A pro fighter since just last October, 43 year old Puerto Rican heavyweight Jesus Escalera holds quite the distinction: upon going pro, he has scored more consecutive KO wins over an 11 month period than Mike Tyson managed on his initial pro run. Escalera, however, said he was not even aware of this until he read about it. Escalera, who reached 19-0(19) on September 17, is now heading into the stiffest test of his short ring career.
On November 4, on 92 year old Don King’s latest card, “Tito” Escalera will face Jonathan Guidry, 19-1-2(11), the fight to go down in Miami. Here, Escalera, a southpaw who has quite the story, kindly takes times to speak with ESB:
Q: You’ve put together that KO streak – 19 KO wins in less than a year. Did you have an amateur career prior?
Jesus Escalera: “Yes. Yes, my amateur career was 104 fights, with 85 wins, 19 losses. I started in 1992, my first amateur fight.”
Q: That’s obviously a long time ago, what have you been doing in the interim time?
J.E: “In the interim time, I kept boxing and then I became a referee and a judge for USA Boxing. I did that for ten years, and then I became a promoter. What happened was, this last year, the frustration of training fighters, getting them to a really good record, spending two or three years getting them to where they should be fighting on TV, and a lot of these fighters didn’t take the risk. And frustration kicks in, with me keeping hearing the same comments of, ‘well, you’ve never done it, you never turned pro.’ So, I was like, okay, I’ll turn pro, and if I win, I win, if I lose, I lose. That way, at least I get more respect from the managers and the coaches.
“But I’m an old-school fighter. I’m a little older, so I come from a generation where, once you fight, after you knock somebody out, I’m not gonna take two weeks off, three weeks off. I’m gonna continue to keep going back. You know, I grew up watching fighters fight eight, 10 times a year…..my uncle [Alfredo Escalera] was a (WBC 130 pound) world champion, for three-and-a-half years before he lost it. So I grew up in a boxing family.”
Q: It is an interesting story you have, no doubt. You have all those KO’s how far have you gone in a fight?
J.E: “Four rounds. And to be honest with you, I’ve won fights I wasn’t favoured to win. I’ve beaten guys who were more experienced, I’ve beaten two former world champions. So, I’ve pulled off the upset.”
Q: Looking at your record, Epifiano Mendoza stands out, he of course went in with some big names, such as Oleksandr Usyk, Luis Ortiz, Yuniel Dorticos……
J.E: “Yeah, he’s a heavy hitter. He had a ton of experience, he’s been around.”
Q: You have the fight with Guidry coming up. We spoke with him and he says you will obviously be dangerous early with your power but that you will run out of gas later on.
J.E: “I’d say that’s a good adjustment, him thinking that way, considering that I haven’t gone past four rounds. So that would be a game-plan if I was fighting a guy in the same situation, right? He has the right to think that, I can see why it’s justified.”
Q: He’s seen some footage of you, have you seen any of his fights?
J.E: “I saw him fight in person twice. One of them I think I’d only had three or four fights at the time, and then I wasn’t even a pro fighter prior to that, when he won the (NABA) title, that was right after the Trevor Bryan fight, in Miami. He’s an excellent boxer, I love the way he boxes. I was actually campaigning to fight Trevor Bryan instead, because I thought he was a little slower, and he got knocked out in his last fight. But Jonathan Guidry gave us this opportunity, and this is a tougher fight for me, because he’s a real slick boxer.”
Q: And Guidry looks to have a solid chin….
Q: What’s it like working with Don King?
J.E: “Don King’s been amazing. My coach, Nate Campbell, ‘The Galaxxy Warrior,’ he fought for Don. Obviously, my uncle fought for Don for over ten years. So, it’s history.”
Q: You’re going to come out for a knockout against Guidry, aren’t you?
J.E: “I mean, I’m going to come out there and see what opportunities I see. I don’t look for the knockout, but if I see an opening I am going to take advantage of it.”
Q: Critics might question the quality of your opposition…..
J.E: “Oh, that’s understandable. I’ve been fighting guys who are like 6’4” and 6’5” and I gained weight to fight them. Me and Guidry are the same height at 5’11.” I wanted this fight. This will be my second opportunity to fight in the states, so for me, it’s more of a proving thing….not only to myself. I definitely want to test myself with the best and Jonathan Guidry, he’s that guy, you know? He is the champion and if anything, I’m just glad he took this fight, because he could have said no to it.”
Q: Has anyone hurt you or buzzed you in a fight?
J.E: “No, no. The last time I think I got seriously hurt or whatever, was like 13 years ago, in the Connecticut Golden Gloves, but that was because I fought with the flu. I’ve never been knocked out. I’ve never had that issue.”
Q: Have you always been a heavyweight?
J.E: “No, I used to fight between 185 and 190 pounds.”
Q: We look forward to the upcoming fight. You have had quite a bit of press for breaking Tyson’s record as far as most consecutive KO wins in shortest period of time upon going pro…
J.E: “I didn’t even know about it until my 16th fight, that’s when I first heard about it. You know, press comes with negatives and positives. But this is a good opportunity for myself to prove, not only to myself, but to prove to everybody……I mean, with negative press comes question marks, if these opponents [of mine] have been legitimate or not. So I guess this is a real opportunity to show the world if I can pull this off.”
Q: If you can KO Guidry, that’s a statement, no doubt.
J.E: “Yeah, he’s never been knocked out. But I think he has so much experience and that’s the reason he’s never been knocked out. He’s a slick boxer, he knows how to move.”
Q: Thanks for your time. It will be interesting to see how far you can keep going. As you know, all fight fans love a puncher!
J.E: “Thank you so much for the honor, for reaching out to me. You can hear right now (in the background) all the work going on in the gym, we’re working hard, and we’ll see what happens on November 4. I appreciate this opportunity and the best man will win on the night.”