The War Report: Pillars of strength (Week 45, 2017)
Before 13,838 supporters at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California, Jose Ramirez made a statement in his stoppage win over Mike Reed on Saturday night, not only solidifying his position as a clear cut junior welterweight contender but proving he has the value needed for a prizefighter’s sustenance.
Born and raised in nearby Avenal, Ramirez, 21-0 (16), wasted no time in trying to get his opponent out of there and, within five minutes of action, the 25-year-old became the man of California’s Central Valley, in the ring, by giving the people what they want. Reed, 23-1 (12), Waldorf, Maryland, seemed to enjoy a ring walk that was mucked with their boos. The 24-year-old entered the fight confident, having been steadily active since his 2013 debut but the hollow arenas that seem to follow various boxing undercards were no comparison to this. It also may have been the underlying reason why he looked around in disgust when it was stopped.
Careless to the fact, that Reed was somewhat thought of a complex southpaw with plenty of amateur experience, Ramirez pressed forward with haste, creating an exciting first round, in which he received shots as well. Early in the second round, a left hand from Ramirez clipped Reed on the temple and into a wobble backward, leaving his back against the ropes. Ramirez let his hands go with no need to anticipate a return and, after mixing in a few body shots, a final left to the head sent Reed to the canvas for a knockdown. He seemed OK, once getting up, well in time of referee Jack Reiss’ count, but Ramirez proceeded to let off hellacious combinations that led to Reed falling forward when trying to find a clinch. This wasn’t ruled a knockdown by Reiss but it could’ve been. Regardless, Reed stayed bottled up once time resumed and once Ramirez had the gall to load up on three consecutive left hooks to the body, Reiss realized Reed hadn’t thrown a punch in about 40 seconds or so, since the initial left hand to the temple. Then at the 1:43 mark, Reiss stepped in right after Reed was hit cleanly with the left. Reed was aware enough to complain but only he and his team did so as the crowd went wild.
It wasn’t the best stoppage but it wasn’t the worst. Throughout the history of boxing, however, it was an instance that always tends to favor wild crowds.
This wasn’t the first time Ramirez packed the place but, as the main event of an ESPN card, it was really the first time boxing fans across the country realized what was happening in Central California, via the sport. Many of those who showed up to support Ramirez were those who depend on the region’s agriculture and their fight for water amid one of the worst droughts in the state’s history. Much of their backing is in response to Ramirez’s help to their cause and, although it’s expected to be a continuous fight, he will do so by quenching their thirst for action, while they help nourish his career by showing up.
With the victory, Ramirez puts himself in line to fight for the vacant WBC junior welterweight title - a belt previously held by Terence Crawford – who is moving up in weight after becoming the undisputed champion at 140 pounds. Ramirez will get his title shot in the first quarter of 2018, according to his promoter Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, and, with the benefit of his local draw, there’s no doubt it’ll be a part of the movement. Ramirez and his backing won’t see an exact stranger either, as Amir Imam fought on the undercard that same evening (forcing a stoppage of Johnny Garcia).
Ramirez-Imam is a solid fight between contenders, on paper, and is a big fight that will surely be back on ESPN but, whatever happens in the ring, as we were reminded on Saturday night, it will be heightened, thanks to one of boxing’s underrated intangibles.
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