Convicted Artist Magazine

Aug 14th
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ignacio_esparza01Boxer Ignacio Esparza (16-1, 12KO's) has no fear of taking on the tough guys in the cruiserweight division.  This lack of fear may come from his incredible amateur background of 174 wins against only 1 defeat.  It may come from the fact that the apparent impending departure of Tomasz Adamek leaves a wide open cruiserweight division.  It may also come from the confidence of having had the same original trainer that guided other Guadalajara fighters like Oscar Larios and Javier Jauregui to world titles.  It may come from the knowledge that his only previous departure from his native Mexico (while a loss) resulted in a good deal of buzz from people in the fight game, as to who Ignacio Esparza was.  More than likely, however, his willingness to face anyone comes from his difficulty in getting fights thus far.  Never known as a hot bed of cruiserweight activity, it has been very difficult to get fights for Esparza in his native Mexico .  He has had only 17 pro fights in a nearly 10 year career.  The former WBA Febebol and Mexican Cruiserweight champion was even forced to turn down a fight with BJ Flores due to his visa not being approved in time.
In fact, his physicality, and willingness to travel have been his only assets in getting live bodies to take him on.  “He’s not all cut up.  He looks soft, so guys don’t think he can fight as well as he can”, says his manager Ramon Arellano.  True, that Esparza’s pudgy 5’11 cruiserweight frame makes his level of schooling more impressive to opponents.  However, he has gotten prospects Damian Norris and Enad Licina to share a ring with him.  Let’s just say Esparza has never played the opponent role well. 
The Cuban champion, Norris, may have been more of the Adonis, yet rabbit punched himself to a disqualification after being battered around by Esparza.  According to Arellano, Licina may have gotten the decision, but Esparza “made him look like an amateur”. 

Arellano’s management of Esparza is part of a childhood dream come true.  Arellano grew up as a “street kid” in his words in Guadalajara .  After being charged two pesos he didn’t have to work out in a boxing gym, Arellano made it one of his goals to one day return and open a boxing gym that would be available to kids free of charge.  He has not only done so, as a result of his successful business ventures in his adopted hometown of Nashville, but he has expanded to promoting his own shows in Guadalajara. 

Although originally trained by the aforementioned late trainer, Julian Magdaleno, Esparza will soon be trained by Arellano himself.  This can now be accomplished because Esparza’s visa in the U.S. has just been approved, and he is finally free to continue his career on this side of the border.  Arellano has trained many other top big men in this country, including former world champions Tony Tucker and Oliver McCall.
Esparza’s next big test is in Russia on February 22, against top contender Denis Lebedev.  The 32 year-old Esparza has had no reservations about taking on fellow prospects before, but the much-hyped Lebedev represents the biggest step up in his career.  The bout will be for the WBO Intercontinental title, and likely a much higher ranking within that orgainzation.  Regardless of outcome, one should hope for Lebedev’s sake he has done his research.  Esparza has a pattern of making things far more difficult on his opponents than they expect.
Chris Strait

Related Videos: Chris Strait's Boxing Predictions

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