SoCal Invades Texas

Photo by Tom Hogan/Golden Boy Promotions

SoCal Invades Texas on Golden Boy Fight Card

By David A. Avila

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez leads an invasion of Inland Empire prizefighters stampeding toward Texas. It’s all part of a large fight card in Cowboy territory.

The popular Mexican red head Alvarez (47-1-1, 33 Kos) attempts to win the WBO super welterweight title from Liam “Beefy” Smith (23-0-1, 13 Kos) on Saturday Sept. 17, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. He will be joined by five others from the I.E. HBO pay-per-view will televise.

Before Alvarez steps in the ring, several from this region will be partaking in the massive fight card.

Blythe’s Andrew Cancio (17-3-2, 13 Kos) challenges highly touted former US Olympian Jojo Diaz (21-0, 12 Kos) for the NABF featherweight title. Though only 27, many consider Cancio a very experienced veteran.

“I’ve been here before and always had to go out and prove them wrong. And here we are again. This is a great opportunity and I pretty much put in my time to get here through all the ups and down. I’m going to pull off the upset,” said Cancio, who trains in Ventura but calls Blythe his home.

South El Monte’s Diaz has mostly zipped through most of those he faced in the ring as a pro. He knows what to expect from Cancio.

"Andrew Cancio is a dangerous fighter. He is very strong. His last two fights he's proven he has that power to knock opponents out,” said Diaz, 23, who participated in the 2012 Olympics. “I know I have to be cautious but I'm going to brawl with him and show him my power. I'm going to push him back; he's not going to push me back.”

Both fought and defeated the same dangerous Nicaraguan opponent.

“We both fought Alvarado and I ended up knocking him out,” said Cancio. “Now here we are.”

Another Inland fighter with a familiar last name is Diego De La Hoya (15-0, 9 Kos). The cousin of Oscar De La Hoya trains in Indio and meets Puerto Rico’s talented Luis Orlando Del Valle (22-2) in defense of the WBC Youth super bantamweight title. He loves fighting Puerto Ricans.

“This is my third Puerto Rican,” said De La Hoya who prefers winning by knockout. “The second guy I couldn’t knock him out because I hurt him in the first round and he began running. So I couldn’t knock him out.”

De La Hoya knows this is the best opponent he’s ever faced, but relishes the challenge.

“When I’m fighting guys in the upper echelon I want to be superior to them,” said De La Hoya, 23, who was raised in Mexicali, Mexico. “This (Del Valle) is a guy in front of me with hunger and a lot of experience who fought for a world title and I’m motivated. I’m ready for this great opportunity.”

Young pro Vergil Ortiz is another who trains alongside De La Hoya in Indio and also on the Texas fight card. He was born and raised in Dallas but opted to train in Southern California because of trainer Antonio Diaz.

“I met Antonio in 2010 at the Ringside National amateur tournament. I was 12,” said Ortiz, 18. “Ever since that time I said we would go with him as a pro.”

Ortiz said it’s difficult to find proper sparring in Dallas so he made the move to Indio. The tall and lanky super lightweight won a national tournament despite having little sparring. Now as a pro, he gets plenty in Indio.

“This area (I.E.) has lots of fighters,” says Ortiz (1-0) facing Ernesto Hernandez (1-3).

Others on the card from the I.E. are Hector Tanajara (6-0) and Joshua Franco (6-0). Both train in Riverside but actually were raised in San Antonio, Texas. They’re part of the stampede returning home. Their fights will be streamed on