Fortunately for 26 year-old former amateur standout Marina Ramirez (2-0) now fighting as a pro, the milestones in her punch for bucks’ career are coming in quick.
Unlike many of her female boxer counterparts, Ramirez has not fought at dingy club shows or buried deep within numerous fight bout cards. Her pro fight debut was on a major event in Australia and her second fight in her adoptive hometown of Las Vegas on a Roy Jones Jr Promotions fight card.
The fact things have started fast for Ramirez doesn’t mean the Midwest native has not paid her dues as well as her family.
“I trained for a year before I had my first amateur fight. We actually drove six hours for my first fight,” Ramirez reminisced. “I fought a girl that was like 120 pounds, it was completely out of my weight class. It was funny because they allowed me to weigh-in with sweats (pants); I weighed in with a bunch of stuff like cheese and little weights in my pockets just so I could make weight just like this girl. I ended up dropping her down in the first round. Ever since then I found this is what I love, this is what I meant to do. My parents drove me six hours just for me to have my first fight.”
Born and raised in Parma, Idaho, just like her parents, Ramirez was always involved with sports but looked for something different when team sports wasn’t demanding enough.
“I always was involved in sports, I did basketball, I did soccer, I played softball, I was always involved in team sports but I wanted to try something that was a little bit different. That was challenging. I told my parents I wanted to box. When I was nine years old I took karate for a little bit. I found myself being really good at it. Always trying to spar the instructor, always thinking I could beat him at 10 years old which is really funny. I did get away from that when I got involved in other sports.”
“I got to the point when I told my parents I wanted to do something different. I want to try something that is challenging. They are big boxing fans and I knew just because of what everybody would say that boxing was the most challenging sport,” she continued. “I wanted to get myself involved and see if it was for me. My mom said if I found a gym she would let me go ahead and train. I kid you not; I went online and found some gyms. I drove thirty minutes every single day to go to train. I started at 16 years old doing this. Even when I was doing other sports like basketball and track, I would go to training after basketball or track practice and then come home and do homework.”
Surprisingly her grandmother was the catalyst for her to even be aware of the sport. A big fan of both Oscar De La Hoya and Julio Cesar Chavez Sr, the matriarch of the family would reunite the family for fight parties which became Marina’s earliest memories of the sport.
“They are my number one fans, they are with me in the front row every single time, they are willing to travel anywhere in the world they can,” Ramirez, a passionate part-time personal trainer by day, says of her family. “They are my absolute number one fans. They have always been the ones to believe in me. That is all it takes, somebody believes in you then you can take it as far as you need it to go. It only takes that one person. That is my parents and also my sister. Also my grandma is a big, big supporter.”
“One of the things I can say about my family is that they have always been involved in my boxing career since the beginning. I started boxing when I was 15 years old and they have been with me all over the U.S.,” Marina explains. “They have been absolutely my number one fans. I started boxing at 15 and at 19 years old I won my first national competition. I was able to go to nationals because of my family supporting me. From there I went to the USAs, I fought the number one girl who was Marlen Esparza, fought her and lost a very close decision. I grew up in Idaho and moved to Las Vegas when I was 19 years old because of that loss.”
Ramirez amassed a 32-7 record in the amateurs with wins at the PALs, Nationals and Golden Gloves tournaments. She scored gold medals at Nationals, won the PAL tournament in 2009 and 2010 while she was ranked #2 in the United States in her weight class for three years running from 2009-2011. Her not being able to participate in the 2012 London Olympics was a sort of turning point for her and her career.
“I had to go up a weight class; I was used to fighting at 106, which is where I was ranked #2 at. The first weight class for the trials was at 112 so I had to jump up a weight class. Fighting a bigger girl, gaining another six pounds, that is quite a bit of weight,” Ramirez speaks on her USA Olympic trials experience. “These girls definitely hit harder, I was fighting girls that were more experienced. In the first competition I fought a girl named Tyrieshia Douglas and I lost by points. Tough, tough girl, she was ranked number two at the time at 112 pounds. I got the luck of the draw to fight her first and it was unfortunate that I got the loss. I had a wonderful experience because I knew I could hang with big girls. I gave it everything I could.”
Marina decided to take a rest after her loss at the trials. Once she regrouped, she decided it was time to take the next step in her career.
