By Keith Idec
NEW YORK — Salvador Sanchez II will wear the trunks and robe Saturday night at Madison Square Garden that his legendary uncle wore during his final fight at the Garden 30 years ago.
Salvador Sanchez, widely viewed as one of the most promising boxers in the history of the sport at the time of his tragic death, stopped future star Azumah Nelson in the 15th round of his last fight on July 21, 1982 at the Garden. Sanchez, who was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1991, died in a car accident Aug. 12, 1982, in Mexico. He was 23.
Thirty years later, his nephew, also a featherweight, will oppose highly touted Puerto Rican prospect Jayson Velez (19-0, 14 KOs) in a 10-round fight on the Miguel Cotto-Austin Trout undercard at the Garden. Showtime will televise the Velez-Sanchez bout as part of a telecast scheduled to start at 9 p.m. ET.
“I’m 100 percent,” Sanchez said. “I’m ready. It’s a great honor for me to be here Saturday night, 30 years after my great uncle fought. … I’m taking this victory Saturday. It’s a great honor also that I’ll be wearing the clothing that my uncle wore in his last fight at Madison Square Garden.”
Mexico’s Sanchez, 27, has won 11 straight fights since settling for an eight-round draw with Hector Morales (11-5-2, 4 KOs) in October 2010. Most of those wins have come against pedestrian opposition, though, and the 24-year-old Velez, who’s represented by Cotto’s promotional company, is considered a top prospect.
“I want to thank Cotto personally because he has helped me a lot,” Velez said. “I’m prepared. I’m ready. I’m happy to be in this great arena, this legendary arena. … I just want to say to my opponent, I won’t fight against a uniform. It’s a great honor for him [to wear his uncle’s trunks], and it’s a great honor to me to fight a great Mexican warrior. But I won’t fight against a uniform. I will fight against a guy who is wearing the uniform. I am ready. I will win.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.