At the time he said it, it sounded like so much hyperbole. Prior to Jose Ramirez’s wild unanimous decision victory over Antonio Orozco on Friday at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California, Top Rank chairman Bob Arum told Yahoo Sports it would be the best fight of the weekend.
With middleweights Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez fighting in a hotly anticipated rematch on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Arum’s words seemed hollow, like a desperate plea to coax a few more viewers to tune into the Ramirez-Orozco broadcast on ESPN.
Now, Arum looks prescient. Ramirez retained his WBC super lightweight championship in a slugfest with Orozco, an action-packed fight he won but that Orozco didn’t really lose. All three judges scored it 119-107 for Ramirez, who scored knockdowns in the fourth and eighth rounds.
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) September 15, 2018
The fighters, who came into the bout with a combined 49-0 record, are the epitome of what boxing is about, men with class and heart who refuse to back down. It was a torrid affair and could be remembered as the night that Ramirez, a member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic boxing team, took a star turn.
“This is what boxing is all about: Two warriors going at it,” Arum said. “Jose is beginning to show that he has the makings of a superstar in the sport.”
It was the first defense of the belt that he won on March 17 with a unanimous decision over Amir Imam in another excellent bout. The son of immigrant farm workers from nearby Avenal, California, Ramirez and Orozco had the crowd roaring throughout.
Ramirez landed the harder and crisper punches, but the men combined to throw more than 1,800 punches. Ramirez was 381 of 1036, according to CompuBox, while Orozco was 263 of 762. Orozco refused to give in and fought with all his heart, but Ramirez’ jab and straight right dictated the fight. Orozco was never able to get inside where he could work most effectively.
Ramirez mounted a brutal assault on the body and dropped Orozco with a left to the liver. There were so many highlights, it could fill the Plays of the Week 10 times over.
“This was an excellent fight, and Antonio Orozco is a true warrior,” Ramirez said. “We put it out there, and Antonio was a very tough opponent who gave it his all.”
Rarely is a bout that is so wide — all three judges had it 11-1 for Ramirez — considered for Fight of the Year. If ever there was one that could at least get a few votes, this was it.
They kept a furious pace, throwing punches with bad intentions from the start. Orozco said he’ll use it as a teaching moment for his children.
“I have to rebuild and I want to get back [to a title fight],” Orozco said. “I always try to teach my kids, you don’t lose. You learn a lesson. Tonight, I learned a lesson.”
Ramirez, who has to be in Fighter of the Year contention, said he wants to face the winner of the WBO title fight between champion Maurice Hooker and Alex Saucedo in his next fight.