SAN DIEGO, Calif., February 7, 2019 – If hard work were the only requirement for success in professional boxing, there is no doubt Andrew Cancio of Ventura, California would be a world champion. Cancio, age 30, shoulders a demanding full-time job repairing gas lines for Southern California Gas Company while also training in the ring for championship opportunities.
But boxing requires more than skills and dedication. It also requires resilience, determination, and confidence. Some boxers never develop these qualities. But Cancio, age 30, believes all of these ingredients have come together at just the right time, and he won’t hesitate to seize the opportunity to prove it.
The Blythe, California native will challenge WBA Super Featherweight World Champion Alberto “Explosivo” Machado of Puerto Rico (21-0, 17 KOs) Saturday, February 9 at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California. The Golden Boy Promotions card will air on the DAZN streaming service starting at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
With an 81 percent knockout rate, Machado presents a significant challenge for any opponent. “El Chango” (19-4, 2, 14 KOs) admits earlier in his career, the ingredients for success weren’t there, causing him to suffer a loss to Joseph Diaz in 2016. “Before, I didn’t have the confidence in my abilities. Now, I belong here,” said Cancio. “After the Diaz fight, I was going to retire. Now I’m more confident in myself and my trainers, and the way things are going in camp. I’m way more at ease now in my abilities.”
Putting boxing into perspective
Cancio has also been able to put boxing into perspective against an admittedly dangerous job as part of a crew repairing natural gas leaks. He has been called on to make repairs after devastating natural disasters including recent wildfires and subsequent mudslides under significant pressure. “Oh yeah, it can be dangerous,” Cancio admits. “I’ve been doing this job for two years. In the beginning, you are kind of scared, and now, you know what to do. You get into it. You work safely, you don’t cut any corners, and you should be OK.”
Cancio says the job allows him to support his family, including his 10-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son. “Whenever you have kids, you have to look out for them, not just yourself. It makes you mature faster than usual. Maybe I wouldn’t have taken things as seriously without them.” It also allowed him to put boxing into perspective, and adjust his thinking to create a different approach to the sport.
New focus and maturity equal improved performance
Cancio says his new focus, maturity, and determination to bounce back has made him into a far better boxer now than he was earlier in his career. “I’ve been able to train hard every day,” said Cancio. “We’re in shape and ready to go 12 hard rounds with (Alberto) Machado.”
“I make good money working for the gas company … I want to leave my own mark, my own legacy. It would be a big honor to be part of (boxing), to have people remember my name. The Mexican fighters before me that made a huge difference, that kids look up to, I want to be a part of that. Winning this world title would be a start.”
Cancio turned a corner in early 2018 with a significant upset victory of Aidar Sharibayev of Kazakhstan. He added a solid decision over Dardan Zenunaj of Kosovo, and feels perfectly positioned to take on the biggest challenge of his career in Machado.
“My coaches have added more tools, they’ve showed me a lot of different things. All that will play a factor on Saturday. We’re as ready as we can be,” said Cancio. Cancio says the game plan for the tall, lanky Machado is to neutralize his power by getting and staying inside, “get inside and throw body shots. Not let him dictate the pace.”
Cancio grateful to his many supporters
Cancio will have a large fan base filling the seats in Indio. Fantasy Springs is home turf for the high desert native. It’s both an advantage and added pressure to perform well. “But when I’m at the gym, training, feeling tired, I always think about my family and friends, the people who come out and support me. I want to be in as good shape as I can not just for me, but for them.”
The stress used to overwhelm Cancio, but with reflection, maturity, fatherhood, and the determination to make his mark, he says he is finally in a position to put it all together and win on Saturday.
“I want to tell my supporters I appreciate them. There are a lot of people who have helped me get to this point and chase my dreams. It’s a huge blessing, a huge opportunity. I want my fans to know, my family, my friends – thank you for all they have done. I will fight hard Saturday night for all of us.” This includes a group of one dozen fellow SoCal Gas co-workers who will be on hand to cheer Cancio on.
“They all know what I do” off-hours, says Cancio, adding, “But I’m just a normal dude chasing his dream.”
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is an award-winning boxing journalist covering the Sweet Science for Communities and for boxing fans worldwide. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News.
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