Advertisement
Advertisement
Boxingscene.com

WBO Title Shot at Stake in Saucedo's Hometown Fight on ESPN

image

By Keith Idec

Whenever Alex Saucedo attended events at Chesapeake Energy Arena, his mind would wander.

Whether he was watching an Oklahoma City Thunder game, a hockey game or a monster truck event, Saucedo would envision what it would be like to box inside his hometown arena. Saucedo, who grew up barely a mile away from that venue, will finally find out Saturday night.

The 24-year-old Saucedo (27-0, 17 KOs) is scheduled to battle Australian veteran Lenny Zappavigna (37-3, 27 KOs) in a 10-round, 140-pound fight that’ll shape Saucedo’s career. If Saucedo wins Saturday night in a bout ESPN will televise, it should lead him to a shot at newly crowned WBO junior welterweight champ Maurice Hooker in his following fight.

“I’m very excited,” Saucedo told BoxingScene.com. “Like I’ve been saying, it’s a dream come true. I’ve always, since I started my boxing career as an amateur, it was something I’ve always wanted to do. And I would always tell my fans and my family, ‘One day, I’m gonna make it there.’ And now it’s here, so I was very motivated throughout camp for the opportunity.”

On paper, the aggressive, rugged Zappavigna should be the toughest opponent of Saucedo’s 6½-year pro career. Zappavigna, 30, has lost twice by knockout, including a defeat to former IBF junior welterweight champ Sergey Lipinets, but he constantly applies pressure and has faced a higher level of opposition than Saucedo.

“It’s a big step up,” Saucedo said. “This is the guy with the best record that I’ve fought. It’s a big test to see where we’re at, at the top level.

“He’s an aggressive fighter who has a great knockout percentage. So he’s a dangerous fighter. I believe I have the distance, you know? I have a longer reach than him. We’ll see how the fight turns out. I can fight, too, so we’ll see how it goes.”

alex-saucedo_3

The 5-feet-10 Saucedo also is an aggressive fighter. That typically makes him entertaining, yet vulnerable at times.

In his last fight, Saucedo knocked out Mexico’s Abner Lopez (25-9, 21 KOs) in the seventh round March 10 at StubHub Center in Carson, California. A 12-week camp at trainer Abel Sanchez’s gym in Big Bear Lake, California, has more than prepared Saucedo to impress his hometown fans.

“I’m gonna put on a show, man,” Saucedo said. “I’m gonna put on a show like I always do. Every fight I come out aggressively. This is gonna be like that. I’m gonna be an aggressive fighter, like always, and hope to get him out of there. But we’re ready and like I said, we did a long training camp, so we’re ready to go rounds if we have to.”

Bob Arum, Saucedo’s promoter, told BoxingScene.com that another victory by Saucedo on Saturday night will make him the WBO’s mandatory challenger for Dallas’ Hooker. Saucedo already is ranked No. 1 by the WBO at 140 pounds, six spots in front of the seventh-rated Zappavigna.

Arum would like to bring a Hooker-Saucedo title fight to Oklahoma City if Saucedo can get past Zappavigna.

“It’s a really big night for Saucedo,” Arum said. “There’s a lot at stake for him in this fight.”

Unlike most boxing fans and media, Saucedo wasn’t surprised to watch the taller, sharper Hooker upset Terry Flanagan to win the then-vacant WBO 140-pound title June 9 in Manchester, England, Flanagan’s hometown. Hooker (24-0-3, 16 KOs) out-boxed his left-handed opponent and defeated Flanagan (33-1, 13 KOs) by split decision at Manchester Arena.

Two judges – England’s Phil Edwards (117-111) and South Africa’s Deon Dwarte (115-113) – scored their closely contested fight for Hooker. The third judge, Illinois’ Jerry Jakubco, credited Flanagan for a wide win (117-111).

Saucedo, who’s co-managed by actors Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg, used to drive from Oklahoma City to Dallas when he was an amateur to spar against Hooker and unbeaten IBF welterweight champ Errol Spence Jr.

“I’ve trained with Hooker and I’ve sparred with Hooker, so I know what type of fighter he is,” Saucedo said. “I knew he was motivated to get that world title. He had the reach over Flanagan, so I think he fought a good fight. Now it’s time for us to get it on.”

As if fighting in his hometown didn’t provide enough incentive, knowing a title shot awaits him has made Saucedo even hungrier entering this bout.

“That just motivates me even more to come out even more aggressively and try to get this guy out of there in a good fashion,” Saucedo said. “I believe beating him is gonna get us that shot, so that’s a huge opportunity for me.”

Zappavigna recognizes this could be his last legitimate shot to get back into title contention.

