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What’s next for Juan Carlos Payano?


by B.A. Cass

The former champion Juan Carlos Payano made his Las Vegas debut last night against Alexis Santiago at Sam’s Town Live. Payano looked the stronger, more determined fighter from the start. He let his hands go immediately. He used his pawing jab to distract the younger, less experienced Santiago before throwing combinations that came from all angles. And although he managed to slip many of Santiago’s counters, Payano got caught by a straight right in the third round that snapped his head back and caused some bleeding above his right eye. His corner managed to control the damage, and Payano started the fourth round by getting in close to Santiago. But the frequency of Payano’s punches decreased, and he was no longer coming at Santiago from different angles. By the end of Round 5, it looked like the fight was starting to even out.


Photos Andy Samuelson/Pbc

​German Caicedo, Payano’s trainer, understood what was happening and what Payano needed to do. Speaking of his work in the corner before the fight, Caicedo said, “I make it simple. I don’t say, ‘Give me a double jab, hook, left uppercut, step back and cross.’ No, no. If what he did worked, I’ll make it very simple. ‘Just like that. Repeat that round. Do what you did but be careful because he’s loading up an overhand right for you.’” Payano made the adjustment he needed, once again becoming the busier, more aggressive fighter. Payano’s team had expected a good boxer— perhaps even a better one than Juan Carlos, Caicedo conceded. And the taller Santiago had a clear reach advantage over Payano. If there was any hope for Santiago, it was to stay long and try to outbox Payano. Instead, he tried to crowd Payano, a strategy that didn’t work.

In the lower weight classes, many fighters don’t have the power to put their opponents’ lights out, and though he is a talented, aggressive fighter, Payano has never been a one-punch knockout artist. Casual observers tend to want to see that one devastating blow. But as Caicedo says, “Those aren’t the ones that do the damage.” By the end of the Round 6, Santiago was visibly bruised. And at one point during Round 7 , Santiago had to step back to take a deep breath—a brief, but startling moment that proved he was being outclassed.

“This fight is still yours to take,” Santiago’s trainer told him before the ninth round commenced, trying to motivate his fighter to at least even out the scorecards. He urged his fighter to give everything he had, but barring a clean right cross in the ninth, Santiago wasn’t able to land any damaging shots.

Santiago deserves some credit for being tough, for simply remaining in the ring for all ten rounds. “I don’t care who you are,” Caicedo said. “You keep someone off for ten or twelve rounds, whatever the fight ends up being, and punching over 150 a round because that’s Payano’s output. He doesn’t punch less than that. 95-100 punches per round. That’s tough to keep off.” But Payano was the superior fighter, and he won by unanimous decision.

​What’s next for Juan Carlos Payano? For a while, his team was contemplating fighting Roman Gonzales, but then Gonzalez lost to Wisaksil Wangek. Gonzales and Wisaksil face off again in September, and if Gonzales wins, perhaps a fight with Payano could happen. There’s also the possibility of a third fight with Rau’shee Warren, but Warren recently went down to 115 and would need to come back up to 118. Caicedo thinks that Warren, Gonzalez, and Payano are the best fighters at 118 presently, but he also wonders about the possibility of a fight with Luis Nery, the kid who just beat the great Shinsuke Yamanaka. But until the next big fight is arranged, Caicedo just wants to keep Payano busy. “I wish we could be fighting three, four times a year. I make that very vocal to everyone at the Haimon ‘Institute.’ I let them know that this is a guy who needs to fight. And it’s not even that it has to be for huge money and big opportunity. Just keep him busy until that opportunity arises.”

Caicedo might be getting his complaints answered. There are rumors that Haimon will be putting Payano back in the ring as early as November. That would be good news for Payano because he’s pissed and wants his titles back. And after dominating Santiago on Tuesday night, he’s one step closer to making that happen.

