Fidel Cervantes has been waiting a long time for this. On Saturday, March 21, he’ll finally enter the ring to make his pro debut in Kansas City, Missouri.
Cervantes is an interesting case. He doesn’t have a massive promotional company like Golden Boy or Top Rank behind him. Instead, he’s using the old school, DIY method, hustling to find bouts and working his ass off to promote himself.
I caught up with the 23-year-old prospect to talk some boxing, and about his upcoming fight.
Round By Round Boxing: Fidel, what made you want to become a boxer?
Fidel Cervantes: For most boxers, members of their family boxed, so they pick it up. Or, they come up from the streets, and boxing was a way to get them out of it. For me, my friends and I just picked up some gloves and started fighting each other. Once we fought each other a few times, everyone got tired of it. But I fell in love with it. From there, I found a boxing gym. I kind of just fell into it.
RBRBoxing: Amateur boxing can be rough, especially with scoring. How did you fare in the amateurs?
FC: I had about 50 fights, went to national PAL twice, U.S. nationals three times, but I had some bad luck with Golden Gloves. I lost a couple tough decisions.
RBRBoxing: I was being nice. Amateur scoring is shit.
FC: That’s actually why I was done with it. I was supposed to make my pro debut around this time last year, but a lot of the local cards fell apart. People were asking me why I wasn’t fighting amateurs anymore. I was just tired of it. Tired of losing decisions I should have won, and I just didn’t have the money to throw out to these tournaments. I was losing my enthusiasm for the sport, so I just decided to forget about fighting and hit the gym. I just tried to adapt more to the pro style.
RBRBoxing: How is it working out?
FC: I’ve actually had a lot of people, guys that I’ve sparred with, ask me how many pro fights I’ve had. It shocked a lot of guys, because I think I’ve adapted the pro style well. It’s just the way I fight.
RBRBoxing: If you were scouting yourself, what are your strongest attributes? Speed? Power?
FC: I think my best attribute is actually the way I adapt to different fighters, the adjustments I make within the fight. By the second round, I’m taking over the fight. In the amateurs, I’d just run out of time. But now, I’m on to you.
RBRBoxing: You’ve been essentially promoting yourself for this bout. How has that been for you?
FC: A buddy of mine has been helping me out, but I’m actually okay with it. I really don’t want to sign with a lower-level promoter. You see these guys build up a fighter until they’ve got a few wins under them, and then ship them right off to Vegas to be an opponent for somebody they really shouldn’t be in with. And the promoter will get paid, not the fighter. I’m fine taking things a little slower.
RBRBoxing: You’ve been out of competition for a bit. How are you feeling about the 21st? You have to be pretty excited right? Are you nervous at all?
FC: Pretty excited, I’ve been sparring a lot of people, giving me the edge that I need for this fight. The guy I’m fighting is 1-0, I don’t think he’s a complete bum who’s going to make me look bad. I think he’ll give me a solid fight.
RBRBoxing: Let’s go to the future. Five years from now, where are you at?
FC: Hopefully, within the next couple of years, I’ll have around 10 fights and I’ll be out of Kansas, fighting in bigger shows. Obviously the plan is to be a major contender. I think I will be.
RBRBoxing: I want to get another boxer’s perspective. What do you think happens May 2nd?
FC: I think [Manny] Pacquiao isn’t getting enough credit for this fight. I think Floyd [Mayweather] struggles with southpaws. He struggled badly with Zab Judah in the first few rounds before he faded, but Zab isn’t a 12-round fighter. Pacquiao is. If he can hurt Mayweather, he can win this fight by decision.
RBRBoxing: Who were your favorite fighters growing up?
FC: [Erik] Morales and [Marco Antonio] Barrera. Then, as I got a bit older, [Juan Manuel] Marquez became my favorite fighter. His intelligence and combination punching is just incredible. Even though he wasn’t always pressing the action, he always had an aggressive way of counter punching as opposed to just running away.
RBRBoxing: What always amazed me with him was the recuperative powers. He was almost superhuman. That left he took from [Michael] Katsidis fucked him up, and by the end of the round he was dominating.
FC: After the first Pacquiao fight, I was hooked. I became a huge fan. Just the way he got up from those knockdowns… He’s a fighter I’d love to be compared to someday. I’m just trying to get my name out there and hopefully win some fights and get to where the guys I used to train with are at, guys like Jesse Hart. Eventually I’m going to be where they’re at.
Fidel Cervantes will take the first step down a brutal road this weekend, one that leaves many fighters kicked to the side and broken down. But sometimes, it takes fighters to incredible places that were once only pipe dreams.
If all goes to plan, he’ll be back in the ring quickly. Someday he may find himself under the same lights where guys like Erik Morales and Juan Manuel Marquez became legends.
A fighter’s journey to the top is a grueling, 12 round fight.
For Cervantes, Round 1 starts Saturday.