“I’m going to go in there and box, but I know Alex likes to come forward and fight fire with fire,” Zappavigna said. “I know it’s going to be a great fight here in Oklahoma, and it’s the perfect opportunity to get me another world title shot, which is the ultimate goal.”

The Mexican-born Saucedo still lives in the same neighborhood on the south side of Oklahoma City where he was raised since the age of 7. He could walk from his house to Chesapeake Energy Arena, where a crowd of roughly 4,000 is expected Saturday night.

“I expect the Oklahoma City fans to come out, not even just boxing fans, just people to come out and support us,” Saucedo said. “It’s gonna be a great event and a great night of boxing.”

Saucedo-Zappavigna will be one of three fights ESPN will televise live Saturday night, starting at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.

In the 12-round main event, Mexico’s Gilberto Ramirez (37-0, 25 KOs) will defend his WBO super middleweight title against Colombia’s Roamer Alexis Angulo (23-0, 20 KOs). ESPN also will air a six-round, 130-pound bout between Brazil’s Robson Conceicao (7-0, 4 KOs), a 2016 Olympic gold medalist, and Ecuador’s Gavino Guaman (5-2, 1 KO).

“I’m hoping to look good and gain a lot of fans,” Saucedo said. “It’s gonna be showcased on ESPN, so it’s a huge opportunity for me to look good and do good, so I can get a lot of boxing fans behind me.”

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by Bobby Tony on 06-29-2018

This card is like the World Cup of boxing - Mexico vs. Colombia, Brazil vs. Ecuador, etc. Nice backstory on the local fighter.

Post a Comment - View More User Comments (1)
Top Headlines Photos: Jaron Ennis, Raymond Serrano - Ready For ShoBox Clash Photos: Claressa Shields, Hannah Rankin - Size Up at Presser Photos: Gabe Rosado, Luis Arias - Face To Face, Final Presser Photos: Brandon Rios, Ramon Alvarez - Face To Face, Final Presser Vikas Krishan, Top Rank Promotional Pact Made Official Photos: Jarrell Miller, Bogdan Dinu - Face To Face at Final Presser Mayweather Says Nasukawa Fight is Back, Terms Being Finalized Photos: Kavaliauskas vs. Roberto Arriaza - Set For Eliminator Photos: Maurice Hooker, Alex Saucedo - Ready For War Photos: Luis Ortiz Putting in Work For Travis Kauffman Fight Photos: Jarrett Hurd Grinding Hard For Jason Welborn Bout Euro News: Tyron Zeuge, Mikhalkin vs. Boesel, More Hooker: An Old Midget Hurt Saucedo; Being Tough Won't Be Enough Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury To Be Carried in Movie Theaters Joe Joyce Welcomes Ordered Clash With Hughie Fury Fury: At Some Point, I'll Have To Stand and Fight With Wilder Photos: Roman Gonzalez Putting in Work For Guevara Clash Fury: Joyce Sparring Had Nothing To Do With Training Camp Move Canelo vs. Rocky Fielding - Undercard Details Revealed Michael Conlan vs. Jason Cunningham on Warrington-Frampton Anthony Yarde is Pumped To Land Spot on Wilder-Fury Card Daniel Dubois, Bradley Skeete, Bowen Back on December 15 Wilder Co-Trainer: Fury Like Rubik's Cube, But He Can Be Solved Haye: Usyk Can't Get Hit Like That By Joshua; He Has Work To Do Porter: Errol Spence is Getting More Yards - And I Don't Like It! Photos: Hooker, Saucedo - Go To War in Sparring in 2012 Tyson Fury on The Therapeutic Value of Training Warrington: Something Tells Me Frampton is Not The Same Guy Horn Realizes That He Must Be Dominate Mundine To Impress Mikey Garcia Ready: I Have Everything To Beat Errol Spence! Hearn: Jarrell Miller vs. Whyte or Chisora Possible in Early 2019 Felix Verdejo's Next Bout Eyed For United States in Early 2019 The Other Half of Junior Welterweight Fury: If I Fought Wilder In Manchester, We'd Sell 75,000 Tickets Photos: Claressa Shields, Nico Hernandez - Open Workouts Photos: Gabe Rosado, Luis Arias - Shows Off Moves at Workouts Photos: Brandon Rios, Ramon Alvarez - Grind at Workouts Photos: Jarrell Miller, Bogdan Dinu - Putting in Work in Kansas AIBA Prez Says They Are 100% Compliant With Anti-Doping Rules Peterson Quickly Agreed To Face Lipinets: I'll Fight Anyone!
Advertisement

Latest Active Forum Threads
Advertisement
Advertisement