Mexican middleweight prospect Gilberto Ramirez has caused quite a stir in his homeland over the past few years, so when his working relationship with Golden Boy Promotions and Canelo Promotions came to an end earlier this year Ramirez and his team – lead by father-son combo of Jesus and Hector Zapari – elected to speak with other promoters before deciding to sign with Top Rank and Zanfer Promotions.
Hector Zapari is confident enough in his fighter’s potential to have also started up their own company, Zapari Promotions, but he also says the team owes much of their success to their previous promotional backers.
“I would like to thank Canelo Promotions and Golden Boy for all their hard work and help over the past year,” he said. “It was a tough decision to make but when we had the chance to work with Top Rank and Zanfer we decided it was too good to turn down.
“They’ve made superstars out of many fighters like Oscar (De La Hoya), Floyd Mayweather, (Julio Cesar) Chavez Jr. and lots of others.”
Zapari believes with the help of hall-of-fame matchmaker Bruce Trampler “Gilberto is going to grow up a lot and become a great fighter.”
The first fight of their new alliance takes place in Mexico City on TV Azteca against rugged Colombian puncher Dionsio Miranda. Currently Ramirez (24-0, 19 knockouts) is ranked No. 4 by the WBC, No. 7 by the WBA and No. 12 by IBF.
Anson Wainwright: Back in February you signed promotional terms with Zanfer and Top Rank can you tell us about this?
Gilberto Ramirez: I’m very motivated and glad to be part of the roster of these promoters… they always are very active with great shows and I would like to be part of those great cards they perform.
AW: Why did you decide to sign with them instead of anyone else?
GR: They offered us a great working opportunity and we didn’t want to walk away. It was something we were waiting for. Besides, the way that (Top Rank CEO) Mr. Bob Arum got interested in me surprised me. It was something that I really wanted. I always wanted to be part of one of the best boxing promoters in the industry like Top Rank. The way they conducted themselves was really professional, they came good on their promises. I believe with their track record of developing young fighters and great champions, I have the great chance of success in the future.
AW: You’re first fight under the Zanfer/Top Rank banner you will be co-headlining on April 20 in Mexico City. What can you tell us about who you’re fighting and also what this opportunity likely means to you?
GR: I will be fighting with the dangerous Colombian Dionisio Miranda and I’m very excited to fight and debut with Top Rank/Zanfer on this world championship (the vacant WBC super bantamweight fight between Victor Terrazas & Cristian Mijares) card in the beautiful new arena of México City. This is something that I really enjoy, fighting in great arenas and shows.
AW: What are your goals this year and in your career?
GR: My goal this year is to fight for the (WBC) silver championship that Dominico Spada has, and to keep fighting with great ranked fighters and by the end of next year go for the world title shot against (Sergio) “Maravilla” Martinez.
AW: If we can talk a little about your background starting with your younger days and what it was like growing up in Mazatlan?
GR: It was really hard for me the life I used to have when I was younger, because where my parents live and where I grew up by the edge of Mazatlan it’s one of the most dangerous neighbourhoods in the city. I used to be a gang member at a young age, and always liked to fight in the streets with other kids. My dad drives a Coca-Cola truck for a living and the money he earns wasn’t enough for all of us, me and my two brothers, so I started to work as a construction worker at the age of 12 years old. I started to go to the boxing gym and play baseball not long after. My parents took me to both but they wanted me stay in baseball. I used to be a pitcher. They did that to keep me away of the gangs, but I always liked boxing since I was a kid, and decided to dedicate myself to boxing. The gym was really far away where I used to live. I wasn’t consistent (with my training) because of my hard job, but I still won some national (tournaments) in boxing. My promoter, Jesus, and his son – my trainer – Hector always were mad with me because I wasn’t consistent with training. I didn’t have discipline, but sometimes I used to help my dad out with the money I made so I didn’t have money for the bus (to the gym), but I never told them this.
