Friday, January 25, 2008

Antonio Escalante and boxing

El Paso junior bantamweight Antonio Escalante will face a big challenge next Friday in Boston when he takes on Mexico City's Jose Angel Beranza in a 10-round fight on Telefutura.

Escalante, who is 16-2 with 10 knockouts has high hopes for 2008. He'd like to fight for a world championship at some point. He had just three fights in 2007 and he said earlier this week that he wants to be more active this year.

The 22-year-old Escalante won two of his three fights last year, losing to Mauricio Pastrana via eighth-round TKO and beating Paulino Villalobos and Feider Viloria. Viloria had a record of 20-1-1 entering that fight.

"I want 2008 to be busy," Escalante said. "I really want to move forward in my career, but first things first and that's my fight next week. The guy I am fighting is tough. He's been in with some good guys. I have to fight patiently and smart."

Escalante was expected to fight 21-0 Mike Oliver, but Oliver pulled out with a bicep injury. So in steps Beranza, who lost a 10-round decision to former world champion Jhonny Gonzalez last time out.

"It's always tough when opponents change," said Louis Aguilar, who trains Escalante. "First we were supposed to fight Oliver in a 12-rounder, then it was 10 rounds and now he's out. But that's boxing sometimes. Antonio is doing well in the gym. He's been sharp."

Escalante said he has been working a lot on defense, including his footwork and head movement.

He has been training in Las Cruces and El Paso and has been sparring with the likes of Las Cruces pros Sammy Di Pace and Ricky Vasquez.

"Sammy gives me a good look in regards to my new opponent," Escalante said. "Sammy throws a good overhand right and he's strong. My opponent will come to me. Ricky is a good boxer, has good movement. I'm just trying to get better in the gym and I'm still learning."

There is no doubt that Escalante has plenty of potential to win a world championship. He's still young and he has room for improvement. Escalante has a chance to showcase himself in a big way next Friday and if he does, the big fights will come.

Escalante hasn't gotten the notoriety he deserves in the area, but that won't be for long. With the way he punches, particularly on the inside, he is a fan favorite. He needs to get better on defense and just pace himself better, but that comes with maturity.

— Felix