Ramirez: I’m here to take souls

Boasting one of the longest unbeaten records among active fighters, Gilberto Ramirez is hell bent on becoming a two-weight world champion.

Having signed for Golden Boy Promotions in February, the former WBO super-middleweight king begins that journey in earnest when he takes on the battle-tested Sullivan Barrera at the Banc of California Stadium on Friday, broadcast live on DAZN.

The rangy Mexican southpaw, who hails from Mazatlan, Sinaloa, feels reborn having moved up in weight following a promotional switch from Top Rank, who steered him to the WBO crown and five successful defences.

‘Zurdo’ Ramirez (41-0, 27 KOs) had gone stale at super-middle, but feels a victory over Cuban veteran Barrera, who holds a win over current WBO 175lbs champion Joe Smith, will spark a surge to a light-heavyweight world title.

“I see every fight as an opportunity. This is my chance to start my path to becoming a two-division world champion,” said Ramirez at a media workout at the Banc of California Stadium.

“I know this is a tough fight. It will be very difficult for me. He has a lot of experience and he’s fought against a lot of good fighters. But he’s never faced anyone like me.

“This Friday, you will all see the best version of Zurdo Ramirez. I’m here to take all of the belts at light-heavyweight. I’m here to take the souls of all the warriors at this division.”

Barrera (22-3, 14 KOs) sees an entirely different outcome after a two-year hiatus.

After two years of being away from the ring, it’s great to be able to come back at such a high level. This is a great opportunity to show people what I am made of,” said the Miami-based Cuban.

“Ramirez is a tough challenge. I know the kind of style he’s going to bring. He’s going to want to push me back and throw a lot of punches. But that’s not the kind of fight that I want. I want to be in the centre of the ring and I’m going to be the one pushing him back.”