By Thomas Gerbasi
Brian Ceballo is in no rush. Owner of a 6-0 pro record with three knockouts, the welterweight prospect isn’t looking at Terence Crawford, Errol Spence and the other standouts at 147 pounds as he gets ready for his seventh bout. All that matters for the 24-year-old is his Sunday date with Randy Fuentes.
“My eyes are set on January 27th,” he said. “Do I have a plan and do I know where I want to be? Absolutely. But that’s put to the side and we’re just focused on January 27th.”
It’s what every young up and comer is supposed to say, even if they don’t mean it. But there is a sincerity to the Brooklynite that makes you believe. And while he would like to chalk this all up to an innate maturity, he admits that he wasn’t always like this.
“Honestly, in my amateur career I got big-headed and it backfired on me,” Ceballo said. “And I think I benefitted so much from that. I take everything step by step now, even though I have goals and I have a vision of where I want to be and where I want to get to. But I try to take everything step by step just because anything can happen and things do happen and you can’t let yourself get out of character.”
There’s no turning back for him now.
“It’s not for me now,” he said. “I went through it at a very young age and I got put back on track, which I’m super happy about.”
As an amateur, it’s understandable that he got ahead of himself, as Ceballo was one of New York City’s best, which is saying something. A five-time NY Golden Gloves winner who won over 200 bouts and several national titles, he came up just short of a spot on the 2016 U.S. Olympic team. And though he thought of sticking around for the 2020 Games, he ultimately decided to enter the punch for pay ranks, debuting under Tom Loeffler’s 360 Promotions banner last March with a first-round TKO of Luis Alberto Lopez Longoria.
The name of Ceballo’s opponent was longer than the fight, and coupled with Loeffler’s involvement and plenty of positive media attention, the New Yorker already had plenty of eyes on him. By the end of 2018, he was perfect in six fights and the buzz got even louder.
It’s around this time that hot prospects can start believing what they read on social media, or they can bite down on the mouthpiece and realize that Year Two is when things start getting interesting in terms of stylistic matchups and quality of opposition. Or they stay off social media altogether, opting not to hear anything – good or bad – about their work thus far.
Ceballo is somewhere in the middle – willing to read what fans and media are saying, but not letting any of it affect what he has to do in the gym.
“It’s good to hear it, it’s rewarding,” he said. “But at the same time, I tell myself that if tomorrow I’m not doing what I’m doing today, no one will be saying anything to me. So I have to continue doing what I’m doing in order to keep progressing for myself and my family and those around me, and for people to keep liking me. I don’t allow anything to really get to me. I get in this zone where I have to deliver, just because I have expectations for myself, and if I don’t, I’m gonna be disappointed in myself.”
So he isn’t going Hollywood on us, even if half of his pro fights have been held in the Avalon venue where he’s fighting this weekend.
“Never,” he laughs. “Though I may be going Hollywood for this one.”
That may not be a bad thing, as he builds a following out west on Loeffler’s Hollywood Fight Nights series. That promotional relationship has also garnered him spots on high-profile undercards such as Golovkin-Martirosyan and Alvarez-Golovkin 2, but nothing meant as much to him as fighting at home at Madison Square Garden on the Lomachenko-Pedraza card last month.
“I’ve always said I’ve wanted to fight here in New York,” Ceballo said. “I fought here as an amateur and I recently fought at the Garden as a pro back in December, and it was amazing. The crowd was insane, it was a packed house, and there’s nothing more beautiful than to perform in your hometown.”
From coast to coast, Ceballo has been making a name for himself, and it’s a good one. Affable out of the ring and an obvious talent in it, calling him a future star isn’t a stretch. Well, as long as he keeps that patience. And despite what he said earlier, it may be something he was born with.
“I think it’s more personality than anything,” he said. “You also learn how to have patience, especially in New York. I also grew up in a household where I’m one of five siblings, so you know how that goes.”
Ah, so he had to learn how to fight to get to the bathroom in the morning.
“I would just get up earlier.”