Top Rank to Sign Two-Time Olympic Gold Medalist Robeisy Ramirez
Reports are that 25-year-old Cuban amateur standout Robeisy Ramirez is going to sign with Top Rank and turn professional. This is huge news, because Ramirez’s amateur record is outstanding.
En route to winning the 2012 Olympic gold medal at flyweight, Ramirez beat Mick Conlan, Andrew Selby and Tugstogt Nyambar. Nyambar is currently the IBO featherweight champion, Selby is 11-1 as a professional after suffering a shocking knockout loss in March, and Conlan is still undefeated and selling out Madison Square Garden, though his competition hasn’t been stellar.
En route to winning the 2016 Olympic Gold medal at bantamweight, Ramirez beat Murodjon Akhmadaliev, who is now a 6-0 professional, and Shakur Stevenson in the final, whom ESPN has ranked as the ninth best featherweight in the world. Stevenson took to Twitter to call him out for a rematch upon hearing the news, though it’s hard to imagine him taking a step backwards and facing a fighter in his professional debut.
Keep in mind that Vasiliy Lomachenko turned pro at age 25 after having won two Olympic gold medals as well. While amateur success doesn’t always translate to the professional ranks, it’s notable that there’s a clear template that’s been laid down for him to follow. Given that Stevenson has called him out already, it will be interesting to see if he takes the Lomachenko route and opts for big fights immediately, or takes the more standard, slower path and works his way up the professional ranks.
Roc Nation Sued by Former Boxer for Negligence Resulting in Brain Damage
In a lawsuit the entire boxing community should be keeping an eye on, former featherweight boxer Daniel Franco is suing Roc Nation for negligence, after they booked him for three fights in 79 days despite knowing he wasn’t physically capable of fighting, and didn’t allow him enough time between fights for proper medical checks to be performed. In the third of these fights, Franco suffered a traumatic brain injury, suffered lasting damage and almost died.
Essentially, Franco’s family says he had the flu and was looking to pull out of a fight, when Roc Nation told him if he did that, he wouldn’t be able to secure any fights in the future. After that fight, Roc Nation scheduled him for another one, just 50 days later. After that fight, Roc Nation scheduled him for a tough matchup with hard-punching boxer Jose Haro, less than one month later.
Franco’s family believes the bleeding in his brain and skull fractures he was ultimately found to have were likely from the first two fights, and that Roc Nation didn’t allow enough time between these fights and his matchup with Haro for an MRI to be performed. An MRI would likely have caught the bleeding, and gotten the fight cancelled.
Despite the celebrity of Jay Z, Roc Nation never became a huge player in boxing. But, if promoters are going to be held financially responsible for the health and safety of their fighters in a way they haven’t before, this lawsuit could ironically make them hugely relevant to boxing history.
Diego De la Hoya Gets First Chance at a World Title against Ronny Rios
Oscar’s nephew, Diego De la Hoya will get his first opportunity at a world title, although there are a lot of WBA world titles (including “Regular” “Super” and “Gold” titles), when he fights Ronny Rios for the interim WBA title July 13. Supposedly, it will be on the undercard of the Rey Vargas-Tomoki Kameda fight in Carson, California.
Ken Shiro Defending Title in Osaka
Ken Shiro, the WBC light flyweight champion will be defending his title July 12 in Osaka Japan. He will face Jonathan Taconing on the undercard of the middleweight rematch between Rob Brant and Ryota Murata.
IOC Wants Boxing in Olympics, but Without AIBA
The International Olympic Committee put out a recommendation this week that boxing remain in the Olympic Games, but the International Boxing Committee (AIBA) be stripped of its ability to organize the sport for the 2020 games in Tokyo. A member of the Japanese Olympic Committee is now leading a special task force (by request of the IOC) to organize the Olympic qualifiers and the actual competition in Tokyo. Hopefully the AIBA accepts this ruling and moves on, the last thing amateur boxing needs is for them to try and organize their own amateur competition and split the talent.
Arreola-Kownacki Fighting August 3 in Brooklyn
In a fight that’s guaranteed to be exciting, but unlikely to be aesthetically pleasing, Adam Kownacki (who trains out of Gleason’s Gym) will be fighting longtime heavyweight contender Chris Arreola August 3 in Brooklyn. Kownacki will be both the fan favorite, and likely betting favorite coming off a second-round knockout of Gerald Washington. But, with the undefeated Kownacki having knocked out fifteen of nineteen opponents, and Arreola having 33 KOs in his 38 wins, it should be an incredibly exciting fight that has zero shot of going the distance. With a win, Kownacki can continue his climb up the heavyweight ladder, and his climb towards a likely fight with Deontay Wilder.
Breazale Believes Ref Stopped Wilder Fight Too Early
In one of the more baffling statements to come out of boxing since Mike Tyson’s retirement, this week Dominic Breazale said he felt the referee stopped his fight against Deontay Wilder too early when he stated, “I think the ref stopped it a little early because I could hear him saying seven and eight, but that's boxing. He did his job and kept us safe for our next fight.
The referee did say seven and eight, then he said nine and 10 while Breazale was still on his knees. Then he stopped the fight, because the fight was over. Because those are the rules of boxing.