By Mariano A. Agmi
Photo: Tom Casino/SHOWTIME
Brooklyn’s own “The Notorious” Frank Galarza (13-0-2, 9 KOs) returns to the ring this Friday night for the third time this year, when he takes on fellow undefeated prospect Sebastien Bouchard (8-0, 2 KOs) in a junior middleweight contest scheduled for eight rounds. The bout will serve as the co-feature of a ShoBox telecast live from Foxwoods Resort & Casino in Mashantucket, CT. Galarza hopes to make his second ShoBox appearance as memorable as his first, when he scored a spectacular knock out of the previously undefeated John Thompson in two rounds last January.
Galarza has put together a string of four consecutive knockouts since a split decision draw early in 2013. Fightnews caught up with the Notorious one on Tuesday to discuss his evolution as a fighter, his signing with DiBella Entertainment, and his goals for the rest of 2014.
How is training going for your second fight on SHOBOX?
I trained in New York and spent a week training in Vegas for the Luis [Collazo] fight. It was a good camp overall. Training in Vegas was both intense and draining. The timing difference threw me off and the hotel is constantly pumping oxygen, so it was hard to sleep. Just being in that environment at the MGM Grand though, seeing all of the fighters there, everything was so live. It was so packed, but it was a good experience to be a part of that and to see what Vegas is like during a big fight week.
Are you and trainers Willie Vargas and Nirmal Lorick clicking well as a team? What are you guys working on?
It’s a great connection. We’re growing as a team and I’m growing as a fighter. The sky is the limit, man. As long as we continue to grow and continue to prove to the boxing world what we’re capable of, we have a ton of fight in us. Even though some people look at me and say “oh, you’re 28, you’re old,” I’m still young as a fighter. I’m still learning and picking up the game. It’s fun for me.
Have you noticed a big upswing in the amount of people who recognize you following the 2nd round KO of John Thompson on ShoBox?
In a sense, yes, but I still feel more like the underdog. I think people in the boxing world are still underestimating me. People are still overlooking me and look at me like “oh, he got lucky; it was a lucky punch.” A lot of people also come up to me and say “that was a great fight,” but for me, I was looking at what comes next. I still have a lot to prove to these guys. I’m more than what you saw that night. Fortunately I stopped the last four guys that I fought. At the end of the day, I still think I have a lot to prove and I’m trying to get better.
Looking at yourself objectively, what are the things that you’re trying to improve upon?
Honestly, pretty much everything. Facing John Thompson, we realized that we had to have a stronger jab so we started picking up, throwing a harder and faster jab, because we knew he had a phenomenal jab. How to defend off of that jab, we sparred with opponents who had fast hands, so we tried to feed off of that. My last opponent [Franklin Gonzalez] wasn’t too strong, but he was a lefty, so our thing was not to get too comfortable, always keep the distance, keep that space in between, if there is a shot, take the shot, let my hands go. Don’t hesitate. Even though it only went two rounds, there’s always something to learn.
You have now scored four straight KOs, two of which came against undefeated opponents. To what do you attribute that? Have you been sitting down more on your punches, or is it a result of your training, technique and nutrition?
It’s a little bit of everything. I think I’m finally coming into my natural power. We’re not looking for the knockout; we’re setting it up so that eventually the knockout will come. We’re boxing, using my inside game, technique, and I’m sitting down more on my punches. If I’m in the air leaping, I’m not necessarily going to get that power, but if I stay grounded and set up the punch correctly, the knockouts will come.
Sebastien Bouchard is the 4th undefeated prospect you’ve faced. What do you know about him?
I looked at some of the videos. I see that he seems to come forward. He’s aggressive, he lets his hands go. He has hand speed, but then again I’m not sure how he prepared for me, so I don’t know what to expect. We want to go in there, feel him out, and adjust to whatever he’s bringing. If he’s someone that comes forward, I definitely want to show some boxing ability. If he decides to box, I’m going to have to bring the fight. I’m definitely looking to entertain the fans and give them an exciting fight.
He only has two knockouts in eight wins, and those knockouts came in his first two fights. Do you think that you’ll be facing more of a boxer who will make you chase him and focus on cutting off the ring?
I don’t think so. From what I’ve seen, he brings the fight to his opponents. He seems like a come forward fighter, but he uses his angles coming forward, so we might have to watch out for that. But look, I’m always confident in the ring. I’ve been in with guys who box, I was training with Luis [Collazo] when he was getting ready for Khan, and Luis boxes. I’m always in the ring with Sadam [Ali] and in the ring with other good boxers, so it’s not something I haven’t seen before.
You’re in one of the hottest weight classes in boxing right now, particularly for prospects. There seem to be new names coming out all of the time, guys like Julian Williams, the Charlo twins, Eddie Gomez, you. Are there guys coming up that you’re looking at that you feel like, down the line, you’ll face each other?
Yes, all of the names that you mentioned [laughs]. Those are definitely guys I’m looking to face in the future. I’m ready.
You recently signed with Lou DiBella in addition to New Legend Boxing. What does signing with Lou do for you?
I think we’re going to get many more opportunities and a lot of exposure with Lou DiBella. Felipe Gomez of New Legend Boxing has done phenomenal shows keeping me active in the Resort World Casino. They’ve grown as a promotional company and being with DiBella, we now have access to the networks. DiBella does well for his fighters, especially the ones that have something special about them that you can see might make them future champions, and I see myself in that category. You look at guys like Paulie Malignaggi, Andre Berto, Sergio Martinez, the guys that became champions had something special about them, and I feel like I have something in me, that desire and hunger that will bring me to that place. It will help that DiBella will be a part of that – it will boost my career.
This is your 3rd fight of the year, and we’re not even half way through the year. Where do you see yourself at the end of this year?
I think I could fit in two or three more fights. If all goes well in this fight and I could fight a few more times, I could be 17-0 by the end of this year. That would make me a contender and hopefully I would fight for a national title and get those guys out of the way. That’s when I’ll face the guys you mentioned that are getting towards the top of the 154 weight class. We’re going to have to fight those guys eventually. I hope they’re ready, because I know I’m ready for it. When that time comes, prepare for a fight.
With how active your schedule has been, do you notice that you’re a lot sharper compared to earlier years?
Oh yeah. I feel a lot sharper. My ability is really starting show and I’m starting to surprise a lot of people. At this point I don’t care so much if it’s on TV or off TV, just keep me active and in the ring. The TV and the money will come, man, my passion is for boxing and that’s all that really matters to me.
Do you see yourself as a middleweight in the future, or do you feel comfortable where you are at 154?
In the future we’ll see what happens, but I don’t want to do something like Gabe Rosado did, where he fought a monster like Golovkin who was naturally bigger than him. After that, Gabe’s career was never the same. I don’t want to step into that middleweight division before I’m physically ready. I still make weight with no problem, so I’m good at 154.
Any final words?
I’m staying busy, focusing on improving. I signed with DiBella Entertainment and together with New Legend Boxing we’re looking to stay active, keep winning and shock the boxing world.
Follow the author on Twitter @MannyBlanco.