Sometimes the nickname just fits.

And such is certainly the case with John Ramirez.

The briefest encounter with the cocksure super flyweight – who’d already lived in two countries, mastered two languages, and excelled in two sports before he’d ever laced on gloves – leaves a person forcibly struck by a straightforward manner and an unshakeable self-belief.

Cram a heavyweight capacity for combative give and take into a compact 5-foot-4 frame and you’ve got yourself a guy who’s about as “Scrappy” as they come.

“I knew I was athletic and gifted at a young age,” Ramirez, still just 26, told Boxing Scene. 

“I grew up playing with older kids because the games – soccer and football – were more serious and more competitive. I was born with confidence. 

“But what fueled my confidence even more was being the underdog and proving to everyone that I was the best player on the team, which I ended up doing and ended up gaining everyone’s respect.”

He was born in California but moved to Honduras with his father and attended school there through fourth grade, while playing soccer on a level that projected toward national team consideration.

Instead, he moved back to Los Angeles and developed a love for American football, initially starring as a running back for Lincoln High School and then playing a season at Los Angeles Valley College.

From there, Ramirez shifted gears and turned to boxing, heading to Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Gym as a 20-year-old and ultimately having 25 amateur bouts before going pro a week before Christmas 2020.

He won by first-round stoppage and strung together seven more wins in 2021 – six by KO – before a transformative 2022 that included a first-round erasure of once-beaten Jan Salvatierra.

The bout ended when a Ramirez right hand drove his foe under the ropes to the floor and into a group of ringside photographers. Salvatierra got back into the ring but was counted out at 2:25, giving Ramirez the WBA’s vacant North American title and spiking his world ranking to No. 2 at 115.

He’ll try to maintain the momentum on February 23 at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, where a 10-rounder against Luis Padilla will top a Golden Boy Fight Night card that’ll stream live on DAZN.

“He’s Mexican, he’s 22 years old and he’s in my way,” Ramirez said. “Therefore I must take him out.”

Another win could mean a title shot against WBA champ Joshua Franco by year’s end.

But if you think that’s got him unnerved as the fight approaches, think again.

“There’s no pressure,” he said. “Zero pressure. I chose this life.

“I feel hungry and motivated. I will continue doing what I’ve been doing and that’s staying focused, making statements and improving my craft. There’s no stress. No thinking about the opponent. We have game planned. Now it is all about having fun.”

Ramirez was close to 160 pounds during his football days but hasn’t weighed in beyond 120 pounds in the ring. In fact, he was a career-low 114 against Salvatierra last May and will be called upon to make 115 again for the Padilla fight next weekend.

Sounds like a rough ride for a guy who walks around at 130.

But again, the confidence is quick and perpetual.

“Two weeks out and everything is on track,” he said.

“Last week I cut about five to eight pounds and I go to bed at peace the night before weigh-ins.”

It’ll be Ramirez’s fourth fight under the Golden Boy banner and the promotional giant’s president, Eric Gomez, suggested he has certifiable high-stakes potential.

“He’s a very smart fighter,” Gomez told Ring Magazine. “He’s aggressive but smart. He’s just very talented. (He is] personable and has got charisma. The kid has superstar written all over him. Just the way he carries himself, how hard he works and trains. He’s an overall great athlete.”

Not surprisingly, Ramirez agrees.

He’s fought just 35 rounds across his 10 bouts, has never gone beyond six rounds with any opponent and has registered six of his eight KO wins in three rounds or less.

Only Mexican southpaw Fernando Curiel Nolasco and journeyman Roberto Pucheta – who arrived with a dubious combined record of 17-49-3 with 10 KO losses – heard a final bell after six rounds, though they only won four of a possible 36 rounds across six scorecards.

“The moment has been created,” Ramirez said. “I’ve visualized sequences and scenarios. I am prepared for whatever. I made up my mind that I wanted to box from the jump. I followed my instincts and vision. My advantage is my athleticism, good decision making and an understanding of the art.”

And between now and fight night, his focus. 

“The final week is all about cutting weight and taking care of the body and staying sharp,” he said. “The hard work is already done.” 

* * * * * * * * * *  

This week’s title-fight schedule: 



WBA featherweight title – Nottingham, United Kingdom 

Leigh Wood (champion/No. 6 IWBR) vs. Mauricio Lara (No. 10 WBA/No. 3 IWBR) 

Wood (26-2, 16 KO): Second title defense; Elevated to top-tier WBA champ in December 

Lara (25-2, 18 KO): First title fight; Fourth fight outside of Mexico (3-0-1, 3 KO) 

Fitzbitz says: Wood was the belt cartel’s second fiddle prior to Leo Santa Cruz’s exit. So while he’s got the hardware, he’s not got Lara’s street cred. The unbeaten streak continues. Lara by decision (90/10) 

Last week's picks: 1-0 (WIN: Foster) 

2023 picks record: 4-1 (80.0 percent) 

Overall picks record: 1,254-409 (75.4 percent) 

NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full-fledged title-holder – no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class. 

Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.