On Wednesday, word spread that undefeated WBO super middleweight title holder Gilberto Ramirez will return to action on September 22 against undefeated Jesse Hart. At 26, Ramirez has the potential to develop into a major star. I’d prefer to see him in a unification fight against somebody like James DeGale or Badou Jack, but Hart is a worthy opponent.
Ramirez is 6’2.5″ and has a reach of 75″, so it’s natural to wonder if he won’t end up fighting at light heavyweight sometime in the near future. His power has been formidable, at least against lower-level opponents.
Since 2015, Ramirez has emerged as a top fighter in the division. He beat tough gatekeeper Derek Edwards in June of that year Gevorg Khatchikian in November. In April 2016, he took the biggest step of his career, shutting out long-time belt holder Arthur Abraham to capture the WBO strap.
He has fought just once since winning the belt, handling Max Bursak last April.
Hart is a member of Philadelphia boxing royalty. He is trained by his father, the exciting 1970s middleweight contender, Cyclone Hart. The elder Hart was legendary for his battle with fellow Phili icons Benny Briscoe and Willie Monroe.
The younger Hart has won 18 of his 22 fights by stoppage. He’ll be a rare opponent for Ramirez in that he has the edge in both height and reach.
Hart’s level of competition has been a step below Ramirez’s. He stopped then undefeated Mike Jiminez in May 2015. His amateur career was impressive–he was an alternate for the 2012 Olympics.
This is the sort of matchup the super middleweight division needs–sandwhiched between the red hot middleweight and light heavyweight divisions, the 168-pound class has wanted for an identity in recent years. Hart and Ramirez both look like they could be a potential face for the division, or at least provide somebody like DeGale with more high-profile opponents to build his own resume.