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Friday, November 13, 2020

Yuri Foreman to Return Next Month

Rabbi Yuri Foreman is scheduled to fight Jeremy Ramos on December 5 at the Kentucky Center for  African American Heritage in Louisville. Foreman, who is unquestionably the best Jewish boxer of his generation, will enter the ring for the first time in nearly four years.

Foreman (34-3, 10 KOs) won the WBA junior middleweight championship in 2009. All three of his losses have been to world class competition. He lost his title in 2010 to future Hall of Famer Miguel Cotto when Yuri tore his ACL. He lost to Pawel Wolak just nine months after that devastating injury. In his last fight, on January 13, 2017, he fell to Erislandy Lara. Lara held two junior middleweight belts and was considered a top ten pound-for-pound fighter at the time.

An old maxim is a boxer's punch is the last thing to go. Foreman, who turned 40 years old in August, is a mover not a puncher. Typically the best older fighters resemble Yuri's namesake, George Foreman, who punched like a mule and possessed a chin of granite on his way to capture the heavyweight championship of the world at the age of 45. Yuri doesn't have a style that typically lends itself to success at an advanced age, but these days 40 is the new 30 in boxing. Another Yuri, Yuriorkis Gamboa, relies on quick reflexes but as he pushes 40, he has remained competitive with some of the best in the sport. In December, Gamboa made it into the 12th against a top ten pound-for-pound foe Gervonta Davis, and last Saturday he went the distance with one of boxing's brightest young stars, Devin Haney. 

Jeremy Ramos is a barber that sports a record of 11-9 with 4 KOs. Yet the Puerto Rican native based in Colorado is much better than his record and alternate profession suggest. He's had a Dickensian boxing career thus far. After winning nine of his first ten bouts, he has lost eight of his last ten, including his last three. Recently, Ramos is the type of fighter who does just enough to lose nearly every round close. That's what he did last year against undefeated prospects Alex Rincon and the late Travell Mazion, who tragically died in car accident this summer. Ramos was competitive this summer against Shane Mosley Jr., the son of the legend, though he was shutout on two of the judges' cards.

Ramos, who is 33 years old, has fought against an opponent with a winning record in all but four of his 20 fights. His best win was his last one, a unanimous decision victory in March of 2019 against Neeco Macias. Macias, who was 17-1 at the time, was known for throwing hundreds of punches a round. Ramos sent the Rooster into retirement. In Foreman, Ramos couldn't face a fighter with a style more different than Macias. Macias stood in front of his opponents constantly firing shots without the slightest concern for defense. Foreman is the consummate boxer.  Yuri will try to avoid duplicating the performance of Jamar Freeman, the last pure boxer Ramos fought. In their 2017 clash, Ramos outhustled Freeman, who didn't do much more than offer the occasional jab in losing a unanimous decision to Ramos in Jamar's home state.

In his prime, Foreman would likely box circles around a game Ramos. But, even more than his age, Foreman's inactivity may prohibit him from returning to his peak. Ramos has fought six times with a 21-month layoff sprinkled in since Foreman last participated in a prize fight. In fact, Yuri has fought only three times in the past seven years. But he has been steadily training and has been enrolled in the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association for the past couple of years- something every boxer should do- an indication of his seriousness in returning to the ring. Ramos is a perfect test for Foreman at this stage. Jeremy has only lost to fighters who are a level below world class, so if Yuri wins in impressive fashion, we'll know this comeback is serious. But it won't be easy.

The rabbi and the barber are slated to tussle in an eight round affair.