Mel Gibson turned William Wallace into a larger than life Scottish hero in the movie Braveheart. Well on March 25TH, undefeated featherweight Joan Guzman has the opportunity to make real history as he storms into Scotland to meet Scott Harrison, in Glasgow, Scotland. Guzman and Harrison are set to battle for the WBO, version of the featherweight title. Guzman is a two fisted slugger from the Dominican Republic, who is squaring off against Harrison on his home turf and looks to wrest the title from the two time world champion. Currently training in Las Vegas the man once known as, “Little Tyson,” granted Boxingtalk, some of his time while he was shopping for a video game to add to his collection.
“I feel great and I am focused on the task at hand and that’s coming back to New York with the title. Come March 25th its going to be my reward for all of my sacrifice and hard work,” said Guzman.
“This is by far the most important fight in my career. I am looking at it as the first of many big steps in my career. This will be the victory that will open all of the doors for me,” said Guzman.
An 8 week camp is evidence that Guzman is training for this fight harder and more determined than any other that he has encountered. The ever confident Dominican dynamo is not taking his opponent lightly. According to Guzman, one person who has made a big difference in his preparation is his current trainer Don House. House was the former trainer of current lightweight sensation Zahir Raheem.
“I like Don a lot he’s a great trainer and a great man. He makes me work hard. I feel faster and I feel like I have improved since I have been working with him. My defense is better and I feel quicker,” said Guzman.
Sky television will be carrying this encounter which will emanate from the Braehead Arena, in Scotland. Guzman on this evening not only has a chance to capture a world title but an opportunity to place himself in exclusive company. If Guzman is successful, he will become the first ever Dominican to capture two world titles, in two separate weight classes. Guzman who now resides in New York City always keeps his native land close to his heart. The 1995 Pan American games placed Guzman on the plateau of national hero when he captured gold in the 112 pound weight class.
“This will be my gift to the people of the Dominican Republic, since I did not bring home the gold in the 96 Olympics. That’s something that really bothered me. Puerto Rico, Panama, Argentina and Mexico, have all had multiple world champions well I want to be the first Dominican to accomplish this. We have baseball and we have a very rich history in that sport, but I want to be a pioneer in Dominican boxing,” said Guzman.
Guzman attained his first professional title when he won the WBO junior featherweight championship back in 2004 by defeating then unbeaten Fabio Daniel Oliva of Argentina. Guzman stopped the previously 18-0, Oliva in three rounds. In an unfortunate circumstance his career stood still instead of rocketing to meteoric success after his scintillating win. Guzman had to jump over the all too familiar boxing hurdle of managerial dilemmas. During this time, Guzman severed his relationship with former manager Rafael Guerrero. Guzman saw his career being stagnant was in a position that he was not used to being and that was helpless.
“In the ring it’s all on you. Sure you need to have positive people around you and the right guys guiding your career and of course a trainer to show you things and correct mistakes, but at the end it all comes down to you. You have complete control of the out come for the most part. So being forced to wait and wait for legalities to clear up, was frustrating for me,” said Guzman.
Presently Guzman’s is being guided by Jose Nunez. Guzman is also fighting under the promotional banner of the southern California based Sycuan Ringside Promotions. Sycuan if you have not been paying attention might arguably be the hottest boxing promotions around. Sycuan’s roster besides Guzman boasts newly crowned WBC welterweight champion, Carlos Baldomir and also WBC and IBF 122 pound champion Israel Vasquez.
Guzman calls Nunez more than just a manager but also a friend. He feels a comfort level and security with Nunez that he did experience with the aforementioned Guerrero.
“We are both young, we are both Dominican so we have a lot in common. He is someone that I can hang out with, talk to and we enjoy the same things. His family hangs out with my family he is a great guy and I know that he has a bright future in this sport. To him I am a priority and that’s very important to me,” said Guzman.
Traveling over seas is something that Guzman sees as a challenge and one that he embraces. According to Guzman he does not feel Harrison has a significant home field advantage.
“He does not have to make the trip like I do but it does not matter. I am going there on a mission. I will be all business. People in Scotland should not be surprised if I am not that accommodating. I will do my part as far as weigh in and final press conference and that’s it. I won’t be running around trying to promote the fight. That’s the promoter’s job; I won’t allow my self to be distracted. I had a lot of experience traveling through my amateur career and as a pro I’ve gone to Europe I know what to expect,” said Guzman.
“I also feel that the judges over there from the tapes that I have seen are very professional and have worked very fair in the past. When he lost to Medina the judges that night rendered a good decision. I don’t feel that I need to knockout Harrison to win this title. I feel I just have to beat him which I will”, stated Guzman.
The 29 year old Guzman who aside from being a seasoned video gamer is an avid internet reader and is well aware of some of the comments that have made its way over seas by his future opponent.
“He can talk all he wants. Sometimes guys who are scared and need to convince themselves, he knows in his heart that he can’t beat me. It’s very easy to talk to reporters and say things from far away about other people. Come March 25TH I will do my talking,” said Guzman.
Part of Guzman inspiration is his undying patriotism and love for his native Dominican Republic. In the closing stages of 2005, the Dominican Republic experienced the loss of one its most recognizable native sons. Former world champion Agapito Sanchez was tragically killed during a visit to his homeland. The death of this former rival stunned Guzman.
“It’s sad because I spoke to him over the phone the day before he was shot. I asked him when he was coming back to New York, and when he was getting back in the ring. I had a feeling that D.R. was bad news for him. Back home there are a lot of temptations and distractions. The bad blood that was between us is no different than any two men who step into the ring against each other. Agapito was a good man and his loss really hurt me because in a way he was a pioneer for Dominican boxing. Any animosity that we had was built on hype, just really all hype and motivated and egged on by Rafael Guerrero,” said Guzman.
Guzman sees himself like the leader of a new rising crop of Dominican superstars that are set to make their mark in boxing.
“I’m happy that we are making some noise in this sport. There are a lot of good young fighters out there that are on the rise. Elio Rojas, Roberto Benitez those two kids really motivate me and make me feel proud. Because I know to them that I am a role model for them”, said Guzman.
“I’m hungry to be the best in the world. There is no other fighter hungrier than I am. This is my time this is Guzman time! After this fight people are going to say whre have they been hiding this guy?” said Guzman.
BoxingTalk would like to thank Joan Guzman for his time and would like to wish him continued success in the future.
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