By Felipe Leon
Former IBF minimumweight champion Roberto “Mako” Leyva’s next fight might be for more than a win or a loss on his record. It might be for his career. The hard hitting “Mako” (25-8-1, 20KO) will be facing Filipino super flyweight sensation Z Gorres (28-2-2, 15KO) this coming Saturday at the Waterfront Hotel in Cebu City, Philippines for the vacant WBO Oriental bantamweight title. The southpaw Leyva, of Ensenada by way of Puerto Peñasco, MX, trains out of the Raul “Jibaro” Perez gym located near the international border between Tijuana, MX, and San Diego, CA. Perez, a bantamweight champion himself in the late 80’s, feels that this should be Leyva’s last fight, win, lose or draw.
“Win or lose, this will be his last fight, He was a world champion in his career, what else can he ask for? I know it is tough to hang up the gloves, it was very hard for me,” Perez says with a chuckle. “Thank God I had the support of my wife, my trainer Romulo and all the people around me that made it easier. I want him to stay here with me in the gym.”
But always the warrior, Leyva has a different idea in mind. “I want to look good in this fight so that he can see that I still belong in boxing. I am very disciplined in the gym. I don’t drink or smoke. I am going to prove to him in the Philippines that there is ‘Mako’ for a while longer.”
Leyva is coming off a disappointing loss to the always tough journeyman Benji Garcia in September of ’08 by a six round unanimous decision. It was his first fight back since taking a year long hiatus.
“I needed to throw more punches. It had been a long time since I last fought and I needed to throw more punches, especially against a fighter like Benji Garcia. I think if he fought again, I would knock him out but I will not give excuses, he fought an intellingent fight and I just didn’t let my hands go.”
So with a new mind set, Garcia has rededicated himself to the gym “I have realized that if I don’t throw punches I am going to get beat and if it is not Benji, it will be another opponent, sombody that wants to use me as a stepping stone,” Leyva states thoughfully. “Believe me, I don’t want to be a stepping stone for anybody and that is why I am working hard in the gym for this fight.”
A fact that doesn’t go unnoticed by his trainer, “Jibaro” Perez “Roberto is working very hard mentally and physically here in the gym. We are working on some things for a southpaw. I am happy with the work that he has put in for this fight.”
As far as Gorres, the twenty six year old left hander has not found in nearly a year when he defeated the Kenyan Nick Otieno by unanimous ten round decision back in May of last year. In his bout previous to that, he took the king of the super flyweights Vic Darchinyan to the twelve round distance and escaped with a draw in an IBF 115 lbs. eliminator. He also owns an eight round stoppage over former world champion Eric Ortiz and his only loss in the last six years was a split decision at the hands of WBO super flyweight champion Fernando Montiel in a title fight.
Gorres is a tough nut to crack.
“I think that we are at the level of Z Gorres. I don’t know what happened to me with Benji, why I didn’t throw punches. I have been watching the video and I know that I am not at Benji’s level. I know that in another fight, he wouldn’t beat me but like I say, I am not going to give excuses,” Leyva states as he compares his last fight with his next fight. “Now with Z Gorres, I know that it is a tough fight in his back yard. We are going to show that ‘Mako’ Leyva is not finished and we are going to do things right.”
Some of the things that Leyva has done right is to solicit the help of the talent that he finds around him in the hotbed of boxing that is Tijuana for sparring sessions.
“I want to thank Jorge De Alba, he is a quick southpaw. He is an amateur, two time national champion, he has been helping me. He is very fast and he has been helping me with my speed. We have seen the Gorres film and he is very strong and and fast. Gorres is very short so we are going to use distance.”
“This is going to be a very tough fight for me. But believe me, we have seen Z Gorres fight and I think that if we prepare ourselves well in the gym and we let our hands go in the fight, we can give a nice surprise in the Philippines.”