BOXING

Ramirez and Ancajas Score TKOs, Younan v. Ellis DRAW

Gilberto Ramirez Too Big, Too Much and Too Good for Habib Ahmed

Gilberto Ramirez’s fight with Habib Ahmed looked like a mismatch. That’s precisely what it turned out to be.

Ramirez is 6-foot-2, tall for a super middleweight. Ahmed is six inches shorter at 5-foot-8. Ramirez is a world titleholder and a skilled boxer who shut out Arthur Abraham for a belt in 2016 and overcame Jesse Hart in a tough battle last year.

Ahmed came in undefeated, but he’d never fought outside of his native Ghana and had never beaten a notable opponent. In fact, only six of his 25 victories had come against foes who’d won more than they lost. His opponents had a combined record of 159-190-10.

Sometimes an unheralded fighter will score an upset. Often, we may dismiss a boxer just because we haven’t heard of them or seen much of them. This night in Corpus Christi, Texas, was not one of those nights. Ramirez was so much better than Ahmed that he was able to score his first stoppage win since 2014, taking Ahmed out in the sixth round.

The end came at the right time. Ramirez had walked down Ahmed from the outset, out-throwing and out-landing him, punishing him to the body and unleashing combinations there and upstairs. Ramirez was blooded in the third round, though it was the result of an accidental head butt. The fifth was particularly one-sided — Ramirez landed 30 punches, all of them power shots, while Ahmed landed just four, according to CompuBox.

If that led Ahmed’s corner to keep a close eye on their fighter, then they must’ve been particularly concerned by the way Ahmed boxed in the sixth, moving away with haste whenever Ramirez approached. Ahmed was merely trying to survive. He’d thrown just nine punches all round, landing only two, while Ramirez continued to track him down and blast away. At last, Ahmed’s corner stepped up and stopped the fight with about 30 seconds left in the round.

Ramirez is now 37-0 with 25 KOs. His promoter wants to keep him busy with three more fights this year. A rematch with Hart is likely to be among them. Ramirez is also hoping to face some of the other notable 168-pounders, particularly those participating in the World Boxing Super Series (semifinalists Chris Eubank Jr. and George Groves are soon to fight, as are Callum Smith and the ancient Juergen Braehmer).

Ahmed is now 25-1-1 with 17 knockouts.

Jerwin Ancajas Scores Fourth Straight Stoppage, Takes Israel Gonzalez Out in 10

Ramirez wasn’t the only one in Corpus Christi staying busy while waiting for a shot at the other top fighters in his weight class. So was 115-pound titleholder Jerwin Ancajas.

So much attention has gone to Ancajas’ division of late, particularly with the “Superfly” cards on HBO last September — and later this month — featuring top-tier fighters such as Roman Gonzalez, Juan Francisco Estrada, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Carlos Cuadras and Naoya Inoue.

Ancajas hasn’t been part of those shows. But in the meantime, he’s making sure to stay busy and build up a case for himself. He’s fought four times in the span of 370 days, each time successfully defending the world title he won in 2016, each time doing so by TKO.

 

The latest victory came over Israel Gonzalez, who went down early and then was put away for good in the 10th.

The first knockdown came not even a minute into the first round, with Ancajas catching Gonzalez with a good left hand from close range during an exchange. Gonzalez rose and remained a game opponent, coming forward, trying to catch Ancajas coming in, and also trying to retaliate before Ancajas could pull out of range.

More often than not, however, it was Ancajas beating Gonzalez to the punch. He realized that he wasn’t going to put Gonzalez away quickly, and instead he took to winning rounds and breaking Gonzalez down. Through eight rounds, Ancajas had landed 110 punches while Gonzalez had scored with just 38, according to CompuBox.

The end came minutes later. About halfway through Round 10, Ancajas hurt Gonzalez with a right hook and then caught him with a left hand as Gonzalez came forward. Gonzalez dropped, rising by the count of eight but then getting sent back down to the canvas by the very next shot, a left hand that landed on the temple. The referee, recognizing that the action was no longer competitive, waved the fight off.

Ancajas improved to 29-1-1 with 20 KOs. His lone loss came six years ago; he’s won 16 straight since. He’ll look to make it 17 in his next fight, which will probably come against mandatory challenger Jonas Sultan, a 14-3 fighter who upset former flyweight titleholder Johnriel Casimero last year.

Gonzalez fell to 21-2 with 8 KOs.

Prospect Junior Younan Held to Draw Against Ronald Ellis

On paper, Junior Younan and Ronald Ellis may have seemed evenly matched. They were both undefeated super middleweight prospects coming into their fight, Younan coming in at 13-0 while Ellis was 14-0-1.

But Younan felt there would be a big difference between them once the bell rang. Fights aren’t fought on paper, after all. He was the young up-and-comer, a 22-year-old who had a good amateur background, while Ellis was a 28-year-old who had been pro for seven years and had yet to distinguish himself.

“He comes in good shape and he comes to fight, but I don’t think he has anything special,” Younan said beforehand. “We sparred, and I honestly don’t think he’s that good. I didn’t think much of him. [I’m] sparring with elite fighters. He isn’t bringing anything we haven’t seen.”

Fights aren’t won with words either. Younan may have believed there is a big gap in talent between him and Ellis — and there may still be — but that gap in talent was limited by how little Younan was willing to work.

Younan boxed well, limiting what Ellis was able to do, but he didn’t throw enough punches himself. That gave the judges less to decide from in several rounds. They saw a close fight. One judge had it 96-94 for Younan, or six rounds to four. Another judge had it 96-94 for Ellis. And the third judge had it 95-95, an even scorecard that made the final result a draw.

Ellis came forward from the outset, understanding that pressure can be the key to beating a faster, more talented opponent. Younan got in the mix with single shots, busting out combinations on occasion.

Ellis had pressure, but he didn’t have the activity that needs to come along with it. He was too aware of Younan’s hand speed and movement; he was trying to catch Younan, but he also didn’t want to get caught himself. So he would wait for ideal moments to let his hands go, like when he trapped Younan in a corner late in the second round or early in the third.

Younan was controlling the pace, taking several rounds by limiting Ellis and then landing the better shots. Ellis was finally able to peg Younan with a good right hand in close toward the end of the seventh round. Younan responded in the eighth with aggression and an extended onslaught. Ellis handled it fine, but he was unable to take advantage in the final minute, when a winded Younan could do little beyond move his feet.

The limited activity continued in the ninth. Two minutes in, just three punches had landed between them. Younan’s corner told him he needed to do something different in the 10th and final round. Instead, it was Ellis pressing the action again. Younan may wish to have those last rounds back; they may have been the difference between the draw and a close victory.

Younan is now 13-0-1 with 9 KOs. He believes he won the fight, but he also realized that he could’ve done better.

“I feel I can finish stronger. I’ve only had one eight-round fight before this, so this was a big step up for me. I’m growing and learning every fight,” Younan said afterward. “I’m heartbroken right now. I wanted to win that fight. I want him in a rematch. I know I would win. I know what to do and what not to do.”

Ellis is now 14-0-2 with 10 KOs. He’s similarly game for a sequel.

“I would definitely fight him again,” he said.

David Greisman
About the Author:

David Greisman. David Greisman is an award-winning boxing writer based out of Washington, D.C., who has covered the sport since 2004. He is the senior staff writer and "Fighting Words" columnist for BoxingScene.com and a reporter for The Ring magazine. Greisman is the author of the book "Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing." Follow on Twitter @fightingwords2

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