While many top fighters use social media to get themselves attention, Jose Ramirez is earning his recognition as an activist boxer.

He thinks nothing of swapping his shorts and robe for a tailor made suit and meeting congressman to discuss the water crisis in Central California.

It has made the WBC Super-Lightweight Champion a huge ticket seller in Fresno and fans will flock there on Sunday when he defends against dangerous Jose Zepeda, live on BoxNation.

Ramirez, 26, comes from a farming community in Avenal, 55 miles from Fresno, where the fighter worked with his family. As a teenager Jose worked in the produce fields, through blistering heat and one of the worst droughts in American history. 

Water was in short supply and there has been a running battle between the farming community and the environmentalists, who want to save a species of smelt, a tiny fish.

Ramirez has worked tirelessly for the California Latino Water Coalition, fighting to bring water to the central valley so the farmers and pickers can work.

Many of the farmers will be in the Save Mart Arena when the social warrior makes his second defence against Zepeda, whose only loss in 31 fights came because of a shoulder injury in a WBO Lightweight Title fight against Terry Flanagan.

Zepeda injury

His cards have been billed ‘Fight for Water’ and money from the proceeds has gone to the farmers to help their plight.

The water wars are taking place between farmers and environmentalists in an ongoing dispute over how much each side gets of the precious water.

Decisions are made by government in state capital Sacramento and it is a cause Ramirez will fight as long as it takes.

Unbeaten Ramirez, who won his World Title against Amir Imam last March, knows working the fields in the San Joaquin Valley is harder than fighting any of his 23 opponents.

He laughs when you ask what is tougher, working the fields or boxing? ”When I was 14 and 15, during my high school summers, I worked in the fields, picking fruit.

”I'd be up at 4:30, out on the fields by 6 and we'd pick and load until 4:30. I’d get back to Avenal and go straight to the gym. We'd get 30 minutes for lunch, but it would take us 10 minutes just to get back to our car.

“When I was out there, picking, I was young and I didn't think anything could slow me down. Then it would get to be 105-107 degrees, and we'd be picking bell peppers that don't grow more than two feet high,” he continued.

“I would start the day helping the older ladies, women in their 50s. By the end of the day, with all that bending and stooping, they'd be helping me. Some of these people have been in those fields all their lives.”

Ramirez charity

Before his first defence against Antonio Orozco, he bought a brand new Nissan Sentra car so it could be raffled to help pay for the reconstruction of a church in Avenal.
He is also organising a scholarship fund to help to help poor immigrants get a good education. 

In the build-up to this weekend’s fight he persuaded promoter Bob Arum to donate a percentage of ticket sales to a local cancer institute.

His fight gown and shorts will be auctioned off for another cancer charity. If Ramirez can get from boxing as much as he does for others, it will only bring him good things.