By Jesse Kelley
Photo: Chris Cozzone
Super featherweight contender Jason Litzau (28-2, 21 KOs) has shot into the limelight following his shocking upset victory over highly regarded world champion Celestino Caballero on November 27th. Litzau overcame lopsided betting odds with the victory, in some cases as high as 13-1. Now rated in the top five by the WBC, WBA, and the IBF, Litzau admits he was surprised when told he was such a wide underdog in the hours leading up to the fight.
“Those kinds of odds are truly amazing” said Litzau looking back at the fight. “I guess I needed to prove myself, but I don’t think that will ever happen again. I tell you what though, to all my fans that bet on me, Merry Christmas! Santa came to town. And for everybody that bet on Caballero, I hope your broke as sh*t (laughing)!
Litzau predicted the outcome in an interview with Fightnews prior to the fight, pointing to a new strength and conditioning program as a key reason viewers would see a different fighter in the ring. But the 27-year-old Litzau says that boxing fans simply witnessed a more disciplined and mature fighter in the ring.
“That was me just growing up in the ring. I always new what I could do but this time I stuck with the game plan. I told everybody before the fight that I would and that’s what happened. I was just a wild kid before who didn’t give a sh*t what happened in the ring as long as I made it exciting. I am smarter in and out of the ring now. I don’t live the same life as I did in the past and this is the result.
Litzau was able to use his height and speed to neutralize the size and awkward attacks from the usually overwhelming punches of Caballero. Caballero had his moments, particularly in the early going, but Litzau seized control as the fight progressed and brought home a split decision win by scores of 97-93, 96-94, 94-96.
“I was completely in a zone. To be honest, I’ve never been in a zone like that. I wasn’t focussed on what he was doing. I was just focussed on boxing for 10 rounds. Looking back, I probably could have knocked him out but I wasn’t thinking about the knockout to be honest with you. I just boxed him until the last bell rang. They were expecting a typical fighter that was going to come forward with his head out there. A Jason Litzau that was just going to come in there and bang, with his head waiting to be hit. Let me tell you guys something, it’s like I am starting my career over again and you guys are going to see an even better performance the next time out. I don’t care that I am a 13-1 underdog. I just feel very blessed, what else can I tell you?”
The win over Caballero almost immediately opened doors for the Saint Paul, MN boxer. Litzau says offers were brought to the table to face Yuriorkis Gamboa and Juan Manuel Lopez but that those fights never came to be. He then thought he had secured an HBO fight with Daniel Ponce de Leon. Litzau issued a press release announcing the fight shortly after accepting an offer to face de Leon but his trainer Bob Van Syckle says that the fight now seems to have fallen out of his grasp as well and that De Leon has instead selected unbeaten, but unproven prospect Adrien Broner.
“We accepted the Golden Boy Promotions offer to fight Ponce de Leon, now apparently they are reneging on the offer,” said Van Syckle. “I am still hopeful that this fight can be put together. I would be surprised if a great fighter like Daniel Ponce De Leon would turn down a fight with Jason and take one with a 21-year-old 19-0 novice.”
“The Juan Manuel Lopez fight was never a real offer once he said he would not fight Jason at 130 lbs. As for the Gamboa fight, we were close to making a deal, but, his people chose a different fighter for his next opponent. So it looks like we are back to square one on finding a fight for Jason. Hopefully, one of the World Champions in the WBA, WBC, IBF or WBO will give Jason a chance to challenge for the title.”
Litzau added, “I am just gracious HBO gave me the opportunity to fight on TV again and I hope to be back soon. I just want to keep fighting the best fighters in the World. I have back-to-back wins over top level guys (Rocky Juarez and Celestino Caballero) and that’s all I want to do is continue to fight the best. It’s been a dream since I was a kid to win a world title and that is a shot I am hoping to get.”