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Ramirez chops down Barrera in four, Diaz trumps Fortuna

Gilberto Ramirez’s debut for Golden Boy Promotions began in eye-catching fashion as he brushed aside the battle-tested Sullivan Barrera in four rounds at the Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles on Friday night.

The rangy Mexican looked a genuine threat to the 175lbs division on this showing, targeting the Cuban veteran with a sustained body attack that delivered three knockdowns.

The former WBO super-middleweight champion had begun to look stale at 168lbs and subsequently parted ways with former promoter Top Rank, but galvanised by trainer Julian Chua he looks a more dangerous proposition.

After two, relatively quiet sessions, the fight caught light in the third as Ramirez dropped downstairs and floored Barrera (22-4, 14 KOs) with a left hook to the body. The Cuban took a knee after a delayed reaction.

Ramirez targeted Barrera’s midsection in the fourth, scoring two more body shot knockdowns before referee Thomas Taylor intervened. Ramirez (42-0, 28 KOs) hopes to fight WBA light-heavyweight king Dmitry Bivol next.

In the chief support, former IBF 130lbs champion Joseph Diaz overcame a cut left eye and point deduction to trump Dominican Javier Fortuna on a hard-fought decision and earn the vacant WBC Interim title at lightweight. Scores were 117-110, 116-111 and 115-112.

Diaz (left) would not be denied against Fortuna.
Photo: Sye Williams/Golden Boy Promotions.

Diaz (32-1-1, 15 KOs) had stepped in (and up in weight) for Golden Boy stablemate Ryan Garcia, who had been dealing with mental health issues, and was not found wanting.

The Californian suffered a cut left eye in the third and was deducted a point a round later for a rabbit punch on the break by referee Raul Caiz Jr. But he rebounded from the early adversity to wrest control of the fight.

The avoided Fortuna, heavy-handed and mobile, posed plenty of problems but the fast hands and crisper shots of Diaz merited the decision in the all-southpaw battle. Diaz’s strength, aggression and body work paid dividends but former world title holder Fortuna (36-3-1, 25 KOs & 2 NC) was always a danger and finished strongly.

The victory earns Diaz a crack at WBC lightweight title holder Devin Haney.  

In a battle of undefeated lightweights, Mexican banger William Zepeda (23-0, 21 KOs) battered and bested Texan Hector Tanajara (19-1, 5 KOs) on a sixth-round retirement.

Southpaw Zepeda broke down the spirited Tanajara with his ceaseless bodywork and aggression on the inside before Robert Garcia pulled out his outgunned fighter at the end of the sixth.

Main image and all photos: Sye Williams/Golden Boy Promotions.