The first thing you notice about tall, lean featherweight Leonilo Miranda is his record: 30 fights, 30 victories, 28 knockouts.
And the fact the resident of the Mexican seaside town of Huatabamo, in southern Sonora, has done it training only part time in a gym and the rest at home by himself adds to the intrigue surrounding this soft-spoken 26-year-old.
Imagine what he’ll do when he works longterm with an established trainer in a cutting-edge environment, as he has begun to do in preparation for his fight against Orlando Cruz in Tulsa on Friday on ShoBox.
At the moment, Miranda is unknown even in Mexico. That might not last much longer, though.
“We’re trying to turn him into the next great Mexican champion,” said his promoter, Julio Marines. “I don’t believe the Mexican public has gotten behind (Antonio) Margarito and (Juan Manuel) Marquez. I think they’re hungry for someone to replace (Marco Antonio) Barrera and (Erik) Morales.
“With Leonilo’s record, he could be that person.”
Miranda comes from a family of hard-working fisherman who always stayed a step ahead of dire poverty. He doesn’t remember going hungry but he and his four siblings also never had money to spend.
And there are no gyms in his town, at least none that could accommodate a fighter with dreams of emulating Julio Cesar Chavez. That’s why, until now, he worked with a trainer at a gym about an hour and a half away a few days a week and then kept himself in condition at home – where he could help with the fishing – as his fights approached.
It wasn’t what world-class fighters do but it was all he could afford.
“I couldn’t go to the gym every day,” he said in Spanish, with Marines translating. “It was very draining, driving over an hour and a half each way every day. And expensive. So I did it every other day or third day. I did try to go to the gym more as the fights got closer, though.”
Marines, based in Edinburg, Texas, discovered Miranda about two years ago and signed him last year. He decided recently that he needed to take action if Miranda was going to take the next step. So he convinced the young fighter to move to Edinburg, where he now works with trainer James Gogue.
To ease any anxiety Miranda might have, Marines arranged to bring the fighter’s mother with him. She cooks his meals, which include a lot of fish.
“I talked to him and his parents,” Marines said. “He needs to train full-time, six hard weeks, for his fights. It’s going to get harder and harder now as we step up in competition.”
At a glance, a reasonable assumption is that Miranda is simply blessed with exceptional power. And he is. No one stops that many opponents, even journeymen, unless they can crack.
However, he insists he’s more than a banger. He said he has worked hard on his skills and is always in good shape when he enters the ring.
Marines said that Miranda has demonstrated roughly 60 percent of his potential. As he takes part in more and more full-fledged training camps, Marines insists, the boxing world will be impressed.
Miranda doesn’t want to be known solely as a knockout artist, although he’s proud of his record.
“The main thing is that I’m always prepared,” said Miranda, who is a relatively tall 5-foot-7. “I’m always in great shape. I don’t go looking for knockouts. I just get into wars and eventually my boxing skills and strength take over.
“I put my punches together and knock them out.”
Miranda’s hero growing up was Chavez, probably the greatest Mexican fighter ever. At least that’s what the boy’s father always told him.
His response is in indication that he always believed he could succeed in the sport.
“That’s true dad,” he’d say, “but only because I’m not there yet.”
And, said Marines, “He was 100 percent serious.”