Nick Casal: "My Turn"Hot
Niagara Falls native Nick Casal (21-4-1, 16 KO) plans to cross the threshold to the next level when he fights undefeated Michael "Slick" Anderson (11-0-1, 9 KO) in a battle of jr welterweights at Staples Center in Los Angeles this Saturday.
A decisive victory should catapult him into consideration for a potential title shot against some of the big-name fighters he tangled with as an amateur such as IBF welterweight king Andre Berto. "They all went up in weight and captured titles, "Casal says. "Now, it's my turn."
It's the Monday before his date with destiny and Casal finds himself at the legendary Johhny Tocco's gym in Las Vegas, working under the well-respected eye of Australian trainer Steve Rowlands.
Casal and his team believe that if you want to be an "A" level fighter you have to spar with one, so Casal boldly steps into the ring with 130 lb sensation Mickey Bey Jr. If the definition of sparring is for one fighter to go a little easy on the other who's preparing for a big fight, no one told Bey. The intense sparring, which was better than a lot of fights recently, had the small crowd in attendance transfixed and applauding the action.
Afterwards, and now marked with bumps and bruises, Casal had shown Bey what he was made of.
"Wow,"said Bey. "This guy is strong. He's physically very strong and really knows how to land a lot of hard body shots. I think he's going to destroy whoever he gets in the ring with."
And then there's Casal's right hand. He possesses the kind of right that can make all his dreams come true - It's tight, down the pipe and extremely powerful. "He just needs to throw it more." says his trainer Steve Rowlands.
Casal, whose family owns a boxing gym, compiled an incredible record as an amateur, earning a gold medal at the 2002 U.S. National Junior Championships and another at the Sweden Box-Cup for boxers under 19. In 2003, he reached the quarterfinals of the National Golden Gloves Tournament by defeating famed Anthony Dirrell among others, before losing to current champion, Andre Berto. Casal also won a bronze medal at the 2004 U.S. Championships but had to step aside after a hand injury which ultimately kept him from the gold.
In 2002, soon after his 18th birthday, Casal turned pro and went on a tear, beating his first 17 opponents, winning his first ten by knockout. In 2007, Casal faced future WBC Silver belt-holder Antonio "Tony" DeMarco and lost for the first time by unanimous decision But even in in losing, he exhibited tremendous desire and potential.
Casal has won his last three fights, including a spectacular 3rd Round TKO of Martin Tucker this past April. The victory was bitter-sweet as he injured his hand in the process.
After a turbulent couple of years, the stars finally seem to be lining up for the 25-year-old as he has re-teamed with respected trainer, Steve Rowlands.
"This is the best camp we've had together by far" Rowlands said. Casal's hand is now completely healed and he is in excellent condition. Plus, he is going to get showcased on a world stage this Saturday."
In the past Casal has said he needed to mature and now, at 25, he has finally come of age. Casal has left his family and home behind focus entirely on his career. "I haven't seen my girlfriend in six weeks." he said.
If he wins he will have finally crossed the threshold and will be a 'player' in the big game. If he loses, his career plummet to a downward spiral. Saturday night will serve as the defining moment in his career. But Casal isn't worried because it's "His turn."