New York: Ricardo Jimenez is not a household name to many. But to those in the sport of boxing he was known and that good guy publicist who shined and made more than one Latino fighter well known. Sadly, yesterday, we were informed of his passing at the age of 62 at his home in the Los Angeles area.
You saw Ricardo at ringside and at the press conferences. You needed to get access to the fighters and he made it easier. A sports journalist at first and then got the call to work with Top Rank and promoter Bob Arum.
In 2000, Arum recruited Jimenez to help promote the top Hispanic fighters in the company and to assist with the Univision and Direct TV Latin America boxing series. It was fifteen years at Top Rank and the list of fighters are extensive.
Erik Morales, Jose Luis Castillo, Antonio Margarito, Juan Manuel Marquez, and so many more that are inductees in the International Boxing Hall of Fame. And there was Miguel Cotto the first four division champion from Puerto Rico.
Cotto, all of them. They admired and appreciated the work ethic. They became names with the help of Jimenez and the respected publicity staff that has always been a key part of the Top Rank promotion all of these years.
There is sadness at the Top Rank offices in Las Vegas as they prepare for another ESPN boxing card this Saturday, in the COVID era of boxing, at the MGM Grand Bubble on the strip.
They, and the boxing community are feeling the loss of a good guy. And in boxing that good guy image is hard to find. Just a few years ago, Jimenez was part of a turnover in staff at Top Rank and took his talents to Los Angeles. It was a budget move and there were no grudges,
Jimenez always looked at his Top Rank career as more than a job. They were family to him. He was family to longtime Top Rank publicist Lee Samuels who was also reassigned to a role as boxing coordinator. They worked side by side.
“Best friend, best PR (Publicist) partner,” Samuels said Monday morning. “Did so much in the world of boxing publicity, loved his two daughters very much. Kind, considerate, one of the great ones you meet in life.”
Because there is a human side to all of this, even though working in the boxing business is a task and to promote the best interest of a fighter, there was always room to talk about the family. The wife, children and grandkids were always on the table for conversation.
The two bonded the first day on assignment as they tended to fighters. They dined together, traveled many miles on the road where the fight game took them. But the goal was always to promote the fighters in the Top Rank stable, a majority of Latino descent.
So in the boxing community, those in particular who worked with Ricardo Jimenez are feeling this loss.
There were the four fights, Marquez and eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao. Ricardo Jimenez worked them all. He was side-by-side with Miguel Cotto, the young and rising Top Rank prospect from Puerto Rico who became a Hall of Famer.
At the initial presser, in New York for that fourth Pacquiao-Marquez fight, Jimenez received the request. This writer needed to go one-one-one with Marquez. Waiting patiently and outside of the media scrum, Ricardo Jimenez waved his hand.
It was an interview that is chronicled on You-Tube. The few minutes of time and all because Ricardo Jimenez was there doing his job and making sure it was done. It was a Latino fighter and Jimenez was there if a translation was needed.
Cotto, at first could not speak a word of English. Ricardo Jimenez guided him. Soon, Cotto got more comfortable. Jimenez was always there to arrange the interviews with thousands of media members. He was there to make sure we were all accommodated and got the interview.
It happened because Cotto, and most if not all the Top Rank fighters, were in demand. Cotto, said at one time, Ricardo was his guide.
The work was appreciated. He was called the best “PR Man” in the sports business by Telefutura and Univision Sports anchor Ricardo Celis in a Hispanic Wire Monitor monthly newsletter.
In 2007, Jimenez was awarded the Marvin Kohn Good Guy Award by the Boxing Writers Association of America. He was inducted into the WBC International Hall of Fame in Los Angeles, California in 2015.
“I am so sad to learn of the passing away of such a dear member of the boxing community,” commented WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman. “Ricardo Jimenez. May he Rest In Peace . Our condolences to his family and all his many friends who will dearly miss him.”
And there was another side. Years back at another Cotto presser in New York. Yours truly took an aspiring and young Latino fighter to the Garden. Jimenez greeted him and granted the wish.
The youngster, 17 at the time, met Cotto. It was all that spur of the moment thing and Ricardo Jimenez went beyond the protocols to grant that young man his gift.
He wanted young people to succeed in the sport. He took the young man to the side and said, “Keep training hard. One day you could be the next Miguel Cotto.”
Years later, that fighter had a few bouts but never made it to the top. But, always Ricardo Jimenez would ask what happened to that young man. He was a fighter that got lost in the shuffle of this difficult and tough sport of boxing.
But Ricardo Jimenez never got lost in the shuffle. He was that good guy. He will be missed. The few and good publicists in the business are surviving as boxing promoters have gone a different route with social media.
Ricardo Jimenez, he adapted to the change. And until his last days made sure the upcoming Latino fighters and champions got the respect and recognition they deserved. Ringside and the pressers will be different without him.
Rest In Peace my friend. Condolences to his family and those who had the pleasure of working and knowing Ricardo Jimenez.
Comment: Ring786@aol.com Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso
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