By Jake Donovan
The fight which Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. craved as his first for 2013 was an all-Boricua showdown with Juan Manuel Lopez.
He instead gets to watch his countryman return to the ring on Saturday night following an 11-month absence, which takes place in Puerto Rico. Shortly thereafter, Vazquez Jr. will resume training for his next fight – which takes place halfway around the world.
The former 122 lb. titlist and second-generation prizefighter is slated to return to the ring on April 6, as part of Top Rank’s long discussed plans to stage a card in Macao, China.
“My promoter set me up on an undercard on April 6,” Vazquez Jr. (22-2-1, 19KO) confirmed to Boxingscene.com. “I’ve been training for a few months. I was supposed to fight early this year and then in February, but they couldn’t find an opponent.”
An opponent hasn’t yet been secured for Vazquez Jr’s trip overseas, though his handlers are confident the date will come up without a hitch.
“There is a strong possibility of (Vazquez Jr.) being part of the Top Rank April 6 show in Macao,” stated co-promoter Felix ‘Tutico’ Zabala. “He will be defending his WBO (super bantamweight) International belt.”
Vazquez Jr. last fought in Oct. 2012, scoring a dramatic 7th round knockout of Jonathan Oquendo in his native Puerto Rico. The win is just his second in his last four fights, a stretch that has included losses to Nonito Donaire (12-round split decision last February) and Jorge Arce (12th round stoppage loss in May 2011).
Despite the stretch of bad luck, Vazquez Jr. remains confident of a career revival.
“I still feel that I’m one of the best at 122 lb,” insists the fighter, just now entering his 7th year in the pro ranks afer virtually no amateur experience. “The last two fights I lost are to a top fighter and a future Hall of Famer. That’s why I feel the way I feel. I entered the pros to only fight the best, not just to get paid by fighting (stiffs). I would like a rematch with Nonito. I want to fight only the best. I want to prove that I deserve the best.”
He hoped to prove it against Lopez, though a disagreement over the weight at which they would meet ultimately killed the fight. So now he sets his sights on a potential Asia debut.
“I like fighting in Florida and Puerto Rico but I like going to other places where people recognize me when I’m not in my hometown,” Vazquez Jr. admits. “The real thrill for me is when I’m the underdog fighting outside of Puerto Rico, and everyone knows who I am.”
The April 6 show in Macao will be headlined by flyweight champion Brian Viloria in a unified title defense against Juan Francisco Estrada.
Viloria (32-3, 19KO) is coming off of back-to-back career years, including a thrilling 10th round knockout of Tyson Marquez last November in Los Angeles. The same show saw Estrada (22-2, 18KO) march through hell to give unbeaten Roman Gonzalez the fight of his life before falling short via unanimous decision in a 12-round bout that made the rounds during awards season.
Also showcased on the card will be the debut of China’s own Zou Shiming, who has captured Olympic Gold in the past two Olympic Games, including the 2008 competition in Beijing.
Jake Donovan is the Boxingscene.com Managing Editor, Records Keeper for Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox