Once-beaten super lightweight contender Ramirez looks to rebound from his first career loss, while former Dominican champion Mendez wants to prove he has another title run in him when they meet tomorrow night in the main event of PBC on FS1.
Just like in literature, there are archetypes in boxing. One of the oldest boxing archetypes—the crossroads fight—will unfold when once-beaten contender Eddie Ramirez and veteran former world champion Argenis Mendez meet tomorrow night in a 10-round, 140-pound match at the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi live on FS1 and FOX Deportes (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
Besides being an intriguing clash of styles it shapes up as a true “must-win’’ for both boxers.
When the 25-year-old Ramirez (17-1, 11 KOs) was stopped in one round by veteran Mexican banger Antonio DeMarco last October on the undercard of a Leo Santa Cruz-Abner Mares double bill, the entire career of "El Escorpion" came to a screeching halt—at least temporarily. Four years of continued progress and rounding off of rough edges were left up in the air after Ramirez suffered his first professional loss.
But the Aurora, Illinois native is all-around tenacious and a return to the ring was never in question. His willingness to jump right at a potentially tricky comeback match-up against a former world champ speaks volumes.
“I probably should have clinched more against DeMarco," Ramirez acknowledged. "I’ve spent the past few months working on a lot of technical stuff in camp, like my defense. You’re going to see an improved fighter on May 26. Mendez is a good, game fighter. It’s not going to be easy, so I have to be on my game and 100% ready.”
As a fighter, there's nothing fancy about Ramirez. A blue-collar battler in the truest sense of the term, the 2013 Chicago Golden Gloves champ comes forward and has no hesitation in letting his fists go. His offense is highlighted by a focused and effective body attack that has been the most efficient part of his game since the beginning of his career.
Ramirez's aggressive mindset, however, also makes way for his greatest liability.
Defensive lapses in pursuit of offense make Ramirez vulnerable to counter-punches and his one-round blowout loss at the hands of DeMarco was hardly the first time the young fighter has been touched up by an opponent capitalizing on his technical flaws. Despite having done much in recent fights to tighten up his defense, the nature of who he is and what he likes to do in the ring will always guarantee defense as an afterthought in his overall approach.
Being matched against a sharpshooter like Argenis Mendez (24-5-1, 12 KOs) could present some challenging new life experiences for Ramirez.
The former super featherweight world titlist and 2004 Olympian is an unflappable veteran brimming with experience culled from a long, distinguished amateur career and a deep professional resume.
“ You’re going to see an improved fighter on May 26. Mendez is a good, game fighter. It’s not going to be easy, so I have to be on my game and 100% ready. ” 140-pound contender Eddie Ramirez
Over the course of twelve years as a pro, the Dominican Republic native has been in the ring with high-end fighters such as Rances Barthelemy (twice), Martin Honorio (twice), Juan Carlos Salgado, Cassius Baloyi, Arash Usmanee, Miguel Vazquez, Robert Easter, Luke Campbell, and Ivan Redkach.
Mendez has fast, accurate hands and all-around solid fundamentals to back up his top-notch experience. The issue with the classy technician, however, has always been one of temperament and mindset.
The 31-year-old is calm, cool, and collected to a fault, losing rounds—and sometimes entire fights—with a negative style that allows his opponents to build leads on scorecards while he patiently waits for the perfect potshot opportunity. The inclination to give up entire chunks of a fight has turned the well-schooled Mendez into a gatekeeper figure at this point of his career, only occasionally showing flashes of the kind of proactive style he needs to be consistently successful.
In a high-profile bout, against an inexperienced opponent with a fairly simple style to decipher, the Dominican may feel emboldened to seize control of the fight, following up on the more-aggressive-than-normal showing in his recent victory over Redkach.
"I lost two fights and people started to wonder if I was done, but I'm a former world champion and came back strong to win my last fight," Mendez said.
"Eddie Ramirez is a good fighter, but when I show him my speed power, and skills, everyone is going to see what I'm still capable of. This is a great opportunity to show that I can beat this guy badly and get back to the world championship level."
Mendez can be overwhelmed by swarming aggression and that certainly seems to play into what Ramirez can do best in the ring.
This bout will be a true pick 'em—one where both sides have legitimate and realistic paths to victory.
If Ramirez brings with him the aggression and tightened-up fundamentals he was displaying pre-DeMarco, he should be able to put Mendez into passive mode and grab the biggest win of his career thus far.
But if Mendez can capitalize on Ramirez's technical flaws, creating comfortable pace and space in the ring while building a lead on the scorecards, he'll be on his way to scoring his second straight main stage victory in a career that seemed to be trending steeply downward.
On May 26, the world will see which fighter makes the most of the crossroads opportunity and which is left to pick up the pieces.
For a closer look at Ramirez vs Mendez, check out our fight page.