Tonight (Wednesday) on ShoBox, welterweight Janelson Bocachica (16-0, 11 KOs) battles fellow undefeated Mark Reyes Jr. (14-0, 12 KOs) on a three-bout broadcast from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The co-feature pits Russian and Detroit-trained Vladimir Shishkin (11-0, 7 KOs) against Ghana’s Sena Agbeko (23-1, 18 KOs) in a ten-round super middleweight matchup, while Alejandro Guerrero (12-0, 9 KOs) of Houston faces Mexico’s Abraham Montoya (19-2-1, 14 KOs) in an eight-round lightweight bout. Here is what the six featured boxers had to say at the weigh-in:
“My last fight on ShoBox, I feel like I surprised a lot of people. I wasn’t surprised myself because I know what I have to give. I showed my skills even though I could have done a little better, and that’s what I’m trying to do this fight. I won’t be satisfied until I get the WBC belt. I could have been better with my movement in my last fight. I wasn’t totally tuned into the fight. I wanted to make him work a little bit more even though I set him up perfectly.
“I usually don’t watch much tape on my opponents. The level of opponents that he’s faced doesn’t match up to the fighter that I am, so there’s not a whole lot that I can learn from watching tape. He won’t be able to do the same things with me that he’s done with the guys he’s faced. I have seen a couple highlights though and he does look good. He looks like a good fighter and that’s why I picked this fight.
“Whenever I fight there’s a high chance for an explosion. If he tries to pressure me and he’s throwing punches, he’s going to be receiving them back. I’m not a walking punching bag. I tried to box in my last fight but every time somebody gives me an opening my precision is there. That’s what we train for. As soon as he opens up and gets cocky with it, I’ll step on the gas and get him out of there.
“I have power in both hands. If he really wants to fight, then he can look for a fight. I just don’t think a fight with me will last very long for Mark Reyes. I think I’m super close to being a top contender. This fight is going to help me a lot. It’s another stepping-stone and I feel like you guys are going to be seeing a lot more of me.”
Mark Reyes Jr.
“This could definitely be a short fight. It may not last long. But I can definitely say I’m prepared to go into the ninth and 10th round just as strong as I’m coming on in the first. But if the opportunity presents itself, there’s no reason to sit around and wait. If I hit anybody flush a few times, I don’t think many people are going to withstand that.
“I feel like winning this fight would be a push towards making a name for myself in the welterweight division. It would definitely set me up for future fights and opportunities that I’ve been wanting and looking for.
“A lot of my power comes from my timing. Sometimes, the biggest punchers have a habit of relying on their power too much. You’ll see that with time, there are guys that are able to withhold and weather the storm and actually end up knocking those guys out. I would say the most important thing is if you are a powerful puncher, you definitely want to rely on timing and speed just as much as you do your natural abilities.
“We got in the gym right away making sure that we got our rounds in sparring. Obviously, we all know that sparring is a different type of conditioning. You can do all your running and all your training, but if you’re not having the right quality of sparring and getting those rounds in you might second guess yourself when you get into those later rounds. That’s definitely something that I wanted to make sure that I was ready for. I’m absolutely ready to go 10 rounds. If this was a 12-round fight, I would be ready to go 12 rounds.
“A win over this guy would definitely place me in a good position for my future fights this year. The long-term goal is to fight for a world title within the next two years. If I am able to move and grow steadily, then that’s the plan. I have to take the right fights and make sure that I’m always learning, always growing, and if the opportunities present themselves, I am definitely willing to take them.”
“Agbeko is a solid fight for me. He is physically strong and he will come to fight. He’s a good boxer and he’s a big featherweight. I will have to put in a good performance to score a victory. My plan is to just listen to my trainer, L.J. Harrison, and if I listen and follow the plan the result will be perfect.
“I made the move to train with L.J. and stop working with SugarHill Steward because I have a very good relationship with L.J. I have a great connection with him and I believe a lot in what I’m learning and what he’s teaching me. I am more flexible, he’s teaching me distance and balance. I feel that I am improving and it’s going to pay off in this fight.
“I think that I’m an elite fighter and I want to show on February 17 that I can compete at an elite level. I think that I am ready to face the best in the super middleweight division. I have already beaten guys that were ranked in the top 15 at the time like Nadjib Mohammedi and DeAndre Ware. I am ready for guys like Canelo and the best in the division.”
“This fight is coming at the perfect time for me. I’m ready to launch myself and possibly challenge for a world title soon. I feel like I really need to get going with my career. There have been so many starts and stops and I’m ready to be done with that and just have a more consistent flow with the fights.