“I ended up taking a break, I moved to Sacramento for a job offer of being a boxing trainer there. I ended up taking a break up there and then I decided to get back into it. I decided to come back to Vegas and to train with Mike Newson who is one of the best coaches I have ever trained with. He is amazing, dedicates so much time. I did take a couple of years off but I came to Las Vegas knowing that I wanted to turn pro, I wanted to concentrate in turning pro. I knew I could accomplish a lot in the pros by finding one of the best coaches and that is Mike Newson.”
In June of this year Ramirez made her anticipated debut in the professional ranks but it wasn’t your typical first time. Many times female boxers need to search for months the perfect opportunity to turn pro, find the right opponent and convince a promoter it is a good move to include them on their boxing card. For Marina, it was the opposite, with an Australian promoter coming to her.
“The promoter Lynden Hosking would come out here in Vegas and go to the gyms. We found out he was a promoter and he said he wanted to put me on one of his shows,” she says explaining how her trip down under came about. “He knew I had a lot of heart, he knew I trained hard and was very dedicated. He wanted people to see my talent in Australia. The experience going out there was so amazing it was such a wonderful experience. We got to hang out with kangaroos, we got to meet amazing people, let me tell you about the food. The food was fantastic, food there is even cleaner than here in Las Vegas. It was just delicious, that is one thing I miss the most. It was wonderful experience, got to meet a ton of people, being on Lynden Hosking’s card was such a great event. I fought a girl from Thailand, she was very strong but I just beat her to every punch. I was faster, just timed her and that is how we won the fight. We won every round. I really hope we go out there again. I loved Australia.”
Ramirez defeated Thai fighter Saranyaphong Theinthong in her first fight via unanimous decision. Her second wasn’t any different as far as atmosphere. Back in early September she defeated southpaw Rachel Sazoff with another unanimous decision on the undercard of Steve Claggett’s win over Emmanuel Robles on a CBS Sports televised card from the Downtown Las Vegas Convention Center. The fight card was presented by Roy Jones Jr Promotions.
“It was a very exciting experience knowing I was the first female they have ever promoted. It was such an honor to fight on that card and I am so thankful for the experience and so thankful for them to have me on the card,” Ramirez remembers. “Fighting in front of my family had to be better than fighting in Australia. I had people from California; I had people from Texas, people from Idaho, Oregon, all there just to support me. I even had cousins that drove 17 hours just to see me fight. Just knowing that I had all that support was just such a rush. It was a thrill. There is nothing like fighting in front of family and in front of people that support you so much, have supported me since the beginning and have believed in me since the beginning.”
Her next fight is set for the same venue on November 18th on another Roy Jones Jr card. Ramirez will be facing New York’s Natalie Gonzalez (2-0), another amateur standout who she is somewhat familiar with. “It is a very even fight. I am really excited about this fight because I will be able to showcase my talent a lot more than with the other fighters I have fought before. It is going to force me to work on my speed, work on my countering, work on a lot of movement because she is a lot better than the girls I have fought. I am really excited in fighting this girl.”
Chasing number one
With the resurgence somewhat of female boxing on the airwaves, Ramirez feels it is the perfect moment to get in the mix.
“I think it is the perfect moment. Showtime is bringing female boxing to TV and we deserve this. We work really, really hard, just as hard as the guys. We have Claressa Shields who is going to be fighting on November 19th on the Kovalev and Andre Ward fight and also being televised, but I don’t believe she is going to be on pay-per-view if I remember correctly, but she will be televised on cable TV. We are moving in a positive direction, Heather Hardy is also shown on TV, women’s boxing is coming up and I really hope we can prove we can put on a show just like the men. It is a perfect time for me to get involved.”
Ramirez is looking to stay busy, to fight at least once every couple of months so hopefully soon she gets a shot at what every fighter, male or female, laces up the gloves for, a title shot.
“The number one fighter I have my eye on and I think this is for anybody that is involved in pro boxing is the number one in the weight class and the number one girl in my weight class is out of Mexico and her name is Ibeth ‘Roca’ Zamora and that is who I have my eye on. Not so much anybody else. I just want to focus on what is up next, what opponent my coach wants me to fight next. In regards of my career, at the end the person I am aiming for is that number one girl because at the end of the day you want that belt.”