SAN DIEGO, March 31, 2017 – When two undefeated boxers step into the ring, the added anxiety of suffering a first defeat is no small matter.
But the far bigger concern for junior welterweights Antonio Orozco (25-0, 16 KOs) of San Diego and KeAndre Gibson (16-0-1, 7 KOs) of Las Vegas via St. Louis is which door each man steps through after the fight is over.
The winner gets the full attention of promoter Oscar De La Hoya and the potential opportunity to fight pound for pound star Terence Crawford of Omaha, Nebraska. Up to now, that man has been Orozco.
But Orozco’s last two bouts didn’t take place due to health issues and making weight. His last appearance was a difficult decision over Abner Lopez in July 2016. Meanwhile, the younger Gibson has been putting on good performances while remaining unbeaten. Their promoter, Oscar De La Hoya of Golden Boy Promotions, has decided to have the pair square off to see which horse in his stable is the one he wants to bet on.
Orozco cleared his first hurdle, making weight at 139.6 pounds Friday. Gibson weighed in at 139.4 pounds. This is the lowest Gibson has weighed in since 2014.
The fight takes place on Saturday, April 1 as the main event at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas as part of the new ESPN/Golden Boy fight series. The event will be televised live on ESPN Deportes beginning at 6 p.m. PT and will air tape delayed on ESPN2 at 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT.
Orozco hired nutritionist Alex Verdejo to oversee his meals in preparation for this bout. “It was the missing piece of the puzzle,” says Orozco. “It was a hiccup. Lesson learned” Orozco says of his prior issues. “Alex does this for a living, he knows what he’s doing. I don’t have to worry about it … It was the key component that was missing.”
Orozco is facing a confident opponent in Gibson, who shows not a shred of doubt about his ability to win on Saturday. “Golden Boy hasn’t babied me. I come in with a chip on my shoulder,” said Gibson, “I want Antonio’s spot. He (Oscar) is doing what he thinks is best.”
Gibson promises a first round knockout. Coming from a boxer with less than a 50 percent knockout ratio? “I have been training for this for two months. I don’t plan on going ten rounds. I don’t get paid for overtime. When you’ve got two undefeated guys in there you have a lot of determination,” insisted Gibson.
“We’ve touched everything up in my plan. After Saturday, you’ll know,” Gibson assured me.
Orozco, a far more reserved personality, offered quiet confidence in his ability to retain his perfect record and win on Saturday. “The ‘oh’ has got to go. It’s something I’ve thought about. It’s why we get ready. It had to come down to this.The fight means just that much more. I need to make sure the oh is not ours,” said Orozco. Orozco believes the two will offer a good “styles make fights” matchup between himself as the offensive punches and Gibson as the counterpuncher.
Both are sure to have plenty of supporters in the crowd, with Gibson having the hometown edge and Orozco’s devoted “Team Relentless” taking its caravan from Southern California to Las Vegas. Gibson said, “It helps, but at the end of the day only me and Orozco will be in the ring. I don’t hear nobody, my only focus is on my opponent. I got tunnel vision.”
It’s April Fool’s Day but neither man wants the joke to be on him in this fight. Orozco said, “I forgot to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day and nothing happened. It’s a date, that’s all.” Orozco said if he wins and it puts him on the path to the opportunity to fight Terence Crawford, “If my name’s there, I’m doing things right.”
Gibson says he wants to impress fans so much on Saturday they’ll walk away saying, “‘This guy’s got boxing skills out of this world. I can see him going down the same path as Floyd Mayweather.’ That’s what I want people to say about me after watching the fight Saturday.”
Gibson might want it but he has faced limited opposition to date. Orozco is a big test for him. Without enough power to keep Orozco off him for long, Orozco should take a few rounds to warm up, then start working Gibson over round after round, pounding out a late stoppage.
On the undercard, another San Diego based boxer is featured in the co-main event. Super bantamweight Mercito “No Mercy” Gesta (29-1-2, 16 KOs) faces Gilberto Gonzalez (27-3, 22 KOs). Gesta, who will be 30 in October, hasn’t been in the ring since October 2015. He needs to get busy in a hurry to revitalize his career.
Featherweights Joet Gonzalez (15-0, 7 KOs) and Derrick Murray (13-1-1, 5 KOs) round out the televised bouts with eight scheduled rounds. Gonzalez, 23, one of Golden Boy’s many solid prospects, is in one of the boxing’s toughest divisions at the moment, loaded with talent at the top including his stablemate Joseph “Jo Jo” Diaz. Gonzalez needs to remain patient, build a portfolio, and see where winning takes him.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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