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‘I feel great at cruiserweight’: Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez talks moving up in weight, Joe Smith Jr challenge

Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez is looking beefy ahead of his cruiserweight debut.

Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez is looking beefy ahead of his cruiserweight debut
Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez is looking beefy ahead of his cruiserweight debut
Golden Boy/Cris Esqueda
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez will look to bounce back from a loss to Dmitry Bivol last year and terribly missing weight for a scrapped fight earlier this year when he moves up to the cruiserweight division on Saturday, Oct. 7, facing Joe Smith Jr in a DAZN main event.

The 32-year-old Ramirez (44-1, 30 KO) has won a world title at 168 and was in the mix at 175, but he blew weight so badly for the planned March fight with Gabriel Rosado that it didn’t even go ahead.

The move up to cruiserweight — and he’s looking plenty beefy in training camp — should mean that he has no issues on the scale in a couple weeks.

“I feel great at cruiserweight, this is typically the weight I’ve walked around my entire life,” he said at a workout this week. “I feel much stronger in this class and most importantly I feel healthy.”

Ramirez, who was widely out-pointed by Bivol in Nov. 2022, admits that his first career loss did sting, and that he’s looking to put that behind him.

“Dealing with the Bivol loss was really tough,” he said. “It hurt my soul and it hurt my ego as a warrior. Now that I have been able to move past it, I want to come back even stronger and I want to win. I want to feel like I can do it.”

The 34-year-old Smith (28-4, 22 KO) is a former 175 lb titleholder moving up in weight himself, coming off of a spirited but doomed TKO-2 loss to Artur Beterbiev in June 2022, where Beterbiev unified three light heavyweight titles in New York.

“Zurdo” says he has respect for Smith and is aware of the danger he brings to the fight.

“I’ve been watching Joe Smith Jr for many years now; probably his whole career,” Ramirez stated. “He is a great fighter and it’s exciting for me to face him because he is a former world champion, he has faced many former champions and great top opponents.”

The show will also feature Golden Boy house favorite John “Scrappy” Ramirez (12-0, 8 KO) in a WBA 115 lb eliminator against Ronal Batista (15-3, 9 KO), who is coming off of a flyweight title loss to Julio Cesar Martinez in May, so that’s a curious choice of WBA ordering, but it is boxing, and we all know what we’re doing here.

“This final eliminator is just another fight, something that I have been working for and it has finally came into fruition,” ‘Scrappy’ said.

“It’s all about staying ready so you don’t need to get ready. My path to a world championship is fight to fight, opponent to opponent. Right now, my focus is the man in front of me. He is Panamanian, has tremendous experience, he is hungry, and he is looking for that opportunity to make a statement. So I am not taking him lightly. When the competition is good, I perform better.”

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