By Francisco Salazar
It is safe to say that Brandon Rios and Victor Ortiz blazed the trail from Garden City, KS to Southern California for any aspiring boxer from the area.
Not only have both had success as professional prizefighters, but also their pinnacle of success was winning a world title belt, with the possibility of winning more.
After a successful amateur career and to fulfill a dream to be successful in the pro ranks, unbeaten Antonio Orozco followed that path. Instead of traveling to the Oxnard/ Ventura area where Rios and Ortiz respectively call home, Orozco veered to the south to sunny San Diego.
Orozco is eager to make a name for himself in and out of the ring. After a breakout 2013, he believes he can make the most of the opportunities presented to him in 2014.
In his toughest test to date as a pro, Orozco will fight Miguel Angel Huerta in a scheduled 10 round bout on Friday night at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, CA.
The bout will headline a “Golden Boy Live” card that will be televised live on Fox Sports 1, beginning at 10PM ET/ 7PM PT.
Orozco is coming off an impressive third round knockout over Ivan Hernandez on August 24th in Carson, CA. The bout aired live on a Showtime Extreme telecast, where Orozco’s performance created a buzz amongst fight fans that had heard of, but had not seen him fight.
It was impressive enough that television network executives want Orozco, with his aggressive and fan-friendly style, to fight on their telecasts.
He will have his hands full with another aggressive boxer-puncher in Huerta. While Huerta will be the best fighter on paper Orozco has faced thus far in his career, he believes he is confident he can defeat Huerta and make a statement in the fight.
“He’s a dangerous opponent and I’m not taking him lightly,” Orozco told Boxingscene.com over the phone on Tuesday. “I know that my manager (Frank Espinoza) managed him at a time and I respect him. But I’m the undefeated fighter and I’m very focused on what I need to do to get a win over him.”
Friday’s fight against Huerta is the consummate crossroads between prospect and veteran. Huerta has been in those deeper waters than Orozco has.
That may be true, but Orozco has handled every challenge in the pro ranks with relative ease thus far. Huerta may pose a more difficult challenge, but he could also be a safe enough opponent for Orozco to face at this stage in his career and look very impressive against.
“Even before signing with Espinoza and Golden Boy (Promotions), I’ve always set personal goals for myself. I want to continue winning to attain those goals of fighting for a world title. Times have changed where Huerta was that fighter, now it’s my time.”
That is about the most trash-talk Orozco will talk about another fighter. He is soft-spoke, articulate, and reserved outside of the ring, but is relentless in the ring.
“Relentless” is Orozco’s nickname.
His approach to doing things in the gym is very simple, yet simple can be very effective. His handlers remark at the hard work he puts in the gym every day.
It is a simple philosophy that Orozco carries that has so far worked for him in boxing and what he hopes will continue to do so for years to come.
“This is something I’ve believed from the beginning,” said Orozco, who is managed by Frank Espinoza and trained by Carlos Barragan. “Fighters should fight, trainers should train, and managers should manage. I think fighters try to do all three when they should focus 100% on what to do to prepare for a fight.”
“I have to make a statement in and out of the ring. I want to put my name out there. I don’t mess around when it comes to preparing for a fight and I want to make the most of these opportunities that are given to me. People can criticize, but I want to make a statement, especially in this fight against Huerta.”
Orozco has appeared on boxing websites as prospects to keep an eye on in the upcoming future. He wants to campaign at 140 pounds, a very deep division where world title holders, contenders, and even prospects are jostling for position for significant or big money fights.
He envisions himself eventually fighting the contenders or world title holders at 140 pounds. First things first, he has a tough assignment against Huerta, who is coming off a decision loss to Mauricio Herrera in October.
“I feel I can maintain the weight to stay at 140 pounds. I can take advantage of the opportunity we’ve worked hard for. First thing though, I have to defeat Huerta on Friday night.”
“I know I’m going to eventually fight the A-level fighters. That’s what I eventually want. I believe that I’m being built slowly and surely and I should fight those A-level fighters. I want to be in the mix and a future opponent against the big-name fighters. It’ll be a great opportunity.”
Orozco has worked hard and seems to have the right frame of mind to move forward in the sport. He believes his simple, yet effective ways in and out of the ring will pay dividends down the road.
“The way I’ve been raised is to be a straight-forward person. We make training camp fun at times, but when we start a session, we work hard. I surround myself with the right people that know what they’re doing.”
“I feel that living and training in a strict environment is what has worked for me and what will continue to work for me.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene.com since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. He also covers boxing for the Ventura County (CA) Star newspaper, Knockout Nation, and RingTV. He could be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing