ESPN results: Jose Ramirez captures vacant WBC 140-pound title versus Amir Imam
Jose Ramirez won the vacant WBC junior welterweight title after earning a unanimous decision over Amir Imam, on Saturday night, and just how it was for many of the Mexican-American farm workers from where he hails, it didn’t come easy for the Avenal, California, native. Of course, there were no complaints after having to persevere through a tough fight.
The contest was the main event of an ESPN telecast promoted by Top Rank and held at the Madison Square Garden Theater, in New York City.
“I’m a fighter and this is what I signed up for,” Ramirez told ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna in the post-fight interview. “I enjoyed every second in that ring. It was a proud moment for me to be in there and, to be now called a world champion, I feel very blessed. It’s a perfect ending to the story.”
Ramirez (record) cemented a clear victory in the late rounds of a fight that thrilled leading up to his overtaking. Imam, Albany, New York, had a strong, precise jab that gave Ramirez fits early on, and prevented his pressure style from getting inside where it would serve him best. Imam wasn’t letting it happen, however, and even when Ramirez was getting his desired position, his slick defense prevented any clean shots from landing in the opening rounds. Once Ramirez started to time and land his overhand right right on Imam in the fourth, the fight grew even more intense given the competitive nature of the contest, but through the it’s first quarter, it was Imam’s jab that was the most consistent weapon between the two
Imam, 22-0 (16), started to succumb to those overhand rights in the sixth, after one of them buckled his legs midway through the round. Another did the same just a few seconds later and immediately the strong jab he used to ward off Ramirez wasn’t as strong and not nearly as sharp. The middle round was the first clear one in which either fighter won and after Ramirez carried that momentum into the seventh, Imam had to make a change.
Ditching the jab completely and focusing his power shots to Ramirez’s body was what he did, entering the eighth round, and not only was it an effective change, it provided a spectacular span of three minutes that had all 4,672 in attendance on their feet, as well as those likely watching at home or at the bar on St. Paddy’s Day. Who won the exchanges was a mere afterthought, as both men dug deep to overshadow the punch that had each absorbed but, more importantly for Imam, it got him back into the fight, for the time being. Without question, round eight between Ramirez and Imam was one of the most memorable of 2018 so far.
The action continued in the ninth, when Ramirez’s in-fighting was allowed to get into its groove but Imam, 21-2 (18), answered back to start the 10th, even forcing a rare occasion in which Ramirez was forced backward and into the ropes due to the pressure. Ramirez fought through it well – never showing any signs of being hurt throughout the fight – and, in the final moments of the 10th, returned the favor, forcing Imam to the ropes and seemingly stealing the round after bouncing him around the ring with left hooks and right crosses.
Ramirez, 25, showed great stamina with his ability to constantly come forward all night and, in the 11th, Imam started to wilter, as a result. His sluggishness affected his ability to move and the knack he had earlier, to roll with the punches and prevent clean ones from landing. His right eye swelled badly as he tried desperately to find breathing room and, even with all the momentum in his favor, entering the final round, Ramirez came off the stool looking to close the show. Imam, 27, weathered the storm well, all things considered, but failed to put forth enough offense to get the knockout he needed. That said, his efforts helped create a fun, intense fight that had high stakes waiting for the winner and, even though one of the official scorecards was a gross portrayal of what he brought to the table (115-113, 117–111, 120-108), there was no stopping Ramirez, who ended his night with a mission statement.
“This fight is dedicated to my mother, for all the dreamers and the immigrants,” said Ramirez, clutching his WBC title. “From Ireland to Mexico, for the Asians and Latinos who made this country great. We’re going to continue fighting for you guys and continue to making that step for a comprehensive immigration reform. We’re going to continue fighting until all the hard-working people deserve what they need and that’s for them to live in peace here in the United States.”
In the walk-out bout, Michael Conlan, 6-0 (5), pleased all the Irish fans in attendance with a second round TKO of David Berna, 15-3 (14), dropping him twice before forcing referee Eddie Claudio stopped the fight.
Opening the ESPN telecast, Oleksandr Gvozdyk, 15-0 (12), put himself first in line for a shot at Adonis Stevenson’s WBC light heavyweight title after winning a unanimous decision over Mehdi Amar, 34-6-2 (16), who put up a game effort that made the Ukrainian work hard for an interim version of the green belt.