Luis Ramos passed the first “test” of his career with flying colors.
That fight, a Telefutura-televised bout against David Rodela last September, ended when the undefeated lightweight stopped the battle-tested gate-keeper with a body shot in the fifth round.
It was a good victory for Ramos (20-0, 9 knockouts), but it was also a bout that his manager, Frank Espinoza, and everyone else expected him to win.
That’s not the case with 23-year-old prospect’s next test, against Reymundo Beltran on Friday.
“This is a fight he can lose,” said Espinoza. “Ramos should win. He has youth and speed on his side, but he’s got to fight a smart fight, maybe the smartest fight of his career so far, to beat Beltran, because Beltran has tremendous experience.”
The fight, which takes place at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, Calif., is the main event of the season opener of ShoBox: The New Generation and the matchup upholds the mission of Showtime’s 11-year-old series, which is to showcase up-and-comers in tough fights.
Beltran (25-5, 17 KOs), who is best known as being one of Manny Pacquiao’s longtime sparring partners, is obviously tough, but the 30-year-old veteran also knows his way around the ring.
The native of Los Mochis, Mexico, has only lost twice in the past five years, a span of 10 bouts. One of those losses was a ShoBox main event against another undefeated lightweight prospect, Sharif Bogere, last May. Bogere won a razor-thin decision in a bloody 10-round battle.
“I, personally, thought Beltran won the Bogere fight,” Espinoza said. “So I know we’ve got a tough fight on Friday. Beltran is taking this fight seriously. He’s training hard because he feels that he was robbed the last time he fought a young, undefeated kid. He wants to make a statement against Luis.”
That’s a given. Espinosa and hardcore fight fans want to know if Ramos ready to make a statement against Beltran.
The Santa Ana, Calif., native looked good in his last fight, but Rodela, who was once considered a fringe contender, had gone 1-3-1 in his previous five bouts going into that Solo Boxeo Tecate main event.
Ramos didn’t look so hot in his other two bouts of 2011, points victories over Jose Hernandez and former title challenger Francisco Lorenzo in eight-round bouts.
He failed to make weight against Hernandez and then struggled to win a majority decision that some ringside observers thought the tough Texan deserved. His fight with Lorenzo, an old but awkward and extremely durable veteran (the 40-year-old Dominican has never been stopped), was also tight. Two judges had Ramos winning by only two points (77-75).
“I don’t think Luis was taking boxing as seriously as he should going into those fights,” said Espinoza, “but I think he learned from those poor performances. He was embarrassed by it and he got back to working hard in training. I think it showed in the Rodela fight, which I expected to be more competitive.”
Espinoza knows that the version of Ramos that fought Hernandez and Lorenzo will not beat Beltran. He concedes that the version that beat Rodela might not be enough.
“That’s why the fight was made,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity for Luis, but it’s a tough, tough fight; the kind he has to win to get to the next level.
“ShoBox is the platform for young fighters to prove themselves to fans. That’s what Ramos has to do.”
Photo / Gene Blevins-Hoganphotos