At the tender age of 35, Charly Suarez (15-0, 9 KOs) isn’t your typical fighter at the start of their run towards a World title.
Often a space reserved for young prospects, some remarkable talents are able to defy the barrier created by seniority and break through to capture championship glory from their younger peers.
Suarez, who is currently ranked in the Super Featherweight division with three of boxing’s four major sanctioning bodies, hopes to become another elder statesman to achieve such a feat.
Yet, there is no suggestion in his gentle voice that it is a foregone conclusion. Instead, there is a simple mantra hiding behind a wide, infectious smile, that is driving him to greater heights.
“I do my best every time I fight in my pro career. I think of it like my first pro fight,” Suarez told The Inner Sanctum.
“When I step in the ring, I need to win no matter what happens.
“That is the characteristic of a champion, you need to win every time you fight.”
A decorated amateur in his native Philippines, Suarez passed the biggest test of his short professional career earlier this year, when he stopped Australian Paul Fleming (28-1-1, 18 KOs) in Sydney.
Down on all three scorecards after 11 rounds, the ‘King’s Warrior’ rallied behind crisp combination punching in the last stanza to secure the win with just 35 seconds remaining.
On reflection, the performance speaks as much to the razor sharp focus of Suarez as it does his talent.
“My experience back in March, in my mind was to get the belt and win the fight,” he stoically recalled.
“I made this my goal. [I thought], ‘no matter what happens, I need to win and that’s my goal.’
“He was one tough opponent.”
The dream of competing against the true elites of the weight class does occupy a significant space at the forefront of Suarez’ mind, however.
Specifically, WBO champion Emanuel Navarette (38-1, 31 KOs) is central to his aspirations.
Having recently defeated Oscar Valdez (31-2, 23 KOs) in an instant classic, the Mexican is seen by many as the best fighter in the world at 130 pounds.
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A path to a showdown between to the pair is not unachievable, in fact.
Not only is Suarez ranked at 10 with the WBO, he is also signed to Top Rank, the same promotional outfit as the titleholder.
A shot at gold could well and truly become a reality, then.
“In my division, there are a lot of good boxers, especially Emanuel Navarrete and Oscar Valdez and some others,” he surmised.
“If it can happen against Navarette, that is a good fight.
“I want to fight with him soon.”
For now though, focus remains on the task at hand, kicking off his three fight deal with Top Rank on August 26 in style by besting hard-hitting Dominican Yohan Vasquez (25-3, 20 KOs) over 10 rounds.
Visions of future glory will prove futile if winning ways aren’t maintained.
“It’s a big fight. It’s a big opportunity for me to fight here in the US and it’s been the biggest camp of my career,” Suarez concluded.
“I think he’s a good strong boxer, because he has 25 wins and 20 knockouts.
“Sometimes if you are over confident, you will get hit with strong punches and get knocked out.
“You must stay alert and take care of yourself in the fight, protect yourself at all times.”