Although he didn’t get much work, lightweight contender Juan Lazcano may have acquired something more important last week.
The Ring magazine’s #3 ranked lightweight wasted little time dispatching overmatched Marco Angel Perez, dropping him with a single right uppercut in the first round Friday at the Don Haskins Center in Lazcano’s hometown of El Paso, Texas.
It was the “Hispanic Causing Panic’s” first fight since losing to Jose Luis Castillo for the vacant lightweight title on June 5, 2004. And though it wasn’t a devastating performance, it was certainly effective.
Perez attacked early and had some success – providing him encouragement that would ultimately prove his undoing. Lazcano simply waited for countering opportunities, and studied and then timed Perez’s advances.
As the first round drew to a close, and the two combatants were infighting, Lazcano pivoted and delivered a perfect uppercut.
Boom! Fight over.
Just like that, Lazcano’s career is on the road to recovery after a series of episodes that temporarily derailed it.
Lizcano was supposed to hit the comeback trail in April, on the undercard of the Marco Antonio Barrera-Mzonke Fana card in El Paso. But he became embroiled in a bizarre clash with promoter Oscar De La Hoya.
Police were called to a downtown El Paso hotel where Lazcano allegedly threatened De La Hoya. The El Paso fighter denied it, and no charges were filed.
But it was obvious that Lazcano was in a funk – whether it was perpetuated by De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, or himself. “The Hispanic Causing Panic” felt slighted and abandoned by Golden Boy, and he reacted with anger.
He was so frustrated that he challenged De La Hoya to a fight in El Paso’s Sun Bowl. His behavior provoked head-scratching. And his career seemed to be in disarray.
Then, after reconciling with De La Hoya, he offered a free July exhibition to fans at an El Paso baseball park. It was meant to be a goodwill gesture for the De La Hoya episode. But when the fans saw big gloves and headgear, they booed lustily, and even threw beer.
The two events seemed to somehow affect Lazcano’s drawing power, because the Don Haskins Center was empty last week. The official attendance was 2,000 people in the 13,000 seat arena.
And it seemed like even less.
Perhaps the lack of Lazcano support had something to do with the impending football season. After all, this is Texas, and local sports fans are salivating over the upcoming Texas-El Paso slate. Or maybe the knowledgeable El Paso fight fans – the ones who weren’t at the ballpark in July – knew that Perez had no shot, and opted to wait for next time.
Or maybe the fans opted to stay at home and watch for free on Telefutura.
Or maybe it was a little bit of everything.
Whatever the case, Lazcano simply needed to get in a boxing ring again, regardless of ticket sales or controversies. After 14 months of doubt, disappointment and soul-searching, Lazcano needed to smell a fight atmosphere again; he needed to get hit a couple of times. He needed the adoration of the crowd – small as it was. Confidence is every bit as important as rounds … especially early in a comeback.
Lazcano got a shot of it with a first-round knockout.
Now, armed with that confidence, he can aim for a more recognizable name. He says he’s moving up to junior welterweight – perhaps the best division in boxing. He wants the big guns, and the big money.
Floyd Mayweather. Arturo Gatti. Ricky Hatton. All reside at 140 pounds. And with a couple of wins under his belt, Lazcano is a distinct possibility for any of them.
The first step is out of the way. Now Juan Lazcano can put a bad year behind him, and get on with his career.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV