One on One with Orlando Canizales
By Orlando Rios, Jr. (April 17, 2004)
To some, he might have just another boxer, another champ, a face amongst many. But to the City of Laredo, TX, he was more. He was a champ, their champ. Orlando Canizales grew up in the city of Laredo, deep in the heart of South Texas and got into boxing through his older brother Gaby Canizales. Gaby himself went on to hold the WBA and WBC Bantamweight titles.
In his first professional bout, which took place in the parking lot of a mall, Orlando was on the under-card to his brother Gaby, who was defending his USBA bantamweight title Vs. Kelvin Seabrooks. Almost 4 years later, Orlando himself fought Kelvin Seabrook, knocking Seabrooks out in the 15th round to become the IBF bantamweight champion. Orlando successfully defended his bantamweight title 16 consecutive times, from 1988 until 1995, when he relinquished his belt and moved up to challenge Wilfredo Vasquez for the WBA Super Bantamweight title. The bout was Orlando's first on HBO. Orlando moved up to 122 lbs and 126 before retiring in 1999.
Orlando fought the likes of Wilfredo Vasquez, Junior Jones, who defeated Marco Antonio Barrera twice, Bones Adams, Bill Hardy, Paul Gonzales, Sergio Reyes, and Kelvin Seabrooks twice. The Canizales-Junior Jones bout was on the under card to the Arturo Gatti-Wilson Rodriguez war on HBO’s Boxing After Dark back in 1996.
Orlando’s Hall of Fame credentials include a record of 50 wins, 37 by knockout to only 5 losses, with 1 draw and 1 no contest. Orlando never lost by way of knockout, going the distance in all 5 of his losing contests. Orlando holds the all-time Bantamweight record for most consecutive successful title defenses with 16 and will be remembered, as one of the great bantamweight fighters of all time.
In May of 2003, Orlando graduated from Texas A&M International University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology.
I would like to thank Mr. Orlando Canizales for taking the time to partake in this interview.
DHB (DogHouseBoxing) :Orlando, in your first professional fight back in 1984, you were on the under-card to your brother Gaby, who was fighting Kelvin Seabrooks. Your brother won that fight and defended his USBA bantamweight title, and 4 years later, you defeated Seabrooks for the IBF bantamweight title, and again defeated Seabrooks in 1989 to defend the IBF bantamweight title. What was it like knowing that both you and your brother defeated Kelvin Seabrooks for the bantamweight titles?
It’s unheard of when two brothers fight the same pugilist. My brother fought Seabrooks, and I never imagined that I would fight him, ever, and much less for a world title fight. It was an opportunity that came when I won the United States Boxing Association title. Seabrooks had just defended his IBF Bantamweight title in Europe for the third time when boxing promoter and my manager arranged a fight with him which I took the opportunity to be a champion. I never thought of my brother and Seabrooks fight, for me it was an opportunity of a lifetime.
DHB: You and Gaby both held world titles in the same division at the same time. Gaby was the WBO Champion and you were the IBF Champion. Who would have won in a brother on brother bout, you or Gaby and did you ever spar with each other?
Gaby and I sparred a thousand times, but we would help each other out to prepare for upcoming fights. I respect my elders, and my brothers, I don’t think that we would ever gotten into the same ring, not even for a million dollars, and I think he feels the same way. As, who would of won, I don’t think anyone.
DHB: Being a world champion, you have to have met up with other world champion fighters. Which other famous fighters have you met and which ones had an impact on you?
I had the pleasure of meeting well known champions, such as Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Julio Cesar Chavez, Evander Holyfield, and many others.
DHB: What is your favorite boxing moment both inside and outside the ring?
The best moment has to be when I won the IBF title in 1988, well actually, I have another one, is when I broke the record for consecutive title defenses.
DHB: Do you still follow boxing?
I still do once in a while, when big title fights are shown on pay-per-view.
DHB: What was your take on the controversial decision between Oscar De La Hoya and Shane Mosley and who do you think won?
I thought that De la Hoya won the fight, but when a fight of this magnitude happens, and a lot of millions of dollars are in the mix, such things happen.
DHB: What do you mean by things happen? You think the fight was fixed? Why do you think fans and boxing writers have two very different variations of that fight?
What I meant is that most of the time, promoters are the one that hire the judges, and sometimes, not all the time, but if a fight is close, judges tend to make it interesting, not that it was fix, but promoters, are very influential, because if judges don’t score the bout at least a close one, judges won’t get hired again by that promoter. Judges get paid, in the thousands for one night, so, this is what I mean, that sometimes to make it another fight, like a rematch, that’s why there are a lot of controversial fights, so that there is one more fight and a lot more money.
DHB: Which fighters do you admire or like today and which fighter or fighters do you think closely resembles you?
I admire, Roy Jones, and Mayweather, Jr. they have tremendous talent. As far as who resembles me, I can’t name a fighter yet.
DHB: Your first shot into the Boxing Hall of Fame is coming up in 2005. How do you feel about your chances in getting into the HOF and what will it mean to you knowing that forever you will be enshrined as a Hall of Fame boxer?
I am really looking for to it, its coming soon. It’s an honor, to be enshrined as a member, because not many pugilists get to that point. Never in my dreams, when I was real young thought of being a world champion, much less to be inducted to the boxing Hall of Fame.
DHB: What was it like fighting on HBO, knowing that millions of fans everywhere and everybody in your hometown was watching?
It was an opportunity of a lifetime that I let slip of my hands, I regret that day, and the training I did prior to the fight. It was exciting knowing that I was the main event, and fighting for another chance of becoming world champion in another weight class.
DHB: Have all the things you accomplished inside the ring set in yet? Do you ever look back and say I can’t believe I was a World Champion fighter?
Time flies, and my children don’t let me breath, but maybe sometime I will sit down and think of the good times and the bad times I had in the sport, and go back to some moments, just to think of what I accomplished.
DHB: I heard that they were supposed to put up a sign as you entered into Laredo that was to mark Laredo as being home to two world champion boxing brothers. What ever happened to the sign and would you like to see the sign go up as a way for the city to show its appreciation towards the notoriety that you and you brought it?
I heard that the sign should be there by now, but I don’t think that it will ever happen. Its okay, I am not sour about it, I did what I want to do, and represent my hometown, my people, and family with great pride. If one day they put it up, it’s okay, and if not, it’s ok, too.
DHB: What advice do you give to kids who are looking to one day become a world champion like yourself?
The advice I give the kids, is that it take dedication, discipline, and determination to be a champion. Everything is possible if they put their mind into it and put that extra effort.
DHB: Are you satisfied with the way our boxing career went?
I am satisfied to some extent, but I think that I could have done a lot more, and the latter part of my career, but overall, I guess I am satisfied.
DHB: Tell me a little bit about your final bout. What was running through your mind and did you know that your bout versus Frank Toledo was going to be your final bout? How did you know when it was time to "hang up the gloves"?
As for my last bout, I did not know it would be my last fight. I wanted to fight a farewell fight in Laredo, but things just did not go as plan, and I decided to retire. I was just burned out, doing it for so long, I decided to retire.
DHB: How would you like to be remembered inside the ring?
I would like to be remembered as one of the greatest bantamweights, of all time, and that there is more to me than just boxing. I enjoy working with the youth because they are our future, and it is very important to teach them the right path to success.
DHB: In closing Orlando, any comments?
I would like to thank you for thinking of me. It’s a pleasure, doing this, and enjoyed, answering very good questions that you wrote. Thank you and take care, Orlando.
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