By Francisco Salazar
As Juan Carlos Burgos walked out of the ring following his 12 round unanimous decision loss to Hozumi Hasegawa on November 26th, 2010, some wondered if he would even get another opportunity at a world featherweight title.
Some wondered if he would even stay relevant in boxing or return to the anonymity of fighting in Mexico.
Burgos entered the Hasegawa bout unbeaten in 25 fights, but had beaten modest opposition. The loss to the popular Japanese fighter did force Burgos to go back to the end of the featherweight contender line.
When would he get that opportunity to have that breakthrough fight again?
Fast forward to almost a year and three fights later. Burgos stood across the ring from then-unbeaten and favored Luis Cruz. After 10 action-filled rounds, Burgos won a hard-fought 10 round majority decision.
Burgos may not have been a known commodity to casual fight fans, but he did show that he could rebound from a disappointing loss and return to relevance in a talented featherweight division.
Burgos will have another crack at a world title belt, only this time he is moving up to 130 pounds to challenge Roman Martinez this Saturday night at the Theatre at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The bout will be one of the three televised fights on an HBO “Boxing After Dark” telecast.
Although Burgos pulled off the victory over the highly-regarded Cruz, the Tijuana resident still had two fights against relevant contenders. Burgos survived a ninth round knockdown to defeat Cristobal Cruz by unanimous decision over 10 rounds on February 24th.
In his last bout on July 20th, Burgos stopped Cesar Vazquez in the third round of a scheduled 10 round bout. Vazquez entered the bout unbeaten at 25-0.
Just one day shy of six months since the Vazquez fight, Burgos will step inside the ring against a fighter who may have crowd support in attendance. However, the soft-spoken Burgos believes his hard work will get him that elusive world title belt that he has desired.
“I’m very physically and mentally prepared for this fight,” Burgos told BoxingScene.com over the phone on Wednesday. “I’m very motivated for this fight and I’m eager to become the first Mexican to win a world title in 2013.”
Burgos (30-1, 20 KOs) may not be as fast or possess devastating one-punch knockout power. However, Burgos knows how to box and he has improved steadily in the last couple of years.
While the Burgos of late 2010 came up short in his quest for a world title, he credits learning a great deal from that fight.
As the saying goes, one learns more in defeat than when they win. The saying does apply to Burgos, who counts the valuable lessons learned in his fight with Hasegawa.
“It was a tough loss for me and it was early in my career,” said Burgos, who was one month shy of turning 23 when he faced Hasegawa. “I was not as mature as a fighter as I am now. This is the right moment and I am more than ready compared to when I first fought for a title. I had that added and unwanted pressure because I was undefeated then. Now, I feel very confident because of what I learned and my preparation for this fight.”
Burgos, who is promoted by Thompson Boxing, understands that he is in a tough fight with Martinez. The bout is seen as an even match up as each fighter has only one loss on their records and their styles compliment one another very well.
Martinez is coming off a 12 round split-decision victory over Miguel Beltran Jr. on September 15th in Las Vegas. Beltran controlled the action in the first half of the fight, while Beltran came on strong in the second half.
Whether Martinez wants to trade punches with Burgos as he did against Beltran or box the Mexican, Burgos is ready for anything that the Puerto Rican will bring.
“I know that he is a strong fighter, a warrior like all Puerto Ricans. He comes forward and he throws a lot of punches. I think that my height, reach, and lateral movements will give me an advantage. If I box intelligently or even if he wants to trade, I know I will get the better of the exchanges.”
As if winning a world title belt is not motivation enough, Burgos will have his uncle in spirit by his side. Victor Burgos was a world title holder who after losing to Vic Darchinyan on March 3rd, 2007, suffered a blood clot and was in an induced coma.
Whether it is words or actions, Juan Carlos Burgos is grateful for any advice handed to him by his uncle. Comforting as they are, Burgos carries his uncle’s words in and out of the ring, crediting them with getting to where he is now.
“He has given me a great deal of confidence. Even when I would see him train, his dedication to the sport rubbed off on me. It is this motivation that I know will give me that world title that I have sought for so long.”
While some fighters never get that second chance to fight for a world title, let alone one, Burgos is eager to make history for himself and his country. Humbled by his upbringing to the loss he suffered against Hasegawa, one can not help but pull for Burgos to win on Saturday night.
Opportunity knocked on Burgos’ door and he was able to answer. Closing the door that was his loss to Hasegawa will hopefully translate to opening the door of winning that elusive world title.