I say, why not?
USA Wrestling posted their 57 KG preview (by Craig Sesker) in which he highlights the top competitors who will be vying for the World’s lightest freestyle title. This is a weight class the USA has had a lot of success in – well sort of, since the weight class used to be 55 KG.
The field features a lot of guys who have shared the top (or near the top) over the past four years like Iran’s Hassan Rahimi who is last year’s World champion, Russia’s Viktor Lebedev was the World champion in 2010/11, and the 2012 Olympic silver medalist in Vladimir Khinchagashvili of Georgia. The list goes on and on, until Sesker mentions Tony Ramos, who’s only freestyle credit prior to 2014 was placing 5th at the Junior World Tournament in 2009.
So why in the world would we believe that Tony actually has a legitimate shot against at bringing home any sort of medal from Uzbekistan when there are so many past World champions and runner-ups in his bracket? Well, for starters Tony’s wins over a few American’s actually gives him a bit of credibility. Let’s start with his win over 2013 World 5th place finisher Angel Escobedo:
This win really put him on the map for fans outside of Iowa. Escobedo had been dealing with injuries this summer, but the way Ramos was able to grind out a tough victory over a former World 5th place finisher showed that he can immediately come in and push to be a guy in the mix for the medal. Ramos on his win over Escobedo, “To me I knew I could and can beat anyone who steps across the line from me so it didn’t do much for me. But for the fans, it showed them that I am a contender and much better than they assumed.”
Not only was it a tough grind it out victory, it also shows that no matter how hard the former World place winner tried, he could never get on Tony’s legs. Something that has frustrated multiple opponents this summer. In that same interview Tony had this to say about opponents trying to score on him, “My defense had already been great. That’s what made me so confident in my offense is that I knew no one can score on me. You may get there but you won’t finish.”
I really feel like that is the case and point of Ramos’ medal chances next month. He is a man who knows that he has a phenomenal leg attack, and he is also confident in that even if you manage to get to his legs, you aren’t going to score. To strengthen that point let’s watch his matches with 2012 Olympian Sam Hazewinkel:
In the first match you see Ramos score off a counter on Hazewinkel at the 1:30 mark (also, how funny was it at the beginning of the match they said the stare down probably didn’t effect Hazewinkel, yet in the second match we see him avoid it?), and in the second match Ramos scores on another counter (4:15 mark). Watching him able to fend off attacks from guys with a lot of international experience is a good sign.
The final note is on Japan’s University World champion Fimitake Morishita who is currently the #4 ranked wrestler at his weight. We saw Morishita give McDonough a tough match at University World’s, a match McDonough had a real good chance of winning. If you work under the assumption that the guy who makes your World Team is better than the guy who makes your University Team, Ramos should be right there with the #4 guy in the World right now.
Putting all of that together I see no reason why Ramos can’t bring home some sort of medal, but rest assured he won’t be satisfied unless he is the last man standing at this weight.
Date of competition: Monday, Sept. 9