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Gilberto Ramirez vacates WBO super middleweight title

The move will allow Billy Joe Saunders to vie for the full world title against Shefat Isufi this weekend.

Vasiliy Lomachenko v Anthony Crolla Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images

It’s official. The WBO’s super middleweight titleholder Gilberto Ramirez (40-, 26 KOs) has finally relinquished his 168lb belt. The move had been expected as Ramirez moved up to the light heavyweight division a couple months ago, but Ramirez recently submitted a letter to the sanctioning body informing him that he woulds continue to campaign at 175lbs going forward.

With the title now officially vacant, it seems that Billy Joe Saunders — who is also moving up in weight — will get his wish by having his super middleweight bout with Shefat Isufi elevated to a full title fight instead of for an interim world title. Saunders says if he beats Isufi he’d welcome a fight against Canelo Alvarez, who holds a secondary super middleweight title since stopping Rocky Fielding last December.

“I would love the Canelo fight, but does he want to fight me? I don’t think so,” Saunders said. “If they do want to fight me, ring me up. I am not asking for millions. Just be fair with me and we can get the show on the road. Canelo has cemented his name, made good money and is a superstar in the sport. I wouldn’t say he is avoiding me, but there are plenty of people he can pick apart from Billy Joe Saunders. That is a fact. Who wants to fight a slick southpaw who is hard to hit?”

But with Canelo’s team not appearing to be particularly interested in a fight with Saunders, he says he’d also be interested in a fight against Callum Smith.

“Callum is a good fighter and big, but I think people go on about size in this sport too much,” Saunders said. “We saw (small heavyweight) David Haye beating (300-plus-pound) Nikolai Valuev. Size doesn’t matter in this sport. If you’re good enough, you’re good enough, and I believe I am good enough to beat Callum Smith. That is a fight I would entertain.”

As for Ramirez, Top Rank’s Carl Moretti says there are no immediate plans as to where his fighter goes from here. Ramirez just had a son born, will presumably take a little time to get settled, and then figure out his next move.

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