Follow B.A. Cass on Twitter @WiththePunch

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The Uncelebrated Payano Has Come Back for his Belts


by B.A. Cass

German Caicedo scanned the room, trying to pick out Juan Carlos Payano from the crowd of young, eager-to-impress Dominican fighters. Caicedo was there with his brother-in-law, Henry Rivalta, and Shannon Briggs, who along with training for his upcoming fight against Vitali Klitschko, had just started a small promotion company of his own. The Dominican Commissioner of Sports had coaxed Rivalta to travel to Santo Domingo to check out a group of promising former Olympians in need of management and promotion deals. Caicedo was there only in an advisory role; Rivalta wanted his eye to scout fighters that they could sign.


Photo Credit: Andy Samuelson / Premier Boxing Champions

Payano was known as the “Captain” of the group, and Briggs and Rivalta had really been talking him up to Caicedo. However, they had failed to mention his weight, and by the things they were saying, Caicedo expected a seven-foot tall, 300-pound heavyweight. No one who fit that description was in the gym, though. And so Caicedo eventually steered Briggs and Rivalta over to group of guys who were working out and asked them where he could find Payano.

“He’s not here,” they told him. “He lives two hours away from here. He couldn’t make it. He doesn’t have the money for the bus.”

They got him on the phone and Rivalta sent him the money for the bus, and then they waited.

A few hours later, Caicedo heard people saying, “Juan Carlos is here. Juan Carlos is here.”

“There was a huge crowd,” Caicedo recalls. “As you can imagine in these third-world countries, they all want to sign. So every boxer in the country was at this building wanting to sign with this new company with a former heavyweight champion running it.”

And as Caicedo looked on, waiting for a massive figure to emerge from the crowd, he felt someone yanking on his shirt. Caicedo glanced down.

​A young man of 5’5” stood before him.

“I’m Juan Carlos,” the young man said.
“What, you?” Caicedo said.
“Yeah, I’m Juan Carlos.”
“You’re like a hundred pounds.”
“What’d you think?”

Caicedo told Payano what he had thought, and Payano started laughing. “No, no, no,” he said.

Payano had learned to be wary of managers and promoters. He had met many of them already. Payano recalls, “They all were pushing the same thing: We will make you Champ and make you rich!” The only reason Payano had shown up at all was that his friend told him that Rivalta seemed honest. Still, he was skeptical. “When I was on the bus to Santo Domingo to meet the promoters, who were signing fighters.” Payano recalls, “I thought to myself, ‘Here we go again.’” But then he spoke to Rivalta, and later to Briggs; it put him at ease to know that a fighter and former world champion was involved. Still, it wasn’t until he found time to talk with the no-nonsense Caicedo that the deal was sealed.

Payano told Caicedo, “The only way I will sign with this promotion company is if you sign me to a management deal and you train me yourself personally.”

Caicedo was hesitant; he was there in only an advisory role. But then he thought, “What the hell? I don’t have any other fighter except Shannon. Win, lose or draw, I’ll have some time on my hands. Let me take the leap.”

Caicedo ended up signing a few other guys there as well, including Claudio Marrero and another former Olympian who didn’t pan out and ended up moving back. He told them the same thing he told Payano: “I don’t have one dollar to give you. I have a facility back home that’s a gym. I can convert one or two of the offices into bedrooms, and I can train you like a mule. I will take care of every single shark that comes your way that tries to steer you in a direction that is not beneficial. I will manage you like my own children. That’s what I can promise you.”
Caicedo returned to his gym in Miami and converted an office into a master bedroom, where Juan Carlos lived for the next six and a half years. Under Caicedo’s close watch, Payano has become one of the best fighters in his weight division. For Caicedo, Payano’s shining moment came in 2014 when he beat Anselmo “Chemito” Moreno, the longest reigning bantamweight world champion of all time, to gain the WBA Super bantamweight title. “The doctors stopped the fight in the eighth round,” Caicedo explains, “but we were ahead on every single score card and were on our way to getting the knockout.” Next, came his first fight with Rau’shee Warren. It was a close, dirty fight, and Payano won by split decision.

