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Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez now a free agent after split with Top Rank

The former super middleweight titleholder is on the market as a light heavyweight contender.

Vasiliy Lomachenko v Anthony Crolla - Media Workout Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Early this year, it was reported that former super middleweight titleholder Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez was looking to buy out his contract with Top Rank, having declined a fight for last September against Felix Valera on the Fury-Wallin card, with his last fight coming in Apr. 2019, when he stopped Tommy Karpency in his move up to 175 pounds.

Ramirez, 29, is now a free agent, as his contract has run out with Top Rank and neither side seems interested in trying to move forward together. Both are describing the split as amicable, and have been pleasant in brief statements, including an Instagram post from Ramirez himself:

View this post on Instagram

A medida que avanzo hacia una dirección diferente, me gustaría agradecer a Bob Arum y a toda la familia Top Rank por apoyar mi carrera y ser siempre profesionales. Espero con ansias el próximo capítulo de mi vida y volver al ring este año. Hay muchas peleas emocionantes que pueden suceder en la división y estoy aquí para asumir el control. Hoy, soy todo lo que he trabajado desde mis días de infancia en Mazatlán sinaloa y no hubiera sido posible sin el apoyo interminable de todos mis fanáticos, familiares y amigos. Aprecio todo el amor y el apoyo a lo largo de los años. Trabajo, entreno y lucho para que se sientan orgullosos y demostrar que un niño sin nada puede convertirse en algo. La historia recién comienza. Estén atentos y que comience el espectáculo, AGENTE LIBRE... #ZurdoPromotions #FreeAgent - As I move towards a different direction, I’d like to thank Bob Arum and the entire Top Rank family for supporting my career and always being a class act. I look forward to the next chapter in my life and getting back in the ring this year. There are a lot of exciting fights that can happen in the division and I’m here to take over. Period. Today, I am everything I’ve worked for since my childhood days in Mazatlán, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the endless support of all my fans, family, and friends. I appreciate all the love and support throughout the years. I work, train and fight to make you guys proud and show that a kid with nothing can become something. The story is just getting started. Stay tuned and let the show begin... #ZurdoPromotions #FreeAgent

A post shared by Gilberto Ramirez (@zurdoramirez) on

Ramirez (40-0, 26 KO) became the first Mexican fighter to ever win a 168-pound title when he took the WBO belt from Arthur Abraham via shutout decision in Apr. 2016, and that performance plus the fact that he’s got a great natural fan base had some thinking he might become a legitimate star and drawing card.

That didn’t ever really happen for “Zurdo,” who was a big super middleweight but doesn’t have an action style and isn’t really a power puncher. Title defenses against Max Bursak, Jesse Hart, Habib Ahmed, Roamer Alexis Angulo, and Hart again in a rematch all went his way — the only close calls were against Hart — but he never gained big traction as an attraction.

His decision to go up to 175 gave him a chance to go after notable Top Rank fighters at the weight — the company has or has a piece of Artur Beterbiev, Sergey Kovalev, and Eleider Alvarez, plus they had Oleksandr Gvozdyk, who has recently retired.

But “Zurdo” wasn’t keen on his contract status with Top Rank and turned down an offer to be in a four-man tournament to crown a new WBO titleholder, which is essentially a tournament controlled by Top Rank, promotionally-speaking.

As for a potential landing spot, forget the fact that he’s not become a big star, he’s still a guy any promoter would love to have on board. He’s undefeated, credible, in his prime, a Mexican fighter, a contender at 175.

If he looks to the DAZN stable, with either Matchroom Boxing or Golden Boy, he could be a bit limited, but it could set up a fight with WBA titleholder Dmitry Bivol, or something with Callum Johnson in due time. Premier Boxing Champions has Jean Pascal, the secondary WBA “world” titlist, plus the likes of Marcus Browne and Badou Jack. And there are guys at 168 who very well might move up in weight sooner than later, including three titlists: Callum Smith, a Matchroom fighter, plus David Benavidez and/or Caleb Plant, both with PBC, could come up to light heavyweight.

In short, Ramirez will have options.

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