It’s a battle of brains when undefeated Antonio Orozco and Keandre Gibson clash inside the boxing ring.
St. Louis native Gibson (16-0-1, 7 KOs) meets San Diego’s Orozco (25-0, 16 KOs) in the main event on Saturday April 1. The super lightweight clash takes place at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. ESPN will televise the Golden Boy Promotions card.
Gibson will be right at home.
For the last three years the St. Louis raised Gibson has made the southern Nevada casino city his home base. He felt it was the right fit for a career in prizefighting despite the Midwest city’s reputation for producing outstanding boxers.
“I came up with Devon Alexander. Deandre Lattimore helped me get started in boxing. We had a good amateur program. We fought almost every two weeks,” said Gibson 27. “St. Louis ain’t really too big, but I knew when I turned professional I had to relocate and what better place than Las Vegas.”
The change paid off.
Gibson a lean and quick-handed super lightweight caught the attention of first Top Rank and then Golden Boy Promotions. He’s fought in Mexico and all over the U.S. The last three have taken place in Indio, California. On one of those cards on March 2016 both Gibson and Orozco fought.
Orozco said he remembers watching Gibson.
“We fought on the same card. He’s a tremendous fighter, a quick guy and real good counter-puncher. Our styles are going to give fans a great fight,” said Orozco, 29.
For more than eight years Orozco has been exchanging blows with some of the Southwest’s toughest lightweights including contenders and former world champions. He says it’s been a valuable learning experience.
“Against (Humberto) Soto I learned it’s not always physical but also mental,” said Orozco who defeated Mexico’s former lightweight world champion In October 2015. “Soto, he is a very rugged fighter and smart. I learned you have to learn to fight outside the box. Not just the general fighting and throwing punches. But you have to be thinking constantly.”
Thinking inside the boxing ring is another quality both competitors share.
“Sometimes you got to make adjustments when things aren’t going right. I may have to take him in his game or do something else,” said Gibson who will have a three-inch height advantage when they meet in the ring. “I’m always ready to change inside a fight.”
Gibson expects to take advantage of his height, reach and speed.
“It ain’t a secret. He’s obviously the shorter opponent. He’s coming forward and trying to outwork me. The best thing for me to be successful is to keep him in outside of my range,” says Gibson who admires former world champion Cory Spinks who lived near his St. Louis neighborhood.
Orozco seeks to give fans a thrill one way or another.
“I want to give the fans an entertaining fight. Fans want to see a little bit of everything. I want to give them want they want. Give them fights to talk about,” said Orozco who is managed by king maker Frank Espinoza. “But I also have to be ready for making adjustments you have to make in the middle of the round. If the momentum is changing you have to make a change with the flip of a switch.”
It’s a true battle of smarts.
Glendora, California’s Joet Gonzalez (15-0, 7 KOs) meets St. Louis boxer Derrick Murray (13-1-1, 5 KOs) in a featherweight contest set for eight rounds.
Gonzalez comes from a boxing family that includes his brother Jouesce and sister Jajaira Gonzalez. All are outstanding boxers from the Southern California area.
Murray is familiar to Southern California boxing fans and has made a reputation as an aggressive and fearless prizefighter. He lost his last fight by knockout to the hard-hitting Daniel Franco who was undefeated. It’s Murray’s only loss. Ironically, Franco lost last week to Christopher Martin by knockout. The circle continues.
Another prospect under manager Espinoza is Emilio Sanchez (13-0, 8 KOs) a super bantamweight from L.A. He’s only 22 and eager to prove he belongs. Espinoza faces Mexican veteran Jose Bustos (13-7-3, 8 KOs) a seasoned foe with 23 bouts against top prospects. It’s a solid test.
Big featherweight Edgar Valerio (9-0, 5 KOs) steps back in the ring. He’s tall for a featherweight and can even make bantamweight. But he’s strong enough for 126-pounders. He’s managed by Joel De La Hoya and resembles the late great Mando Ramos. Valerio is still learning how to time other fighters. He loves to fight but just needs to find the rhythm. He faces Jair Quintero (8-5-3) who will make a fight out of it. He’s a proud kid and refuses to give up. It’s a good match for both. Valerio is 22 and Quintero 23.
Palmdale’s Cesar Diaz (4-0, 4 KOs) faces veteran Felipe Rivas (17-18-4) in a four round super bantamweight contest. This is Diaz’s first real test.
Filipino southpaw Mercito Gesta (29-1-2, 16 KOs) returns after a two year layoff to face Mexico City’s Gilberto Gonzalez (26-3, 22 KOs) a tall hard-puncher who hasn’t fought in a year. We’ll see who recovers from the rust first in this super lightweight showdown.
Doors open at 4 p.m.
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