Photo: Lina Baker, Instagram @seeyouringside
What a difference a year makes. Last year at this time featherweight Jayson “La Maravilla” Velez 23-1-1 (16KO’s) was an undefeated contender who had fought off the previously undefeated and seemingly indestructible (at the time) Mexican Russian Evgeny Gradovich to a draw in a bid to take a title. Velez had earned some credibility from the performance and parlayed it into the opening bout of the Cotto vs. Canelo undercard. In what was supposed to be a prime for the taking fight against Ronny Rios, whom had suffered a devastating knockout loss to Robinson Castellanos Velez suffered his first loss as Rios willed himself to victory over the Puerto Rican.
Velez didn’t choose to take the easy road back following his first loss as a professional, and co-promoters Miguel Cotto Promotions and Golden Boy obliged his enthusiasm with a fight against blue-chip prospect Joseph “JoJo” Diaz. Diaz dominated the fight and Velez was left to re-assess the direction of his career.
Fast forward to today.
“At this level it’s tough, everyone is good and you can win or lose anytime at this level.” Says Velez when reflecting back on his last two fights. “They were good fights but, it gets harder when you go higher in the sport. I can still win a title but making 126 was very hard for me.”
Velez was in fact draining himself at 5’8” to fight at featherweight is a feat in itself. “I started my career at 122 then moved to 126 when I was 22 years old. I’m 28 now and I was dehydrating myself really bad to make the weight, it was hard but I’m a professional and responsible fighter so I always made weight.” After two consecutive losses at 126 Velez made the decision to change trainers and move up to the super featherweight division of 130 pounds.
Velez has returned to his first trainer Jose Barrilla and believes that he has regained the recipe for success. “Even Mexicans like my style, both of my promoters believe in me. I was the main event in Los Angeles and a lot of Mexicans were there.” Velez said when describing why the change was necessary “I was going in too aggressive, Jose focuses more on boxing and he’s bringing that back. You’ll see Friday, but at this level to win I need more movement because everyone is good.”
Velez gets his chance to see if the changes made will bear the fruits he hopes for as he steps into the ring against battle tested and tough veteran Rene Alavarado 23-7 (16KO’s). Alvarado has provided Golden Boy promotions with good action and rounds as a gatekeeper of the elite level of boxing with solid performances and tests of touted prospects.
“Rene Alvarado is a good fighter, he’s only been stopped once and I want to knock him out, but I have to be smart.” Yes you do Jayson, yes you do.
Jayson Velez steps in as the main event of Boxeo Estelar on Estrella TV this Friday after a bout between Alfonso Gomez and Pablo Cano was canceled due to an injury to Gomez.