Sergio Martinez did it. So did Lucas Matthysse. Marcos Maidana followed suit.
The aforementioned boxers left their homeland of Argentina to train in Oxnard, Calif. While they had had modest success training in Argentina, their careers further blossomed while training in the boxing hotbed.
Martinez started training at the famed La Colonia Gym near downtown Oxnard, before utilizing the training facilities at the Powerhouse Gym on the west side of town. A few years later, Matthysse would train alongside his fellow countryman.
For almost two years, Maidana has trained at the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy.
While these men have benefitted greatly, even winning world titles and acclaims to boot, one fighter from Argentina has flown under the radar. He has a world title belt and is starting to make a name for himself as well.
Jesus Cuellar will defend his interim featherweight world title belt against Rico Ramos on Friday night at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nev. The bout will open the Golden Boy Live telecast at 10PM ET/ 7PM PT on Fox Sports One and Fox Sports Deportes.
In his last fight on Aug. 23, Cuellar (23-1, 18 KOs) won the interim WBA featherweight title by unanimous decision over Claudio Marrero. Cuellar has won his last six bouts in a row since suffering his only defeat at the hands of Oscar Escandon in October of 2011.
While Cuellar has not been mentioned as often as his fellow countrymen, he is enjoying the fruits of his labor. He could have continued training in Buenos Aires, Argentina, but Cuellar saw the success of training and sparring in the United States.
“I came here (to Oxnard) to demonstrate that I’m a champion,” Cuellar told RingTV.com in a recent interview. “I’ve been working well with Robert Garcia. I’ve great sparring and Robert’s improved my style. I’m going to keep my title and win at all costs (on May 2).”
He will face Ramos, who has won his last two bouts in a row after losing three of his previous four bouts. In his last bout on January 24, Ramos won a one-sided 10 round unanimous decision over Jonathan Arellano.
In those two victories, Ramos has demonstrated more pop on his punches. Prior to the Arellano fight, Ramos knocked out Carlos Ivan Velasquez in the 10th and final round on Sept. 7.
“He (Ramos) brings a lot of experience into this fight,” said Cuellar, who is managed by Sebastian Cortusi. “I don’t like looking at too much video. I’ll see what he brings to the fight. I will be well prepared.”
Like Martinez, Matthysse, and Maidana, Cuellar has accustomed himself to the surroundings of Oxnard. Whether he will live there permanently remains to be seen.
One thing is for sure is that Oxnard breeds champions and will not stop training there.
“I feel really comfortable in Oxnard.”
The Golden Boy Live! telecast also features two 10-round bouts. Ishe Smith will fight Ryan Davis in junior middleweight action, while lightweight Mickey Bey fights Alan Herrera.
SOUTHERN CALI. NEWS & NOTES
Former junior middleweight titleholder Sergio Mora will return to the ring on May 31 at the Tropicana Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nev. He will fight Samuel Rogers in an eight-round bout.
In his last bout on Nov. 16 in Ontario, Calif., Mora (25-3-2, 8 KOs), who was born and raised in East Los Angeles, Calif., knocked out Milton Nunez in the fifth round.
Mora, who was the winner of the first season of The Contender reality series, has been angling for a fight with some of the top middleweights in boxing, including Gennady Golovkin and Peter Quillin.
Rogers (14-1, 8 KOs) lost a 10-round unanimous decision to Carlos Adan Jerez in his last fight on Dec. 7 in Cordoba, Argentina.
Super bantamweight prospect Joet Gonzalez is scheduled to return to the ring on May 16 at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, Calif.
No opponent has been announced thus far for Gonzalez.
In his last bout on February 28, Gonzalez (6-0, 1 KO) won a six round unanimous decision over Cesar Martinez. Gonzalez is managed by Frank Espinoza, who also manages Abner Mares, Daniel Ponce De Leon, Ronny Rios, and Antonio Orozco.
Gonzalez resides in the Los Angeles area.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. He also covers boxing for the Ventura County (CA) Star newspaper, Boxingscene.com, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing