Guillermo Sanchez hasn't fought in his adoptive hometown of Buffalo since November 2009, but in his first Western New York fight in 17 months he'll do something he hasn't done before in front of his people.
Headline a card.
Sanchez will be the star attraction in a main event for the first time during Friday night's Unfinished Business boxing card at the Hamburg Fairgrounds Event Center. Something that won't be different for the native of Puerto Rico -- he'll be fighting for a title in Western New York.
Sanchez (12-2-1, 5 KOs) will face Eddie Ramirez (6-6-1, 3 KOs) of San Antonio, Texas, for the World Boxing Council's Youth Lightweight championship belt.
The eight-rounder highlights the seven-fight card that features mostly Western New Yorkers in which Niagara Falls' Nick Casal (20-4-1, 15 KOs) will end a 17-month hiatus when he steps into the ring against journeyman Martin Tucker (7-8, 3 KOs).
Former state Golden Gloves champions Lionell Thompson (5-0, 3 KOs) and Excell Holmes (1-0-1, 1 KO) also will be in action in four-rounders, with the light heavyweight Thompson facing Angel Gonzalez (2-4, 2 KOs) of Yonkers a month after beating experienced journeyman Will Gill in Delaware. Holmes faces Montreal's Taffo Asongwed (0-6-6) in a heavyweight clash, while lightweight Jordan Gaines of Buffalo makes his debut against Philadelphia's John Dipolito (0-2).
Bryan Abraham (3-5-2) battles Jamell Tyson (0-1-1) at light welterweight, while Amanda Serrano (8-0-1) looks to remain undefeated when she faces Ela Nunez (9-8-1) of Jamestown in a rematch of a January bout Serrano won via unanimous decision. The two also battled to a draw in November 2009.
Tickets start at $25 and can be purchased at tickets.com, the Fairgrounds Event Center Office or at 648-9733 (ext. 413).
The last time Sanchez fought in the area, he won the New York State lightweight title at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. He still holds that title -- something only New York state residents are eligible for -- but he wants something that carries a little more weight in boxing circles to wear around his waist. While the WBC Youth belt is a minor title, it is a crown sanctioned by a major governing body in the sport, which means it would be a boost to Sanchez's career should he win it.
"This one is going to be important to me," Sanchez said. "I'm going to have my family come see me fight. There are going to be a lot of people there to see me fight. They are going to be excited and happy [to see me] fight for the youth title."
Sanchez is 1-2-1 since he last fought in WNY. He followed a technical draw against Carlos Claudio, who was supposed to be the main event foe for Sanchez until he pulled out last week, with not-so-good performances in losses to top prospects Dominic Salcido and Adrien Broner.
He spent more time striking a pose against Salcido than actually trying to strike him in losing via unanimous decision on the ESPN Friday Night Fights telecast last May. He followed that by being KO'd by Broner, who is ranked sixth in the world, in two rounds.
"My two losses, I didn't train hard. I wasn't running a lot. I wasn't sparring a lot," Sanchez said. "Now I'm doing everything right."
Sanchez seemingly righted the ship last November when he handed unbeaten prospect Rod Salka his first loss in 13 fights in Erie, Pa. Another win on Friday would be more tangible evidence that Sanchez is serious about making a name for himself in a blood sport that has chewed up many a fighter with dreams of becoming legends.
"This time I'm not going to be playing around," Sanchez said. "I'm going to take everything seriously. It's going to be [a different] Sanchez in the ring."
"It's a sanctioned organization title that will put him in position for a higher ranking," said Sanchez's manager Frank Santiago, the brother of event promoter Juan Santiago. "I think it should definitely boost him into the top 100 and improve his U.S. ranking."