Interview by Sam Geraci
On March 22nd, Adrian “El Tigre” Granados (11-2-1, 6 KOs) makes his English-speaking television debut on ESPN 2 FNF in a major step-up against former welterweight world champion Kermit “El Asesino” Cintron (33-5-1, 28 KOs) at the UIC Pavilion in his hometown of Chicago. Granados, who was a Mexican Olympian and former sparring partner of Juan Manuel Marquez, has long been considered one of Chicago’s most promising prospects. In 2011, however, after a series of competitive but brutal bouts that was bookended by a draw to Lanardo Tyner and a loss to Frankie Gomez, many following Granados began to question whether he had been prematurely pushed into major fights and whether his career could recover.
In 2012, Granados responded with three consecutive hard-fought victories in matchups that seemed more suitable for the building of a prospect. Because of those impressive showings, his amateur pedigree, and his willingness to take tough fights, Granados again finds himself in an exciting matchup as the underdog. In the following interview, Granados discusses his entertaining style, his matchup with Cintron, his move from 140 pounds to 147 pounds, and why he thinks he will be victorious.
In your last fight out, you were involved in what many in Chicago felt was the city’s fight of the year with Antonio Canas. Describe how you felt throughout that fight?
It was a good fight, and it was competitive but I felt in control the whole time. I knew I was going to win.
Did you learn anything in that fight or fights like it that will help you against Cintron?
Yeah, I learned that I have to believe in my boxing abilities. Sometimes, I want to bang it out a little more than I should. I have the skills to outbox most fighters, so I need to stick to the game plan and fight a smart fight.
Many have criticized the decision to take a test against Cintron after such a brutal fight. Why is this the right decision for you and your career?
It’s just a great opportunity. Although the Canas fight looked like a war and it was entertaining and competitive, I didn’t really have any damage from the fight. I came out pretty clean, and I was in the gym again within a week. A win will propel me to another leave.
What in your career has done the most to prepare you for this fight?
I think all of it has helped. I’m always in the gym learning and getting good sparring. I’ve had great exposure against different styles in the amateurs. I’ve never taken easy fights as a pro, and I worked for months with Juan Manuel Marquez when he was getting ready to fight Juan Diaz. Even though I’ve never been beyond eight rounds, I’m a little more seasoned than people think.
For many, even though this fight is in your hometown, it looks like your being brought in as an opponent for Cintron’s return. What are your thoughts on that?
The fight was brought to me, and I immediately accepted it even though I was going against friends, family, and advisers who were telling me that this was a huge step up. On paper, it looks very lopsided but I feel confident in my abilities.
Do you feel that Cintron is a shot fighter?
It’s not that I feel his is a shot fighter, but I don’t think he’s the same fighter he was a few years ago in his prime. With his career winding down and mine to starting to boost, I’m going to have the momentum. I’m gonna surprise a lot of people on Friday.
What about Cintron concerns you?
They say the last thing that goes for a fighter is his power, and Cintron is known as a power puncher. I’m definitely gonna be aware of his punches coming back, so I have to be cautious and fight smart and use by boxing abilities. We’re gonna be ready for everything, and I’ve got a good chin.
What type of fight plan have you come up with to negate his power and get inside on his reach and height?
You know, I’m the kind of fighter who figures fighters out when I’m in there. I like to fight and I can also use my boxing abilities. Whatever my opponents bring, I can counter.
In addition to Cintron’s power, in this fight you will be the smaller fighter. What have you done to prepare for the move from 140 to 147?
I have fought at 147 before and fought at catch weights, so I’m prepared. This time, I did a lot of strength and conditioning training, so I actually feel really strong and fast and 147.
Will 147 be your new weight class?
Eventually, I think I might end up at 147 because I am starting to grow into it, but after this fight, I plan to go back to 140 because I can still make the weight. There are a lot of good fights and fighters at 140, but I had to take advantage of this opportunity.
How does it feel to be making your English-speaking TV debut in your hometown against a former world champion who happens to be Puerto Rican?
It’s definitely a dream come true, and I want to seize the opportunity. I got a lot to prove, but I have the tools to do it. The rivalry between Puerto Rican fighters and Mexican fighters is great for the sport, and it’s an honor to be representing Mexico and Chicago in this fight. I want to put Chicago back on the map as a city of boxing champions.
You are relatively unknown outside of Chicago. On Friday, what will everyone learn about Adrian Granados?
I’m multidimensional. I can box but I’m an exciting fighter and I like to fight. If you want to bang, I can bang. If you want to box, I can box. My fights are exciting.
Many in Chicago have long considered you Chicago’s top prospect, but many have been disappointed with your tough fight selection and to some extent your performances. What do you feel about that perception, and how do you think this fight will factor into that perception?
You only live once. I haven’t taken easy fights because I want to move on to fight the best and I think I can do it. I also sometimes choose to fight instead of using my boxing abilities, but that’s who I am. This fight gives me the opportunity to show who I am as a fighter, and I hope I’ll make Chicago and everyone proud.
With a win, what are you looking to do next?
I’m not sure, but I know that once you step up to the plate like this there is no going back. I just hope to continue exciting the crowd and making some noise.
How far do you think you are from challenging for a world title?
I believe I’m about one or two years out, but I’d like a few more big fights before I get there.
Anything else you want to add?
I just want to thank my team, my family, and my girlfriend. I also want everyone to know that I’m going to beat Cintron and surprise everyone.
* * *
Granados-Cintron co-headlines this week’s ESPN2 FNF along with a middleweight bout between Donovan “Da Bomb” George (24-3-1, 21 KOs) and David “The Destroyer” Lopez (41-13, 23 KOs). The event is presented by Dominic Pesoli of 8 Count Productions, Frank Mugnolo of Round 3 Productions, and Leon Margules of Warriors Boxing.
Also in action are bantamweights Hairon “El Maja”" Socarras (6-0-1, 5 KOs) and Sergio Montes de Oca (7-1-1, 2 KOs) in a four round bout.
The UIC Pavilion is located at 525 S. Racine, Chicago, IL. Doors open at 7p and the first bell is at 8p. Tickets are available at the UIC Pavilion box office or at Ticketmaster.com (call 1-800-745- 3000 or visit online).