Wednesday, March 22, 2023  |


Randy Caballero: ‘I’m ready to wipe out the bantamweight division’




On Saturday, Randy Caballero’s hard-fought unanimous decision over Stuart Hall earned him the vacant IBF bantamweight title.

By later today, the 24-year-old boxer/puncher might get more than a celebration befitting a champion; he might just get a hero’s welcome.

Caballero left Tuesday for Managua, Nicaragua, the native country of his father and trainer, Marcos, as well as that of the late champion Alexis Arguello.

“The Nicaraguan government is flying us there for a big celebration, so I’m going to go there with my dad, Marcos Caballero, the only trainer that I have. Me and my dad are going to Nicaragua and we’re leaving today,” said Caballero, who was born in Indio, Calif. and lives in the neighboring town of Coachella.

“We’ve been there before a few years ago and I had told them that once I won a world title that I would most definitely like to go out there and to celebrate it with them. They’ve been nothing but great and they’ve been very supportive with me throughout my career. So now I get to keep my promise to them.”

Caballero’s victory over Hall came amid an active period involving the 118-pound division’s titleholders.

Last month, RING No. 2-rated bantamweight Juan Carlos Payano’s sixth-round technical decision victory upset long-reigning No. 3-rated Anselmo Moreno for the WBA belt.

Then on Oct. 22, No. 1-rated bantamweight Shinsuke Yamanaka unanimously decisioned Suriyan Sor Rungvisai. On Saturday at the UIC Pavillion in Chicago, No. 9 Tomoki Kameda will defend his WBO title against Alejandro Hernandez.

Caballero’s previous fight in April was an eighth-round technical knockout of Kohei Oba before the veteran’s partisan fans in Japan, an experience that prepared the former to face Hall in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

An excited Caballero spoke to regarding his win, his trip to Nicaragua and his future in the following Q&A. What did you learn from the fight with Hall?

Randy Caballero: That was most definitely a learning experience. There were some mistakes that I made but that was my first 12-round fight and it was a tough fight. It was just a perfect fight for me. I had to earn that title, so nobody can sit there and say that this title was handed to me. I fought a world-class fighter and he came strong and hungry for that title.

It was not given to me. Everybody had to understand what I went through to get this title. This guy was a world champion once and there’s a reason for that and I knew that from the beginning. Stuart Hall made me work for it and I even told him that after the fight. I had to fight my heart out and bring it back home. It was a learning experience and now everybody knows that I can go 12 rounds perfectly. How much have you been aware of the other division title fights as well as [Tomoki] Kameda’s defense coming up this weekend?

RC: Have I been watching and paying attention? Most definitely. A lot of fighters will say that they don’t watch fighters who are coming up or fighters who have the other titles in their division. I don’t know about that. Of course we’re going to be watching the other guys in the division to see what might be next. This weekend, if I’m not busy, I’m pretty sure that I’m going to watch Kameda or I’ll watch it when I get back.

Eventually, I’ll watch the Kameda fight because that is a fight that we’re talking about making sooner or later. Like I said, I’ll fight anybody. I’m always ready. I went to Japan and to Monte Carlo to win fights. Wherever the fight is, I’m ready for it. Whatever Golden Boy [Promotions] has planned for me, I’m ready for it. At 118, I’m ready to wipe out the division. So you’re going to Managua?

RC: Yeah. I had unpacked all of my stuff from the trip to Monaco when I got home and now I’m packing to leave again. We were planning to go sometime next week or the week after that but I guess that they called my dad and said that they wanted us there sooner.

They said that both flights would be paid for and they wanted us to leave today. My dad was born in Nicaragua and came over here during his teenaged years. But as my trainer, my dad’s dream was always to go back over there with me being a world champion.

The last time that we were in Nicaragua, there were so many people at the airport. This time, I know there are going to be a lot more people there who are prepared for it. I expect to see a lot of people waiting at the airport for another world champion from Nicaragua. Your thoughts on the legacy of Alexis Arguello as it relates to you?

RC: It’s a good thing that I did get to meet him when I was very, very young. I want to say I was six or seven years old. That was a great experience in my life. He was a great guy, inside and outside of the ring. He was a warrior who did everything that he could for his country.

Just knowing that I’m known as another world champion in boxing [of Nicaraguan descent,] they see me as one of their own world champion fighters. It’s one of the most amazing things that anybody can ever feel.

He is one of the greatest fighters, not only from Nicaragua but also worldwide. That kind of recognition is something that I would love to try accomplish if I ever reach that level. Hopefully, I pray to God that I do but that’s a very, very hard legacy to follow. Are you aware of any of their plans for you?

RC: I think that this time, it’s going to be much bigger. We’re flying into Managua, which is the capitol of Nicaragua. We’re just going to hit different cities and do a lot of different things after that.

I know that there is going to be a big parade. We’re going to be there for two or three days, so I’m thinking that we’re going to hit as many different places as we can. Other than that, I don’t know exactly what they have planned.

I haven’t really even slept yet, really, over the past couple days that I’ve been back. But one thing that I do know is that I’m very excited about it. So I’m ready to head out there and celebrate but I haven’t really had time to celebrate with my family here yet.

So maybe we’ll have a victory party this weekend when I get back and then, maybe at some point after that, I’ll guess that maybe I’ll get some sleep.