The start of the year saw WBO super middleweight champion Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez announce a move to light heavyweight, look excellent in stopping Tommy Karpency at the weight, cause a profound amount of confusion before finally committing to vacating his title, and then vanish into thin air. The Athletic might have an explanation: according to Mike Coppinger, Ramirez declined a fight with Felix Valera on the Tyson Fury-Otto Wallin card and is “attempting to buy out his promotional contract with Top Rank.”
Ramirez kinda-sorta denied it, but the tweet he replied to incorrectly stated that the fight he declined was on Wilder-Fury II, not Fury-Wallin. Coppinger has responded to the denial with this explanation and is standing by the reporting, so seeing as Ramirez didn’t deny the buyout aspect, I’m inclined to consider it credible.
Ramirez (40-0, 26 KO) presently has a clear shot at the WBO light heavyweight belt, which Canelo Alvarez vacated after taking it from Sergey Kovalev in November. Per the sanctioning body’s policy, he became the mandatory challenger upon moving up in weight, and he would almost certainly be ordered to face #2 Umar Salamov for the belt if it decided said belt shouldn’t be vacant anymore. That’s a very winnable matchup for “Zurdo,” but this delay could lead to one of the other ranked light heavyweights jumping the line and making Ramirez’s path back to a title that much trickier.
As far as leaving Top Rank, doing so would make it much more difficult for Ramirez to pursue unification with Artur Beterbiev and likely take fights with the likes of Eleider Alvarez, Oleksandr Gvozdyk, and old rival Jesse Hart off the table. It would, however, make a big-money fight with Canelo that much more feasible, which is as compelling a reason as any. I’m sure we’ll get more concrete information in the near future.