By Robert Coster
Photo: Team Vazquez
Boxing fans who watched the April 18 Showbox telecast Monroeville, Pa last April 18th had the good luck of seeing up and coming unbeaten welterweight Sammy Vasquez jr., in action. Vasquez (13-0, 9 KOs) was stepping into the ring against fellow prospect Juan Rodriguez who was 11-0, 5 KOs. The Pennsylvania native offered a short glimpse of his talent by dispatching Rodriguez in the very first round. Said Vasquez’s elated manager Bob Healy after the fight. “I hope the fans took a good look at Sammy tonight because we’re talking about a future world champion.”
As lethal and destructive as he is in the ring, the 28-year-old Vasquez is soft-spoken and friendly outside of it. He is an Army veteran with two tours of duty in Iraq, and a family man with deep religious faith. “I limit my aggression to the ring where my job is to win,” says Vasquez.
Sammy was introduced to boxing by his father at age 10 as a way to defend himself against bullying. Sammy fell in love with the game and embarked in a lengthy and scintillating amateur career, over 200 amateur fights (170 victories), three-times All-Armed Forces and All-Army Champion, National PAL Champion, Pennsylvania Golden Gloves Champion, National Golden Gloves silver medalist, World Military Games silver medalist, Olympic alternate.
If you ask manager Bob Healy what Sammy’s assets are, he’ll tell you “Sammy has lightening speed combined with power and defensive skills. But, most of all, Sammy does what it takes in the gym. He’s a throwback. His work ethic is just incredible.”
And is there one boxer he’d like to emulate? “I admire Naseem Hamed — how he combined speed and power. It made for spectacular fights and knockouts” says Sammy.
Before the Rodriguez victory, Vasquez had scored a 4th round TKO over Dominican amateur star Berlin Abreu (7-0). Two consecutive victories over unbeaten rivals have opened the door of the TV networks. Sammy is scheduled to fight on ESPN on June 6th and on Showtime on July 27th.
Says manager Healy, “We’re looking with our promoter (Iron Mike Promotions) to have Sammy rise to contender status by the end of the year.”