Co-Pugilistic Pride of Costa Rica, Bryan Vasquez, Seeks Title Friday

Not a boxing hot-bed, Costa Rica.

Actually, sort of an under-appreciated region, I’d say.

How often do us lunkheads mistake it for Puerto Rico, does it get called an island, are people unable to locate it on a map?

Well, the map thing will get a tiny tick better should the top (male) fighter from CR, Bryan Vasquez, impress on Friday night, and get the better of Dominican power-puncher Javier Fortuna, in Brooklyn, and on SPIKE….

The 34-1 (18 KOs) Vasquez, a 27-year-old hitter who is married to the 14-1-1 professional Hannah Gabriel, the WBO super welter champ, had a game-faced attached Tuesday and Wednesday, as he counted down to his Friday tangle, on a card promoted by Lou DiBella, with Joe DeGuardia.

Makes sense, the stakes are XL at Barclays Center…The WBA’s super feather crown is up for grabs, so a win Friday means bigger fights, bigger paydays, and a boost for Costa Rica’s standing in the global scene. Vasquez impressed me mightily with his stoppage win over Sergio Thompson in Mexico on Dec. 20, with his relaxed, smart boxing. The kid has skills, and an innate sense of how to fight. We saw that when he got the nod over 26-0-1 Jose Felix Jr in April 2014, when defused and confounded a bomb-maker, a guy who being groomed to zoom past Vasquez on the ranking ladder. That blemish on his resume, that’s no shameful mark, considering he took on Takashi Uchiyama, in Japan, on new Year’s Eve 2012. Vasquez got stopped in the eighth in that tangle.

I chatted in depth a bit with Vasquez as he wrapped his hands Wednesday, at the famed and fabled Gleason’s Gym, in DUMBO, Brooklyn.

First off, does he see himself as the underdog against Fortuna (27-0-1 with 20 KOs), who is handled by Sampson Lewkowicz and signed to Al Haymon. Through interpreter Mario Vega, Vasquez said, “Fortuna is undefeated because he hasn’t fought me! The fighters that he’s been against are nothing like me! I know he’s tough, but I have everything to counter-act that.”

And about Costa Rica, tell us about CR in terms of boxing…

“There’s not many fighters from Costa Rica, but we have a really good gym, with some partners, and it’s a learning process…and one of my goals is to make it better (for others coming after me).” He gave a shoutout to his wife, Hanna Gabriels, as a superior pugilist from CR, smartly…

“She is WBO champion, and I will be champion too, Friday.”

I touched base with his trainer, the Panamanian Rigoberto Garibaldi, a tutor who won bronze at the world amateur championships in Cuba, in 1974. He’s worked with Guillermo Jones, Rosendo Alvarez, and Ricardo Mayorga. “Bryan is extremely talented, he is an artist, not a boxer,” the trainer said. “He is very smart and he follows my instructions in the corner. What are his weaknesses? Right now, none. Fortuna is a good fighter in general. But his weakness is, he starts strong then peters out. He starts out good but after awhile he drops his rhythm. Brian is more skilled than him. On Friday, Costa Rica will have the new super featherweight champion of the world.”

Vasquez-Fortuna was supposed to unfold May 23, but the scrap got kicked to May 29, and elevated to SPIKE co-feature, because Paul Malignaggi’s fight versus Danny O’Connor was scratched because Paulie got cut in sparring. No worries, said Vasquez, it gave him more time to get in even better shape. “I’m desperate for Friday to come, so I can become a champion! What will happen Friday, at Barclays? It’s going to be a great night, I’m going to steal the show, it’s going to be the best fight of the night. I know I have to be well prepared, and if it’s God’s will, I will be champion on Friday night.”

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