Jose Ramirez returned to boxing Saturday at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif., fighting for the first time in just over a year.
The former unified super lightweight champion nearly made it in the first round when he pinned former champion Richard Commey in a corner and pounded away. So Ramirez had to wait until the 11th to finish and get himself back into the title mix.
He should have fought WBC champion Regis Prograis on Saturday if boxing was a real sport and the best met the best like other sports do. But Ramirez refused the shot against Prograis and took an essentially meaningless fight against Commey.
Commey did well after the slow start but Ramirez was in control throughout the fight. Ramirez dropped Commey twice in the 11th. Commey managed to get up after the first round, but Ramirez pinned him in a corner and viciously went to the body, much like he had done in the first round.
He slapped his left hand, making Commey flinch. Commey was somewhat delayed in reacting to the punch. He took three steps to the left before kneeling and wincing in pain. Referee Jack Reiss counted to 10 and Ramirez had the win in front of 11,201 rabid home fans.
“It’s always hard after a layoff, but mentally I had to be my old self and start strong,” Ramirez said. “There was a point in my career when I got too comfortable. I started with this rhythm and was active with my shots throughout the round. And I went back to my old self.”
Commey is nothing if not tough and he fought his way back into the fight despite Ramirez being in charge and never really being in trouble.
But Ramirez was rusty and needed some work so it helped that Commey was able to gut it and turn it into a fight. Ramirez walked away from him with great respect.
“I hurt him in the first round but he’s a tough guy,” Ramirez said. “Great praise for Commey and his team. He’s a good warrior. He got some good shots. And he picked it up mid-fight, too. I heard his team motivating him. I wanted to set an example and show that I’m the stronger one in there.”
After it was over, Ramirez called Prograis. He wasn’t sure how much he would make if he fought Prograis, who was ordered by the WBC to defend against Ramirez with a 65-35 earnings split in Prograis’ favour.
There were no substantive negotiations and what would have been a compelling and important fight went on the airwaves.
However, Ramirez said it was still possible.
“I want every world champion,” said Ramirez. “If Regis Prograis fights seriously, we can sit down and negotiate. Let’s sit together and fight the battle.”