By Francisco Salazar
When you look at super bantamweight Efrain Esquivias, the 29 year old does not have the athleticism some fighters possess. Nor does he have a huge entourage that climb into the ring with him before he fights.
The fact that Esquivias has a loss on his record may suggest to some people that he is a pretender than a contender that maybe he is “not as good” as some people made him out to be.
Esquivias has heard it all before, even in his days as an amateur growing up in the Los Angeles suburb of Carson. Whether one thinks about him a certain way is probably different than what he thinks, even when he is rebounding from a loss.
“I know that I will get my opportunity to win a world title.”
Esquivias is thinking big and will fight for that opportunity when he fights unbeaten Jhonaton Romero at the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez, CA on Friday night.
The scheduled 12 round bout will headline a “ShoBox: The New Generation” card that will be presented by Gary Shaw Promotions and Thompson Boxing Promotions.
Esquivias, a former National Golden Gloves bantamweight champion in 2006, lost a close eight round majority decision loss to Rico Ramos on June 23rd. Both fighters had their moments throughout the back and forth action, but two judges thought Ramos did more in the fight.
Esquivias could have rebounded from the defeat with a bout against a “safer” opponent. However, when the opportunity rose to fight Romero on a premier network, the 29 year old could pass up the opportunity.
“I was born for these moments to fight in these types of fights.”
Ironically, Romero (21-0, 12 KOs) was to fight Ramos on June 23rd, but had to withdraw from the fight when he injured his hand during his last fight; a one-sided eight round unanimous decision over Adolfo Landeros on May 11th.
Although Romero will have a significant height and reach advantage when he steps inside the ring against Esquivias on Friday night, Esquivias is confident he will be victorious against Romero.
“We worked hard during training camp and got good sparring in,” Esquivias said during a recent telephone call with Boxingscene.com. “We noticed that he likes to fight with his hands up and fights a straight-up style. We’re going to attack that body from the first round.”
Fight fans in Southern California have gotten to know Esquivias well throughout his five-year pro career. He has not fought outside of California as a pro, with all but one of those bouts in Southern California.
Esquivias has also gotten press for having sparred with current super bantamweight world title holder Abner Mares and newly-crowned featherweight world title holder Daniel Ponce De Leon. Esquivias stated that he has gained a great of experience, but with that knowledge has come at a price.
“I learned a great deal sparring with Abner and Ponce De Leon,” said Esquivias, who is promoted by Thompson Boxing Promotions. “When I sparred Abner, it was when he fought as a bantamweight. Now that he is fighting at 122 pounds, we don’t spar anymore because we’re in the same weight class. Maybe down the line, there will be an opportunity to fight each other.”
Esquivias expects a war against Romero. The Colombian-born Romero was in a war of sorts against Chris Avalos in December at the Chumash Casino Resort in December, where he won a disputed 10 round split decision.
An admitted slow starter, Esquivias believes that Romero is tailor-made for his style.
“I know that I start off slow, but I have two more rounds to play with as it’s a 12 round fight (Romero-Esquivias is an IBF eliminator). I plan on being aggressive and trying to take him out every round. I’m going to look for the knockout.”
That is a pretty bold statement, considering Esquivias has nine knockouts in his 16 victories. His last knockout victory was a third round stoppage victory over John Alberto Molina in March of last year, which was five fights ago.
However, with so much on the line and with a worldwide audience tuning in, Esquivias wants to make a statement that he should be considered one of the best fighters at 122 pounds.
“A victory gets me a possible shot against the IBF title holder, which is Nonito (Donaire). That’s what we’re shooting for and why I’ve been working so hard. To get that opportunity.”
“I know that loss against Ramos was tough, but I got over it. The loss motivated me to work more and a lot harder in the gym. Friday night is my time to make a statement. It’s my time.”
Although Romero may have physical advantages, Esquivias may have the psychological edge of having a loss on his record. As if he does not work as hard as he already does in the gym, he has stepped it up for this fight.
Whereas Romero may or may not utilize those advantages, never count out someone who will give it his all and attempt to get it done as best he can. That is Esquivias’ motto and it has mostly worked for him thus far in his career.
When people have told him it could not be done, Esquivias has worked hard to prove people otherwise. Then again, that is Esquivias for you. Shorter is stature, but displaying a big heart in the ring.