By Kurt Wolfheimer
Friday night at the National Guard Armory in Northeast Philly, rising lightweight prospect and Philly fan favorite Angel Ocasio (7-0-2, 2 KOs) will do battle with the much more experienced “Rockin” Ryan Belasco (18-5-3, 3 KOs) of Wilmington, Delaware for the USBC title in the main event of Greg Robinson’s Power Productions Philly Bar Burner V card.
Fightnews.COM was able to sit down and discuss the meteoric rise of one of the most popular fighters in the northeast as he takes on the biggest fight of his career and how he came to this pivotal fight for the USBC championship.
The twenty-three year old lightweight has always had boxing in his blood, growing up in the Philly gyms. “I started boxing at the age of six,” said Ocasio. “My father has been in boxing his whole life and he took me to the gym when I was six years old and I walked up the steps into the famed Front Street Gym and it has been big part of my life ever since.”
Ocasio quickly became known in the Philly amateur boxing scene and the accolades began to pile up. The hard punching North Philadelphian amassed a record of 44-5 and won the PA State golden gloves twice, the silver gloves along with the national ringside tournament, but his focus was set on becoming a professional. “I did pretty good in the amateurs, but my fighting style was always better suited for the professional ranks, so at eighteen I made that transition and at nineteen I won my first professional fight. My father had always trained professional fighters and I had sparred with them while still an amateur and it helped me to make the transition quickly.”
Ocasio quickly became known as one of the rising prospects in the Philly area, picking up six straight wins and his fan base quickly grew for his explosive fighting style in the ring.
A small bump and a big learning experience came next when he fought to two draws with Camden New Jersey’s Jason Sosa (8-1-3, 4KOs). “Sometimes you feel over confident in the ring and believe you are ahead and put it on cruise control and I ended up with two draws. Had I stepped on the gas pedal a little more, I easily would have come out victorious in both fights. My team and I went back into the gym and worked on some things so that the same thing will never happen again.
Ocasio seemed to bring a new edge in his boxing abilities when he returned to ring on December 12th at McGonigle Hall on the campus of Temple University and became the first and only person to stop the Lebanon PA’s Esteban Rodriguez.
The victory moved Ocasio to 7-0-2, 2KOs and he knew it was time to step up the pace. When Promoter Greg Robinson offered the fight for the vacant USBC belt against the much more experienced Ryan Belasco, Ocasio jumped at the opportunity and the bout was made.
“Ryan Belasco is the best fighter to step into the ring with me since I turned pro.” He has a lot of experience with over twenty-six fights under his belt and it should be a great test for me,” stated the confident Ocasio “He is a tough kid. He likes to use his jab and sometimes he is a bit stationary. He will also brawl with you, but we are prepared for whatever he brings.”
It is not just what Ocasio brings in the ring that makes him special. He is also a strong supporter of the community. “I go out and speak at schools in the area to the children about following their goals and staying on the right path. We have also sent a few kids to summer camp and helped save a local recreation center. I really believe in giving back to the community. They support me at the end of the day.”
Another special thing happened to Angel Ocasio before his last bout with Esteban Rodriguez. “I found Jesus Christ and I feel like my life is now balanced,” said Ocasio “A year ago I was a totally different person mentally. Everything was for me and now it is for Jesus Christ. I just give him all the praise.”
“I have a really good team behind me. I am trained by my father Angel Ocasio and my Uncle Rob Quinones. I have a big supporting cast also behind me at Mak Boxing Management with my CEO and Manager, Manny Rivera and also Kurt Wofheimer. They have helped to guide my career in the right direction. I also want to thank my mom and my girlfriend Kathy Rabell. They have stuck behind me throughout this process. They are my backbone.”
“Everything just feels right for me now and it will show on Friday night, said Ocasio. “I just want to give the fans what they want to see. I promise will see the best of Angel Ocasio and I am confident that I will come out victorious on Friday night at the National Guard Armory.”