Once-beaten junior welterweight headlines first show tomorrow night in Las Vegas.
Jose Miguel Borrego winced from the pain shooting through his right leg in the second round. He had twisted his knee and tore the meniscus while aggressively chasing an elusive Juan Heraldez on August 26, 2017.
Borrego, 19, fought through the agony to wobble Heraldez with a pinpoint left cross in the seventh round and floored him in the ninth with another.
“Because I hurt my knee, I couldn’t sit down on my punches from the right angles to finish him off,” said Borrego, a southpaw from of Aguascalientes, Mexico. “But the fans didn’t know about my knee since I didn’t complain. I was too motivated to battle through it and energized to give it my all, show my skills and go for the knockout."
But a dazed Heraldez hung on for an unpopular 10-round unanimous decision at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas that night on the undercard of Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor match.
“Being on boxing’s biggest stage of that Floyd Mayweather fight, I really wanted to leave an impression on the fans. I was happy everyone booed the decision, meaning I won the crowd,” said Borrego.
“I entertained the audience and they liked what I showed them, but I know I need to work more on cutting off the ring and throwing a variety of combinations. But considering that was my first big opportunity on a show with the magnitude of Floyd Mayweather, my overall performance proved I’m heading in the right direction.”
Borrego (14-1, 13 KOs) rebound from that knee injury and subsequent surgery with a fourth-round TKO victory over Carlos Winston Velasquez in May. And now he returns to Las Vegas for his first-ever main event tomorrow night when he faces Cameron Krael (13-13-3, 3 KOs) in a 144-pound bout at Sam’s Town Hotel and Gambling Hall.
“I was out for nine months after the loss, but I've rehabbed, gone back to the drawing board and made progress, generally improving my boxing IQ,” said Borrego, who has been co-trained by Marc Farrait and Asa Beard at The Plant City Gym in Tampa, Florida.
“I don’t think that I put it all together like I wanted to in my last fight, but I thank God that it ended the way it ended. I’ve turned all of that adversity into a positive for this next fight. You’re going to see a new and improved Jose Miguel Borrego.”
No stranger to fighting in hostile territory, Borrego scored a fourth-round KO victory over hometown favorite Kevin Watts of Lancaster, California at The Pioneer Event Center.
Borrego’s idol is four-division champion Juan Manuel Marquez, known for going 1-2-1 with-eight division champion Manny Pacquiao. Marquez left Pacquiao face down and out cold in the sixth round of their final clash in December 2012.
“I love how Marquez overcame Manny Pacquiao,” said Borego. “Marquez demonstrated the heart and soul to rise from three knockdowns in the first fight, and closed out the series with the heart of a champion in his last fight. I try to [emulate] everything about Marquez, from his attacking skills to the way he pressures, his defense and his [punch selection.]”
Krael’s been stopped once, losing on an eighth-round TKO to 147-pound contender Jamal James in 2014. Krael is comfortable at Sam’s Town in Las Vegas. He lost a split decision to Erick Bone in May, which ended his run of 5-0-1 with two knockouts.
“Krael’s is a sharpshooter with a very good motor,” said Farrait. “So we’re looking for Jose to have a balanced jab, better defense and the ability to cut off the ring, all of which would be an improvement over the fight with Heraldez.”
Borrego has been studying Krael and isn’t underestimating him.
“Krael’s record is deceiving. So I’ve been watching his wins and his most difficult fights, looking for loopholes. I’m going to be right there to fight him with no running," said Borrego. "I'll absolutely be at my best. If I can see an opportunity to get the knockout, I’m definitely going for it. If I do all I’m expecting to do, I expect to get that knockout."
For a closer look at Jose Miguel Borrego, check out his fighter page.
- Jose Miguel Borrego