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The Buzz for Antonio Orozco

Antonio Orozco
Antonio Orozco

It was just a couple of weekends ago that a bevy of prospects/suspects went down in flames. From David Lemieux to Marcus Johnson and James Kirkland, they all saw their undefeated marks fall by the wayside. Some will say these were upsets; others will state that they were merely exposed at the seasoned hands of Marco Antonio Rubio, Dyah Davis and Nobu Ishida, respectively. Regardless, the results of these fights got everyone’s attention, especially other fledgling hopefuls who have undefeated marks.

One of them would be junior welterweight Antonio Orozco, 9-0 (6), who performs this Thursday night at the OC Fight Club in Costa Mesa versus Hensley Strachan.

"Oh, definitely, that did catch me by surprise," admitted Orozco, last week at the Maywood Boxing Club, which is located in the working-class neighborhood of Maywood, a suburb of Los Angeles. "It just goes to show that you just have to be 100 percent ready, if not 110 percent. You have to keep in mind that there [are] other people out there that are just as hungry as you are, if not even more."

When asked which result shocked him the most, Orozco answered, "I would have to say it was more about the Kirkland fight. Everybody just sees him as a raging bull, somebody that just walks through people and for him to be stopped like that, it’s something you have to put into consideration."

Orozco is not at that stage where the aforementioned trio was, where their fights were nationally-televised and being on the verge of title shots and such. However, after he impressively halted Manuel Aguilar in one round at the same venue he will be performing in this week, back in March, there is now a legitimate buzz surrounding this young man, who originally hails from Garden City, Kansas (where he began his boxing career at the same gym where Brandon Rios and Victor Ortiz trained).

The word is out; Orozco, who now resides in San Diego, just might be a guy who has a shot to do something.

"I read; I try and stay informed but I try to pay too much attention to it. I really can’t get caught up in the moment of the buzz because maybe some fighters will think, ’Well, maybe I’m doing good and probably doing good enough.’ But my situation, I gotta perform better than I did on my previous fight," said Orozco, who admitted, "Just hearing so much positive comments about your performance, it revs you up. It gives you that desire to keep on going and show that you can get better."

Orozco came into the professional ranks with a solid amateur résumé. He was the 2003 Junior Olympic Championship bronze medalist and he took home the silver medal in the 2004 Junior Olympics. He won the 2005 Ringside National title and was the 2007 Great West Regional champion. In the lead-up to the Olympics, he defeated both Javier Molina and Jesse Vargas but had to drop out of the trials due to a shoulder injury.

"I’ve been truly blessed," said his trainer, Carlos Barragan. "When he first came to us as an amateur, he was rough but as we began to work with him and began to refine him, the greatest part about it, he’s very disciplined. He’s very humble and he understands the sport; he understands what is necessary to become successful in this sport."

The young man just seems mature beyond his 23 years.

"He truly is," confirmed Barragan. "What’s really interesting is this kid, he reads novels, Of Mice and Men, Catcher in the Rye; he’s very, very mature. He has two beautiful children and some people will say, ’Well, he has two children too fast,’ No, no, this has grounded him. He has a great young lady that’s his girlfriend, Claudia, that takes care of him. They live together, great relationship, and that’s one of the reasons why he is very mature. During family gatherings, we hang out; his girl and my wife and that keeps him grounded. He’s very mature; he’s not into the nightclubs, going out. He’s just a great little family man."

As they prepare for fights, Orozco and Barragan regularly make the two-hour trek from San Diego to come to Los Angeles for a higher grade of sparring. On this day, Orozco went a few heated rounds with Molina, his amateur rival. The session had gym patrons lined up around all four corners of the ring. Folks within the industry seem to know that Orozco is someone to keep an eye on.

"Y’ know what’s really interesting is today’s sparring session stopped the whole gym and everybody surrounded. We have those conversations on the way home. Those are the conversations that we just remind him- stay grounded, the success will come. But as long as you’re grounded and you have your priorities correct, everything can be managed correctly," said Barragan. "With the help of [manager] Frank Espinoza and the Espinoza Boxing Club, Frank has really solidified our foundation in this sport and with his direction, we’ve made a great team."

Espinoza, whose roster includes Abner Mares, Yonnhy Perez, Carlos Molina, Luis Ramos and Ronny Rios, says, "I really like Antonio. He has a good amateur background; he’s had some great wins in the amateurs over Jessie Vargas and Javier Molina. I just see nothing but improvement in him and I see a future world champion." What’s easy to scout in perspective fighters are the tangibles like speed and power. What’s more problematic is gauging the things that you can’t always identify immediately that are probably more important that any physical gifts. It’s the difference between a Ryan Leaf and Peyton Manning.

Orozco seems to have the requisite intangibles.

"No question," said Espinoza. "He seems really grounded; he’s a family man. He takes the sport seriously. He wants to become a world champion. I see something. If I had to explain him, I’d say he’s something special. He’s just a special fighter to me."

