By Jeff Zimmerman
Photos: Robert Hughes
A gloomy day in Dallas did not stop fans and media alike to come out and catch Top Rank’s world ranked featherweight sensation Roberto Marroquin (22-2, 15KO’s) put in a final sparring session during media day at the Maple Ave Boxing Gym in preparation for his upcoming 10 round battle against Antonio Escalante (28-5, 19KO’s) at the WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma on Saturday, March 16th. Marroquin will headline Top Rank’s Red River Rumble that will also be televised live on Solo Boxeo Tecate on the UniMas network.
Marroquin has not fought since losing to Guillermo Rigondeaux (11-0, 8KO’s) for the WBA Super Bantamweight title last September. It was a major step up fight for Marroquin and although he was knocked down twice and lost a unanimous decision, he did rock the crafty Cuban champion a couple of times and proved to himself and his promoter he still has a bright future in the sweet science.
“We were happy with my performance; I could have done a lot of things differently in that fight but hey I mean its boxing, you can’t go back in time. We learned a lot from it and that’s all that matters. Now I think my skills have actually gotten better.”
Top Rank is all in with Marroquin.
“We got a new promotional deal with Top Rank. We got a four year contract renewal. Somebody that just lost a fight doesn’t always get a new promotional deal, long term deal. We are really happy with that. All you can do is keep moving forward and thinking about the future. You can’t just put yourself down just because of one fight. As a matter fact, we actually won more out of this loss than any outcome that I have actually ever had. This loss has actually brought me back to say we do belong here and mentally to me I fought the best at 122lbs – a lot of people say Nonito Donaire.”
Marroquin continued, “Nonito Donaire is also a brawler has some power and everything but whenever you fight a 2-time Olympic Gold Medalist, a guy who is very savvy with his combinations, the guy was hard to hit and for me to hurt him the way I did a couple of times, I feel proud of myself.”
Marroquin expects tough fights moving forward starting with Escalante.
“After fighting for a world title, we definitely don’t expect any easy fights anymore. I know Escalante has been up there and he’s actually also coming in after a loss. We are both looking forward to having a great fight that night and hope for the best. Our careers are on the line really.”
Marroquin doesn’t want to get into a slugfest with Escalante.
“The only way he really fights is actually just coming in, he’s really aggressive and he’s also a brawler. We know he doesn’t have the best chin in the sport. All we’re trying to do is outbox him, keep him on the outside. He’s eventually going to run into something and hopefully he goes down. If he doesn’t, a decision is fine by me.”
“It would be a mistake to get into a brawl and I think I’ll pay for it if I end up falling into his actual plans. He’s going to come out there and try to brawl and if he tries to outbox me, he’s going to really pay for that. Right now they’re thinking I’m the smaller guy since I fought at 122 my last fight, but in reality I’m the taller guy. I could fight at a 130, 135 and still look like a natural lightweight. I am going to be the bigger man that night, it doesn’t matter what my stats say.”
This could be a crossroads fight for both fighters.
“Escalante will be a tough opponent and I know the fight will be full of excitement knowing he’s going to bring it on to me that night. I think he is going to try and knock me out. That’s the only way he really has a shot of beating me. It’s a huge risk for the both of us, both coming from a loss, we’re going to go out there and do our best. We need a “W”, we both need a “W” and whoever loses that night, I think it’s the end of their career. It will be exciting, that’s all I can say. I trained hard for this fight, just like always. I always put on great shows, especially there at the WinStar Casino, one of them was unfortunately was one of my losses in my career but it was also a hell of damn fight, we’re going to try and repeat that again and come out with a “W”.
Marroquin’s trainer, Paul Reyes, who knows boxing talent when he sees it having trained former World Champions Donald Curry and Paulie Ayala who was in attendance as well, had this to say about his rising star.
“We expect a good fight. Escalante is no push over, however Roberto is the better boxer and has more speed.”
Also putting in some work was another of Top Rank’s young rising stars, welterweight Alex Saucedo (7-0, 5KO’s), who did a little shadow boxing and hit the mitts with his trainer. Saucedo has fought on the undercards of Nonito Donaire vs. Jorge Arce and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr vs. Andy Lee in recent fights in Texas as the co-main event in four round fights, but will be fighting in his first six rounder at the WinStar.
“Top Rank doesn’t do this for a lot of four round fights as the co-main event, they treat me good,” stated Saucedo.
Saucedo continued, “They give me what I ask and I’m glad to be with them and my managers, Arnie Verbeek and Lou Mesorana.”
Saucedo has big plans for the future.
“I would like to fight in 8 round fights before the end of the year and work really hard until I become world champion.”
Saucedo plans to look impressive in his first 6th round fight against Norman Allen (6-7, 3KO’s).
“I plan to come out give my best and look for the KO. I have the power to do it. It will be a great night of boxing.”