The boxing world witnessed a shocking upset when Adan Gonzales defeated highly-touted prospect, Robeisy Ramirez. Ramirez, a two-time Olympic gold medalist from Cuba, recently signed with Top Rank and was predicted to be a big star. The last two-time gold medalist that Top Rank signed was Vasyl Lomachenko, who is on his way to becoming one of the greatest fighters of his generation. Robeisy’s loss to Adan Gonzales came as a surprise to many, mostly due to the fact that he is relatively unknown in the boxing world. With a record of 5 wins and 2 losses with no knockouts, it seemed that Top Rank picked the perfect opponent to introduce the world to Ramirez. Gonzales had other plans and entered the squared circle looking to be more than just an opponent for a young prospect.
Many boxing outlets could not believe that a two-time gold medalist could suffer a loss to an unknown fighter. I even read an article that stated the loss derailed a potential match up with Shakur Stevenson (Ramirez defeated Stevenson in the 2016 Olympics to claim the gold medal). My reaction was no different from the media outlets as I too was shocked that he was defeated. But, after doing some research, I became more inclined to believe that Ramirez will be okay. As a matter of fact, the pro debut loss could be a great thing for him going forward. Here are just some of the fighters who also lost early in their careers.
“Homicidal Hank” is considered one of the greatest fighters in the history of the sport. He was The Ring Magazine’s “Fighter of the Year” in 1937 and the Boxing Writers Association of America named him “Fighter of the Year” in 1940. The late Bert Sugar, who was widely respected as a boxing historian, ranked him the second greatest fighter of all-time. He held the featherweight, lightweight, and welterweight titles, and defended his welterweight title 19 times. There is no denying that Armstrong was a legend.
How did he do in his pro debut you ask? Well, he was beaten by Al Iovino in 1931. As a matter of fact, he was knocked out in the third round. Surely that was the only loss early in his career, you may be saying. Well, that is further from the truth. After winning his second fight, Armstrong would go on a 3-fight losing streak before starting 12-fight winning streak, proving to the world that he is not only a great champion but a man who can overcome setbacks.
Whether you know him as “The Executioner”, as “The Alien”, or simply as “B-Hop”, one thing we can all agree on is that he has had a fantastic career. Hopkins is the true definition of a living legend because of his phenomenal achievements inside the ring. In 1995, he won the IBF middleweight championship and set a record by defending it 19 times. In 2006 and at 41 years old, he would go on to upset 3-1 favorite Antonio Tarver by winning the Lineal Light Heavyweight Championship. In 2011, Hopkins would break George Foreman’s record when he beat Jean Pascal in becoming the oldest boxer to win a world title.
His pro debut? A majority decision loss to Clinton Mitchell in 1988. Before his pro debut, Hopkins served 5 years in prison for 9 felonies. He is proof that a man is not defined by his mistakes, but he is defined how he learns from them and moves forward.
Known to fans as “The Matrix” and “Hi-Tech” for his breathtaking boxing style, he is considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in boxing today. After a highly decorated amateur career, he would sign to Top Rank and have his pro debut in 2013. The result, an electrifying fourth-round TKO over Jose Ramirez. In his second fight, he would make a huge jump in the competition by facing the rugged veteran Orlando Salido. Although he would put up a valiant effort, he would lose a split decision for the vacant WBO featherweight title. The early loss would not deter him from moving forward, however. He would win a title in his third fight and become a 3-weight division champ in only his 12th fight.
I am sure boxing fans are shaking their heads asking how in the world I can mention Ramirez with these great fighters. The point I am trying to make is that boxing fans and media should not be quick to judge a fighter based on their losses. They should also not write off a fighter simply because they have had a setback in their career. The strength of a person is not measured by their success. It is measured by their willingness to keep going in the presence of setbacks. The fighters that I mentioned suffered losses early in their careers but never once decided to give up. We should give Ramirez the same opportunity to show that he can overcome a setback as well.