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In plain view: Alex Saucedo returns to Oklahoma

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In plain view: Alex Saucedo returns to Oklahoma

Los Angeles, (June 26, 2018)- In the heat of his toughest fight to date, Alex “Cholo” Saucedo was as cool as the spring rain that showered the outdoor arena in which he was fighting last March. There weren’t many there that weathered one of the very few rainy days in Los Angeles, but like those who’ve either seen him in the flesh or on some undercard stream, any hurdle to catch a Saucedo fight has been worth it over the past few years. Abner Lopez – his opponent on this night – was a perfect match for Saucedo’s style, and the Mexican from Tijuana gave him a hell of a fight to remember.

“I know that those fights are going to make me a better fighter,” Saucedo told underthehandwraps.com at a media workout last week. “I think every fight is tough but I believe (Abner) Lopez was one of the toughest fights out there.”

Saucedo is prone to action fights because he’s trained to do so, but never before had he been touched up like he was against Lopez. Much of the reason why they exchanged with each other so fluidly, was because Lopez was not only game for the challenge, but he sure could take a punch. Lopez even managed to back up Saucedo on occasion and forced a cut under his right eye from a punch in the second round. Saucedo found himself in a real fight, but never was he deterred or panicky about his situation. The same went for the man who trained him for these type of fights, and as his protege stepped into the fire, Abel Sanchez calmly watched, rarely feeling the need to shout instruction during the fight. After six rounds, Saucedo was winning the battle but was the one considerably bruised and battered, however, that face was the only one smirking in the fight’s conclusive instance when he knocked out Lopez with a picture perfect liver shot in the seventh.

“I learned a lot from it,” Saucedo said. “We did some things that we had to do. Out of that fight, we saw what we have to work on. There were punches that I shouldn’t have been getting hit with. We went back to the gym and worked on it. Now, I believe I’ve been looking great in sparring. We worked on everything that we wanted to and perfected it.”

Saucedo (27-0, 17 KOs) is a prospect nipping at the heels of contention in the junior welterweight division. This month, he was elevated to the No.1 contender slot in the WBO 140-pound rankings, whom just crowned a new title holder in Maurice Hooker as well in June. Saucedo, who also as a No.2 ranking in the WBA, makes his return to the ring this Saturday night in a 10-round bout against Lenny Zappavigna (37-3, 27 KOs).

“I did a twelve week training camp for this fight because I know Lenny is a tough, aggressive fighter, so I have to be 100-percent ready for it,” mentioned Saucedo about his opponent. Zappavigna is an experienced Australian who’s fit for the offensive-minded style of his trainer Freddie Roach. Similar to how Lopez faired against Saucedo, Zappavigna pushed Sergey Lipinets to the limit before getting knocked out in the eighth round. The 30-year old has had two knockout wins since that defeat 18 months ago and anything but an action fight with Saucedo would be shocking.

“I’m very excited. Very motivated,” proclaimed Saucedo. “We have a tough opponent, a tough guy in front of us with a great knockout percentage, a lot of experience, and aggressive, so I believe we’re gonna make it a really good fight for the fans to enjoy. I wanted to bring a tough fight to the city so they can see that we’re ready to move on to bigger things. It’s going to be a tough fight but I believe I’m ready to put him out of there as well.”

Giving the fans a fight is what he’s naturally been doing all this time, but with the fight being staged in his hometown of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and it being the televised co-feature of Saturday night’s ESPN (9:00 PM ET / 6 PT) card, Saucedo recognizes the importance of giving a great performance.

Alex Saucedo

Photo: Mikey Williams

“Everyone watched me grow up as an amateur fighter, as a professional fighter, and now they have the opportunity to see me fight on ESPN and at the Chesapeake Arena,” he said proudly. Saucedo has fought on TV before but UniMas doesn’t nearly have the same reach or the same authoritative resonance as ESPN. Fighting in Oklahoma City has been done twice before by Saucedo, but the last time was four years ago, and he’s even fought in his birth home of Meoqui, Chihuahua since fighting in OKC. Both of those shows were homecoming one-offs that weren’t promoted by Top Rank – Saucedo’s promoter – who signed him way back in 2012 at the age of 19. As the story goes, Saucedo impressed Manny Pacquiao in a sparring session and the Filipino legend told Bob Arum about it. Soon enough, Saucedo was signed. That seems to be how it goes with Saucedo, who was the very first boxing client of two Hollywood luminaries: Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg.

“They contacted me. Mark Walhberg and Peter Berg were interested in signing a fighter. They contacted me and wanted me to be their first fighter. So far it’s been awesome,” Saucedo said. That happened nearly two years ago, and since then, Wahlberg and Berg have signed another junior welterweight, Regis “Rougarou” Prograis, who will be having a New Orleans homecoming of his own in July on ESPN. “They’ve worked on the outside for my boxing career and getting me known. It’s great to have someone that knows boxing behind you.”

Top Rank set up this event in Oklahoma City with the hopes of growing Saucedo’s profile as he enters contention at 140-pounds, and even though Gilbert “Zurdo” Ramirez will be looking to make the fourth defense of his WBO super middleweight title (vs. Alexis Angulo) in the main event, the Mexican beltholder will certainly have a tough act to follow once the Okie everyone came to see gives them the show he wants.

“It’s one of the biggest boxing events in Oklahoma,” Saucedo proclaimed. “I’m very motivated about that and excited. I want to prove that people from Oklahoma City do support boxing as well. I want everyone to come out and support because it’s gonna be a huge event and I’m going to make sure everyone gets there money’s worth. I’ve been working hard to put a show on for everyone, so it’s going to be a great night of boxing. A historic night of boxing and I expect everyone to come out and support.”

Alex Saucedo

Photo: Mikey Williams

Saucedo was born and raised in Mexico up until around seven years old, when his father immigrated the family to America once landing a job in the oil fields of Oklahoma. He grew up boxing with his older brother Jorge, but as Alex put it, it was only him who had the knack for fighting. He quickly became As Oklahoma’s amateur standout, they called him “El Cholito” growing up in and out of the ring, and as an adolescent with a taste for the baggy clothing, “El Cholo” was an easy transition and choice to be his moniker once turning pro.

“A lot of people don’t like it,” Saucedo mentioned. “But I grew up with it.”

Today, Saucedo – who just turned 24 on June 24th – has traded in the baggy clothes but still rocks the attitude of a young ruffian confident in his fighting skills. He’s openly called out WBC junior welterweight title holder Jose Ramirez for awhile now, and considering they share a promoter, it could be one of many fun action fights down the road. However, the talk from Saucedo about it has subsided, especially since his squabble with Lopez in March. Now with his fight against Zappavigna in the foreview, perhaps he knows there is work to be done before landing a big fight like that, and it starts with not only making a long-awaited mainstream TV debut, but connecting with the Oklahomans that can support him well-enough to get him there. “We’re Okies,” Saucedo said proudly about his community, who all share a special bond in the inalienable task of remaining an Oklahoman no matter how tough it can get.

“It was years back,” Saucedo recalled about a moment more nerve-racking than any fight. “My mom was working in Southmoore, and that’s where the tornado hit. She worked at the high school, and while she was working the tornado was going on. Phones weren’t working. We didn’t know if she was okay. It was the scariest moment. I drove out there, parked my truck a couple miles away and ran all the way to the school to make sure that she was okay. She did evacuate before it happened, but it was a scary day. I mean, we get a lot of tornadoes in Oklahoma but it was a scary moment. I ran like two miles and seeing all the disaster that the tornado cost. I mean, there were communities that were gone. Schools, houses… it makes you realize a lot of things.”

 

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