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VICENTE ESCOBEDO DROPS WEIGHT, RECOVERS FROM HAND INJURY, GAINS POWER
Since dropping back into the junior lightweight division from lightweight, Vicente Escobedo has scored three straight victories, dropping each of his opponents at least once during the fight.
A former 2004 U.S. Oympian, Escobedo (25-3, 15 knockouts) is coming off last Saturday's first-round knockout of Lonnie Smith (14-3-2, 10 KOs), whom he floored three times before his hometown fans in Woodland, Calif.
The victory was the third straight for Escobedo. It ended Smith's streak of nine consecutive victories that had included six stoppages.
Prior to Smith, Escobedo had scored knockdowns in the seventh and third rounds over the course of unanimous decisions over Walter Estrada and Rocky Juarez in March and September of last year, respectively.
"I feel strong and I feel that this is the weight class where I should have been at a long time ago. This was kind of an experiment for me, being at 135," said Escobedo. "Like I said, it's better late than never, and I'm at the weight class that I should be at, and I feel like I can win a world title."
Escobedo is targeting WBO beltholder Adrien Broner (23-0, 19 KOs), who, like Escobedo, is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions.
"He's a great fighter, and I can't take anything away from him. He's fast, and a good, skillful fighter. He comes to fight. We're just trying to get the title shot, whether it's Broner or someone else," said Escobedo, whose manager, Rolando Arellano, is attempting to make the fight with Broner.
"I'll let Rolando take care of that. I'll fight whoever they put in front of me. Supposedly, that's what he's said, that if I get done with the fight against Lonnie, then it's Broner. That's fine with me."
Escobedo has fought 11 times above the 130-pound weght limit, where he has suffered the losses by decision to Daniel Jiminez, Michael Katsidis and Robert Guerrero.
"I felt when I fought against Robert Guerrero and Michael Katsidis, they were strong," said Escobedo. "Katsidis kind of bullied me around the ring, so I definitely felt the difference."
Escobedo said the losses to superior fighters such as Katsidis and Guerrero served as an advantage against Smith.
"I think that that's what it all came down to. My experience. I think that Lonnie was a good fighter and a tough fighter, but he didn't know how to react once I knocked him down," said Escobedo.
"He was hit and surprised, and once I smothered him, it wasn't like the other fights he's had. The other fights, guys would let him do what he wanted to do. Saturday night, he was doing what I wanted to do."
Escobedo has also overcome an injury to his right hand, originally suffered in his bout against Guerrero in November of 2010.
"Doctors said that they saw a lot of scar tissue after my fight after Guerrero. I fought Estrada and in throwing the right hand, I suffered a detatched ligament in the third round," said Escobedo.
"So I had to fight the rest of the round with that in my right hand. When I went to the dressing room, they said, 'you have to go to the hospital.' So that was a few months after I fought Guerrero."
Escobedo's physician determined that surgery was necessary.
"They had to re-attach the ligament and I was in a cast for six weeks, and I had to rehab for another four weeks after that," said Escobedo.
"So that was a long layoff for me, so I was sort of concerned about that in the fight with Rocky. Again, I ended up bruising my knuckles and they were really bothering me and were kind of sore from the pounding."
Escobedo attributes his newfound determination, displayed against Smith, to the fact that he is about to become a father for the first time.
"My wife's six months pregnant with a baby on the way. That was my motivation all through the camp. It's not just about me anymore. It's about my wife and my soon-to-be-here child. This will be my first child, and it's a girl. Knowing that this was my home town, I had to go out with a bang. With all of the support that they have given me, prior to the Olympics, this was the best gift that I could have given them," said Escobedo.
"It's my time. It's my time to shine. I think that I was just really motivated for this fight with Lonnie. I saw a lot of mistakes and a lot of flaws and I was just able to take advantage of them. I wanted to show everybody that I should have already been at the top of my game. Last Saturday night, I just showed it with my skills and my
Photos by Peter Amador, Top Rank Inc.
Photo by Chris Cozzone-Fightwireimages.com
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com