When 2019 closed, Brian Ceballo was poised to make the next year the best one of his life. Already 11-0 with six knockouts in the shark-filled waters of the welterweight division, the New Yorker compiled five of those wins last year, the level of opposition steadily rising with each passing win.
“I think for a lot of people, that's what they were hoping for,” said Ceballo. “But, for me, specifically, I was hoping that 2020 was going to be a big breakthrough. The competition kept getting better and better and I continued to get better and better with each fight, and I was hoping to face some of the top-quality opponents that are in the rankings now. There were a lot of thoughts going through my mind - positive ones, of course - but unfortunately it didn't happen because of corona.”
Ah, corona, the virus that swept the world and that’s still wreaking havoc globally. It put everything on pause for a while, including the boxing business, which means that the 26-year-old Ceballo has not stepped between the ropes for a prizefight since he halted 16-0 Ramal Amanov in three rounds on the Gennadiy Golovkin-Sergiy Derevyanchenko undercard at Madison Square Garden.
And when the dust settled and the world stopped, Ceballo made his exit from the public eye.
His last Instagram post was on February 28 of this year.
Twitter, October 6, 2019.
“If anything, I had all the time in the world during Covid, but I was really going through a lot,” admitted Ceballo when asked about his absence from social media. “I think I even went through a depression through Covid and, at the end of the day, I appreciate all the support that I get and all the fans I have around the world, but social media was the last thing on my mind during that time. It was more so, fine, I'll just take a break from this for now. I don't think a lot of people need to know what's going on in my life, and I don't feel like putting false information out there about me being happy, because I wasn't happy during that time. I don't like to lie to people.”
That honesty, along with an affable personality, a great story and the talent to go far in this sport, had made Ceballo one of the more promising prospects around, but he can’t move forward without fighting, and in 2020, fights were hard to come by.
“It was hard to keep focused, especially since I had personal issues going on, along with the pandemic, which wasn't great,” said Ceballo. “But I think what kept me sane is that my coach and I were actually in the gym throughout the entire pandemic. Yes, we weren't training for a fight, but we were still active, so when it came time to train for a fight, it wasn't like we were starting from scratch.”
Yes, there would be a time when Ceballo got the green light to train for a fight, and this Thursday, he makes his return on the Ring City USA card in Hollywood, California, where he faces 10-1 Larry Gomez. It’s his first chance to continue the progress he made in 2019, and he couldn’t have been happier when he got the call.
“It was definitely good,” he said. “We were waiting for a fight for over a year now, and it hasn't happened. More than anything, it was getting into the mindset of competition again. That was the big shift in me from everything that was going on to an actual fight. And we're ready now.”
Maybe we’ll see him posting three times a day on social media like many of his peers, too.
“Three times a day would be a bit much,” Ceballo laughs, and it’s nice to hear him in good spirits after a trying year. But even with the negatives, he tries to find the positives in 2020.
“I’m healthy, I haven't had corona yet and I'm grateful for that,” he said. “And all of my family members are healthy, so for that I'm grateful. Health is first, because that's how we maintain life.”
And fighting is how boxers maintain their sporting life. This Thursday, Brian Ceballo fights again, and when it’s over, he knows what he wants 2021 to look like.
“In a perfect world, hopefully this coronavirus ends soon and everything goes back to normal,” he said. “Then I think we'll see big things from Brian Ceballo. I think we'll start seeing me fighting the best opposition out there, like the next up and comers or the bigger names that are out there fighting to get a title or who have fought for a title or had a title before. I'm pretty confident in that, and hopefully, we can get those in the books.”