TEXAS - The judges may have had it closer than expected, but the night belonged to super middleweight world titleholder Gilberto Ramirez, who despite injuring his left elbow late in the fight, found a way to win.
Ramirez outpointed Jesse Hart for the second time by majority decision on Saturday night in the main event of the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN card at American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas, home of the Texas A&M–Corpus Christi Islanders men's and women's NCAA basketball teams.
FightNights.com scored the bout 117-111 for Ramirez, but the judges had it much tighter than our score would indicate. Judge Lynne Carter had it even at 114-114, while Javier Alvarez and Chris Flores turned in scores of 115-113 for Ramirez, who retained his WBO world title for the fifth time since winning it by shutout decision against former champion Arthur Abraham in April 2016.
According to CompuBox, Ramirez landed 202 of 703 total punches (29 percent), while Hart was 102 of 525 (19 percent). Ramirez also was impressive in the power punches category, landing 179 of 507 (35 percent). Hart was only 87 of 344 (24 percent).
“I won every round,” Ramirez told ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna after the fight. “I hurt my left elbow in the eighth round. I came away with the victory despite that injury. If didn't hurt my elbow, I would've knocked him out. I am going to 175. I am ready to challenge Gvozdyk."
Ramirez added that he intends to move up to light heavyweight if he unable to land a meaningful fight at 168-pounds. The light heavyweight division is red-hot with the likes of Artur Beterbiev, Oleksandr Gvozdyk, Eleider Alvarez, and Dmitry Bivol controlling the ranks.
Philadelphia’s Hart (25-2, 21 KO's), who lost a close unanimous decision to Ramirez in their first fight just over a year ago, thought he clearly won.
“It was no contest tonight, man,” Hart said. “I pressured him; I boxed him. I did everything in the world to win this fight. I’m not mad. You know, Gilberto is a good fighter, but I believe I pulled it out tonight. I mean, yeah, he had a good 12th round. OK. But I came back, and I hurt him in that same round. So, you know what I mean?”
Hart won three consecutive bouts, all by knockout, before the WBO named him the mandatory challenger for a second shot at Ramirez's title.
Hart put forth his best effort, but was outclassed for most of the fight. Oddly enough, had he not lost the 12th round so convincingly, the bout would have ended in a controversial majority draw.
Ramirez landed several solid left hands on Hart in the first round, including a straight left to the body. Hart started off the round strong, connecting on several jabs on the champion.
Hart backed up Ramirez with a left hook in the second round, and his lunging right uppercut also found the target. Ramirez also got in a right uppercut, but Hart clearly got the better of him.
Ramirez walked down Hart in the third round with hard left hands to the body. Hart was also moving to the right, which left him open for Zurdo's power shots.
Ramirez had more success in the fourth round as Hart stood straight up on the inside, taking the air out of him with rights to the body, and coming back upstairs with the left hook.
Hart hit Ramirez with a right hand to the side of his head with 1:53 to go in the seventh round. With 15 seconds to go in the seventh, Hart slipped to the canvas while trying to throw a right hand.
By the fifth round, Hart started moving to his left and started to land with his left hand. However, late in the round, Ramirez landed a three-punch combination.
Ramirez landed a hard counter right hand in the sixth that really got Hart's attention. At this point, the crowd started to jeer at Hart, who responded accordingly by pointing and talking back at the hecklers.
Zurdo injured his left elbow in the eighth round, which gave Hart a tremendous opportunity to land some hard shots. But Hart swung for the fences and managed to land little, although it appeared Hart was getting the better of the champion.
Ramirez rocked Hart with a right hand late in the final round and continued to batter him despite an injured left elbow. However, Hart turned things around with about 15 seconds remaining in the fight with a hard right hand of his own, but it was too late.