Golden Boy boss de la Hoya wants Zurdo Ramirez in a world title fight against Badou Jack in Vegas or overseas in early 2024

LOS ANGELES — Gilberto 'Zurdo' Ramirez has returned to training and Golden Boy Promotions want to maneuver him into a world championship for his next fight, according to promoter Oscar de la Hoya.

"He's right back in the gym and he wants a world title in his next fight," de la Hoya told ProBox TV on Thursday. "He's focused again."

We last saw Zurdo headlining a catchweight bout at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas earlier in the month. He beat Joe Smith Jr. over 10 rounds in a fight that elevated Zurdo as a contender at cruiserweight.

"He feels very comfortable and, surprisingly enough, he looked like a middleweight or a welterweight in the ring because of the way he was gliding, and the way he was moving his body, and the footwork," said de la Hoya, marveling at what he feels is a skillset not often seen at 200-pounds.

"I mean, it was incredible. It was amazing," de la Hoya added. "I was very, very happy for him because you can see the focus in his eye, you can see that he's back."

The three ringside judges all scored the fight 99-91 but the fight felt a touch closer on ProBox TV's unofficial scorecard, though Zurdo was the rightful winner.

We asked de la Hoya about that, and whether Smith could have had greater success had the fight been scheduled for 12 rounds rather than 10.

"It was a good fight … a good, close fight," de la Hoya said. "The one he was dictating the pace in.

"Joe did land a lot of bombs and he stood up to those," he added. "It was a terrific fight but, regardless of 10 or 12 rounds, [the result would have been the same]."

As for what's next, de la Hoya and Golden Boy want to target the WBC champion Badou Jack.

Ramirez is not currently ranked by the WBC, however, before Smith lost to Zurdo, the American was 15th at 200-pounds. Per the WBC website, the rankings haven't updated since last month and are yet to include the Mexican.

"We're discussing early 2024" for his return, de la Hoya said. "We're discussing that with his team. We're looking forward to those negotiations. And looking forward to hopefully fighting him for a world title.

"I do like Badu Jack" as the opponent, he said.

As for location, it could be in Los Angeles, Las Vegas where the Smith fight was, or somewhere overseas like Abu Dhabi — where Zurdo fought Dmitry Bivol.

"I do like the Badou Jack fight for Zurdo … it's a fight that is very, very intriguing to me."