A big UFC event headlines Saturday, but before that we get a big light heavyweight boxing match on Friday between Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez and Sullivan Barrera. Ramirez (41-0-0, 27 KOs), now fighting under Golden Promotions gets a chance to book a title fight against champion Dmitry Bivol if he beats Barrera (25-3-0, 14 KOs) impressively.
The boxing odds indicate that Ramirez should easily pass this test and beat Barrera with flying colors. But nothing is guaranteed in this sport as his Cuban challenger is tough and determined.
- Date: Friday,9 p.m. ET
- Venue: Banc of California Stadium, Los Angeles
- Watch on: DAZN
Gilberto Ramirez vs Sullivan Barrera
Weight Class: Light heavyweight (175)
Moneyline: Gilberto Ramirez -1000, Sullivan Barrera +600
Ramirez and Barrera meet in what should be a title eliminator fight if either boxer wins in impressive fashion here. The unbeaten Mexican is the heavy betting favorite thanks to combination of speed, power and technique. Barrera has lost against the division’s best but is out to prove he is more than just a stepping stone.
Ramirez: Golden Opportunity
Ramirez has a great opportunity to book a title fight if he can beat Barrera and do it impressively. Anything short of a wide decision would be a disappointment for a boxer who many consider to be the second-best super middleweight.
What Ramirez brings here is speed and plenty of it. And as a southpaw, he has the penchant to confound his foes as he is able to box them out and finish them off. Ramirez isn’t known as a power puncher, but moving up in weight seems to have added some “oomph” to his punches.
He broke former title challenger Tommy Karpency’s ribs and then TKO’d Alfonso Lopez. Against Barrera, Ramirez will be faster and should be able to outbox him through the course of 12 rounds.
Barrera: Last Shot
This is it for Barrera. The 39-year-old can ill-afford to lose this fight if he hopes to stay in the title picture. However, Barrera’s two losses to Jesse Hart and Bivol imply he’s simply not in the same tier as the division’s best.
Still, Barrera looks to be a tough out for even a talented fighter like Ramirez. He is durable, having only been finished once (in the 12th round by Bivol), and has heavy hands. What he lacks in speed and technique, he makes up for with his power.
This isn’t to say that Barrera is some sluggish brute. He is outmatched, but if he can cut off the ring and time Ramirez, he may just land enough on him to make this fight close. At best, he may even sting the Mexican and make him and his backers sweat.
Speed is arguably the biggest advantage a fighter can have in boxing. It’s why all-time greats like Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Roy Jones Jr. were able to achieve great heights and have long-lasting careers. That is something Ramirez carries in this fight.
Ramirez should be able to dictate the pace of the fight by beating Barrera to the punch — literally. He’ll be able to land more punches and use a variety of combinations to wear down Barrera’s defenses, all while avoiding his counter.
Barrera is tough and hits hard, but he is not exactly a power puncher. He hasn’t knocked a boxer out in over six years and his best bet here is to catch Ramirez enough times to slow him down. That is unlikely as Ramirez is light on his feet and will make it hard for Barrera to get a good read on him.
There is a slight chance that Ramirez can finish Barrera if he works on his body enough. But the most likely chance is he outpoints Barrera and earns a wide decision.