In 2011, Danny O’Connor and Gabriel “Tito” Bracero met in a junior welterweight bout and Bracero won a wide eight-round decision. It was the first loss of O’Connor’s career.
O’Connor, of Framingham, Massachusetts, will get a chance to avenge the defeat on his home turf when they meet again in a scheduled 10-round rematch at welterweight on Saturday night (NBC Sports Net, 8 ET) in a Premier Boxing Champions main event at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium in Lowell, Massachusetts.
"This is all about me fighting the process. Gabriel Bracero beat me but I really beat myself,” O’Connor said this week. “Just like training for this fight, we had a baby son. Two weeks before our first fight, my first son was born and I didn't know how to separate sport from such life-changing events. I was 14-0 and fighting on Showtime. We just had a baby boy two weeks before this fight. I want to prove to myself that I can beat this process. Bracero is my redemption.”
O’Connor (26-2, 10 KOs), 30, whose only other loss was an extremely controversial split decision to former junior welterweight titleholder Vivian Harris in 2013, said he was offered a rematch with Bracero several times but declined to take it until now, believing the timing was wrong before.
“The time was right for this fight,” said O’Connor, who has won three fights in a row since the fight with Harris. “I was offered this fight five times during the past few years but the time wasn't right.
"I was a scared little kid with no experience in our first fight. I couldn't handle the pressure. I didn't even know it was there. Now, I'm a mature man who is a husband and father. I'm a totally different person.
“This fight could be in my living room. I'm at peace in the ring doing what I love to do. It's great being back in the ring in Lowell, where I won the New England Golden Gloves title and I'm fighting on national TV. But the event is between the four corners and that's what really counts."
Bracero (23-2, 4 KOs), 34, of Brooklyn, New York, was undefeated when he beat O’Connor in 2011 but has two losses since, a 2012 decision to former junior welterweight titlist DeMarcus “Chop Chop” Corley and a one-sided decision loss to Felix Diaz on a PBC card in April in which Bracero got knocked down twice.
Bracero said he is excited for the rematch but looking at it as though they have never fought.
“I've trained for this fight like I've never fought Danny before,” Bracero said. “I beat him but that was four years ago. I can't overlook him. He has obviously made improvements and I did also to get where we are today.
"Danny has become a better fighter. I can't take anything away from him, but I'm looking forward to putting on a spectacular performance Saturday night."
Junior lightweight Jonathan Guzman (19-0, 19 KOs), of the Dominican Republic, will face Meriden, Connecticut’s Danny Aquino (17-2, 10 KOs) in the co-feature. In another televised bout, Quincy, Massachusetts featherweight Ryan Kielczweski (23-1, 7 KOs) will face New York-based Puerto Rican Rafael Vazquez (16-1, 13 KOs).