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Salute To A Tough, Proud Kid, Zachary Ochoa



Salute To A Tough, Proud Kid, Zachary Ochoa

Zachary Ochoa would be fighting Wednesday night, and I knew I’d want to watch.

I don’t watch as many fights as I used to. This age of dilution, quantity over quality, has removed some luster.

I hadn’t watched much ProBox for a spell, for much the same reason.

Vasiliy Lomachenko, Zachary Ochoa

Loma and “Zungry”

Fights are in this age less so made for a reason, to satisfy a story or a rivalry. There’s too little care and thought in crafting compelling fights, with everybody more concerned with personal brand building than over-arching quality. We’ve tried to stay true to something of a “traditional” formula at NYF, recognizing that a lot of life is about how you play the game, not just winning and avoiding losing.

It turns out I find that I kind of need to care about, or at least know about the fighters a bit more than I usually do in this age of “plenty” brought about by the ease of digital transmission.

I did tune in Wednesday for the ProBox main event, though.

Yep, had a quick flashback to ring announcing, then settled in to watch how my guy Zachary Ochoa did in the main event at White Sands in Plant City, Florida, sorta near Tampa against vet thumper Pablo Cano.

Zachary Ochoa In Tough, Win Nets Him Career-Best Name

“Zungry,” I first interviewed him more than ten years ago, as he was starting out, with wide eyed optimism which is a joy to soak up as a chronicler of the sport.

Good kid, and now, at 30, I still see him as a “kid.”

The older I get, the older “kids” are, it seems.

Zach’s step dad, Brian Jaffe, has become a boxing friend through the years.

He boosted my ego massively by telling me I reminded him of George Carlin while ranting on the Everlast “Talkbox” podcast a couple years back.

Indeed, we had a breakfast and chat a couple weeks before Ochoa v Cano.

Zachary Ochoa, Brian Jaffe

Zachary Ochoa, Brian Jaffe, New York residents

Jaffe made clear the team, him, Zach, trainer Breadman Edwards, were fully respectful of Cano, 34.

Nobody was thinking this was a shot name here.

Right thinking—Cano in round two again in round three put some hurting on Ochoa in their lightweight plus feature scrap.

Mike Goldberg, Chris Algieri and Paul Malignaggi did a good job calling the action, with heavy emphasis on the grit of Ochoa.

Big time grit, he gained a third wind and started having luck pushing the Mexican back some.

Pablo Cano

Zachary Ochoa Shows Massive Heart

Cano started feeling his power more, and it looked like Zachary Ochoa was on track to get a career best win.

Then, a strange combo spelled doom for the Brooklyn kid.

A left hook not only distracted but buzzed Ochoa a mite and a right follow sent him down, hard.

Grit, there again, he showed heart aplenty getting to his feet and fighting on.

Cano knew the drill, he basted Ochoa who tried like hell to slip, duck and weave out of trouble.

No such luck, Zachary Ochoa wasn’t answering and the ref waved it off.

Cano, your winner, sixth round TKO.

It Hurts To See Someone You Respect Get Stopped


Not supposed to be biased like that, but it’s 2023, I can admit a relationship. After the slightly sad to me sight, I messaged Jaffe.

He is, said Jaffe, who is married to Zach’s mom.

“First off, thank you for asking,” Jaffe said.

“Secondly, he’s fine other than a broken heart. Because he’s a prepared, prideful warrior who would have died in that ring if he had it his way.

“We feel we had that fight right where we wanted it. Mike, I know my boy. There’s a look he gets. And he started to show it in his facial expressions. I haven’t seen that look in several fights.

“He made some costly mistakes. Live and learn.”

We were messaging, but in my mind I could hear the pause, of thoughts unsaid, after “learn.”

Zachary Ochoa told social media followers he is fighting on! Resilience on display, admirable and commendable

Jaffe noted that post fight; if you didn’t know who the “winner” was, it wasn’t so simply to ascertain. Cano was being worked on for like 45 minutez after the fight right in front of our face immediately afterwards with the doc, Jaffe continued.

“Then the doc checked on Zach and within less than 5 mins he said he was fine and good to go. To us, that tells us something.”

More from Jaffe: “Zach and Stephen put in work. But the strap was well deserved to Cano for not giving up when the momentum shifted. Respect to him and his team. We even wished him a happy birthday and hope Cano is feeling good today.”

That’s right, Cano turned 34 day of the fight.

“The best news I can tell you today is Zach woke up physically great,” Jaffe said, in closing.

The fight game, ha.

Nothing really resembling a game when you really ponder it.

It’s Friday morning now. Zachary Ochoa has has had two nights to sleep, wake, and think.

Bless him, he’s showing his resilience traits in the classy posts he’s done to social media.

Zachary Ochoa, son Sonny Ochoa

Social media gets deserved flack. But cmon, lots of good stuff on there. Like Zachary showing off his pride n joy, Sonny

If he’s not been thinking it, allow me to put forth the thought: contrast Zachary Ochoa and Jermell Charlo right now.

Factor it all in…money made, versus effort expended, character and dignity displayed during trying time, etc.

Ochoa can hold his head high and proud.

He doesn’t have to shape or spin a message, his actions Wednesday night and beyond do that for him.

I’m happy Zachary Ochoa is OK, and lives to return to Brooklyn, where anyone who watched him knows he’s a tough, proud kid.

Founder/editor Michael Woods got addicted to boxing in 1990, when Buster Douglas shocked the world with his demolition of the then-impregnable Mike Tyson. The Brooklyn-based journalist has covered the sport since for ESPN The Magazine,, Bad Left Hook and RING. His journalism career started with NY Newsday in 1999. Michael Woods is also an accomplished blow by blow and color man, having done work for Top Rank, DiBella Entertainment, EPIX, and for Facebook Fightnight Live, since 2017.