LAS VEGAS — Joe Smith wanted his catchweight bout against Gilberto Ramirez to be fought over 10 rounds, rather than 12, and it may have cost him the win Saturday at the swanky Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas venue as Zurdo fended off his late rally to scoop the decision win.
"I'm back," Zurdo Ramirez told ProBox TV and other reporters at a huddle by the ring. "Of course, I'm back."
The Chelsea theater has witnessed modern boxing history unfold itself again and again at the Cosmo as Hector Luis Garcia upset Chris Colbert, Frank Martin dominated Michel Rivera, and Robert Meriwether III — one of Floyd Mayweather's young proteges — made his American debut here in the last 18 months alone.
But what Zurdo and Smith provided was something different as they came together for an edge-of-the-seat thriller — a barnburner that felt closer than how the three judges scored it.
Ramirez looked solid at the weight compared to the more sluggish Smith, and lasered a straight left in the very first round as if to let his opponent know that he was indeed 'The Golden Southpaw.'
His evasive maneuvering was far more effective at the start of the fight than it was later, because when Smith had Zurdo on the ropes in the first few rounds it was like he did very little when he was actually there, with Ramirez weaving and pivoting into safety.
Smith had his moments in the middle stretch of the bout as the 34-year-old caught Ramirez clean with a sweet right hand to the chin.
So much of the activity came from 'Zurdo,' though, and so it was easy to see him continuing to bank the rounds.
That was, until, the fourth round. Though Smith continued to miss with wide hooks that Ramirez could see coming, he ended up landing a heavy shot that shook Ramirez to the core for the first clear Smith round.
Zurdo showed exemplary combination punching and uppercuts to regain the momentum in the sixth before Smith again landed something significant to get the attention of the pro-Ramirez crowd.
Smith rallied late in the fight and, if it were scheduled for 12, would have had a greater shot at reducing the gap on the scorecards — if not closing it.
Sporting bruises around his face, Zurdo happily spoke to ProBox TV and other reporters to the side of the ring, and said he wants a rematch against Dmitry Bivol — who he lost by decision to last year — a fight against fellow Mexican boxer Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez, and a cruiserweight world title.
"Of course [I want a Bivol rematch," Zurdo said. "He hurt my ego! I think he will come up [to cruiserweight] eventually."
Answering a question about a fight with Canelo who, in previous years, expressed a willingness to move to cruiserweight for the right fight, Zurdo said: "Two Mexicans in the ring together — it would be a war."
Finishing, he said: "I want anyone. All the champions. I want to be a cruiserweight world champion."