Photos: Ed Mullholland
By Kieran Mulvaney
Gilberto 'Zurdo' Ramirez won his HBO debut and remained undefeated in Saturday's co-main event, but while his ten-round decision win over Russia's Maxim Vlasov demonstrated some of the skills and boxing fundamentals that have garnered him high praise, it also highlighted enough weaknesses to suggest the super-middleweight's coronation as Mexico's next big thing can wait awhile yet. Still, as super-middleweight champion and HBO Boxing analyst Andre Ward noted, the grueling fight could prove to be a good learning experience for the young contender, and ultimately of greater value than an early blowout victory might have been.
For the first couple of rounds, Ramirez had some difficulty landing cleanly, given the herky-jerky upper body movement of Vlasov. But by the third round, a relentless body attack had stunted the Russian's elusiveness, and a barrage of ripping left hands threatened to pay early dividends. Ramirez's punches, however, were sufficiently slow and wide that Vlasov began to experience some success with sneaky right hands down the middle. By the end of the bout, the heavily marked left eye of Ramirez was evidence that the Mexican had been in a tough struggle. But ultimately, the strength and variety of the Ramirez attack was too much for Vlasov (30-2, 15 KOs) to overcome, and Ramirez was awarded a unanimous decision with scores of 97-93, 97-93, and 96-94.
"It was a very hard fight," conceded Ramirez, now 31-0 with 24 KOs. "The only difference was my body work. When I throw a combination, I always finish with a shot to the body" – an assertion validated by CompuBox recording him landing 112 power punches to the body, out of 164 total. "It was a great experience and I'm glad I got the win."