ARLINGTON, Texas -- In what was a swift and sudden end to an incredibly entertaining battle, Jose Ramirez scored a sixth-round stoppage of Maurice Hooker to become the unified WBC and WBO junior welterweight champion.
Overcoming Hooker in his hometown, Ramirez scored a statement victory -- the kind that defines careers.
What did we learn about Jose Ramirez tonight?
No longer can Ramirez be considered just a carefully guided fighter -- a guy who was given a certain level of protection by Top Rank, given that he is a huge draw in Fresno, California. While he was a world champion (and former Olympian), not many really considered him the best 140 pounder in the world.
After his emphatic victory over the previously unbeaten Hooker, that can no longer be said of Ramirez. He didn't just add another belt to his collection, he served notice that he is truly a world-class fighter and maybe, just maybe, the best junior welterweight on the planet.
Sometimes it's not if you win, but how you do so. Ramirez stamped himself as an elite fighter Saturday night.
How much did Ramirez's decision to train with Robert Garcia play into this victory?
It came as a surprise to some when Ramirez, after winning the title in March 2018 against Amir Imam, decided to move from Freddie Roach to Robert Garcia. Both are certainly highly regarded cornermen who have guided numerous world champions to victory, but there is that old saying -- if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
But it's hard to argue with the results of this union, as they have now racked up three victories, and the Hooker performance speaks for itself. Many of the key strategies that were being worked on at the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy in Riverside, California, over the past few months were executed to perfection on Saturday night: the head movement coming in; getting inside on Hooker; and letting the left hook go to the body when in close.
A very sound game plan was hatched by Garcia, then forcefully played out by Ramirez. As big as this win was for Ramirez, for Garcia it's one of his biggest victories as a trainer.
"It's up there," Garcia said. "Absolutely, it's one of the great ones."
What's next for Ramirez?
His outspoken manager, Rick Mirigian, says that if Ramirez checks out healthy that they will look to bring him back in November, possibly in his home region of Fresno, where he has become one of the biggest draws in the United States. Top Rank believes it could be a bit later in 2019. Regardless, Ramirez, who is just 26, will be kept active.
The overall objective is to target the winner of the Josh Taylor-Regis Prograis fight in the finals of the World Boxing Super Series. The only issue is that such a matchup still hasn't found a date or home. But Ramirez, like the other belt holders, has made it clear that his team wants to unify the division, and Taylor (IBF) and Prograis (WBA) have the last two remaining straps.
What's next for Hooker?
Perhaps a move to 147 pounds, where his 6-foot frame will more easily fit. Making junior welterweight is a chore for him, and you could surmise that the strain of making the junior welterweight limit has eroded a bit of his punch resistance. He is a solid name and still has a deal with DAZN, for which he can be featured on big cards.
But truthfully, the future is unclear for Hooker -- a fighter whose value is really dependent on having a championship belt.
It was ultimately irrelevant, considering the result, but should miscalled knockdowns like what happened in the first round be reviewable in boxing?
Imagine this nightmare scenario: Ramirez never lands that big fight-changing left hook in the sixth and the fight proceeds with Hooker making a huge run in the second half of the fight versus a tiring Ramirez, who expended an exorbitant amount of energy in the first six rounds to build up a lead on the scorecards. It's the tale of two fights: the first for Ramirez, the second for Hooker.
And after 12 rounds, the judges (at least two) have it 6-6 in rounds, but because of that dubious knockdown in the first frame, give Ramirez the decision by the tally of 114-113. Yeah, there would be a major outcry over the verdict. Now, this is not a knock on referee Mark Nelson, who did a fine job in there, but he did miss that call, as it was clear that Hooker was sent to the canvas in the first round because his foot was stepped on by Ramirez.
Why not utilize modern technology to correct an error of this nature? Some states, including Nevada, have the ability to utilize instant replay, but Texas isn't one of them.
There might be some logistical issues, but you would hate to see a fight decided on a missed call that was so obvious to everyone who had access to the replay around the world. With boxing having a minute rest period after each round, a mistake of this nature could be easily rectified without really damaging the flow of the fight.
It's time for every commission to support boxing in joining the 21st century in this regard.
How can Tevin Farmer move the needle?
Since winning his belt against Billy Dib last summer in Australia, Farmer has defeated the quartet of James Tennyson (TKO5), Francisco Fonseca (W12), Jono Carroll (W12) and now Guillame Frenois. Outside of the Carroll fight -- which was an entertaining affair back in March -- Farmer is far more effective than exciting.
At the same time, this is the sport of boxing. Farmer has mastered the art of hitting and not getting hit.
There are a lot of similarities between Farmer and IBF super middleweight champion Caleb Plant -- another master boxer whose fights can get very monotonous, as he simply wins one round after another versus mediocre opposition. But against world-class foes, you can really appreciate their style.
With that said, it's time for Farmer to face a threat. A faceoff against WBA champion Gervonta Davis is unrealistic, given the network politics. But a bout versus Joseph Diaz, who is promoted by Golden Boy (which has a partnership with DAZN), is something that can easily come together. After Saturday's fight, Farmer's promoter, Lou DiBella, made it clear that is the fight they will aim for next.
Diaz, a 2012 U.S. Olympian, is a quality opponent whose only loss was to WBC featherweight titlist Gary Russell Jr. in May 2018.
There are certain fighters who can be solo acts, given their power and styles; Farmer, unfortunately, is the type who is in need of dance partners.