As one of the more decorated and dynamic amateurs in the country and runner up at the 2007 U.S. Championships in 2007, there was no one doubting that Rico Ramos was an exceptionally good boxer. What few predicted though, was that the 125 lb Olympic alternate would turn out to be one of the lone bright spots of an otherwise dismal year for the 2008 U.S. amateur class.
Ramos' amateur career was a solid one, winning the 2007 National PAL championship and finishing second, only behind eventual Olympian Raynell Williams, at the 2007 U.S. Championships in 2007 before falling just short of his goal to go to Beijing as an Olympic representative.
Instead, the Los Angeles native was brought to the Olympic training grounds at Colorado Springs as an alternate for the squad. It was there where he first flirted with the idea of going pro before the games until the decision was all but made for him.
"When they were scheduled to go to Beijing, they decided they weren't going to take any alternates with them so I decided to turn pro in Colorado Springs," recalls Ramos. With the Olympic opportunity past him, Ramos finalized plans to make his debut on a televised card in San Jose, CA on March 20, 2008.
For amateurs making the jump to the professional ranks, the transition can prove difficult. What works with head gear, larger gloves and two minute rounds doesn't always work in the pro game. For Ramos, the switch has been virtually seamless. A pinpoint puncher with exceptional speed, Ramos has a style built more for success at the pro level than the amateurs.
Ramos, who works almost entirely in combinations, which typically aren't aptly rewarded by the international amateur points system, also features something that triple digit amateur fights don't teach; aggressiveness. Many amateur standouts of the last decade, such as Terrance Cauthen, Rocky Juarez and Audley Harrison, have fallen short of expectations in the pro game simply because of a lack of aggressiveness in the ring. For Ramos, moving forward just comes naturally.
"I don't really work on being aggressive, it's natural," said Ramos speaking after his latest win, a third round technical knockout of opponent Alvaro Muro on September 11 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose. "I work on other things like speed and movement. Being aggressive is just something that takes care of itself"
Ramos peppered Muro with frighteningly accurate blows before finishing him with a left hook to the body and a left uppercut in succession, showcasing a Roy Jones-esque body attack and flashy combination punching. "I like to work in combinations, and I thought I was going to get him out with a body shot but then I saw the opening for the uppercut and that's what did it," he said.
Since making the jump and turning pro in March, Ramos has hit the ground running. The 21 year old been perfect in six bouts, fighting at a rate of better than one bout a month and scoring four knockouts in that time. Backed by Goosen-Tutor Promotions, Ramos has had no shortage of opportunities. "I have the Goosens helping me, they are the ones getting me the fights and I just fight whenever they need me to," said Ramos. For Ramos to fulfill his goal for 2009, they'll need to need him a lot. "Next year, I want to have at least 15 [total] fights." With 15 months left between now and January 1, 2010, it's a realistic goal that would put him in the thick of title contention.
Yet despite all his amateur accolades and for all his impressive in-ring showings, notoriety has for the most part avoided Ramos. While other sub-10 fight prospects have garnered significant attention from the fans and media, Ramos hasn't. "It doesn't really bother me," Ramos contends. "I know that if I keep going that I will be mentioned with those guys, it's just a matter of time."
The lack of notice could simply be because he has only fought on television once, when Fox Sports Net picked up the final two rounds of his decision victory over Jonathan Velardez on the James Toney vs. Hasim Rahman rematch broadcast in July and Ramos would like a little more time on the airwaves. "I'm looking for TV time, all the time," he asserted. "I want TV time, but being famous and all the stuff that goes with it, that doesn't matter to me. I just want to fight."
Ramos doesn't have to be too worried about TV dates, and for good reason. Managing him is the famed Al Haymon, 2005 BWAA Manager of the Year and the man behind the scenes of some of the world's best fighters from Vernon Forrest, Jermain Taylor, Andre Berto all the way to Floyd Mayweather Jr. The security blanket of Haymon, who has inroads with nearly every broadcast network in the business, gives Ramos an assurance that as long as he keeps winning, his talents won't go unnoticed for long. "It makes me feel safe, more comfortable and makes me not have to worry about things like that," said the prospect.
After the Olympic Games in Beijing ran their course, Ramos' former teammates in Colorado Springs came home having collectively won a single bronze medal and 0 career victories. Ramos is 6-0 and the decision of U.S. Olympic Team front man Dan Campbell to leave Ramos and the other alternates at home is looking more and more like a blessing in disguise every day as Ramos has a head start on the ultimate prize.
"I want to work my way to a title and win a title," explained Ramos. While that possibility is still in the distant future, the super bantamweight head turner is looking more and more like a fighter that can be counted upon to be in the title mix with every outing. With a whirlwind schedule, an endless array of talent in the ring and dreams of a title, has Ramos been able to take a breath yet? "No," he laughed.