MINNEAPOLIS – The only two fighters to hang a loss on Juan Jose Velasco both went on to win a title at junior welterweight.
The battle tested Argentinean refused to allow the back-to-back stoppage defeats to break his spirit, rather using those setbacks to adapt and evolve. Three straight wins have followed heading into a crossroads bout with rising prospect Elvis Rodriguez (12-1-1, 11KOs), which serves as the televised opener of a Showtime tripleheader this Saturday from The Armory in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
“Those losses are in the past,” Velasco told BoxingScene.com. “I’m not that fighter anymore. I’ve trained hard for this fight and am focused on this present.”
The present-day version of the 34-year-old Velasco (23-2, 14KOs) enters on the heels of his best win to date, a ten-round decision over Brooklyn-bred prospect Zachary Ochoa last February in Uncasville, Connecticut.
The win was his third in a row following a stunning second-round knockout to then-unbeaten Mario Barrios in their May 2019 Fox-televised battle. Barrios went on to claim a secondary version of the WBA junior welterweight title in his next fight. Regis Prograis enjoyed a similar career progression, knocking out Velasco in the third round of their July 2018 ESPN-televised clash, just two fights prior to beating Kiryl Relikh for a short-lived WBA title reign though still serving as one of the best fighters in the 140-pound division.
Velasco hasn’t quite clawed his way back to contender level, though has taken the necessary steps in hopes of achieving that goal. The 34-year-old junior welterweight spent a considerable amount of this past training camp with unbeaten and top-rated junior middleweight contender Sebastian Fundora (18-0-1, 12KOs), who is preparing for a crossroads fight of his own with former title challenger Erickson Lubin on April 9 in Las Vegas.
Between the upgraded preparation and what he took from his losses to Prograis and Barrios, Velasco is confident that the boxing world will bear witness to a reborn fighter this weekend. He enters as the underdog versus Dominican Republic’s Rodriguez, though certain that the oddsmakers have this one wrong.
“I’ve learned lessons from both of those fights,” insists Velasco, who has been out since the win over Ochoa more than 13 months ago. “I’m ready for this challenge and am confident in what I bring into the ring this weekend.”
Rodriguez-Velasco opens a Showtime tripleheader headlined by the stateside debut of Australia's unbeaten junior middleweight contender Tim Tszyu (20-0, 15KOs), who faces 2012 U.S. Olympian and former title challenger Terrell Gausha (22-2-1, 11KOs).
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox