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Boxing: Ramirez expected to extend unbeaten run

The unbeaten Gilberto Ramirez takes on Yunieski Gonzalez in an eliminator for a shot at WBA light-heavyweight title at San Antonio's AT & T Center in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The winner will be in pole position for a crack at Dimitry Bivol and Ramirez is 1/33 to win the bout, with Gonzalez a 9/1 shot and the draw available at 28/1.

The Mexican has been in hard-hitting form of late and he has made a decent transition to the light-heavyweight ranks. Zurdo is 1/4 to win by stoppage and 11/4 for a decision victory.

Ramirez steps up

Ramirez held the WBO super middleweight belt from 2016 to 2019 and he became the first Mexican fighter to win a world title at that weight class.

Zurdo had victories over the likes of Arthur Abraham and Jesse Hart in the 168lbs division and he had been touted as a potential opponent for his compatriot Canelo Alvarez.

Ramirez has been chasing a fight with Bivol for some time, hence stepping up a division, and this eliminator at light-heavyweight will put the Mexican in the frame for a shot.

Ranking rangles

Ramirez has had only three fights at light-heavyweight, with the best of those a fourth-round stoppage victory over Tommy Karpency.

It’s puzzling that this fight is being billed as an eliminator for a shot at Bivol, given the Zurdo doesn’t have a ranking in the WBA, and Gonzalez is only fifth best in the association.

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Ramirez unbeaten

Zurdo brings an unbeaten 42-fight record to the ring and clearly his talents have to be respected - the Mexican has beaten Abraham, Hart twice and he also has a good win over Maxim Vlasov.

Ramirez won the WBO super-middleweight belt when defeating King Arthur in 2016 and that is the strongest piece of form on his card.

The vast majority of the Mexican's wins have come in low-key bouts, but Zurdo is still only 30 years of age and there should be plenty of big fights ahead of him.

Gonzalez inactivity

The Monster has won 21 of his 24 pro bouts, but he has struggled each time he has stepped up in class.

The Cuban has only three decent names on his record, Jean Pascal, Vyacheslav Shabranskyy and Oleksandr Gvozdyk, and he lost to all of those fighters.

The latest of those defeats against Gvozdyk is the most worrying. That loss came back in 2017 and the Monster was out of action for 42 months until he got back in the ring against Guillermo Romero in 2020.

Gonzalez has won three bouts since his return, but they have been low-level contests and they don't read particularly well in the context of this contest.

Fight prediction

To put it simply Gonzalez looks hopeless outclassed here and everything points to a Ramirez stoppage victory.

Clearly, power is important when it comes to knockouts, but class is often something that is overlooked.

Zurdo is levels above his Cuban opponent and the other issue for the Monster is that his best avenue for victory is likely to come on the front foot.

As soon as Gonzalez opens up and looks to trade with Ramirez, the Mexican will catch him and it could be an early night in San Antonio.

Backing a Zurdo stoppage win, under the total rounds line and even a Ramirez round one and two victory are all sensible options.

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