INDIO, Calif., June 20, 2019 – What happens after you ‘shock the world’ and pull off an upset victory? Something even more difficult: you have to make it stick.
Make no mistake, Andrew “El Chango” (The Monkey) Cancio’s unexpected victory over Alberto”Explosivo” Machado in February wasn’t a fluke. Cancio’s work ethic, preparation, and strategy paid off, handing Machado his first pro loss to take his WBA Super Featherweight world championship title.
Cancio (20-4-2, 15 KOs) of Blythe, California is confident those factors will work in his favor as he heads for the rematch with Machado of Puerto Rico, (21-1, 27 KOs) sending the former champion home empty handed on Friday, June 21. The rematch airs on DAZN beginning with undercard fights at 7:30 pm ET/4:30 pm PT. Both fighters made weight, with Cancio right at the 130 pound limit, Machado at 129.8 pounds.
Cancio is boxing’s blue collar champion
Living The American Dream. Full Time Family Man, Great Career, World Boxing Champion. Living In the Land of Opportunity. @GoldenBoyBoxing @socalgas @SempraEnergy @DAZN_USA @USABoxing @USATODAY @usweekly @people #boxing #americandream #mexican #american #usa pic.twitter.com/e6z4sKabTr
— Andrew Cancio (@ElChango126) June 8, 2019
Cancio’s road to the top reads like a movie script. After a devastating loss to Joseph Diaz Jr. in 2016, Cancio retired. The single father’s son and daughter talked him into giving boxing another try.
But in the meantime, Cancio had taken a job maintaining natural gas lines for Southern California Gas in Ventura County, in large part to provide medical insurance for his children. He worked his training schedule around his brutally tough day job, getting up at 4:30 a.m. for road work, then putting in eight to ten hours on a jackhammer and shovel, then returning to the gym at night.
Cancio admitted it took him three months to get used to running the jackhammer. “It wiped me out,” said Cancio. Call it an unconventional strength and conditioning tool. Cancio has developed tremendous strength in his arms and back as a result and improved his stamina.
He returned to the ring in 2018 and won two fights with ease. Then came the fight with Machado on February 9. Speaking with Albert Baker for “Under the Hand Wraps,” Cancio recalls the lead up to the bout with the then-world champion.
“I definitely felt disrespected. Everybody was ‘easy fight, easy win for Machado.’ I have good wins on great caliber fighters, and no one was giving me a shot.
“I felt like people were just interviewing me because they had to, but it’s not going to be a good fight. It’s going to be a slaughter,” said Cancio.
Cancio not only won, he destroyed the previously undefeated Machado, stopping him in four rounds via three knockdowns thanks to a barrage of vicious body shots. The pair agreed quickly to a rematch. “One fight isn’t enough for these two warriors,” says promoter and former world champion Miguel Cotto.”This is dangerous for both guys but that’s boxing, said his counterpart, Golde Boy Boxing’s Oscar De La Hoya.
Machado: ‘Preparation with more focus’ the difference
Machado and trainer Freddie Roach blamed the loss on Machado’s struggle to make weight and on distractions outside the ring. At this week’s media workout, Machado said his preparation has been far different. “Preparation with more focus. I think for me that’s going to be the difference. I’m going into the ring with all my energy, the real Alberto Machado.”
Machado is using his unexpected status as a challenge as motivation. “I’ve been training well, and want the title back to bring happiness to my family and the people of Puerto Rico.”
“I never underestimated my opponent,” =claims Machado. “I knew he was good because that’s how he earned the opportunity to fight for a world title. But I never underestimated him at any moment. It was just a situation and it ended in his favor that night.”
It irks Cancio As he told Under The Hand Wraps, “First round he caught me, but after that it was all downhill for him … They’re still blaming his weight issue. It was in four rounds. I can understand if it was in eight, nine, ten rounds.”
