Jose Ramirez returns home for a frenzied night in Fresno on July 7
Remember Barry McGuigan in Ireland? Ray Mancini in Youngstown, Ohio? Vinny Paz (supported by his Paz-maniacs) in Rhode Island? In the present-day, we have Terence Crawford in Omaha, Nebraska.
Yes, there are certain fighters who can create a rabid fan base and produce some serious electricity when they fight at home. On July 7, I think it is safe to say that we will be adding WBC junior welterweight champion Jose Ramirez, 22-0 (16), to that list.
When Ramirez, from Avenal, California, clocks into work at the Save Mart Center, in nearby Fresno, the Central Valley shows up en masse. Ramirez, promoted by Las Vegas-based Top Rank, has built up a huge following under the direction of manager/agent Rick Mirigian.
And that was before he won a world title.
The only problems Mirigian and Top Rank CEO Bob Arum might have moving forward are finding sites big enough to meet the ticket demand for the massively popular Ramirez.
Ramirez won the WBC world junior welterweight title last March, when he decisioned Amir Iman unanimously in New York City. Now with a major title wrapped around Ramirez’s waist, Arum and Mirigian know they have a fighter who could indeed turn into a one-man fight franchise in the Central Valley.
When Ramirez enters the ring on July 7, at the Save Mart Center, he will do it in front of his dedicated legion of fans he has won over, fight after fight, since turning pro in 2012. Ramirez has built a large following based on his in-ring success. However he became a champion of the people long before he won the title, for his efforts to bring awareness and support to the large agricultural community and its need for water rights.
The agriculture industry employs much of the working population in the Central Valley and Ramirez’s devotion to championing its cause has won him a dedicated and devoted legion of fans. Now Ramirez will enter the ring in Fresno as a world champion, for what should be an electric night at the fights.
Ramirez is fighting Boston’s Danny O’Connor, 30-3 (11), in what most are expecting to be a fairly safe title defense, before he looks to make moves toward some of the division’s elite. While Ramirez isn’t looking past O’Connor, in pre-fight interviews, he made it clear that he is looking to face the other champions at 140 pounds.
In a division that sports champions like Kiryl Relikh (WBA) and Maurice Hooker (WBO), Ramirez is looking to prove that his loyal following in Fresno goes beyond his philanthropic efforts and he is indeed the best junior welterweight in the world. He knows that, despite all the great nights in Fresno, his first title defense could take things to a whole new level.
“I believe the excitement of the people to see me return home as a world champion is going to be huge. Everybody in the Central Valley watched my fight, March 17, at Madison Square Garden, when I beat Amir Imam to become world champion. I think the excitement and the pride that they’re going to come into the Save Mart Center with is going to make the atmosphere so much better,” said Ramirez.
There was a time that a fight – any fight – in front of his hometown would have been a thrill. Now as a champion, Ramirez knows he has worked his way into a whole new league and is reveling in the opportunities and challenges in front of him.
“My goal was to fight in Fresno, to showcase my skills in front of my fans, family and friends. Once that happened, I was able to headline a show in Fresno, and everything started to fall into place. I’m honored that we’re able to defend the title in Fresno. I’m living a dream,” said the humble champion.
Ramirez has had some good nights in the past, fighting in his backyard, but he knows this night is going to be special.
“I feel like I have a responsibility as a world champion, so that responsibility helps me stay focused and grounded. This fight will only lead to bigger fights. It’s another step to fighting the big fights,” he continued. “I want to fight all of the champions but I have to take care of business, July 7, against Danny O’Connor first. I am excited to come home and defend my title. It’s going to be a great night for the Central Valley of California.”