By: The Mad Boxing Genius
“Rico Ramos to me looks like a guy with 19 fights that’s not ready for a world title fight. He just seems lost in there…” – Harold Lederman
Minutes after these words were uttered by legendary boxing judge Harold Lederman in the seventh round of the Rico Ramos/Akifumi Shimoda fight, Rico landed a left hook that won him the WBA super bantamweight world championship.
As it stands, in a rich filled division that includes Toshiaki Nishioka, Wilfredo Vazquez Jr, and now Filipino sensation Nonito Donaire, Rico Ramos has made it to the dance. Weather or not he is ready he must now prove that he truly belongs in the mix. And prove he’s willing to do because he steps back into the lion’s den tonight on ShowBox to show the boxing world that the belt around his waist did not come about because of a fluke or some lucky punch as he takes on the Cuban sensation Guillermo Rigondeaux.
His opponent, despite having a lot less fights than the champ (8-0), comes in with more experience. Guillermo Rigondeaux is considered to be one of the greatest if not the greatest amateur fighters’ of all-time. With six consecutive Cuban National Championships and winning two Olympic gold medals in succession (only a few of his amateur accomplishments), has more big time event experience than Rico and has been thrust into the spotlight since day 1, something Rico is only starting to receive. On another note, although he only has professional 8 fights to his credit, Rigondeaux has already had experience going championship rounds when he won the interim WBA championship in a twelve round decision over Ricardo Cordoba November 13, 2010.
Tonight he goes for his first full championship reign in only fight number 9 because at age 31 in the super bantamweight division, you already have one foot in the grave. Because he wasn’t allowed to compete professionally being from Cuba, he had a late start to his professional career and that will always be a problem. We never know when Rigondeaux will become old.
As for Rico, his position in this fight is that of the underdog. Many boxing insiders are already looking past the young champion and playing matchmaker for the Cuban sensations next opponent. Perhaps they can make an argument since Rico’s most significant fight (the WBA title win July 9, 2011) was the most unimpressive fight of his career. However, if you have a conversation with this young champion, he’ll have you believing that he’s far from the underdog and will be one of the best 122-pounders around like Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales were back in the day.
He’s confident without being conceited. He’s youthful but with an element of maturity. And although he has the skills, it takes more than just talent to win championships and be one of the elite. Make no mistake about it, its not his slick skills, athleticism or his patience that make him as good as he is or what will maybe make him the best in his division one day, it’s what he brings to the table inside of him… intelligence and maturity.
You can get hint of his maturity when he speaks about his title winning performance. He will be the first to tell you that he made many mistakes, “I was nervous and wasn’t listening (to my corner),”says Ramos. But he has made it quite clear that he is one of those fighter’s who learns from his mistakes. He is anxious to prove it to the world and is happy to do it against Guillermo Rigondeaux.
Everyone knows that Rico brings the goods but some question if he can put it all together under the bright lights against his best opponent to date against Rigondeaux. The flip side to this is that Rigondeaux is also facing arguably his best opponent to date as well. The 31 year old will have to not only deal with a young, fresh and skilled fighter but a mature and level-headed one as well.
At the end of the day, you have the first significant fight of 2012 happening tonight with two of the most legitimate super bantamweights in the world. Whoever wins, it will be a catapult to bigger things because of how good their opponent is.