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Edward Vazquez waited and planned for Raymond Ford for almost five years

The featherweight spoke with Bad Left Hook after his questionable split decision loss on the Cuadras-Rodriguez undercard.

Edward Vazquez in action
Edward Vazquez in action
Courtesy: DKO Boxing
John Hansen joined Bad Left Hook as a staff writer in 2021 and co-hosts the "Prophets of Goom" podcast.

You don’t often see a star prospect’s promoter go on television and tell the world that someone beat his fighter. But that’s exactly what happened last weekend after Raymond Ford won a controversial split decision over Edward Vazquez on the undercard of Cuadras-Rodriguez.

Eddie Hearn, Ford’s promoter, said on the DAZN broadcast that he thought Ford had lost the fight to Vazquez, insisting that “If you’re giving Raymond Ford eight of those rounds, you’re watching a different fight.”

It’s little comfort for Edward Vazquez, though, who left the arena with a loss on his record for the first time, falling to 11-1 with 3 KO.

The 26 year old featherweight still lives and trains in his hometown of Fort Worth, TX, where he grew up fighting around the house with his brothers as the youngest of five kids in a family where cousins, uncles, and a grandfather were all boxers.

Vazquez convinced his father to let him quit baseball and sign up for boxing on his seventh birthday. He spent his youth fighting around 90 times in the amateurs, most notably at the 2012 Junior Olympic National Championships. He lost there on close scores to future pro Mark Reyes Jr, last seen on ShoBox campaigning at welterweight.

Bad Left Hook spoke with Vazquez a few days after the Ford fight, catching up on his current state of mind and what the future looks like for his career. Among the highlights: Vazquez has been targeting and planning for Raymond Ford for almost five years. Vazquez is happy to take a rematch or move past Ford to anyone else that moves him closer to a world ranking. And, the early word from Vazquez’s team is that the hard-luck split decision has helped his career more than harmed it.

Our full conversation, lightly edited for length and clarity, follows.

BAD LEFT HOOK: Let’s start with the big question. Last Saturday, you put on a heck of a show and had to swallow some tough scorecards. Almost a week later, where are you with it all?

EDWARD VASQUEZ: I try to use my energy in places where it matters. Once the call was made and they said that I lost, I was mad for about an hour or so, and that was it. Other than that, I put it behind me.

The only thought I have about it now is that if they want to run a rematch, I’m willing to do it to settle any confusion or problem, whatever you want to call it. I hope Eddie Hearn can come up with the right number and logistics to make it happen.

Other than that, it’s part of the game. It’s unbelievable that it’s still happening. We’re in 2022, and this shit is still happening with no repercussions. It’s whatever, man.

We actually heard Eddie Hearn say on the broadcast that he had you winning the fight. Obviously, it’s better when the judges feel that way, but how does it feel to at least hear the other guy’s promoter give you credit for the work you did?

It’s cool, but to me it causes even more of an uproar. Him saying that made everyone mad! Not just me, but my fans, even people that weren’t my fans. People that were Ray Ford fans before have been messaging me, commenting on my stuff, saying “This is bullshit,” “Boxing is corrupt,” “This is why they’re losing viewership,” and things like that.

So, it’s cool that he said that. But, it also helps save face. I think people know there’s some sketchy shit going on with this decision. At least, it looks like some sketchy shit. And for him to come out and say that just caused more of an uproar.

Raymond Ford is a fast, tough puncher. We’ve seen him make guys look foolish before. But, you took the fight to him and left him looking discouraged between rounds. Put aside the scores. What do you take away from the fight and the success you had against him?

I just know that I’m ready to be up there. If they consider Ray Ford a top caliber guy, then I definitely should be mentioned in that group of names. I feel like I belong in the mix now.

Ray Ford, I feel like he’s the weakest link of them all up there. I’m just ready to move onto bigger and better things. If that means we get a rematch out of the way so we can move forward? Let’s do that. If not, give me the next guy.

