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The Little Beast From East L.A., Julian Ramirez

David A. Avila

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Describing neighborhood kinship can be difficult to understand. It’s an unspoken bond that exists simply because you lived in the same streets and breathed the same air. Whether you’re a baker, a construction worker or the corner drunk, if you lived in East L.A. then you’re a member of the unofficial geographic fraternity.

Maybe it’s the underlying reason that Julian Ramirez was noticed early in his pro career and signed to a contract by Joel De La Hoya, who is a member of one of the most famous East L.A. families, the De La Hoyas.

“He saw me fight. It was my second fight. After I got dressed he congratulated me on my fight and said he liked the way I fought,” said Ramirez about meeting Joel, the older brother of Oscar De La Hoya. “I was kind of surprised. It felt good that he wanted to manage me. I was kind of shocked and happy.”

Ramirez (9-0, 6 Kos) has boxing royalty backing but still has to do the fighting. On Jan. 24, he faces prospect destroyer Derrick Wilson (10-5-2, 3 Kos) at Fantasy Springs Casino. The Golden Boy Promotions card will be televised on Fox Sports 1 and Fox Deportes.

Wilson has five losses but it’s the wins that concern Ramirez. A number of those wins have come against guys that were the heavy favorites and undefeated fighters with almost a dozen wins each.

“It’s not an easy fight. He pulls off upsets. He upset Charles Huerta and Braulio Santos. He’s going to try and pull off the upset with me,” says Ramirez, 20, who fights at junior featherweight. “Golden Boy is, I guess, trying to test me. I know he’s a good fighter and I’m ready for him.”

The left-handed kid from East L.A. has a couple of key ingredients that De La Hoya spotted early on.

“Julian is a little beast. He can hit like a mule,” said De La Hoya. “He’s a hard worker with nine wins and six or seven knockouts.”

De La Hoya knows the boxing journey is at its early stages for young Ramirez, but the path was mapped out early by guys like his brother Oscar, who wasn’t coddled with push-overs in his early career. It’s the East L.A. youngster’s third year as a pro. Dangerous fighters like Wilson are necessary.

Ramirez grew up in the Boyle Heights area of East L.A., just east of the Los Angeles River near Aliso Village. Sports of any kind were always in his blood; “whatever season” he would partake in that season’s sport, from baseball, basketball, football to go-cart racing.

“My dad was a mechanic,” Ramirez says. “I used to race go-carts in Fontana on the weekends. My dad had a truck and we would go with the go-carts and race in tournaments.”

Boxing was not on his mind until he ran into cousins who were heavily involved in the sport. He was 11 years old and liked the idea of one-on-one battling.

“On the first day I sparred with my cousin. I was always competing and I really wanted to win a trophy,” Ramirez says. “Some of the boxers I was around who are now pros are Joel Diaz, Saul Rodriguez, and Joseph Diaz. Victor Pasillas, I grew up with him in the gym for three years, we went to all the tournaments. Lot of the guys are pros now and doing good.”

That first amateur bout remains a big memory for Ramirez.

“Everybody thought I was going to lose. But I stopped the guy in my first fight. I got a little belt it was a state championship,” remembers Ramirez. “My dad had money, I had the belt and I had a Rolex on me. That was my highlight. I got hooked. My uncles gave me money. They took me out to buy Jordans and it was a big thing. I liked the love and that was it. I got hooked.”

But as much as he loves boxing, the carefree life of an amateur athlete has disappeared with the year 2011. No longer does he play basketball at a moment’s notice or head to Tommy’s Hamburgers in the dead of night.

“I used to sneak out with the car and go to King Tacos or go to Tommy’s,” confesses Ramirez. “I would take my dad’s Mustang and put it in neutral and take off to Tommy’s, sometimes by myself and sometimes with friends.”

Not anymore. He’s a professional now.

“Boxing used to be super fun, it’s still fun, but before I was in high school, I would go play basketball or a soccer game. But now, it’s like this is your job you got to take care of yourself,” says Ramirez, wisely.

2014 will prove to be the pivotal year for Ramirez, according to manager De La Hoya.

“Some time in the next year a regional title. He’s progressing very well. It’s just a matter of time. He has a lot of boxing IQ,” said De La Hoya in early December. “He loves watching old videos and picking up styles from old fighters. But most important…he’s got that killer instinct.”

The days of winning trophies are gone, but he still has dreams of winning title belts. Capturing a world title is the ultimate goal but even more, he wants to be a fan magnet.

“I want to be known by fans that say he’s a fighter that’s not scared. He goes in there for the kill. If he wins or loses he will give you everything,” Ramirez says. “As a fan I think of fighters that have heart and give everything. That’s what I like in a fighter.”

De La Hoya knows a beast when he sees one.

“Some guys just love to fight,” he said.

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2015 Fight of the Year – Francisco Vargas vs Takashi Miura

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The WBC World Super Featherweight title bout between Francisco Vargas and Takashi Miura came on one of the biggest boxing stages of 2015, as the bout served as the HBO pay-per-view’s co-main event on November 21st, in support of Miguel Cotto vs Saul Alvarez.

