By Jake Donovan
It was 48 hours from fight day, but Claudio “Matrix” Marrero was uncertain of his originally slotted place on the undercard of Errol Spence’s NBC-televised knockout win over Leonard Bundu.
The featherweight contender from Miami by way of Dominican Republic saw four different opponents fall by the wayside before landing late replacement and countryman Luis Hinojosa. His fears of not being able to fight alleviated, Marrero was all business in his NBC Sports Network-televised showcase, delivering a spectacular finish of his own in scoring a 4th round stoppage in registering his seventh consecutive victory.
“I am on a mission to become recognized as the best featherweight in the world, so getting that win on TV feels even better,” Marrero told BoxingScene.com. “I didn’t know who I was fighting until Friday, but was familiar (with Hinojosa) from the amateurs. We have different styles as pros, plus he was a bit awkward in not wanting to engage and fight me. There was a slight adjustment period, but the outcome was inevitable and went exactly as I liked.”
With each win comes greater separation from Marrero’s lone defeat, a 12-round decision to Jesus Cuellar in their Aug. ’13 ESPN2-televised title fight. The intent is to prove with each performance that one bad night - a competitive affair where some, including TV analyst and longtime trainer Teddy Atlas thought he deserved the nod – shouldn’t define his career.
Of course, it helps knowing your opponent in advance in order to put your best foot forward. All things considered, his team was pleased with the final result.
“Given the circumstances of four different opponents pulling out and Hinojosa taking the fight on a moment’s notice, I was very pleased with Matrix’s performance,” manager and trainer Herman Caicedo told BoxingScene.com. “He continues to improve with each fight and remains a man on a mission.”
The down-the-road goal is to enforce a rematch with Cuellar, the WBA “Regular” champion whose team remains noncommittal to such a fight. Marrero recognizes his own status as high-risk, low-reward and thus has sought a showdown with interim titlist Carlos Zambrano.
Such a bout was on the docket at several points in 2016, but mysteriously vanished upon the unbeaten Zambrano recently signing with Mayweather Promotions. The hope is for his team, which includes the high-powered duo of Al Haymon and Luis DeCubas Jr., to force the hand of Zambrano through Mayweather - whom Haymon advised during his incredible Hall-of-Fame-bound career – and put this fight back into play.
“I know my team will find a way to keep me busy, hopefully get me back into the ring by October,” suggests Marrero. “Cuellar is slated to fight around that same time (possibly a rescheduled assignment versus former three-division champ Abner Mares) and I’d love for both of us to win during that time and then head into a rematch with the same amount of rest.
“I’m well aware that nobody will outright pick me for a voluntary title defense, which is why I want to stay active and land that mandatory challenger position. Mayweather was foolish for investing any money in a paper champ like Zambrano, who should’ve been my opponent last weekend. Time for that scared (boy) to fight me or hand over the title so I can move on to Cuellar and the rest of the featherweight champs.”
Twitter account: @JakeNDaBox_v2