Andrew Cancio talks finally getting the respect he’s been looking for

For his first two-fight weeks of 2019, Andrew Cancio continued to work his full-time job at a gas company in Oxnard, Calif. But as he heads into his WBA (regular) junior lightweight title bout when he meets Rene Alvarado in a rematch on DAZN, Cancio is doing things a bit differently.

“This is the first time that I’m actually taking the whole fight week off,” Cancio told Sporting News. “Usually, I try to plan my days off and save my vacation time. But I don’t have any more vacation time left, so all of this is without pay. I’m fine with it. Every time I go through a big fight week, I’m like, ‘Man, I should have taken the entire week off.’ I know I should relax and get my rest.

“The more I’m fighting now, the bigger the stakes are getting. There’s no need to juggle two things right now, especially when I’m going to be making pretty decent money for this fight. Now, I have to get this job done on Saturday, and I want to be well-rested and have my body prepared for it.”

When the calendar flipped to this past January, Cancio was a virtual unknown in the sport of boxing. Going into his February bout with Alberto Machado, the sentiment had been it would a walk in the park for the heralded prospect. 

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But in boxing, anything can happen. After a shaky first round, Cancio blasted through Machado in four rounds to win the title. Then in June, the 31-year-old proved he was for real when he stopped Machado one round earlier. Cancio felt proud that he could quiet those naysayers and finally get the respect from the boxing community and prove he’s one of the best in the world at 130 pounds.

“I’m glad that Alberto Machado exercised his rematch clause and fought me right away,” Cancio told Sporting News. “It was a chance for me to showcase my skills. Even though the first fight went four rounds, I had plenty of nerves in the back, and with the electric atmosphere in the arena, I was able to harness all of that and learn from it and settle down in the second fight and just go out and execute in a much better fashion. It showcased everything about me and what I have. I’m here to stay. Now, I got to continue to showcase my skills every time I fight and show people why I’m a world champion.”

From the outside, the respect appeared to dwindle a bit when the WBA mandated a title bout happening on Saturday between Leo Santa Cruz and Miguel Flores for the “super” title instead of bumping up Cancio to that status.

“I wasn’t even given a reason,” Cancio said on the sanctioning body, not notifying him of not getting elevated. “I know Alberto Machado was a ‘super’ champion until they took it away from him and demoted him to “regular” champion and made “Tank” the ‘super’ champion. I know he was supposed to have a meeting with the WBA, but the WBA never gave him the opportunity.

“Then, when I beat him, the talk didn’t need to happen anymore. Here’s Leo Santa Cruz, a champion in another weight division, and he gets to fight for the “super” championship. I don’t know why it wasn’t ordered then for him to fight me or elevate me up and make him fight for my current belt, and then we could meet up in the future. But you know how this game is. It’s politics and money. If Leo Santa Cruz fights Flores for that and calls himself a four-division world champion then that’s on him. He knows damn well he should have faced me. I’m the real 130-pound world champion. He didn’t want to fight me because he knows that I’m a very tough fight for him.”

Even with the blip of apparent disrespect from the WBA, Cancio (21-4, 16 KOs) is brushing it off knowing that another highlight-reel victory would cap off a year for the ages and give him the all-important momentum rolling into 2020. 

“It would mean the world to me,” Cancio said. “To end this year as a world champion and hopefully with a good victory, it would mean a lot to me because I have goals. And one of them is to go into the holidays and ending the year as a world champion. Because then I secure myself another big fight, which means another good payday.” 

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