By Ryan Maquiñana
Southern California-based manager Frank Espinoza spoke with BoxingScene.com Monday morning on a variety of topics involving his talented stable of fighters, from Daniel Ponce de Leon’s upcoming fight with Jhonny Gonzalez, Abner Mares’s November matchup with Anselmo Moreno, Oscar Valdez’s promotional situation, and more.
BoxingScene.com: Daniel Ponce de Leon fights for a piece of the featherweight title Saturday. Can you give us an update on him?
Frank Espinoza: Ponce is ready to go. He did about two months of training at Big Bear and he’s finally back with an opportunity to be a world champion again. Jhonny Gonzalez is a very good fighter. He can box. He has a good left hook to the body. He can do a lot of things, so Ponce had to take his training seriously.
BoxingScene.com: One of your former clients, the now retired Israel Vazquez, once trailed Gonzalez before coming back to win by stoppage. Have you given Daniel any advice given your past experience?
Frank Espinoza: Yeah, definitely. We looked at the tape from that fight a lot, as well as the other ones. We’re looking for the knockout here, and we expect a great fight.
BoxingScene.com: Luis Ramos had an impressive stoppage win over Noe Bolanos last weekend, and he seemed to hint that he would be staying at 140 pounds. What’s the plan for him?
Frank Espinoza: As you can see, it’s been a busy month so far. Luis looked great, I have Ponce going this week, and then on September 21st, I have Joet Gonzalez at Chumash [Casino]. I’m also seeing what’s next for Ronny Rios.
Anyway, on Luis, we’re going to sit down and discuss that because we want to make sure we make the right decision. We’ll fight at 140, but if he can still make 135, that’s what we’re going to do. He still ate and drank something before the weigh-in, so we have to see if he’s a true 135-pounder.
BoxingScene.com: You recently signed Robert Rodriguez, which was a surprise to some. What caught your attention?
Frank Espinoza: It was his knockout win over Fernando Carcamo. Carcamo had just knocked out Fidel Maldonado, and when Robert knocked him out as the underdog, I wanted that kid. He’s a slick boxer but he can punch, too.
He also has a big amateur background of about 200 bouts, and that’s what I look for. Not everyone can make that adjustment to the pros, but he’s a got a pro style. I’m going to have him on an October 4th card at the Orange County Fairgrounds.
BoxingScene.com: Speaking of making that adjustment to the pros, you also just signed Mexican Olympian Oscar Valdez, who we recently spoke to here on BoxingScene. What’s his promotional status?
Frank Espinoza: We have three big offers right now, and we’re just weighing our options. Of course, the money is important, but we’re especially looking at the way they plan to build him both through his matchmaking and how they push him on TV.
After the Olympics, Oscar really gained the support of the Mexican press, and he performed so well that he didn’t leave a bad taste even though he lost in what I—and a lot of the press down there—thought was a robbery.
He has great pro potential, and I think the promoters know that, too. We’re hoping to make our final decision in the next week.
BoxingScene.com: Another former Mexican Olympian, Abner Mares, is defending his junior featherweight belt against Anselmo Moreno in November. How deep into training is he right now?
Frank Espinoza: Abner is in for a tough fight, no doubt about it, and he’s already started. That’s the thing about Abner. It’s always 110 percent with him when it’s time to prepare. Styles make fights, and Moreno is a counterpuncher. He waits on you to make mistakes. But I think Abner’s been tested with all kinds of styles, and he’ll be ready for the type of fight Moreno will bring.
Oh, I also have Antonio Orozco on the card. He’ll be fighting on Showtime Extreme, so that will be good exposure for him, too.
BoxingScene.com: I know you don’t want to look past Moreno, but what do you think about a unification bout with Nonito Donaire afterward if he gets by Toshiaki Nishioka? Will you and/or Abner attend that fight in Carson next month?
Frank Espinoza: I’m not sure if Abner will be too deep in his training by that time, but I’m certainly going to go. These are the fights we’re looking for. We want Donaire, Nishioka, and hopefully, after getting by Moreno, that’s the fight we’d like next. These are the fights that the fans want to see next. I know for a fact Abner’s up for it.
The media also has to have a big part in putting pressure on the promoters to make these fights. There’s a short window for fighters, and we want to take advantage of it. I’d love to see a Donaire-Abner Mares fight and I’ll do everything in my power on behalf of Abner. I’ve talked with [Donaire’s manager] Cameron Dunkin, and we both love this fight. He’s up for it, too. If it makes money, it makes sense.
Ryan Maquiñana writes a weekly boxing column for CSNBayArea.com. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Ratings Panel for Ring Magazine. E-mail him at [email protected], check out his blog at Norcalboxing.net, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.