'Zurdo' appears to be heading down the WBA cruiserweight title path, rather than possible IBF date with Briedis

Gilberto 'Zurdo' Ramirez appears to be heading toward a cruiserweight title opportunity with the WBA, over the vacant IBF belt against Mairis Briedis.

Ramirez, a former super-middleweight world champion, was recently mandated to fight for the IBF title following Jai Opetaia's decision to vacate the strap after his request for a second voluntary defence was rejected in December of 2023.

Opetaia and Matchroom Boxing had wanted Opetaia to have a second voluntary defence of his title against Ellis Zoro on December 23 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which would have featured on the 'Day of Reckoning' card featuring both Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder. 

Opetaia had been ordered to defend his IBF title against Mairis Briedis in a rematch from their July 2022 affair in which the Australian fighter Opetaia dethroned Briedis in a 2022 fight of the year contender.

Opetaia suffered a broken jaw in the contest alongside promotional issues, which saw Opetaia join forces with Matchroom in the summer of 2023 before making his first defence of his title against Jordan Thompson in September.

Opetaia successfully defended his title against Thompson, halting the British challenger in four rounds at the OVO Arena, London. 

Following the parting of the IBF title and Opetaia, the organisation mandated Ramirez and Briedis to contest the vacant title. However, in a sudden change of direction, the WBA confirmed that Ramirez had instead agreed to terms to face their long-reigning but inactive cruiserweight champion, Arsen Goulamirian.

The WBA notification indicates that Goulamirian vs. Ramirez will meet in the ring on March 16 at a location yet to be disclosed. 

Goulamirian has held the WBA title since 2019 following Oleksandr Usyk’s relinquishment of his undisputed and unified world title the following year after the Ukranian proceeded to step up to the heavyweight division.

Despite a title reign spanning over four years, Goulamirian has only defended the title on three occasions and has not fought since November of 2022, in which the WBA belt holder defeated Aleksei Egorov over twelve rounds to claim a unanimous points win in Cannes, France.

Goulamirian had been initially ordered to defend his title against Yunier Dorticos. However, the WBA approved the request from the promotional and managerial handlers of both Goulamirian and Ramirez for the fight between the pair to proceed. Following the contest, the winner has 120 days to defend the WBA title against Dorticos. 

The decision from Ramirez to proceed down the route of the WBA currently leaves Briedis without a mandated opponent to contest the vacant title. At the time of publication, the IBF ratings for January now list Opetaia as the highest-ranked current available contender after Briedis to contest the vacant title. 

No comment from the IBF has been made public in regard to the status of the vacant title in who the organisation wishes to mandate to contest the vacant title with Briedis. 

If the IBF mandates Opetaia to contest the vacant title, the IBF would have come full circle in returning to their original mandated match-up, despite the organisation looking a little silly in their insistence that Opetaia must fight his mandatory challenger, Briedis and the forcing of Opetaia to vacate the IBF crown.