Next July 27 at the famed Velodromo Vigorelli in Milan, Manny Siaca will challenge Silvio Branco for the interim WBA light heavyweight belt. In his professional career, Manuel Alejandro compiled a record of 20 wins (18 KOs) and 5 losses. It looks like he has the power to end the fight at any moment, but also that he can be beaten.

Looking more closely to his defeats, one of them was a split decision loss against French idol Bruno Girard… in France. That says it all. His losses to Byron Mitchell were also close: a split decision and a TKO in the last round while Manny was leading on points. In his eighth fight, he lost a four round majority decision. Only Mikkel Kessler defeated Siaca before the limit, convincing him to remain on his stool after the seventh round.

Manny Siaca showed cojones the size of a basketball in accepting to fight everywhere against the local favorite. He was booked in the United States, Japan, Venezuela, France, Australia, Denmark and now Italy. Only nine of his fights were staged in Puerto Rico. Despite this, he became part of the boxing history of his native land when he won the WBA super middleweight title from Anthony Mundine. It happened on May 5, 2004 at the Entertainment Center in Sydney (Australia). The Puerto Rican knocked down the Australian superstar in the second stanza and went on to get a split decision: 115-113, 113-114 and 115-113. The victory made him the first Puerto Rican boxer to become world champion in the 168 lbs. division. That made the victory even sweeter. Let’s hear it from him.

Manny tell us about the Mundine fight.

I knew that Anthony Mundine was tough and I trained like never before. I wanted to be the first boxer from my island to get to the top of the super middleweight division. That gave me an extra motivation. That’s why I performed so well to get a split decision in my opponent’s territory. The Entertainment Center was packed and they were all rooting for Mundine. I give him credit, he is an excellent boxer. He simply had no chance because it was my fourth attempt to win the WBA crown and I wanted it badly.

Let’s talk about your previous fights for the WBA super middleweight title. What about Bruno Girard?

The fight took place on September 16, 2000 in Chateauroux (France). One judge had it 117-113 for me. The others scored 116-113 and 117-111 for him. I felt robbed and my father formally protested with the World Boxing Association. The officials watched the tape of the fight, agreed that I didn’t deserve to lose and ordered Girard to grant me a rematch. The Frenchman refused and was stripped of the belt. If the fight was organized anywhere else, I would have won.

You lost by split decision against Byron Mitchell too.

Yeah, it happened on September 29, 2001 at Madison Square Garden. It was one helluva fight. I went down in the first round, but I knocked him down in the last stanza. One scorecard was 115-112 for me, while the others were both 114-112 in his favor. Byron Mitchell was my toughest opponent by far, I felt pain every time he hit me. On March 3, 2001 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas I faced him for the first time. He put me down in the 9th round, but I came back. In the 12th round, I was winning on points; he knew it and attacked me with a flurry of punches. The referee stopped the action. He shouldn’t have. I was leading on two scorecards: 106-100 and 105-101. The third judge had it 104-102 for Mitchell.

What about your fight with Mikkel Kessler?

I had problems in making the weight and I got sick the day before the fight. That’s why I remained in my corner at the end of the seventh round. The Danes didn’t see the real Manny Siaca. I’m not taking anything away from Kessler. He is the best super middleweight in the world. I think that he will knockout Markus Beyer next October 14 in Copenhagen. Even Joe Calzaghe would have problems with Kessler. I would welcome the opportunity of a rematch with Mikkel, but he should make the light heavyweight limit. Same thing for Joe Calzaghe and Anthony Mundine. If they put on a few pounds, I will accept to fight them. I feel good at 175 pounds and want to keep on fighting only as a light heavyweight.

What do you think of the major light heavyweight champions?

I would fight them all, especially Antonio Tarver.

Do you think that Tarver is as good as they say?

No way. I think that he was smart to face Roy Jones at the end of Roy’s career. In the fight which took place on May 15, 2004 Tarver just threw a lucky punch and won by TKO in the second round. Tarver has no heart. I would accept fighting Tarver everywhere, even with short notice, and I wouldn’t be worried at all. I’m pretty sure to knock him out.

Let’s talk about your July 27 challenge to Silvio Branco.

I don’t know much about him because I never saw him in the ring. My father did and told me that I won’t have any problems in winning. I always listen to my dad. He has been in the business for decades and has trained so many world champions that I cannot name them all. The most famous were Leo Gamez, Edwin Rosario, Esteban De Jesus, Samuel Serrano, Wilfredo Vasquez. Right now, my father is working with John Ruiz. My dad studied Branco’s style and explained me how to neutralize him. That’s what I will do next Thursday night. I want to become the first Puerto Rican to become world champion in the super middleweight and light heavyweight divisions. That will put me close to my idol Felix Trinidad. I like him also as a human being. He is still available for the common people as when he was just a kid from the neighborhood. There are too many boxers who go out surrounded by bodyguards and act as if they were superior to the other people. I don’t like those guys.

Do you plan to score a KO against Silvio Branco?

I have the power to do it, but I trained to make the 12 rounds. I never really looked for a one-punch solution. I hit all my opponents from every angle and made them so weak that a big punch just finished the job.

Manuel Alejandro Siaca
Born on November 21, 1975 in Toa Baja (Puerto Rico)
Stance: Orthodox.]
Trainer: Manuel Siaca Sr.
Record: 20 Wins (18 KOs) and 5 Losses
Professional debut in 1997
WBA Fedelatin super middleweight champion in 1999
WBA World super middleweight champion in 2004
WBA Fedelatin light heavyweight champion since September 9, 2005