By Ryan Maquiñana
Rolando Arellano is in the middle of an eventful two weeks. Last Saturday in Humble, Tex., unbeaten super middleweight prospect Marco Antonio Periban (18-0, 12 KOs) stopped Lester Gonzalez (12-7-4, 6 KOs) in the eighth round.
This Saturday, Vicente Escobedo (26-3, 15 KOs) challenges Adrien Broner (23-0, 19 KOs) for the WBO junior lightweight title in Cincinnati, while Pablo Cesar Cano (24-1-1, 19 KOs) meets Johan Perez (15-0-1, 12 KOs) in Cancun for the WBA interim junior welterweight belt.
Arellano spoke to BoxingScene.com about his trio of fighters along with an update on welterweight contender Victor Ortiz (29-4-2, 22 KOs), who is still recovering from his upset loss to Josesito Lopez (30-4, 18 KOs) and has parted ways with trainer Danny Garcia.
BoxingScene.com: Give me your take on Marco Antonio Periban’s performance against Lester Gonzalez last Saturday.
Rolando Arellano: Periban got himself into a good fight. It got a little difficult for him, but he was able to readjust. He stopped [Gonzalez] in the ninth and he’s progressing. I think within the next 12-16 months he’ll be ready for a world title shot. We’ll try to go after the NABF or NABO title in the meantime.
He can crack like a mule. Most of the people he hits go down. And he’s been on the canvas, too, and it serves him good, because it makes him change his tactics, in terms of pulling back with his hands up now. If you don’t make mistakes, then you have nothing to correct.
BoxingScene.com: Speaking of world title shots, you have two fighters getting them this coming weekend.
Rolando Arellano: This week I have two guys fighting. I’m on my way to Cincinnati as we speak for Vicente Escobedo, and Pablo Cesar Cano is fighting in Mexico, both for title belts. Cano’s ready to win that interim belt, and this the fight Vicente’s been waiting for.
BoxingScene.com: Escobedo is coming in as the underdog, but Adrien Broner has been surprisingly less outspoken than normal in the prefight buildup. Is it a new him, or do you think he respects Vicente more as a threat compared with his previous opposition?
Rolando Arellano: One thing Vicente is, is a mature fighter, so the psychological antics or flamboyant nature are not going to work. Vicente’s won and lost big fights, and they’ve made him stronger. He’s 30 years old, and it’s do or die for him. With these younger fighters, they may overlook that. There’s nothing that Broner can do that Vicente hasn’t seen already, and he’s ready.
BoxingScene.com: Broner has shown flashes of brilliance, but what do you think of the quality of his opposition overall? To date, the only beltholder he ever faced, Daniel Ponce De Leon, gave him problems.
Rolando Arellano: Broner’s young, and you don’t want to put a kid like that into the lion’s den quickly, because you might get opposed. So the type of opponents they’ve given him are the correct opponents for his age. I think Vicente is his first major step up, and this is where we determine whether Vicente is going to be the next world champion, or if Broner is this phenomenal fighter that everyone thinks he is.
But the opposition has been mediocre on average, and intentionally, because champions aren’t born. Their hearts and souls are born, but champions are actually made. And they’re made by putting them through adverse situations where they can become stronger and create a new threshold so they can go on the next step.
It’s like a marathon runner, right? You don’t run him 25 miles the first time. You go six miles, and then six miles, then you jump to 10, 12, 17, and so on and so on.
BoxingScene.com: I think that’s an apt comparison, especially in your case because you just completed an Ironman Triathlon if memory serves me correctly.
Rolando Arellano: Right. And once they become a world champion psychologically and people believe you’re the best, guess what? Your body has usually responded that way as well.
BoxingScene.com: Once upon a time, Vicente was being pushed as the next “Golden Boy,” but had a couple setbacks at lightweight. Tell me about the process of reinventing his career at 130 pounds and how he’s been able to claw his way back to a fight like this.
Rolando Arellano: You have a management team that creates strategy, and there were clear tactics here. Look, we knew what his age was. I needed to get maximum exposure in a very short duration. We accomplished that with some good opposition on Univision [affiliate TeleFutura] and I told him, “Once you go through these three fighters, you’ll be ready. I will rank you and we will check-mate the champion.” That’s what we did, and we got Vicente ranked number one in the world.
Looking at Broner’s landscape, he doesn’t have too many places to go in this division, so we created that situation where he didn’t have anywhere to dance with anyone but Vicente.
BoxingScene.com: Can I get an update on Victor Ortiz and his broken jaw?
Rolando Arellano: I saw Victor recently. He had the wires taken off and he’s doing OK.
BoxingScene.com: It was recently reported by our site that Victor and trainer Danny Garcia have split following the loss to Josesito Lopez. Have you guys started talking about a replacement yet?
Rolando Arellano: No, not yet. Victor’s going to be out for a while. I don’t want him thinking about [a new trainer] right now. Once we get closer, rather than jump at one trainer, I think he should go work with a guy for a couple weeks to build a rapport and see if it works out first.
I’m heartbroken Danny’s no longer there. He’s a great trainer, but now Victor’s talking about trust issues, and it’s unfortunate. I know Victor was a little disturbed how things happened, and Danny saw it another way. Danny’s a man’s man, and you have to respect that. Victor and I will definitely have to talk about it when I get back from Cincinnati.
BoxingScene.com: Now that there have been a couple weeks to hash it over, do you find the criticism of Victor’s decision to stop the fight rather than continue to be a valid one?
Rolando Arellano: The way we look at it, people are entitled to their opinions. The question becomes whether or not we validate their opinions. The kid broke his jaw in the sixth round and broke it again in the ninth round. It was continuously bleeding. The doctor says he could’ve bled out the way his jaw broke.
We have to protect the fighter, and unless you’ve been in those circumstances with a broken jaw, and you truly know how it feels, then we really don’t want to hear your opinion. You have all these great couch warriors because of what happened against [Marcos] Maidana, and they couldn’t wait to see something like that so they could validate their opinions.
BoxingScene.com: Is this it for Victor at 147 pounds? Can we expect to see him at 154 next time out, and do you think you’ll still get him that fight with Canelo Alvarez?
Rolando Arellano: No, I think we have to measure that first, but he doesn’t have that much time left at 147. We have to measure that. I want to make sure that jaw is healed right, that psychology heals right. He’s a growing kid, and whether it’s this year or next year, he’ll be at 154, and we think the Canelo [Alvarez] fight will open up eventually.
Ryan Maquiñana writes a weekly boxing column for CSNBayArea.com. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Ratings Panel for Ring Magazine. E-mail him at [email protected] , check out his blog at Norcalboxing.net, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.