The game plan — inside and outside the boxing ring — has gone off without a hitch for Jose Ramirez since he turned pro after the 2012 London Olympics.
Ramirez, a 21-year-old junior welterweight from Avenal, Calif., is 8-0 with six knockouts heading into tonight’s scheduled six-round bout against Boyd Henley (10-3-1, 9 KOs) at Texas Station on UniMas television.
He has a slick marketing machine behind him, selling him to corporate America. He has deals with Nike, Discover Card and Beats headphones; Pepsi is the latest product to tie itself to Ramirez. He also has a call to public service, lending his support to the Latino Water Coalition, an advocacy group for farmers in the San Joaquin Valley, where Ramirez was born and raised.
“I’m a little shocked at how well I’m doing,” Ramirez said, “I expected it to be tougher. But I’m still growing, and every fight is a learning experience for me.”
Ramirez recently trained with Manny Pacquiao, who is preparing for his April 12 rematch with Timothy Bradley at the MGM Grand Garden. Ramirez said it was one of those special opportunities that can help a fighter in many ways.
“He’s very active,” Ramirez said of Pacquiao. “He’s got amazing footwork. He knows how to set up his punches. That’s something I’m learning how to do. But he’s a really intelligent fighter, and he works so hard. He’s also a really nice guy. He doesn’t let anything distract him.”
Ramirez began boxing at 8 years old, and growing up in Avenal, a community of about 15,000 located an hour’s drive from Fresno and one of dozens of farming communities in the Central Valley, he knew early how important agriculture is to the community and how precious water is.
And with the severe drought that has plagued the area and has sent prices soaring for fruit and vegetables across the nation, Ramirez is lending his celebrity to efforts to help farmers stay afloat.
“It’s a very tough situation,” he said. “My family has worked in agriculture. They’ve worked in the fields. It’s hard work. And if I can use my position to help get the message out, I’m going to do it. The people back home need to know they’re not alone, that someone is fighting for them.”
Ramirez said the more success he has in the ring, the more good he can do outside it. So he’s trying to stay active and build his resume quickly.
“I can’t afford to take a backward step,” he said. “For this fight (vs. Henley) I want to work on being more calm and sharper with my technique. I want to let my punches flow and fight efficiently.”
In tonight’s main event, Alejandro Perez (19-3-1, 13 KOs), faces Juan Carlos Martinez (18-14-1, 6 KOs) in a 10-round featherweight contest. Also on the Top Rank-promoted card is undefeated welterweight Jose Benavidez Jr. (18-0, 14 KOs), who will meet Prince Doku (16-4, 12 KOs) in an eight-round welterweight bout. Former world flyweight and super flyweight champion Brian Viloria (32-4, 19 KOs) will meet Juan Herrera (9-7, 4 KOs) in a 10-round super flyweight bout.
Doors open at 5 p.m., with the first bell at 6 p.m. The televised portion of the card begins at 8 p.m.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.