“Look, there were a couple of dates, three or four dates and a little bit of frustration,” Orozco admitted a couple of weeks back after making the two-hour trek from San Diego (where he now resides with his wife) to the Maywood Boxing Club, “so it’s always the best interest to just stay ready. I gotta say it does take a little bit of a toll for us that when we get a date in order for us to get fully ready. I mean, we’re up here and so with the date changes, it was a little bit frustrating. But I’m sure Golden Boy [Promotions] had their reasons. We’re not going to fight over it; we’re not going to argue. They treat us very well; there’s no reason to make a fuss over it. I mean, this year we’re expecting a big year.
“So obviously, it takes a lot of dedication getting ready over the holidays,” he continued with a chuckle, “so January 24th we’ll be ready.”
Orozco, 18-0 (14), lost track of the dates he was supposed to fight on at the end of 2013. However, a chagrined Frank Espinoza, who manages him, recalls, “November 7th, also November 30th, December 7th was offered and December 14th was offered and now we’re going to be fighting on January 24th. Y’ know, with a length of a boxer’s career span being so short, we were really disappointed by what took place late last year. I think we have a great fighter with a lot of potential. I know Golden Boy understands what they have here but we have to start moving him because the time is now to start really developing him into a fighter who can compete for a world title and that only happens by fighting more often.”
Espinoza, who notes that their contract calls for four fights a year, says the worst call a manager can make is the one to a fighter telling him that his fight is postponed or canceled. “Absolutely, because the fighter has prepared himself physically and mentally, made sacrifices we can’t comprehend as normal people who aren’t fighters. They diet; they cut weight, take time out from their family and friends. They think they have a date, for instance, November 7th. Six weeks before that, [Orozco] was already training for a fight that eventually got moved and then scratched completely.
“Telling him that he had to stop and then start over, yeah, it’s a terrible situation to be in and then to do it again, two, three weeks later and then a few weeks later again. I felt terrible for the kid because I know what he puts into this. I hate to do that to any of my boxers, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed for January 24th.”
When Eric Gomez, matchmaker for Golden Boy Promotions is asked why Orozco was held up, he explained, “I gotta look at exactly what happened but I think there was a wedding, then he had an injury and then we had some postponements. I would have to really look at what happened but it’s been a series of things. But this year, we want to get him back on track, get him going and I think we will.” Golden Boy puts on as many cards as any promoter in the world. However, they also have an expansive roster and there are times when they have more fighters than available slots.
Orozco, who actually got married in 2012, says that having the plug pulled on scheduled bouts takes more of a psychological toll than a physical one.
“Because you have to get mentally ready,” explained Orozco, who understands his current place in the game, “but I guess that’s how the sport is at this point. I’m not at the top, an elite fighter, yet, so I gotta take it as it comes and just get ready for my opportunity and make sure I’m going to be ready for it.”
His trainer, Carlos Barragan states, “We joke around that we’re the ‘Road Warriors,’ so there’s some miles put on cars, a lot of time involved in preparing Orozco but in this sport, you have those kind of situations when you’re coming up; you’re a swing bout. You get ready; you go back to the dressing room, so you get used to that kind of stuff. I’m pretty confident that with Frank’s representation, we’ll get solid dates coming up and with Golden Boy, they’ve got a ton of dates. I believe Frank’s going to do a great job and I think 2014 is going to be a good year for Antonio.”
Orozco is unusually focused and mature for being just 26 years old. He understands his job is to fight in the ring. It’s the job of his manager to fight his battles outside of it. This much is clear; Orozco could have a big future and 2014 is pivotal. “Look, he’s 26 years old; he’s ready. He’s been proving each time out there that he belongs in the top 10 [at junior welterweight]. He belongs in there with better fighters. I wouldn’t be surprised if towards the end of the year, he fights for a title,” said Gomez, who is high on the fighter who lives up to his moniker, “Relentless.” “I’ve told his manager; I’ve told [Golden Boy CEO] Richard [Schaefer], to me, he’s like a young Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. The combinations he throws to the body, to the head, everything. He works the body so well. It’s a beautiful thing to watch.
“He doesn’t stop; he’s very smart. He actually has very good defense; he doesn’t get hit too much but just the combinations he’ll throw. He’ll throw to the body and finish on top or start on top and finish on the bottom. It’s just beautiful to watch. He’s well-schooled.”
Barragan adds, “I think slowly but surely, he’s got some good stuff out there. Some good guys that are out there that Orozco can make a showing against and Frank understands the business and with Golden Boy’s help, I think 2014, Oscar becomes even that much more popular.”
Espinoza says it’s imperative that Orozco is kept busy and moved up the boxing ladder.
“I think for sure, he’s going to be active as possible. That’s my biggest concern; I want to keep him fighting consistently and I’d like to place him on bigger shows like on Showtime this upcoming year. I would also like to see him get paid more. I understand the opponents get tougher from here on out and the stakes get raised. That’s part of the business but he’s at a critical stage of his career. He’s married now; he’s got rent to pay, a family to feed, babies on the way and those responsibilities and obligations don’t stop regardless of anything else. Those four postponements were very damaging to him. We need to make up for lost time.”
Orozco is looking forward to embarking on his 2014 and resuming his career and having “an even better year than 2013. I’m taking it like always. I’ve always said, ‘One fight at a time.’ I don’t want to get too ahead of myself, so I don’t want to start thinking to highly of myself just yet. It’s a long process, obviously. With the help of Frank Espinoza, Golden Boy, my trainers, we’re on the right path.”
LOS GOLDEN BOY
Orozco is one of three fighters (alongside Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares) being featured in “Los Golden Boys” which will air six one-hour episodes this spring on MundoFox, which follows their exploits in and out of the ring.
So what was it like having camera crews trailing him for long stretches?
“At first it was very uncomfortable, not just for me but my wife, my kids, and it kinda grew on us. We adapted to it and it’s going to be fun. Once everything comes out on TV, I think it’s going to be a great show.”
(Full disclosure, I am working as a technical adviser on this show.)
Here’s the latest episode of “The Next Round” with Gabe Montoya and Yours Truly:
This card featuring Orozco is being televised on FoxSports1 and Fox Deportes (check your local listings)...Hall of Fame running back Curtis Martin has taken up boxing in his retirement: http://sports.sho.com/blogs/inside-the-nfl/curtis-martin...The March 1st bout between WBO lightweight titlist Ricky Burns and Terence Crawford will be shown Stateside on AWE (formerly WealthTV)...Vince Young filing for bankruptcy should be a cautionary tale for every young athlete...I’m guessing the winter weather in the Northeast won’t do much for the walk-up sales for this weekend’s boxing cards...Uh, wasn’t scheduling a Super Bowl in New York always a bad idea?...The segments on Strawberry Mansion High School in Philadelphia and the fight scene in Thailand involving kids is why I still watch “Nightline”…Ican be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.