Monday, September 22, 2008

Nino LaRocca vs Felipe Canela

By Randy De La O

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
By Randy De La O

Seeing these photos of Felipe Canela bring to mind the wisdom of Mel Epstein, and something I learned from him and applied after his death. Mel passed away in 1980. Sometime in 1980 and into 1981 I started training again at the Main Street Gym. It had been a few years for me. Larry Soto was my trainer now. Larry was Felipe's trainer. Felipe had turned pro earlier in the year and had about five or six fights by the time I met him.

Years before Mel would tell me how a fighter would come back to the gym after a long lay off. He would begin the long process of getting back in shape. On the first couple of days of sparring, his timing might be off, might be a little winded, might get hit a little more than usual, maybe a lot more. As the week wore on things might start picking up, the timing starts to come back, the wind is better and the fighter is not getting hit quite as much and his punches are landing with a little more snap, with a little more authority. Then with out realizing it everything starts to fall in place, the movement around the ring, the slipping punches, the timing, the feinting and the punches are now crisp and landing when and where you want them to and you are no longer getting winded. You are back in business.

This is what came to mind the first day Felipe and I sparred. He was pretty rough in the gym, as I would expect him to be. He had no qualms about using me as a punching bag, and he did. But I thought about what Mel had said and kept it at the forefront of my mind. I still remember the turn around. He threw several punches and most of them missed. I was slipping his punches now and countering with my own. I remember landing a several punch combination when he was on the ropes. It felt good. I got his attention and his respect. I was back in business, at least for the time being. Canela by the way was a true gentleman and he had a respectable career.


Mike Duffau said...

i like how you describe how a fighter comes back from a long lay off from the gym. i feel like that all the time when i take like a week off. my timing is all off and im sluggish. at least im not the only one.

Frank said...

Champ; that Randy's writing, not mine, hell I can't write like that, I sure wish I could though!

brian said...

Randy,you know you're fulla...just kiddin'..see,you're not too old to become a trainer..

Mike Duffau said...


Oops!!! Sorry, I was looking at the name of the one who posted it. I wasn't paying attention. I didn't notice Randy's name under the title...

Unknown said...

Felipe Canela is my father.

Randy De La O said...

Linda, thank you for contacting me. How is your father? I remember him well and your uncle Manuel too. Please tell him hello for me. It has been many years, he may or may not remember me. I have not seen him since 1981. Larry Soto was his trainer and mine for a short time.

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