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LEMOORE — The WBC champion Jose Ramirez was present at Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino on Saturday where he signed posters and took photos with fans during a free meet-and-greet.

Fans lined up in the lobby of the hotel eagerly waiting to meet the Avenal native. Many brought their own shirts and posters for him to sign.

Ramirez appeared in a slim white T-shirt with the word “King” embroidered on the left and sported a white hat which read “Campeón” — Spanish for champion — and paired them with a pair of white and gold pearl Dolce & Gabbana sneakers.

He took time to speak with every fan and answered any questions they had about his career and next fight. He not only signed multiple items for fans, but also took multiple photos with them. There were handshakes and hugs exchanged along with memories for a lifetime.

One fan told him, “You smell good,” after taking a photo and another presented him with a bottle of wine. The smiles and fun time were shared by everyone.

It was his final appearance before heading off to Texas for what he called the biggest fight of his life.

Ramirez (24-0, 16 KOs) will face Maurice Hooker (26-0-3, 17 KOs) in a WBO and WBC world super lightweight unification bout at College Park Center in Arlington, Texas on Saturday. The fight will be streamed on DAZN, the subscription video streaming service.

“It’s been a long 10 weeks training and we’re more than ready,” Ramirez said. “It’s a life-changing fight for my career, for my family, for myself. I’m definitely approaching this fight with everything I have and I’m very motivated to get it done and come back with two world titles and be the unified champion of the world.”

Hooker, who stands at 5 feet 11 inches, has an 80-inch reach — almost eight inches more than Ramirez’s 72 and a half-inch reach — and has never lost a fight. He’s had three draws with his last one coming in 2016, but he’s won five fights in a row since. His last fight was a unanimous decision in March of this year.

“He’s a long fighter he’s started to use his range properly and keeping the distance,” Ramirez said. “It’s going to be my job to try to close that distance and take control of the fight.”

Hooker, a Dallas native, will also have the advantage of fighting on his home turf, but it doesn’t deter Ramirez.

“I’m excited to be able to showcase my talent in a different venue with different fans, so I’m looking forward to that,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez enters the ring after earning a majority decision against Jose Zepeda at the Save Mart Center earlier this year in February.

This is Ramirez’s fourth camp and third fight with trainer Robert Garcia. He said the chemistry continues to grow between the two and Garcia pushes him as a fighter whenever he learns something new about him.

“This is the camp that I put in the most sparring rounds than ever before,” Ramirez said. “I believe we did over 100 rounds of sparring for this camp. There’s no doubt that I’m ready.”

Last week he finished with 25 rounds and said his legs felt fresh and he feels good physically and mentally. He added that he’s not nervous and ready knowing the sacrifices he’s made are going to pay off.

“I know that I’m ready,” Ramirez said. “Now it’s just time to make weight and then jump in that ring and showcase my talent.”

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Noe Garcia can be reached at (559) 583-2431 or ngarcia@hanfordsentinel.com. Follow Noe on Twitter at @noecarlosgarcia.

Sports Reporter

Sports reporter for The Sentinel

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