Former junior featherweight titleholder Rico Ramos watched on television as WBA 122-pound beltholder and two-time Olympic gold medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux scored five knockdowns during a sensational fifth-round stoppage of Philadelphia’s Teon Kennedy on the televised portion of the Manny Pacquiao-Tim Bradley undercard on June 9.
Ramos (20-1, 11 knockouts) was as impressed by the performance of Rigondeaux (10-0, 8 KOs) as he was devastated in January, when the Cuban southpaw lifted his WBA crown with a sixth-round knockout.
On Saturday, at the Sportsmans Lodge in Studio City, Calif., Ramos will try to bounce back against former amateur rival Efrain Esquivias (16-0, 9 KOs), of Carson, Calif., in a bout meant to catapult the Pico Rivera, Calif., resident back into title contention.
“The whole purpose of this fight was to get him right back into a world title fight, and the best way to get right back into a world title fight is to have a victory Saturday night,” said Dan Goossen, the promoter of Ramos, 25.
“I think that what is at stake for Rico Ramos is what is at stake for any fighter who has obtained the heights that he has, and that’s to go out there and to show that he belongs and to get right back to where he was.”
Ramos had earned the crown with a seventh-round knockout of Akifumi Shimoda last July, after having been dominated for much of the fight.
“I just feel that from Rico’s standpoint, winning the title was such a big goal of his, that I think in a lot of ways, that in itself, was something that was the main accomplishment,” said Goossen.
“But I think that he’s come to realize that winning a title isn’t good enough any longer. So the Rico that I want to see is the one that understands that and realizes that he wants that title back, and that when he gets it back, that he’s not going to be fulfilled, and that he’s going to then want to defend it.”
That would be more like the Ramos who trailed on the cards against Shimoda and was bleeding badly from a cut, with referee Benjy Esteves Jr. close to stopping the fight.
Ramos then rallied to score the seventh-round stoppage.
“I think that he’s been this type of fighter where the one fight he looks unbeatable, and then, there’s times where he comes out and fights as if he’s beatable,” said Goossen.
“But these are the learning experiences that are hard to instill in someone without going through it. He’s got a big edge over Efrain because of that experience.”
Ramos has an amateur history against Esquivias, 28, although they disagree on how many times they have met. Esquivias recalls losing twice to Ramos before beating him, but Ramos only recalls two meetings, saying that he won both times.
Either way, Goossen believes that his fighter should have the edge on Saturday night.
“We had a pretty good build up to Rico’s becoming the champion and fighting some good names. So I believe that his opponent resume is far superior to that of Esquivias. So, as it relates to the experience and the talent that he’s faced, there is no comparison,” said Goossen.
“Rico has got everything over his challenger, but he’s going to have to go out there and utilize that experience and that ability to make it all worthwhile. I think that Rico should come out victorious if he just uses his world class skills.”
Ramos shared his own thoughts on Rigondeaux and Esquivias in this Q&A below.
RingTV.com: What were your thoughts watching Rigondeaux the other night?
RingTV.com: What are your thoughts on your performance against Rigondeaux?
So this time, we’re better off. I mean, hopefully, after we get a couple of more fights under our belt, that I’m going to get him again.
RingTV.com: Who is your new trainer?
When I first saw Chilli, he was still fighting at the time, I think, in 2004, and he was the California state [heavyweight] champion. I think that he beat Javier Mora.
But everything is going really well, and I like the work that we’re putting in in the training camp and everything. So I’m ready.
RingTV.com: What did you do wrong against Rigondeaux?
RR: I really didn’t follow the gameplan, which was to dictate. I was just fighting. I wasn’t listening or anything like that.
I was physically ready but I wasn’t mentally ready, and I had some bad habits that surfaced and got me caught, and that was the end of that.
RingTV.com: What do you know about Esquivias?
I think that he’s going to bring his “A-game,” and that he’s going to try to dominate and come forward and give it his all. I think that he’ll definitely stand in front of me, and we’ve got our gameplan and we’re ready.
I can box, I can do everything. I can do it all. But I haven’t really shown what I can do. I don’t have to learn. We’ve worked on everything that we need to do for this fight in training camp.
So we’re going to be ready, and we are prepared for whatever he brings. We’re focused and we’re going to get that win.
Photo by Fightwireimages.com
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com