Welterweight Erik Vega is familiar with tests in and out of the ring.
Vega took plenty of them on his way to earning a bachelors degree and is betting he can ace a significant test tonight that could lead to a passing grade to become a legitimate prospect.
The unbeaten Vega will face Alberto Palmetta at the WinnaVegas Casino and Resort in Sloan, Iowa. The 10-round bout will headline a three-bout ‘ShoBox’ card (Showtime, 10:30 p.m. ET/ 7:30 p.m. PT).
At Thursday’s weigh-in, Vega (16-0, 9 knockouts) weighed in at 146.5 pounds. Palmetto (12-1, 8 KOs) weighed 146 pounds.
Vega, who resides in Tijuana, Mexico, will be taking a significant step up in opposition when he squares off against Palmetta compared to the level of opposition in his previous fights. In his last bout on July 26, Vega defeated Luciano Hernandez, a fighter with only seven pro fights. His fight against Palmetta will mark the fourth time Vegas has faced an opponent with a winning record.
Tonight’s fight will also mark Vega’s United States debut.
“I’m looking at this being another fight for me,” Vega told Boxingscene earlier this week. “I’m very confident. The United States is where the best events take place for boxing. It has been a goal of mine to fight on a platform like ’ShoBox.’ This is very important to me.”
Vega will face a fighter in Palmetta, who represented Argentina at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Palmetta last fought on Aug. 17, stopping gatekeeper Jeremy Bryan in round four. He has won his last six bouts since a shocking loss to Gonzalo Gaston in November of 2017.
The 24-year-old is aware of the talent Palmetta possesses, but is not backing down.
“I respect him a lot,” said Vega, who turned pro a week after his 20th birthday. “I’ve done my best to get better and prepare for fighters like Palmetta. I know he is a hard-hitter and is likely disciplined. I’ve worked hard for this opportunity just like I would imagine he would do. Let the best man win on fight night.”
Vega has a lot to live up to being from Tijuana. One of Mexico’s best fighters, Erik Morales, is from the border city and became a legend. WBO junior middleweight titleholder and unbeaten Jaime Munguia is also from Tijuana.
Without feeling the pressure to always represent Tijuana, Vega takes pride in representing a city with so much history and where his family lives.
“I have a lot of pride representing Tijuana, my city,” said Vega, who earned a bachelors degree in business administration from Universidad Autonoma de Baja California. “I’m very motivated to be like the champions that have fought before and were from Tijuana. Since turning pro, I’ve made more fans. My family supports me and my friends follow my career. I know there are some Mexicans that live in Iowa. Maybe I can make fans there in Iowa, whichever background they are from.”
Vega would become a legitimate prospect should he come out victorious tonight. He understands what an impressive victory would be for his career and being able to fight again in the United States.
He is grateful for the opportunity and wants to make the most of it with a victory over Palmetta.
“(Tonight) will be another chapter in my life. A pathway for me to move on with my career. I’m very happy with the opportunity of fighting on an important card, especially when there are other deserving prospects in boxing.”
“I want to make myself known and demonstrate Mexico has the best fighters in boxing. I know I’m fighting in Iowa, but I hope to one day fight in Las Vegas, San Diego or in Los Angeles. That is my ultimate goal.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing