Brooklyn-based pro boxer, Jonathan “El Conquistador” Cepeda joins Brooklynfights.com for an exclusive interview. Cepeda cites his tenacity, upbringing and faith as the key ingredients in his success in the ring.
You have a standout pro record of 17-1, and are ranked 45 in the US, in the middleweight division. At age 30, you’re in your physical prime. What’s your plan to break into the realm of ultra-elite fighters on the national stage?
My plan is to get signed with a top promoter and be ready when I get back on the national televised circuit.
You’ve talked about learning to fight out of necessity as a kid growing up in a rough Jersey City neighborhood. At 16, you relocated to Palm Beach, Florida. What took you there and how did your boxing develop during that time?
I learned how to fight because that was my environment, not necessity. You can still live in a rough place and not fight, but that’s not how I was raised. You fight, and fight until death.
I relocated permanently when I was 16, to Florida. My mother lived there, and I wasn’t doing too good in school in Jersey, and misbehaving. So my grandmother sent me back to live with my mother.
I started boxing when I was 20 – did well and won three Florida Golden Gloves, state PALs, and Southeast coast regional tournaments. I was able to win all those tournaments by the talent and power God gave me, because I wasn’t 100% dedicated. Didn’t have my priorities in tack.
When did you turn pro? How long did you spend in the amateurs?
I turned pro in 2008 and had 23 amateur fights. I was never consistent until I put God first in my life, and I have a really extraordinary team in Kran Sports Management.
Any new fights in the pipeline for you?
Joe Kran, president of Kran Sports Management, would have the answer to that. Soon, I guess. He does an above average job of keeping me active in and out of the ring. He has been a great mentor to me.
If you had to pick one word to describe your mindset the day of a big fight, what would it be?
What’s the most challenging moment you’ve faced in boxing?
The most challenging moment would have to be my loss. That causes a lot of doubt and faulty beliefs. But by the grace of God, I’m here today knowing 100% who I am, what I can do, and where I am headed.
With the launch of PBC fights on network TV and the media frenzy around the upcoming Mayweather-Pacquiao battle, boxing is back in the spotlight. What does the sport need most to build on its current momentum?
I would say what the sport needs most is Jonathan Cepeda fighting on NBC, watching him knock his opponent out, and hearing the story how God took him from defeat, discouragement and insecurities to victory, confidence and loving himself completely, and showing love to others even with a simple hello and hug. Small things can alter your moods to change your mindset for a great day.
Considering Ronda Rousey’s starpower in the UFC, do you think prominent female fighters are important for boxing’s future as well?
Yeah, it would be cool to have a woman Mike Tyson making noise and putting women’s boxing on the map.
What active pro boxers do you respect most and why?
I respect all pros, no matter the record. It takes big balls to step in the ring … One punch not only can make you lose, but possibly kill you. So respect to all.
Mayweather or Pacquiao?
I’m going for Pacman, but let’s see if he can find his rhythm which is very difficult to obtain with Mayweather. As I said before, one punch can change the whole course of the fight … Can’t wait for May 2nd to see the outcome.