ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Every boxing card needs a grudge match, right?
Regarding tonight’s card at the Crowne Plaza, look no further than the six-round welterweight semi-main event between Albuquerqueans Donald Sanchez and Cristian Cabral.
At a Wednesday news conference, Sanchez – a veteran mixed-martial arts fighter with a 2-0 record as a boxer – made it clear he did not appreciate predictions of a victory by knockout from the Cabral camp.
Boxing, Crowne Plaza, 7 p.m.: Hector Muñoz vs. Bernardo Guereca, Donald Sanchez vs. Cristian Cabral, two other fights. Tickets (also good for a post-fight concert): $25 (only price level remaining).
“He’s just on the Internet talking, saying he’s gonna knock me out and this and that,” Sanchez said. “He keeps telling everyone I’m not a boxer, I’m a cage fighter.
“I’ve never said anything, never really expressed anything till now. I just want to see him put those words into action and not talk. I’m a man of actions, not talking.”
At the news conference, Sanchez “foreheaded” Cabral during their obligatory pose-down. Cabral responded in kind.
“I hope Donald’s ready, because I’m ready,” was Cabral’s only comment.
The two fighters’ interaction at Friday’s weigh-in was similarly hostile.
Later Friday, in a phone interview, Cabral’s manager alternately doused the fire and fed it.
“This guy (Sanchez) is really, really tough,” Ray Zamora said. “He’s got some boxing skills, and I think it’s gonna be a difficult fight for us.
“But I don’t really see Donald getting out of there without getting knocked out.”
If there’s any knocking out to be done, Sanchez said, it will be him doing it.
“I’ve watched a little bit of (Cabral’s previous fights),” Sanchez said. “I’m not impressed. I’m going for the knockout, that’s for sure.”
Cabral, 19, has the edge in boxing experience. After an extensive amateur career, he’s 4-0-1 as a pro, with three knockouts.
Sanchez, however, has been fighting professionally far longer. As an MMA fighter, he’s 28-13 in a career that began more than seven years ago.
In the boxing ring, the two have one common opponent.
In April 2011, Sanchez defeated Albuquerque’s Michael Coca Gallegos by a lopsided, unanimous, four-round decision. In October, Gallegos – who was 0-10 at the time – fought Cabral to a six-round draw.
Sanchez, 27, isn’t counting on the Gallegos comparison when he says he’s confident of a victory tonight.
“Every fight is different, every style is different,” he said. “Just my training in general gives me confidence. … Everybody’s talking about this dude. He’s undefeated, and I’m ready to put that ‘and-one’ on his record.”
Zamora, on Cabral’s behalf, says it’s Sanchez who’ll leave the ring with his first loss as a boxer.
The Cabral who struggled with Gallegos, he said, is not the guy Sanchez will face tonight.
“You’re gonna see a whole different guy,” Zamora said. “I think Donald’s a tough competitor – he’s gonna come out hard – and I think Cristian’s just gonna overwhelm him.”
Fighters really don’t like each other
— This article appeared on page D5 of the Albuquerque Journal