Dan Rafael: Vicente Escobedo

Golden Boy busy with updates

January, 9, 2013
Golden Boy has a slew of shows coming in the next few months and has been getting things in order. Here are a few updates from CEO Richard Schaefer:

• Super middleweight contender Sakio Bika (30-5-2, 21 KOs) has been added to the Feb. 16 Adrien Broner-Gavin Rees undercard in Atlantic City, N.J. Although the bout is not slated to be part of the HBO telecast, which also features a rematch between heavyweights Johnathon Banks and Seth Mitchell, Bika will face Nikola Sjekloca (25-0, 7 KOs). Schaefer said that with champion Andre Ward out of action for several months because of shoulder surgery, Bika-Sjekloca would be for an interim title, with HBO possibly showing highlights of the fight.

Schaefer also said that junior lightweight Vicente Escobedo (26-4, 15 KOs) will be on the card. He has not fought since being wiped out by Broner in July. That was the fight where Escobedo was supposed to challenge for Broner's junior lightweight belt but Broner came in overweight and was stripped. Escobedo was eligible to win the vacant title but was blown away by Broner in the fifth round.

• The Feb. 23 Showtime card headlined by welterweight titlist Devon Alexander against Kell Brook, along with junior middleweight titlist Cornelius "K9" Bundrage facing Ishe Smith, will be hosted by the MGM Grand Detroit and take place at the Masonic Temple Theater in downtown Detroit.

• Junior middleweight prospect Jermell Charlo (19-0, 9 KOs) has an opponent for his opening bout on the Jan. 26 Showtime card at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas -- Harry Joe Yorgey (25-1-1, 12 KOs), a 35-year-old best known for being crushed in a third-round knockout by Alfredo Angulo in 2009. Interim junior welterweight titlist Lucas Matthysse headlines the card against Michael Dallas Jr. with welterweights Selcuk Aydin and Jesus Soto Karass squaring off in the co-feature.

• The March 2 Showtime tripleheader -- featherweight titlist Daniel Ponce De Leon defending against Jayson Velez, Richard Abril facing Sharif Bogere for a vacant lightweight belt and featherweight Gary Russell Jr. facing an opponent to be determined -- will take place at the famed Apollo Theater in New York.

• Welterweight prospect Frankie Gomez (14-0, 11 KOs), 20, getting back on track after outside-the-ring issues kept him out of action for most of 2012, will face Lanard Lane (13-2, 8 KOs) in the main event of a Fox Deportes/Fox Sports Net card on Feb. 2 at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. Junior featherweight Joseph Diaz (1-0), a 2012 U.S. Olympian, will have his second pro bout on the telecast.
The trickle-down from the cancellation of the Lamont Peterson-Amir Khan junior welterweight title rematch has begun.

Peterson and Khan were supposed to fight May 19 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, but after it was revealed that Peterson failed a random drug test, the fight was canceled on Wednesday.

With the main event off, Golden Boy and HBO had little choice but to cancel the entire show. That meant junior lightweight titlist Adrien Broner, due to make defend against England's Gary Sykes (20-2, 5 KOs) in the televised co-feature, was also left without a fight.

The fight with Sykes, considered a mismatch in the eyes of most, won't be rescheduled.

Instead, Golden Boy's Richard Schaefer has been busy working on alternate plans over the past day. While Khan likely will fight somebody other than Peterson on a date to be determined in July, Schaefer told ESPN.com that Broner "will be fighting July 21 from Cincinnati, most likely against Vicente Escobedo, assuming he wins this weekend."

Broner (23-0, 19 KOs), who is from Cincinnati, would headline an HBO "Boxing After Dark" card against Escobedo (25-3, 15 KOs). But Escobedo, a 2004 U.S. Olympian, must first take care of business against heavy underdog Juan Ruiz (23-9, 7 KOs) on Saturday night in the "Solo Boxeo Tecate" main event on Telefutura in Escobedo's hometown of Woodland, Calif.

