Capitol Hill grad, ranked 7th by WBO, fights on Saturday for Latino title

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Although its origins are disputed, most people would agree the idiom “patience is a virtue” holds merit. Nowhere else is the axiom more telling than in the sports world. Be it an Aaron Rodgers sitting behind Brett Favre or Lou Gehrig waiting for his chance as Wally Pipp’s reserve, the sports world is inundated with stories of athletes who had to wait for their chance at greatness.

Undefeated Oklahoma City boxer Alex Saucedo has endured his own wait, making steady progress over a six-year career. Now, he thinks his patience is about to pay off. Saucedo, an undefeated junior welterweight (140 pounds), is five weeks into a training camp that will culminate with his most important contest yet on Saturday in Fresno, California.

“It’s been a long camp, but we know it’s important to be ready to win this fight,” Saucedo said. “I’ve been training like never before. I’m really hungry for the opportunity.”

Since turning pro in 2011, the 23-year-old has compiled a 25-0 record with 15 knockouts. “El Cholo” Saucedo will fight for his first professional title, the World Boxing Organization Latino title, against Gustavo David “El Perrito” Vittori of Argentina. The 28-year-old Argentine will be making his U.S. debut.

Trouble turns into triumph

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An official raises Alex “El Cholo” Saucedo’s arm as he is declared victorious following a recent bout. (Top Rank)

Saucedo’s journey to the title began June 24, 1994, when he was born in Meogui, Chihuahua, Mexico, the second of four children. The family moved to Oklahoma City when he was 7 years old.

It was not the easiest of moves for Saucedo, who began to have some trouble after getting into fights at school. His father, a concrete worker who has a background in boxing, decided to steer his wayward son into the boxing ring to correct his behavior.

“I think he wanted me to get some direction and burn off some the energy in the ring,” the older Saucedo said.

Saucedo flourished in the gym, and soon it became imperative that he stay out of trouble away from the ring. Saucedo said his parents insisted he stay out of trouble or he would not be allowed to participate in his boxing workouts. The discipline worked out, as Saucedo stayed out of trouble and in school, graduating from Capitol Hill High School in OKC.

The young Saucedo began to become a dominant amateur boxer, competing in 195 youth amateur fights but losing only 12. He won the junior Golden Gloves three years in row and captured the National Police Athletic League championship as well.

With his amateur accomplishments, Saucedo was in good position to compete in the 2012 London Olympics, but his talents had caught the attention of scouts in the pro ranks. “El Cholo” turned pro at the tender age of 17 and began his long, steady journey toward the title shot. Top Rank, a company with a record of handling young prospects, kept Saucedo busy, matching him six times in 2012 and four more times in 2013.

It quickly became evident what had drawn Top Rank to the young prospect: With good punching power and an aggressive style that ensured action fights, the young Saucedo had all the qualities that boxing promoters want in a young boxer.

Saucedo confident despite uncertainties

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Alex “El Cholo” Saucedo throws a punch during a recent match. (Top Rank)

Saucedo’s last fight was in May against a hard-headed Wilberth Lopez in Chicago (see highlight video above). Winning by unanimous decision, Saucedo positioned himself in the WBO top 10.

Moving ahead, Saucedo has the opportunity to complete his long, patient climb to the top. Already ranked No. 7 by the WBO, Saucedo feels he will be in good position to get his shot at the WBO world title belt in 2018 if he wins the Latino title in Fresno.

Still, Vittori, listed at 20-2-1 with 11 knockouts by BoxRec, is a bit of a mystery man. Even Saucedo admits he knows little about his opponent.

“It’s his first fight in the United States, and he’s a hungry fighter,” Saucedo said. “He looks like a tough guy, and he’s beaten some tough opponents. But after the work we have done training, I expect to take the belt back to Oklahoma City.”

Should the WBO shot become difficult to obtain, there will be plenty of other opportunities at 140. With Terence Crawford’s apparent departure to the 147-pound division subsequently vacating the junior welterweight world title, there will also be three other belts available, all with new champions needing to find opponents.

How to watch Saturday’s fight

The 10-round title bout Saturday night will be part of ESPN’s Top Rank Productions boxing series. The entire fight card can be viewed through ESPN.com or the ESPN App, although only two or three fights from the series will air on the main ESPN network.

Top Rank publicist Lee Samuels said the network has not confirmed which bouts will be aired on regular ESPN but emphasized the entire card will be available on the other ESPN platforms. The boxing card is full of fights that will play heavily into Saucedo’s near future should he prevail.

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Clark Sherman is a former news and sports reporter and longtime Oklahoma resident.