Reyes vs. Ramirez: Boxing's Unlikeliest Rivalry By SecondsOut, special to Doghouse Boxing (July 31, 2012) Doghouse Boxing
By SecondsOut.com on Doghouse Boxing. By Derek Bonnett: In the weeks ahead world boxing fans will have the
opportunity watch the planet’s best amateur pugilists battle it out over
three rounds in search of gold medal dreams. There’s something purer
about an Olympic boxers intentions when you know he or, for the first
time in 2012, she is fighting for pride and country and that
breathtaking view from the medal podium as opposed to cash.
So far, bantamweights Joseph Diaz Jr. (USA), John Joe Nevin
(Ireland), and Oscar Valdez (Mexico) have really caught my attention.
Lightweights Felix Verdejo (Puerto Rico) and Jose Ramirez (USA) also
standout. Middleweight Terrell Gausha (USA) produced one of the most
dramatic Olympic wins for his country since David Reid stopped Alfredo
Duvergel to claim gold at 156 pounds in the 1996 Atlanta games. And
still, today only marks day three of the competition and many more bouts
with competitors from all over the world are yet to come.
One fantasy (besides being magically reduced to my former
featherweight physique to represent the USA in London) which has
dominated the workings of my brain as I watch the Olympics this year has
been matching current American professionals to each weight class to
comprise a boxing version of the Dream Team. Imagine what a lean Eddie
Chambers could do in the heavyweight field or what Peter Quillin could
produce at 165? I would have to make Adrien Broner a strong gold medal
favorite even at 141 pounds. My fun continued down until the
professional flyweight ranks where I once again selected Brian Viloria
to represent the USA as he had in the 2000 Sydney games. However,
filling the 108 pound class for my Olympic Dream Team provided a greater
struggle and that’s when I discovered Yosigey Ramirez and Edwin Reyes.
According to Boxrec, they are the only American light flyweight and
minimumweight we have.
As I dug further, I discovered a greater diversion than my fantasy
boxing Dream Team; I discovered my next article. You see, Ramirez and
Reyes are both unbeaten in their professional careers, but they are also
without a victory. The oddity of their professional campaigns intrigued
me as a fan and advocate for boxing’s lightest weight classes. Ramirez
and Reyes have in fact fought each other twice, but neither man has been
able to establish himself as anything more than even to his foe. At
0-0-2, the diminutive prizefighters have set themselves up for one of
the most unique boxing trilogies I can ponder.
The two debuted in April on the untelevised portion of the Albert
Mensah-Michael Katsidis undercard. Their rematch took place earlier this
month on the undercard of Anthony Mundine-Bronco McKart. These Las
Vegas residents share more than just the eight rounds they traded
leather. They share the burden of being small in a country which rarely
embraces boxers under the lightweight division.
Nine years ago, Reyes, 24, came to the USA from Guatemala, a small
country in Central America. Aside from his size, this also presented a
problem to his development as a fighter.
"Being a Guatemalan citizen and not a USA citizen means a lot because
[it] kept me away from national tournaments," Reyes explained. "Those
were the only places where I could find people in my weight class and
get more experience so by the time that I become pro I would be ready.
There isn’t a big story to my amateur experience since I didn’t started
when I was a kid like most fighters do. I got into boxing back in 2009.
Unfortunately, that was a barrier that killed some of my goals, but not
Yosigey (pronounced Yo-see-hey) Ramirez, 22, has lived in the USA for
the last twenty years, but gets his boxing roots from his native
"I got into boxing when I was 18 years old. I only had three amateur
bouts," Ramirez shared. "In my pro-style I like to put pressure on my
opponent, but at the same time out-smart them."
Experience in the sport of boxing is something these two largely owe
to each other due to their common plights. It’s a problem for them with
no easy solution in the USA, but one that would not have existed for
them in their native countries, which have a greater supply of smaller
athletes. Reyes was creative though and he shared an anecdote of how he
discovered his passion for the sweet science.
"I was buying a fishing net at a sport store when I walked by the
boxing equipment and saw some boxing gloves," Reyes recalled. "I
purchased a pair of boxing gloves and started doing some backyard fights
with my friends. They were all bigger than me and I was beating them. I
liked it so I started looking for other people that wanted to fight,
but there wasn’t more people until I found this guy at work that was
going to a boxing gym. He asked me if I wanted to fight and I
immediately said yes. Since I had beaten all those other guys in the
backyard fights, I thought I knew how to fight. We started boxing and he
landed like eight straight punches to my face in less than thirty
seconds. I said to myself, ’Wow this guy knows how to fight’ and I was
very surprised because I thought I knew how to fight."
