MEXICO’S Gilberto Ramirez had been under the impression he would remain WBO super-middleweight champion while exploring his options as a 175-pound light-heavyweight.
However, there seems to have been a mistake, either on his part or on the part of the WBO, because earlier this week a vacant WBO super-middleweight title fight between Billy Joe Saunders and Shefat Isufi was announced for April 13 in London.
This would mean Ramirez has in fact either relinquished or been stripped of his WBO title, thus making him a permanent resident in the light-heavyweight division. But Ramirez isn’t accepting the idea he has fled to a new weight class and dropped a belt he worked hard to obtain. Though he admits he is keen to fight at light-heavyweight, or at least give it a try in the short-term, he maintains he can still make super-middleweight and would happily do so if a unification – perhaps versus Britain’s Callum Smith – emerged as a possibility.
What’s more, he states he communicated this plan with Francisco Valcárcel, the WBO President, and that it was approved on the condition he defended his WBO belt against mandatory challenger Jesse Hart, which he did, successfully, in December.
“I have not vacated the title,” Ramirez told ESTO. “I will fight at 175 pounds to see how I feel. I spoke to Paquito (Valcárcel) and told him I have an optional fight and he gave me his support.
“We still do not have a confirmed date for this preparation fight at 175 pounds, but it could take place in April. If a unification with Smith or another champion comes up, we will take it and then we would settle in half-full. I would move up after unifying my title. I hope it can happen in the coming months.”
Clarification would be handy not only for Ramirez, who now dithers in purgatory between weight divisions, but also Saunders and Isufi, two men led to believe they were the beneficiaries of a super-middleweight giving up his belt and heading for pastures new. Sort it out, boys.
WBA and WBO world lightweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko concedes he isn’t too far away from retiring but says he still has business to attend to before he hangs up the gloves for good.
The gifted 33-year-old, arguably the best pound-for-pound boxer on the planet, is set to defend his belts against Anthony Crolla on April 12 after a potential unification fight with Richard Commey, the IBF champion, collapsed because of an injury suffered by the Ghanaian. He concedes the Commey fight was the more appealing of the two but isn’t letting the disappointment of it falling through get him down.
“It’s better to fight with Commey than Crolla. Richard has belt at least and I have goal — to win all the belts,” said Lomachenko in an Instagram live stream.
“My goal is to collect all four belts in one weight class and retire. What should I do next? Boxing is sport for me. It’s interesting to challenge champions. Who should I fight with when I become undisputed champion? I am ready to retire even at the age of 33. The first time I wore gloves I was five, and since then my entire life has been boxing. But everything has an end.”
Before bowing out, Lomachenko would like some more big fights – big-money fights against big-name opponents – and one future foe could be Gervonta Davis, the latest Floyd Mayweather protégé and current owner of the WBA super-featherweight crown.
“It would be very interesting to fight with Gervonta. I like to fight with everyone who talks a lot,” the Ukrainian said. “Davis is at super-featherweight, but I can go for him if the promoters organise this fight.”
Let’s hope it can get sorted sooner rather than later. Because, rest assured, when Vasyl Lomachenko finally flees boxing, a gaping hole will be left, and he will be sorely missed.
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