A great Bradley-Pacquiao III undercard: All killer, no filler
Sometimes, unfortunately, the main course is often the only satisfying portion of dinner when fight fans plunk down their hard-earned cash on pay-per-view shows. A strong main event is sometimes the highlight of the night, as it should be, but a strong supporting cast is always a welcome addition for fight fans.
On April 9, when Manny Pacquiao battles Timothy Bradley in the main event at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena, they will do so after a strong undercard that will certainly deliver some excellent match-ups from the opening bell.
The support bouts on the card will feature WBO No. 1 super middleweight contender Gilberto Ramirez, 33-0 (24), from Mazatlan, Mexico, taking on WBO super middleweight champion Arthur Abraham, 44-4 (29), of Berlin, Germany.
Also, WBO No. 1 featherweight contender Oscar Valdez, 18-0 (16), of Nogales, Mexico, will defend his WBO NABO featherweight title against former IBF featherweight champion Evgeny Gradovich, 21-1-1 (9), a Russian native who lives in Oxnard, California. This is a big step up for Valdez and the first step toward what Top Rank Promotions hopes will lead to a world title shot in the near future.
2012 US Olympian Jose Ramirez, 16-0 (12), of Avenal, California, will defend his WBC Continental Americas junior welterweight title against rugged veteran Manuel Perez, 25-11-1 (6), of Denver, Colorado.
Arthur Abraham vs. Gilberto Ramirez for the WBO world super middleweight title
On the verge of becoming a huge star in Mexico, Ramirez is taking the final step on the journey toward a world title that he started back in 2009, when he turned pro as a 17-year-old prospect. While he doesn’t have anywhere near the world-class, big-name experience Abraham does, he may have the style to be the perfect foil to upset the rugged German and take the title home to Mexico. Ramirez has the height, reach and work rate to out-hustle the long-time German star. What Abraham does bring is a lot of grit and power, if he is able to get close and land his heavy shots. If Ramirez can keep him on the end of his jab and catch a traditionally somewhat stationary Abraham, moving in, he can land some heavy artillery of his own.
Abraham has been the ring with a lot of highly-regarded fighters, so he has a huge edge in experience going into the fight. He is in his second reign as WBO super middleweight champion after a long tenure as the IBF middleweight champion. He is certainly motivated as fellow-German-based Felix Sturm just won the WBA super middleweight title, so there is a potentially huge unification fight waiting for Abraham back home if he can get by Ramirez. Abraham is game, experienced and strong but will need to get close to Ramirez to land the head and body shots to slow the young Mexican’s movement and break him down.
Quote: “This is my time. I have a lot of respect for Arthur Abraham. He’s a great champion. I know he’s working hard in training camp as am I. It’s going to be a great fight. I have to be smart in this fight. We are working on keeping the pressure on Abraham by throwing high volumes of punches and staying on top of him. I’m going to be a second skin on him. I feel a great sense of history fighting to become Mexico’s first super middleweight champion. It is a great honor representing my country in this fight. All I am thinking about is April 9. Looking past this fight is meaningless. The future is now.” – Gilberto Ramirez
Prediction: Ramirez UD 12 Abraham
Oscar Valdez vs. Evgeny Gradovich for the WBO/NABO featherweight title
Valdez, one of Top Rank’s hot prospects, can be moved at a more accelerated pace after turning pro with a wealth of world-class amateur experience from which to draw. The Sonora, Mexico-born, two-time Olympian is campaigning for a world title shot and a win over former world champ Gradovich will do a lot to further his cause. Valdez would be the favorite going in but he’s gotta be on point, come fight night, as Gradovich is a legitimate step up.
Former IBF featherweight champion Gradovich has been working hard with trainer Robert Garcia in Oxnard, California and knows what a win over an undefeated prospect does to get him back in the queue for a world title shot. The Russian-born, California resident won the belt in 2013 and made four successful defenses of the title before losing it on a technical decision to Lee Selby last May. He’ll be motivated as he knows a win puts him right back in the mix. Just as well, a loss is a big setback.
Quote: “My vast amateur background has prepared me to adapt to many different boxing styles. Gradovich is a breakthrough opportunity for me, professionally. A victory over him is a big step that will lead me to a world title shot. I’m not feeling any pressure. I want this fight. I have trained my whole life for this fight.” – Oscar Valdez
“I have I lived and breathed this fight since training camp began. It’s all I have thought of. I’m an old school Mexican-style fighter. I love Julio Cesar Chavez, Juan Manuel Marquez, Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales. I know everyone thinks Valdez is the future star of boxing but I love this sport too much to allow him to beat me and move me down. I’m going to start fast and keep my foot on the gas pedal.” – Evgeny Gradovich
Prediction: Valdez UD 10 Gradovich
Jose Ramirez vs. Manuel Perez for the WBC Continental Americas junior welterweight title
Fast-rising, popular junior welterweight Jose Ramirez has a tough, experienced veteran on his hands in Perez. Now three years into his career, Ramirez is a perfect 16-0 and has displayed good power and boxing skills while building a strong following in his native Avenal, California.
Perez has only been stopped twice in his 37-fight, 12-year career by former world champions Brandon Rios and Victor Ortiz. Perez has also been in with DeMarcus Corley, Vernon Paris and Diego Magdaleno, to name a few. He brings veteran experience to the proceedings and Ramirez will need to land some serious punches to get rid of the Denver, Colorado-based veteran.
Quote: “It’s a dream come true fighting on a card headlined by a fight between Manny Pacquiao and Tim Bradley. Millions of people around the world will be watching us fight. I was proud to represent the US in the Olympics because of the ideals that are the foundation of this country.” – Jose Ramirez
Prediction: Ramirez wins, via late stoppage or unanimous decision, over Perez