Robeisy Ramirez hopes to have the chance to run it back.

Until then, he will have to live with the knowledge that he let this one slip away.

The double Olympic Gold medalist saw his WBO featherweight title reign come to an end in a majority decision defeat to Guadalajara’s Rafael Espinoza in an instant Fight of the Year candidate. Both fighters hit the deck, but Ramirez’s trip to the canvas in the 12th and final round ultimately cost him the fight and his title this past Saturday on ESPN in front of an adoring pro-Cuban crowd at Charles F. Dodge City Center in Pembroke Pines, Florida.

Ramirez was ahead on all three scorecards through nine rounds but could not keep his 6’1” challenger at bay down the stretch.

“I thought I had the fight won, but he caught his second wind,” admitted Ramirez of the late-rounds collapse. “I tried to catch my second wind but I have to give him credit. He came back, he knocked me down.

“I don’t think it should have been the difference, but it was. That’s just how it happened.”

The setback spoiled a long overdue homecoming for Ramirez (13-2, 8KOs), who arrived in South Florida after he defected from Cuba in 2018.

It also ruined what was a career-best year, which began with an April 1 victory over former WBO 122-pound titlist Isaac Dogboe to win the WBO featherweight strap. He successfully defended in a fifth-round knockout of Satoshi Shimizu on July 25 in Tokyo but was unable to close out the year with his belt or win streak still intact.

Ramirez was being groomed for title unification bouts in the year ahead. Top Rank promotes Ramirez as well as IBF beltholder Luis Alberto Lopez, who will defend his title on a March 2 show that also includes the Otabek Kholmatov-Raymond Ford vacant WBA featherweight title fight.

There is now work to be done to get back into that mix, as well as the Naoya Inoue sweepstakes once the pound-for-pound entrant is ready to make a featherweight run. For now, it begins with a targeted rematch versus Espinoza (24-0, 20KOs)—and both parties are open to the idea.  

“I would love to have a rematch against him,” insisted Ramirez. “I have a lot of respect for him. He is a true Mexican warrior. I have a lot of respect for him and will fight Espinoza again or any of the other Mexican featherweight champions (Lopez and WBC title holder Rey Vargas).”

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for X (formerly Twitter): @JakeNDaBox