CASA GRANDE — At 18, most people are just graduating high school, a senior prom still visible in the rearview mirror. Those things are true for Jesus Ramos, but unlike other 18-year-olds working a typical summer job, he’s headed to Las Vegas this weekend to fight in a pro boxing match.

On Sunday, Ramos will fight on a Premier Boxing Champions undercard televised live on Fox from the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

“I think it’s a fighter’s dream to fight in Las Vegas,” Ramos told PinalCentral during a training session at Ramos Boxing Academy on Tuesday. “It’s a big city; it’s the City of Lights; it’s where all the big fights happen.”

Ramos (9-0, 9 KOs) is scheduled to battle Kevin Shacks (3-3-3, 3 KOs) at a catchweight of 144 pounds.

A little more than a year ago, Ramos was 17 and still an amateur. In the United States, typically a fighter can’t turn pro until 18. So Ramos started his pro career May 26, 2018, in Mexico with a TKO over Luis Romero just across the border in Agua Prieta, Sonora.

Since then, Ramos reeled off seven more knockouts in Mexico and then did the same in his first pro fight in the United States on April 27 at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix. In that fight, he knocked out Seifullah Jihad Wise with a shot to the liver 40 seconds into the first round.

Born and raised in Casa Grande, Ramos is the nephew of pro boxer Abel Ramos, and he is trained by his father, Jesus Ramos Sr.

He has signed a five-year contract with boxing kingpin Al Haymon, where Haymon will act as his adviser. Haymon managed Floyd Mayweather Jr. and represents many other big names in boxing, including Manny Pacquiao, Deontay Wilder and Errol Spence Jr.

Ramos, a welterweight (147 pounds), is skilled beyond his years. Training with his father at Ramos Boxing Academy, and sparring with his uncle and other pro fighters, has prepared him well to be a professional, even at such a young age.

“He’s hungry. He’s got the talent,” said Abel Ramos, a welterweight with a record of 24-3-2 and 18 KOs. “He’s got a big future ahead.”

Staying grounded

While Jesus Ramos is blowing out opponents with ease and fighting on a nationally televised card in Las Vegas already, he knows he can’t get ahead of himself or become overconfident.

It would be easy for any 18-year-old to get a big head about fighting in Las Vegas, a stage like none other in boxing. There’s also a good chance his fight will be seen on TV, although it depends on how quickly the other undercard fights finish.

But while Jesus Ramos said he will enjoy the interviews with Fox and the bright lights of Las Vegas, he can’t let it obscure his true goals.

“It’s hard, it really is (to stay grounded),” he said. “We’re gonna have interviews, all this on Fox. To me, that’s big. It really is. But I sit back and I think, this is not (ultimately) what I want. I’m not there yet. I haven’t made it. I want to become a world champion.

“I want people, when they think of boxing, my name pops up, automatically.”

With his punching power, smile and personality, Jesus Ramos has the requisite traits for stardom. But his father and uncle keep him in check. In fact, his father constantly reminds the 18-year-old prodigy to slow down and stay focused.

“He wanted to get a brand new car already — I said, ‘wait, wait. Maybe in a year or two,’” the elder Ramos said, smiling.

Jesus Ramos Sr. said his son’s career has exploded so quickly, that it’s happening “too fast.” But this is the career the teenager chose, and his dad fully supports him.

Despite Shacks’ .500 record, the Ramos camp is expecting a challenge from Shacks, who had a win and two draws in three bouts against undefeated fighters last year. But after a few rounds of holding the pads for Jesus Ramos on Tuesday, the father was confident about how his son would perform Sunday.

“He’s ready. He’s looking good,” he said. “This is a big fight for him.”

A couple of things stand out about Jesus Ramos’ skills — at 5 feet 11, he is tall for his weight class but can fight inside or outside. And his body punching is incredibly effective; he said he already has three or four knockouts on liver shots.

Jesus Ramos wants to make a name for himself and for Casa Grande, and he said he is inspired by all the messages of support he has received from friends and family.

“They know that I’m doing this for them and I’m doing this for our city,” he said. “I’m trying to show the youngsters here (at the gym) too, that we’re from Casa Grande, and you don’t see a lot of big athletes come out of here, a lot of famous people. But we can change that, and that’s what I’m doing, to inspire them to be great ... anything is possible.”

TV coverage of the fight card, headlined by a super welterweight fight between Jermell Charlo (31-1, 15 KOs) and Jorge Cota (28-3, 25 KOs), begins at 5 p.m., Arizona time, Sunday on Fox.

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