25.02.09 – by James Slater – Talented lightweight contender Vicente Escobedo, last seen scoring a very impressive win over the then unbeaten Dominic Salcido in September of last year, faces a former world champion in his next fight, as he closes in on a shot of his own at a world title. Now 19-1(12), the 27-year-old Californian who represented his country at the 2004 Olympic games, has put together ten straight wins since he was temporarily set back by his close points loss to Daniel Jimenez in April of 2006..
Looking quite sensational in stopping grudge rival Salcido inside six rounds last time out, the lightweight put all his skills together in scoring his first stoppage in seven bouts. Now, against former WBC featherweight king Kevin “The Flushing Flash” Kelley, one of the most experienced fighters in the sport, the 27-year-old will be looking to keep the inside schedule wins coming. Can he stop the now 41-year-old Kelley when he fights him on March 26th at The Arco Arena in Sacramento?
Kelley, a veteran of over 70-bouts as a pro, is not a shot fighter and he remains a pretty fast boxer even at his current age. He has lost three of his last five, but only one of these losses came via stoppage. Indeed, aside from the 4th round KO defeat he suffered against Bobby Pacquiao in June of 2006, Kelley has only been stopped twice in the last nine years – by Mexican greats Marco Antonio Barrera and before that Erik Morales. And in his last two outings, both against men much younger than himself, in Jaime Palma and the 10-1-2 David Rodela, Kelley looked okay.
Can the crafty old southpaw stick around long enough next month to be able to teach Escobedo a few tricks? As with a growing number of former champions who can’t say good bye to the sport, Kelley is a fighter many people wish would retire. At 60-9-2(39), and after having become a world champion who gave us great fights against the likes of Derrick Gainer, Gregorio Vargas, Naseem Hamed and Humberto Soto, it’s certain Kelley has nothing more to prove to anyone. But still in love with boxing as he is, he carries on fighting.
The fast-talking and quick-witted Kelley doesn’t figure to get blown away by Escobedo, the younger man is not that big a puncher and Kelley remains quick of foot enough to give him some problems. Punch resistance may become a problem for the man who has been involved in a number of brutal wars in his time, though, especially in the later rounds – if the fight goes that far. Apart from his fight against fellow veteran and former world champion Manuel Medina in Nov. of 2006, this upcoming fight will Kelley’s toughest going in – and though it was close, Medina beat him over 12-rounds.
Kelley will make the fight competitive for the first third or so of the action, before the younger man’s desire to win becomes too much for him. Look for Escobedo to stop a game Kelley in around 6 or 7 rounds of the scheduled 10.