Miura entered the fight with a (29-2-2) record and he was making the fifth defense of his world title, while Vargas entered the fight with an undefeated mark of (22-0-1) in what was his first world title fight. Both men had a reputation for all-out fighting, with Miura especially earning high praise for his title defense in Mexico where he defeated Sergio Thompson in a fiercely contested battle.

The fight started out hotly contested, and the intensity never let up. Vargas seemed to win the first two rounds, but by the fourth round, Miura seemed to pull ahead, scoring a knock-down and fighting with a lot of confidence. After brawling the first four rounds, Miura appeared to settle into a more technical approach. Rounds 5 and 6 saw the pendulum swing back towards Vargas, as he withstood Miura’s rush to open the fifth round and the sixth round saw both men exchanging hard punches.

The big swinging continued, and though Vargas likely edged Miura in rounds 5 and 6, Vargas’ face was cut in at least two spots and Miura started to assert himself again in rounds 7 and 8. Miura was beginning to grow in confidence while it appeared that Vargas was beginning to slow down, and Miura appeared to hurt Vargas at the end of the 8th round.

Vargas turned the tide again at the start of the ninth round, scoring a knock down with an uppercut and a straight right hand that took Miura’s legs and sent him to the canvas. Purely on instinct, Miura got back up and continued to fight, but Vargas was landing frequently and with force. Referee Tony Weeks stepped in to stop the fight at the halfway point of round 9 as Miura was sustaining a barrage of punches.

Miura still had a minute and a half to survive if he was going to get out of the round, and it was clear that he was not going to stop fighting.

A back and forth battle of wills between two world championship level fighters, Takashi Miura versus “El Bandido” Vargas wins the 2015 Fight of the Year.

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Jan 9 in Germany – Feigenbutz and De Carolis To Settle Score

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This coming Saturday, January 9th, the stage is set at the Baden Arena in Offenburg, Germany for a re-match between Vincent Feigenbutz and Giovanni De Carolis. The highly anticipated re-match is set to air on SAT.1 in Germany, and Feigenbutz will once again be defending his GBU and interim WBA World titles at Super Middleweight.

The first meeting between the two was less than three months ago, on October 17th and that meeting saw Feigenbutz controversially edge De Carolis on the judge’s cards by scores of (115-113, 114-113 and 115-113). De Carolis scored a flash knock down in the opening round, and he appeared to outbox Feigenbutz in the early going, but the 20 year old German champion came on in the later rounds.

The first bout is described as one of the most crowd-pleasing bouts of the year in Germany, and De Carolis and many observers felt that the Italian had done enough to win.

De Carolis told German language website RAN.DE that he was more prepared for the re-match, and that due to the arrogance Feigenbutz displayed in the aftermath of the first fight, he was confident that he had won over some of the audience. Though De Carolis fell short of predicting victory, he promised a re-vamped strategy tailored to what he has learned about Feigenbutz, whom he termed immature and inexperienced.

The stage is set for Feigenbutz vs De Carolis 2, this Saturday January 9th in Offenburg, Germany. If you can get to the live event do it, if not you have SAT.1 in Germany airing the fights, and The Boxing Channel right back here for full results.

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2015 Knock Out of the Year – Saul Alvarez KO’s James Kirkland

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On May 9th of 2015, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez delivered a resonant knock-out of James Kirkland on HBO that wins the 2015 KO of the Year.

The knock-out itself came in the third round, after slightly more than two minutes of action. The end came when Alvarez delivered a single, big right hand that caught Kirkland on the jaw and left him flat on his back after spinning to the canvas.Alvarez was clearly the big star heading into the fight. The fight was telecast by HBO for free just one week after the controversial and disappointing Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao fight, and Alvarez was under pressure to deliver the type of finish that people were going to talk about. Kirkland was happy to oblige Alvarez, taking it right to Alvarez from the start. Kirkland’s aggression saw him appear to land blows that troubled the young Mexican in the early going. Alvarez played good defense, and he floored Kirkland in the first round, displaying his power and his technique in knocking down an aggressive opponent.

However, Kirkland kept coming at Alvarez and the fight entered the third round with both men working hard and the feeling that the fight would not go the distance. Kirkland continued to move forward, keeping “Canelo” against the ropes and scoring points with a barrage of punches while looking for an opening.

At around the two minute mark, Alvarez landed an uppercut that sent Kirkland to the canvas again. Kirkland got up, but it was clear that he did not have his legs under him. Kirkland was going to try to survive the round, but Alvarez had an opportunity to close out the fight. The question was would he take it?

Alvarez closed in on Kirkland, putting his opponent’s back to the ropes. Kirkland was hurt, but he was still dangerous, pawing with punches and loading up for one big shot.

But it was the big shot “Canelo” threw that ended the night. Kirkland never saw it coming, as he was loading up with a huge right hand of his own. The right Alvarez threw cracked Kirkland in the jaw, and his eyes went blank. His big right hand whizzed harmlessly over the head of a ducking Alvarez, providing the momentum for the spin that left Kirkland prone on the canvas.

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez went on to defeat Miguel Cotto in his second fight of 2015 and he is clearly one of boxing’s biggest stars heading into 2016. On May 9th Alvarez added another reel to his highlight film when he knocked out James Kirkland with the 2015 “Knock Out of the Year”.

Photo by naoki fukuda

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