A Broner-Escobedo fight had always been on the drawing board for this summer, as Broner was expected to handle Sykes.
Adrien Broner was very impressive in knocking out Eloy Perez, a legitimate contender, in the fourth round of his first junior lightweight title defense Feb. 25 on HBO. Broner barely had a hair out of place, although, of course, he still had it brushed after the fight.

Now Broner, one of boxing's best young talents, is in need of another challenger in a 130-pound weight class that is thin, to be kind, in terms of top talent. He is coming back for another HBO fight, be it to headline his own date in the early part of the summer or perhaps in the co-feature on the May 19 card headlined by the rematch between junior welterweight titlist Lamont Peterson and Amir Khan -- a fight, incidentally, that I can't wait for.

I've looked up and down the ratings, and there seems to be only one logical foe for Broner: Golden Boy stablemate Vicente Escobedo. So it should come as no surprise that it is a fight Golden Boy's Richard Schaefer is talking about making.

"It's definitely a possibility," he told me. "We've started to discuss it with HBO."

Rolando Arellano, Escobedo manager, also hopes to make the fight and has been discussing it with Schaefer, even though it will ultimately be up to Broner's team and HBO to decide who he fights next.

The fight makes all the sense in the world to me. Escobedo looked stellar in his most recent fight on March 3, when he absolutely blitzed a solid opponent in Lonnie Smith. Escobedo, fighting in front of a loud hometown crowd in Woodland, Calif., dropped Smith three times for a first-round knockout.

I've followed Escobedo's career since he was an amateur on the 2004 U.S. Olympic team. I think his performance against Smith might have been the best of his career.

He agreed with me.

"I think so, too," he said. "It goes back to the beginning when I was knocking guys out in the beginning of my career. As soon as I stepped up, you weren't seeing that. You weren't seeing that fire I had. Everyone in the media, my friends, my team, Golden Boy, they have been waiting to see that, to see that old fire. I went back and watched my old tapes and said to myself, 'What happened to that Vicente throwing combinations?' I got so worried about every punch. I went back to what I used to do -- let my hands go and be busy with my punches. It was basically simple, a matter of letting my hands go, because I have power in both hands."

It probably also helped that Escobedo is back down at junior lightweight -- where he has won three fights in a row against reasonable opponents, Walter Estrada (who had been hot), Rocky Juarez and Smith -- after several fights at lightweight. But that is where he failed in his biggest fights, losing decisions to Robert Guerrero and Michael Katsidis. Now he's back where he belongs and probably has the best chance to win a title.

"I shoulda been there a long time ago, even before the Katsidis fight [in 2009]," Escobedo said. "Over time, I've developed and matured more, but I feel good at 130. I want a title. That's why I am here. So whoever my team puts in front of me, I'm ready for whoever at 130. Broner or someone else, no problem whatsoever. I'm just staying ready for what's next for me."

I'm not sure how Escobedo would handle Broner's speed -- who can? -- but he has the size, experience and power to be in the fight.

"I think Broner is a good fighter," he said. "He's quick. I take nothing away from him. People have been speculating that it would be a good fight. If it's offered, I think it would be a great fight. I'm at the top of my game and so is he, so we'll see."

You gotta love the brash Broner (23-0, 19 KOs): When I asked him about the possibility of the fight, the 22-year-old said, "Easy money" and "Man, I don't know him or care. I know whoever it is, I'm putting them in the dirt."

Escobedo (25-3, 15 KOs), however, knows Broner. He watched his fight against Perez and critiqued the performance for me.

"He looked good. End of the first round, I already knew where it was going," Escobedo said. "Broner looked so comfortable and in control, and Eloy didn't. Eloy needed to use his jab more and keep his hands up. He needed to hold his ground a little bit and show he was there.

"I'd be there, I'd hold my ground. I have such a good jab, a strong jab, and I'd have to use it and set him up with combinations."

He might just get the chance to try.