Coachella Boxing Club’s Randy Caballero (left) poses during the weigh-in Thursday against Manuel Roman at Fantasy Springs Casino. Caballero, along with younger brother Ryan, will fight on ShoBox today. / Omar Ornelas/The Desert Sun
INDIO — Randy Caballero is on the brink of some big things and getting closer to fulfilling his dream, but the Coachella boxer wants to keep his focus and not look too far ahead.
Tonight, Caballero will defend his WBO NABO bantamweight title against Manuel Roman (15-1-3) in the main event that will be televised by Showtime.
A lot will be at stake for Caballero.
Currently, Caballero is ranked No. 6 in the WBO. Also the WBO’s bantamweight division doesn’t have a champion right now after many of the top stars moved up in weight class.
Earlier this year, Caballero was named by ESPN.com as one of the 25 prospects to watch.
Caballero will get a tough challenger in Roman, which should make an interesting fight for television.
“We have a prototypical ShoBox prospect in Caballero, who’s young, unbeaten and had a strong amateur career facing a fighter, Roman, who has had a lot of starts and stops in his career, but has only one loss, and it came on a split decision, so he could be easily undefeated, too,” said Showtime boxing analyst Steve Farhood, who will call the fight for ShoBox. “This is definitely a step up for Caballero.”
It is the second time Caballero will fight on ShoBox, a showcase for top prospects.
Caballero fought on ShoBox in March and Farhood said the performance left something to be desired.
“Early in the fight, he looked like everything you would hope to look like for three rounds,” Farhood said. “Then he slumped and he was not all that impressive. But I saw his last fight, and I thought he looked great, but it was mediocre competition.
“The one thing I learned on ShoBox is don’t judge a person from one fight. So we’ll give Randy another chance to wow us.”
If Caballero can come away with the victory and wow the national audience, it could open some key doors — maybe even a title fight, or elimination bout, very soon.
But trainer and father Marcos Caballero said he got some good advice from a renown trainer that still sticks with him.
“One thing Robert Garcia said was ‘Remember the more you take care of your fighter, the longer his career will last,’” Marcos said. “Whatever they give us, Golden Boy, they know what’s good for Randy. We just have to go in and perform.”
But with four divisions and some unknown champions, Farhood said it’s never too early for a title fight, depending on who holds the title.
“Depending on who he fights, a title fight in the next 12 months or sooner could be within reason,” Farhood said.
Like Caballero’s last fight, tonight will be a 10-round fight, and how Caballero performs throughout could be a key.
It will be Caballero’s 10th fight at Fantasy Springs, where he continually draws boisterous fans. Tonight will be special in that younger brother Ryan will make his professional debut and youngest brother Rommell will be part of an amateur exhibition.
But by fighting so much at home, Caballero’s exposure is limited.
But Randy said he enjoys fighting at home and doesn’t pay attention to the concerns.
“I love fighting in front of my fans,” Randy said. “If I fight somewhere else, it’s harder for them to make it. But a ring is a ring. The people outside won’t be in the ring with you. You’ll be the one taking the punishment.”
Coming into the fight, Caballero said he’s in the best shape he’s ever been. During training camp, he’s felt fresh and sharp. He hasn’t been dogged by injuries or soreness.
“I don’t know what it is, but I feel this is my best training camp,” Randy said. “My father said it, my brother said it, people who have seen me train, they’ve seen the difference in my body in how it recovers and how I fight in the ring.”
Roman will be a rugged opponent for Caballero. His only loss was by split decision.
“He’s a tough guy and his record is the way it is for a reason. I’m not taking anything away from him,” Caballero said. “I know he’s going to come to fight, he wants to win, knowing it’s my hometown. I know he’s training hard, but I don’t think there’s anyone training harder than me now. I’m more than 110 percent.”
By: Leighton Ginn