LAS VEGAS — Former WBO super middleweight titleholder Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez made his debut at cruiserweight a successful one with an inexplicably wide unanimous decision over former WBO light heavyweight champion Joe Smith Jr. at The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan.
The three scorecards of 99-91 were not indicative of just how tough the fight was between the two combatants. For most, it was a lot closer as it was up to “Zurdo” to find a way to thwart Smith Jr.’s desire to break his opponent with constant pressure and power punching.
But Ramirez picked his spots and swayed the judges with his precision counterpunching, body shots and crisp combinations.
Ramirez (45-1, 30 KOs) returned to action after suffering the first loss of his professional career against Dmitry Bivol last November. The move up to cruiserweight opens up a new world of opportunity for him and the victory over Smith Jr. will see him quickly move up the ranks where champions such as Badou Jack, Jai Opetaia and Chris Billiam-Smith all dwell.
In the early rounds, Ramirez managed to pick off Smith’s advances as he picked off the Long Island fighter’s wide punches with short hooks and body work. But Smith continued with his game plan, knowing that fighting off of his back foot wouldn’t be ideal. In the fourth round, Smith’s pressure began to crack through Ramirez’s defense as he bounced hard hooks off of his head and torso. “Zurdo” remained calm under the storm and stayed true to his game plan and it paid off in the later rounds.
However, Smith once again had a surge in the ninth round when he drilled Ramirez with a right hand and followed him to the ropes with power shots. Somehow, the judges didn’t think enough of Smith’s work to give him more than one round.
Nearly a full year later, “Zurdo” hopes to get back to his winning ways against a former champion who is also venturing up to cruiserweight for the first time.
Smith Jr. — who was coming off of a knockout loss to Artur Beterbiev last June — fell to 28-5 and now has consecutive losses for the first time in his career.
Here are the full results from Las Vegas.
Gilberto Ramirez vs. Joe Smith Jr. full card results
- Gilberto Ramirez def. Joe Smith Jr. via. unanimous decision (99-91, 99-91 & 99-91)
- Bektemir Melikuziev def. Alantez Fox via 4th round TKO (:44)
- Darius Fulghum def. Alan Campa via 1st round KO (2:58)
- Jose Sanchez def. Eric Tudor via unanimous decision (77-75, 77-75 & 78-74)