Finishing up training for one of the most critical fights of his boxing career, the Dominican Republic's once-beaten IBF #3-rated Victor "Mermelada" Cayo (20-1, 18 KOs) says he's too strong and too fast to be denied a victory against Washington DC's IBF #4-ranked Lamont Peterson.
The two will meet in a 12-Round IBF Super Lightweight Elimination bout that will serve as the main event on Friday, July 29, at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and live on ESPN Friday Night Fights.
A devoted family man who has dedicated his entire professional life to boxing, Cayo says his lifelong dream of winning a world championship is finally in his grasp and he and the people of his beloved homeland can feel it.
After some final sparring, Cayo sat down to answer a few questions.
You will have been out of the ring nine months by fight time, the longest inactive period of your career. Will ring rust play any role in the fight?
I've been in camp since December of last year. I had the opportunity to fight earlier in the year, but that didn't come about. And then I was supposed to fight in March and go injured, so I've been in the gym nearly the whole time. This inactivity will benefit me in the end because I had time to heal from my injury.
Are you 100% healed from your injury?
Thank god. Yes. I am 100%. I have a great therapy team and I'm ready to go.
Tell me what fighting for and winning a world championship would mean to you.
That's a loaded question. I fight for myself and my family first, but I also fight for my country. Another world champion would be great for Dominican Republic. This is something I've been dreaming about all my life. I've dedicated my entire life to boxing.
Why are you going to win this fight? What's your big advantage?
I'm better prepared than he is. My advantages are that I am faster stronger and smarter than him and I'm a better boxer. That's why I will be victorious.
You came up a little short your last time on the world-class level. What's different this time?
The difference this time is I've matured and learned from my mistakes. I am a better person from the loss to Maidana. Maidana was a dirty fighter. I don't want to make excuses, but he probably hit me behind the head a hundred times. I'm past that now and I'm just a better fighter today than I was last year.
Tell me why you train in Oxnard and how your training went.
I train in Oxnard because this is my home away from home. I've been coming here for three years. You have to come here to be a champion. I have all my coaches here and I have a great team to help me. I also have great sparring. This is a great place and a great environment. This is where I need to be to become a world champion.
Do you get nervous before big fights?
No. I don't get nervous. It's more excited than anything. Once the bell rings, it goes away. I just get really excited, like I am for this fight.
Have the Dominican people reached out to wish you good luck? What would you like to say to them?
I get a lot of support from Dominican fans. They want another world champion. I appreciate the fans very much. They love me. My family and friends call me to keep my spirits up while I'm away from home. I would like to say thank you very much for supporting me.
Also scheduled for the July 29 fight night is a sensational 10-round light heavyweight showdown between Edison "Pantera" Miranda (34-5, 29 KOs) and Yordanis Despaigne (8-1, 4 KOs).
Topping the all-action undercard will be Miami, Florida, via Cuba's undefeated knockout artist Rances "Kid Blast" Barthelemy 12-0 (10 KO's) in an eight-round super featherweight matchup against Kansas City's Gerardo Robles (14-9, 6 KO`s).
In a 10-round battle with a touch of international flavor, Chelyabwsk, Russia's undefeated Sergey Kovalev (15-0, 13 KO`s) will face Nairobi, Kenya's Douglas Otieno (23-6, 12 KO`s) for the NABA Light Heavyweight Championship.
Also featured is a six-round light heavyweight scrap between Las Vegas' (via Sweden) Badou Jack "The Ripper" (6-0, 5 KO`s) and Athens, Georgia's Timothy Hall Jr. (6-11, 4 KO`s); and in a four-round lightweight attraction, popular Las Vegas fighter Cameron Kreal will make his highly anticipated pro debut against fellow Las Vegas resident Franky Martinez (0-3).
In conjunction with Warriors Boxing Promotions and Blue Wave Group, "Fight Nights at The Cosmopolitan" combines the mystique and excitement of legendary Las Vegas boxing matches with a new and socially dynamic experience. Tickets are on sale now and priced at $250 for VIP tables, $150 for ringside seats, $100 for floor seats, $50 for grandstand seating and $20 for general admission tickets and are available for purchase by calling 877-551-7778 or at www.cosmopolitanlasvegas.com.