Two-time Olympic gold medalist Ramirez loses pro debut

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Two-time Olympic gold medalist Robeisy Ramirez was knocked down seconds into the first round and lost his professional debut to Adan Gonzales on Saturday night.

Ramirez suffered a stunning split decision defeat at Temple’s Liacouras Center, a crushing start for one of boxing’s prized prospects. Gonzales won 40-35 and 39-36 on two scorecards and one judge scored the bout 38-37 for Ramirez.

The 25-year-old Ramirez won gold in two weight classes fighting for Cuba in the 2012 London Olympics and 2016 Rio Games. He defected from Cuba last year and signed a promotional deal with Top Rank.

Gonzales (5-2-2, 2 KOs) knocked down Ramirez with a left hook within 20 seconds of the first round and Ramirez never rallied to mount serious offense in the four-round bout.

Ramirez backed up his flyweight gold medal from the 2012 London Olympics by moving up in weight and winning perhaps the most talented division in the Rio Games.

The victory in the bantamweight tournament capped a cycle of redemption for Ramirez, who was kicked off the Cuban national team in 2014 for repeatedly neglecting his training. He then failed to receive a first-round bye in Rio, forcing him to take a long road through a talented bracket and he defeated New Jersey’s Shakur Stevenson to win gold.

Ramirez walked to the ring Saturday night waving American and Cuban flags and had the crowd firmly behind him.

“He’s just another man,” Gonzales said. “When they announced a split decision, I knew I better have won that fight or something would have been seriously wrong. I attacked him from the start and I got the win.”