The amateur days are long gone for one of Providence’s favorite sons, Jason “Big Six” Estrada, but he’s reached the big stage once again, this time in the professional ranks when he’ll be featured on Showtime. After a disappointing loss to Cuban Michel Lopez Nunez in the 2004 Athens Olympics, which finalized his remarkable 261-14 amateur record, Estrada took his heavyweight frame to the professional ranks and hasn’t looked back, yet. He’ll have no choice when he meets Travis “Freight Train” Walker on Friday night in the co-feature of ShoBox (Sam Soliman-Enrique Ornelas) from the Soboba Casino in San Jacinto, California because Estrada has faced the 2003 National Golden gloves champ three times in amateur competition, beating him each time, including the Olympic trials. Estrada became one of the most celebrated American amateur champions in history, winning the 2003 Pan American Games, as well as the national title from 2001 to 2003. His dominance in amateur competition made his lackluster Olympic performance that much more glaring, with critics claiming that he was lazy and cared more about turning professional than representing his country.
Thankfully for Estrada, his professional career has taken off and left the Athens controversy behind. Still, that one bad night in the Olympic ring still bothers Estrada.
“I had an injury during the games. There was a lot of controversy going on that I won’t get into. I didn’t get a fair shake, but that’s how it goes,” said Estrada.
Walker brings back the past for Estrada, but the amateur memories are only good ones considering his perfect record against “Freight Train.” Estrada though knows how badly his opponent wants to get him back for old time’s sake so he’s preparing for Walker at his best. “Revenge is on his mind—I’m not impressed with his skills but I’m not underestimating him either.”
The young heavyweight prospect has realized the rigors of a professional boxer who’s serious about his craft. He’s adopted the intense training regiment necessary to becoming a successful prizefighter because he’ll do whatever it takes to reach his goal of retiring as heavyweight champion. “I’m working my butt off—the workouts are harder, this is a whole different game,” Estrada explained. “I’ve gotten much better, I’m older, stronger, and smarter.”
“Big Six,” as he’s known, hopes to rise to the top of his division as all good prospects do, but he insists that he’s not looking down the line to future title bouts and instead is focusing on his task-at-hand against Travis Walker. “I take it one fight at a time and hopefully I will win and come out of this with no injuries or cuts,” said Estrada.
A convincing victory against Walker would do more than just raise Estrada one rung higher on the ladder of heavyweight prospects, it would serve to put his amateur days happily behind him for good, freeing him from the unpleasant memories of the Athens debacle that patriotic critics have refused to let go of.