The way these two promising junior welterweights are talking, next week’s fight between Agustine Mauras and Johnathan Vazquez figures to be the start of a tremendous rivalry, not the end of a controversial feud stemming from their first showdown in the amateurs.
Three years ago in the semifinals of the New England Golden Gloves in Lowell, Mass., Mauras (1-0, 1 KO) edged Vazquez (4-0, 3 KOs), 3-2, in a close finish debated heavily by Vazquez’s camp. Mauras went on to lose to Jesus Caro of Providence, R.I., in the finals.
Since then, Vazquez has won his first four professional fights – three by knockout – and has become a hot commodity in his hometown of New Bedford, Mass., including a ringing endorsement from former New Bedford world-title contender Scott “The Sandman” Pemberton, while Mauras has toiled in relative anonymity despite his win over Vazquez three years ago.
With a chance to put his hometown of Lawrence, Mass., on the map and end the debate over who won their amateur bout, Mauras approached Vazquez for a rematch.
The former Golden Gloves finalist will get his wish Friday, July 29th, 2011 when he and Vazquez square off in a four-round bout on the undercard of “Heat Wave,” presented by Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment & Sports in association with Global Boxing Promotions at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.
“People know his name more than they know mine,” Mauras said. “I’m thinking, ‘What about me?’ Knowing I’m the better fighter, I told [my manager] Sean [Farley], ‘Let’s make that fight.’ Most people wouldn’t take that risk, but this is a big opportunity.
“I crushed him in the amateurs and I’m going to beat him again on the 29th.”
Vazquez’s manager, Israel Santiago, scoffed at the idea Mauras beat Vazquez three years, let alone “crushed” him.
“Even the crowd knew Johnathan won,” Santiago said. “He’s just hyping himself up. Johnathan completely outboxed the kid.”
Coincidentally, Vazquez had already lost to Caro that year in the Golden Gloves while representing his home state, but when a spot opened up in the 141-pound weight class on Vermont’s team, Vazquez answered the call and fought Mauras.
“I’m glad he’s confident,” Vazquez said of Mauras, “but this is a different game now. He didn’t even beat me the first time to begin with, but if he thinks he did, then that’s good for him. That’s not the way it’ll play out this time.
“There are no more amateur judges, and this time I’m in top shape. I take this more seriously than I did back then.”
Led by head trainer Libby Medeiros, Vazquez’s conditioning has become one of his greatest attributes – even when he’s not actively training for an upcoming fight.
Vazquez dealt with two cancellations earlier this year before finally reentering the ring May 6th against Andrew Jones. For the first time in his career, Vazquez fought beyond the opening round and ultimately went the distance with Jones in a 40-36, 39-38, 39-37 unanimous decision victory.
“That kid was tough,” Vazquez said. “That fight was good for me. I learned you always have to be in shape because not every fight is going to end so quickly. You’ve always got to be ready for whatever comes your way.”
Mauras’ first and only professional fight lasted just 98 seconds when he knocked out Plymouth native Fred Mandracchia (0-2) at the Palladium in Worcester, Mass. Vazquez saw the fight and didn’t notice any difference in Mauras’ game plan.
“He hasn’t changed much,” Vazquez said. “He’s a little bit of a brawler – a real forward fighter. He’ll come right at you. That’s why I think he’ll do the same thing this time because he’s so sure he beat me the first time around.”
“I’m a much different fighter now,” countered Mauras. “My style is made for the pros. In the amateurs, I came up short in a lot of fights because I couldn’t do the things I wanted to do, such as use my body, come inside and be more aggressive.
"Now I can do those things as a pro. To be honest, he’s the one who hasn’t changed that much. He still fights at the same pace and gets away with a lot because the pros are so much different than the amateurs.”
Asked why he thought he won the first fight, Mauras said, “Because he couldn’t touch me.”
“We were too fast for him then, and we’ll be too fast for him again on the 29th,” added Farley. “Johnathan was the aggressor, but it’s effective aggression that wins fights. In the amateurs, it’s all about points.
"If you don’t know boxing and you saw Johnathan chase us around the ring the entire night, then, yeah, I guess it was a competitive fight, but no matter what anyone thinks the only thing that matters is that three of the five judges thought we won the fight.
“Johnathan went to the national Golden Gloves twice before that at 119 pounds and was a far more well-known fighter. He had close to 70 amateur fights at that time. We had only 18. Do the math – that’s almost four times the experience.
"Johnathan was a familiar name with the New England judges, so if it was such a travesty, then why did we get the decision against a guy they voted to the nationals twice?”
Though the two sides will probably never see eye-to-eye on the outcome of that amateur fight three years ago, one thing they’ll both agree with is this rematch on the 29th could be a statement fight – one that will go a long way in determining how each fighter progresses as their futures continue to unfold.
“I have nothing against him and I wouldn’t even know him from a hole in the wall,” Mauras said, “but this is a big opportunity for me. I’m very thankful for this fight.”
“Heat Wave” features two championship bouts – a 12-round showdown between Kevin McBride (35-9-1, 29 KOs) and Mariusz Wach (24-0, 12 KOs) for the vacant World Boxing Council (WBC) International heavyweight title, and a 10-round intrastate battle between Elvin Ayala (23-5-1, 11 KOs) of New Haven, Conn., and rival Israel “Pito” Cardona (36-10, 28 KOs) of Hartford for the vacant WBC United States National Boxing Council (USNBC) middleweight title.
The undercard includes New Haven welterweight Edwin Soto (6-0-1, 2 KOs) battling Michael Denby (3-11-4, 2 KOs) of Felton, Del.; and undefeated heavyweight Artur Spzilka of Poland (5-0, 3 KOs) facing Philadelphia’s David Williams (6-4-1, 2 KOs). Cruiserweight Jose Torres of Springfield, Mass., will make his debut against fellow newcomer Pedro Rivera of Southbridge, Mass.; super middleweight Greg McCoy (2-3-1, 1 KO) of New Haven will fight in a separate four-round bout against Worcester’s Ralph Johnson (0-1); and super middleweight Keith Kozlin (6-2, 4 KOs) of Warwick, R.I., will face Woonsocket’s Reynaldo Rodriguez (5-2, 2 KOs) in a six-round intrastate showdown.
The special attraction on July 29th will be an eight-round light middleweight bout featuring Worcester, Mass., veteran and former three-time world champion Jose Antonio Rivera (40-6-1, 24 KOs). All fights and fighters are subject to change.
Tickets for “Heat Wave,” which are priced at $40, $65 and $105, can be purchased by calling CES at 401.724.2253/2254 or Ticketmaster at 1.800.745.3000. Fans can also purchase tickets online at www.cesboxing.com or www.ticketmaster.com or at the Mohegan Sun Box Office. For more information on “Heat Wave,” visit www.cesboxing.com or www.mohegansun.com. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., with the first bout scheduled for 7:30 p.m.