Right now, Orozco is a promotional free agent, which is the way “Freelance Frank” has done it in the past with his other clients. Build an early record on the local circuit; create an interest in the fighter before settling in on a promoter. Orozco’s last outing caught the attention of Golden Boy Promotions, which promoted the last card he appeared on.

When asked to describe his style, Orozco states, "I bring it to the ring. It depends on the person that I’m fighting; if I have to show my boxing skills, I will box. If I have to be the aggressor, I’ll push forward." As for his progress, he says, "I believe comparing my last fight to my previous ones, I’m still in the learning process. I can’t say that I’m there; it’s just a journey for me and getting to learn more things about boxing, better techniques and like I said, it’s just a learning process for me."

"No rush," said Barragan, as he talks about his fighter’s path. "With Frank’s help, we’re getting the actual exposure. With his help, we’re getting the actual fights and that’s what makes him more successful. He’s developing. The last fight, he stopped [Aguilar] with a body shot. We haven’t done that before. Before that, we stopped a guy with a little left uppercut up the center. We hadn’t done that before, so it’s developing, keeping sharp and with Frank’s help, getting the correct opponents to develop him."

There will be no microwaving of this career, which is something that Barragan and Espinoza see eye-to-eye on.

"We’re humble and we make sure we know where we’re at," said the respected manager. "Y’ know, with the guiding of Carlos, he’s coming and he knows everything about Antonio, what he needs to get done. He really watches over Antonio, so I’m really lucky with him being in San Diego, with me here in L.A., that I got somebody good like Carlos to make sure everything works well for Antonio."

Orozco says his immediate goal is to improve each fight, nothing less, nothing more.

"Like I mentioned before, with every fight that comes in my future, my goal is to exert myself to my previous match and show that I am in the learning process and it’s for the better of my career."


If you haven’t been to this venue at the Hangar at the Orange County Fair and Event Center in Costa Mesa, I highly recommend it. As promoter Roy Englebrecht promised, it just might be the premiere club venue in the whole country. It’s certainly the best I’ve seen in Southern California. Tickets for this card are $40, $45 and $50.

For more info, log on to:


While it wasn’t the result that Puerto Rican fans wanted on Saturday night in Bayamon, where Orlando Salido upset Juan Manuel Lopez, Guillermo Rodriguez, who was featured in my fourth installment of The Island last week, still had a good time...

Hey Steve,


Thae four piece story on Boxing in PR was wonderful and it made my year being involved on it. Thanks for the opportunity.



Now regarding the fight.


The undercard was uneventful. I got there around 7:30 with 2 friends and had quite a few drinks before the main event. I had mid range tickets but had a great view. Also the place was packed which was no surprise at all. 


The problem with the fight was a) Juanma could not hurt Salido and B) He could not avoid Salido’s Right hand. When Juanma got dropped you should have been there to see mine and all my fellow boriquas scared to death faces. Everybody remained on their feet from rounds 5-8. He is a warrior who will go down on his shield always but I did not see this one coming. I had to wait an see the tape the next day to make an assessment. I think the ref should have given a few more seconds since juanma (was hurt) but still fighting back and you have to give him at least that much. The worst stop ever? nah just a little early for my taste specially the fight been held here. Wow the atmosphere and electricity there was amazing specially when Juanma fought back after hitting the canvas. 


You know what it would not surprise me at all if Juanma beats him in a rematch. Probably a desision though. He gets hit to much for my taste but hey that’s what makes him exciting. Nobody ever said he was the next sweet pea.



Wow that berto-ortiz fight through the first 6 rounds was something special. Ortiz looked huge in there and Berto even loosing came out looking better that on any of his victories.






Speaking of Berto-Ortiz, I forgot to mention this before but Berto’s corner led by Capt. Tony Morgan was quite the clusterbomb, wasn’t it? I mean, the only way it could’ve been worse is if they had a prophylactic filled with ice as the Enswell. But seriously, with Morgan, Berto’s brother and the father all chirping stuff like, ’You’re an assassin’ at once, it was like a three-headed def poetry recital.

It wasn’t exactly vintage George Benton-Lou Duva.

In all seriousness, just like its fighter, I think this corner had fallen into the malaise of not being put into stressful situations and in essence, they were just as stunned as the guy sitting on their stool. Unfortunately, while they all said a lot (at once), in reality, they said a lot of nothing.


Also on this card on Thursday night is undefeated welter Hugo “The Boss” Centeno and Holly “Lil’ Bear” Lawson...I really like this all-Brit lightweight clash being talked about between John Murray and Kevin Mitchell for the summer...Frankie Gomez headlines the April 28th edition of the Fight Night Club” at Club Nokia...I only saw the clips on the HBO broadcast but Puerto Rican welterweight Thomas Dulorme looks like an intriguing prospect/suspect...Congrats to the Lakers Lamar Chloe-dom on his “Sixth Man of the Year” Award...As for the Purple-and-Gold, they can’t possibly go down 0-2 to the Hornets, right?...I can be reached at and I tweet at We also have a Facebook fan page at


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