Well, respect to you, because I thought you beat him. I actually do think Ford is a very good fighter, and that’s part of why I was so impressed with what you did. But, I’m not going to try and make you praise someone you feel you got cheated against. So, we’ll just move on from there.

[Laughs] Alright.

This was your first ten round fight. How did you feel at that distance? Do you think you had to hold back at all to make sure you’d have the stamina to get through the fight?

No, not really, I’m a big stamina and endurance athlete. I run half marathons constantly, I’m always out there trying to test my endurance physically. Ten round fights are right up my alley. I think twelve round fights would be even better.

I think that I get stronger as the fight goes on. It sometimes takes me a round or two to get going, but once I do, it’s hard to stop me. So, I felt great about the ten rounds. I felt really comfortable. I was able to think a little more, and you have a little more time to really break down your opponent. It felt great.

You put some heat on the fight with statements in the run up to fight weekend and some of the back-and-forth at the weigh-in. How much of that was you trying to get in Ford’s head a little bit, and how much of it was just your natural intensity?

Naturally, I’m competitive. But this kid, man, he’s so emotional and immature. He’s so bought into the social media shit, and I knew all of that. I took note of all that.

I’ve been wanting this fight with Ray Ford for years now. I’ve been studying his mannerisms for years. Not just for this camp, but for years now. I knew all this about him. He’s really emotional. He cares what people think about him, and I knew I could get under his skin really easily. So, every chance I got, I’d poke at him.

He doesn’t realize that I’m just doing it for mind games. To me, it was fun. If you see all of our interactions, all of our encounters together? I’m just smiling while I’m talking shit to him. To me, it’s fun. And I could just see him getting so mad, me getting under his skin, and I knew it would throw him off of his game plan.

He had success when he was boxing! He was going good when he was sticking and moving! Of course, he wasn’t able to put anything behind it, but he was doing good! But his ego and his emotions would get to him, and he would stand there and try to bang with me.

Why would you do that? You have success while you’re boxing! But his ego and emotion get to him, and that’s what lost him the fight. Hopefully, he’ll take note of that and make improvements to come back better. But, he definitely lets his head get the best of him.

Well, I didn’t think that for at least the first five rounds or so, you were really giving him much of a choice. I didn’t see him deciding to stand and exchange. I just didn’t think he could get space on you. That’s how I saw it, that you were setting the terms of the fight. Am I misunderstanding what was actually happening in there?

No, you’re absolutely right. But there are ways to slow down an opponent that’s constantly on you. And he wasn’t doing any of it. Because he was so bought into the “it’s a real fight!” where he has something to prove to people, that he can fight fire with fire.

He didn’t have to do that! But, it all goes back to what I said pre-fight, that he doesn’t have the brains that I have. He’s not as smart as me.

He fights off of basic athletic ability. He’s really fast, quick on his feet and quick with his hands. But he doesn’t have a brain. Maybe his coaches don’t have a brain, either, because they weren’t able to give him the adjustments to keep me off of him and build maybe two or three seconds of space to think of a solution. But, he didn’t have the brains for that.

You did a lot of strategic planning for Ford, and you said earlier that you’ve wanted this fight for years. Does this all come from somewhere? Did you cross paths in the amateurs or against other opponents on the same card as professionals? Why did you want this particular guy so badly?

I trained in Philadelphia back around 2017 or 2018. And my coach out there told me there’s a good guy up in the North Philly, Jersey area named Ray Ford. You may fight him someday in the pros. He’s a standout amateur, Olympic alternate, all this bullshit. When he told me that, I said I wanted to spar him, and we never were able to set it up.

I started keeping my eyes on him then, because I knew I’d eventually cross paths with him if he was as good as they said. So for the past four or five years, I’ve been watching him. And he fought my teammate [Juan Antonio Lopez] about a year ago. [Ford] beat him, but I saw a lot of flaws in his game, and I wanted the guy so bad. Because I know he’s got the standout amateur record, and they’ve got a lot of money behind him. Then, he stops my teammate, and feels high about that.

