit of a title in a second weight division will either come with present company and at a discount, or by different means other than his current course of action.
The standoff between the unbeaten former super middleweight titlist and his estranged promoter took an interesting turn, as Top Rank Inc. has secured the rights to his ordered light heavyweight title eliminator versus Eleider Alvarez. The longtime promotional outfit was the lone bidder for the World Boxing Organization (WBO)-ordered eliminator, submitting an accepted offer of $350,000 during a purse bid hearing held Thursday morning at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Per the terms of the purse bid hearing, Mexico’s Ramirez (40-0, 26KOs) and Canada’s Alvarez (25-1, 13KOs) are entitled to a 50/50 split or $175,000 each should the fight take place in present form. Top Rank’s bid included a suggested date of May 30 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, presumably as part of a planned show topped by the lightweight title unification clash between Vasiliy Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez.
That’s if Ramirez goes through with the fight, which has remained a question mark from the time it was first ordered in mid-January. He now has 48 hours to agree to terms, with Top Rank required to return signed contracts to the WBO within ten (10) business days in order to avoid a purse bid default.
The bout was part of a four-man tournament established by the WBO, with Umar Salamov (25-1, 19KOS) and Maksim Vlasov (45-3, 26KOs) on the other side of the bracket. The winners will meet later this year to crown a WBO light heavyweight champ, filling the vacancy left behind by Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez upon vacating the title less than two months after knocking out Sergey Kovalev last November.
Eleider Alvarez—no relation to Canelo—has been on board from the moment the fight was ordered, which came shortly after his knockout win over Michael Seals. The win was the first piece of ring action for the former light heavyweight titlist from Canada by way of Colombia since losing his title to Kovalev in their rematch last February in Frisco, Texas.
While the involvement of Alvarez has never been of any concern, Ramirez’s participation is another matter altogether. The unbeaten southpaw from Mazatlan, Mexico has not fought since last April, a 4th round stoppage of Tommy Karpency in his lone fight since moving up from super middleweight. A lengthy dispute with Top Rank has contributed to his having been out of the ring for 10 months (and counting), having spent recent weeks shopping his services in the event he can claim free agent status.
Such talks didn’t go very far, with his ordered fight versus Alvarez serving as his only current option on paper. As per WBO rules, should Ramirez—or any WBO-ranked boxer—decline to participate in a sanctioned event, he will be removed from the rankings.
Ramirez previously served as WBO super middleweight titlist, a run which began with an April 2016 win over Germany’s Arthur Abraham. Five successful defenses followed, the last of which was a repeat win over Jesse Hart in their December 2018 rematch. The 28-year old has not for a major title with any other sanctioning body, although that position could change should he choose to go in a different direction—and for a much bigger payday.
In the event any of the four light heavyweights declines to move forward with the tournament, the next highest rated contender—currently Long Island’s Joe Smith Jr.—will be invited as a replacement.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox