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INSIDE THE RING: The Return of Boxing

Careers about to restart in Las Vegas this month.

Joshua Franco talks to KSAT 12 Sports from his training camp in California.
Joshua Franco talks to KSAT 12 Sports from his training camp in California. (KSAT 12 TV)

SAN ANTONIO – Certain parts of the country are slowly reopening and that includes the restart of sports.

ESPN announced on Saturday a slate of boxing matches starting June 9 in Las Vegas. San Antonio’s own Joshua Franco will be one of those fighters getting the chance to resume his career in Nevada,

Here’s an update on our area boxers and what they were doing the last three months.

JOSHUA “EL PROFESOR” FRANCO

It’s been almost four months since Joshua Franco won by technical knockout in the Alamodome. Now, Franco has returned to his training camp in Riverside, California to prepare for the biggest fight in his career.

Franco (16-1-2, 8 KOs) will fight Australia’s Andrew Moloney (21-0, 14 KOs) for Moloney’s WBA World Super Flyweight title belt. The fight will occur in Las Vegas on June 23 and fans will not be allowed at any of the Las Vegas bouts.

“It’s going to be different for sure without fans,” said Franco to KSAT 12 Sports on Wednesday afternoon. “My trainer tells me we still have to handle our business. We got to do what we have to do, whether there’s fans or there’s not fans. This is your job, you have to go out there and still perform at your best. It’s more motivating for me because it’s for a world title.”

Franco has been the WBC Youth Silver Super Flyweight champ, the NABF Bantamweight champ and the WBA’s International Bantamweight champion, winning those last two titles after three brutal fights against Oscar Negrete.

“I’m training very hard, pushing myself to the limit,” Franco said. “Moloney is a tough skilled guy, he comes to fight. He’s undefeated, he’s expecting something easy but I’m going to surprise him for sure.”

“I know I want that world title,” Franco added. “It’s a blessing and I’m getting ready for something I’ve always dreamed of. I’m not leaving that ring without the belt.”

MARIO “EL AZTECA” BARRIOS

Mario Barrios, San Antonio’s world champ, has not fought since he won his WBA World Super Lightweight belt back in September. He was ready to announce his first fight for 2020, which would have been in May, but then the coronavirus outbreak happened.

The Southwest High School grad had been training out in the Bay Area of San Francisco, California when the lockdown occurred. In fact, he was in the middle of a training session when the lockdown order was issued. Barrios immediately stopped and headed home.

“I couldn’t get my meal preps, I couldn’t get water, everyone was buying everything out, it was a little chaotic,” Barrios said to KSAT 12 Sports in late March. “It was hard to decide to come back to San Antonio but it made no sense to stay out there anymore. This doesn’t change me though. Once this all blows over, I’ll just get back to work.”

Barrios (25-0, 16 KOs) plans to stay at 140 pounds and wants to defend his title. He also told us his camp has been working hard to get a fight back here in San Antonio but time will tell when boxing returns to Texas.

KENDO “TREMENDO” CASTANEDA

Kendo Castaneda is not a fighter that gets nervous during interviews. He has a lot to say and it’s entertaining. When it comes down to it, he’s a promoters dream to pump up a fight.

Castaneda did get to fight in late February before the coronavirus outbreak really hit the United States. Unfortunately, Castaneda would suffer his first career defeat to Yomar Alamo for the WBO NABO Super Lightweight belt.

When fighters lose a bout, they cannot wait to get back in the ring and turn things around with a win. But that defeat, combined with all sports halting in the country, made him anxious to get his career resuming.

“My people saw what happened, I had a bad night,”. Castaneda told us in early April. “I was off when I lost. I’m staying in shape but I cannot train. I’m still working hard. After quarantine, I will be back in the ring, fast, pronto."

Castaneda (17-1, 8 KOs) recently posted the following on Twitter. It looks like he’s getting his wish.

HECTOR “EL FINITO” TANAJARA JR.

Hector Tanajara Jr. was on the DAZN fight card that was hosted in the Alamodome back in early January. Tanajara won by unanimous decision to improve to 19-0 with 5 knockouts.

Tanajara lives with Franco when they train out in California. The Holmes High School grad has not announced an upcoming fight just yet, but the Golden Boy himself, Oscar De La Hoya, told us five months ago that they see big things in the future for Tanajara.

“We are super excited about Tanajara,” De La Hoya said to Larry Ramirez during the DAZN weigh-in. “I think he’s going to be one of those fighters that we can build to become a world champion and a star. He has the fight in him, he has the looks, he has everything that is required to connect with the people. We are very excited.”

Daniel P. Villanueva has worked with KSAT 12 Sports for over 17 years and is an award-winning sports producer. To submit story ideas, email dvillanueva@ksat.com


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