Gilberto Ramirez realizes Artur Beterbiev is one of the most powerful punchers in all of boxing.
The undefeated former WBO super middleweight champion also is confident that the Russian knockout artist hasn’t faced anyone like him thus far. If Ramirez defeats Alfonso Lopez on Friday night in Galveston, Texas, he’ll remain the WBC’s number one contender for Beterbiev’s light heavyweight title and could challenge him sometime in 2021.
“I think he’s good,” Ramirez told BoxingScene.com. “He’s a strong fighter. He has power, but he’s never been in the ring with someone like ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez. We’ll see. I think because of my skill, my boxing and I’m a smart fighter in the ring, it could be a good match.”
Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KOs) is co-promoted by Top Rank Inc., Ramirez’s former promoter. Ramirez (40-0, 26 KOs) formed his own promotional company once his contract with Bob Arum’s company expired last year, but he doesn’t think working with Top Rank on a Beterbiev bout would become problematic.
“I think eventually that fight will happen because the fans want that fight,” Ramirez said. “We have to work with each other. We’re still friends, but the business didn’t work. But for that fight to happen, we have to eventually work together.”
Top Rank announced Wednesday that the 35-year-old Beterbiev’s mandatory IBF championship defense against Adam Deines has been rescheduled for January 30 at VTB Arena in Moscow. Beterbiev and Deines were supposed to square off October 23, but Beterbiev suffered a rib injury while training.
Germany’s Deines (19-1-1, 10 KOs) replaced China’s Meng Fanlong, Beterbiev’s mandatory challenger, because visa issues prevented Fanlong from traveling to Russia to battle Beterbiev in his home country. Fanlong (16-0, 10 KOs), who defeated Deines by unanimous decision in June 2019, was scheduled to challenge Beterbiev on March 28 at Videotron Centre in Quebec City, Canada, but their fight was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ramirez, meanwhile, will fight Friday night for the first time since stopping American Tommy Karpency (29-7-1, 18 KOs) after the fourth round of their April 2019 bout at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The 38-year-old Lopez (32-3, 25 KOs), of Huntsville, Texas, has won 10 straight fights, mostly against pedestrian opposition, entering a 12-round bout that’ll headline an independent pay-per-view show ($24.99; 8 p.m. EST; 5 p.m. PST).
“I expect a war inside the ring because he’s on a 10-fight winning streak,” Ramirez said. “It’s good because he’s been quite active, and he wants to take what I have – my 40-0 record and my number-one ranking. It’s not gonna be an easy fight for me or for him.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.