Andy Vences vs. Erick De Leon, The Fight We Are All Waiting For…
On March 10th, the headliner might be Oscar Valdez vs. Scott Quigg, but the boxing world is buzzing over two undefeated prospects in 130 lbs. division doing battle on ESPN, minutes prior at the StubHub Center in Carson, Ca, as San Jose’s Andy Vences takes on Detroit’s Erick De Leon.
Despite two undefeated record holders, one training in Northern California and the other training in Southern California (contentious rivals for those out of state i.e. San Francisco Giants vs. Los Angeles Dodgers), marquee gyms surrounding them with Vences training at Victor Conte’s futuristic SNAC System private gym and Erick De Leon training at Robert Garcia’s Boxing Academy. The most interesting thing to me is that Vences and De Leon seem like lost kin in terms of work ethic with only difference one (Vences) being more vocal and De Leon being subdued and reserved.
I have been able to stop by and see Vences train as intermittently throughout this camp and it gets boring quick. Vences trains non-stop for roughly three hours focused and obsessing on small things, he will push through anything to make things happen in his life. Case and point, is up until a month ago, Vences still had a day job working a 40-hour work week along with track work, strength and conditioning and boxing training. Oh, and did I mention he drives roughly four hours a day to get all the training he needs?
Vences was unheralded amateur, a guy who was supposed to enter the pro ranks anonymously and fight locally, for the outsider, Vences was not on their radar based on pedigree, but Vences’ work ethic has seemingly outworked all of his peers to get him into a position most only dream of, fighting on national television in a pick’em fight. Vences fights with a chip on his shoulder and loves being doubted as he uses that for motivation.
Erick De Leon is a highly touted amateur, a guy who won the Golden Gloves three consecutive years in a row in three different weights. He is the type of guy, whom in his childhood you know people probably feared his named or the resume, he carried an aura about him, one that we have seen glimpses of in the pros, but it hasn’t happened like days prior. De Leon is one of the fighters that in the amateur people truly believed would be a star, but for some reason, whether it is an opportunity or what not, a following hasn’t quite built for him and this is his moment to seize the opportunity.
What interests me the most about the two as I stalk them on social media is how the quietly seeming to work in the gym. They both seem internally driven and are often both found at the bags working away from others, driven to be their best.
De Leon is the last of the Emmanuel Stewart trained boxers before the legendary coach passed away. De Leon isn’t just fighting for himself to a degree but is carrying the lineage of the mythic 80s run of the Kronk Gym despite being relocated in Southern California in Robert Garcia’s Boxing Academy, De Leon’s lineage and ties are deeply to Detroit and his late trainer.
In a similar tone, Vences is fighting not just for his family, but his manager, Herb Stone, who passed away suddenly last year. Vences had a close friendship with his manager and was guided to Top Rank Inc. by his Stone, who paved away for him to get a shot on national television in the most interesting match-up early in the boxing calendar.
One of the big questions around this fight is activity. De Leon as mention prior has the better amateur pedigree, but questions persist with his time in the ring. De Leon’s last outing was not one of his better showings, but to be fair Adones Aguelo nearly knocked out Miguel Marriaga a few fights ago in Burbank, Ca and is the kind of spoiler you never want to fight. That being said De Leon will be coming off a seven-month layoff and despite getting top-notch work in the gym, questions persist from his prior performance along with ring time that has some wondering if De Leon’s inactivity will be a factor in the fight.
Conversely, Vences has been fighting often and steadily improving since fighting undefeated prospect Casey Ramos, Vences has fought three times with his last two fights ending in early knockouts. Simply said, on paper, Vences has the edge in terms of recent activity as he is as confident as ever heading into this fight on March 10th.
NOW IT’S PERSONAL
As the two train for the bout, it appears neither fighter is fond of the other and in such a high-stakes fight at the capital of boxing drama on west coast, this could make for an interesting outcome.
Why does this matter? Well, we have two up-and-coming fighters who have temper’s flared, records on the line, pride at stake all for a nationally televised fight that could move the winner into position for a world title fight. Does it get much better than that?