Since his victory, Cancio has been given a parade in his high desert hometown of Blythe along with the key to the city. His purse for this bout has doubled to $150,000. But he’s still working his job for SoCal Gas, although he says a few things have changed. First, his co-workers call him “Champ.” Second, they occasionally step in to take over if they think he might be tackling something too dangerous and risking an injury. Cancio says he never thinks of his job as dangerous.
Prediction: Cancio’s second victory won’t be a surprise
Now that Machado has tasted Cancio’s body punching, he’ll be far more prepared. It doesn’t mean he can take the punches if he’s unable to avoid them, and it’s hard to imagine he can. Machado is unusually tall and lanky as a super featherweight. There’s a lot to hit without much padding to help him. Machado’s best chance is to box from the outside and stay disciplined.
Cancio needs to be careful in the early rounds to avoid getting caught by a fresh Machado as he did in the first fight. But let’s remind ourselves he got off the deck and finished Machado off. He should be able to move in and muscle Machado, eventually putting in the body punches to weaken Machado and make him more vulnerable in the later rounds.
“I’m very confident that I can take Machado’s best punch. I feel mentally stronger this time. The first time around I came in nervous. This time around I’m ready to come in from the first round,” said Cancio,
“He’s going to try to show me that he’s a different Machado, but he’ll be the same. Before he lost, they said that they had a great camp and were going to knock me out. Now that they’ve lost, we hear all these excuses. But I’m motivated more than ever, and I’m ready to show them why I beat them the first time.
The rematch should go more rounds. Call it a slowed down version of the first fight, with Cancio delivering the power punches adding up to a TKO win in the later rounds. Call it a ninth-round TKO for Cancio. At that point, perhaps SoCal Gas will let him put the job on hold – but perhaps he can borrow the jackhammer once in a while for the remainder of his boxing career.
Undercard bouts: Acosta vs Soto vie for WBO light flyweight belt
Several boxers featured on the undercard in February are back to entertain fans at the Fantasy Springs Resort.
WBO world lightweight flyweight champion Angel Acosta of Puerto Rico (20-1, 20 KOs) defends his title against Elwin Soto (14-1, 10 KOs) in a 12-round bout. If there is a sure thing on this card, it’s this power punching dynamo. Every single one of his wins has taken the scorecards out of the equation. He’s riding a four-fight knockout streak since his sole loss by decision to Kosei Tanaka of Japan. “I like scoring knockouts with my left hand. It seems to be more effective. But I can knock people out with my right hand too, so if I see the opportunity, I will take it.”
“I always say that I get my power from my mom,” said Acosta. “Though she is only four-foot-nine in height, she has a very big character. She was very strong with me and my siblings. That’s why I that I get my power from her.”
Super lightweight Luis Feliciano of Rancho Cucamonga, California (11-0, 7 KOs) makes his fifth Fantasy Springs appearance against Fernando Carcamo of Mexico (23-9, 18 KOs). Carcamo hopes to rebound from a first round knockout by junior middleweight Bakhram Murtazaliev last August. Feliciano would like to start a new knockout streak and end their fight before the scheduled 10 rounds.
Phildelphia native Blair Cobbs (10-0-1, 6 KOs) faces Robert Redmond, Jr, of Houston (7-1-2, 6 KOs) in what could be a blistering eight rounds in their middleweight contest. “I’m in a tough fight against a hungry fighter in Redmon, who is coming off a win just a few weeks ago. I know he’s going to be ready, so I’m prepared for a challenging fight. My path to a world title shot is shaping up nicely. With a few more fights I’ll be ready for anyone,” said Cobbs.
Welterweight Aaron McKenna of Ireland now fighting out of Los Angeles (7-0, 4 KOs) is quickly becoming a fan favorite in Indio. He makes his fifth desert appearance against Daniel Perales of Mexico (10-17-2, 5 KOs). Perales has a lot of losses but may give McKenna some work in their four round bout.
“I’ve been getting stronger and better with each fight,” said McKenna. “I have been improving. I want to take each experience into the following fight. I want to learn. I want to become world champion. Friday night you can expect fireworks and a great night of boxing.”
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story.
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