Ramirez: 'I want to be a superstar'

Chris Farina./Top Rank

The next Mexican boxing superstar very well could be super middleweight Gilberto Ramirez, a charismatic 23-year-old puncher who has looked very good in recent fights.

Ramirez (30-0, 24 KOs) has scored four impressive knockouts in a row against solid opponents: Don Mouton (KO1, a journeyman who had never been stopped), former title challenger Giovanni Lorenzo (TKO5), Junior Talipeau (TKO1) and former title challenger Fulgencio Zuniga (TKO8) in November.

Ramirez, a 6-foot-2 southpaw, will look for his fifth knockout in a row when he squares off with Russia’s Maxim Vlasov (30-1, 15 KOs) on Saturday night (HBO, 9:45 ET/PT) at the 1stBank Center in Broomfield, Colorado, in the co-feature of the much-anticipated third fight between welterweight rivals Mike Alvarado (34-3, 23 KOs) and Brandon Rios (32-2-1, 23 KOs).

Ramirez, excited about making his HBO debut, said he has one goal in boxing.

“I want to be a superstar. I want to be better and bigger than Canelo Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.,” he said through trainer and translator Hector Zapari, referring to Mexico’s most popular active fighters.

Ramirez said he trained in two camps with Alvarez, when he was preparing to fight Paul Williams (a fight that was ultimately canceled after Williams’ career-ending motorcycle accident) and Kermit Cintron. Ramirez said he sparred about 60 rounds total with Alvarez and hopes to someday achieve his stardom.

“My popularity is growing in Mexico. I want the big fights, the good fights,” he said. “My first HBO fight is a dream for me. It’s a big arena, big TV network. I’m really happy and very confident in my preparation that I will give a good fight. I’m a young fighter but I prefer this kind of tough fight. I feel ready for it.”

If he emerges with a victory, Ramirez said he wants to fight a more famous opponent.

“After this fight, I am ready for a world title fight or a top contender. I will demonstrate that on Saturday,” said Ramirez, whose parents introduced him to baseball, but he didn’t like it and turned to boxing at age 12. “I’m not going to say I will win by a knockout, but I am ready to win this fight. A knockout would be great, but I just want to win convincingly and give my fans an exciting fight.”

Vlasov, 28, has won 11 fights in a row since dropping a 10-round decision to contender Isaac Chilemba in February 2011.

Zapari believes Ramirez is ready for a fighter of Vlasov's experience and eventually a title fight.

“He’s getting better all the time,” Zapari said. “The good thing about this kid is he has discipline and he’s humble. That’s a very good thing for a fighter. We want him to be the first Mexican champion at 168 pounds. I think this fight will be a good fight for him. [Vlasov] has good height [6-3], a good record and experience. He has only lost once. He’ll give us a good fight. That’s what we want.”