In a report first mentioned by ESPN, Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez has vacated his WBO super middleweight world title on Monday, elevating the bout between Billy Joe Saunders and Shefat Isufi on Saturday for the title he relinquished.
Per the report, Ramirez had sent WBO president Paco Valcarcel an email a few days ago thanking him for the opportunity to hold the organization’s world title and informing him that he planned to fight in the light heavyweight division going forward.
Ramirez’s decision did not come as a shock to anyone. On April 12, Ramirez boxed in his light heavyweight debut and stopped former world title challenger Tommy Karpency in the fourth round on the Vasiliy Lomachenko-Anthony Crolla card in Los Angeles.
Ramirez had hinted that he wanted to stay fighting at light heavyweight but would consider returning to defend his title at super middleweight if there was an offer for a major fight. He admittedly was struggling to continue making 168 pounds and there wasn’t a major bout offered presently so Ramirez decided to vacate the strap.
With Ramirez now staying a light heavyweight at this time, he will have a pick of options in terms of opponents. The choices currently list fellow Top Rank fighters such as WBO light heavyweight champion in Sergey Kovalev, Eleider “Storm” Alvarez, IBF Champion Arthur Beterbiev and WBC and lineal champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk.
WBO World Title Clash: Saunders-Isufi at The Lamex Stadium, home of Stevenage Football Clubhttps://t.co/0BOFSXp3EY
— WBO (@WorldBoxingOrg) May 13, 2019
Saunders (27-0, 13 KOs) if he gets past Isufi (27-3-2, 20 KOs), has stated that he wants the unify the title with a match with unified champion Canelo Alvarez.
“I would love the Canelo fight, but does he want to fight me? I don’t think so,” Saunders said to ESPN. “If they do want to fight me, ring me up. I am not asking for millions. Just be fair with me and we can get the show on the road. Canelo has cemented his name, made good money and is a superstar in the sport. I wouldn’t say he is avoiding me, but there are plenty of people he can pick apart from Billy Joe Saunders. That is a fact. Who wants to fight a slick southpaw who is hard to hit?”
Saunders even said he would be ready to fight Alvarez in the weight class of his choice.
“It could be middleweight or super middleweight,” Saunders said to ESPN. “I want the big fights and that is a reason I am moving up to super middleweight. I cannot get the big fights at middleweight.” If Saunders wins on Saturday, he also has designs on a unification bout with countryman Callum Smith.”
TIME TO BECOME A TWO WEIGHT WORLD CHAMPION 👑 👑
It’s #FightWeek for @bjsaunders_ who challenges Shefat Isufi for the vacant WBO World Super Middleweight Title on Saturday night at @StevenageFC live on @btsport 📺 #KingOfHerts #SaundersIsufi pic.twitter.com/Wa1VlzBWfr
— Frank Warren (@frankwarren_tv) May 13, 2019