Home Boxing News With New Bedford on his back, red-hot Vazquez works to reach ...

With New Bedford on his back, red-hot Vazquez works to reach full potential

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (April 29, 2011)Scott Pemberton knows a thing or two about growing up as a highly-touted boxing prospect in the Whaling City of New Bedford, Mass.

Over the course of 12 years, “The Sandman” won 29 fights – 24 by knockout – and was a two-time North American Boxing Federation (NABF) and former North American Boxing Organization (NABO) and International Boxing Union (IBU) champion while challenging for a world title in the super middleweight division.

Now he’s ready to pass the torch to Johnathan Vazquez, a hard-hitting 24-year-old light welterweight prospect with three first-round knockouts on his resume who is currently carrying New Bedford’s title hopes on his broad shoulders.

“Johnathan is the most talented fighter to come out of this area in the last 10 years,” Pemberton said. “He’s tall, rangy – fundamentally, he’s a good fighter. He’s got power and speed. What else can you say? If he keeps his head on straight, the sky’s the limit.”

The only problem – albeit, a high-class problem – is Vazquez’s lack of experience due to the fact he’s knocked out each of his first three professional opponents in the opening round, but he’ll step back into the ring Friday, May 6th, 2011 on the undercard of Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment & Sports’ “Champion Breed” show at the Foxwood Resort Casino’s Fox Theater in Mashantucket, Conn., looking to keep his perfect record intact.

Vazquez’s fight on May 6th will be his first since Nov. 12, 2010, a layoff that has continued to grow following the cancellation of an April 16th bout scheduled for the undercard of Andre Berto’s title fight against Victor Ortiz at Foxwoods. Though he hasn’t been in the ring, Vazquez has remained in the gym with his trainer, Libby Meideros, and is arguably in the best shape of his life with next month’s bout looming on the horizon. Medeiros has been training Vazquez since his debut in June and has noticed a major improvement in his work ethic.

“All he needed was someone to stay on him. That’s why he’s a better pro than an amateur,” Medeiros said of Vazquez, who won four Southern New England Golden Gloves titles as an amateur. “Back then, he only trained one or two days a week. Now he goes through all the strength work with ropes and chains and he’s getting himself much stronger.

“On days he doesn’t box, he runs, and that’s something he never did before, either. He’s right on track as long as we continue to keep him busy.”

Staying active hasn’t been a problem for Vazquez, who spars at least six rounds per training session and has continued to work with limited days off despite the cancellation of his scheduled bout in April, so the possibility of fighting beyond the opening round for the first time in his career is a challenge he welcomes, not something he shies away from.

“I could go six [rounds] if I had to,” Vazquez said. “Sometimes I’ll spar an additional seventh round if I’m tired, just so I can push myself. I spar people bigger than me and hurt people bigger than me. I also get hit by people bigger than me, but I keep going. That makes me feel good knowing I can hurt a person bigger than me.”

While Vazquez has all the tools to succeed at the next level, Medeiros still needs evidence of his young protégé’s progress before he can make any predictions. A challenging fight on May 6th that lasts beyond the opening round would go a long way toward validating Medeiros’ confidence in Vazquez’s potential.

“Personally, I don’t like one-round knockouts because we don’t know how far along he is,” Medeiros said. “We only know what he has in the gym, so we need more rounds in the ring. One round doesn’t tell me much other than that he’s in good shape for one round. I need to see what will happen when he meets a real tough opponent or when his back is against the wall.

“If he stays on this pace and we can get him enough bouts, he’ll go a long way in this division. All we need to do is keep him in the gym and keep him busy.”

The conditioning is the key, which, by all accounts, is not a problem for Vazquez.

“You can be a great fighter, but if you don’t have the right conditioning you’ll lose it. I don’t believe I was a better fighter than Omar Sheika,” said Pemberton in reference to the former world-title challenger, whom he fought twice in epic bouts at Foxwoods in 2003 and 2004, “but I was in better shape than he was.”

Vazquez has high hopes in this sport and could one day be the next great fighter to emerge from New Bedford, joining household names such as Pemberton, Jason “Schoolboy” Pires and Paul Poirier, who rose to fame in 1993 when he returned to boxing following a 15-year layoff and fought three-time world champion Larry Holmes.

For now, his short-term goal is to get back in the ring following a frustrating stretch of inactivity, and – more importantly – get past the opening round.

“Hopefully, I’ll win a world title someday,” Vazquez said. “If I stick with it and keep training hard, I’ll make it.”

Super middleweight Vladine Biosse (11-0, 6 KOs) will star in the main event against former Russian kickboxing champion Denis Grachev (9-0, 5 KOs) of San Diego; and New Haven, Conn., super middleweight Elvin Ayala (22-5, 10 KOs) will face George Armenta (13-6, 11 KOs) of Silver Spring, Md., in the co-feature.

The undercard of “Champion Breed” stars New Haven lightweight Christian Lao (1-0, 1 KO) facing Barrington Douse of Springfield, Mass., in Douse’s professional debut; and unbeaten middleweight Thomas Falowo (2-0, 2 KOs) of Pawtucket, R.I., taking on Cincinnati’s Zach Thomas (1-3).

Former NFL defensive lineman Jevon Langford (6-0, 6 KOs), who played six seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, will make his long-awaited return to the heavyweight division in a four-round bout against veteran Tobias Rice (2-3, 2 KOs) of Macon, Ga.

New Haven middleweight Rick Dawson (3-0, 1 KO) will take on Odias Dumezil (3-5, 1 KO) of Winter Haven, Fla., who now trains at 401 Boxing in East Providence, R.I., and Providence cruiserweight Maurice Cole will make his debut against newcomer Shawn Brooks of Tomson, Ga., in separate four-round bouts.

Tickets for “Champion Breed”, priced at $40, $65 and $105, can be purchased by calling the Foxwoods box office at 800.200.2882, or online at www.foxwoods.com. For more information, visit www.cesboxing.com or www.foxwoods.com. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. with the first bout scheduled for 7:30.

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