My friendship with the gangs wasn’t the same because I was busy working and in the sport of boxing, but some friends still looked at me to do some bad things. One day I took an old truck my dad had just bought to party with my friends. I got drunk and I crashed with a big trailer by the highway on the way back home. The old truck was total loss, split in two. That day I wore my seat belt. I never used one before but that day I used it and it saved my life. It was a miracle that I didn’t kill myself. I was in shock, very scared, and since then my life really changed. My promoter Jesus Zapari is like my second dad. He talks to me and took me to his house to live, to be away from the gangs and to support me in boxing, to start a new life, to be 100 percent dedicated to boxing and to become a pro fighter. I never wanted to be on the national amateur team, because I was in need of money, and in México the national committee for amateur boxing doesn’t support you too much. That’s why many Mexican young fighters turn pro at very young age. Right now he is renting me an apartment, sp thanks’ to Jesus and Hector Zapari. They are my family as well. I’m in this sport and I walked away from gangs thanks to them and my parents, who have always supported me. I’m here in this business and thanks to God, I’m alive. Now my mind is only to become a successful person and have a beautiful family. I didn’t even finish high school, so this is my only way to do that and I really enjoy it.
AW: What is a typical day in the gym for you?
GR: Normally when I start I just run around 6 kilometers a week, and I just work light at the gym. By the second week I start to work with a strength conditioner, and running becomes longer. I start to work resistance by the morning, like hills, by the beach in the sand, sprints and agility and speed by the middle and end of the program. By noon I work weight lifting, medicine ball and several exercises of strength conditioning. Three times a week, I spar around 2:00 p.m. By the late afternoon, like 5:00 p.m., I work at the boxing gym. First I start with technique and tactics. When we know the opponent, we work altogether with strategies. I love sparring. At the beginning I spar with lighter weight fighters just to work on defense or some amateurs to help me with defense and then when the date is coming closer like five weeks away, I spar with good sparring partners. Unfortunately, in Mexico it is not easy to find good sparring at my weight division.
AW: What are your thoughts on the middleweight division at the moment?
GR: The middleweight division is hot, lots of competition, great and exciting fighters. It’s not easy to get to the top.
AW: Where do you feel you fit into the middleweight division? How far do you feel you are from the finished article as a fighter?
GR: I feel I’ll be ready soon. I just need to get the experience I want to get. I’ll get as soon I get to the USA. I’ll have different sparring. I’ll be there soon. I will be very confident if I spar with great fighters, strong ones, fast ones and sharp ones. After that I want some good fights. Every day I’m learning more. I’m a fighter that believes I’m never going to stop learning. I just want to get to the top and stay there for long time.
AW: If we look at the current world champions, what are your thoughts on Martinez, Gennady Golovkin, Daniel Geale and Peter Quillin?
GR: Like I said, great fighters, champions. This is a hot division with big names, but I enjoy it. I would love to fight with all of them. I always admire the world champions because I know it is not easy be a great champion, but not impossible, and it motivates me more. I would like to be middleweight champion and in the future a super middleweight.
AW: Of course, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is a big name and is with the same promoter as you. That is a fight that has huge potential to be a big fight in the next year or so what are your thoughts on Chavez and the idea of fighting him?
GR: I respect Chavez Jr. Like I said, I admire every world champion, but in the ring it is totally different. I don’t respect anybody. I get aggressive and I just think to hurt the opponent who is in front of me. I would love to fight Chavez Jr. But I know I need to earn that. I need to win against big name fighters to try to get an opportunity. Chavez Jr. earned (the right) to be where he is right now, he has won good fights. My strategy for Chavez Jr. could be boxing at a distance and with counter punches, with some in-fighting and footwork and some other strategies I have in my mind.
AW: Away from boxing what do you enjoy doing?
GR: I like going to the movies, eating sushi, driving my car by the country side, dancing, going to the beach and enjoy my baby and family.
AW: What fighter did you look up to when you were growing up?
GR: Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. He’s my idol in boxing. I admire him. I just remember when I was a kid all my family and I used to watch Chavez Sr. fights in one of my dad’s friend’s house. They grilled carne asada in the yard before the fight started, my dad and friends used to drink beer and it was like a big event.
AW: Finally do you have a message for the middleweight division?
GR: I’m working hard to become a great fighter. I’m in no rush because I still need to get more experience but when I feel ready I want to fight the best. I’m hungry I want the big steaks world champions have on their tables. I’m a dreamer. I dream about being the best middleweight champion in the world. I’m getting ready to fight the best.
Photos / Temmy Villa