Like his expectations for his first sparring session in an actual gym, his pro debut did not go the way Reyes had expected.
"My pro debut was with Ramirez and I didn’t get the win as I wanted,"
Reyes elaborated. "The rematch went exactly the same way. I’m not
taking away anything from him; I know he trained hard and tried to win
both of his fights against me. He’s got that kind of style that makes a
good fighter look bad. I’m not saying that I’m a good fighter, it is
just that his style and mine needs more than four rounds to see who is
Having viewed segments of the second bout myself, Ramirez appeared
more able to assert his game plan. His aggression looked the more
effective of the two, but there were pieces of each round missing and
making a clear call would be both impossible and unfair.
"Sincerely, I think I should have a record of 1-0-1 (0)," Ramirez
stated. "My first fight was a draw. I was out of shape. I won my second
bout, no doubt. I was feeling good between the rounds. I was landing
more punches and I was making him miss a lot. I’m interested in a third
bout and I will beat him. I think my jab will make the difference."
Reyes, to no surprise, is equally interested in setting the matter of their rivalry straight.
"[We are] talking about doing a third fight, but this one would be
six rounds," Reyes said. "That would be great because I work really
hard and I believe that in six rounds we would see who has worked the
hardest. [It] won’t be like our recent fights which he gets the first
two rounds and I get the other two. I learned pretty much from our four
round fights I can’t wait. It’s like the amateurs bouts; do what you can
because it’s only four rounds."
Rubber match aside, the two boxers have a lot more on their minds
weighing them down. Even with a win over the other, where does it leave
them? A 1-1-1 light flyweight or strawweight is still going to have
trouble finding homegrown opposition to entice into the ring.
Heavyweights don’t experience this hurdle. Middleweights never have to
look far to find an adversary. Lightweights are plentiful. Boxers under
118 pounds often have to fight outside of their natural weight in order
to remain active and gain experience. The lighter the fighter, the
harder it becomes to match him in the USA.
"Ever since I started boxing, I would watch anyone and it really
didn’t matter their weight," Reyes explained. "In the lighter weight
classes it’s harder to watch because the TV would mostly show big guys. I
like Pacquiao because he’s got speed and a great offense and Mayweather
because of his defense and great boxing skills. I actually wish I was
more of a lightweight or welterweight since there’s more action and as
of now that’s what the people got their eyes on. Their paychecks are
better too. Honestly, I’d get more opportunities to fight since in the
USA there’s not many small fighters."
It’s disappointing to hear a boxer express a lack of satisfaction in
the way he was built, but Reyes is absolutely right in his entire
assessment. Ramirez echoed a similar sentiment, but he was looking for
an even more extreme makeover.
"I have always been a fan of Humberto Gonzalez, Fernando Montiel,
Prince Naseem Hamed, and Ricardo Lopez," Ramirez admitted. "I like
watching lower weight class fights because there’s more action, but I
wish I was a heavyweight!"
The futures of Edwin Reyes and Yosegiy Ramirez are more than
uncertain. The likelihood of them receiving the type of support and
experience they need to develop into two truly world class professionals
is remote. As fate would have it, they relocated to the "Land of
Opportunity", but little did they know that this promise excluded light
flyweights and strawweights. Things would be different for them in
Guatemala and Mexico in terms of boxing. But, alas, it does not cost
anything to dream and both fighters have dreams and hard work as a
foundation to support them for now. It might just be a fantasy promise,
but I will grant the winner of their third encounter, should it happen,
the final spot on my Olympic boxing Dream Team.
"I started dreaming that boxing could be something good, something
that I really liked and wouldn’t get me in any trouble unlike hanging
out with the other guys and going to the clubs," Reyes asserted. "Boxing
was something different, something that could make other people be
proud of me. I started boxing more and leaving the streets more until
one day I decided that boxing could get me a better future, better than
the streets. I hope that one day, with my hard work and dedication, I
could become a world champ, the first one from my country, and change so
many lives like boxing did for me."
There’s an old cliché about good things, which hardly needs
repeating. Here’s to hoping boxing fans in the USA can remember this
aphorism the next time they encounter a lighter weight boxer on network
television. More importantly, let’s hope fans even get the opportunity
to see them.
For further boxing discourse, contact Derek DBO Bonnett on Facebook or at firstname.lastname@example.org.