By Gayle Lynn Falkenthal
Undefeated junior welterweight boxer Antonio “Relentless” Orozco will become the first San Diego boxer in nearly two decades to be featured in the main event of a nationally televised boxing broadcast on Saturday.
The HBO Latino-televised bout (11:30 p.m. ET / 8:30 p.m. PT) takes place at the Fantasy Springs Resort & Casino in Indio, CA.
Orozco will risk his perfect 24-0 record with 16 knockouts against Abner Lopez of Mexico, a rugged competitor with a high knockout rate of 19 knockouts in 23 victories, against five losses.
The last San Diegan to be featured in the main event of a nationally televised boxing match appears to be super welterweight “Terrible” Terry Norris, who lost a close unanimous decision to Dana Rosenblatt on ESPN2 Sept. 25, 1998. Norris retired with a record of 47-9 with 31 knockouts and is a resident of the East County.
Asked whether he knew this bit of San Diego sports trivia, Orozco said, “No I didn’t, but I would like to thank Golden Boy Promotion and Espinoza Boxing for giving me an opportunity to be a small part of San Diego boxing history. I want to invite everyone up to watch the fight live or tune into HBO Latino and feel a part of it when they announce, “From San Diego, California!”
Orozco expects plenty of his San Diego fans to follow him up the freeway to Indio for Saturday’s fight. “In my last fight at Fantasy Springs, they were here in full force with signs, shirts and cheers.”
Orozco, a Kansas native living in San Diego and training with Carlos Barragan Jr. at the House of Boxing in National City, has been slowly but steadily rising in the rankings during his eight-year professional career. Recently re-signed to a new contract with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, he is currently ranked in the top ten of his weight division by all four major sanctioning organizations, including a number one ranking by the World Boxing Council (WBC).
Among Orozco’s victories are defeats of former world champions Humberto Soto and Steve Forbes, and most recently a spectacular first round knockout of Miguel Acosta on March 25, which thrilled fans watching ringside at Fantasy Spring Resort.
The 28-year-old Orozco returns to the Indio arena where he feels very much at home, this time with national exposure offering him a chance to impress fans who may not know him well yet. It’s wise for boxing fans to get to know Orozco, because he is poised to fight for a world title in one of the most competitive divisions in boxing against top names like pound for pound American star Terence Crawford and veteran Manny Pacquiao.
Orozco is exceptionally well-rounded, with a varied arsenal he can employ in the ring. He can box, he can brawl, and he can adjust his approach as needed. Trainer Carlos Barragan is pleased with Orozco’s addition of a solid jab to his attack. No one has ever doubted Orozco’s work ethic and drive.
“I think it’s pretty evident that I’m a pretty patient person. With timing, everything comes, I’m just doing what I love. I love fighting. I love putting on a great show for anybody in attendance and this is what I do,” said Orozco.
Orozco’s manager Frank Espinoza said, “That’s what I love about Antonio; he’s a smart and loyal young man. He’s just a hard-working guy and he’s the type of guy who is a dream to manage. You really don’t have to worry about him all that much. Just get him a fight and you know he’s going to get to work and show up.”
“With the support from Golden Boy Promotions I’m getting a lot of exposure,” said Orozco. “So my fan base is growing. Maybe as it keeps growing, we can bring a show to San Diego.”