Leonardo Zappavigna looks to upset Alex Saucedo’s Oklahoma homecoming
Undefeated junior welterweight and Oklahoma City resident Alex Saucedo has a home game lined up on June 30. Saucedo will be fighting on a Top Rank card, on ESPN, from the Chesapeake Energy Arena, in his hometown of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
The event will be headlined by unbeaten Mexican champion Gilberto Ramirez, who will be defending his WBO super middleweight title against fellow undefeated 168-pounder Roamer Alexis Angulo.
Saucedo, 27-0 (17), ranked No. 2 by the WBA and No. 3 by the WBO at 140 pounds, will face rugged Leonardo “Lenny Zappa” Zappavigna, 37-3, (27), in a 10-round tilt.
It’s a huge opportunity for Saucedo, fighting on ESPN in front of his hometown, but it’s also no walk in the park. Zappavigna is an experienced veteran who has faced tough competition in his 12-year career and will come into Oklahoma looking to pull off the upset. A road assignment won’t be a problem for the Australia-based Zappavigna, the WBO’s No. 8-ranked contender, who has fought four of his last five bouts in the United States.
The 30-year-old Zappavigna knows that if he can go into the Sooner State and upset the hometown hero, in front of a huge television audience, he puts himself in a very good position down the road.
UCNLive.com caught up with respected Zappavigna manager Mike Altamura, who, along with handling WBO junior featherweight king Isaac Dogboe, and a stable of other contenders, is also working with international managerial firm MTK Global. Altamura knows the game as well as anyone and he likes what he sees for Zappavigna, in his upcoming Oklahoma gig.
“Yes, this is sort of like the ‘Last Chance Saloon’ for Lenny. He’s been really looking forward to getting back in the ring,” said Altamura. “He’s looking forward to getting in there and mixing it up with the very best in the division. He’s looking at this as his chance to get his shot at the top competitors and a shot at a world title at 140 pounds.”
When asked how Zappavigna felt about his chances going into Saucedo’s backyard, Altamura made it clear that Lenny welcomes a road game.
“Lenny is comfortable fighting anywhere really,” said Altamura. “Obviously this is a challenge going to Oklahoma and fighting Saucedo in front of his home crowd. But at the end of the day, he knows how to switch it off and just focus on the task at hand. He’s been a pro for 12 years and he knows how to focus on the job in front of him. There won’t be any excuses. He’ll just fixate on the opponent and concentrate on his opponent on the night.”
The thoughtful and articulate Altamura knows that going into Oklahoma, to face a young and skilled Saucedo, is no easy task but feels his charge has the tools to upset the Saucedo applecart and leave with a win.
“I really feel that Lenny is a skilled, and much more savvy, much more experienced pro. So the clearest pathway to winning the fight is to win on experience, out-craft him, outfox him. Saucedo is a very strong, tough, game young competitor, so it isn’t going to be an easy task but I believe that Lenny has the style to box, adjust and box in patches and come out with the victory,” said Altamura.
There is certainly a lot on the line for both fighters, as the bout looks to slot the winner in the No. 1 contender’s spot in the WBO.
“There is indeed a lot on the line. God willing, Lenny comes out with the victory,” said Altamura, referring to the winner likely getting a shot at champion Maurice Hooker. “I really think this fight has sleeper material to be a ‘Fight of the Year’-type contender. And I really hope that, if it is a fight of the year, it is because it rolls the way of Leonardo Zappavigna.”