You could forgive Carlos Velasquez’s opponents for seeing double even before their bells get rung like mom calling the kids home for dinner.
Velasquez’s twin brother, Juan, is not only a fellow Puerto Rican boxing standout, but he’s also a fixture in his sibling’s corner—and just about everywhere else, really.
“We always are together, every single minute. ‘I’m going to go to the store.’ ‘OK, I’ll go with you,’” Velasquez says. “Our relationship is like we are one person. Now, he’s going to be in my corner every single fight. He’s my eyes outside of the ring.”
Juan Velasquez is far from the boxing equivalent of the towel-waving hip-hop hype man, though.
“When I make a mistake, my brother tells me the truth,” Carlos Velasquez says. “He’s never going to lie to me. Maybe a trainer says, ‘Oh, you look great’ when you really don’t. My brother will say, ‘Hey, you look ugly. You have to get better.'”
Carlos Velasquez (19-1, 12 KOs) is seldom as eyesore in the ring, though. Rather, he’s a smooth, surgical technician, his movements as fluid as ocean waters and just as capable of engulfing opponents.
This is the byproduct of a life spent in the gym.
“When I was a boy, I breathed boxing,” he says. “I thought about it all day, all night, just boxing, boxing. I didn’t go to parties when I was young. I didn’t go to the street, no girlfriend. I was just completely a full-time boxer, since I was 11 years old.”
A decorated amateur and former Olympian, Velasquez really opened eyes—including his own—when he bested Olympic gold medalist and future 126-pound champ Yuriorkis Gamboa at the 2006 Central American and Caribbean Games, upsetting a fighter with cheetah-like speed and concrete hands.
“I got confidence in myself that day,” he says. “I said, ‘I can be something.'”
He’ll need that confidence when he takes on 130-pound champ Javier Fortuna (28-0-1, 20 KOs) tonight in Las Vegas, where Velasquez has lived for the past five years after stints in Miami and New York.
Fortuna is a caffeinated presence in the ring, a fount of energy and explosiveness who, like the blood flowing through his veins, never seems to stop moving.
“He’s a good boxer—I’d never say the opposite—but he’s not patient. He’s not focused,” Velasquez says. “Sometimes he throws punches just to throw punches. I’m going to be more focused.”
With 20 knockouts in 28 fights, Fortuna has decent pop, although Velasquez doesn’t seem particularly concerned about being able to take his punches.
“When you go professional, everybody’s got power, everybody has small gloves,” he says. “It’s in how you use it. He’s got power, but he’s not consistent. He throws hard punches for a couple of rounds.”
Velasquez’s showdown with Fortuna will be his first title shot. He’s only lost once, to former 122-pound champ Rico Ramos in September 2013.
Velasquez was winning the fight when Ramos caught him with a crushing left hook with about 90 seconds to go in the 10th and final round, knocking Velasquez out.
Since then, he’s won four in a row, effectively burying the Ramos defeat deep in the rearview mirror. Now he's focused on one thing: becoming a champion.
“I feel that I am ready,” Velasquez says. “I am strong mentally. Even though I have one loss, the loss doesn’t matter to me. ‘If I lose, I will come back stronger.’ This is how I think.”
For full coverage of Fortuna vs Velasquez, visit our fight page.