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22 AUGUST 2014

 




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Raymond “Tito” Serrano Set to Co-Headline ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights


Raymond “Tito” Serrano
Raymond “Tito” Serrano

By Jason Pribila: Nineteen is an age when people experience many firsts. For the majority of those that I grew up with, it was the age that we found ourselves living away from home for the first time. For most that meant enrolling into college, and trusting that the motivation and discipline we learned as youths would carry us through the next level of our maturation process. For better or worse, I just don’t remember too many of the decisions that were made that year having one’s “career” in mind, as motivation.

On Wednesday evening I had the opportunity to speak with 19 year-old welterweight prospect, Raymond “Tito” Serrano 8-0 (5), who was forty eight hours away from experiencing a few firsts of his own. His bout against “Smokin” Jay Krupp 12-1 (5) will be Serrano’s first scheduled eight rounder, and it will also mark the first time he co-features a show on national television.

“It feels great knowing I am going to have an opportunity to showcase my skills on national TV,” he said. “This is a big step up in my career.”
Only in the world of individual sports (and the Disney Channel) do I ever hear teenagers talking about how their Friday Night will impact their careers. But when Serrano confirmed that he has taken boxing seriously since he was eight years old, I was reminded why he is performing on a world class level, and I am reduced to writing about it. Eight years old? The only thing I took seriously at eight years old was trying to deal with the leap from printing to cursive writing.

“At first I didn’t like boxing,” Serrano confessed. “My father pushed me into the sport. He would wake me up to train, run, and become disciplined. It wasn’t until I started traveling to tournaments and meeting people that I loved the sport, and I’ve loved it ever since.”

His love for the sport most likely grew when his sacrifice was linked to positive results. Serrano’s stellar amateur career allowed him to box on the US National Team and in 2005; he won the international Junior Olympics. In 2006, he won the Pennsylvania Golden Gloves. After over one hundred amateur bouts, he chose to forgo a chance to compete in the 2008 Summer Olympics, and go professional.

Since an Olympic berth is no longer a golden ticket for a fighter to parlay into fame and fortune, Serrano’s choice to turn professional has not hindered his progress. In 2007, he was signed by promoter Joe DeGuardia, who is guiding Serrano’s career swiftly.

“Although he is only 19 years old,” he said, “we are confident in Raymond’s skill level and ability to become a world champion in the welterweight division.”

Serrano has also gained the confidence of his trainer, Danny Davis, who agrees that Serrano’s career is on the fast track.

“I see the progress,” said Davis. “He is turning into a complete fighter. All Raymond has to do is train and stay focused and he will be a fighter that people will have to watch out for.”

Although Serrano is approaching his bout against Krupp as a, “fight like any other fight”, the quality of his sparring partners (Delvin Rodriguez and Mike Jones) served as a reminder of the tremendous opportunity he has in front of him.

Rodriguez will serve as one half of the evening’s main event when he meets Shamone Alvarez in an IBF title-eliminator for Joshua Clottey’s belt. As a ‘Star Boxing’ stable mate, few peers could offer Serrano more in terms of physical and mental preparation.

In 2007, Rodriguez suffered a shocking defeat on the same airwaves to underdog Jesse Feliciano. In a bout Rodriguez was dominating, he ran out of gas, suffered a TKO, and watched Feliciano move on to challenge Kermit Cintron for a portion of the welterweight title. And then in July of 2008, Rodriguez defeated Oscar Diaz, only to see his foe slip into a coma immediately after the fight. Miraculously Diaz recovered and was released from the hospital on February 23rd. Rodriguez hopes that his own experiences will help Serrano in the future.

“As a more experienced professional I try to help out in any way I can,” Rodriguez explained. “Hopefully what I’m trying to tell (Serrano) will benefit him and make him a better fighter both physically and mentally.”
In Mike Jones, Serrano gets to see the corrupt side of the sport up close. Jones is 16-0 (14) currently ranked No.11 by the WBA and IBF, but instead of headlining a “Boxing After Dark” or “ShoBox”, Jones finds himself headlining a show at the Blue Horizon in Philadelphia – off television.

Although there is no reason for Serrano to apologize, hopefully he will realize that the opportunity to fight in front of the cameras is a privilege and not a birth right. Something that Serrano seems to have in perspective.

“I wanna look good,” said Serrano. “Although a win is most important, I know that everyone will be watching, and I want to impress people. The rest is up to my team. I hope to stay active like last year (fought 6 times in 2008), fight a few more eight rounders, and then move up to ten.”

If Serrano is able to handle exposure and fame with the same humbleness and maturity that he possesses at nineteen; people will have no choice but to notice, and to be impressed.


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