Unified WBO Jr. Welterweight Champion José Ramírez Open To Fighting Without Fans In Attendance “If I Had No Choice”
A career-long layoff beyond their own control is enough to make a boxer consider any option if it meant returning to the ring sooner rather than later.
Jose Ramirez is currently in that predicament, sadly all while coming off of the best win of his career.
“Me, personally, I don’t like to wait too long,” Ramirez (25-0, 17KOs) insisted during a recent interview on Impact Network’s ‘Stars and Champions: Special Edition’ series, as hasn’t fought for more than 10 months and counting. “I feel like I’m in the prime of my career right now and I’m getting stronger.”
The unbeaten 27-year old from Avenal, California has been out of the ring since his 6th round knockout of Maurice Hooker in their junior welterweight title unification clash last July in Arlington, Texas. The career best achievement left Ramirez in prime position to further establish himself as the best of a loaded 140-pound division, only for his career to suffer more than arguably any other boxer during the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
A planned mandatory title defense versus former titlist Viktor Postol has suffered two postponements due to the global health crisis. Their planned clash in Haikou, China this past February became the first major title fight of 2020 to be pulled for COVID-related reasons, with a May 9 in Ramirez’s home region of Fresno postponed for similar reasons.
Ramirez’s promoter, Top Rank Inc. will be the first United States-based outfit since mid-March to host a boxing event, with several to come in Las Vegas beginning June 9.
All shows will take place behind closed doors in compliance with Nevada COVID-19 safety protocol—a scenario which could leave some of the sport’s bigger names on the sidelines, given the absence of making money off of the live gate. Ramirez is a considerable draw in the California’s Central Valley region, but the revenue generated from the events has never been overwhelming enough to where he couldn’t consider taking at least one fight without fans in attendance.
“I think it’s up to the fighter,” acknowledges Ramirez “I think it’s up to the fighter to see if they want to take a small (financial) loss and take a tune-up before moving on with their career and being in big fights.”
Ramirez continues to train for the possibility of his bout with Ukraine’s Postol (31-2, 12KOs) being rescheduled for this upcoming summer. While dates have been secured by Top Rank throughout June and July in Las Vegas, an emergency ruling recently passed in California could present the possibility of Ramirez fighting in his home state. Like the shows in Vegas, the first wave of cards in California would also likely take place without fans in attendance. So far, the state has stopped well short of capping the number of essential personnel gaining clearance for such events.
Whatever the case, Ramirez would love nothing more than to get back in the ring. The options aren’t desirable—or even worthy of consideration—for every boxer, but for now are enough for him to consider as means to resume his career.
“I don’t want to lose the focus or be out of the ring for a long time,” insists Ramirez, whose previous longest layoff was a 190-day stretch between May and November 2017. “I would definitely, if I had no choice, would step in that ring and perform under no crowd present.
“But it’s up to the fighter, at the end of the day. You can’t blame a fighter for not doing it.”
By Jake Donovan / BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox