By Lem Satterfield
Nicknamed "WV 2," the 26-year-old Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. of Bayamon, Puerto Rico, is the son of the former world champion by the same name.
Vazquez Jr. (20-0-1, 17 knockouts) will be after his fifth straight knockout during an 11-bout winning streak that includes nine stoppage when he makes the third defense of his WBO super bantamweight belt against 31-year-old, former WBC light flyweight and WBA super flyweight titlist, Jorge Arce (56-6-2, 43 KOs), of Sinaloa, Mex., on May 7.
Vazquez-Arce will take place on the under card of a main event featuring eight-division titlist, Manny Pacquiao (52-3-2, 38 KOs) defending his WBO welterweight belt Shane Mosley (46-6-1, 39 KOs) at the MGM Grand Hotel.
Coming off of October's 11th-round knockout of 27-year-old Ivan Hernandez (27-4-1, 17 KOs) of Ensenada, Baja California, Mex., Vazquez meets a seasoned veteran in Arce, who is 4-0-1, with three knockouts since losing his bid for the vacant IBF super flyweight belt to Simphiwe Nonggayi (16-1-1, six KOs) of South Africa by unanimous decision in September of 2009.
Prior to Hernandez, Vazquez scored May's 10th-round knockout of previously undefeated Zsolt "Mr. Left hook" Bedak (15-1, five KOs), of Hamburg, Germany.
In February, Vazquez earned the WBO crown by scoring a fourth-round stoppage of previously unbeaten Marvin Sonsona (14-1-1, 12 KOs), of General Santos City, Philippines, who was being called "The Next Manny Pacquiao."
In October, Vazquez joined All Star Boxing to award five seniors from the Osceola Country School District in Kissimmee, Fla., one scholarship each worth $1,000.
The students, Rachel Smith, Maria Arroyo, Albert Prevost, Javier Grisales and Roberta Valladares, were required to have at least a minimum 2.5 grade point average and submit a 750-word essay on the history of the sport of boxing, this, prior to Vazquez's victory over Hernandez.
Vazquez is managed by Tony Gonzalez, who also guides the career of Cuban-born, former Olympic gold medalist, Yuriorkis Gamboa (20-0, 16 KOs), the WBA and IBF featherweight titlist.
Gonazlez hopes to popularize Vazquez Jr. similarly to southpaw Puerto Rican countryman and WBO featherweight king, Juan Manuel Lopez (30-0, 27 KOs).
BoxingScene.com caught up to Vazquez in February for this Q&A.
BoxingScene.com: How did it feel to win the title over Marvin Sonsona, the man who was being dubbed, at the time, to be the next Manny Pacquiao?
Wilfredo Vazquez Jr.: That was very motivating for me at that point in my career, being that I am a fighter who has had no amateur fights and that I had come that far in my career in such a relatively short amount of time.
In beating a guy like Marvin Sonsona, everybody thought that he was so great. He was, indeed, an excellent fighter, so that was a huge, huge victory for me.
At that point in my career, for me to take on a fighter like that, that was a decision that I made along with my team.
They've made the right decisions so far, and they made the right decision to take that fight on that night.
They knew that I was ready, and I proved that I was ready.
BoxingScene.com: Given that you have no amateur background, what has made you so good?
Wilfredo Vazquez Jr.: My family, and the desire to feed them. Plus, fighting, you know, it's just in the blood. I needed to feed my family. I didn't have a job, basically.
BoxingScene.com: What do you feel is behind your success as a legacy when the track record for fighters who follow their fathers into the ring isn't very good?
Wilfredo Vazquez Jr.: I can definitely embrace my father's legacy. That's why I am here. I admire him as a father. My team, like I said before, they have done the work in training and preparing me so far.
It's my family support and the focus and the desire that I have within me to become somebody in life. I just love doing my job.
Only time will tell about my career, but I love being a fighter and that shows when I'm in the ring.
BoxingScene.com: Can you talk about what the scholarship philanthropy for the students meant to you and the community?
Wilfredo Vazquez Jr.: That's something that comes from the inside out. It was a promise that I made to myself and to God as a result of my success.
I told God that if he would allow me to move forward and to improve the life of my family, that I would share my glory and my victories with others.
Most of the things that I do, I don't like to do it with the press. I recently gave a wheelchair to a child who didn't have one. They didn't have any money. I do a lot more, privately, and I will continue to do that.
BoxingScene.com: What sort of challenge does Jorge Arce present to you?
Wilfredo Vazquez: I'm going to demonstrate that I've got a great trainer and a great team. You will see that what my father has been teaching me, just as you have before, makes him the best instructor.
Against Jorge Arce, you will see that again because I have the best instructor in my father. I like to fight 12 rounds, and I work for 12 rounds. From the six round on, it will only get better.
BoxingScene.com: How much does the Puerto Rican-Mexican rivalry factor into this fight?
Wildredo Vazquez: The rivalry is good. That's always going to be there in sports. Obviously, the rivalry exists between the Mexicans and the Puerto Ricans, and it's huge.
We'll get in there and carry it on, and see which fighter is the best of us two.