Featherweight prospect Gabino Saenz is excited about his opportunity to appear on the untelevised undercard of HBO World Championship Boxing’s Timothy Bradley-Ruslan Provodnikov card. The 23-year-old is undefeated and hopes to make a statement.
“It’s definitely a privilege to be on that card,” Saenz (seen puting down Qunice Wesby last July, in photo by Chris Farina) told TSS. “I’m honored.”
Saenz will take on Cesar Valenzuela (3-1-1, 1KO) this Saturday night in what should be a showcase for the young slugger’s skills. He said he was thrilled to be getting such solid exposure in his young career, and credited promotional company Top Rank for making it happen.
“I really feel like they care for their fighters,” said Saenz.
Ditto, he said, of manager Cameron Dunkin, who has equally high hopes for his fighter.
“Gabino is a very exciting fighter,” Dunkin said. “He comes to fight and has tremendous power, especially with the left hook, and he can box. He’s got a lot of skill and balance, but his punching power is what really stands out.”
Dunkin discovered Saenz while the fighter was racking up a 137-12 amateur boxing record in California.
“I knew about him for a long time in the amateurs – he had a big name. He had an outstanding amateur career – he won the National PAL twice, he won the Desert Showdown several years in a row, the Blue & Gold. He did very well.”
Saenz has enjoyed similar success thus far in his young professional career, but the fighter said he was glad to have faced a little adversity already just eight fights in. In 2012, Saenz earned a draw against Gil Garcia and a majority decision win over DeWayne Wisdom. While Saenz said both he and his handlers believe he had won each fight handily, he also noted the positives of being put in tough spots early on in his career as it could pay dividends later. He said he considers each a positive experience that will help him move forward.
The fighter said he liked to keep his approach inside the ring simple.
“I just have to outwork the person,” he said. “It’s the hurtin’ business. I’m trying to hurt them every round. If the knockout comes, it comes.”
Saenz has been trained by his father, Gabino Saenz Sr., and Ray Bradley, father of light welterweight champ Timothy, since he was just a boy. The fighter said him and his dad enjoyed a close relationship and that his dad had been his coach in just about everything he’s ever done. When asked how the father-son dynamic played out in the corner, Saenz said it was different than most other father-son boxing tandems in the sport.
“It’s a blessing. Our situation is different. He’s not the type of father who wants it more than I do. He’s really supportive. I know a lot of fathers want it more than their sons and it’s not like with him. My dad wasn’t a boxer or anything like that. He’s just supportive of everything I do.”
Saenz also said he has enjoyed a close relationship with the Bradley family. Ray Bradley, he said, has trained him since the fighter was twelve years old. He likes the combination of Bradley and his father in the corner, as well as the bond he’s built with undefeated welterweight titlist Timothy.
“It’s a good combination. It works really well. I’m proud to have them in my corner.”
Saenz is equally proud of what he does when he’s not boxing. The fighter is employed by the city of Indio and is the director of the Teen Center's boxing club, so when he’s not in the corner as a fighter, he said, he’s in the corner as an advocate, trainer and friend of the city’s youth.
“I’ve always had a passion for the youth,” he said. “I’m still pretty young so I can relate to them. The bond you make with them goes beyond the ring. It’s great to make those relationships and help somebody out.”
Saenz finished up his talk with TSS with an eye towards his immediate future. He said he wanted to stay busy in 2013, and he hopes this Saturday’s undercard will put him on the map with HBO’s TV execs.
“I’m looking to stay pretty busy. Cameron says there are a lot of Top Rank shows coming up. I can’t put anything ahead of this next fight. I take things one fight at a time. Top Rank is the best in the business so I’m pretty sure they’ll guide me on the right path. I just do what I do. I train to fight.”
Who will win? Wladimir Klitschko or Tyson Fury?