But, I saw so many flaws to his game, and to his mental game, that I wanted in on it. When I saw those things, I wanted in on it! And we made it happen, but I didn’t get the outcome I wanted.

I want to ask about how you prepare for and book fights. You’ve been on some big cards, like Herring-Oquendo in Las Vegas and the Tyson-Roy Jones Jr. event. How far ahead do you usually get the call for the higher profile shows?

We get phone calls that are just two or three weeks out. But I’ve always prided myself on refusing to take a fight on half-assed notice. I want to be fully prepared. I’m not a desperate fighter, I’m not out absolutely needing someone to give me an opportunity.

So, I’m usually getting a five or six week camp before all of these fights. The ESPN show was a tough one because I had five fights fall through to COVID in the lead up to that show. I was in camp just all year long, and then finally we got the fight against Adan Ochoa. It felt like I had been in camp for eight or nine months for that one.

But, I always make sure I have enough time to be ready for any fight I take. I go hard. I don’t take any days lightly. If you follow me on social media, you know that every single day I’m out there making myself suffer, trying to go as hard as I can. I don’t like to make it complicated.

I know a lot of guys out there are doing a lot of scientific shit, measuring this and that, but I keep it old school, man. I don’t make it complicated. I just run as far as I can every day, I kill my abs as hard as I can. I don’t even count, just knock out as many as I can until it hurts. Same thing with push-ups, and then I do 20-25 rounds of boxing every day. That’s it, man. I just do hundreds of rounds of drills every week. Nothing crazy.

Are you trying to train all the time and stay ready for big calls? Or do you prepare for the fights your team can book directly, and jump on the bigger opportunities when they come?

I just stay ready all year long. Whenever my management at DKO give me the call, they know my contract says five weeks notice, and they’ll ask me how a certain opportunity sounds if it fits with that. When we say “yes” to a fight, we just step up a notch from there.

But all year long, I’m in the gym. Running, doing something for boxing every day. It’s my lifestyle, has been for 19 years, and I don’t even go one day without it.

When do you expect you’ll be ready to fight again? Are you wanting to get back in quick and get on a new winning streak, or do you want to take a little time and see if there’s another TV card?

Hopefully, we’ll get a televised opportunity again soon. If we can get in late March or April, that would be great. All I really need is the rest of this week and maybe next week of taking it lightly, and then I’ll step back up.

I just need to rest and recoup a little bit, and I’m back on it. I am already back to running, I’m already back to light training. I’m not taking any time off, just taking it lightly for now.

Having a zero in the loss column helps a lot for guys who are trying to build a career the hard way, without that prospect pedigree. But we’ve also seen guys really raise their profile with a standout performance, even when they didn’t get credit for a win. What are you hearing from your promotion and management people after last week?

They said that my stock rose and this is doing good for us. We’re getting a lot of notoriety, and big promoters and matchmakers know our name and that we belong in the mix with the top guys. Hopefully here soon, we’ll get a phone call for an opportunity against another top ten guy somewhere in the world.

I’m just trying to get up there, get myself ranked by one of the governing bodies. And I’ll fight anybody that gets me there. But my people have been saying we’re getting good attention, and I’m definitely seeing it online. People see it, and hopefully this leads somewhere good.

Overall, it sounds like this fight was more of a level-up than a setback in terms of what’s in store for you in the next year or so.

Absolutely, man. I don’t think we’re going backwards from here, that’s for sure. Everyone knows I won that fight, and I think my management and promoter will treat it that way. So, only onward and upward now.

Any final thoughts you have to share, or anything else you want to tell people reading this?

Just keep up with me. Follow my career, stay tuned for more exciting fights. Thanks to everyone, I appreciate all the support and messages I’ve been getting. It’s definitely not the end of “The Kid.” It’s an awakening process here.

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