Zurdo Ramirez targets two-time world champion status in Abu Dhabi clash with Dmitry Bivol

Undefeated fighters go head-to-head for WBA light-heavyweight title in ground-breaking event at Etihad Arena on November 5

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Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez is convinced he will leave Abu Dhabi in November a two-time world champion, saying he is “prepared for everything” thrown at him by WBA light-heavyweight title-holder Dmitry Bivol.

Ramirez, the former WBO super-middleweight champion, takes on arguably his greatest test to date on November 5, when he faces Bivol in the headline bout at Etihad Arena.

The fight night, announced last month, marks the first "Champions Series" event of the recently signed agreement between the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi and Matchroom Boxing.

Unbeaten in all 44 professional fights, Ramirez represents the WBA mandatory challenger at light heavyweight after winning all five of his bouts since jumping up to 175 lbs in 2019. All five victories have come by knockout.

The Mexican, 31, defeated Dominic Boesel last time out in May, and now puts on the line his unbeaten record against fellow undefeated pro Bivol. Russia's Bivol sits at 20-0, with May’s dominant points victory against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez the eighth successful defence of his WBA crown.

Asked if November 5 therefore ranked as the greatest challenge of his pro career, Ramirez told The National: “I think it’s not the biggest. I’ve been fighting for a long time with the top fighters, but at the end of the day it’s a good challenge.

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“It’s what I want. I want the belt. It’s great for me and it’s great for boxing to have this top fight and for people to be looking forward to it.

“Bivol’s a really good challenge. And I like it because I’m a man of the challenge. I’m looking forward to getting the title, become a two-time world champion. And I will get it. That’s for sure.”

Bivol, 31, is considered by many to reside within the top 10 pound-for-pound fighters in men’s boxing. He has held the WBA belt since November 2017, and goes into the Ramirez clash full of confidence following the unanimous decision win against Alvarez in Las Vegas four months ago.

Bivol is considered the favourite against Ramirez, although he told The National last month that he is wary of the risk involved going up against the physically bigger southpaw.

November 5 will feature several championship fights, including an IBF junior lightweight bout between champion Joe Cordina and Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov. Meanwhile, WBC and IBF women’s junior welterweight title-holder Chantelle Cameron will defend against undisputed welterweight champion Jessica McCaskill.

On the Bivol threat, Ramirez said: “I’m prepared for everything. I’m prepared to bring everything, to bring all my skills, to put them into the ring. The winner will be the people from Abu Dhabi.

“It will be an excellent show, an amazing fight. People are looking forward to this fight, and me too. They can expect an amazing fight, an amazing show.

“Not only the main event, but all the big card will be amazing. The main event will be incredible. Don’t miss it.”

Ramirez, who held the WBO super-middleweight title between 2016 and 2019, said the opportunity to avenge Bivol's defeat of compatriot Alvarez provided another layer of motivation, but added: “I want to do it for my country too, for all the fans.

“But as a fighter I want to do it for myself, and I want to do it for my people also. It’s exciting to face him, to be here in Abu Dhabi for the first time.”

As to what victory on November 5 would do for his standing in the sport going forward, Ramirez said: “It means everything for me, because it proves I can do it for myself. That’s the challenge I’ve been looking for my whole life, that I can do anything what I think, everything what I dream, and make it happen."

Updated: September 21, 2022, 4:23 AM