Antonio Orozco returns to face Keandre Gibson at 140

Left to right: Antonio Orozco, Bernard Hopkins and Keandre Gibson. Photo credit: Gene Blevins/HoganPhotos/Golden Boy Promotions

Left to right: Antonio Orozco, Bernard Hopkins and Keandre Gibson. Photo credit: Gene Blevins/HoganPhotos/Golden Boy Promotions

 

On Friday afternoon, Antonio Orozco weighed-in at 139.6 pounds for tonight’s match-up against Keandre Gibson, in the main event on ESPN2 from the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, Nevada. That, in itself, is a victory given, for his most recent scheduled outing on Dec. 17 against Fidel Maldonado, Orozco not only failed to make weight; he was hospitalized due to dehydration before he could even step onto the scales.

 

Orozco said of that unfortunate episode, “It’s not about excuses. I wasn’t able to make the weight. I think there were some very unprofessional steps that were made and, because of that, we have now brought on a full team. We brought in a sports nutritionist, a meal prep company for this fight. We’re going to be ready.”

 

What the undefeated Orozco, 25-0 (16), felt more than anything, a few months ago, was embarrassment.

 

“That’s what it was. Aside from the disappointment of not only of myself, my team, (manager) Frank (Espinoza), Golden Boy (Promotions), the embarrassment is pretty much the hardest thing to overcome after it happened,” he admitted to UCNLive.com. “So, like I said, I was walking around with my head down for awhile but I’m a believer of things happening for a reason and we made the changes that we made.”

 

He recalls the week of the Maldonado fight, “I wasn’t that much off of weight. The day before, I was looking at three-to-four pounds and I tried to drop the water weight and it was a mistake. Prolonging it so long is what took me down. Lesson learned and we’re looking forward now.”

 

Frank Espinoza, one of the more hands-on managers in the sport, explained, “At this point, you had to look for solutions. Listen, we all know that Antonio felt terrible about what happened and something like this doesn’t really help you in the eyes of the networks or your promoter. Bottom line is that we had to start coming up with solutions, whether it was moving up in weight or getting him some help in getting down to weight. I understood that, at age 29, things could be changing with his body.”

 

There was talk of moving up to welterweight.

 

“It was something that we thought about but, I mean, we wanted to make sure we could make 140 the correct way,” said Orozco last weekend. “Like I said, we hired some people onto the team and this is it. It’s been going perfect. Camp has been amazing. I’m in full spirits. I’m looking forward to April 1st. Also, maybe the change will come in the near future. We’ll see how everything comes out on April 1st.”

 

Espinoza noted, “We had put in a lot of work and effort at 140 and he’s ranked there (at No. 11 by the IBF, No. 8 by the WBA and No. 4 by the WBO), so we really didn’t want to have to start this process all over again. And if Antonio wanted to make the sacrifice, then I would support the move. Things have gone really well coming into this fight.”

 

Photo credit: Gene Blevins/HoganPhotos/Golden Boy Promotions

Photo credit: Gene Blevins/HoganPhotos/Golden Boy Promotions

 

The native of Garden City, Kansas (who now resides in San Diego) says this camp has been an educational experience for him. He admits, in the past, he had “pretty much been doing it the caveman way, not eating the correct foods at all. We perform with our body and, with the help of Frank – he was all-in – I made the mistake of not raising my hand for help earlier, so this time I did.”

 

“Honestly, I was disappointed for Antonio, not angry at him,” said the noted manager, “I mean, he’s such a nice kid, never gives me a hassle, has always been loyal. I know this was something he felt terrible about. I’m just glad we took steps to fix this problem.”

 

Like many other boxers, in the past, Orozco would shave off the last few pounds by starving himself and going into the sauna. “It’s the old-fashioned way. That’s the one way we know how to do it and bringing on the nutritionist and meal prep was the missing element and, I mean, we just had to play catch-up,” he said, chuckling.

 

Ironically, Orozco ate more and consumed more fluids than in the past. He found out that more can be less (weight). He says he now eats up to five meals a day.

 

“The way my meal plan is set up, I haven’t missed a meal. I’ve been feeling great. I’m staying hydrated the whole time,” he stated. “It’s been great. I really feel the difference and we’re really looking forward to April 1st to make a comeback. It’s like that saying: ‘The comeback is better than the setback.'”

 

Looking at Orozco’s ledger, there are some familiar names like Miguel Acosta, Humberto Soto, Emmanuel Taylor and Steve Forbes but Gibson, 16-0-1 (7), the 27-year old native of St. Louis, is the best athlete he’s faced thus far. Gibson is a fast, twitchy athlete with quick hands. At stake is the WBC USNBC 140-pound title.

 

Orozco says, “From what I’ve seen of Keandre – we’ve shared cards on a couple of occasions – he’s an explosive, quick fighter. With every fight, we want to get somebody better. This is probably one of the best fights to start off the year for my carer and definitely I’m not overlooking the guy. We know that he brings all the elements: speed, strength, movement. So we’re ready.”

 

 

TIME

 

This show will air live on ESPN Deportes, beginning a 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and will be aired on a delay basis on ESPN2 at 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT.

 

 

TNR

 

Here’s this week’s edition of “The Next Round” with Gabe Montoya and me.

 

 

COSMO FLURRIES

 

Golden Boy announced that, on May 18 from the Casino Del Sol in Tuscon, Arizona, Diego De La Hoya would be facing Erik Ruiz as the headliner of “Golden Boy on ESPN”…K2 Promotions Managing Director Tom Loeffler says he continues to converse with Frank Warren, regarding a Gennady Golovkin-Billy Joe Saunders fight, while still talking to Golden Boy regarding Canelo Alvarez…Mercito Gesta-Gilberto Gonzalez is the co-main on ESPN2 tonight. Prospects Joet Gonzalez, Emilio Sanchez and Cesar Diaz are also in action. Edgar Valerio’s bout was kiboshed as Nevada Athletic Commission Executive Director Bob “BoxRec” Bennett was up to his old antics…So it’s baseball season already? Are the Padres already out of post-season contention?…I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.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.

 

 

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