March 15, 2014

KO Digest Spotlight on Boxing's Up and Comers - Randy Caballero

El Matador
In the March edition of KO Digest's 'Spotlight on Boxing's Up and Comers' we zoom in on another rising star with a world championship belt firmly in his sights. Randy Caballero (20-0, 12 KO's) is now ranked number four by the IBF and - after former champion Jamie McDonnell was forced to withdraw from their proposed eliminator in the UK - Caballero will now travel to Japan in order to face number five ranked Kohei Oba (35-2-1, 14 KO's) in an eliminator for the IBF bantamweight title held by Stuart Hall.

"The whole team was looking forward to going out to England," said Caballero "We were excited for that fight. Then we got the call about whatever was happening with his management, and I'm not sure on the full story (McDonnell is in a legal battle with promoter Dennis Hobson as he looks to terminate his contract and sign with Eddie Hearn) but then they threw us Japan, and I'm excited again. Regardless of where I fight, I am going to have to put a 100% in, whether it is in England, Japan or anywhere else in the world, I gotta do what I gotta do once I get in that ring. It makes no difference to me."

Caballero, born September 27, 1990 in Coachella, CA., chalked up an exceptional record during his time as an amateur including a national championship in 2008. He compiled an impressive marker of roughly 167-10 as he looked to follow in the footsteps of those close to him. "My Dad was a boxer and when he came to the US he ended up getting with Lee Espinoza at the Coachella Valley Boxing Club, and he has been there ever since. My older brother was a boxer too, and I used to love watching him, he used to knock out people like crazy. Then I got involved with the sport. It's just a family thing man, my two younger brothers are now boxing too. It runs in the family."

Caballero is loyal to family
Caballero is trained by his father Marcos, at a gym close to his home, alongside his brothers. It is certainly a family thing. It will come as no surprise that the undefeated fighter, nicknamed 'El Matador', has no plans of changing camp anytime soon. "My Dad trains me, he has taught me everything I know and I'm not gonna go with anybody else. I came in to the sport with my Dad and I'm not leaving without him. We're going all the way to the top. He's worked with a lot of top names, he worked with Johnny Tapia before, but he focuses all his attention on us."

Like he said, "It's a family thing man."

Caballero can fight. He is a boxer-puncher who puts his punches together well and he possesses enough power in either hand to keep you honest. He is technically sound and certainly well schooled but not always conventional. His lead-right hand is effective, his jab is crisp and thrown often and his left hook often punctuates his combinations well. His defensive skills are largely underrated and as the quality of opponent improves, we should expect to see him make the necessary adjustments. "To be honest, I don't think the people have seen the boxing skills that I have. I have very fast footwork and I can out-box a fighter but for some reason that part of my game hasn't clicked in yet. I've just been knocking these guys out," said Caballero.

Caballero has stopped over half of his opponents, operating as more of a bull than a matador for the time being. His first knockout came in his professional debut against fellow debutant Gonzalo Nicolas at Commerce Casino in Commerce, CA., "It was a night I'll never forget, I was pumped up man. I know everybody gets nervous, and don't get me wrong, I was nervous too, but once I started walking out to the ring dude, and all of my fans where there, I was just pumped up and ready to go. As a matter of fact, we had a guy pull out and they found a guy on the day of weigh-ins. We ended up weighing in for that fight, two hours before we went in to the locker rooms."

Caballero and Oba will square off on April 4th at the Sambo Hall, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan. The winner will likely travel to the UK to face IBF champion Stuart Hall. It is certainly not a formality for the young bantamweight but it is likely to offer the easiest route for Caballero who is also ranked number two by the WBO. Caballero has come a long way since that night in Commerce, CA., and he definitely has a long way to go, literally. The trip to Japan will take him and his team half way around the world in a quest for IBF supremacy. Despite being positioned higher than Oba in the official rankings, and still having to travel, Caballero refuses to let the logistics dampen his spirits.

"Sometimes I ask the same questions, like 'why can't they come to me?' But, you know, I just let Golden Boy find my fights and I will train 100% and get ready, and we are ready for this fight. It's a tough fight, we have seen the way he fights, going into his hometown is definitely going to be different, but like I said, we are ready."

Written by Terry Strawson ~ exclusively for KO Digest  
Photo Credit: Tom Casino/SHOWTIME