Randy Caballero/Photo by Gene Blevins, Los Angeles Daily News
Often times a fighter grows up in California and fights for his first world title in his home state, or perhaps no farther away than Las Vegas. That certainly was not the case for Randy Caballero of Indio.
First he ventured to Japan, where he had to defeat Kohei Oba of Japan with an eighth-round technical knockout in a title-elimination fight in April 2014. Then in October he traveled to Monaco, Monte Carlo and defeated Stuart Hall of England to win the vacant bantamweight world title via unanimous decision.
“It was amazing, a great experience,” Caballero said. “It’s a story I can tell until the day I die. Traveling around the world was a great experience, having to go to Japan and then Monte Carlo.”
The fun for Caballero is just beginning. On Jan. 22 Caballero and his promoter – Oscar De La Hoya – played host to a news conference at De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions offices in downtown Los Angeles. They were there to promote Caballero’s first title defense, which will come Feb. 27 against Alberto Guevara (19-2, 7 KOs) of Mexico at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio (on Fox Sports 1 and Fox Deportes).
Caballero, 24, couldn’t stop smiling when asked about becoming a world champion. He said things have changed, but he hasn’t.
“I go to the store now and people come up and talk to me and say ‘Hi,’ take pictures with me,” Caballero said. “When I go to the mall, everybody’s coming up to me. Other than that, my life is still the same. I’m the same person. I’ve got to wake up every morning and go run and we train every day.
“Just because I have this belt, that doesn’t change me. I’m going to keep training extra hard to make sure I keep this title.”
Fighters sometimes become complacent after winning a championship. De La Hoya likes the idea that Caballero does not appear to be like that.
“He’s been blessed to win a world title, but he wants more,” De La Hoya said. “That’s what his attitude is all about.”
Although Caballero (22-0, 13 KOs) now lives in Coachella – roughly five miles from Indio – Caballero’s roots are deep in Indio. As cool as it was winning a world title halfway across the world, he expects it will be even better to make his first defense in his virtual backyard.
“To have the title wrapped around me walking inside the ring is going to be great,” Caballero said. “I said I wanted to win a world title there; I didn’t get to. But defending it there is going to be even better because now I have the title with me and to have all my family and friends out there supporting me and with that arena sold out, it’s going to be an amazing time.”
Not if Guevara has anything to say about it.
“It’s my time,” said Guevara, 24. “I have the attitude, I have the talent and I’m going to win this world title come the 27th.”
(John Molina takes on Adrien Broner)
Al Haymon’s “Premier Boxing Champions” series on NBC will debut March 7 and junior welterweight contender John Molina of Covina will take on former three-division champion Adrien Broner (29-1, 22 KOs) in the semi-main event at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Never shy, Broner was already talking smack during a conference call this week promoting the card, which will be headlined by Keith “One Time” Thurman defending his welterweight belt against former three-division champion Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero.
“I take nothing from John Molina,” Broner, of Cincinnati, said. “I know he’s rough and tough and as cool as Cheetos puffs, but I’m the man and it’s been said once, but I’m going to say it again. I’m the can-man and anybody can get it and John Molina’s the one that’s going to have to take his beating on March 7.”
Molina (27-5, 22 KOs) has never won a major title and he won’t be fighting for one in this bout. But a victory could help him land what would be his second opportunity at a world championship; his first ended in a first-round TKO loss at the hands of lightweight champion Antonio DeMarco in September 2012.
Molina is a huge puncher and believes he can go right through Broner.
“If I felt any different, I would be in the wrong business,” said Molina, 32. “Absolutely, I feel like I’ll be the stronger man in the ring. Again, this is how I feel going into the fight, 100 percent confident that I will be able to implement my will and do what I need to do to become victorious that night.”
Yes, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao did attend the same NBA game this week. Yes, they spoke at halftime. Yes, they met later and spoke for a bit in a hotel. No, they have not made their fight. Yet. … Longtime promoter Cedric Kushner died this week at age 66 from a heart attack. Among the fighters he promoted was former world champion “Sugar” Shane Mosley of Pomona. … ESPN.com reported that former champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez of Mexico will take on James Kirkland on May 2 at either the Alamodome in San Antonio or Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. The Golden Boy Promotions fight would be on HBO. … Former junior middleweight champion Sergio Mora (27-3-2, 9 KOs) of Montebello on Feb. 6 will take on Abraham Han (23-1, 14 KOs) at Beau Rivage Resort in Biloxi, Miss. (on ESPN2).