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As a teenager, Jose Ramirez would toil for hours in the blazing sun of California’s San Joaquin Valley, working the fields as both of his parents had done. When he was through, despite being physically and often emotionally exhausted, he’d head to boxing training, because even as a young man, he dreamed of winning a world title.
It was the work ethic instilled in him years ago that enabled him to fulfill his dream. Ramirez was the busier fighter and threw the harder punches in a whale of a bout with Amir Imam, winning the WBC super lightweight title with a hard-fought unanimous decision at The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Judges scored it 115-113, 117-111 and 120-108 for the 25-year-old Ramirez, a member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic team.
Imam made him work for it, turning in a performance worthy of his nickname, “The Young Master.” But though Imam showed the heart of a champion, Ramirez’s power punches were ultimately the difference in the fight.
Ramirez worked the body relentlessly and found a home for his straight right hand in the second half of the fight, as he turned what appeared to be a close fight at the midpoint into a rout.
“Amir Imam is a great fighter and he came well prepared and he made a great fight for the fans,” an emotional Ramirez told ESPN in the ring after the bout. “I’m a fighter man. I’m a fighter.”
The bout was billed as yet another match between venerable promoters Bob Arum, who has Ramirez, and Don King, who promotes Imam. But the bout to find a replacement as champion for Terence “Bud” Crawford, who vacated to move up to welterweight, was really a showcase of two of the sport’s talented young boxers, who both showed courage, desire and plenty of skill.
The bout was fought at a high-pace from the early moments, with Imam attempting to box and Ramirez looking to push him to the ropes and slug. Imam was getting the better of it in the early going, but Ramirez’s power took its toll.
It slowed Imam’s pace, swelled his right eye but never took the fight out of him. Several times, Ramirez landed combinations and Imam seemed on the verge of going down, or out. But Imam never gave in and never quit fighting.
That allowed Ramirez to showcase his skills, particularly his vastly improved punching power.
“This is what I signed up for,” a jubilant Ramirez said. “ … I enjoyed every second in that ring. It was a proud moment for me. I feel blessed. It’s a perfect ending to the story.”
It’s hardly an ending, though. Ramirez, now 22-0, has many big fights ahead of him, including an upcoming mandatory defense with Regis Prograis that figures to be sensational.
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