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Orozco Puts in Road Work

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There’s a lot of great things about the city of San Diego AKA “America’s Finest City” where the weather always seems to be 75 degrees and sunny. Some say it has all the great things about Los Angeles without any of the negatives. But there is one thing that L.A. doesn’t have that the 619 doesn’t: a deep pool of boxers for a young prizefighter to spar with on a daily basis. This is why promising junior welterweight Antonio Orozco- who faces Josh Beeman tonight at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California- makes the trek from San Diego to Los Angeles three times a week in the lead up to this fight.
 
According to TravelMath.com, the trip up north is 121 miles (approximately a two-hour drive). Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Orozco and his trainer, Carlos Barragan, make the round-trip. For this fight, they spent a considerable amount of time at the famed Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood.

"You always have to sacrifice to get where you want to be," said Orozco, 10-0 (7). After his morning run, he hops into Barragan’s Chevy SUV and lies out in the back seat. "I don’t get beauty sleep; I’m just trying to get my rest, let my legs rest, my arms because it’s no rest coming up here." Orozco says that as they arrive for his day’s work, "I wake up all groggy; I gotta get off, catch some fresh air, start moving around, wet my face. But once I start moving around, start getting warmed up, it’s what we’re here for."

The reason why they do this is simple- the quality of sparring in Los Angeles, from the Maywood Boxing Club to the Ten Goose Gym to the Fortune Gym and Wild Card, among others, is perhaps the best you can get in the world on a day-to-day basis.
 
"When we’re in San Diego and we’re in Tijuana, I guess you can say it’s a warm-up to a warm-up because when you come over here, it’s all serious business," said Orozco. "You can’t come here when there’s two, three weeks to train; you come here like you’re prepared for a fight."
 
With gas now hovering around four bucks a gallon, it can get costly making that five-hour round-trip (if you factor in the vaunted Southern California traffic) thrice weekly. Barragan says, "It’s budgeted every time, $60, to get it to three-quarters [of a full tank of gas]. It takes exactly three-fourths; I already know at what point we need to be. It takes me about an hour to get to San Juan Capistrano; I know the actual points where I’m going to hit traffic."
 
It’s part of the price that has to be paid as a fledgling prizefighter.

"It’s a small investment into the larger picture, so that’s not important." says Barragan, who fills up for their trips with a customary stop at the Shell in National City. The route he takes to the Wild Card, which is located in the heart of Hollywood, is from the 805 to the 5 to the 101.
 
Asked if he has ever run into any SIG alerts or bottlenecks, Orozco replied, "Is there ever NOT traffic in L.A.?"  (You can file that under “Dumb question, smart answer”) Barragan says that he has become accustomed to being the road warrior, with some assistance. "My father comes with me about two days. Now, it’s not as draining. I have dinner with my family; I was telling them how now L.A. is not as far to me. You get used to the points where I need to be at a certain time. So it’s not a long trip, after all."
 
So which jaunt is worse; the one going to the gym or the one back home?

"Actually, the trip here because I like to get here, get it done and go home," said Orozco, who originally hails from Garden City, Kansas. "There’s nothing like going home. I’m out pretty much all morning. So getting back in the afternoon, I just want to get home, see my kids, spend some family time and that’s it." Barragan believes the rides back home are vital in team building and discussing their day at the gym. They seem to be close-knit crew and their manager, Frank Espinoza, is impressed by their commitment. "That tells me a lot about the team because it shows dedication, hunger. It shows what they want to do in this boxing business. They sacrifice in order to see the bigger picture down the line. He has everything in his tool box to be a world champion. So I think the big picture is you gotta sacrifice, work hard, dedicate yourself- even if it is taking long drives from San Diego. The outcome in a couple of years is that it’s all going to pay off."
 
Orozco’s last outing was a first-round blowout of Hensley Strachan on June 2nd. Beeman, who comes in on a seven-fight losing skid and is no stranger to getting halted, doesn’t figure to stick around all that long.
 
Espinoza says, "I think it’s important we start getting some rounds in there. I think he’s going to learn more from that than knocking guys out in the first round. So yeah, right now, he’s going to fight this fight, then the next one, we’re going to give him a little stiffer competition. We’re going to move him along right where he can learn, gain experience and progress."
 
As the stakes are raised in his career, renting a place in the local area will become a reality, if not a necessity.
 
"I’m pretty sure we can get better rest; we won’t be in such a big hurry and everything and we can take our time a little bit more," said a road-weary Orozco.
 
STUFF
 
- I was told that MTV Tr3s(MTV3) is in the developmental stage of a reality show that would follow a few fighters from the Golden Boy Promotions stable like Victor Ortiz and Robert Guerrero, among others. The show, which would have Mario “The Mexican Mauler” Lopez as an executive producer, would be called-what else?- “Golden Boys.”
 
- It looks like the August 27th edition of “Boxing After Dark” which features a highly anticipated match-up between Marcos Maidana and Guerrero at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, will be rounded out by talented featherweight Gary Russell Jr. and rising heavyweight Seth “Mayhem” Mitchell. What will be interesting is just how these guys will be matched in what are expected to be step-up fights.
 
- Lou DiBella says that a deal has been struck with HBO to have middleweight champion Sergio Martinez defend his title against Darren Barker on October 1st. As for the venue, he says he’s looking around at Las Vegas, Atlantic City, El Paso and Houston (In other words, all of the United States and surrounding areas are in play to land this fight that will have problems drawing wherever it takes place).
 
- Don’t look now but Brian Vera is now in the thick of things to land the fight against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., tentatively scheduled to fight on November 19th. If that’s the case, this bout (which figures to be a fun slugfest) is a perfect fit for Texas.
 
- I’m hearing everything from Sept. 3rd, the 24th and Nov. 5th in regard to a bout between IBF welterweight beltholder Jan Zaveck and Andre Berto on HBO. The only problem is that there is the not-so-small issue of the IBF exemption given to Zaveck (to basically get the hard-hitting Randall Bailey to step aside) where the deadline to fulfill this fight is August 27th. But it’s funny, last year when this fight was proposed- where it would have been a unification bout- it was nixed by the network. Now, it’s acceptable because Berto was just beaten by Victor Ortiz in April.
 
FRIDAY FLURRIES
 
I’ll have more on the life and times of Bouie Fisher, who passed away yesterday. He was a true gem and will be missed by all who knew him...The August 13th edition of “Top Rank Live” from Atlantic City will feature the always entertaining Teon Kennedy against Alejandro Lopez and Matt Remillard vs. Aaron Garcia...The WBA has invalidated the suspicious post-fight drug test of Austin Trout following his defeat of David Lopez and he will remain one of their 154-pound beltholders...Jhonny Gonzalez will defend his WBC featherweight title on July 9th in Atlantic City on the Paul Williams-Erislandy Lara card versus Tomas Villa. Talk about a soft defense; Villa would make me cringe if he was on “Solo Boxeo,” much less in a world title fight versus a legitimate puncher...So will we have a 2011-2012 NBA season?...Can you believe we are at the halfway point of 2011?...I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing.


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