Based on his frequent flyer miles, undefeated middleweight prospect Michael “The Brazilian Rocky” Oliveira may be boxing’s new “Road Warrior.”
Oliveira (16-0, 12 KOs), rated No. 14 by the World Boxing Council (“WBC”), makes his Canadian boxing debut Saturday night (Feb. 11) against Sergei “Baltic King” Melis (18-7, 7 KOs) in an eight-round Special Middleweight Attraction at Hershey Centre in Mississauga, Ontario. The card is presented by United Promotions in association with Hennessy Sports.
The 21-year-old Brazilian, who lives in Miami, will be fighting in his third different country for his third straight fight. Last July, Michael traveled back to where he was born to knock out Jose Soto in Sao Paulo, Brazil (8142 round trip), followed by his eighth-round win by disqualification against Xavier Toliver in El, Paso, Texas (3286 round trip) in his ShoBox debut this past November. Add the distance to and from Toronto this week (3286 round trip), throw in a drive from his house to the Miami Airport and back, and he’s traveled approximately 15,000 for these three fights.
“I’d fight on the moon if helped my career,” Oliveira said. “Seriously, though, to accomplish my ultimate goal of becoming world champion, I want to fight all around the world, especially where there are friendly Brazilians in the stands. To me, that’s what a true world champion is, not somebody who fights in the comfort zone of their hometown. My job is to train and fight. My team tells me where and who I’m fighting. They have my best interests at heart.”
Oliveira’s head trainer, Orlando Cueller, who for many years has trained the real “Road Warrior,” former IBF light heavyweight champion “Gentleman” Glen Johnson, really knows better and appreciates more than anybody what it truly takes to travel and fight well.
“Traveling from country to country isn’t part of our strategy,” Cueller explained the Team Oliveira travel agency, “but that’s what has been presented to us. We’re winning and getting calls from all over the place to fight. Carlos (Oliveira, Michael’s father/promoter) works on deals and we fight. We’re all having fun traveling and it’s been a great learning experience. Brazilians live all over the world and Michael is creating an international fan-base.
“Fighting on the road is often easier than at home with friends and family around because calls keep coming and there are other distractions. Fighting away from home means far less distractions and all of us are able to focus better. Michael’s very polite and accommodating but fighting at home does take away from some of his focus. When he’s away, everything is about fighting.”
Michael is a two-time defending Brazilian International Press Award’s Athlete of the Year (2009 and 2010) and a strong candidate for 2011 honors against the likes of UFC star Anderson Silva.
Saturday’s show in Mississauga is headlined by unbeaten welterweight Samuel Vargas (8-0-1, 2 KOs), a native of Colombia living in Mississauga, versus former Canadian light welterweight champion Manolis Plaitis (17-1-1, 8 KOs), of Quebec, in a 10-rounder for the vacant Canadian welterweight title. The popular Vargas is coming off of the 2011 Canadian Fight of the Year, in which he battled Quebec arch-rival Ahmad Cheikho, who was unable to continue fighting after five of the scheduled 10 rounds last October.
Local fan-favorite Brandon “Bad Boy” Cook (4-0, 2 KOs) faces upset-minded middleweight Chris Aucoin (4-5-1) in the six-round co-feature.
Also fighting on the undercard is unbeaten Kitchener cruiserweight prospect Denton Daley (4-0, 2 KOs) versus former Mexican National Boxing Team invader Benito “El Asesio” Quiroz (6-1, 6 KOs) in a six-round bout, as well as pro-debuting Hamilton lightweight Steve Wilcox vs. TBA in a four-round bout.
Whitby super middleweight Phil “The Assassin” Rose (3-1-1, 3 KOs) will be in action vs. Coteau-du-Lac’s cagey Francis Lafreniere (1-2-1, 1 KOs), along with undefeated Toronto prospect Ibrahim “Firearm” Kamal (6-0, 5 KOs) vs. Danish lightweight Tommi Schmidt (6-4, 3 KOs).