|Interview with Francisco “Wizard” Palacios - “Puerto Rico’s” Coming Champion!
Interview by Ken Hissner, Doghouse Boxing (Sept 14, 2009)
Back in August of 2007 I was watching ESPN2 and they introduced a fighter I was not familiar with named Francisco “Wizard” Palacios out of Puerto Rico. He was 11-0 (5) and brought in on 5 days notice for his first 8 rounder against the much more experienced Louis Azille, 19-3-2 (15) of the Dominican Republic. I along with other viewers were in shock how Palacios showed such style and flare as he handled Azille until into the 6th round when the referee signaled enough!
A new star in the cruiserweight division arrived! The fight was in Hollywood, Florida, and Don King was impressed enough to sign him after this fight! “I had been training for jujutsu and considering retiring from boxing when I got the call about this fight,” said Palacios. I was working on a story about his former school, Northern Michigan University (two-time NCBA champ at Lock Haven, Chuck Mussachio gave me his number) where he was a bronze medalist in the US Nationals in 2003 along with teammates Tim Bradley, Dat Nguyen, Chad Aquino and Roberto Benitez (silver). Palacios was also a silver winner in the US Challenge tournament that year. “I had been a basketball player in 2000 at school when I went to a gym to lose weight and enjoyed hitting guys. I was 56-14 as an amateur, said Palacios.
In March of 2004 while living between Bayamon, Puerto Rico, and Orlando, Palacios would win his first 3 fights by knockout including Edgardo Santos, a friend, and brother of WBA light middleweight champion, Daniel. “We grew up together and here we were opposing one another,” said Palacios. Santos had a win and draw with tough Willie Herring but was no match for Palacios getting stopped in the 4th round. Back to back wins over two unbeaten boxers Andrey Ivanov and Edwin Adams would follow. Then he posted a win over a veteran of 35 fights in Cliff Nellon. Things looked good winning all his 6 fights that first year but a 10 month lay-off would follow. He beat another unbeaten boxer in Puerto Rico’s Olympian Joel Colon in October of 2005. Next he stopped John Turlington and again would go through an inactive period of 9 months without a fight.
Palacios obtained 2 new cornermen in Josue Aguilar and Gil Maldonado. He would defeat the former All Army champ Carlos Raul Ibarra. “I had lost to him in the amateurs when I hurt my hand in the 1st round of our bout. It ended 10-10 but he had landed 3 more punches and got the victory,” said Palacios. He would only have 2 more fights over the next year, winning both before getting the call to fight Azille.
“After signing with King, I was sparring with former champion Jean Mormeck in France where he was fighting David Haye,” said Palacios. I told him that is how Steve “USS” Cunningham, the former IBF champion got started as a sparring partner for Mormeck. On the undercard he would stop Frenchman Andrey Zaitsev. Next up would be spoiler Zack Page in March of 2008 while winning an 8 rounder. “I had to lose 12 pounds for this fight, and fell behind early but he faded in the late rounds and I took the decision. This has been my toughest fight to date” he added.
In June of 2008 on a card in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where a sparring partner of his (in Florida) Jason Gavern was originally from, fought a draw with Page, Palacios stopped journeyman Harvey Jolly in the 3rd round. Up next would be a fight for the WBA Fedelatin cruiserweight title against one time title challenger Luis Andres Pineda, 21-7 (18) of Panama in Panama City. This fight vaulted him into the WBA and WBC ratings in scoring a 2nd round knockout.
In February of this year Palacios was matched with former contender Lawrence Chapman, 19-5-2 (13) who was coming off a split decision loss in Germany to knockout artist Santander Silgado. Palacios was the winner in 2:58 of the 1st round. In his last fight he stopped the veteran Manu Ntoh, of Cameroon, in 2:59 of the 1st round. Both fights were at the Bank Atlantic Center, in Sunrise, Florida. These fights have helped Palacios move into the #3 spot in both the WBA and WBC ratings. With the WBA champion Guillermo Jones scheduled for a defense against #1 Valery Brudov of Russia, on October 24th in France that should move Palacios into the #2 spot. His current record is 18-0 (11).
I asked him about his time at Northern Michigan University. “It was good and hard, but cold, especially being from Puerto Rico. I got along with everyone like family. I was the oldest but the newest member,” said Palacios. I asked him how he gets up for a fight because he seemed like such a nice person to talk to. “My brother El Zurdo (southpaw) would tell me someone slapped mommy to get me worked up so I am a beast in the ring. He died in 2004 and I dedicate my fights to him. I pray every day, all the time to my Lord and Savior,” added Palacios. I would warn WBA champ Jones and WBC champ Giacobbe Fragomeni not to make any remarks about the mother of Palacios or it might be a short night for both!
e-mail Ken at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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