Jose Ramirez claimed the vacant World Boxing council super lightweight world title Saturday with a 12-round unanimous decision over fellow American Amir Imam.
Ramirez, a 2012 Olympian, remained unbeaten, taking his record to 22-0 with 16 wins inside the distance as he captured the title vacated by Terence Crawford when he moved up to welterweight.
"Man, it's a dream come true," said California's Ramirez, who gained the decision by scores of 115-113, 117-111 and 120-108 -- the last not reflecting the back and forth action on display at the Hulu theater inside Madison Square Garden.
But Ramirez was clearly in control in the latter rounds, hurting Imam with a right in the 10th. Imam's right eye was swelling shut in the 11th, and Ramirez came out firing in the 12th, although the knockout eluded him.
"You can tell in the last championship rounds that I was having a great time," Ramirez said. "Amir Imam is a great fighter and he came well prepared and he made a great fight."
The bout saw Hall of Fame 86-year-old promoters Don King and Bob Arum renew their decades-old rivalry.
Top Rank boss Arum promotes Ramirez while King promotes Imam, a 27-year-old New Yorker who fell to 21-2 and saw a run of three straight victories end.
It was the first fight in which Arum and King fighters faced each other since March 2011, when Puerto Rico's Miguel Cotto kept his World Boxing Association super welterweight world title with a 12th-round stoppage of Nicaragua's Ricardo Mayorga.