By Jake Donovan
Boxeo Telemundo is enjoying its best run in years, and the biggest name in its lineup is still a month away from making his appearance on the series.
Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. headlines the September 20 edition, which kicks off the third four-episode season of 2013, a new format adopted by the network which has reaped major dividends. ‘Boxeo Telemundo’ ranked number one among all boxing series this past summer, its ratings – an average of 342,000 viewers per telecast - pulling in audiences 155 percent greater than that on TV Azteca and well over 400 percent higher than Golden Boy’s 'Televisa on Fox Deportes' series.
“It was a risk to go from month to month, to four episodes at a time every three months, but the fans have responded,” commented Felix ‘Tuto’ Zabala, whose All-Star Boxing company is the primary content provider for the long running series.
The final four episodes of the 2013 season kick off with the September 20 show at the Kissimmee Civic Center in Kissimmee, Florida.
Vazquez Jr. (22-3-1, 19KO), a former 122 lb. titlist, returns to the series where he cut his pro teeth, returning to Central Florida as he faces unbeaten Guillermo Avila. Also appearing on the show will be his younger brother, Israel Vazquez (7-0, 5KO). Both are trained by their father, former three-division world champion Wilfredo Vazquez Sr.
The remaining three dates of the season will take place: September 27 at Salon Jose Cuervo in Mexico City; October 4 at A La Carte Pavilion in Tampa; and then back to Salon Jose Cuervo in Mexico City for the season finale on October 11.
The final episode of the season comes one night before Orlando Cruz, a series regular who appeared this past March, fights for his first world title. The opportunity comes on October 12 versus Orlando Salido on HBO PPV.
Cruz’ past four bouts have appeared on Telemundo, though ironically the highest rated show of the season was one in which he was originally scheduled but scratched at the 11th hour. The featherweight contender was to appear on the June 28 edition in Kissimmee, but pulled due to a combination of failure to find a suitable opponent and not wanting to risk injury and lose his Oct. 12 title shot.
The June 28 show also didn’t feature Joan Guzman, who was scheduled all the way up until the point when he couldn’t make weight for his eventually canceled 140 lb. vacant title fight with Vicente Mosquera. The show went on, as Mosquera faced late sub Cosme Rivera. The fans remained attached, with the show generating more than 470,000 viewers, the most watched episode of the 2013 season.
The expectations are for that mark to be surpassed on September 20, when Vazquez Jr. – a loser in three of his past five contests – returns home. The second generation Puerto Rican boxer makes his first appearance on the series since 2009, and fights at the Civic Center for the first time since Oct. ’10, when he stopped Ivan Hernandez in eleven rounds for his final successful 122 lb. title defense.
“I’m thrilled to bring Papito Vazquez back to Kissimmee,” exclaims Zabala, who also promoted Vazquez Sr. during his heyday in the 1980’s and 1990’s. “The ‘Boxeo Telemundo’ series has been well received this year and we’re looking forward to a record-breaking finish with these four shows.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox