On Saturday, January 24, 2015, Gilberto Ramirez was able to grind out a unanimous-decision victory against Maxim Vlasov in an uninspiring co-feature for the Brandon Rios vs. Mike Alvarado 3 fight card from the 1st Bank Center in Broomfield, Colorado.
Ramirez’s body work was the difference in the contest, he landed 112 body blows over the course of 10 rounds according to CompuBox numbers, but his defense seemed flawed leaving him open to Vlasov’s straight right hand, which landed consistently over the course of the fight.
Ramirez’s performance certainly left us wondering if he’s ready for a title shot now, or if he should be fighting an opponent who can help him further ready himself for that ultimate test.
What’s next for Gilberto Ramirez?
Let’s take a look at the current Super Middleweight landscape, first off I want to start by disregarding all possible opponents who would be unrealistic suggestions based off of the current political situations in the sport.
This would include WBC title holder Anthony Dirrell, Andre Dirrell, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Sakio Bika, J’Leon Love, Badou Jack or any other fighter advised by Al Haymon or who fights exclusively on Showtime.
The Current Champions at 168 Pounds
1. WBA champion Andre Ward has only fought twice in the past two-and-a half years but is still one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. This is arguably the biggest possible step-up for Ramirez, who if not careful could find himself becoming Ward’s stepping stone.
Ramirez seems to be at least one or two fights away from a test of this magnitude, although HBO did show interest in the matchup by showing a clip during Saturdays broadcast of the two fighters sizing each other up while at the fighter meetings.
2. IBF and WBA “regular” champion Carl Froch is another matchup that Ramirez is one or two more fights away from. Froch has also shown great interest in fighting an opponent who has already reached superstar status, such as a Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in a big setting like the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
It is doubtful that Froch would have any interest in fighting someone like Ramirez, who is still building a fan base.
3. WBO title holder Arthur Abraham might be the most winnable title fight for Ramirez at this current time. Abraham does have a defense scheduled for February 21 in a rematch vs. Englishman Paul Smith.
The winner of Abraham-Smith could be a realistic interest for Ramirez’s promoter, Bob Arum.
4. WBC champion Anthony Dirrell is an unrealistic option at this time for Ramirez because Dirrell is advised by Haymon and fights on Showtime, while Ramirez is with Arum’s Top Rank.
The two sides currently do not work together and the only way this fight could take place is if Ramirez became the mandatory for Dirrell’s belt and the fight went to a purse bid similar to what we saw between Vasyl Lomachenko and Gary Russell Jr. last year.
There are a lot of other current potential matchups for Gilberto Ramirez at 168 pounds that do not involve a major sanctioning body title.
Two names that jump out are UK fighters George Groves and James DeGale. DeGale is currently the mandatory to Froch’s IBF title and is feverishly perusing that fight, but Ramirez could step in if the domestic clash doesn’t come to fruition.
On the other hand, Ramirez and Groves are both currently in the top five of the WBC, WBA and IBF rankings and Groves has yet to schedule his next fight since defeating Denis Douglin back in November. Groves has also fought on HBO in the past.
If Top Rank and Ramirez were looking to take a step to the side instead of forward, they could pursue a fight with fellow Mexican banger Rogelio “Porky” Medina, who is coming off an impressive third-round KO of J’Leon Love in August.
Edwin Rodriguez is another option. Rodriguez has won back-to-back fights since losing a unanimous decision to Andre Ward back in November 2013.
Ramirez is a long/tall Super Middleweight who should have no problem moving up to Light Heavyweight in the future, and who could currently compete with 175 pounders at a catch weight, similar to his fight with Vlasov this past Saturday.
Looking at some Light Heavyweight contenders who could be potential opponents, names that come to mind are Gabriel Campillo who is riding a three-fight win streak, and Isaac Chilemba who also defeated Vlasov by unanimous decision back in 2011.
Who do you think Gilberto Ramirez should fight next? Is he ready for a title shot? Please feel free to discuss and give your opinion in the comment section below.