With WBO featherweight champion Emanuel Navarrete gunning for a belt at 130, Robeisy Ramirez and Isaac Dogboe will battle for the interim title on April 1st at Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Hard Rock Hotel & Castino.
The winner will become Navarrete’s mandatory challenger should he stay at 126 or be upgraded to full titlist if “Vaquero” moves up in weight.
Ramirez (11-1, 7 KO), a two-time Olympic gold medalist, lost his pro debut by split decision in a massive shocker. To his credit, he picked himself back up and has since emerged as the absolute terror we thought he’d be. 2022 was a true breakout year for him, highlighted by a five-round torching of Abraham Nova in June.
Dogboe (24-2, 15 KO) saw a Fight of the Year-worthy 2018 run go up in flames after two one-sided losses to Navarrete, prompting him to move from 122 to 126. The prognosis wasn’t great, as he was a small super bantamweight to begin with and had absorbed a ton of damage, but he’s somehow managed to hang in there. His last three wins have come by split or majority decision, including his last effort that saw him edge out Joet Gonzalez in an eliminator.
“I have been boxing for more than 20 years and have been a fighter every step of the way,” Ramirez said. “I never forgot where I came from, but I refuse to define myself by past accomplishments. Even after winning my second Olympic gold medal, I endured hardships. I embraced the challenges ahead of me and know that my greatest tests and most significant accomplishments in boxing are still ahead of me.
“On April 1, I will enter the ring with the hunger that has brought me here and the hunger that comes with knowing that there is still much to achieve. This is just the beginning for Robeisy ‘El Tren’ Ramírez.”
“Nearly five years ago, I became the WBO junior featherweight champion of the world, to the shock of many people. On April 1, I will be crowned a two-time, two-division champion,” Dogboe said. “Ramirez is a good fighter, and I commend him for his achievements. I’ve waited patiently for this opportunity, and I want to thank Bob Arum and the Top Rank family for being good to me over the years. My team and I are preparing for this life-changing opportunity. God Bless all the boxing fans and boxing enthusiasts for their continuous support.”
The co-feature pits super welterweight young gun Xander Zayas (15-0, 10 KO) against Ronald Cruz (18-2-1, 12 KO). This is about the same level of opposition that Zayas has faced in his last few efforts, but he’s 20 years old, so patience isn’t unwarranted.
Zayas said, “2023 is going to be big for my career. I’m going into the new year with all the power and the mindset needed to make a name for myself in the division. I’m locked in. Laser focused. It all starts on April 1 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I’m very excited to be on this card since I’ll have the opportunity to showcase my skills as the co-feature on ESPN+. This time, I’ll be fighting against a worthy Mexican opponent, and I’m planning to put on a show for all the boxing fans.”
Jahi Tucker (9-0, 5 KO) meets Nikoloz Sekhniashvili (8-1, 6 KO) in the featured prelim. Sekhniashvili is one of Xander Zayas’ training partners, and Tucker says he wants a crack at Zayas afterwards.
“I am excited to be fighting on a Top Rank card again, this time against an undefeated fighter,” Sekhniashvili said. “I know Jahi is going to run and likes to use his mouth more than his hands. He will try to avoid me, but once I make contact, he will slow down instantly. I can’t wait until April 1.”
Tucker said, “Nikoloz is going to be easy work. After I get finished with him, I want to fight Xander.”
Earlier that evening, Joet Gonzalez (25-3, 13 KO) returns to action against Jose Enrique Vivas (22-2, 10 KO). Delante “Tiger” Johnson (7-0, 5 KO), Jeremiah Milton (8-0, 6 KO), Abdullah Mason (6-0, 5 KO), and Dante Benajim Jr (5-0, 3 KO) round out the lineup.