Zurdo Ramirez made a strong debut with Golden Boy Promotions tonight on DAZN, dropping veteran Sullivan Barrera three times and scoring a fourth round stoppage win, as he looks forward now and targets world titles at light heavyweight.
Ramirez (42-0, 28 KO) and Barrera (22-4, 14 KO) looked evenly matched enough for the first two rounds, and Barrera was even doing pretty well in the third before he was caught with a wonderful body shot and went to the canvas.
The 39-year-old Cuban did survive that round, but Zurdo put him down two more times in the fourth, and Barrera had nothing left, referee Thomas Taylor stepping in to stop the fight at 1:38 with people hitting the apron in Barrera’s corner, too.
While Barrera is past his best days and certainly an old fighter, Ramirez also hadn’t really had a serious fight in over two years, with his last two coming against Tommy Karpency and Alfonso Lopez. This was much more of a test for Ramirez at 175, as those two and this one are his three bouts since moving up from 168, where he held a world title from 2016-18.
And he now has his sights on another major belt, calling out WBA titleholder Dmitry Bivol, which is probably the easiest title fight for him to make at 175 lbs right now.
“I think my performance was great,” Ramirez said. “Bivol, you’re next! Everybody sees a different Zurdo Ramirez. This is my division, I want all the belts.”
Asked if he feels he’s ready for Bivol, which is a weird question to ask a 30-year-old fighter who’s already held a world title, Ramirez replied, “You have to ask him if he’s ready for me.”
Joseph Diaz Jr UD-12 Javier Fortuna
A strong debut at 135 lbs for JoJo Diaz, who took this fight when Ryan Garcia withdrew a couple of months back. This was also for the interim WBC title, and it’s been expected that the winner here would likely — though not definitely — get an order to face full titleholder Devin Haney, so Diaz could be looking at another world title fight.
Diaz (32-1-1, 15 KO) won on scores of 115-112, 116-111, and 117-110. Bad Left Hook had it 114-113 (my card) and 116-111 (Wil’s) for Diaz, who was cut in the third round on a clash of heads and also had a point taken for hitting Fortuna behind the head in round four.
Diaz has never been a big puncher even at 126 and 130, and doesn’t figure to be one at 135, but he showed about what he always has before, enough power that opponents have to respect what comes back at them, even if he’s not a knockout artist or anything. He did rock Fortuna (36-3-1, 25 KO) a couple of times, including notably in the 10th round.
If not Haney coming next for Diaz, it could in fact be Ryan Garcia, though one figures Garcia may return late this summer, early in the fall, and possibly look for someone a bit softer of a touch than Diaz right away, though again, that’s not definite. If Garcia is feeling good and confident, Diaz would be a very credible matchup, and if that’s bigger money than Haney, Diaz may well prefer that fight.
Either way, he’s confident in his future as a lightweight.
“I can fight these guys, I can fight all the top contenders and champions at 135 lbs,” Diaz said after the win. “Ryan Garcia, Devin Haney, let’s make this shit happen, baby! I’m ready! 135, let’s get it!”
“JoJo once again showed a lot of guts, a lot of courage, and a big heart,” said promoter Oscar De La Hoya. “His first fight at 135 was not too shabby. I think he did a great job against a guy who’s been avoided for so many years.”
Seniesa Estrada UD-10 Tenkai Tsunami
Scores were 98-92, 98-92, and 99-91. Bad Left Hook had it 99-91 and 99-91 on our two unofficial cards, as Estrada (21-0, 8 KO) picks up the WBO junior flyweight title
“She used to fight at banatmweight, she’s physically bigger and heavier than me,” Estrada said. “For me to come up to 108 and fight her — I knew stepping in she would be a lot heavier. I didn’t feel her power, but I felt her heaviness coming forward, it was harder to keep her off.”
“The body was the main thing in this fight,” she added. “She’s the bigger fighter and nobody ever works the body.”
Asked about her desire to fully unify at both 105 — where she still holds a title — and 108, Estrada simply said she hopes she can get the fights made, and also addressed her very real rival, flyweight titlist Marlen Esparza, as Estrada has also said she would to win a title at 112.
“I beat her fair and square and she quit. She doesn’t have any heart,” Estrada said. “She can make all the excuses she wants but that’s the truth. I know she wanted to come here tonight to witness greatness. We can get the rematch on in the parking lot if she wants.”
Tsunami (28-13-1, 16 KO) definitely gave the effort for 10 rounds here, but she was just a bit out of her depth against Estrada’s speed and athleticism especially, and it stayed consistent through the fight. The 36-year-old veteran could well find herself back in another world title fight sooner than later, though. There are only so many fighters out there.
William Zepeda TKO-6 Hector Tanajara Jr
This was a well-matched fight on paper, two unbeaten lightweights looking to make a mark. Zepeda made the mark, as he probably lost the first round to Tanajara and then took over with volume and power, and Tanajara just could not get out of the pocket.
Tanajara (19-1, 5 KO) has always seemed like he might have a fairly low ceiling due to his lack of power. He’s a tall lightweight at 5’10”, great reach, and uses his jab solidly usually, but Zepeda (23-0, 21 KO) just took it to him after the opening round here, and was getting close and closing the distance late in the first, anyway. Tanajara, 24, just couldn’t keep him off, and you could tell after five rounds that trainer Robert Garcia was getting close to stopping the fight. After the sixth, when not much changed, they called it off.
We’ll have to see what Tanajara does from here. It’s worth noting that he hadn’t fought since Jan. 2020, so a long break, and also that he had COVID just this spring. He may bounce back, but this was an eye-opener fight for him for sure. Zepeda, 25, could be a good opponent for a Ryan Garcia return. I’m guessing he’d jump at that opportunity, and while he’s got a great engine and good power, Garcia is not Tanajara, he’s not a light puncher and he’s a lot faster. That might be one of those fights where a promoter can sell it on the undefeated record and a solid win, even though the matchmakers quietly see it as a no-brainer for the A-side.