The wait is over. It took a little longer than expected, but Jose Ramirez will finally return home as a world champion.
Ramirez, the pride of California’s Central Valley, will make the first defense of his WBC super lightweight title against Antonio “Relentless” Orozco on Friday, Sept. 14 at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California. Ramirez was originally scheduled to defend his title at the Save Mart Center on July 7 against Danny O’Connor, but the bout was canceled after O’Connor was hospitalized for severe dehydration before the weigh-in.
Ramirez-Orozco and a soon-to-be announced co-feature will be televised live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes at 10 p.m. ET, with the entire undercard to be streamed at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+— the recently-launched multi-sport, direct-to-consumer subscription streaming service from The Walt Disney Company’s Direct-to-Consumer & International segment in conjunction with ESPN.
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Golden Boy Promotions, tickets to this world championship event, priced at $150 (floor), $90, $60, $35, and $25, plus applicable fees, go on sale Friday, Aug. 3 at 12 p.m. PST. Tickets can be purchased online at ticketmaster.com, charge by phone at 800-745-3000, or at the Save Mart Center box office. For more information and box office hours, visit www.savemartcenter.com.
“We have an undefeated fighter in front of us, and I will get myself prepared to put on a great show,” Ramirez said. “It’s an honor to fight in Fresno, and we owe it to the fans after what happened last time. We’re going to make this show bigger and better. The fans of Fresno and the Central Valley have supported me my entire career, and I am honored to return home to defend the WBC world championship.”
“This will be a signature fight for Jose,” said Bob Arum, Top Rank’s founder and CEO. “Orozco is a very good, undefeated fighter, and we’re looking forward to a spectacular show back in our favorite venue, the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California.”
“My time is now,” Orozco said. “The time for me to become world champion is here, and I will do everything possible to take that world title away from Jose Ramirez. I want to thank my manager Frank Espinoza and Golden Boy Promotions for this opportunity, which I will take full advantage of this September. I know that Ramirez is a tough fighter and that I’ll be fighting on enemy turf. But I’m not worried about that. I have all the experience and the skills to score a great victory and leave the ring with the world title around my waist.”
“Orozco has been a loyal Golden Boy Promotions fighter for years, and we always knew he would fight for a world title,” said Eric Gomez, President of Golden Boy Promotions. “There’s no better way to do it than against a tough champion in Jose Ramirez. This is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate that he is the best in the division, and I’m confident he will walk away world champion when he invades enemy territory on Sept. 14.”
Ramirez (22-0, 16 KOs), beloved in the Central Valley for his commitment to immigrant causes and water rights for area farmers, won the vacant WBC super lightweight title on March 17 in New York City with a hard-fought unanimous decision over Amir Imam.
He earned the title shot with a stunning second-round knockout over the previously undefeated Mike Reed on Nov. 11, 2017 in front of 13,838 fans at the Save Mart Center, which broke the venue’s previous record for a boxing match.
When Ramirez fought Issouf Kinda at the Save Mart Center on Dec. 2, 2016, 13,700 fans turned out for the event dubbed “Fight For Water 6.” A 2012 U.S. Olympian, Ramirez turned pro later that year and soon became one of North America’s top ticket-sellers.
On Oct. 25, 2014, Ramirez knocked out David Rodela in 50 seconds to win the vacant NABF super lightweight title in front of 10,000 fans at the Selland Arena in Fresno.
Orozco (27-0, 17 KOs), ranked the WBC’s No. 3 super lightweight, is a 10-year pro with a résumé that includes standout wins over former world champions and longtime contenders.
In 2014 alone, he defeated former junior lightweight world champion Steve “2 Pounds” Forbes, former title challenger Martin “El Brochas” Honorio, and tough-as-nails veteran Miguel “El Anestesista” Huerta.
On Oct. 3, 2015, as the co-feature to the Viktor “The Iceman” Postol vs. Lucas “La Maquina” Matthysse main event in Carson, California, Orozco won a 10-round unanimous decision over former two-division world champion Humberto “La Zorrita” Soto. In his last bout, March 16 at the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles, Orozco weighed in at the super lightweight limit of 140 pounds and prevailed via eight-round unanimous decision over Honorio in a rematch.