By: Nick Skok of NoSparring.com

Sonny Liston once said “My punches are just as hard in Chicago as in New York.” The same held true in Alex Saucedo’s case in 2017 as he picked up wins in both New York City and Chicago with the former being by way of a second round TKO in March. Ranked #3 by the WBO and #4 by the WBA, the super lightweight netted his third win of the year this past November, this time hitting the warmer confines of the west coast on an ESPN undercard in Fresno.

With the super lightweight division up for grabs after his Top Rank stablemate Terence Crawford vacated all four of his championship belts, the 23 year old Saucedo is ready to take advantage of the recent power vacuum. At 5’10, the undefeated boxer (26-0 16 KOs) has the height to intimidate, coming in on par with former champion’s Julius Indongo and Ricky Burns, though it’s his reach (72″) that outmatches the competition, including current IBF champion Sergey Lipinets (67″). With the size, Saucedo just needs the technique. That’s where Abel Sanchez comes in.

Far from the prairie landscapes of Oklahoma where Saucedo calls home and stays in shape year-round, Big Bear, California is where you’ll find him during training camps. It’s there his footwork was critiqued and eventually showcased more so in his last fight. His opponent, a pesky Argentine named Gustavo Vittori, had speed and movements that forced Saucedo to be more intelligent with his approach compared to how he stalked down and dominated Johnny Garcia last March.

As Abel Sanchez teaches Saucedo to hone his power in combination with his reach, the difference maker in his fights will only become more be evident. In the Garcia fight for example, it only took a left jab to initially send Garcia to the canvas. Against Vittori as well, Saucedo’s left paid dividends. Both fighter’s were punished as they stayed wary of his right and they got stuck with surprising power shots from the opposite side. He used a left uppercut routinely that, combined with his height against the shorter competition, found a home on their chins consistently, even as they stood straight up. Again his length allowed him to keep his distance while he threatened them with his overhand right. Neither guy had answers and were dispatched quickly.

After putting together three wins last year, his manager Sam Katkovski assured me the busy schedule would continue in 2018 (echoing Bob Arum’s desire to keep his fighters active) with another three fights being eyed, including a title shot.

Terry Flanagan is more than likely going to face Maurice Hooker for the vacant WBO strap, effectively moving Saucedo to numero uno in the rankings should he win his next bout. “We would definitely love to fight the winner…” Katkovski explained. But is that the guy Saucedo is visualizing when he’s hitting the heavy bag? “We would love to fight Jose Ramirez…” “…[it] would be fireworks.”

It just so happens Ramirez is getting a title shot of his own on March 17th against Amir Imam for the vacant WBC belt. Adding to the intrigue, Ramirez is also promoted by Top Rank, removing any political barriers and giving Ramirez a solid first defense option, should he be successful in realizing a dream of his own in becoming champion.

But would Top Rank be willing to match their two young stars together? Top Rank matchmaker Brad Goodman told me: “most definitely”.

We haven’t yet seen Saucedo use all the tools he’s surely been given from Sanchez and that’s a scary prospect for potential opponents, considering what he’s already accomplished. The young veteran, who sparred with Manny Pacquiao at the age of 17, has all the makings of a champion. That’s not surprising when you consider the wealth of young talent currently on Top Rank’s roster, though this guy has the goods ready for a run at the title today.

Stay tuned for more Saucedo updates at @NoSparring on Twitter

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