By Felipe Leon
Photos: Big Joe Miranda
The New Year paints to be a good one for undefeated light welterweight Antonio Orozco (18-0, 14KOs) of San Diego, CA. The first step in that direction is this Friday night when he faces the much more experienced Miguel Angel Huerta (27-11-1, 18KOs) in a ten round contest from the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, CA, and televised by Fox Sports 1. The main event, Orozco’s first on a network, is presented by Golden Boy Promotions.
The twenty-six year old Orozco is as much a blue chip prospect as they come. A strong amateur pedigree, signed to a name manager in the likes of Frank Espinoza (who guides the career of Abner Mares, Daniel Ponce de Leon and Olympian Oscar Valdez among others) and under the banner of arguably the biggest promotional company in the business, Orozco is just now getting some of the recognition he deserves.
For Orozco, geography has something to do with it, “we obviously know that L.A. is the mecca of boxing in the west coast. We are at a little disadvantage being here in San Diego but thanks to Fightnews and other sites that cover boxing; my name is getting out there.”
“This is my perfect working environment, staying away from so much noise puts me in the position to really focus on what I need to do,” Orozco said before his daily work out at the House of Boxing training Center in San Diego. “For the time being, I am not going to complain, with Golden Boy, Frank and Carlos (Barragan, his trainer), I think we are doing a good job to get the exposure we are looking for but it is going at a great pace.”
One new opportunity for Orozco to become a household name is Los Golden Boys, a reality TV show that follows the lives of not only Orozco but WBC super-bantamweight champ Leo Santa Cruz and three-divisional champion Abner Mares in their everyday lives. Programmed to air later this year, the cool, calm and collected Orozco had to think twice before agreeing to have a camera crew follow him around on his trips to the super market or bike rides with his boys.
“When the opportunity came about, I really had to think about it. It is a reality TV show that is going to be televised nationwide. It isn’t just about me but my wife, my kids and putting my kids out there, my family, ” he shared. “It was something I had to really think about. My wife and I came to the conclusion that in order for my career to be out there and get more exposure, it was a good idea. As far as the filming of the show, it was a great experience. It got me to know cameras a little bit more, it’s been fun. I think that people are really going to enjoy the show and I am looking forward to it, I want to see what ratings are about.”
Like any other reality TV show, the point is to film something that might have people talking at water cooler the next morning but with quiet Orozco, all they got was the point where a fighter is most vulnerable. “The first day they were here was a couple of days before a fight and I was literally cutting weight. They got to see a little bit of what it is for a fighter to cut weight. Drenching in sweat, being in a sauna suit, it is not something you would like for other people to see but it is real life. It is part of my boxing career and it is what I have to do.”
Orozco is coming off a productive 2013 in which although only performing twice, he looked impressive against Jose Reynoso who he stopped in seven and Ivan Hernandez who survived three.
One noticeable change in Orozco in the past year was the intensity seen in his last fight. In the past, Orozco has been as calm inside the ring as he is outside of it, relentlessly throwing punches until breaking down his opponent. No flashy combinations or any extra movements that don’t focus on the end game, stopping his opponent but in his last fight, Orozco looked like a caged fighter seconds before the belt and as the sun was going down at the Stub Hub Center in Carson, CA, on the undercard of Jhonny Gonzalez knock out of Abner Mares, Orozco made quick work of Hernandez at a quick pace.
“As we are progressing, fights have a lot more riding on it regardless of the opponent. I’ve always given credit to my opponents regardless of what their record is,” Orozco explained choosing his words carefully. “Fights are becoming a lot more important and I had to get in that mindset, its do or die, my record, I’m undefeated and I have to keep it that way. A record speaks for itself and I really have to keep that in mind.”
Carlos Barragan, Orozco’s trainer since the amateur standout from Kansas walked into his San Diego gym a few years ago, credits his fighter’s newly displayed fire to his ongoing learning. “What is interesting about Orozco is that he is consistently improving and there is different things in different fights. When he first started he said he didn’t have a jab, now he has a jab, when we fought Reynoso, he showed some footwork. As he is progressing and what really separates kids is that when you get underneath the lights, Orozco still produces. He keeps his mental savvy, he keeps his mental calmness. He looked like a caged fighter but when he took a step forward, boom, everything was moving correctly. He didn’t go after the gentleman like a crazy tiger, the aggression was there but was put together nice, organized chaos, is what we call it. He is consistently making improvements and time after time underneath the bright lights he is still producing.”
The next gentleman that Orozco must not unleash his controlled chaos is Mexico City’s own Miguel Angel Huerta. The thirty-five year old veteran of thirty-nine fights has faced a high caliber of fighters like Julio Diaz, Almazbek “Kid Diamond” Raiymkulov and Mike Alvarado among others. In his last fight, Huerta went eight rounds in a losing effort against Mauricio Herrera. It would seem that this would be the perfect opportunity for Orozco to measure himself up against those names in his performance against Huerta but Orozco and his team see it another way.
“He is an experienced guy, he might take me somewhere where I haven’t been and we are expecting the best Miguel Angel Huerta,” Orozco stated. “We are expecting a better Huerta than Mike Alvarado did, we are expecting a better Huerta that Mauricio Herrera. I just have to do what I have to do. I can’t measure myself up against these guys because I might get a different Huerta. This is boxing, the element of surprise is always there so I just have to be cautious as I can, be ready for anything that comes and of course not take Miguel Angel Huerta for granted.”
Barragan whittles it down to its more basic element, “the object of the game is to win and we can’t take Miguel Angel Huerta lightly. He has a great left hook, he has some pop to him still, maybe his best is behind him but he is a good, solid, durable opponent. We’ve gotten ready for the best Huerta there is and we go ten rounds, we go ten rounds but the object is to win at the end of the day.”
Never to call anybody out, Orozco’s poker face when asked who he would like to face next after a triumphant night against Huerta is up there with the best of the World Series of Poker. “The next guy that is going to take me to the next level is Miguel Angel Huerta this week. He is tough opposition, a very experienced ma, he has been in there with a couple of guys that have made a name for themselves and from there we will see what is next.”