Jose Ramirez successfully defended his WBC Junior Welterweight Championship belt against Jose Zepeda in front of over 14,000 boxing fans on Sunday, February 10th, 2019 in the Save Mart Center of Fresno, California. Jose Ramirez did not only fight against his opponent, he also fought for the Community Cancer Institute of Clovis, California. Ramirez’s fight attire was auctioned and a portion of ticket sales were donated for the benefit of the institute. Jose Ramirez continues to be a favorite of California’s Central Valley because of his continued victories and support for the community (water rights, immigration issues, and now the Cancer Institute).
The Save Mart Center crowd expressed their support for Ramirez from the first round on with boisterous chants of “Jo-se! Jo-se! Jo-se!” The first round was uneventful as both boxers measured their opponent. The second round went on with both boxers failing to display a sense of rhythm to their movements. Finally, the third round culminated with crisp hand punches from Ramirez on Zepeda in a corner of the ring.
Throughout the fight Ramirez seemed unable to connect consistently with his powerful swings. When he did connect, Ramirez could not sustain his attack because of Zepeda’s elusiveness and crouched stance. By the end of the fourth round, the fighters appeared evenly matched. Yet, the chants of “Ramirez!” appeared to motivate the local boxer as he attacked and pursued Zepeda around the ring.
Both valiant fighters fought on with facial cuts which could have been the result of punches and/or head-butts. The fighters banged heads throughout the fight because of their stances. In the earlier rounds, Zepeda could be seen complaining to the ref of a head-butt, none of which appeared intentional by either boxer.
In the seventh round, Ramirez appeared determined to figure Zepeda out. Zepeda continued to fight back and became a difficult opponent. Zepeda would clinch strategically to throw off Ramirez’s rhythm. The eight round appeared to be a good one for Zepeda after he landed hard combinations on the face of Ramirez. But as that round culminated, Ramirez seized the momentum from Zepeda after an exchange of hard punches.
In the close fight, the twelfth round would be decisive for the fighter who could win it. The experienced Ramirez probably sensed the parity of the match and entered the final round determine to convince the judges and the crowd of his victory. Ramirez intermittently landed his hard punches while Zepeda responded with his own. Ramirez’s punches were more powerful but Zepeda did his best to clinch as a way to disrupt. The referee separated them quickly enough to keep the round interesting and competitive. It was not Ramirez’s best fight but he did enough against an honorable Zepeda to win in front of a crowd who adores him.
In the co-main event, Ray Beltran defeated the Japanese boxer Hiroki Okada by knockout in the ninth round. It was a very entertaining fight that should provide more opportunities for both boxers. The entertainment began early as Beltran knocked down Okada with a left hook in the second round. Okada responded with a flurry of punches that nearly put Beltran on the mat. Okada continued his aggression and pinned Beltran in the corner. Beltran looked to be in danger but remained on his feet to culminate the round.
The fighters exchanged hard punches in the third and fourth round. Okada may have been quicker with his punches but Beltran was more powerful. By the seventh round, Beltran appeared to have a cut above his eye which Okada continued to jab at. And it all ended in a powerful display of violence as Beltran knocked Okada down twice in the ninth. Then after a continuous onslaught of punches in the corner of the ring from Beltran, Okada’s corner mercifully and wisely threw in the towel.
In the undercard, Gabe Flores Jr. defeated Ales Rynn Torres by unanimous decision to remain undefeated. Andy Vences of San Jose, California also won his match by unanimous decision. He defeated Darden Zenunaj. And Carlos Castro bloodied and defeated Genesis Servania via unanimous decision for the WBC Continental Americas title.