SOCIAL MEDIA GRAPHIC

Vicente Escobedo

Height – 5-8
Weight – 130 (junior lightweight)
Date of Birth – November 6, 1981
Hometown – Woodland, California
Pro Record – 26-4 (15 Knockouts)
 
It was the type of reaction that Vicente Escobedo expected, but that doesn’t make it any less surprising. On March 15, 2004, Escobedo - a Mexican-American who represented the United States in the lightweight division at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens - fought in a qualifying tournament in Tijuana, Mexico.

With friends and family on hand from his hometown in the States - Woodland, California - as well as from his parents’ home in Mexico, he took on a local fighter in Francisco Vargas. Escobedo stopped Vargas in the third round.

Then the bottles came.

"The Mexican crowd was kind of against me because I was Mexican-American, but it really didn’t get to me," said Escobedo. "After I beat him, they started booing and throwing beer and water. I’m Mexican-American but I’m also proud to represent my country. Nothing like that is going to distract me. What mattered is that I won."

For the articulate 31-year-old, the situation draws comparisons to the reaction received from one of his fistic heroes, Oscar De La Hoya, when "The Golden Boy" faced Mexican icon Julio Cesar Chavez. Ironically, De La Hoya also represented the US in the Olympic Games as a lightweight, and Escobedo hopes to duplicate his success, in and out of the ring.

"I got to meet De La Hoya, and a lot of people say that I fight like him," said Escobedo, a disciplined technician in the ring. "He was someone I looked up to as I became an Olympian, and meeting him was everything I expected. He was a good, humble guy. He gave me a little pep talk about what to expect in the Olympics, and he told me to stay focused and don’t let any distractions happen. Just train hard every day and don’t give up. He told me what he’s been through and what to expect."

What Escobedo can expect from boxing fans are high expectations, because with California-based Mexican-Americans like De La Hoya, Fernando Vargas and Jose Navarro paving the Olympic way, you’ve got to succeed to get respect from some of the toughest fight fans in the sport.

"It’s not pressure," he admits. "It’s just that they did so good that I say, if they can do it, I can do it. For me to be recognized as someone like De La Hoya, who’s such a phenomenon, it makes me feel good and makes me feel proud. I want to work harder to go out there and do what he did for my people for my country and for my family. It inspires me."

Like his predecessors, Escobedo wasn’t raised in the lap of luxury in Woodland. In fact, he admits that in a neighborhood infested with drugs and gangs, he got involved in a few scraps himself, just trying to make it through the day.

"Where I grew up, you had to know how to defend yourself," said Escobedo. "I would get into fights and I would get suspended (from school) here and there."

Escobedo’s older brother Jose noticed this, and knowing where the streets could lead, he put his brother in a place where his aggression could be harnessed for the right reasons.

The boxing gym.

"When I went into the gym, everything came natural to me," said Escobedo, an athlete who played football, baseball, and soccer growing up. "I kind of had that anger and natural ability to fight."

It was soon obvious that his brother (and mentor) made the right decision in leading Vicente to the gym, and even though he had to play taskmaster for his younger sibling, Escobedo respects that tough love today.

"He’s everything to me," said Escobedo of his older brother. "He’s the one that got me involved in boxing, and without him I don’t think I’d be here. He pushed me to the limit, making me run that extra lap or do that extra round. Sometimes I would get mad at him, but he told me that it was going to pay off. Now I understand why he did that. He’s always there for me, and no matter what, he’s going to be there."

In the ring, one thing soon led to another, and Escobedo was making noise on the national level, where he was a 2003 National champion, a two-time National PAL champion, and the 1997 National Junior Olympic champion. He can’t even explain how it got to this point, where he made it to the round of 16 in the Athens Games before losing a hard-fought decision to Rovshan Huseynov of Azerbaijan.

