With only five days advance notice, Francisco "The Wizard" Palacios made a decision to take a risk instead of wallow in the uncertainty of boxing politics. His gamble paid off in the most explosive of manners, as Palacios knocked out the favored Louis Azille in six rounds at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, FL on Wednesday night.
Palacios had been filling in for the MIA O'Neil Bell, while competing in his first scheduled 8-round bout. Palacios raises his record to 12-0 (6 KO) in his ESPN2 debut.
Weighing in at 198.5 pounds, Palacios' hand and foot speed proved to be the deciding factors in the fight. Palacios had been inactive since February, which played a role in his slow start. However, by the time Palacios started moving his hands, the difference in skill level began to manifest itself.
Azille, whose only previous losses came against Kelvin Davis and Wayne Braithwaite, pressed the action most of the night, landing the occasional right hand. Behind by most accounts in the fight, Palacios won the fifth round big by landing uppercuts and multi-punch combinations that scored heavily on the former world title challenger.
Then, in the sixth round, Palacios came to life when a crashing uppercut followed by a left hook floored the resilent Azille early in the stanza. The end was near when Palacios finished Azille with a dazzling power punching exhibition, hitting Azille faster than he could fall. The time was :59 of the sixth round.
"I didn't feel rusty," explained the Bayamon, Puerto Rico native. "I was fighting a guy that I had to be careful with. He's a very strong fighter. He applies a lot of pressure." Palacios lauds Azille's sportsmanship, saying "He's a clean fighter, which is rare nowadays."
Palacios, who currently resides in Orlando, Florida, says of his reasons for taking the significant risk, "I took this fight because I was tired of sitting on the bench. I knew I would win this fight. I don't go into fights feeling I could lose. I felt that if I said no to this fight, it could be six months before I fight again. I knew that when I won, the doors would be open."
Palacios comes from an educated background, having attended Florida Central University on a basketball scholarship and Marquette University on a boxing scholarship. At Marquette University, Palacios shared classes with top fighters like Jaidon Codrington, Sechew Powell, and Roberto Benitez.
Palacios had competed in two amateur world championships, in Dublin, Ireland and Bangkok, Thailand. He was ranked number two at 201 pound limit in the nation for many years, holding a victory over Matt Godfrey (6-3). Palacios is a veteran of over 70 amateur bouts.
After the fight, fans who had never before laid eyes on Francisco cheered in roaring approval. Palacios stayed for well over an hour in the arena signing autographs and taking pictures with his new fans. "It was overwhelming. I was very happy. I loved every second of it."
After what he calls "the greatest knockout of my career," Palacios is at home resting. He will return to the gym on Monday to take his next step in the direction of fulfilling his older brother's dying wish, which was to become world champion before he retires.
In appreciation of the opportunity given to him, Francisco wished to thank Warrior's Boxing. "Thank you for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime. If we can do it again, I would be more than honored to oblige. Just give me a little more notice so I can look better," Palacios jokes.
After now having proven himself to be a worthy contender, Palacios plans to take the cruiserweight division by storm. "I have the skills required to get to the top of the division. I feel I can beat everyone at cruiserweight hands down."