Wednesday, September 27, 2023  |


Andrew Cancio’s comeback takes center stage on ESPN tonight

Andrew Cancio. Photo by Tom Hogan - Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions
Fighters Network

Hard-hitting junior lightweight Andrew Cancio continues to comeback trail tonight as he takes on Darden Zenunaj in the main event of a “Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN” show tonight at Fantasy Springs Resort and Casino in Indio, California.

Cancio (18-4-2, 14 knockouts) is coming off a 10th-round TKO victory over previously unbeaten and highly touted Aidar Sharibayev. That bout was Cancio’s first following a two-year layoff a stoppage loss to Joseph “JoJo” Diaz on the Canelo Alvarez-Liam Smith undercard in September 2016.

“I knew I was going to win my comeback fight the minute I accepted it,” Cancio told “I put my personal troubles behind me and just feel revitalized. My whole camp is different now.”

Cancio blames the loss to Diaz on a bevy of personal issues that have plagued the native of Blythe, California (which isn’t too far from Indio) for years and sent him into a self-imposed hiatus from the sport.

“Not taking anything away from JoJo but I wasn’t there that night,” Cancio recalls. “That’s a fight I want back and hopefully I can get the opportunity to see him again. I know I can beat him.”

Cancio admits he contemplated hanging the gloves up while being away from the sport he loves but is relieved to find his way back to meaningful fight cards.

“I used to put a lot of pressure on myself because I had a lot of self-doubt,” Cancio said. “I am more at ease with myself today than ever before and I owe it to my team who have only the best intentions for me.”

Cancio regards his experience both inside and out of the ring as the main reasons why this new chapter of his career will lead him to a world title.

“I am from a small town so in the beginning I couldn’t imagine myself being here with all these other fighters,” Cancio said. “Through hard work and the help of my two coaches I am more ready today than ever. I am super confident.”

Cancio and Zenunaj after the weigh-in. Photo by Tom Hogan – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions

Golden Boy Promotions signed Cancio following his win over Sharibayev and Cancio knows big fights with top 130-pound fighters are in the not too distant future if he gets past Zenunaj tonight.

“I have extreme faith in my trainers Joseph Janik and Fernando Velasquez,” Cancio explains. “Everyone knows if I keep winning we keep making money and that’s the plan. No one on my team has egos. We are just here for one thing to help me become a world champion.”

Zenunaj (14-4, 11 KOs) will look to spoil the party tonight as the pressure fighter from Albania will be there in the middle of the ring waiting for Cancio.

“I saw some clips of his fights and I like what I saw,” Cancio said. “My last opponent was running around the ring all night before I caught him. I hope I don’t have to chase Zenunaj. If he wants to fight we will fight. If he tries to run, I will showcase my skills for the world to see.”

While Cancio, 29, lost two years from his prime he still feels he has a lot to give and trusts his body is in top form with less miles on it then other fighters his age. If he had to go back in time and offer advice to a younger Cancio about avoiding pitfalls:

“I would say stay away from girls,” Cancio said with a laugh. “At least until I retire.”