“Training with people like Badou Jack and Caleb Plant, you get to understand the discipline that is required to perform at that level. Prior to that, the assumption was just to go out there and try to make a statement, but the certain patience and discipline that you have to adhere to at the highest level is what I learned. You get punished for even the simplest mistakes, so sparring with them got me a lot of experience.
“Back in 2014 when I first came to the U.S., I feel that I was mentally very underdeveloped. I had a very different perception of the sport. I feel that I wasn’t quite ready. I didn’t understand what it took mentally to be at the level I wanted to be at. That was the biggest difference. Now, I’m more mature and I’ve been around the U.S. I’ve been to different camps all around the country – New York, Miami, Las Vegas, Houston – and through it all I’ve learned to deal with the mental aspect of the sport. My mental preparation and being in a calm state of mind ready to perform is the biggest difference.
“I don’t see myself as the B-side. I actually like playing the role of the underdog. One of my biggest strengths is my ability to adapt in the ring and being the best that I can be. I have a plethora of tools to use and as the fight goes on, I will be able to adjust to whatever I need to adjust to. The goal is to win and I’m not going to wait until it’s too late. Every step of the way, I am going to do things that will put me ahead.
“I was informed on Tuesday that my opponent from my last fight, Roy King, passed away on Monday night. It’s unfortunate. Roy is somebody that was doing a lot for his city, Johnson City, in Tennessee. When I met him at the weigh-in, I talked to him and he was very nice. It’s so unfortunate that this happened. I did go to see him in the hospital shortly after our fight and I was expecting him to recover, but unfortunately, he passed away after a year of dealing with it.”
“I don’t think the layoff will have any effect on me. If anything, I’m going to come back harder and stronger. It wasn’t a big issue being laid off. I had more time to train. I was training harder and doing things the right way. This is my first fight where I’ve been completely focused on boxing. I haven’t been working a fulltime job like I normally was, so physically, I feel I’m in the best shape of my life. I feel like I can take on the world.
“My last fight on ShoBox with no crowd felt totally off. I’m used to the crowd going crazy when I land a nice combination. I’m a crowd-pleaser. That’s what motivates me to continue going harder and harder.Not having a crowd, there isn’t a huge issue, but at the same time it does kind of change the whole setting of the fight.
“In that last fight against Angulo, I had him hurt in the last three rounds but I just didn’t have the opportunity to completely take him out of the way. He was strong. He was taking all my hits. I feel that I wasn’t at my best in that fight and I didn’t do everything the correct way. This fight, I’m coming back stronger and tougher and I’m not going to need any judges..
“Anybody who has seen me fight knows that I like to come forward. I like to throw a lot of shots. I always see myself as the big dog in the ring. I like to take control of the fight. I’m just going to take all my movement and power and skills to another level and it’s going to be more explosive. You are going to see a totally different ‘Pork Chop’ that’s way better than I was in my last fight.
“I’ve been getting great work in sparring. I started off by sparring people around my weight but I was taking them out. They couldn’t last more than four rounds so I’ve been using heavier, stronger guys for this camp. I know this guy that I’m facing has nothing compared to the guys that I’ve been sparring. That’s why I’m so confident. I’m going in with everything I have. It’s not going to be an easy fight but I’m going to make it look easy.”
“I am a very offensive fighter naturally, but I’m also the type of fighter that is always willing to adapt and adjust to my opponent’s style. The plan is to just go out there, listen to the bell ring and get close to my opponent and get to work. I will read him, adjust as I need to and do what I have to do.
“Normally, fighters change weight classes when they have defeats. But for me, I am not coming off a loss. I decided to start fighting at lightweight because it was just the right time. I was the national champion and North American champion at super featherweight. I spent all last year looking or good opportunities but I didn’t find any. That’s why I am so excited for this opportunity and why I decided to move to lightweight.
“We have watched Guerrero and we are aware that he is a very aggressive fighter. He’s the type of opponent that will come to clash. He has a lot of fire. Getting a win against him is going to be a big deal for me and my career. I have faced better opposition than Guerrero, so I may be considered a favorite, but I feel like an underdog. When I’m the underdog, that just gives me even more motivation.
“I wasn’t born yet when my father Eduardo fought for a world title. There weren’t a ton of cameras around back then so I haven’t been able to watch a lot of video of his fights. What I rely on is the stories that he and everybody who knew him tell me. That’s what motivated me to become a fighter.
“For my fight against Yakubov in Russia, we were negotiating for four weeks. It took a long time. I accepted the fight and it was finally finalized with just 18 days’ notice. I did the best I could with that time but I was not 100 percent prepared for that fight. For this fight, of course I am 100 percent prepared. I’ve been preparing for the fight since the first week of January. I am the type of fighter that is 24/7, always training. There are no excuses this time around.”