Alex Saucedo makes homecoming, eyes title shot
While WBO super middleweight titlist Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez is the headliner tonight, on ESPN, to the locals in Oklahoma City, the main eventer is unbeaten 140-pound contender Alex Saucedo, who faces the rugged Lenny Zappavigna as the opener on ESPN.
For the native of Oklahoma, it’s his first fight in the state since September of 2014.
This event, which takes place at the home of the OKC Thunder, Chesapeake Energy Arena, was placed here specifically for Saucedo.
“I’m very excited; it’s a great opportunity for my career to showcase in front of my people, my family and I believe it’s going to be a great outcome. I just can’t wait. It’s a great opportunity for my career,” said the 24-year-old, who has a record of 27-0 (17).
It’s been awhile since the “Sooner State” has hosted big-time boxing but, in the lead-up to this promotion, media events for Saucedo’s fight were well-received by the local media. Saucedo admitted a couple of weeks ago, while in Los Angeles, “I’ve been surprised ever since we did the first media workout there; just everyone came out. I was surprised; I wasn’t expecting everyone to be supporting like they are. Like I said, hopefully the whole city comes out that night. It’s going to be a great night.”
For the past few years, as Saucedo was developed by Top Rank, he fought in such cities as Los Angeles, New York, Omaha, Chicago and Fresno but, as they say, a ring is a ring. For “Cholo,” it won’t be any different fighting at home.
“No, no, it’s going to be normal to me,” he insisted. “It’s like a dream come true for me to fight at home and it is normal for me, just another night. I’m going to go out there, perform well and I think I perform better when I have an audience and even better with my people there.” Saucedo last fought on March 10, on a rainy night at the StubHub Center in Carson, California, where he stopped Abner Lopez in seven rounds.
Saucedo has trained in the mountains of Big Bear, California, for the past few years, under the guidance of Abel Sanchez, best known for working with WBA/WBC middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin and IBF/WBA cruiserweight tilist Murat Gassiev. When asked about Saucedo’s development, he told UCNLive.com, “I think he’s in the top four or five (at junior welterweight). I don’t think he’s quite where I want him to be but he’s been a slower work for me because he’s a different kind of fighter. He hasn’t developed to my style like I would hope to, at this point, but it’s only been four fights he’s been with me.
“So I’m happy with what he’s done, what he’s doing. This main event, if you want to call it, because he is being showcased there in his hometown, it’s going to say a lot about his development.”
Sanchez has made it clear; he prefers – almost insists – that the boxers he works with be fan-friendly and offensive-minded. When asked what he’d like Saucedo to improve, he says bluntly, “His meanness, I think he’s too much of a nice guy inside the ring, in sparring. He’s too much of a nice guy in the ring, when he approaches a fight. He just has to be a little meaner, like a Gassiev-type of mean, where he wants to take your head off.”
This upcoming bout figures to be entertaining as Zappavigna won’t be hard to find. Sanchez says this “is a perfect fight for (Saucedo),” and it will give a barometer of just where Saucedo really is. Saucedo was ranked third by the WBO, when Terry Flanagan and Maurice Hooker fought for their vacant title as the Top 2-rated boxers. Hooker came away with the title, a couple of weeks ago, in England.
With that, Saucedo could be headed to his own “Red River Shootout” with the Texan.
“They already told me; hopefully everything goes good with ‘Lenny Z’ and we’ll probably get Maurice Hooker. He just won with Flanagan. We’re going after that now.”
Tonight in Sacramento, featherweight hopeful Ruben Villa returns to Omega Products International, where he takes on Ricardo “Not Finito” Lopez. Villa, 11-0 (4) is best known for his victories over the highly-touted Shakur Stevenson in the amateurs, who signed with Top Rank.
He admits to keeping an eye on his amateur rival but added, “I’m watching everybody around my weight class, even a couple of guys heavier than me. So yeah, I’m watching boxing all the time, keeping notes, keeping tabs on everyone, see how everyone is doing. You kind of have to, at this level of competition, in my weight class now.”
Villa is co-promoted by Thompson Boxing Promotions and Banner Promotions and is happy with how his professional career has progressed.
“They have shows about 10 months out of the year, so I knew I was going to be pretty active and hopefully I’ll have two more fights before the year ends,” said Villa, who has two bouts in 2018 under his belt, coming into this weekend.
So it’s going to be around 105 degrees in Sacramento this weekend. I’m going to petition to do the broadcast in shorts and sandals…The World Boxing Super Series has announced that junior welterweights Anthony Yigit, Ivan Baranchyk and WBA beltholder Kiryl Relikh will be part of its upcoming tournament…The August 10 edition of the “L.A. Fight Club,” at the Belasco Theater, will feature Genaro Gamez vs. Recky Dulay…On August 17, “Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN,” from Indio, California, will have the return of Yoshihiro Kamegai and Andrew Cancio-Dardan Zenunaj…Top Rank announced that its August 18 card from Atlantic City, New Jersey, will be headlined by heavyweight Bryant Jennings, who will face Alexander Dimitrenko, with a super middleweight bout between Jesse Hart and Mike Gavronski…Michael Conlan’s bout today from Ireland at the SSE Arena versus Adeilson Dos Santos can be seen this afternoon on ESPN+ beginning at 2:30 p.m., ET…In it’s second season on NBC, “Marlon” has really hit it’s stride…I can be reached at email@example.com and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.