When Colombian super bantamweight Oscar Escandon travelled to Argentina to take on Jesus Cuellar in October 2011, he intended to introduce himself to the upper echelon of the of the 122-pound division. Though he shocked hometown favourite Cuellar, stopping him in the seventh stanza, Escandon was unable to capitalise on the win, though he remained active in 2012 he couldn’t get the big fights he craved. The four wins since the Cuellar victory did catch the eye of renowned boxing super-agent Sampson Lewkowicz, who signed Escandon earlier this year. The first fight of their alliance takes place in Panama on Saturday when he meets former world champion Mauricio Martinez. If all goes well, the objective turns to meeting one of the big names at 122 or even 118 pounds. Currently, the 28-year-old former Olympian is 21-0 with 14 stoppages and is ranked number 12 by the WBA and 15 by the WBC.
Anson Wainwright - You had four fights last year but you weren’t able to capitalise on the win over Jesus Cuellar in 2011. Now you’ve signed with Sampson Lewkowicz. Can you tell us about this relationship and how it came about?
Oscar Escandon - The win over Jesus Cuellar has been the most important victory of my career as a professional boxer, especially because it was in Buenos Aires, hometown of Jesus. I was not able to capitalize [on] the win because at that time, we didn’t have a promoter or international representation who could help us get fights in the U.S.A. or the rest of the world where the big champions and most important international organisations are. The four fights I had last year were very fulfilling because they left a good experience in me, experiences I will need in the future to face the best boxers in the world. Luckily, with Mr. Sampson Lewkowicz, things worked out. He had the best references on me, everything I’ve done in my career like amateur boxing, now professional, my unconquered record of 21 fights and especially the victory over the Argentinean boxer Jesus Cuellar. My manager, Francisco Herrera, contacted him. They had some chats and now I’m very proud to belong to the Sampson Boxing company.
AW - The best win on your record was when you beat the highly-touted Cuellar in, as you say, his hometown in late 2011. What can you tell us about the victory and how happy were you with your performance?
OE - So far, this has been the most important victory I’ve had because Cuellar had an unbeaten record. He was fighting as a local, classified in the IBF and WBO. But my dream does not culminate here; I owe my career as a professional boxer and my dream is to face the best ones of the world, in the best scenes and defeating them to obtain an economic future, to be able to help my family and be an example to my dear Colombia. Cuellar is a tremendous boxer; I know he will get to be a world champion. I feel a great respect for him as a person and as a sportsman. With Cuellar, I had to give the best of me. He gave me a fight with lots of hand speed. A few times, he stood where I wanted him to. I managed to land some hands in the abdomen that did damage to him. He started to become weaker from my power until finally, I obtained the technical knockout in the seventh round with the opportune intervention of the referee [Hernan Guajardo].
AW - When, where and against whom will you next be in action? What are your plans for 2013?
OE - My promoter, Sampson Lewkowicz, set up a fight for me for March 16 in Panama City at the Megapolis Convention Center against Panamanian Mauricio Martinez (36-14-1 (24)) over 10 rounds at 126 pounds. With this fight, I begin my activities in 2013. I’m already training to leave the best impression, to win objectively and to be ready for the next fight, hopefully for a world title.
AW - Who are the key members of your team? Where do you regularly train?
OE - My manager is Francisco Herrera. I owe him a big part of all the success I’ve obtained in this difficult career. I’m conscious that in Colombia, it is very hard to train a boxer to maintain the expectations to position himself in the world. It’s a duty that needs to be encouraged by people with lots of qualities like Francisco. In my hometown, Ibague, Tolima, my trainer is lawyer Raul Ortiz, who trained me for the classification and participation in the Olympic Games of Athens, 2004. In the professionals, my instructor has been Alfonso Perez, also an ex-Olympian in Munich ’72, winning a bronze medal for Colombia. My international promoter is Sampson Boxing.
AW - Could you tell us about your training? What is a typical day in the gym? What is your walk-around weight?
OE - My routine starts with an early run in the morning and in the afternoon, I go to the gym to maintain the conditions and to wait for the next fight. By then, I formulate a plan of work according to the characteristics of the opponent. I stay at 130 pounds and with training, I arrive easily at the 122 pounds that is my regular fighting weight. Inclusively, I can arrive at 118 pounds if it’s for a world title.
AW - Can you tell us about the early years of your life and what it was like growing up in Colombia?
OE - With lots of sacrifices and efforts since I come from a very humble family, I started boxing in the city of Ibague where I was born. All my life as a fan, I lived there. Since I was a kid, I had to work, train and study. At home, we had a small fabric of Arepas, which maintained all the expenses of my brothers and parents. As years passed, I made my selections and prepared to attend the first National championships in all the categories my country had and by being brave and prepared all around, I entered the National Selection of Colombia, which helped me a lot to project myself at an international level and had the fortune to acquire a lot of experience and knowledge in the boxing.
AW - Many of your countrymen like Darley Perez, Breidis Prescott and Yonnhy Perez have made the move to fight in America. Is that something you’d like to do?
OE - Yes, sure, it is something I admire a lot because they also have been through a lot of sacrifices and with the help of God and keeping the humbleness I want to reach more triumphs than they have obtained so far.
AW- Can you tell us about your amateur career? What titles did you win; what current pros did you fight and what was your final record?
OE - I had around 200 fights and a few times, I saw defeat. This helped me to make all the Olympic cycles and to represent Colombia in the Olympics in Athens, 2004 (Escandon lost in the 16th round to eventual bronze medallist Rustamhodza Rahimov).
AW- Could you tell us a little about yourself as a person, about your family and what you like to do when you’re not boxing?
OE - I consider myself a friendly person, happy, easygoing, responsible, humble and with big challenges. I have six brothers and my parents; I have a son named Juan Jose that I love very much and my dear wife, Jhelly. We three live together in the city of Ibague. When I’m not boxing, I like to take trips with my family and friends, listen to music and dedicate time to my spiritual growth, the word of God.
AW- What is your nickname and how did you get it?
OE - In Colombia, they call me “The Olympic Escandon” because of my classification and participation in the Olympic Games of Athens in 2004.
AW- What boxers did you look up to when you were young and who do you enjoy watching today?
OE - I liked Mike Tyson, Oscar De la Hoya and now, Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr.
AW- Finally, do you have a message for the super bantamweight division?
OE - For the 122-pound division and - why not? - the 118-pound division, I’m warning them that now is the time of Escandon. By the hand of my promoter, Sampson Lewkowicz, I aspire to face the Abner Mareses, Nonito Donaires and Guillermo Rigondeauxs of the world, so that they see the power of this Colombian boxer.
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