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BOXING: Gilberto Ramirez gaining respect of Mexican boxing fans

Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez is a world-champion boxer from Mexico with movie-star looks.

Sounds familiar. Like Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, right?

Alvarez has for years been Mexico’s most popular active boxer. But Ramirez recently made history by becoming the first from Mexico to win a major world title at super middleweight, taking it from Arthur Abraham via wide decision April 9 in Las Vegas.

With the negative hits Alvarez is currently taking for not fighting mean middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin, the stars might be aligned for a changing of the guard.

Ramirez, a southpaw standing 6-foot-2 1/2, will make the first defense of his belt when he takes on Dominik Britsch (32-2-1, 11 KOs) of Germany underneath the junior welterweight title-unification bout between Terence Crawford and Viktor Postol on July 23 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas (on HBO pay-per-view). During a recent interview, the smile Ramirez wore showed he was still riding the high of his historic victory. Things have changed in Mexico.

“Yeah, I’ve noticed the people,” Ramirez said. “They come up to me, they say how proud they are of me, being one of their own making it, having the historic night of being world champion.

“A lot of people, they’ve been very nice to me. I feel the love, like they did it. I feel like, through me, they were able to become champions.”

Ramirez just turned 25 on June 19, and with a record of 34-0 and 24 knockouts, he’s primed for a superstar run. That’s what he has in mind, so his nose is right back to the grindstone.

“I just train, I get ready for fights, he said. “That’s what I do. I feel it’s the same way now. I want unification fights, I want to fight champions, I want to be the best. This is just the start.”

When Alvarez, 25, defended his WBC middleweight title with a sixth-round knockout of Amir Khan in May in Las Vegas, an emotional Alvarez afterward called out Golovkin and said he would fight Golovkin at the full 160-pound middleweight limit, something Alvarez previously said he wouldn’t do. He had preferred a catch-weight of 155 pounds.

Alvarez went from that challenge to Golovkin in front of a large T-Mobile Arena crowd and HBO audience, to something quite different. First Alvarez gave up his middleweight title because he said he didn’t appreciate the deadline the WBC…

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