Caicedo wishes he had let Payano simmer in the championship before sending him to face Rau’shee for the second time. “That second fight with Rau’shee, I knew what they wanted,” he says. “I know the business. It’s not a secret. They wanted this American, this three-time Olympian to be Champion, and they were willing to pay anything to make it happen. I always tell all my guys if you ever win championships—you know, because I got nothing but Cubans and Dominicans and very few Americans—I say you’re going to win a championship because we train like dogs here. But you’re not the champion who’s the celebrated champion. You’re going to be the champion who’s holding the belt for whoever else they want to make a champion. So you’re going to get the fights, but you’re not going to get the easy fights. Even if you become world champions, they’re not giving you the tune up bouts, not like Deontay Wilder’s who’s got 35 nobodies. They’re giving Payano dog-dog fights. They don’t see the money behind a Dominican, a Cuban, there’s no fan base. Payano falls in that category because he’s not a one punch knockout artist. And even though he’s exciting for TV, he doesn’t have a fan base. So, I get the business. I don’t lie to the fighters so that they understand what the severity of being a champion and anything but Puerto Rican, Mexcian, and American.”

Two weeks before his second fight with Rau’shee, Payano broke the floating rib under the arm pit in the lead position while sparing with Stephon Young. There was some contemplation of postponing the fight. But the 500,000 dollar purse was too much to pass up. “I’m having a really hard time catching my breath and recovering,” he told Caicedo between rounds. But that was just information he was giving Caicedo so that Caicedo knew how to adjust to what he was asking of him. “There was never any question about whether they would stop the fight,” Caicedo says. “He’s made it very clear that he’s the type of fighter that if his arm falls off in the ring, he’s going to pick it up and beat you with it.”

Payano lost his second bout against Rau’shee, ending his short reign as world champion, but his purse from that fight allowed him to bring his family to America.

“It’s a tough, tough, tough business,” Caicedo says, “even tougher when you’re protecting people. Because someway, somehow, you always have to sell out …somewhere. And sometimes it’s at the expense of the fighters. And I didn’t. I didn’t, and I don’t. I refuse to do that. I may not have the best reputation among promoters and some managers for that reason. I tell it like it is.”

But according to Payano, Caicedo did that and so much more: “He didn’t promise fame and fortune, simply hard work, honesty and to protect and keep us away from all the scumbags in this business.” He often tells Caicedo, “You promised to the letter exactly what you said six years ago, and I want to thank you for being a father figure to me and an honest and disciplined man.”

Tonight Caicedo will be in Payano’s corner yet again when he steps into the ring to face Alexis Santiago (21-4-1, 8 KOs) at Sam’s Town in Las Vegas, which will be aired on FS1 at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.

“We expect a very good boxer,” Caicedo says of Santiago. “We expect a great counter puncher. He’s not your typical Mexican fighter. He’s not just going to come forward, take four licks to give his four licks. He’s a good boxer. He’s as good or better than Juan Carlos. But we’re ready. And quite frankly, Juan Carlos is pissed. He’s super pissed. He wants his titles back. From what he’s been performing like, Alexis Santiago’s in for a rough, rough night. He’s got to keep up with over 150 punches a round. That’s no easy feat.”

Even if Payano becomes a world champion again, he may never reach the million-dollar payday that many lesser fighters receive on a regular basis. But perhaps he’s okay with that. He always tells Caicedo, “You promised to the letter exactly what you said six years ago, and I want to thank you for being an honest and disciplined man.” Of course, Payano deserves to give himself some credit. After all, he had the patience and intelligence to see through the sleek promises that promoters and managers were making him—promises of money and dreams and castles and Ferraris. And he deserves credit for all that he has achieved, in and outside of the ring. And just think of what he has achieved. Seven years ago, he couldn’t scrape the money together for bus fare to get from La Vega to Santo Domingo, and now he owns a small three-bedroom home in Miami Gardens. Everyone in his family has green cards. They’re working on their citizenships, taking English classes, and his kids are in school. Achieving all this couldn’t have been an easy feat, either. Payano’s in an enviable position. After all, why did all those young men show up to the boxing gym that day back in 2010 to meet Rivalta? Maybe they weren’t just there for a chance at fame and boxing stardom. Maybe they were after something else, something closer to what Juan Carlos Payano now has.

