By Chris Robinson
Anyone can have confidence but to compete at the highest levels of professional boxing you also have to carry with you a certain resilience and stubbornness in order to get past the bumps along the way. The sweet science is a cruel and unforgiving sport and coming back from setbacks and defeat show us the kind of characters that the athletes possess.
With that in mind, it shouldn’t be of surprise to anyone that former title challenger Edison ‘Pantera’ Miranda is as cocky and vocal as ever heading into his bout tonight against Yordanis Despaigne on ESPN's Friday Night Fights.
Miranda faces off with the once-beaten Cuban inside of the Cosmopolitan Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada in a light-heavyweight duel that could push him closer to the brink of obscurity if he is unsuccessful.
Born in Buenaventura, Columbia on January 7th, 1981, Miranda was abandoned by his mother as a newborn and later found himself immersed in a rough life on the streets. Fighting to survive became part of Miranda’s makeup and he later took up the sport of boxing at age fifteen after brief stints doing construction, working on a plantation field, and being a cattle butcher.
He would end up winning four Colombian national titles as he produced an impressive 128-4 record as an amateur. He started out his professional career by knocking out his first five opponents in or near the city of Barranquilla and later arrived to the Dominican Republic with the belief that a trek to the United States would soon follow.
After relocating, Miranda would continue to win but was said to have been caught up in a bad contract that left him nearly homeless and scrapping just to get by. It wasn’t until his arrival to South Florida and his union with Warriors Boxing Promotions in early 2005 that Miranda began to get a taste of his dreams.
He reeled off four straight victories in the span of five months before landing his first high-profile bout, a shot at former title challenger and Guyana native Howard Eastman. It was a memorable encounter, one in which each man was repeatedly rocked, but Miranda weathered the storm and eventually pulled out a dramatic 7th round TKO inside of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
With the victory Miranda secured a shot at then-IBF middleweight champion Arthur Abraham and while he believed his destiny of becoming a champion was just around the corner, to this day ‘Pantera’ has never lifted a belt around his waist despite getting some precious opportunities.
He would end up giving Abraham hell in September of 2006, even breaking the Armenian’s jaw in the 4th round, but the fight was a dogged, sloppy affair that saw Miranda get deducted five points for various fouls. Abraham would escape with a unanimous decision that left Miranda heartbroken.
Three fights later Miranda again found himself in another title eliminator as he faced off with Youngstown, Ohio’s Kelly Pavlik at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee. During the pre-fight lead up to the fight, Miranda had been making threats towards champion Jermain Taylor but inside of the ring he had his hands full with Pavlik as he was systematically broken down and battered in losing a 7th round TKO.
Knockouts over Henry Porras and David Banks followed in Florida and he then found himself with a fight he truly had been craving; a rematch with Abraham at a catch-weight of 166 pounds. But despite starting strong, Miranda was blindsided by a series of sweeping left hooks from Abraham in the 4th as he was dropped three times and finished off towards the end of the stanza.
Miranda resurfaced in May of 2009 and had some derogatory words for American Andre Ward as he attempted to get into the Oakland fighter’s head leading up to their bout. But it was all for naugt as Ward showed serious guile and craft in out boxing and taming Miranda over the course of twelve one-sided rounds.
Miranda’s last televised showcase took place last year on HBO as he attempted to wrestle the IBF super middleweight title from Romanian-born, Canadian transplant Lucian Bute. Miranda’s heavy pre-fight proclamations again fell short as he tasted a viscous uppercut in the third that dropped him and had him in no shape to continue.
Such losses would deter some fighters but Miranda has remained steadfast, hoping that a move up to 175 pounds will lead to another fresh start in his career. Miranda claims to feel great at his new weight class and is now under the tutelage of trainer Noel Carbajal.
During my conversation with Miranda earlier this week I asked him how hard it was to deal with his defeats and whether he feels that people are writing him off.
“There are things that happen in life and they happen for reasons,” he told me. “But my focus is now and what is in the future for me. My best moment is right now because physically I feel the best I have ever felt and I think that’s what is needed before. Now that I have it, this is what is going to make me become a world champion.”
Now 30 years old and having amassed a modest 8-5 record in his last thirteen fights, the buzz surrounding Miranda certainly isn’t what it used to be. But that hasn’t deterred him in the slightest, because, if anything, Edison Miranda has always fought for what is his and that temperament has yet to leave him.
“I was talking about this last night. To be honest, fighters are born, they aren’t made. And this is what I was made for and this is my job, so I have to train and work for a living. This is what I’m here to do.”