Southern California is a breeding ground of fighters. Not pure boxers, fighters. The kind of fighters who get hit and instinctively know only one response, hit back and hit hard. Undefeated titleholder Randy Caballero (22-0, 13 KOs), a 24-year-old Coachella Valley native, is the latest in a long line of spirited fighters from SoCal. His boxing pedigree stems from his father Marcos Caballero, who was born in Nicaragua and extends down to his younger brothers Ryan (20) and Rommel (15).
Caballero won his title from Stuart Hall (16-4-2, 7 KOs) this past October in a battle that saw Hall on the canvas in the second round after being stunned with a jab. The rest of the fight was held in a phone booth with both men ripping shots to the head and body. Going down the stretch Caballero relied more on his ring generalship and movement while Hall tried to bull his man to the ropes and swinging wildly with wide shots. Hall huffed and puffed but could not blow away the “Matador” who took as much as he gave in a close contest.
In the end Caballero got the nod and the IBF bantamweight title that he looks forward to defending in front of a hometown crowd at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio California, where Caballero has previously fought 12 times and won five by knockout.
“This is a night I’ve dreamed about for a long time, and I always said that the only thing better than winning a world title at home would be defending it there. I’m going to be tough and impress my fans at Fantasy Springs,” Caballero said according to an article on ESPN.
The match is set for February 27 against Alberto Guevara (18-2, 6 KO), a title challenger in two of his past four fights including a unanimous decision loss to Leo Santa Cruz at the end of 2012.
Guevara is a light puncher, his most recent knockout being a loss in November of 2013, at the hands of Shinsuke Yamanaka (22-0-2, 16 KOs). In the last two years Guevara has fought three times in 2013 and took all of 2014 off. His run in 2013 includes one win at super bantamweight against a journeyman fighter, a unanimous decision over then unbeaten Jonathan Vidal (18-3, 10 KOs) at bantamweight and the knockout loss to Yamanaka to end the year. His last knockout win was in 2011 against Ricardo Armenta (19-21, 9 KOs), the last fighter he fought with a losing record.
Guevara is an ideal opponent for a homecoming show that Caballero hopes to put on in front of his hometown fans. Stuart Hall is by far the best fighter Caballero has swapped fists with and there are plenty who wouldn’t mind a rematch.
Because of his Nicaraguan decent, many see him as a future star from a country that has already produced greats like Rosendo Alvarez, current flyweight titleholder Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, and legend Alexis Arguello. Caballero is not the first Nicaraguan to dawn the nickname, “El Matador,” carrying the torch from Ricardo Mayorga who was as much as a wildman inside the ring as he was out of it.
Still there are those who suspect Caballero’s record has been padded and that he has been protected. Caballero’s opposition and undefeated record may be questioned but no one can question his heart and fan-friendly style. He throws punches in bunches and often tries to outscore his opponent, a technique picked up in the amateurs no doubt thanks to an extensive amateur background (over 170 fights). He likes to stand and trade, occasionally moving along the ropes to reposition himself, or bait his opponent into a trap.
There are those in boxing that believe in an undefeated record. They feel it makes the fighter dominant and that it makes the fighter money, but Caballero’s spirit, not his record, will make him loved and many await his return and are looking forward to his following him in the future.