September 23—By now, Albuquerque’s fighting Sanchez family — father and trainer Pepe, sons José Luís and Jason — know the script by heart.
Accept a fight against a top prospect, a fight that the promoter neither wants nor expects you to win.
Prepare fully, ad lib in the ring as best you can, and let ’em fall where they may.
“At the end of the day, it’s all the same once you’re in the ring,” José Luís Sanchez, far better known to family and friends as “Güero,” said Thursday on the eve of his eight-round welterweight bout in Newark, New Jersey on Friday against unbeaten prospect Jahi Tucker (5:30 pm, streaming at espn+). “It’s just you and your opponent.”
The bout is on the undercard of a junior lightweight world title fight between champion Shakur Stevenson and challenger Robson Conceicao.
Sanchez (11-2-1, four knockouts) was listed Thursday afternoon as anywhere from a 9-to-1 to 12-to-1 underdog. Tucker (8-0, five KOs), a flashy 19-year-old from Deer Park, New York, was a 2018 junior national amateur champion.
The Sanchezes, though, have beaten long odds before. Jason Sanchez, a prohibitive underdog against Top Rank contract fighter Jean Carlos Rivera, beat Rivera by unanimous decision in October 2018.
That upset victory led to a Top Rank contract, a world title shot and some good money for the younger Sanchez brother.
Of course, sometimes the ad libs don’t make the final cut. Last September, Güero Sanchez lost by lopsided unanimous decision to Xander Zayas, another prized Top Rank prospect, in Tucson.
He’s impressed with Tucker, Sanchez said in a phone interview from Newark, but — being a decade older than his opponent — hardly intimidated.
“He’s fast,” Sanchez said of Tucker. “He moves, but I feel like I’m stronger. So I’m gonna go in there and put on the pressure.
“… “It’s gonna be a good fight, a tough fight, but I feel like I’m gonna beat this guy.”
At 29, Sanchez said he feels no now-or-never pressure to win a fight that might secure him the main-event status he has yet to achieve and the big money he has yet to make.
The work has been done, he said. Now, “It’s just another fight. I am getting older, but I feel good. I feel I’m at my best right now.”
WEIGHTY ISSUES: Sanchez weighed in initially at 148.4 pounds on Thursday, then donned his shorts and weighed in again (screened from those in attendance) and weighed 148.2. Because the bout was contracted at 148 pounds, Sanchez was given two hours to lose the excess two-tenths.
Tucker weighed in at 147.8 pounds.
Sanchez’s weight issue was nothing, though, compared to Stevenson’s. The 2016 Olympic silver medalist weighed 131.6 pounds, 1.6 pounds over the junior lightweight limit, and was stripped of his WBC and WBO titles.
The fight will go on, with Conceicao eligible to capture both vacant title belts should he win.
Pro Boxing: Jose Luis Sanchez vs. Jahi Tucker, Prudential Center, Newark, NJ ESPN+ (streaming), 5:30 p.m