Robeisy Ramirez isn’t in a rush to grant Shakur Stevenson his shot at redemption.
If Ramirez can avenge his own loss Thursday night to Adan Gonzales, the Cuban southpaw plans to give Stevenson a rematch according to his timetable, not Stevenson’s schedule. Ramirez edged Stevenson by split decision to win the bantamweight gold medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
An eventual rematch with Stevenson factored into Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc. signing Ramirez to a promotional contract last year. The two-time Olympic gold medalist stunningly lost his four-round pro debut to Denver’s Gonzales (5-2-2, 2 KOs) by split decision, but the featherweights will fight again as part of the Jose Pedraza-Mikkel LesPierre undercard at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas (ESPN; 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT).
The 26-year-old Ramirez (3-1, 3 KOs) dropped the Dominican Republic’s Yeuri Andujar (5-4, 3 KOs) twice and stopped him in the first round just three weeks ago at MGM Grand Conference Center. That fight was strategically placed on the Stevenson-Felix Caraballo undercard June 9.
Ramirez realizes a showdown with Stevenson seems inevitable, but he wants to improve prior to facing the unbeaten WBO featherweight champion. He also pointed out that their rematch means more to Stevenson than him.
“It’s a possibility, but he’s the one that wants the fight,” Ramirez told BoxingScene.com through a translator. “I won the gold medal in the Olympics, and he’s still hurt about that. I want to keep improving and developing my skills. He’s younger than me, but he has adapted to the pros and he is already a world champion. So, he has adapted better than me to professional fighting. If the fight is gonna happen, and I’m gonna risk it, I hope he stays at 130 or 126 because I’m not gonna go up to 135 for something like that, just to please him because he wants to avenge the loss that I gave him in the Olympics.”
Stevenson’s sixth-round knockout of Puerto Rico’s Caraballo (13-2-2, 9 KOs) was contested at the junior lightweight limit of 130 pounds. The 23-year-old Stevenson (14-0, 8 KOs), of Newark, New Jersey, probably will vacate his featherweight title and remain at that weight, unless he can secure a 126-pound title unification fight against England’s Josh Warrington (30-0, 7 KOs), the IBF champion.
Regardless, Ramirez is impressed with Stevenson’s rapid development in three years as a pro.
He knows beating Stevenson as a professional probably will be a more daunting assignment than it was in their gold-medal match. That’s one of Ramirez’s reasons for taking a patient approach toward making their rematch.
“I’m willing to fight him, but when it’s convenient for me,” Ramirez said. “I don’t need to avenge a loss. He’s the one who needs to avenge the loss. I’m just gonna keep doing my thing, and when I feel I’m ready, we’ll do it. Because he’s also a great fighter – there’s no denying that. But when I feel that we are ready for that fight with him, a fight of that caliber, I’m gonna be more than willing to take it.”
Ramirez and Stevenson expressed respect for each other in person when they fought on the same card three weeks ago.
“We spoke, but there were few words,” Ramirez said. “Early in fight week, he was looking to shed weight. I told him if he wants, he can come to my room to check on his weight. And the other time was I was walking out for my fight, and he was walking in. And he was rooting for me, basically. So, everything has been very cordial, very respectful. So, I feel like he’s doing something for social media, for marketing, by selling a second fight between us. But when we are one-on-one, face-to-face, he acts very respectful, very cordial.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.