INSIDE THE RING: Tanajara Jr. and the Waiting Game

Third time’s the charm as “El Finito” prepares for his twentieth career fight.

Hector Tanajara Jr. working in the ring with his father prior to his Alamodome fight against Juan Carlos Burgos in January 2020. (Copyright 2021 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

SAN ANTONIO – Tom Petty once sang forty years ago that “the waiting is the hardest part”.

When “The Waiting” was released in 1981, Petty hope it would be a hit.

Hector Tanajara Jr. hopes to recreate that same type of successful hit(s) when he climbs back inside the ring Friday night.

Tanajara (19-0, 5 KOs) will face William Zepeda (22-0, 20 KOs) in Los Angeles, California in a 10-round lightweight contest which will air live on DAZN.

”I’m glad to be back in the ring, it’s been awhile,” Tanajara Jr. said to KSAT 12 Sports last week. “I actually know my opponent a little bit, I sparred with him one time at the Olympic Training Center when we were like 15-16-years-old. He’s a lefty, a come-forward fighter. But I don’t think he’s fought the opposition that I have.”

Tanajara, like most boxing fans in San Antonio, watched Mario Barrios’s title fight defense last weekend against the powerful southpaw Gervonta Davis. While most of us watched for entertainment and to cheer on one of San Antonio’s own, Tanajara was looking at the work left-handed boxers do in the ring.

“Mario showed that San Antonio doesn’t lay down, doesn’t backdown from nobody; I’m very happy and proud of the performance that he gave,” said Tanajara Jr. “I just learned those guys are dangerous, fighting a lefty is already dangerous especially a guy with power, he’s even more dangerous. I just know I have to stick with the game plan that my team has and by doing that I’ll come out with the victory.”

It’s been 18 months since Tanajara Jr. last fought, winning by unanimous decision over Juan Carlos Burgos in the Alamodome in January 2020. Since then, “El Finito” waited through the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and two fights being canceled to finally get this chance to fight again.

“One fight was canceled right before the weigh-in because my opponent got food poisoning,” explained Tanajara Jr. “I’ve had a great camp, probably the best sparring and the best work I’ve had in my whole career. I’m ready to show everyone who I am in this weight class.”

Tanajara Jr. trains in California for months prior to each of his fights, which led to him being in the best shape of his life. However, he wouldn’t be able to show off that look because he contracted the coronavirus prior to his last fight which was canceled two weeks before the match. Fortunately, the Holmes High School alum hasn’t experienced any long-term side effects.

”I was actually a little scared, I didn’t think I’d ever get it,” said Tanajara Jr. “After that, I was trying to recover the best that I could so my body would stay ready incase I got it again or to avoid getting it again. I was on my vitamins and stuff like that but everything turned out okay though.”

Recently, Tanajara Jr. sat down with legendary boxer and Golden Boy Promotions founder Oscar De La Hoya and actor Mario Lopez is a roundtable discussion to talk about the upcoming fights on DAZN.

”It was a surreal moment for me, I grew up watching Mario Lopez on ‘Saved by the Bell’ even though that was ahead of my time but I remember watching it early mornings before school,” said Tanajara Jr. “I grew up watching Oscar, looked up to him, so it was a good time to be there and just talk to them like normal. It was a roundtable we had, we had a normal conversation, it felt like I had already known them, talked to them for awhile. It was real cool.”

Hector Tanajara Jr. talks to KSAT 12 Sports during his senior year at Holmes High School. "El Finito" would compete in his first professional fight in 2015. (Copyright 2021 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

KSAT 12 Sports has covered Tanajara Jr. since before he became a professional boxer in 2015. Now, just days away, he has the chance to finally get his twentieth career bout under his belt and remain undefeated at the same time.

“I’m just blessed, this is something I’ve worked for my whole life. Since I started boxing, this is a dream I’ve had, to stay undefeated, to win world titles. I know my hard work is paying off little by little. Hopefully, I get a shot at a world title soon and I’ll become world champion.”

Daniel P. Villanueva has worked with KSAT 12 for over 18 years and is an award-winning producer. To submit story ideas, email

About the Author:

Daniel P. Villanueva has been with KSAT 12 since 2003 and is the producer of our weekly sports show, "Instant Replay." Villanueva is a graduate of St. Mary's University and is a TAPB and Lone Star Emmy award winner.