Gilberto Ramirez is perhaps the ideal Top Rank fighter for its new ESPN deal.
The super-middleweight world champion from Mazatlan, Mexico, has leading-man looks, is interested in fighting any man near his weight class and could use the burst of exposure that comes with fighting on the network.
"I'm very excited to put on a good show on ESPN," the 26-year-old Ramirez (36-0, 24 knockouts) said of Saturday night's World Boxing Organization 168-pound title defense against Ghana's Habib Ahmed (25-0-1, 17 KOs). "It's the first show of the year. I'm in the main event. That's very motivating."
The live card, which also includes a super-flyweight title defense by Jerwin Ancajas of the Philippines and the return of former elite prospect Jose Benavidez from a gunshot wound to the leg, begins from Corpus Christi, Texas, at 6 p.m. Pacific on ESPN News.
"Everybody will now finally see 'Zurdo' Ramirez," the southpaw said. "I take this fight very seriously. I want to win every single round. I want to take his head off."
Ramirez participates in a division that could use some attention. Beyond him, another interesting champion is Benavidez's kid brother, David, who defends his World Boxing Council belt Feb. 17 in Las Vegas in a rematch with Ronald Gavril.
Ramirez believes he can lure Gennady Golovkin to 168 pounds should Golovkin defeat Canelo Alvarez on May 5 in Las Vegas. But Golovkin has expressed more interest in completely unifying the middleweight division.
"I'll take this step first, take it step by step — I'd like to fight four times this year," Ramirez said. "Fighting Triple-G is possible, because I think he will move to 168 at some point.
"Canelo? He's too short."