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Forgotten Champions: Mando Ramos


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While fighting, Mando Ramos was a popular figure, especially among Mexican-Americans, but as soon as he stopped fighting, his name and achievements quickly faded into oblivion. This two-time and once undisputed lightweight world champion had a fine career, but it ended on a bad note and unravelled after a brutal ko defeat to Chango Carmona. Ramos started his career early and so ended it early, at the age of 27. He had both knockout power and good boxing skills and was tough and had plenty of heart. In his time, he was the youngest lightweight world champion in history. It was his love for the night life that however didn't go well with his boxing career and caused him to burn out too soon and lose his prime at the age of 24.


Born Armando Ramos 15 November 1948 in Long Beach, California, he soon became affectionately known as Mando. Standing 5'9 he was tall for a lightweight and would eventually end his career as a light middleweight. He had a good but short amateur career and turned pro just 3 days after turning 17, 18 November 1965. He at first fought as a featherweight and super featherweight and won 17 of his first fights, 11 by ko, before losing to Kang Il Suh of South Korea by UD10 in 1967. The veteran Suh closed strong to earn the decision in a competitive fight and also staggered Ramos with a hard blow to the chin in the last round. Later that same year, Ramos again lost, this time to Frankie Crawford of Ireland; Crawford opened a nasty cut on him in round 2 and Mando was having trouble with the blood throughout the fight, eventually losing by majority decision. He had a rematch with Crawford in February '68 and this time fought a perfect fight to win by a shutout. One judge gave him all the 10 rounds and Crawford only got one round from the other two. After defeating two-time world champion Hiroshi Kobayashi by UD10, despite getting knocked down once, on 27 September he fought against world champion Carlos Teo Cruz, who had taken the world titles in a big upset against Carlos Ortiz. Ramos was again cut early and had trouble with the bleeding, but came on strong in the late rounds and cut Cruz in the 13th over the left eye. He tried to score a late stoppage but Cruz stood his ground and was awarded a close unanimous decision. They had a rematch 18 February in L.A. and this time Mando was the one that drew first blood when he opened an ugly gash over the champion's left eye in round 8. It was so bad the fight had to be stopped in round 11. And thus, Mando Ramos at age of 20 became the youngest world lightweight champion and one of the youngest ever.


In his first defense he impressively knocked out Yoshiaki Numata in 6 rounds, decking him once in round 5 and three times in round 6. However, already in his second defense he would experience bitter defeat and yet again, due to a cut. Ismael Laguna of Panama was his opponent at Sports Arena in Los Angeles, 3 March 1970. Laguna's jabs opened a cut on Ramos already after the first round, but his handlers were able to stem the flow of blood. Ramos had the better of the action in the first 5 rounds but in the 9th, Laguna's jabs again opened a cut, this time on the right eye of Ramos and the fight got stopped in that round. Ramos' manager Jackie McCoy said:"He couldn't see very well out of his left eye and when he got cut over the right eye, I decided it would be best to get him out of there. He's just 21 years old and I figured we'll get him next time." Ramos faced the man who shared his last name, Sugar Ramos of Cuba, in his comeback bout. Once again, Mando suffered a bad cut early on, in round 3, but came back and won the middle rounds before Sugar took the 7th, 8th and 9th. Mando closed strong in the 10th and final round to earn a split decision. He then took on his old sparring partner and rival, Raul Rojas, who did some trashtalking before the fight, saying that he used to destroy Ramos in sparring for nothing and now he would get paid to do it. It didn't go that way however, and after a strong start by Rojas, Mando took control in round 3 and knocked him out in round 6 with a left hook to the head. After outpointing Ruben Navarro in a close fight, he signed to fight the best Spanish lightweight ever, Pedro Carrasco, for the WBC title. Carrasco had an incredible record of 102-1-2 and was fighting at home in Madrid, even though the WBC title was vacant. It was 5 November 1971 when Mando became a victim of hometown refereeing after knocking Carrasco out with a left hook in round 12, after previously having him down three times. The referee judged the ko punch to be illegal and awarded the disqualification victory to home favorite Carrasco.


Because of the controversy, a rematch was mandated and held in USA this time, L.A. of course, 18 February 1972. It was a close fight where Carrasco piled up a lead in the early going, but Ramos came back and hurt Carrasco in the 13th with a left hook and then landed a right cross which made Carrasco lose his balance. In the end, the fight went the distance and Ramos was again the world champion by a split decision. Carrasco claimed the decision was unfair and that Ramos had not hit him with one good punch. Mando said Carrasco didn't hurt him at all but that he was a terrific boxer and was willing to fight him again. He mentioned that he would first like to fight Chango Carmona. The third match again happened in Madrid on 28 June but this time there was no controversy and again, Ramos won by SD15. He put Carrasco down in the first and second round and cut him on the eyebrow in the second. Otherwise, it was a very entertaining fight. The fans booed the decision but the Spanish boxing writers agreed Ramos deserved to win. It was then time for Chango Carmona. Carmona had a record of 49-10-2 but was a fearsome puncher and brawler. It was 15 September 1972 at Memorial Coliseum in L.A. when Ramos found himself an easy target for Carmona's punches and was unable to shake him off. In round 4, Carmona first bloodied Mando's nose with a stiff left and then sent him down with a right to the jaw. Ramos was down twice in round 5 from body blows and came back to outbox Carmona in round 7, but Carmona again took charge in round 8 and sent the champion down for the fourth time with a left hook, before ending the fight with a barrage on the ropes. It was the worst beating and loss of his career.


It seems that his wild partying lifestyle had taken a toll on him, since Carmona was someone he was supposed to beat with his superior boxing skills. Carmona was later destroyed in his first defense by Rodolfo Gonzalez. Ramos also lost his next fight by stoppage, against Arturo Pineda, 9 August '73. It was again an eye injury that led to Ramos being clubbed into submission in 5 rounds. "What's the use in going on? When your time comes, it comes, and there's nothing you can do about it. I worked like hell for this fight and I tried to make up for my lack of dedication before, but it was just too late", a disenchanted Ramos said after the fight. But he kept on fighting, returning to the ring less than a year later, in May 1974, drawing against Slovak-Austrian Jaroslav Travnik in Vienna. He was no longer the same man and he fought between welterweight and light middleweight for the rest of his career, getting easily blown out by such no names as Wolfgang Ganz (KO2 and TKO5) and finally Wayne Beale, TKO2, in October 1975, which was his last fight. Mando Ramos retired far from the same man he had once been, with a record of 37 wins, 23 by ko, 11 losses and 1 draw.


He was one of the most popular prizefighters in his time, not least because of his good looks and charm. Many celebrities came to watch him fight and he earned as much as 100 K per night sometimes. He trained for a comeback at the age of 30, but suffered a series of heart attacks and had to have a pacemaker. He also became sober after drinking most of his youth, after checking into a rehab clinic. He passed away 6 July 2008 in San Pedro, California, aged 59. He was inducted into the California boxing hall of fame that same year. In 2005, he appeared in the boxing documentary called The Distance. Mando Ramos was an outstanding fighter but his tendency to cut and his lifestyle prevented him from truly fulfilling his talent. He was able to outbox most of his opponents without getting hit, but they say because of his power he preferred to duke it out. May he rest in peace.

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Re: Forgotten Champions: Mando Ramos


--- Boz, I think you meant 11 Losses, not wins for his final record, easily edited.


It was also my understanding he was a bit punch drunk and combative later in life. Nonetheless, he's a Cali boxing legend, so props for your write up!

WTF?? What foot did you get up on this morning? :laugh: I didn't write 11 wins! Thanks anyway. :tea:

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