By Jake Donovan
Juan Carlos Payano never again wants to relive his disastrous 1st round knockout to unbeaten pound-for-pound entrant Naoya Inoue. In fact, he’s so eager to put the fight in the rearview mirror that he’s even returning to the ring quicker than his prior conqueror.
The former bantamweight titlist will return to the ring on March 9 in Los Angeles, Calif., facing unbeaten prospect Damien Vazquez (14-0, 7KOs). Their 10-round crossroads bout will air live on an FS1-aired lead-in card to a primetime Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) on Fox telecast headlined by Shawn Porter’s welterweight title defense versus Yordenis Ugas.
“I am very excited to be fighting once again on PBC,” Payano (20-2, 9KOs) told BoxingScene,com of his next fight, which was formally announced Tuesday afternoon through PBC’s press office. “Vazquez is young, very strong and hungry and who I’m sure will bring his best. I don’t believe it’s enough for him but I look forward to the challenge.”
The bout will come barely five months after his aforementioned defeat to Inoue, which took place in Japan during the quarterfinals round of World Boxing Super Series’ bantamweight tournament. Several internal issues have delayed the tournament, pushing back Inoue’s semifinals clash with unbeaten titlist Emmanuel Rodriguez back to mid-May.
As weird as it seems for Payano to return to the ring a full two months prior, enough time has passed to where the 34-year old southpaw is anxious to resume his career.
“My last fight obviously did not go as I planned so I am looking forward to erase that and be fighting for a championship once again,” insists Payano, who relocated from Dominican Republic to Miami in 2010. “I took some much-needed time off after my fight in Japan, and the rest has done me well.”
The move comes with the blessing of his longtime head trainer, Herman Caicedo who for years has witnessed his client’s ability to bounce back from even a short rest period.
“I am very happy for Payano to be fighting and shake it off any rust may have from taking some much needed time away from the ring,” notes Caicedo. “Although it has only been A few months, it will serve him well.
“As for (Vazquez) he is not the type of opponent that will beat Juan Carlos. He’s too young too inexperienced—just too not ready.”
Vazquez comes from a fighting background, as he is the much younger brother of former two-time World super bantamweight champion Israel Vazquez. The 21-year old southpaw, who trains out of Las Vegas, fights for the first time since a points win over previously unbeaten Luis Golindano last April in Mexico.
The forthcoming showdown is a significant step up in class for the rising bantamweight, whom Payano views as merely in the way of his own goals of becoming a two-time champ.
“Since I arrived here and debuted in the United States nine years ago I have not stopped training ever,” notes Payano, who literally lives in the gym as he has a furnished room in Caicedo’s sports complex in Miami. “I have been on a quest to attain championship levels from the very beginning, and that has not changed.
“I will be champion once again and I am sure that I will meet the greats at the top soon. March 9 will be my first step towards regaining my bantamweight championship. ”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox