Ushering in a new wave of Mexican fighters
This Friday, Oct. 7, Marvin Cabrera will make his professional debut for Golden Boy Promotions at the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles, California. Cabrera, hailing from Mexico City, represents a new cycle of Mexican fighters making their way into the pro ranks of boxing.
A member of the Mexican national team, Cabrera did not make the Olympics. His teammate Juan Pablo Romero got his spot in the welterweight division and made it to Rio De Janeiro. That just meant a pro debut would come earlier, not even a month-and-a-half after the end of the Olympics, whereby most Olympian boxers are just getting back into training and some are still on vacation. While the Olympics were going on, Cabrera was preparing for his move to the pros, under trainer Daniel Ponce De Leon.
Cabrera isn’t the only Mexican national team member turning professional. Sergio Chirino and Brian Gonzalez both signed with Zanfer Promotions. Olympic light flyweight Joselito Velasquez will be promoted by Teiken Promotions and managed by Espinoza Boxing. Then there are the other Olympians who are in talks with promoters and mulling over offers.
This year’s Mexican Olympic and national teams, in general, were two of the country’s best in years, qualifying six fighters to Rio. Misael Rodriguez won Mexican Boxing’s first medal since 2000, with a bronze, while the national team made the most strides in previous years in the World Series of Boxing, where the fighters’ aggressive, attritional styles made them better suited to a more professional format. For the most part, Mexican amateurs of previous years would not have had the opportunity to fight in pro-style competitions like WSB and AIBA (International Boxing Association) Pro Boxing. Olympian Elias Emigdio even fought 12 rounds in APB. The aforementioned Cabrera is a good representative of this Mexican contingent, as he fought 17 bouts in the WSB with 13 wins.
What the amateur boxing reforms, from 2013 onward, have shown is, despite the more pro-style rules, the Mexicans are still more suited to longer-distance fights. In the typical three-round amateur format, Mexico had far less success, compared to the WSB. They’re better at wearing opponents down over time, as opposed to rushing their work. Comparing the Pan American Games from 2011 and 2015, Mexico won seven medals among men in 2011 and four in 2015, so it’s not like Mexico suddenly got better in three-round fights. In 2011, the fighters were still wearing headgear and fighting under the point scoring system also. The change of amateur boxing’s rule set was not the sole factor in Mexico having its best team in years, as a crop of talent managed to come together at the right times over the past four years. It’s a stark contrast to the 2012 Olympics in London, where Mexico only qualified two boxers – Oscar Valdez and Oscar Molina. Taking into consideration that Olympic qualification was much tougher this year, six Olympians from Mexico is a very good number.
Most Mexican fighters won’t bother all that much with chasing success in the amateurs and will continue going pro at early ages but it is notable now how many fighters of a solid level actually stuck around. All of them are still relatively young and have a lot of time to stake out their pro careers, which one can assume most of them will in the near future. This extends beyond the Olympic team to the entire national team. They have a lot of WSB experience, are in entertaining fights and fight with pro styles. This is why many are receiving offers to go pro from established promoters.
Oscar Valdez was the beginning of this particular wave of Mexicans going pro. The 25-year-old became a world champion in July, four years after his Olympic stint in 2012. Valdez had already gone to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China at the age of 17. He is the model for a Mexican boxer going pro after a good amateur career.
From the Olympics and the national team to the pro game is a pipeline less taken by Mexican fighters. Almost all of the fighters from this particular cycle are in their early-20s. It can’t be expected that all of them will do well as pros. It simply never works out like that but, in this group, there are quite a few who look poised for success after they leave the amateur game behind. This particular cycle from the Mexican amateur system has the potential to churn out a new wave of pro prospects in a much larger quantity than before.
When Marvin Cabrera steps into the ring on Friday night for his first pro fight, he will likely secure an easy win. His opponent has been stopped three times in as many fights. It won’t prove much but a pipeline of fighters on the Mexican national team, over the past four years, will open up and a new type of Mexican prospect will head toward the pro game – Mexican fighters who have already been fighting without headgear, under pro-style scoring and going more than three rounds. Cabrera will kick things off, taking the path less-traveled from the Mexican national team to the pros.
You can follow Rian Scalia on Twitter @rian5ca.