Jose Ramirez made his return to boxing on Saturday at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California, fighting for the first time in a little over a year.
The former unified super lightweight champion nearly finished it in the first round when he pinned ex-champion Richard Commey in a corner and pounded away. As it was, Ramirez had to wait until the 11th to get the finish and put himself back into the title mix.
He should have been fighting WBC champion Regis Prograis on Saturday if boxing were a real sport and the best met the best like they do in other sports. But Ramirez turned down the shot against Prograis and took what essentially was a meaningless bout against Commey.
Commey acquitted himself well after the slow start but Ramirez was in control throughout the bout. Ramirez dropped Commey twice in the 11th. Commey managed to get up after the first, but Ramirez pinned him in a corner and went viciously to the body, much the same way he did in the first round.
He whipped a left hand that made Commey wince. Commey had sort of a delayed reaction to the punch. He took three steps to his left before he took a knee, wincing in pain. Referee Jack Reiss counted to 10 and Ramirez had the win in front of 11,201 rabid home fans.
“It’s always hard after a layoff, but mentally, I had to go back to being my old self and start strong,” Ramirez said. “There came a point in my career where I got too comfortable. I started with that rhythm and being active with my punches throughout the round. And I went back to my old self.”
Commey is nothing if not tough and he battled his way back into the fight, even though Ramirez was in command and never really in difficulty.
But Ramirez was rusty and needed some work and so it helped him that Commey was able to gut it out and make it into a battle. Ramirez came away with great respect for him.
“I hurt him in the first round, but he’s a tough guy,” Ramirez said. “Big shoutout to Commey and his team. He’s a good warrior. He took some good shots. And he picked it up in the middle of the fight, too. I heard his team motivating him. I wanted to make a statement and show that I’m the stronger guy in there.”
After it was over, Ramirez called out Prograis. He wasn’t sure how much he would make if he fought Prograis, who was ordered by the WBC to defend against Ramirez with a 65-35 split of revenues in favor of Prograis.
There weren’t any negotiations of substance and what would have been a compelling and important bout went off into the ether.
Ramirez, though, said it’s still possible.
“I want any world champion,” Ramirez said. “If Regis Prograis is serious about fighting, we can sit down and negotiate. Let’s sit down and make the fight.”