Robeisy Ramirez joins a growing list of fighters who lost their pro debut and went on to win a major title.

The 2012 and 2016 Olympic Gold medalist for Cuba accomplished the feat in a twelve-round, unanimous decision victory over former WBO junior featherweight titlist Isaac Dogboe. Scores were 119-108, 118-109 and 117-110 for Ramirez, who claimed the vacant WBO featherweight title in their ESPN+ main event from Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“I’m living a new stage in my life,” Ramirez noted to ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna. “I did everything asked of me as an amateur, winning two Gold medals. Now I can call myself a champion.

The prize at stake became available after Emanuel Navarrete—who ended Dogboe’s 122-pound reign in 2018 and owns two wins over the Ghana-born boxer—vacated in February to remain at junior lightweight where he recently claimed the WBO junior lightweight title.

Ramirez and Dogboe were already signed to fight at the time. They were prepared to contend for an interim title before it was learned that they were fighting for the real thing.

Ramirez was by far the better prepared of the two—or perhaps, simply the better skilled.

The first sign of a long night in store for Dogboe came midway through round two. Ramirez landed a left hand around the high and tight guard of Dogboe, later followed by a left uppercut at close quarters. Dogboe—a Ghana native who relocated to London and now trains in Washington D.C.—was visibly affected by the shot, missing wildly with a reactionary right hand after which he wisely clinched to avoid further punishment.

Ramirez used more movement in round three. The Cuban southpaw—who defected to Florida and now trains in Las Vegas—constantly circled Dogboe and potshotted with left hands and right hooks. Dogboe enjoyed his best moment of the fight to that point when a right hand landed to the body after Ramirez overcommitted on a straight left.

Momentum quickly shifted back in favor of Ramirez early in round four. Dogboe was well short with his power shots while Ramirez fought behind the jab before landing a flurry of punches upstairs. Dogboe briefly caught Ramirez with a right hand and later launched a series of power shots beginning at the one-minute mark of round four, though all were picked off by Ramirez’s gloves during the sequence. Ramirez landed a jab and a straight left in the closing seconds, while Dogboe missed with a right hand.

Dogboe was urged by head trainer Barry Hunter to cease showing Ramirez more respect than necessary. Dogboe did his best to carry out those marching orders but couldn’t manage more than a couple of right hands early in round five. Ramirez kept everything tight down the middle, and even rode out and picked off a late flurry by Dogboe before the bell.

Ramirez continued to land the more potent blows and at the higher clip in round six. Dogboe walked in a straight line in an effort to land his right hand. He would eventually get through but not before he would get picked apart by straight lefts by Ramirez, who landed a startling 21-of-35 power punches in the round.

Dogboe connected with an overhand right that briefly froze Ramirez in place in the seventh. Ramirez recovered but offered a more defensively responsible approach throughout the rest of the frame. Dogboe switched to southpaw inside the final minute but it didn’t produce any favorable results.

Ramirez was momentarily forced to fight in reverse as Dogboe targeted the body in round eight. Ramirez settled down and landed a straight left to put Dogboe on his heels midway through the round.

The same trend developed for Dogboe in round ten. The squat former titlist began with good intentions but without landing anything of note. Ramirez simply moved to his left and positioned himself for straight left hands and the occasional combination straight down the middle. Dogboe picked up the pace late in the round but was mostly catching gloves or air.

Ramirez added to his lead in the proverbial championship rounds. Dogboe stood directly in front of the taller Ramirez, who slammed home a one-two down the middle. Dogboe remained upright, though it wasn’t the case in the twelfth and final round. A left hand by Ramirez produced the bout’s lone knockdown, which came at a point when he was seemingly well ahead on the scorecards.

Dogboe was forced to show mettle as the fight was badly out of reach. Ramirez landed a head-snapping left hand as he slickly dodged Dogboe’s power shots as the bout trickled toward the finish line.

Dogboe fell to 24-3 (15KOs) with the loss, his first since moving up to featherweight on the other side of the pandemic. All three defeats have come at the title level. His past three wins all came down to majority or split decisions versus fringe contenders including his barely edging former title challenger Joet Gonzalez last July.

He isn’t quite on board with this verdict.

“Robeisy Ramirez is a terrific fighter but the result was bullshit,” insisted Dogboe, who threw more punches (619 to 495 for Ramirez), but was outlanded 160-113 and connected at a significantly lower percentage (18.3%, compared to 32.3% for Ramirez). “That knockdown was no knockdown. You talk about a dictatorship. That was a dictatorship of results right there.”

The charismatic Ghanaian has yet to recapture the magic that came with his brief yet explosive WBO junior featherweight title run. It remains to be seen where his career heads beyond Saturday evening, though there is concern that he has hit his ceiling at featherweight.

As for Ramirez, it’s a stamp of validation after a disastrous pro debut less than four years ago. 

“If it had not been for that loss, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Ramirez (12-1, 7KOs) noted. “I never would have joined up with Ismael Salas. Yordenis Ugas never would have told me to move to Vegas and change my life. I never would have gotten this team to be where I am today.”

The crafty boxer-puncher became the first member of his two Cuban Olympic teams from 2012 and 2016 to win a major title. The win followed a trio of knockouts in 2022 to arrive as a top contender. 

Now, he is simply a top featherweight. 

The win comes in an ever changing featherweight division that has crowned its seventh new major titlist in just a fifteen-month span. Ramirez joins:

-        WBA titlist Mauricio Lara who claimed the belt in February and will face Leigh Wood in a rematch on May 27 in Manchester, England;

-        Luis Alberto Lopez, who won the IBF belt last December and set to defend versus Michael Conlan, also on May 27 but in Conlan’s Belfast hometown;

-        and WBC titlist Rey Vargas, the division’s elder statesmen became a two-division titlist last July 9 and has returned after a failed bid to win the WBC junior lightweight title.

The theme with Ramirez, Lara and Lopez is that all had to overcome early career adversity to arrive on the title stage. Vargas is there now as he returned to featherweight following a lopsided loss.

Ramirez has now emerged victorious in twelve straight starts, all while still in the relative infancy of his career. The fact there is room for growth and improvement could be bad news for the rest of the division.

“I now call myself a world champion,” noted Ramirez. “I can’t wait for all my people to be free. I want to serve as an example for all my people.

“As for who’s next, I want all the world champions. I’ll even take Joet Gonzalez (who beat Jose Enrique Vivas in the co-feature). Otherwise, give me Luis Alberto Lopez or Michael Conlan, whoever wins their fight.” 

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox