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Alberto Machado will finally get his chance to shine on Saturday

20
Jul

Alberto Machado remembers like it was yesterday, the first thought that raced through his mind when, on the eve of his first attempt at a world title last October in upstate New York, his opponent, Jezreel Corrales, missed weight.

“I can’t go back to Puerto Rico without the belt,” Machado remembers. “This is what I do for a living. This is how I put food on the table for my family back home.”

Corrales lost the WBA junior lightweight title on the scale by coming in three pounds over. Machado, co-promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and Miguel Cotto Promotions, decided to go through with the bout nonetheless. In a hard-fought battle, Machado got dropped in the fifth round, only to get up and eventually stop Corrales with a monster left hook in the eighth round to bring a world title to Puerto Rico, which was still reeling from the remnants of Hurricane Maria.

Unfortunately, the WBA complicated matters in April by awarding Gervonta Davis the “super” junior lightweight title for defeating Jesus Cuellar, thus outranking Machado’s “regular” title.



Regardless, Machado (19-0, 16 knockouts) will defend his belt this Saturday against Rafael Mensah on the HBO co-feature of the Jaime Mungia-Liam Smith junior middleweight title bout in Las Vegas.

Alberto Machado (right) and Jezreel Corrales exchange power shots. Photo / @HBOboxing

Nothing comes easy for Machado. Originally, Golden Boy slated Machado to appear on the Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin rematch last May, but the entire card was scrapped when Alvarez failed a drug test and faced a suspension. Next came two failed purse bids between Machado’s side and Mensah’s promoter, Don King, which caused more delays.

“Wow, it has taken a long time, but I am ready for July 21,” Machado proclaims. “The extra time gave me the time to be in the best condition possible.”

Mensah (31-0, 23 KOs) will make his first appearance outside of his native Ghana and hopes to follow in the footsteps of countrymen Ike Quartey and Joshua Clottey, who both went on to win world titles and find success fighting in the United States.

“We watched one video of Mensah,” Machado said. “He’s a strong fighter, but I know all of the fighters from Africa are strong. I know he will come ready, but I will also be ready, and he won’t stop me from bringing the championship back to Puerto Rico. I am fighting for the honor of Puerto Rico and all Latinos.”

Machado believes the win over Corrales gave him the experience he needed to prove himself as a champion because he needed to come from behind to win the bout.

“Yes I was down, but I got back up,” Machado said. “A champion has to be able to get back up, and I need to find that strength. Corrales hit me with a good punch that I didn’t see coming. I was in good shape, thanks to my team and my coach, Freddie Roach.”

Machado went on to say that thanks to social media, his team was able to follow Corrales’ workout plan and expected him to come in overweight. But everyone was shocked by how much over the 130-pound limit he actually weighed in at.

“It was a risk, a huge risk,” said Machado of his decision to go through with the fight. “I honestly didn’t feel I had a choice, but I knew in the shape I was in I could beat him. And I actually dropped him in the seventh round, but the referee missed it. In the eighth round I caught him good, and I am glad it was stopped because there was plenty of time left in the round. I could have hurt him bad, beyond boxing, and I don’t want that.”

At 5-foot-10, the lanky Machado resembles his idol, Alexis Arguello, who had the original “Explosivo” nickname for his knockout prowess.

“The media saw what I did against Corrales, the WBA knows who’s the champion and on Saturday I believe the whole world will know who the real WBA champion is,” Machado proclaimed.

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