By Sean Crose
Just how promising is welterweight Samuel Vasquez? Promising enough for his promoter to personally send out tweets in order to promote his August 8th bout with James Stevenson. Vasquez’ promoter, for the record, is Mike Tyson. THE Mike Tyson.
While it’s true all promoters build up their fighters in front of the media, Tyson seems to be particularly honest when it comes to his personal stable of pros. “These guys have to perform,” he said of his fighters last spring. “This is a hurt business and these guys have to go out there and do some hurting.”
When’s the last time you heard Oscar De La Hoya say something like that? Or Bob Arum? Or now even Floyd Mayweather? Tyson is in many ways a man who’s changed for the better, but there will only be one Iron Mike and, frankly, he’s not afraid to tell it like it is these days.
That’s why it’s worth paying attention when he eagerly showcases one of his fighters. And Vasquez is a man worth noticing. First and foremost, he’s a decorated Iraq War vet, which means he’s not only been through a lot, but is worthy of respect from fans and foes alike.
Yet a closer look at Vasquez tells us there’s more to the man than simply hype. A two time amateur champ, he has a perfect record of 15-0 with 11 KOs and is still known to train at Fort Carson, a US Army base.
Clearly a fighter who likes to swat, Vasquez is also skilled at avoiding his opponent’s punches. In his last bout against the awkward Jay Krupp, Vasquez was able to hit and run effectively. He was also able to put his opponent effectively on the mat in the first round with a thunderous left.
Yet the southpaw Vasquez wasn’t finished. He dropped the unfortunate Krupp several more times before earning his sixth knockout in a row. Here, clearly, was someone to watch. Now, however, Vasquez is taking a serious step up in competition.
For on August 8th, Vasquez will be facing a fellow undefeated prospect in Stevenson. Boasting a record of 21-0, Stevenson has won all three of his last bouts by knockout. It appears, at least on the surface, to be one of those interesting matchups where two talented up-and-comers face off to see who can move on and who gets left behind.
Vasquez, for the record, is determined to move on. For, besides having served in a war, the man has a unique history. His mother took off while he was sill a boy and he was left to be raised by his father, who himself was one of a dozen children. Vasquez praises his dad effusively and credits the man with guiding him to where he is in life.
Now the world will see if Tyson and trainers Charles Leverette and Bob Healy can guide the twenty-eight year old up through the ranks of boxing’s premiere division. For the welterweight realm is one overseen by names like Mayweather, Pacquiao, and Porter. It’s also a realm which is occupied by more sheer talent than any other division in the sport. Second rate welterweights are more than just unfortunates, they’re bloody fish in a shark tank.
Vasquez, however, wants to be one of the sharks. His hard hitting, aggressive style should click well with the public as he gains more exposure. All the young man from Monseen, Pennsylvania has to do now is keep doing what he’s been doing. Or perhaps even do more.
The Welterweight division is nothing if not demanding these days, after all.