CASA GRANDE — It’s 6:30 in the morning on a June day when the temperature will eventually hit 116 in Casa Grande. Jesus and Abel Ramos lace up their shoes before running around the track at Carr McNatt Park, showing just part of what it takes to be an elite professional boxer.
Jesus and Abel are two of the top fighters in the welterweight division. Abel, 29, (he turns 30 on July 2), is a seasoned veteran with 33 pro fights. He’s ranked the No. 8 welterweight in the world by BoxRec.com.
Jesus, his nephew, is just 20 but is already rocketing up the division toward a possible title shot in the next six to nine months.
Their morning workout and run at Carr McNatt Park is emblematic of their commitment to family, their community and their home. While they have trained in other locations — such as Colorado Springs, Colorado — to quote Dorothy, “There’s no place like home” for Jesus and Abel, and that home is Casa Grande.
“I’ve always said I want to represent Casa Grande, and I want to show the next generation that anything is possible,” said Jesus, 16-0 with 14 knockouts.
Now, Jesus said, amateur boxers are coming to Casa Grande to train with him and Abel. He wants their gym, Ramos Boxing Club, to be a destination for other fighters with big dreams.
It’s all about Team Ramos, which includes not just the fighters but other siblings.
And the conductor of the Team Ramos orchestra is Jesus Ramos Sr., the father of Jesus and the older brother of Abel. He is the guiding hand, inside and outside the ring — the rock that holds everything together.
Jesus Sr. trains Jesus and Abel and works the corner for all their fights. He had an especially busy night May 1, when he worked two fights in the same evening as Jesus and Abel fought on a pay-per-view card at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
It turned out to be a memorable evening for the whole family, with Jesus and Abel scoring resounding victories. Jesus won a unanimous decision over Javier Molina (22-4, 9 KOs), and Abel made former WBC lightweight champ Omar Figueroa (28-2-1, 19 KOs) quit on his stool after Round 6.
“Going into the fight, I felt confident,” said Abel, now 27-4-2 with 21 KOs. “The whole energy of the crowd being back and my family being there, I was just excited to step in the ring and perform ... it was just a fun night overall.”
It was not so fun for Figueroa, who was battered by Abel. Vicious body punches broke down Figueroa, and the TKO win was the icing on the cake for Abel in a performance where all three judges had him ahead 60-54 (six rounds to zero) when the fight was stopped.
Abel, who lost a split decision to Yordenis Ugas in a battle for a WBA title belt last September, said he wants to fight the best boxers in a loaded welterweight division. He specifically mentioned Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter, both ranked as top five welterweights by Ring Magazine.
“I’m training hard even though I don’t have a fight coming up yet. I want to be in shape (for) whenever we get the call,” Abel said. “The best welterweights out there, I want to fight against all of them and give good fights ... Thurman, Porter, Danny Garcia. Those would be the dream fights.”
The Ramos family lives, breathes, eats and sleeps boxing. When Jesus and Abel aren’t working out in the gym, running miles at a city park or up CG Mountain, they are usually watching boxing on TV and studying fights of their opponents.
While watching a couple of his next opponent’s fights at his house Tuesday, Jesus talked about why the family dynamic is critical to his success and that of Team Ramos.
“My team is basically my family, so that allows me to be strong,” he said. “And I trust them. If my uncle says, ‘This is going to work’ and my dad says, ‘This is going to work,’ I trust them and I believe in them, too.”
Jesus already has his next bout lined up, as he will fight Alberto Palmetta (16-1, 12 KOs) on Aug. 7. The Argentine boxer competed in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
While his focus never wavers on the task at hand, Jesus often talks about his lofty goals, wanting to be a champion by the age of 21. He won’t be sidetracked on the way to that goal.
“There’s a lot of prospects out there, and they kind of become a victim of their own talent; they believe in the hype,” he said. “That’s something that’s not happening with me. I’m staying grounded, I’m taking these big fights, and each time I’m learning and improving.”