By John J. Raspanti
Though victorious in 18 of 21 professional fights, Alan Sanchez has grown accustomed to being an underdog.
In some ways, he thrives on it.
“I’m motivated to prove people wrong,” said Sanchez during a telephone interview a few weeks ago.
The 26-year-old native of Fairfield faces tough Miguel Angel Huerta on June 23 at the Woodland Community Center in Woodland, CA.
Sanchez’s career got off to a slow start. He lost two of his first eight bouts. Opposing mangers likely figured that matching their fighters against Sanchez would result in a win.
Undefeated boxers Jesse Isais, Alberto Morales, Luis Grajeda, and John Ryan Grimlado bought into this theory.
Sanchez defeated them all.
“I remember when he fought Grimaldo,” said Paco Damian of Paco Presents, who along with Hall of Famer Don Chargin, is promoting Sanchez’s fight against Huerta. “Oh, my gosh!” Damian said. “Alan gave him a beating.”
Sanchez turned pro in 2010 after 16 amateur bouts. He’s been learning on the job ever since. Getting good sparing and a consistent trainer has been an issue. Sanchez rectified both problems a few weeks ago when he hooked up with veteran trainer Max Garcia – whose resume’ includes training contenders Eloy Perez, Paul Mendez, and Tino Avila.
“Working with Max is great,” said Sanchez. “Something new. I’m getting regular sparring, something I haven’t never got before.”
Garcia appreciates Sanchez’attitude.
“He’s got a great work ethic,” Garcia said. “He’s willing to learn and has faith in what I’m teaching him. He didn’t know anything about angles, and making space. He’s taking it all in.”
Sanchez’s last fight was the most important of his career. His opponent was Pablo Cesar Cano, a 27-year-old power-puncher with an impressive record.
Cano has been in the ring with former champions Paulie Malignaggi and Shane Mosely. In 2012, he defeated unbeaten Johan Perez for the interim WBA world super welterweight title. Cano was prepping for another run at a title. His fight with Sanchez was viewed by many as a mere tune-up.
Sanchez didn’t see it that way.
“We had a plan,” Sanchez said.
That they did. Sanchez used his height and reach to frustrate Cano.
“He was trying to land combinations, but was missing,” said Sanchez. ”He has a punch, but I knew I could stay with him.”
Damian wasn’t surprised when Sanchez defeated Cano.
“Alan is very strong mentally,” said Damian.” He always trains hard. He’s been improving with every fight. Two of his losses are questionable. Alan has the desire, and also the ability.”
The victory over Cano was huge for Sanchez. As a result, doors were expected to open; bigger fights would come.
Instead, Sanchez waited for phone calls that never came. The underdog was likely being given the silent treatment for pulling off the upset.
“It’s frustrating,” Sanchez said. “I think they wanted him (Cano) to win. I think that’s one of the reasons I haven’t fought in a year.”
Sanchez soldiered on. To stay in shape, he competed in a triathlon of swimming, biking, and running. But he wanted a fight.
When promoter Damian called, Sanchez (said yes immediately) was ready.
“It’s great to be back,” said Sanchez. “When I was asked about fighting, I said, ’Alright, let’s do this.’ I’ll be at home, and a lot of people can come out support me. Huerta will be a tough opponent.”
Huerta (28-14-1, 14 KOs) has been in the ring with some of the best fighters in the division. He’s strong and determined, and always comes to fight.
Sanchez is expecting Huerta to be at his best on June 23. For one of the few times in his long career, the veteran battler has had time to prepare. He’ll be ready, as will Sanchez.
“When they told me about the fight I was wasn’t that worried about it,” Sanchez said. “I was watching some of his fights yesterday and I’m like, ’Dang. This is going to be complicated’. He’s (Huerta) short, he moves his head a lot. It’s not going to be easy to defeat him. It’s going to be hard. I’m training harder than ever.”
Tickets for the Sanchez vs. Huerta fight (plus five other matches) can be purchased online at www.pacopresentsboxing.com.