Q&A: Randy Caballero
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When undefeated bantamweight standout Randy Caballero edged out the gritty Stuart Hall in Monte Carlo 13 months ago he was on top of the world. He was preparing for the first defense of the IBF title he won by beating Hall in late February when he developed a cyst in the bone of his heel. The injury caused a considerable lay off.
“It was the toughest point of my career,” Caballero told RingTV.com last week. “I was stuck in a wheelchair, not being able to do anything. I was still trying to get to the gym, hit the bag on crutches, in a wheelchair as much as possible, they kept kicking me out of the gym telling me ‘You don’t need to be here.’ It’s tough, especially me knowing I’m a world champion and I can’t defend my title.”
Thankfully he’s been able to put the injury nightmare behind him and he returns to the ring to face Lee Haskins this Saturday on the undercard of Miguel Cotto-Canelo Alvarez at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.
The Southern Californian of Nicaraguan decent sports a record of 22-0, with 13 stoppage wins, and is keen to make a statement to the 118-pound division.
“After this fight I’m going to feel on top of the world,” said the 25-year-old. “I’m ready to show people who I am and show them why I’m the IBF bantamweight world champion, I’m going to keep it that way. I’m ready to wipe out the 118-pound division.”
Although, Caballero-Haskins isn’t part of the HBO Pay-Per-View it will headline the RingTV Live preliminary undercard broadcast on RingTVLive.com, HBO Boxing’s Youtube channel and on Goldenboypromotions.com. The HBO Pay-Per-View portion of the card will feature Cotto-Canelo and will be supported by an excellent looking junior lightweight tussle between reigning WBC champion Takashi Miura and his mandatory challenger Francisco Vargas and the Jayson Velez-Ronnie Rios featherweight bout.
RingTV.com – What are your thoughts on the Haskins fight?
Randy Caballero – We know he’s going to come strong. We know he’s coming to give it his all, he wants this title. It’s the first time he’s fought out of Europe, coming to a big card like this could get to him, or could not get to him; maybe he can perform at his best – but trust me we’re ready for whatever he brings. I think I’m in the top shape of my life, I think walking into this fight I think this training camp went better than any training camp I’ve ever had. I know a lot of people say that but trust me; this training camp is by far the best I’ve ever felt. Everybody said it, all my team said it, they see a whole different person. This lay off is what got me to where I’m at right now, this lay off got me that extra hunger, eager to comeback even stronger than ever and I’m ready. I’m excited to get back inside the ring and sorry to say he’s gonna have to go home with no title wrapped around his waist because it’s staying here where it belongs and like I say I’m ready to wipe out the 118-pound division.
RTV – Tell us about the injury?
RC – They found a cyst inside my bone [on the heel] which was causing unbearable pain, I couldn’t take it. We took time off, got the surgery; they replaced it with donor bones. Whoever’s bone they replaced it with, thank you man, ’cause they made my foot 100-percent better. That bone helped me out and I’m hungry to come back strong.
RTV – You were due to face Alberto Guevara on Feb. 27.
RC – That fight did not go through due to me having to get surgery. Sadly, it didn’t go through because I know a lot of people wanted to see that fight. The fact it was already close to the fight, I had to pull out of the fight, it was hard. It was the hardest decision I had to make in my career but it was going to be better for my career. I wasn’t going to be able to get back on my feet and perform my best so I went through with it and feel more than 100 percent better. I’m sorry I had to make (Guevara) go through the whole training camp and get ready for that fight, I’m sure he was in the top shape of his life. If he’s on the list of people to fight so be it. I’m just here to fight anybody. I want to grab all the titles at my weight, whoever has the titles at 118. I’m ready to take them on. If the money’s right, talks are right, at 122 pounds I’ll take it but I’m going to take it step-by-step. I’m not in any rush, I’m only 25, and let’s see how far my career takes me.
RTV – When you look at Haskins what do you see as his strengths and areas you feel you can exploit?
RC – I’m not taking anything away from him, there’s a reason he’s my mandatory, he trained hard for where he’s at. I will never take anything away from him for that reason. I just think, seeing his fights, having seen the way he’s going to come, he’s going to make me a better person that night. He’s going to make me a very wise guy, a smart fighter, very powerful, a whole different person. That night is my night to shine. It’s going to bring a whole different person out, it’s going to bring a side out you’ve not seen. He’s coming over for the trip, it’s going to be a great trip for him and his family but I’m sorry to say he has to go home empty handed.
RTV – Last year you fought twice, once in Asia where you won a world title eliminator and then you won the IBF 118-pound title in Europe. What were those experiences like for you?
RC – I never thought I’d fly to any of those places, let alone fight anywhere like that around the world. I thought being with Golden Boy Promotions I wouldn’t have to travel anywhere but thank God it happened and I tell myself things happen for a reason. I flew to Japan and fought the eliminator, there’s a reason I went to Monte Carlo and won that world title. All the hard work inside the gym, it paid off and we’re world champion now. I fought with everything I had to win that world title. It was not handed to me, it was a lot of hard work. A lot of fighters can’t say they had to do the same things I did. My road was a tough road to go through, leave my family behind, traveling to win a world title and now that I have it I’m not letting go. I’m confident and ready to fight anywhere around the world now.
RTV – Did fighting away from home make you a better fighter?
