Gilberto Ramirez vs. the Bigfoot of Ghana
There’s basically one question everyone has, regarding Habib Ahmed, who faces WBO super middleweight titlist Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez, tomorrow night, from the American Bank Center, in Corpus Christi, Texas (ESPN 10:15 p.m. ET/ 7:15 p.m. PT).
Just who the hell is he?
To say he is “relatively unknown” would be a vast overstatement. Ahmed is a flat-out unknown and an entirely anonymous entity, to most of the boxing world.
On Sunday this scribe asked “King Hipster” Rian Scalia (who literally watches everything) his thoughts on Habib. His response: “Hey Steve, there’s no footage whatsoever on him (laughs). Nothing more than him hitting pads for like 10 seconds. Only people who have seen him are probably Top Rank and locals in Ghana. All I know is he was on the Ghanaian national team, as an amateur, failed to qualify for Olympics in 2008, went to World Championships in 2009, bronze at Africa Championships in 2009 and went to Commonwealth Games in 2010, losing his first fight at most of these international tournaments, so he wasn’t that great of an amateur. He doesn’t look that big and could probably make middleweight. I imagine if he was any good, he wouldn’t be fighting Zurdo. Seems like this is a showcase.”
OK, the fact that Scalia hasn’t seen any footage of this guy is alarming, given the fact he regularly watches streams of fight cards from Uzbekistan and club shows in Delaware. I’m of the opinion that if Scalia hasn’t seen a fight or a particular boxer – it may not have actually taken place or exist. (Call it the “Rian Rule,” from this point forward).
So what does Ramirez know about his upcoming dance partner? He admits, “I don’t know too much about my opponent but I’m really prepared for whatever he brings and I’ve been training a long time for the fight. I’ve been training in Mazatlan and then we moved to train here in L.A.”
As for what he’s witnessed of “Yeti” Ahmed, “I’ve seen a couple of things, two or three. He showed that he has skills; he moves really well. But I feel really confident of what I can do in the fight.”
Ahmed is from the fighting land of Ghana (which has produced the great Azumah Nelson and the “Bazooka” Ike Quartey, in the past) and is rated fourth in the WBO. With the World Boxing Super Series doing a super middleweight tourney, there was a bit of a vacuum that existed, in terms of available foes.
“Definitely it’s a part of it,” confirmed Carl Moretti, vice president of Boxing Operations for Top Rank. “Anytime a tournament is started at a certain weight class, potential opponents are not available, so it lessens the pot even more.”
So has Top Rank seen the “Bigfoot of Accra”?
“Actually, we’ve got footage of him and that’s why we made the decision because of the style,” explained Moretti. “We had Mike Altamura, who’s an agent for us; he was able to locate some DVDs and footage from where (Ahmed) fought in Ghana and, style-wise, it should be an entertaining fight.”
“Loch Ness” Ahmed is in Corpus Christi – so yeah, he really does exist – and he participated in a open workout earlier this week.
Moretti tells UCNLive.com, with a chuckle, “I don’t think when you tune in that fight you’re going to see Chris Byrd or Winky Wright; le’s just put it like that.”
“I expect a really good fight,” said Ramirez, 36-0 (24), who defeated Jesse Hart on September 22, in his most recent bout. “I’m working for the knockout; I’m working to win all the single rounds and I see a tough fight. I want to give the fans a really good show.”
Speaking of Hart, who faces Thomas Awimbono in a bout that will air on ESPNews before the main card, says the loss to Zurdo was an educational experience for him.
“I’ve learned to not let the moment overwhelm me. I learned different tricks of the trade on the inside. (Ramirez) did a lot of things intentionally,” said Hart, who was knocked down in the second frame by Ramirez and then hit well below the belt the following round. “He hit me there to slow my legs down. A lot of people didn’t understand he did that intentionally and then, later in the fight, I think about the fifth or sixth round, he started hitting me with correct body punches. But he went in my cup low to slow my legs down because he knows his feet weren’t as fast as mine. A fight will do that and you have to be prepared for that.”
After the tough start, Hart steadied himself and made it a fight late but came up short on the cards by the scores of 114-113 and 115-112, twice.
“I wasn’t prepared for him to be fighting dirty. I wasn’t prepared for these things to happen because, like I said, I got caught up in the moment. You’ve got to realize I’m fighting the best super middleweight in my class and I didn’t expect certain things he would do.”
There are two episodes of “The 3 Knockdown Rule” with Mario Lopez and me this week. First there was the in-studio visit from the president of Top Rank, Todd duBoef.
Ronald Ellis-Junior Younan headline tonight’s edition of “ShoBox” from Sloan, Iowa. Bit of a buzzkill with Devon Haney no longer being part of this card…Freddie Roach tells me he really likes the idea of a Lucas Matthysse-Manny Pacquiao fight. Sign me up for some of that…Yes, Ramirez is doing interviews in English now. My hat’s off to him…Teofimo Lopez is also a part of the ESPNews portion of the Top Rank broadcast on tomorrow night…”Mr. Padre” on the MLB Network, that focused on the great Tony Gwynn, was must-see for any baseball fan, really enjoyed it. Many forget just how complete of a player he really was…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.