LEMOORE — Circle Nov. 9 on your calendars. Jose Ramirez is holding a homecoming. The Avenal native will make his Central Valley pro boxing debut that night at Golden Eagle Arena on the campus of West Hills College Lemoore.
Ramirez, 21, is a light welterweight boxer from a family of farmworkers who earned a spot on the 2012 U.S. Olympic team. After going 1-1 in London, he turned pro in December 2012 under the management of Las Vegas-based Top Rank Boxing.
As a pro, he has a 5-0 record with four KOs heading into a fight Sept. 28 at the Stubhub Center in Carson.
Ramirez’s JCR Promotions is co-promoter of the fight along with Top Rank, Ramirez said.
“This is one of the reasons I signed with Top Rank, is they allowed me to have two fights a year wherever I want,” Ramirez said on Wednesday. “It’s a very big honor to showcase my talent here. ... There are some people who have only seen me on TV who will now get to see me as a pro.”
It’s also the largest event to take place at the college’s arena, which was opened in 2011. In addition to classes, college wrestling matches and women’s basketball games, the arena has hosted speeches by former first lady Barbara Bush and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
“The promoters wanted to use our venue for a local’s boxer’s homecoming,” said West Hills College Lemoore President Don Warkentin. “We were happy to do so.”
Ramirez spoke to the college’s men’s soccer teams on Tuesday.
“We’re very excited,” said Warkentin. “I met him for the first time (Tuesday). He’s very nice, very gentle and very sincere.”
The fight will also put the college, and Kings County, in the national TV spotlight. The fight will be the main event on the Unimas network’s Tecate Solo Boxeo program.
The first pro boxing card in Kings County since October 2010 has been about seven months in the making, according to Ramirez’s manager, Rick Mirigian.
“Nothing is impossible to me, I think anything can be done from an event standpoint and have proven that before, so I knew this had a serious chance to happen, just knew it would be hard,” Mirigian said in an email.
“It was important to me that our Central Valley be part of this journey, so when he turned pro and before he ever threw a single punch, I discussed with Top Rank about allowing rights for our Valley superstar to fight twice a year and co-promote with JCR no matter what in our Valley for the next five years,” Mirigian said. “Given I was a promoter and had a background in large events and in doing them and additionally his fan base being built here, that wish was granted. So there is a lot of things to look forward to in the future, it’s important for the Valley to come out and support this super fight and show the boxing world how big of a fan base fighting has out here.”
Ramirez’s opponent, and the makeup of the rest of the “Fight for Water” card, has yet to be determined. The event will also highlight the efforts of the Latino Water Coalition to get funding for new dams.
Tickets priced at $20, $25, $55, $125 and $2,000 for VIP tables will go on sale Sept. 16. Tickets can be purchased at the Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino gift shop, at www.tachipalace.com, or by calling 1-866-4PALACE.
The Palace, which hosted the last pro fights in the county Oct. 7, 2010, will be the center of much of the pre-fight activity, Mirigian said.
Those events will include a news conference featuring Top Rank CEO Bob Arum on Nov. 7 as well as weigh-ins and pre-and post-fight activities. Mirigian added there will be shuttles running between the hotel and the campus every 20 minutes.
The sports editor can be reached at 583-2430 or rdegive@HanfordSentinel.com.