Light heavyweight contender Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez got his wish on Monday when the WBA ordered his mandatory title shot against world titleholder Dmitry Bivol.
Ramirez has been campaigning hard for more than a year to get a shot against Bivol and has won two consecutive title elimination bouts to earn the opportunity, although the Bivol camp has not been too interested in the fight despite past discussions with Team Ramirez.
But now it appears that Bivol will have no choice but to face Ramirez next or risk being stripped of his 175-pound crown.
The WBA notified both camps on Monday that they have 30 days – until Aug. 10 – to make a deal or it will order a purse bid.
The World Boxing Association (WBA) Championships Committee ordered the fight between the WBA Super Light Heavyweight Champion, Dmitry Bivol, and the number one challenger of the category, Gilberto "Zurdo" Ramirez pic.twitter.com/PT5FIcdiXY
— WBA Boxing (@WBABoxing) July 11, 2022
“We are very pleased,” Eric Gomez, the president of Ramirez promoter Golden Boy Promotions, told Big Fight Weekend. “This is the fight Zurdo wanted and deserves. We intend to make it.”
Golden Boy will have to negotiate with Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, Bivol’s co-promoter, to make the fight but both of them have all of their events on DAZN, which figures to be helpful in making the fight, although Hearn has in recent days spoken about his desire to match Bivol with the Matchroom Boxing-promoted contender Joshua Buatsi (16-0, 13 KO), 29, of England.
The WBA said Bivol’s last mandatory defense was on March 3, 2018, when he knocked out Sullivan Barrera in the 12th round. The WBA said his next mandatory was due after March 2020, although the pandemic delayed many mandatory defenses in the various organizations.
There were discussions about a Bivol-Ramirez fight taking place late year but Bivol instead fought in December in his native Russia against countryman Umar Salamov and won a lopsided decision. Then, rather than pursue a Ramirez fight, Bivol got the opportunity to defend against undisputed super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez in by far his biggest fight on May 7.
Bivol, who has defended his title nine times, pulled the upset decision win. A few weeks later Alvarez opted to next face unified middleweight titlist Gennadiy Golovkin in their third showdown rather than invoke his contractual right to an immediate rematch with the 31-year-old Bivol (20-0, 11 KOs).
Ramirez won the WBO super middleweight title from Arthur Abraham in 2016 and made five defenses before vacating and moving up to light heavyweight, where he has won all five of his fights, including the WBA eliminators in his previous two bouts.
In December, Ramirez (44-0, 30 KOs), 31, a southpaw from Mexico, knocked out Yunieski Gonzalez in the 10th round and on May 14 he destroyed Dominic Boesel in fourth round.
Late last month Ramirez said he was hopeful that the WBA would order his title shot next.
“I appreciate the WBA and believe the right process will be followed,” Ramirez said a few weeks ago. “I’m confused about Bivol ducking me. I earned the WBA mandatory challenger position in the ring, not once but twice. He’s been talking about fighting me for the last two years. It’s time.”