Antonio Orozco looks and acts the part of a can't-miss prospect in recent fights, doesn't he? He can box, punch, and has an aggressive style that fans and network executives love.
As an added bonus, it seems the 26-year-old junior welterweight has the maturity of allowing his fists do his talking in the ring. It looks like Orozco is coming into his own and it could not come at a better time as he takes that important step from being labeled a prospect to eventually becoming a contender.
Orozco fights former junior lightweight contender Martin Honorio in a 10-round bout at the Fairgrounds in Del Mar, Calif. on Thursday night. The bout will headline a Golden Boy Live! telecast and will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 1 and Fox Deportes, starting at 10:00 p.m. ET/ 7:00 p.m. PT.
The physical tools he has developed throughout his boxing career have got to him to where he is now, but the psychological tools he developed at a young age could be the deciding factor to get him to where he wants to be.
Up until his last fight against Miguel Angel Huerta on Jan. 24, Orozco had not faced a significant challenge in his career.
In the Huerta fight, Orozco was stunned in the first round and had to hold on to get through the round. He was able to regroup and in the following round, scored an impressive knockout over Huerta.
While some viewed Huerta as a veteran on the downside of his career, Orozco does not agree. Any fighter is dangerous on any given night, he says, including Honorio on Thursday night.
“I'm facing the best Martin Honorio; the one who's beaten the likes of Steven Luevano and John Molina,” Orozco told RingTV.com in a recent phone interview. “I expect the best from any fighter. I know it's not going to be a walk in the park (on Thursday). I haven't seen a lot of tapes on Honorio and while I respect him, I'm coming to get the win.”
Orozco was originally scheduled to face Honorio at the Stubhub Center in Carson, Calif. on April 26. The fight was postponed a day before the fight when Honorio was unable to secure a visa to enter into the United States.
The fight ended up landing on Thursday's card in Del Mar, which is about a 15-20 minute drive north from his hometown of San Diego. He will likely have a partisan crowd of family and friends in his favor on fight night, which would give a lot of fighters an emotional lift during a close fight.
While a postponement could throw off a young fighter's preparation, Orozco (19-0, 15 KOs) has put behind him. As for fighting near his hometown, Orozco does not want to rely on that, believing it could hurt more than help. He knows he’s on his own against Honorio, a task he is ready for.
“Yeah, it (the postponement) threw us a little bit, but I got through it,” said Orozco, who is managed by Frank Espinoza. “Everything turned out okay. I rested a few days, but then I got more sparring. Five, eight, 10 rounds. I ended up sparring with the likes of Josesito Lopez and (unbeaten) Adrian Vargas. I couldn't have asked for anything more.
“It's going to be great fighting near San Diego, but there's going to be a little pressure since I have fans coming to support me. But I have to make the most of this opportunity that Golden Boy and Fox Sports is giving me.”
Orozco wants to continue being down to earth and humble, while remaining motivated to keep getting better.
“The way I am now is because I had to grow up quick,” he said. “I became a father when I was 20, 21 years old. It wasn't easy, but I had to surround myself with the right people. I'm glad my Dad had me on that short leash when it came to discipline and boxing. My trainer (Carlos Barragan) has been a big influence on me. My wife keeps me on check.
“The great relationships I have as helped me continue being the person I am now. The influence from my parents now as a 26 year old is still important.”
Everything is lined up for Orozco to make a run at a world title. He has a well-known promotional company and manager behind him and a fighting style that boxing fans enjoy.
With so much on the line and with a formidable challenge in front of him, Orozco is ready to step up.
“I've made some mistakes, but I've moved forward. I'm coming to get that win (on Thursday night).”
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