Contenders’ Fight Club member and full-time Southern California Gas Company worker, Andrew Cancio shocked the boxing world earlier this year when he came off the canvas to knockout then undefeated, Alberto Machado to win the WBA Super Featherweight Championship of the World.
In pulling off one of the biggest upsets of the year, Cancio became an inspiration to thousands in and out of the ring.
Despite the knockout win, Cancio was considered the underdog again in the immediate rematch this past summer and he silenced his critics with an even more dominant stoppage victory proving the first fight was no fluke.
Now Cancio is gearing up for his second title defense this weekend, a rematch against his mandatory challenger, the hard hitting Nicaraguan, Rene Alvarado. With a win, Cancio would be in line for a title unification bout and the type of payday that would allow him to finally buy a house for his growing family.
Cancio, who is still working full-time despite being a world champion, took time before an evening training session, just days before the big fight, for an exclusive sit down interview with Contenders to discuss what it’s like to be a world champion, his frustration with the politics and finances of boxing and what advice he would give to someone on the verge of giving up on their dream.
What’s the biggest difference in your life since winning a world title?
People recognize me. I was running the other day on the way to the park and some little kid on a bike was going the opposite way towards me and he’s like, ‘What’s Up Champ?’. It surprised me for a second. I thought that was pretty neat. That’s probably the biggest change, more and more people that I don’t know recognizing me on the street.
They say in boxing that winning a world championship automatically makes you a better fighter. Have you found that to be true?
I’d say it’s true. You’re more confident. You’ve been in there already at the championship level. Before you’re a little timid. Now you know what it’s like. Then you work your tail off to stay there.
After you loss to Jojo Diaz in 2016, did you actually retire or did you just take some time off?
I actually retired.
What brought you back?
I felt I had a lot more to prove. The right people were talking to me and encouraging me. Also my kids. And me, I didn’t want to go out like that, losing the way I did.
Ok. Let’s say there’s no promoters, no networks, and no sanctioning bodies getting in the way and you can fight any of the current world champions in your weight class. Who would you want first?
I would have to say Miguel Berchelt. That’s the money fight I think and that’s a dream fight. I feel like that’s a Gatti Ward type of fight. I think it would get me out there as a mainstream fighter. It’s a scary fight but it’s also a great one for us. Tough one for sure but guaranteed excitement for the fans.
When you see fighters who have yet to win a title, let alone make multiple defenses, make a significant more amount of money for a fight than you, do you get frustrated at all?
It’s very frustrating. I see all these guys making a lot more money than I am making. I still have to work a full time job. Truthfully I feel like I should be getting paid a lot more money than what I’m getting paid. This is my third world title fight and I don’t feel like I’m getting shit.
You were the frontrunner for ‘Upset of the Year’ until Ruiz beat Joshua. Obviously that was a much more high profile fight but Ruiz wasn’t working a full time job and he had already fought for and almost won a world title. With that said, do you think you deserve it?
Yes but I see why they would give it to Andy Ruiz. The first Mexican American world champion. Andy Ruiz definitely shocked the world but so did I. For him to get ‘Upset of the Year’, I think he has to go in there and beat Anthony Joshua in the rematch. I beat Alberto Machado in the rematch and proved the upset was no fluke. He’s gotta go in there and do the same thing. Then I think I would be happy with him getting that recognition because he is the first Mexican American Heavyweight World Champion.
You once said your biggest dream was to become a world champion. You dream came true. What’s your dream now?
To unify. Grab as many belts as I can and if possible move up in weight and grab another belt in a new division. First and foremost I just wanted to be a world champion but now that I’ve done that it’s like, ‘Wow. I can get here? Ok. Now I want to get there!’. You always want more. It’s just human nature.
What advice would you give to someone who is on the verge of quitting or giving up on their dream?
Don’t quit. If you feel you got it, go for it. Because you’ll never know unless you try. I could of easily not come back but then I never would have have been a world champion. Something inside told me to come back. For those of you that are out there and feel like giving up on something… don’t quit.
Last question. You wake up in the morning when it’s still dark and run, then you work a grueling full time job that you have to commute back and forth to, then you have to head directly to the gym for an intense physical workout, then you have to go home and be a dad. Is it safe to say you’re the most exhausted professional athlete in the world?
Fight Club Faves w/ Andrew Cancio
Cinderella Man. It’s a masterpiece. Russell Crowe. I love him as actor. I loved him in Gladiator as well but Cinderella Man, I just love that movie. The whole story. Kinda like me. I was retired. He came out of retirement. Won the title. Bought a house for his family. He just did it for his family. And course you can never go wrong with the Rocky movies.
The original where he got a chance to fight for the world title against Apollo Creed. I love everything about that movie. To this day whenever it’s on TV, even though I own all the Rocky movies, I just instantly start watching it.
All Time Fighter?
I love Marco Antonio Barrera. Always been a big, die hard fan of his. Also Juan Manuel Marquez.
Would have to be Manny Pacquiao. He’s always fought the best. He beat the best. He’s still in the game right now. As long as he’s still fighting he’s my favorite current fighter.
I really like Jimmy Lennon Jr.. I love his voice.
I like the way Beto Duran calls fights. I like the way Andre Ward does it. I love the way Timothy Bradley does it as well.
In football, it would be Dallas Cowboys. In baseball, Los Angeles Angels.
Eminem. I grew up with him. I still like him to this day. Lot of great songs still.
Pizza. I never get tired of it. I can always go for a slice of pizza.
In the world? That’s a tough one. Ojai Pizza Company that place has good pizza. Numero Uno Pizzeria too.
Contenders! I was wearing them before I won the title, when I won the title and now as a champion. In fact I’m rocking them right now. (Laughs.)
Watch Andrew Cancio vs. Rene Alvarado II this Saturday, November 23, 2019 live on DAZN.
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