Jose Ramirez has been one of the good guys for a long time and true enough, on Wednesday, three days before he ends one year, he returns to the ring to face Richard Commey on Saturday on ESPN at the Saum Mart Center, he made a public appearance at the Boys & Girls Club in Fresno , California, with WBA bantamweight champion Seniesa Estrada.
He was, as many times, in the poor community where he was born and brought up, and where he became a local hero, as much for his kindness and caring spirit as for his exceptional skills.
At his peak, he was the 2012 US Olympic unified super lightweight champion, who made the short trip to Las Vegas on May 22, 2021, to compete against Josh Taylor for the championship. All three judges had it six to six in the round, but because Taylor scored two boards, he won by unanimous decision on all scorecards, 114-112.
And this is when Ramirez learned a bitter lesson about loyal fans. He fully expected to outlast him and returned home to take it hard, suffering his first defeat since the 2012 London Olympics in England.
But losing to Taylor was a rallying cry: Many fans, though not many from the nearby Central Valley of California, left him.
“Trying to come back from that loss to Josh Taylor, it was different,” Ramirez said. “Mental challenges athletes have a lot of time and I’ve got to find a way to deal with myself. It was a wonderful change. People loved me after the (Maurice) Hooker fight. [when I became a unified champion]. But after fighting Taylor, everything changed. You need to do some digging, and soul searching, and find out who you are, and remember what you mean to me in the first place.
“It hurts to lose, of course, especially when you put so much of yourself into it. But when the people who were there for you and comforting you after one struggle leave you after another, they take you back.”
Ramirez also did not have to deal with the backlash of a decision of 35 percent of the total to fight King Prograis for the WBC 140-pound title. The story was complicated: Taylor was ordered to defend his title against Jose Zepeda, but he got married and pulled out. Ramirez was offered a fight, but he was married and couldn’t take it.
So Prograis grouped the fight with Zepeda and won the WBC belt. After this, the offer was again extended to Ramirez to fight Prograis, with 65 percent of the departure on the side of Prograis and 35 percent to Ramirez.
While the fight was sensational, Ramirez is bigger than Prograis and he didn’t know what the 35 percent in his purse would be.
“Problem” [which promotes Prograis] He was sitting there waiting for offers, but he never sent me an offer once,” Ramirez said. “The WBC said it would be a 65/35 split, but 35 percent could be $35,000. It could be $70,000. It could be $150,000. I have no way of knowing. 35 I feel about what, really?
“It’s the minimum that I have in my contract with Top Rank, because in order for me to do what I got as the minimum with my Top Rank, the offer had to come in at $3 million more than 35 percent to meet my minimum.”
So Ramirez moved on to face Commey, the former world champion, who went 1-2-1 in his last four.
Ramirez said if Commey passes, he would like to meet Prograis in the IRCA pay-per-view, which allows for larger pockets.
But the key for Ramirez was a direct header. He was heartbroken, not only by the portion of the base fans leaving, but also by the rigors of the fighting game. He fought more than 200 times as an amateur and was active as a professional.
It’s been a little over a year, and it’s renewed and eager to show off to its most loyal fans. Many of them were not even boxing fans when they started to support Ramirez because of his work to strengthen the lives of those in the poor community.
“I don’t like to talk and when I do” [fight Prograis]I will talk with my fists, as I always have,” Ramirez said. “But coming back home, I can’t wait to show my fans here, who have been with me and have been faithful to me. since day 1 I put in so much work and I want to know how hard I worked for them. They didn’t really see me at local businesses or restaurants or anything. It’s going to be a big night and I want to make it special for them.”