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Demands rise on Vasquez's time

| Saturday, April 5, 2014, 12:16 a.m.
Dan Grant / For The Valley Independent
Sammy Vasquez Jr., left, is anxiously awaiting his April 18 fight for Mike Tyson Productions, which will be aired on Showtime.

It didn't take long for the life of Sammy Vasquez Jr. to change after getting the attention of Iron Mike Productions.

Not only is his next fight going to be shown on Showtime April 18, but the demands on his personal time have also increased immensely.

Leading up to the fight at the Monroeville Convention Center, Vasquez Jr. (13-0, 9 KOs) will be making the promotional rounds with Tyson Productions co-owner Mike Tyson. Meet-and-greet stops will include Children's Hospital and the Veterans Administration Hospital. He will also join Tyson at PNC Park April 17 as the former champ throws out the first pitch before the Pirates game that night.

The first promotional event will take place Monday when Vasquez Jr. will be part of a media conference call along with Tyson, Showtime Executive Vice President Stephen Espinoza and Iron Mike CEO Garry Jonas.

The conference call will start at 1 p.m., and the public is encouraged to call in and ask questions.The toll-free number to take part in the conference call is 1-800-875-3456.

Vasquez Jr. acknowledged the additional responsibilities, but added his focus hasn't changed.

“There are a lot more things now for me to do and I still have to find the time to train,” Vasquez Jr. said from his home in Colorado. “This is all new to me, for sure, but at the end of the day my first priority is still the same — to train and train hard.

“I realize that if I don't train hard, then I take a chance of losing, and getting the ‘W' is all that matters. That's what's most important. I don't want people to think I don't train hard, because I do.”

“The whole idea (with the promos) is to get Sammy's name out there, let the public know who he is and what he's all about,” said Sam Vasquez Sr., his father and manager. “His story is real. It's unique. It's a feel-good story that's going to end with him being a world champion.”

Vasquez Jr. will fight in one of three professional bouts to be carried by Showtime as part of the station's ShoBox series.

In a collision of unbeatens in the opening bout of the telecast, Vasquez Jr. will meet Juan “The Beast” Rodriguez, Jr. (11-0, 5 KOs), of Union City, N.J., in an eight-round welterweight match.

In the 10-round main event, heavy-hitting Cuban lightweight Alexei “The Hurricane” Collado (18-0, 16 KOs), of Miami by way of Cork, Ireland, and Havana, Cuba, will face his toughest opponent to date, “Lightning” Rod Salka (18-3, 3 KOs) of Bunola.

The co-feature will match undefeated southpaw and Olympic gold medalist Felix Diaz (14-0, 8 KOs), of Oxnard, Calif., by way of Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic, against Emmanuel Lartey (15-1-1, 7 KOs), of Brooklyn, N.Y., by way of Ghana, in an eight-round welterweight fight.

“Sammy is well known locally, but it's time to let the rest of the world know about him,” said Vasquez Sr. “So far, he's off to a good start.

“At his last fight, he knocked out three heavyweight champs in one night — Mike Tyson, Larry Holmes and Gerry Cooney,” Vasquez Sr. joked. “They all loved him.”

Tyson, Holmes and Cooney were all in attendance at Vasquez's Feb. 22 fight when he stopped Berlin Abreu. Tyson was there to watch his latest acquisition, and Holmes and Cooney were part of the pay-per-view broadcast team.

They were extremely complimentary of Vasquez Jr. during the telecast.

Tickets for the show are going fast, Vasquez Sr. said.

“This is a home fight for Sammy, and his fans always turn out and support him. That's one thing that Iron Mike Productions likes,” Vasquez Sr. said. “I'm expecting this venue, which holds 3,000 people, to sell out.”

Tickets can be purchased by contacting Vasquez Sr. at (724) 797-8694.

Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or joliver@tribweb.com.

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