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Olympian poised for Top Rank debut

Jose Ramirez was giving an interview at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, Calif., when who should walk in but Manny Pacquiao.

Ramirez tried to continue the discussion, but it was clear that being in the presence of one of the world’s best boxers had distracted him. Pacquiao listened as Ramirez talked about his dreams of becoming a successful pro after an outstanding amateur career, and Ramirez turned to him and said, “I hope one day I can be half as good as you, both in and out of the ring.”

Pacquiao smiled and nodded. If Ramirez can attain such a lofty goal, the latest member of the Top Rank stable will have succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.

“I have a lot to learn,” said Ramirez, a member of the 2012 USA Olympic boxing team who will make his professional debut Dec. 8 on the undercard of Pacquiao’s fourth meeting with Juan Manuel Marquez at the MGM Grand Garden. “But I’m willing to work hard and be patient. I know it doesn’t happen right away, and you have to earn everything you get.”

Ramirez will debut as a lightweight and is scheduled to fight a four-round bout against an opponent to be determined. Armando Mancinas, who will train the 20-year-old from Avenal, Calif., said the first order of business is to get Ramirez accustomed to this new environment.

“He’s going to be fighting on a big stage with smaller gloves and no headgear, and that’s a big adjustment,” Mancinas said. “He’ll probably start a little slow, but he’s a fast learner, and I think he’ll pick things up quickly.

“It’s like teaching someone to drive a clutch when all they’ve driven was an automatic. You have to get comfortable with it. It takes time.”

Ramirez said his London experience, which saw him win his first bout before being eliminated in the second round, helped prepare him for the latest career move.

“It was amazing fighting in front of such big crowds,” he said. “My biggest disappointment is that I didn’t do better. My goal was to win the gold medal, but I came up short. Now my goal is to one day be world champion, and I’m going to do everything I can to get there.”

He already has big-name sponsors on board, including Nike, McDonald’s and Discover Card. Top Rank president Todd duBoef said Ramirez will quickly become a fan favorite.

“We felt like he was the premier U.S. Olympian,” duBoef said. “He’s a charismatic kid who likes to attack. He’s a fan-friendly fighter, and people are going to love him.”

■ NEXT FOR MAGDALENOS – Diego and Jesse Magdaleno will be busy the week of Pacquiao-Marquez IV, as the undefeated brothers from Las Vegas will be showcased on separate cards.

Jesse Magdaleno, 13-0 with nine knockouts, will fight on the ESPN portion of Top Rank’s card Dec. 6 at The Mirage. The 21-year-old’s opponent for the eight-round super bantamweight bout has not been determined.

The 26-year-old Diego Magdaleno (23-0, nine KOs), the NABF super featherweight champion, puts his title on the line against 35-year-old Brazilian Adailton de Jesus (30-7, 24 KOs) in the 10-round main event Dec. 7 at Texas Station. Azteca America will televise the bout.

Tickets for both cards are on sale through Ticketmaster. Prices for the Dec. 6 Mirage card are $60 and $35, and tickets for the Dec. 7 card at Texas Station are $50 and $25.

■ JEG GETS LICENSE – The Nevada Athletic Commission granted Justice Entertainment Group’s boxing division a license Thursday, and the company hopes to have its first Las Vegas card in the first quarter of 2013.

“We can now move forward with signing fighters and lining up dates,” JEG president and chief executive officer Daren Libonati said. “We’re hoping to bring competitive, quality cards at affordable prices for local fight fans to see the stars of the future.”

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

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