By Jake Donovan
The pinnacle of Juan Carlos Payano’s career was followed by a miserable two-year stretch plagued by inactivity, injuries and – eventually – his first career loss. Determined to learn from past mistakes, the former bantamweight champion is eager to get right back to work to prevent history from repeating itself.
His wish has been granted, as Payano (17-1, 8KOs) confirmed to BoxingScene.com of a planned ring return on September 10 in Mexico. The exact location and opponent have yet to be established, but the opportunity to fight just three months after his previous appearance is more important than the whom and where.
“I am going to stay very active in this second run at the titles,” Payano insisted to BoxingScene.com. “In the past, I’ve had only one fight per year (after winning the title). This is no way to stay sharp and fine-tuned.
“I want to fight at least three times per year, even as champion.”
The bout will be his first since a narrow points loss to Rau’Shee Warren in their NBC-televised rematch this past June. His lone two fights since upsetting Anselmo Moreno for the bantamweight title in Sept. ’14 have both come against Warren, outpointing the three-time U.S. Olympian last August before losing his title in their aforementioned sequel.
Their first bout served as the headliner of the inaugural edition of Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) on Bounce TV, closely contested to the point where a rematch was warranted. Efforts to get the two in the ring proved to be a struggle, as Payano – from Miami, Florida by way of Dominican Republic - suffered an injury that delayed their planned Nov. ’15 return go, which was pushed back to this February and eventually June.
Even with the downtime, Payano still entered the second bout with a rib injury, which impacted his ability to get off his power punches. Still, he felt it was better to risk it at less than 100% as opposed to further extending his down time.
“(The injury) was on my lead side and every punch was excruciating,” Payano insists. “My trainer/manager (Herman Caicedo) wanted to postpone the fight, but I refused as we had postponed many times over and a year nearly had passed since the first fight.
“I don't regret it, though. We will fight again as there is a small group of 118 pounders in our level. So we will meet again.”
That said, he still came within a round of two from remaining unbeaten and still champion.
“Payano learned from the loss to Warren, and I say that not because he did anything wrong in that fight,” believes Caicedo. “He wasn't 100% and it nearly was a draw. He learned that he is not a machine and that everything has to be clicking together to stay champion.
“It's the details that win championships, not (just) guts and balls. He knows now to be diligent on details and if the fight calls for guts and balls, well there is no shortage there!”
He will have to show more smarts, however, in order to get past Warren or any of the other top bantamweights. The hope is that a steady stream of injury-free ring activity will help return him back to true form.
“My future plans, of course, is to regain my titles whether it be with Rau’Shee or whoever he loses them to,” vows Payano. “I hope he stays champ by the time I get my next shot so we can have the rubber match for the tie breaker.”