Jose Ramirez, the pride of Central California, went into the trenches, took the best shots Amir Imam had to offer, and can now call himself a world champion. Ramirez, a 2012 U.S. Olympian from the farming community of Avenal, defeated Imam by unanimous decision (120-108, 117-111,115-113) to win the vacant WBC Super Lightweight world title, the milestone 2,000th title fight in the WBC’s 55-year history.
Ramirez (22-0, 16 KOs), whose commitment to water rights for Central California farmers and the rights of immigrants has made him hometown hero, won over the New York City faithful. In the 12th round, as he closed in on a knockout, the largely Irish contingent started chanting, “Jose! Jose! Jose!”
Imam (21-2, 18 KOs) refused to be knocked off his feet, but was battered down the stretch as Ramirez became world champion in thrilling fashion.
“This is a dream come true for me,” Ramirez said. “It is an honor to be a world champion. I’m thankful for the talent God gave me. I dedicate this fight to all the immigrants. I fight for them.”
Ramirez is now on track to meet interim WBC world 140lb/ titlist Regis Prograis. Prograis claimed the interim title by blasting former unified champion Julius Indongo in 2 rounds on March 9.
Puerto Rican lightweight Felix Verdejo (23-1) lost for the first time in his pro career when he was stopped by Mexico’s Antonio Lozada Jr. (39-2, 33 KOs) with 23 seconds left in the 10th and final round.
Verdejo, ending a 13-month layoff, was hurt in the middle of the fight and never fully got his legs back, and finally was knocked down in the 10th. Lozada landed another flurry of punches later in the round and the referee stopped the fight right in front of Verdejo’s incensed cornermen.
Former 130lb. champion Jose Pedraza ended a 14-month layoff with an eight-round unanimous decision over Mexico’s Jose Luis Rodriguez in a lightweight affair. All three judges scored the fight a shutout for Pedraza (23-1, 12 KOs), who won 80-72 on each of their cards. Rodriguez drops to 23-12 (13 KOs).