RC – I honestly do believe so. It tells me I can fight anywhere around the world, because once we step in that ring there just me and that guy, there’s nobody else inside that ring. The experience of travelling was helpful for me, makes me a better fighter.
RTV – What did it mean to you when the decision was announced after the Hall fight and you heard that you were a world champion?
RC – There was no doubt in my mind, I knew 100 percent I won that fight. Whether they were going to rob me or not I knew I won that fight and I knew everybody around knew I won that fight. It was a clear win. He was tough, he wasn’t the guy we thought he was heading in, we saw his fights, wasn’t the same Stuart Hall, he was totally different guy that night. I told him after the fight he made me fight hard for that title, it wasn’t handed to me. He made me fight all 12 rounds to earn that title. After the fight he told me, “Man, I was in the top shape of my life, I’ve never been in this kind of shape. I could have fought anybody in the 118 division, I would have beat anybody, there’s no way I could have beat you.” To hear something like that meant a lot.
RTV – When you said Hall wasn’t what you thought he was, do you mean he was better than what you thought he would be?
RC – Definitely, way better, a lot stronger, a lot tougher guy. We saw videos and it wasn’t the same guy I fought. This guy was really tough that night. When I dropped him, I think it was the second round, that’s why he got back up because he was in the top shape of his life. If I was to go down I would have got right back up and fought all 12 rounds. We’re warriors, we do whatever we can to get the win. We knew he came tough and more prepared.
RTV – Did winning the world title change your life in any way?
RC – I think times when I go out, to the mall, the movies, anywhere I go with my family there are more people stopping me taking pictures, talking to me and telling me I’m doing well for (the Coachella) Valley and being a good example for the kids. It touches me, it makes me feel good that I’m doing something right for this Valley.
Other than that it hasn’t changed me, I am the same person, I still have to wake up every morning and do what I have to do, go to the gym and train. I think now that I’m a world champion, I think I have to train extra hard to keep that title because I know from here on out every fight is going to get tougher and tougher and they’re going to come hungrier and hungrier to take my title away but I’ll make sure I stay composed and keep going forward.
RTV – Having achieved your initial goal of becoming world champion, what else are you looking to achieve?
RC – [I’m] ready to take over the 118-pound division. My job is to train hard, get ready for who they put in front of me, defend my title a couple of times, if possible five times to become super champion, unify my title and if the money’s right and the fight is right I’d definitely be willing to jump to 122, but right now my body feels good at 118.
RTV – If we look at the bantamweight top 10 ranked by RING magazine, could you share your thoughts on your contemporaries?
1 – Shinsuke Yamanaka – I think he’s a tough fighter, that’s why he’s world champion. He has a style that many can’t beat. I think I have what it takes to beat him. He’s the WBC world champion, he’s had that title for awhile. I’m hungry and ready to take on anybody at this weight class, but he’s a tough fighter.
2 – Juan Carlos Payano – I saw that fight [vs. Anselmo Moreno, he’s] very strong, that guy is really solid. I think there are weaknesses in him that could be exploited and [he’s] beatable.
3 – Anselmo Moreno – Moreno’s been around for a very long time, he’s been a world champion, defended his world title so many times. [He’s] very smart slick fighter. I saw him when he fought Abner Mares, it was a great fight. He’s getting old and not the same fighter I first saw him in this weight class.
4 – Jamie McDonnell – We were gonna fight awhile back, a very good fighter.
5 – Tomoki Kameda – I saw him fight the guy from Thailand, I honestly think he was getting beat, [and] caught him with a lucky punch. He has that Mexican style, trying to rip to the body.
6 – Randy Caballero – I don’t think there’s nobody who’s going to beat that guy at 118. I think he’s ready to take over the 118 division, wipe everybody out and make sure he’s ranked No. 1 by RING!
7 – Lee Haskins – If they put him in the top 10, that’s good for him, better win for myself when I beat him. My main focus is no one behind me, everybody in front of me and I’m going to make sure I get in that No. 1 spot. That No. 1 spot I’m ready to take on and get it and stay there as long as I stay at 118 pounds.
8 – Suriyan Sor Rungvisai – I’m bad with names, I may have heard of him. There’s a reason they’re in the top 10.
9 – Pungluang Sor Singyu – Very tough guy, in the sport of boxing one punch can change the whole fight and that’s what happens in the sport of boxing, you’ve got to be ready for whatever comes your way. It happened, good luck to Kameda on that one.
10 – Rau’shee Warren – He’s a good tough guy, in the amateurs he was rated the top guy because he fought at the Olympics, sadly he didn’t get to win a gold medal. Amateurs and pros are a whole different ball game. Any name you throw at me I’ll take on anybody, I’m not afraid of anybody.
RTV – What is life like away from boxing?
RC – Spending time with my wife, my three kids. I love spending time with them. It’s hard when I have to leave for training camp. I love travelling, going out with the kids, spending time with my parents at their house, all the BBQs they do with all the family. My family right now we’re a big fan of paintball, we play every weekend, it’s very addictive. When I’m away from the gym, I’m a family man, I just love spending time with my family.
RTV – In closing do you have a message for Haskins ahead of your upcoming fight?
RC – I’m pretty sure he’s well prepared, ready to come and put on a great show. Come Nov. 21, that night is my night. I’m going to take over that night. I’m going to show people why I’m the IBF bantamweight champion and I’m gonna keep it that way.