This Tuesday live on ESPN, promoter Top Rank will be delivering yet another boxing event as they continue to produce fight cards twice a week. The headliner for that card will be Jose Zepeda (31-2) going up against Kendo Castaneda (17-1) while the co-feature will see Andy “El Tiburon” Vences (23-1-1) going up against Luis Alberto Lopez (20-2).
Andy “El Tiburon” Vences is looking to re-establish the momentum he had going into last year before suffering his first loss to Albert Bell (14-0).
Andy has an interesting story and desires to become a world champion someday. I checked in with him as he prepares for his fight on Tuesday.
AG: Thank you Andy for taking the time for this interview as I know you are mentally preparing for your fight on Tuesday night. Before we get really into it, can you give the readers a little bio blast so that they can get to know who you are how you were introduced to the sport?
AV: I was born in Watsonville, but I grew up and was raised my whole life in San Jose, CA. I was introduced to boxing in San Jose so I represent the 408 and the Bay Area. I started boxing at the age of 14 after Martial Arts ended up not being a good fit for me. I wanted to try boxing and one of the first things my dad said to me when I joined a gym was, “You don’t play boxing so if I don’t see any improvement in a month, I’m taking you out.”
Once I started boxing and had my first amateur fight, my father saw I was very eager and disciplined to fight so he has been my biggest supporter to date.
In 2012, I turned pro when I was 21 years-old with no big promoter behind me. I was selling tickets to my fight door to door in an effort to get family and friends to come see my fights. I had a great manager at the time by the name of Herb Stone and on my twelfth fight which was on FS1, I knocked out a Golden Boy fighter and signed with Top Rank right after. In 2017, my manager Herb Stone passed away which was really difficult to get through, but my dream is to become a world champion, so I continued to box.
AG: Last year was an interesting one for you. You fought Dardan Zenunaj (14-5) in February which led to a unanimous decision victory. Then you fought undefeated Albert Bell (14-0) in June which led to your first career loss. Looking back at the Bell fight, what do you think could have been done differently?
AV: There is always something you could have done differently when you look back at fights. I am one of those fighters that feels it’s never good enough until I get the result that I am looking for. Going into the Bell fight and looking at footage, we anticipated and expected Bell not to be that mobile. I had all of the right sparring in regards to height, weight, reach but what I should have focused on was having my sparring partners run away from me so that I can get used to being in the hunt/chase mode. I felt like Bell was not trying to fight me but outpoint me like an amateur fight. I should have focused more on the chasing/hunting instead of countering. We thought he was going to be stuck in the mud after the fourth or fifth round and not being able to move as good as he did that night. After that fight, I became a better listener to my corner as I didn’t listen to them when they told me to make certain adjustments during the fight.
AG: After your first career loss, you had a significant event occur in your life only two months later. Can you let the readers know what that was and how it has impacted your life?
AV: There are always hard times and after that loss, I was devastated. Getting the first loss like THAT being unanimously and people back home seeing it on tv a lot closer than the judges, it was just frustrating. I would rather have someone beat me fair and square where I was completely outclassed. I am the type of person who always has plans and one of them was already set and that was to get married in August of last year. I hired a wedding planner just so that I wouldn’t be distracted. After the Bell fight, I got married and it was a big moment in my life and we actually got away days before the wedding just to relax and be around my family and close friends. The time with them was very much needed which leadup to getting married to the women I have been with the last ten years. Since I had the fight with Bernaldez later that year, I had to wait until after that fight for us to go on our honeymoon.
AG: What were the immediate plans for you after the Bernaldez fight? Once the pandemic hit, how were you able to stay in shape and provide for your family?
AV: After the Bernaldez fight, I hadn’t heard anything. I understand my manager was very busy at the time and was dealing with contract negotiations for his other world class fighters. After not hearing anything for a little while, I sat down with my wife and told her that I didn’t know when I was going to fight as I had not heard anything. I then told her that I really need to consider getting a second job for the two days that I am off so that I can stay busy. She was in the middle with the idea, but I told her it’s temporary until I find out when I am fighting next. I have two jobs which the first is an armed security specialist and the second is being a security guard at the Amazon Beta Center. When the pandemic hit, they needed us more, which meant we weren’t affected, and I just felt so blessed. As far as training, everything was shut down, so I ended up getting equipment to put in my apartment to stay active. We had a six-week camp instead of our normal eight, but I feel fast and sharp.
AG: On Tuesday, you fight Luis Alberto Lopez (20-2). What is your mindset going into this fight?
AV: I am very focused at the task and listening to my trainer. He is also preparing me in case there is a situation where he can’t be in my corner, that I am still able to carry out the game plan for the fight. He told me that he doesn’t ever want to hear that I didn’t perform because he wasn’t there while also being prepared to do all of the things we trained for in the past few weeks.
AG: For those that will be tuning in to your fight for the first time, what can they expect to see from you? Also, where can they follow you on social media and find your merchandise?
AV: They are going to see one of the best technical fighters out here in boxing. They are going to see my skills in the ring and if the knockout happens, it happens. My goal is to display a dominant performance and show why I am a special fighter. People say I don’t have the knockout power but if you hit anyone in the right spot, they can go down.
My Three Cents: Andy Vences the man does everything he needs to do in order to provide a comfortable household for him and his wife. Andy Vences the fighter is hoping to put on a show on Tuesday night so that he can be thrown into the mix with the top names in the Super Featherweight division. Will this be the start of the Vences buzz once again in the Super Featherweight division or will he give matchmakers a reason not to book him with the top names?
We will find out Tuesday night on ESPN so make sure you tune in.