There’s plenty at stake on Saturday night’s Showtime boxing card for welterweights Andre Berto and Shawn Porter. And Jermell Charlo’s junior-middleweight title defense against Charles Hatley is an important test.
But it’s the emergency replacement appearance of Southern Californian John Delperdang on the Showtime Extreme television opener from New York’s Barclays Center that truly underlines the consequences of a boxing match.
“Everything rides on this fight. Everything,” Delperdang, of Ontario, told the Los Angeles Times in a Friday telephone interview. “I never know if I’ll ever get a chance like this again. This is my opportunity. I have to win this fight.”
Delperdang (10-2, nine knockouts) was alerted Tuesday that there was an opening to fight Mexican lightweight Jose Miguel Borrego (11-0, 10 KOs) in a bout that starts at 4:30 p.m. Pacific.
Delperdang, who lost to Hank Lundy in Cincinnati on Dec. 30, has fought mostly in Mexico since he rose from sleeping at Ontario’s D Street Park in November 2014, less than four months from his release from prison on a conviction for evading police, assault with a deadly weapon and driving under the influence.
“I didn’t think I’d do anything with my life,” Delperdang said. “My whole childhood was spent in juvenile homes, group homes, then county [jail], then prison. I didn’t have aspirations for nothing.”
Across the street from D Street Park, Delperdang found Bernie Valenzuela inside Ontario’s strip-mall Crossroads Boxing Gym, where Valenzuela inspired Delperdang with the opportunity to train, get off the street and consider Bible scripture.
“If it wasn’t for boxing, and if I hadn’t met Bernie Valenzuela, I would be in prison right now,” Delperdang, 24, said. “I was bad. On narcotics. Just a fool. A dumb, misguided young man. And [Valenzuela] helped turn me into the man I am today. All I want to do now is fight.”
It helped that Delperdang watched a documentary on Manny Pacquiao during his time at Crossroads. He learned that Pacquiao kept himself in fighting condition at all times earlier in his career. That helped Pacquiao land a late assignment to fight super-bantamweight champion Lehlo Ledwaba, a bout Pacquiao won by technical knockout.
“If I knock [Borrego] out on national TV — I’ve only had one man [Valenzuela] take an interest in me, so this is going to make my career,” Delperdang said. “If I’m successful, there’s going to be a million other kids in America who can see that just because you had a bad upbringing, and just because no one cared about you as a child, that doesn’t matter.
“This has opened my own eyes to that. I’m here in New York City getting ready to fight on national television. I’m so amazed.”