3 More Rounds

Randy Caballero talks Kobe Hyogo and Stuart Hall

Photos: Tom Casino / Showtime

Photos: Tom Casino / Showtime

On April 4, 2014, bantamweight contender Randy Caballero traveled 5,355 miles to Kobe Hyogo, Japan for his 21st professional bout to fight Kohei Oba in what was billed as an IBF title eliminator bout, with the winner becoming a mandatory for current belt-holder Stuart Hall.

Cabellero spoke with 3MoreRounds about the experience.

Fighting in a well-lit arena, which was about as bright as a grocery store, as opposed to the usual darkened crowd and lit-up boxing ring, was something that Caballero noticed, but did not focus on.

“It was totally different, but it’s not about the arena, it’s about the ring,” said Caballero, (21-0, 13KO) a decorated amateur who was fighting internationally at the professional level for the first time in scoring a 1st round knockdown and eventual eight round stoppage of the hometown fighter.

The only familiar face around Caballero more than 5,000 miles away from his hometown were his corner, Golden Boy Promotions publicist Robert Diaz and California-based referee Jack Reiss, yet Caballero fought with confidence from round one and controlled the pace of the bout.  “Nobody thought I was going to stop him,” said the now #1 positioned fighter who is now looking for his first major title opportunity.

Upon being asked if he watched his performance, “I watched it the next day,” albeit through the assistance of his promoter, GBP, who provided him a copy of the match.

Although Caballero was on another continent, the California fighter noticed posters up of his image promoting the fight and received a strong welcome, as well as applause after the fight, from the Japanese boxing fans.

003 Caballero victory IMG_5277After scoring the ‘towel stoppage’ thrown from Oba’s corner, Caballero bowed to all four corners out of respect and as homage for the country, something he says he has not done since the amateurs.

Caballero spoke of his welcoming in Japan, and noticed the difference from just one fight removed when he fought in Sunrise, Florida, scoring a 7th round TKO over Jessy Cruz.

“When I was walking into the ring (in Florida) I heard boos. In Japan, it’s respectful. The people are really nice,” said Caballero, who had Japanese fans going up to him after the fight, and their admiration of him was not spoken due to the language barrier, yet Caballero could still feel their appreciation and congratulations pouring through their body language.

Caballero also received praise from his opponent, who communicated to him afterward that his dream was to become world champion, but now it’s going to be on Caballero, and Oba thinks Caballero will accomplish the dream the two of them shared.

Now sights are set on Stuart Hall of the United Kingdom, who is the current IBF bantamweight title holder. Stuart, (16-2, 7KO) won the vacant title by besting Vusi Malinga via unanimous decision in December 2013 and has since fought once, a second round draw scored after opponent Martin Ward suffered a cut above his right eye that required 15 stitches.

“He’s a tough guy, a world champion”, said Caballero, who also has a strong fan base in the UK. “(But) I’m ready, smart, strong and really hungry,” said the fighter who got his nickname ‘Matador’ from his home gym after a few names were kicked around. “It’s from the way I fight, the way I would bull opponents around.”

Hall has fought exclusively in the United Kingdom, and although Cabellero would “definitely travel” abroad again, the 23 year old would like to be a bit closer to home if the choice was his.

“I would love to have it at Fantasy Springs,” a venue in Indio, California where Caballero is the hometown hero and where he has fought 12 of his 21 professional fights.

Cabellero is leaving the negotiation up to his promoter, GBP, and is looking for Hall to accept the challenge and officially defend his title for the first time and not sit idle after a two-round draw in his first defense.

“I just hope he steps up and signs the contract.”

A homecoming fight on his turf for a title opportunity is what Caballero wants for the hometown fans who have supported him, but the ‘Matador’ has his passport ready, willing to travel another 5,000 miles if need be.

Now that’s the sign of a world champion.

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