Fresno, CA (February 12th, 2019)– After Jose Ramirez’s 2012 U.S. Olympic appearance, he came into the pros as a heralded 21-year-old prospect with a great left hook who was still in need of a lot of development. I saw most of Ramirez’s early fights and always had questions about whether he would become a top professional, and I wasn’t the only one. But here we are now and Ramirez, 26, of Avenal, California, has become not only a top junior welterweight — perhaps the best in the division — but one of the biggest attractions of any American fighter, in large part because of how he has endeared himself to his hometown fans with his relentless community service.

The son of Mexican immigrants who once picked fruit in the Central California fields, Ramirez showed how good he has become and how popular he is with a spirited and close majority decision over Jose Zepeda — a legitimate challenger — in the main event of the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN card Sunday night at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California.

Ramirez has fought there many times and always drawn big crowds, but none have been bigger than the 14,034 he drew Sunday for a card that he used to help raise money for his “KO Cancer” effort.

That faithful crowd saw Ramirez (24-0, 16 KOs) on a night that was clearly not his best, but he was still able to bite down and edge Zepeda (30-2, 25 KOs), 29, a southpaw from Long Beach, California, whose only previous loss was due to a dislocated shoulder against then-lightweight titlist Terry Flanagan in 2015.

Ramirez, making his second defense and in his second fight with trainer Robert Garcia, won 116-112 and 115-113, with one judge scoring it 114-114, to outduel a fighter trained by Freddie Roach, who had led Ramirez to the title before being replaced. Ramirez got off to a very slow start but came back strong and asserted himself in the late rounds to pull out a well-deserved win for which Zepeda gave him credit.

It was the kind of hard-fought victory that Ramirez truly earned, showing just how far he has come since turning pro with vast potential but many question marks.




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