Follow B.A. Cass on Twitter @WiththePunch

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PBC on NBC Results: Lubin remains undefeated; Warren becomes World Champ & Smith Jr. KO’s Fonfara in One


PBC on NBC Results: Lubin remains undefeated; Warren becomes World Champ & Smith Jr. KO’s Fonfara in One

By: Matthew N. Becher

Live from the University of Illinois in Chicago, Premier Boxing Champions put on a father’s day card on primetime NBC, featuring title fights, former Olympians and young prospects. The broadcast began with a rematch of last years, very closely contested Bantamweight championship between Rau’Shee Warren and Juan Carlos Payano. A bonus fight between fast tracked, 20 year old prospect, Erickson Lubin and Mexican Journeyman Daniel Sandoval. And a Main Event with championship implications in the Light Heavyweight division between the Long Island construction worker, Joe Smith Jr. and the hard hitting Polish Prince, Andrzej Fonfara.

Andrzej Fonfara

Juan Carlos Payano (17-0 8KO) v. Rau’shee Warren (13-1 4KO): Rematch WBA Bantamweight Championship

The first fight between these two was plagued with point deductions on both sides and ended in a split decision that many were unhappy with. Warren, a three time Olympian, took his first professional defeat and lost his chance at becoming a world champion.

This time Warren came out working fast, showing his superior boxing skill and hand speed. Payano was left to stalk his opponent and try and make the fight rough when inside.

Warren used a fast jab, to the head and body, countering in the first half of the fight.

The usually more aggressive Payano was forced to fight at Warren’s pace. Payano had trouble getting into any kind of rhythm, never really landing more than one punch at a time. Whenever Payano tried to step up his aggression, he was either smothered or met with a barrage of punches from Warren.

Payano was throwing much more punches in the later rounds, taking the action to Warren. The championship rounds becoming very valuable to the outcome, as Payano predicted they would be.

In the end, it was a close fight, but a fight that Rau’shee Warren ultimately controlled from wire to wire. He was not able to win any Olympic medals in his three trips, but tonight he was able to become a World Champion.

114-114, 115-113 (2x) Warren MD12

Erickson Lubin (14-0 10KO) v. Daniel Sandoval (38-3 35KO):Jr. Middleweight

Erickson “The Hammer” Lubin was supposed to be getting ready to represent the United States next month at the Olympics in Rio. Instead, on his 18th birthday he turned pro, and today he added another win to his undefeated professional record. Lubin started the fight using a strong straight right handed jab that stalled any type of game plan by Sandoval and finished with a flurry, showing that he possesses power in both his hands, appropriately named “Jack” and “Sledge”.

Lubin TKO3 2:36

Andrzej Fonfara (28-3 16KO) v. Joe Smith Jr. (21-1 17KO): Light Heavyweight

In a fight that was in Fonfara’s hometown of Chicago, Illinois, which had Fonfara as an enormous favorite came crashing down within one round. The first round was both men trading a lot of blows, but the hard hitting Smith was able to land a huge overhand right, with one minute left in the round, that knocked Fonfara down. Smith attacked, once Fonfara was able to get up and the fight was stopped. The unknown, union laborer from New York will now become the mandatory to fight Adonis Stevenson for the WBC Light Heavyweight Championship.

Smith Jr. TKO1 2:32

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PBC on NBC Preview: Fonfara vs. Smith, Payano vs. Warren, Lubin vs. Sandoval


PBC on NBC Preview: Fonfara vs. Smith, Payano vs. Warren, Lubin vs. Sandoval
By: William Holmes

On Saturday night the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, Illinois will be the host site for the next installment of Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) on NBC.

