The last time junior welterweight Adrian Granados fought on television, the 25-year-old was involved in a firefight. Appearing in front of his hometown city of Chicago outdoors at U.S. Cellular Field, Granados overcame two knockdowns where he was badly hurt to stop Mark Salser in the 6th round.
It was exactly the type of fight a young boxer needed to capture the attention of those watching in the crowd and on ESPN’s “Friday Night Fights.”
That was nearly 15 months ago. Since then, Granados’ career was derailed in a contract dispute with his former promoter Dominic Pesoli of 8 Count Promotions. Granados would have a tune up-fight in December of 2013 before sitting on the shelf for 11 months.
But Granados’ return to a professional ring is about to happen, and with no soft touch either.
Granados will end his inactivity Friday at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tulsa, Okla. against Felix Diaz, the undefeated Dominican welterweight who won a gold medal for his country in 2008.
“I’m very excited and anxious to get back in the ring,” Granados, who is now a promotional free agent, said. “Diaz has the amateur experience and a gold medal behind him. I know he’s the A-side, but I give myself a good chance. I feel very confident in pulling off an upset.”
The decision for Granados to take this fight wasn’t easy. For months throughout his contract dispute with 8 Count, Granados went to various people in the boxing industry to ask advice. Granados said the majority of them told him to take tune-ups to work his way up the ladder.
But it’s one thing to say it and another thing to do it. The only offers Granados said he received were tougher fights that he wasn’t ready for. At a certain point, Granados and his team made up their mind — he wanted to get back into the ring.
Diaz’s representatives approached Granados’ trainer George Hernandez seven weeks out and offered Granados the fight. The fight would be televised by BeIn Sports and for the WBC FECARBOX title, a trinket that could get Granados ranked in the sanctioning body circuit.
When Hernandez approached Granados, he was in.
“We figured that we don’t have time to waste and that it would be great to come back into the game with a bang,” Granados said. “I actually quit my job that I was working. I was working as a vale and a chauffer. I let go of my jobs and focused on the training.”
Throughout his career, Granados has gone with a high risk-high reward mentality. In his ninth fight, Granados fought journeyman Lanardo Tyner to a draw in 2011. Just two fights later, Granados was then matched with the highly regarded Frankie Gomez. Granados went on to lose a majority decision, but acquitted himself well.
Hernandez, who has been with Granados throughout his career, said the Diaz fight is the type of fight that a 25-year-old needs. He said no one would notice Granados if he was fighting club shows for $200 a round against lesser-known opponents.
“It’s a bonus for your career (when you can upset a gold medalist),” Hernandez said. “He wants to get back to where he was when he stopped Salser. Sometimes you think promoters are going to take you there … but sometimes you have to grab the horse by the reigns.
“I didn’t want this fight because he was a southpaw, but Adrian jumped it because he said it was the perfect fight,” he said.
Despite not having fought in 11 months, both Granados and Hernandez don’t think there’s going to be ring rust. The two have been working together in the gym even as Granados didn’t have a fight scheduled.
“I always had that itch, that I would be back sooner or later,” Granados said. “It got to a point where I couldn’t wait for anyone else to try and help me out. I figured ‘You know what? Let me stop messing around. If not, I’m going to be inactive forever.’
“I jumped at this fight and I believe we made the right decision,” he said. “Friday night is going to show that.”
Matthew Paras is a sports journalist based out of Chicago. Follow him on Twitter @Matthew_Paras or reach him at email@example.com.