Unbeaten Puerto Rican challenger Alberto Machado hopes to inspire the suffering people of his hurricane-hit homeland Saturday when he fights Panama’s Jezreel Corrales for the World Boxing Association super featherweight crown.
Puerto Rico is struggling to recover one month after Hurricane Maria ripped through the Caribbean island, leaving 44 people dead. Clean water remains scarce for much of the population and 81 percent of the island is still without electricity.
The people of Puerto Rico have been in the thoughts of Machado, 18-0 with 15 knockouts, as he prepares for his first world title bout in a showdown of southpaws at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York.
“All of this training is for the people of Puerto Rico, who I know will come out of recent events strong,” Machado said.
Machado, 27, is working with veteran trainer Freddie Roach.
“He prepares me and gives me the confidence necessary to be successful,” Machado said. “His experience working in world title fights, along with the work in the gym, will be the key to winning this fight. I'm ready for Corrales.
"The first time I came to train with Freddie Roach was with Miguel [Cotto]. This time I'm alone in training camp, which has been a completely different experience. We are preparing for a 12-round fight, and we have been making adjustments based on my last fight against Morales in August and looking at Corrales as well as his fighting style."
Corrales, 26, is 22-1 with eight knockouts and hasn’t lost in eight years. He has undertaken morning and evening runs around daily training sessions in the ring.
“I will arrive in the best shape of my life,” Corrales said. “A victory would allow me to keep my world title and to retain my status as one of the best in my division.”
Corrales makes his third defense of the title he took by knockout from Japan’s Takashi Uchiyama 18 months ago in Tokyo.
Since then, Corrales decisioned Uchiyama in a Tokyo rematch last December and downed Mexico’s Robinson Castellanos in July at Los Angeles.