Vasquez: Fight was 'make it or break it'
He had the bright lights and action of Las Vegas all around him.
He had close friends from back home who flew out to be with him.
But Sammy Vasquez Jr. was all business before and after his fight Saturday at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
After all, it's the only attitude he has ever known and it certainly has served him well so far.
Vasquez credited his training, his attention to detail and his own character with how he made it through a week that concluded with a dominating second round TKO over Leandro Albornoz in front of representatives of Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions.
“Vegas was nice,” he said. “There was a lot to do there, but I had to take care of why I was there.”
Vasquez said he was relaxed and intense leading up to the fight, but admitted to getting a little amped up the day of the welterweight bout.
“I was really relaxed and confident, but the day of the fight was a little nerve wracking for me because of the stage I was on, the stakes that were on the line,” he admitted. “I've always been confident in my training and my ability, but I knew this was a make it or break it fight.”
Vasquez said the promoters tested more than his boxing ability. They also put him to the test to see his mental and character makeup as well.
“They changed the opponent on me three days before the fight and gave me a guy with a 16-2 record,” he said. “They changed the weight limit on me from 154 to 147-plus-one. They told me afterward they wanted to see how I handled things and they said I took everything better than most guys would.
“I impressed them.”
And now the next move Vasquez expects is a contract offer from Golden Boy, something he said should come very soon.
“They were all over me after the fight, so I know it's coming,” he said of the offer. “There is no doubt in my mind we are going to make it happen.”
Vasquez (7-0, 5 KOs) said he noticed some things about Albornoz that helped him with his strategy.
“I noticed on tape that the longer his fights go on, the more aggressive he got. So, if I was going to take him out, I was going to have to make it happen early,” Vasquez said. “Then I saw him once wearing glasses, but he didn't wear them at the weigh-in. So now I know he is either far-sighted or near-sighted. I noticed he liked to fight in close, so I needed to find out at what range could he not see me as well.”
Vasquez said he took the first round to feel Albornoz out, to see “where he was at.”
“I realized in the first round what distance was best for me to take my shots and I saw when my openings were there,” he said.
All it took was one opening in the second round.
“The first time I had the opening I needed, I hit him with a one-two and bang! It was over. He was out on his feet,” Vasquez said.
After he knocked Albornoz down, the fighter got up and Vasquez went for blood and the fight was stopped at 2:17 of the round.
“I took nothing for granted,” Vasquez said. “I figured this fight was for a contract. They flew this guy in from Florida and I figured if he beat me, they would offer him. This was the one I had to win.”
After the referee stopped the fight, Vasquez, said he felt a rush of exhilaration that he hadn't felt before.
“It felt so good,” he said. “I felt so good. I mean, I never expected to take this guy out so fast. I was planning for six rounds. Things couldn't have happened any better.”
Even after the fight, Vasquez wasn't willing to alter his style.
“My friends from home wanted me to go out on the town and celebrate,” he said. “But my fiance is there and she is pregnant and I'm a family man and she needs her rest. I told them all I was so happy they came out, but I have to tend to my family first. So, we went back to our room for the night.”
And the Monessen native isn't taking anything for granted for his next fight, either.
He will be back in the ring March 30 at Court Time Sports Complex in Elizabeth Township in a show that his father, Sam Sr., will be promoting through Team Vasquez Promotions.
“I'm starting training again on Thursday,” Vasquez said. “I'll be training at Buzzy Garnic's Round Two (in Coal Center).”
Vasquez asked his fans to get their tickets early for March 30 because Court Time only holds 1,000 fans.
“After 1,000 tickets are sold the door shuts,” he said. “And tickets are going pretty fast already so I don't want any of my fans to wait until that night and maybe get shut out.”Tickets for the March 30 card are $30 for general admission and $60 for ringside with VIP tables available.
For ticket information, contact Sam 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.