BOXING

Ramirez Toughs Out Angulo, Mikaela Mayer Wins Again

Gilberto Ramirez Notches Fourth Title Defense With Decision Over Roamer Angulo

On paper before Gilberto Ramirez’s fight with Roamer Angulo, it seemed as if this would be a mismatch in favor of the 168-pound titleholder.

Angulo was unheralded and unheard of. Despite his impressive record — he’d won by knockout in all but three of his 23 victories — you’d have a hard time finding a recognizable name among them. He was taking a big step up by facing Ramirez. And it was difficult to imagine that Ramirez’s handlers would’ve knowingly picked someone risky unless it was worth doing so.

On paper after Ramirez’s fight with Angulo, it seemed as if this was indeed another mismatch. The scorecards were wide — one judge had it a shutout, 12 rounds to Ramirez and none for Angulo, while the other two saw the bout 11 rounds to one.

But fights don’t take place on paper. Angulo made Ramirez gut out some tough moments en route to the unanimous decision victory.

Ramirez is a tall super middleweight who relies on volume punching and his boxing ability to win. Angulo was more than just a puncher. He showed skill as well, guided by trainer Pedro Diaz, who coached the Cuban national team for an extended period and worked in the pros with the likes of Miguel Cotto and Guillermo Rigondeaux.

Angulo used timing to land good counters, found a home for his right hand a couple times early on, and occasionally moved backward to bring Ramirez forward — Ramirez tends to give up his height, leaving him in range for the shorter man. Angulo landed a big right hand counter in the third, causing Ramirez to back away. He similarly had Ramirez in retreat in the seventh.

Too often, however, Angulo was looking for that one big shot. Yes, he had landed with emphasis before, leaving the possibility of an even more devastating impact the next time around. Ramirez was wary of this and occasionally cut down his output so as not to leave himself as open for Angulo’s punches. Ramirez continued to work, landing more than Angulo, taking the rest of Angulo’s power with little problem, and picking up points along the way.

Angulo had only fought six rounds or more three times before. Two of those bouts had gone eight rounds and no more. He just didn’t have the stamina to give Ramirez much more trouble.

It’ll be a learning experience for the 34-year-old, who is now 23-1 with 20 knockouts. While he’s on the tail end of his prime years, this performance may very well get him another shot against a contender or rising prospect.

Ramirez, meanwhile, remains undefeated at 38-0 with 25 KOs. This was the fourth defense of the belt he won two years ago from Arthur Abraham. Since then, he’s shut out Max Bursak, had a very tough battle with Jesse Hart, dominated and stopped an overmatched Habib Ahmed, and beaten Angulo.

It’s time for him to step up to fights that are bigger challenges — both on paper and in reality. Ramirez called out his fellow titleholders afterward, naming James DeGale, David Benavidez and George Groves. All of those fighters have their own flaws. So does Ramirez, a 27-year-old who’s been in the pro ranks since 2009.

He’s gotten away with some bad habits thanks to his level of opposition. That’s what good managers and promoters do. They guide their fighters, sometimes at a maddeningly gradual pace, to help them learn from mistakes before those mistakes truly cost them.

Yet there’s only so long that Ramirez can be in against the likes of Ahmed, or even an Angulo who turned out to be better than expected. Even if those unification bouts don’t come next, we should find out soon exactly where Ramirez belongs at super middleweight.

 

Mikaela Mayer Gives Sheena Kaine Her First Defeat

Mikaela Mayer and Sheena Kaine both came into their undercard bout on the Ramirez-Angulo card with an unbeaten 5-0 record. It was Mayer, the 2016 Olympian, who left with her perfect record still intact.

Mayer knocked Kaine down in the second round but wasn’t able to put her away. She dominated the rest of the fight, though, winning by shutout on all three judges’ scorecards.

Mayer, who’d made it to the quarterfinals in the Olympics, turned pro last year and has kept busy on Top Rank undercards, nearly all of which have featured either Ramirez or Vasyl Lomachenko in the main event slot.

She’s now 6-0 with 3 KOs. All of Mayer’s fights have seen her weigh in at less than 132 pounds, which was the division where she most recently competed as an amateur. It’s most likely that she’d drop down to pro boxing’s junior lightweight division, where the limit is 130 pounds, although there are some big names in women’s boxing at 135, including Delfine Persoon and Katie Taylor.

There’s no need to rush Mayer, though. Top Rank has a long history of guiding its prospects, even if it’s track record has been on the men’s side of the sport. Mayer will continue to develop, stepping up bit by bit until her team thinks she’s ready.

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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