It took a while to get all the pieces together, but Robeisy Ramirez’s second title defense against Rafael Espinoza is finally set for December 9th in Pembroke Pines, Florida.
This doesn’t look remotely competitive. Though he doesn’t have the strongest body of work among active featherweights, Ramirez (13-1, 8 KO) has a valid claim to being the division’s best fighter. Espinoza (21-0, 18 KO) has no meaningful wins and has only been scheduled for 10 rounds three times.
Top Rank’s plan appears to be a unification between Ramirez and IBF champ Luis Alberto Lopez, though “Venado” does have mandatory challenger Reiya Abe breathing down his neck. If Lopez can get an exception and Ramirez can get through this unscathed, both very real possibilities, I’d wager we’ll see the two duke it out sometime next spring.
Ramirez said, “Miami is for many of us Cubans an important meeting point, where Spanish is spoken, our heritage is celebrated, and we remember our homeland daily through the city’s vibrant culture. Ever since I turned professional, I have wanted to fight near my people of Miami, where I also live. That cherished moment has finally arrived. On December 9, at the Charles F. Dodge City Center in Pembroke Pines, I hope to have the support of the Cuban community of Miami and to see our flag waving everywhere.”
Espinoza said, “I am happy and grateful for what is happening. The time has come, the opportunity of my life, and I will not waste it. Robeisy is a great champion, and I am glad to face someone like him. I know we will have a great fight, and it will go down in boxing history. I am sure of it.”
The bout was originally supposed to take place this coming Saturday, November 4th, with Raymond Muratalla vs Diego Torres as the co-feature. Top Rank swapped in Efe Ajagba vs Joe Goodall as the new main event and bumped Ramirez vs Espinoza to December, then tagged in Keyshawn Davis vs Jose Pedraza as the new chief support. That lasted all of two days before the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation slapped Davis with a 90-days suspension for marijuana, so now we get Xander Zayas vs Jorge Fortea to kick off the ESPN broadcast.
21-year-old super welterweight Zayas (17-0, 11 KO) makes a two-month turnaround after missing the first half of 2023, having stopped Roberto Valenzuela Jr before the aforementioned Lopez beat Joet Gonzalez. Spain’s Fortea (24-3-1, 9 KO), who sits exactly one spot behind Zayas in BoxRec’s rankings, got thoroughly smoked by Bakhram Murtazaliev and Anthony Fowler in his biggest fights to date.
Zayas said, “I am super motivated to close the year with one more fight in which I will be able to continue demonstrating the progress of my skills and maturity as a fighter, which I have achieved thanks to the dedication and all the hard work in the gym. The goal on December 9 is to continue showing that I am prepared for the next step.”
Undercard highlights include Bruce Carrington (9-0, 5 KO) vs Jason Sanchez (16-4, 9 KO), Jahi Tucker (10-1, 5 KO) vs Daniel Veron (13-0, 10 KO), heavyweight big boy Damian Knyba (12-0, 7 KO) versus our old pal Scott Alexander (17-6-2, 9 KO), and the latest from Olympians Rohan Polanco (10-0, 6 KO) and Delante “Tiger” Johnson (10-0, 5 KO).