When the bell rings, Oscar “El Chapito” Vasquez has a great sense of urgency. That bell comes in the form of an alarm clock and it rings every day at 4 a.m. That’s when the boxer starts his training routine.
“I’ve got to get up out of bed or I will lose a fight,” the super-flyweight said.
And if he loses a fight?
“If I were to lose, it would be a huge step down,” he said. “I would probably even retire.”
Retirement might seem outlandish to consider for a boxer with a nearly perfect record. But life can move along quickly when you are working hard raising a family. Vasquez is a truck driver who makes a Reno to Fallon round trip every day starting at 5 a.m. A longtime friend the other day asked Vasquez, “How old are you now?”
“Thirty,” he answered, smiling and shaking his head as if he couldn’t believe it himself.
“I’ve been working with Oscar since he was 17,” trainer Don Fain said. “I took him all over the country. I had to raid his hotel room to make sure he didn’t have any Gummy Bears. He liked Gummy Bears.”
The man with a sweet tooth is an adept student of the sweet science. Vasquez takes a 15-1 record in to the ring Friday at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center. He’s in the main event against 19-year-old Ricardo “El Nino” Sandoval (12-1).
“He is a young, hungry Mexican fighter,” said Vasquez, who has some veteran tactics in mind.
A pro fighter since he was 17, Sandoval has been extremely busy, fighting nine times in the last 16 months. His only loss was by a majority decision to undefeated Alonso Ceja. He has since won eight straight times, including a split decision over Brent Venegas last November in Reno.
Venegas knocked down Sandoval in the first round. But Sandoval, who started with an orthodox style, switched to a left-handed stance and rallied to win. However, Vasquez noticed a flaw when Sandoval made the adjustment.
“That’s when he was caught with a left hook,” Vasquez said. “Switching is good when you know how to do it well like Terence Crawford. I will be looking for that, and I also noticed that he leans when he throws his jab.”
Early in his career — in just his third fight — Vasquez took on a talented and more experienced fighter. Japan’s Takashi Okada scored a second round knockdown and a unanimous decision.
But Vasquez said that choice, and sustaining the only blemish on an otherwise perfect record, served to inspire him.
“It was the best decision of my life,” he said. “After the fight, I thought about my future. I went to Los Angeles for two years where I was surrounded by the greatest fighters in the world. I had a great trainer (Nico Robledo) at the Rock Gym. He was a professor. I learned two different styles. I can be a boxer-puncher/ counter puncher or I can go forward and all out.”
Vasquez has been unbeatable ever since, winning 13 straight fights, five in 2017, his most active year. His most recent bout was his most painful. He suffered a huge gash over his right eye and a probable fractured nose. The injuries were not inflicted by punches from his opponent, Victor Ruiz. They came from headbutts.
Before being taken to the hospital, Vasquez said, “I had blood in my eyes and I couldn’t see, then blood in my nose and couldn’t breathe. When he cut my eye, he didn’t even look. He just went in head first and as soon as he butted me it instantly started gushing. The second time, he led with his head first, not even face first. That one hurt.”
The bout was close and sensing that the referee would stop the fight, Vasquez mounted a furious fourth-round rally.
“Tenacity” is Vasquez’s greatest boxing attribute, trainer Fain said. “He has an inner strength that keeps him going.”
Referee Victor Drakulich did, in fact, stop the fight after the fourth round. The late rally clinched the technical decision by the judges for Vasquez, who nevertheless was so disappointed he took the microphone at center ring and apologized to the audience for not providing a full fight.
Vasquez feels an obligation to have a career that will go to the very top. That’s what motivates him to rise at 4 each morning to do his roadwork.
“I want to be the first person born and raised in Reno to become a world champion so when I die I will have left something,” he said.
It will be a family affair at Friday’s fights. Vasquez’s 27-year-old brother Santos “Titos” Vasquez (5-2-1) will face Puerto Rican Bryan “Brillo” Aquino (11-2) in a six-round light-flyweight bout.
The younger Vasquez had a phenomenal amateur career and was an alternate on the 2012 United States Olympic team. But it’s difficult in this country to find fights in the 108-pound class. So he has had just eight pro bouts. Titos missed the fight card’s media event on Tuesday because he was working his day job. He and his wife’s third daughter was born last month.
Lucio-Galvan’s opponent misses weight
Reno’s Ricardo “The Dreamer” Lucio-Galvan will not fight on Friday’s card. The 20-year-old has won both of pro fights by knockout and would-be opponents are already leery of facing him in his hometown.
Promoter and matchmaker Terry Lane said a half-dozen boxers had pulled out of the fight after studying up on Lucio-Galvan, a slugging super featherweight.
“Every fight is just so delicate,” Lane said. “Until that bell rings, nothing is guaranteed.”
Lane had an opponent set up as late as Thursday afternoon. Lucio-Galvan, who normally fights at 126 pounds, agreed to box in the 140-pound class. But his opponent came in weighing 145, which the Nevada Athletic Commission ruled was too much of a disparity.
“I know things like these happen, but it’s disappointing knowing how much effort was put into it,” Lucio-Galvan said. “It’s disappointing not only for me but for all of the people who were hoping to see me in the ring again.”
If there is a silver lining, Lucio-Galvan won’t have to take his final exams early. The University of Nevada, Reno, sophomore had arranged to take the tests on Thursday.
“I still have the option to take the finals early but with all of this going on I think I will take them (Friday) so I can have some time to get this off of my mind and focus on my classes.
Lucio-Galvan, who has a 2-0 record in the ring, has a perfect 4.0 grade point average in the classroom.
– Tim Parsons
- Live Professional Boxing
Let’s Get It On Boxing
When: 7 p.m. Friday, May 4
Where: Reno-Sparks Convention Center
Tickets: $35, $65 and $100
Purchase: Atlantis Gift Shop or call (775) 824-4467
- Main event
Super-flyweights, 8 rounds: Oscar “El Chapito” Vasquez (15-1) Reno vs. Ricardo “El Nino” Sandoval (12-1) Rialto, California
Cruiserweights, 8 rounds: Blake McKernan (7-0) Sacramento vs. Daniel Arambula (4-2) Jalisco, Mexico
Light flyweights, 6 rounds: Santos “Titos” Vasquez (5-2-1) Reno vs. Bryan “Brillo” Aquino (11-2) Puerto Rico
Heavyweights, 6 rounds: Frank “Freedom Fighter” Sanchez (5-0) Las Vegas vs. Lamont “Too Smooth” Capers (9-12) Hawley, Pennsylvania
Lightweights, 4 rounds: Diego Elizondo (2-0) Carson City vs. Canton Miller (3-1) St. Louis
Featherweights, 4 rounds: Ricardo Lucio-Galvan (2-0) Reno vs. TBA