Three fights are scheduled to be televised, with the main event featuring a bout between Andrzej Fonfara facing off against contender Joe Smith Jr. Rau’shee Warren is also scheduled to rematch Juan Carlos Payano for the WBA Bantamweight championship. Rising star Erickson Lubin is also scheduled to fight on the televised portion of the card when he takes on Daniel Sandoval in the junior middleweight division.

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr vs Andrzej Fonfara

The following is a preview of all three televised fights.

Erickson Lubin (14-0) vs. Daniel Sandoval (38-3); Junior Middleweights

Erickson Lubin is only twenty years old and he already has fourteen bouts on his professional resume.

He had a successful amateur career and was considered by many to win a gold medal in the 2016 Olympics but he decided to turn pro instead. Daniel Sandoval is five years older than Lubin, bt will be about one inch taller and an inch and a half longer.

Lubin has been very active since turning pro. He fought five times in 2015 and once in 2016. Sandoval, by contrast, has not been very active and fought once in 2016, once in 2015, and two times in 2014. Additionally, Sandoval has fought mainly in Mexico but he has made an occasional trip to the United States for a fight.

Lubin has not faced anyone of note, but has defeated the likes of Alexis Comacho, Orlando Lora, and Ayi Bruce. Sandoval has one four of his past five fights by stoppage and has defeated the likes of Grady Brewer, Richard Guiterrez, and Gabriel Martinez.

Lubin is a young, hard hitting prospect. Sandoval has not been in the ring with quality opponents, but his thirty five stoppage victories should be of some concern to Lubin. Lubin has ten stoppage victories on his resume.

Lubin is considered by many to be one of the top young prospects in the sport of boxing. Sandoval has the power to score an upset victory, but Lubin has the talent to become a future world champion.

Juan Carlos Payano (17-0) vs. Rau’shee Warren (13-1); WBA Bantamweight Title

This is a rematch of their title bout in 2015 which featured Payano escaping with a split decision victory over Rau-Shee Warren. It was a highly entertaining bout, but many felt Warren should have been declared the winner. Warren also lost two points for fouls in their original bout.

Payano is thirty two years old and three years older than Warren. They have the same reach and Payano is slightly taller than Warren. They both are not known for their knockouts. Payano only has eight stoppage victories while Warren only has four.

Warren has been very active, as he fought four times in 2014 and two times in 2015. Payano has not been as active, but he does have a better resume of defeated opponents. Payano has defeated the likes of Anselmo Moreno, Jundy Maraon, and Jose Araiza. Warren has mainly faced average competition and has defeated the likes of Javier Gallo and Jose lUis Araiza.

Both boxers had successful amateur careers. Payano competed for the Dominican Republic in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. Warren is a three time Olympian for the United States and won the 2007 World Amateur Championships as a flyweight.

Many felt Warren defeated Payano the first time they fought but he gave away the fight with his needless fouls. He should be able to avoid the mistakes he made last time and win convincingly in the rematch.

Andrzej Fonfara (28-3) vs. Joe Smith Jr. (21-1); Light Heavyweights

Joe Smith Jr. has a good record, but he has not faced anyone of note.

Fonfara is twenty eight years old and two years older than Smith. He will also have a two and a half inch height advantage.

Neither boxer had any notable success on the international circuit as an amateur, but Fonfara did have success on the national circuit in Poland as an amateur.

Fonfara has been active as he fought twice in 2014 and in 2015. Smith, however, has fought four times in 2014, three times in 2015, and once in 2016.

They both have average stoppage power. Fonfara has stopped sixteen of his opponents while Smith has stopped seventeen.

Fonfara clearly has the edge in quality of defeated opponents. He has defeated the likes of Nathan Cleverly, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Gabriel Campillo, Tommy Karpency, and Glen Johnson. His losses were to Adonis Stevenson in a close bout, Derrick Findley, and Eberto Medina. Smith has defeated the likes of Will Rosinsky and Cory Cummings. His lone loss was to Eddie Caminero in 2010 by TKO.

Fonfara will be fighting in front of a friendly crowd in Chicago and is angling for a rematch with Adonis Stevenson. He should easily defeat Joe Smith and face Stevenson next.

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