"I ask the same question," he laughs. "I don’t know why. It’s a tough sport. I ask myself how I got involved in this. Why didn’t I go to school? But it’s something I grew up around. There’s something about boxing – the intensity and the adrenaline rush, it’s a one-man sport – it was a challenge."

His biggest challenges will now come in the professional ranks, where he made his debut under the Golden Boy Promotions banner on February 19, 2005 in Tucson, Arizona, with a devastating second round knockout of Abraham Verdugo.
 
Escobedo’s opponent on April 9 of that year, Jose Rodriguez, wasn’t as lucky, as Vicente stopped him in a single round.
 
Just 20 days later, Vicente stepped into the ring at the Entertainment Center in Laredo, Texas, and before a national television audience, he was calm, cool, and deadly in dispatching of veteran Geronimo Hernandez in four impressive rounds.
 
On May 27, at Arco Arena in Sacramento, Escobedo made it 4-0 with 4 knockouts by stopping Oscar Villa in two rounds, and on July 16, in a bout on the Bernard Hopkins-Jermain Taylor undercard in Las Vegas, Vicente destroyed fellow prospect Edgar Vargas (who entered the bout at 9-1) in less than one round.
 
Another well regarded young fighter, 8-2 Juan Manuel Matias, was next for the heavy handed Escobedo, and on August 19, Vicente needed only two rounds to dispatch of his foe.
 
Two more stoppage wins followed for Escobedo before he hit his first pro roadblock on April 21, 2006, losing a hard fought eight round split decision to fellow prospect Daniel Jimenez.  It was a discouraging setback, but having the loss on his record just made him train harder, and since his lone defeat, Escobedo has won ten in a row with three knockouts, making it clear that even though this articulate and affable young man speaks softly, in the ring, he carries a big stick.
 
”I’m humble,” said Escobedo. “But I have to have that mentality to go out there and win."
 
And he’s continued to win as the level of competition amped up. On September 26, 2008, he scored a huge win by stopping16-0 prospect Dominic Salcido in the sixth round, and he has upped his game even further in 2009 with back-to-back victories over former world champions Carlos Hernandez (W10) and Kevin Kelley (TKO2).
 
On September 19, 2009 Escobedo faced another former world champion, Michael Katsidis, this time with the interim WBO lightweight title on the line. And though Escobedo fell short in the bout via a hard fought 12 round split decision, he gained even more fans for his gritty effort.
 
Looking to get back to a title shot, Escobedo was back in the ring on March 26, 2010, and he came full circle as he made his first appearance in Mexico as a professional against rugged veteran Carlos Urias. Escobedo was in fine form too, as he halted Urias in three rounds, setting the stage for a big bout against two-division world champion Robert Guerrero on November 6th in Newark, New Jersey. Escobedo would fall short of victory that night via unanimous decision despite a gutsy effort, but he got back in the race on March 4, 2011 with a 10 round win over veteran Colombian contender Walter Estrada.
 
On September 23, 2011, Escobedo met up with fellow US Olympian Rocky Juarez and dropped Juarez in the third round en route to a clear-cut 10 round decision win.
 
In March of 2012, it was a homecoming for the junior lightweight contender, as he fought for the first time as a professional in Woodland, and Escobedo was spectacular in knocking out respected contender Lonnie Smith in the first round to win the vacant NABO 130-pound title. Next up was another hometown bout, this one against Juan Ruiz on May 12, and again, he delivered the goods winning a near shutout 10 round decision.
 
And though he lost a July 2012 challenge for the WBO junior lightweight title via fifth round TKO against unbeaten Adrien Broner, Escobedo was back in action on February 16 to face off with Edner Cherry, a fight in which he tried his best but unfortunately was stopped in the 6th round via a technical knockout. 

In hopes of stopping the losing streak in which he found himself, in September 2013 in the beautiful setting of Cancun, Quintana Roo he faced off against Fernando Carcamo but once again found himself over-powered and the bout ended early with a 2nd round technical knockout.