WBA super featherweight champion Andrew Cancio faces Rene Alvarado in rematch
By John J. Raspanti
In 2016, Andrew Cancio figured his boxing career was over. He accepted this. Didn’t blame anyone. His full-time job at a gas company wasn’t so bad.
Cancio had turned pro at 17 in Mexico. He won 17 of his first 19 bouts. In 2014. he went to Chicago and faced Ronny Rios in a title-eliminator. Rios won the decision. Cancio stayed active with knockout victories over Hugo Fidel Cazares and Rene Alvarado.
A bout with Jo Jo Diaz went down two years later. Cancio was stopped in round nine. The dream of winning a world title seemed out of reach.
A chance to return to the ring materialized last year. A surprised Cancio talked it over with his wife and kids. They fully supported him. He faced undefeated prospect Aidar Sharibayev for the vacant WBA Intercontinental super featherweight title. Underdog Cancio started slow, but warmed up as the fight progressed. He won the bout by stoppage.
The win earned Cancio a top-20 ranking, and a contract with Golden Boy Promotions. Would he finally get his shot at a world title?
Undefeated WBA super featherweight champion, Alberto Machado, was on the lookout for an opponent. He needed a showcase fight. Cancio was offered the fight last February. He accepted, without hesitation.
Cancio entered the ring against Machado as a 14-1 underdog. The pressure of the moment hit Cancio hard. His legs felt funny. It helped that the venue was a place he liked, the Fantasy Springs and Casino in Indio, CA. He’d fought there nine times before.
The arena was filled with fans and co-workers hoping, but not really expecting, Cancio would win a world title.
The long odds of a victory looked on point in the opening stanza. An uppercut from the much taller Machado felled him. Machado, and most of the crowd, likely figured the fight was over. Cancio barely beat the count, but battled back in the closing seconds of the heat. The knockdown seemed to calm him. The shorter man started landing shots to the body. He seemed to draw strength from his home crowd, scoring consistently.
In round four, with blood leaking from his left eye, Cancio ripped more shots to the body. The champion was weakening. Cancio stalked and rocked, digging downstairs until Machado went down three times-forcing the referee to wave the fight off.
Cancio, in tears, went to the top rope of the ring and screamed as loud as he could.
Predictably, the word ‘fluke’ peppered discussions of the match. Machado wanted to do it again. He told Cancio to enjoy the title-that he’d be entering the ring with bad intentions.
Cancio smiled. The date was set for last June at the same venue.
Fluke you say? Not. This time the confident Cancio ended the fight a round earlier again, with a body shot.
"I’m here to stay; it’s not a fluke,” said a grinning Cancio in the ring. “I did this twice and you got to see the new and improved Andrew Cancio."
On November 23, once again, Fantasy Springs Resort and Casino in Indio, CA, Cancio will make the second defense of his title against mandatory opponent Rene Alvarado in another rematch. Four years ago, the two threw hands in the same ring, with Cancio knocking out Alvarado in the eighth round.
Alvarado, 30, of Nicaragua, has won seven fights in a row to earn a shot at Cancio’s title.
"I’m coming for the victory against Andrew Cancio on November twenty-third, Alvarado (31-8, 20 KOs) said a few weeks ago at a press conference. “We know each other very well, and it’s going to be a war."
Reigning champion Cancio (21-4-2, 16 KOs) is excited to be returning to his home away from home.
“This is my twelfth time fighting there, (Fantasy Springs Resort Casino) and I love the enthusiasm my fans bring to the venue,” said Cancio. “Rene Alvarado and I have fought before and now he’s earned another opportunity to fight me.”
Nothing has been given to Andrew Cancio. He’s a fighter through and through. Expect him to retain his title Nov.23 with another knockout victory.