Former featherweight world champion Ultiminio “Sugar” Ramos, who was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2001, died on Sunday. He was 75.
The WBC, whose title was one that he held, announced the passing of Ramos, who boxed professionally from 1957 to 1972.
He was born in Cuba, turned pro at age 15 and fought there early in his career. But after the Communist revolution and the rise of dictator Fidel Castro, Ramos fled to Mexico, where he fought most of his career and lived in retirement.
On March 21, 1963, the 5-foot-4½ Ramos (55-7-4, 40 KOs), known for a powerful right hand, won the featherweight world title at age 21 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles when he knocked out Davey Moore in the 10th round.
Sadly, however, the aftermath of that bout would long be remembered. Two days after the fight, Moore, whose head hit the bottom rope when he got knocked down and caused a severe brain stem injury, died. Moore was the second boxer to die from injuries in a fight with Ramos. In a 1958 fight in Cuba, Jose Blanco died after losing to Ramos by eighth-round knockout.
Ramos made three successful title defenses, defeating Raifu King by 15-round decision in Mexico City; Mitsunori Seki by sixth-round knockout in Japan; and Floyd Robertson by 15-round split decision, surviving a 13th-round knockdown in the process, in Ghana.
In September 1964, Ramos lost the 126-pound world title by 12th-round knockout to Vicente Saldivar in Mexico City.
Ramos notched five wins in a row following the defeat and was given a shot at lightweight world champion and fellow Hall of Famer Carlos Ortiz in October 1966. It was a highly controversial fight.
Ramos suffered a bad cut over his left eye, leading referee and Hall of Fame former light heavyweight champion Billy Conn to stop the fight and award Ortiz a fifth-round knockout victory. However, with the pro-Ortiz crowd of more than 30,000 going wild, the WBC eventually ordered a rematch and declared the title vacant, asserting that Conn was favoring Ortiz and that the fight should not have been stopped because of the cut.
They met again in July 1967, this time on Ortiz’s home turf in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Ortiz won by fourth-round knockout. It would be the final world title fight for Ramos, who fought nine more times, going 5-3-1.
“We will always remember Ultiminio as a great champion, but even more so, as a wonderful, friendly, genuine and kind man,” WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman said in a statement. “A man of discerning style, always smart and elegant, often rakishly sporting a flamboyant hat, Ultiminio was adored by the people of his adopted country, certainly for his fighting spirit, but also for his unique character, chuckling sense of humor and his love of dancing and fun. He embraced the rhythm and the very essence of life.
“This is the saddest of losses, but the man with the big hands and the larger heart, leaves us with a wonderful legacy of joy and happiness.”