His last time out, Sammy Vasquez made a rare appearance outside of Pennsylvania to face one of the stiffest tests of his career. New venue, new caliber of opponent, no problem as Vasquez overcame Wale Omotoso at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas with 98-92 scores on all three judges’ cards.
Now he heads back to the Keystone State with the wind at his back and a chance to keep marching up the road in the 147-pound division when he takes on Jose Lopez in front of what promises to be a raucous crowd at California University in California, Pennsylvania, just 20 minutes from his native Monessen and about an hour south of Pittsburgh.
“For that to be literally in my backyard, I’m honored and blessed,” said Vasquez (19-0, 13 KOs), who weighed in at 146.8 for Tuesday’s Fox Sports 1 fight (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT), while Lopez (25-3-1, 15 KOs) was 145.9.. “The venue holds 5,5000 or 6,000 people, and I know it’s going to be jam-packed.”
Five years junior to the 29-year-old Sammy Vasquez, Lopez nonetheless has 180 rounds of experience to Vasquez’s 77. And while two of Lopez’s three losses came to name-brand fighters Humberto Soto and Viktor Postol, he'll enter this bout riding an eight-fight winning streak that started in 2013.
Not that the unbeaten Vasquez is overly concerned as he continues his steady ascent up the division ranks.
“I don’t know too much about him,” Vasquez said. “I know he’s game, and he’s going to come out tough. All Mexicans do. I don’t really know too much about his style, but I can only guess on him being from Mexico, he’s a straightforward fighter, he brings the pressure and throws a lot of punches. I fight the same way, but I just have a little more finesse to me.”
That finesse was on display against Omotoso, against whom Vasquez worked behind a stiff jab to open up the door to landing winning combinations. Not that it didn’t come without a price—he also traded outright with the powerful Omotoso in the eight round. Vasquez was bloodied up good by the end of the fight, but he never broke.
It’s that combination of skill, power and toughness that Vasquez hopes will open the door to the top of the division.
“I proved a lot through my fight with Omotoso, as well was Emmanual Lartey,” he said. “I’m looking for the knockout in this fight. I proved I can go 10 rounds, I have a chin. I want to be able to take out guys who I feel are not on my level.
"I’m blowing these guys out of the water, and they’re supposed to be top competition for me. None of my fights so far have been close. For me, I’m looking for that guy to make it a fight, to make it close. What I’m doing right now and the route I’m going on is eventually going to get me up there to the top guys.”
For complete coverage of Vasquez vs Lopez, check out our fight page.