Arriving with mariachis singing the classic Mexican theme “El Rey”, the new World Boxing Organization (WBO) Featherweight champion, Rafael “Divino” Espinoza, from México, came to Corozal with his family and work staff to officially receive his world championship belt in a family gathering that included prospects, world champions, and personalities of the sport.

The newly inducted member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame Class of 2024 Iván Calderón handed the belt to Espinoza.

WBO President, Mr. Francisco “Paco” Valcárcel:

“Thank you all for coming. We have the champion, welcome, this is your home; wife and daughter, you’re all home. Espinoza won the belt fair and square. Thank you to Iván (Calderón) for handing the belt to a champion who deserves it and we’re going to greatly enjoy this gathering”.

Rafael “Divino” Espinoza, new WBO Featherweight world champion:

“Thank you to Paco, to Hall of Famer Iván, I hope I get to also achieve that someday, congratulations. It’s an honor to be here, the same thing I feel now is the same thing I felt in the fight. I still look at it and having it here is an honor. And I’m thankful to the WBO for all this; I’ll keep training and keep giving it my all to give good fights like this one and make them memorable for everyone”.

Rafael Espinoza won the world championship last week in Florida by defeating former champion and Olympic gold medalist Robeisy Ramírez, from Cuba, by majority decision in an exciting fight, a candidate for Fight of the Year after the great performance by both fighters.

During the festivities, the new Mexican champion treated those on hand with his gifted voice by singing “Acá entre nos” by Vicente Fernández, surrounded by current and former WBO champions Oscar Collazo, René Santiago, Álex “El Nene” Sánchez, Wilfredo “Bimbito” Méndez, Nelson Dieppa, Inter-Continental champion and 4th ranked Bryan Chevalier, and rising prospect Juan Zayas.

“I’m from Guadalajara, from Jalisco, and, well, we’re mariachis. I am mariachi, I like to sing, and here’s a song. Thank you to all the champions who are here. ‘Viva Puerto Rico’’ and ‘viva México!’.

International Boxing Hall of Fame Class of 2024 Inductee Ivan Calderon Honored

An emotional video montage is played. Newly crowned world champion Espinoza handed Calderón a special plaque for his great achievement.

“What better way to do this than with all the champions, co-workers, and my family? All of you will feel what I feel, the same emotion we felt when we became champions. I think the biggest thing athletes and boxers have is when they achieve their dreams when it’s something so difficult and takes sacrifice. My family, my wife, my children, thank you for always supporting Daddy, for always being there”, Calderón paused his speech overcome with emotion, drew applause from the crowd, and continued:

“One day, I said I wanted to be champion and I never thought about being a Hall of Famer, thinking about the negative things people said about me because of my height, weight, because I had no punching power, but my sacrifices changed everything”.

“I had important fights with Hugo Cazares, Giovanni Segura, fights of the year, and most of all, I battled with the sacrifices of things in my life, the abuse towards my mother, foster homes; that helped me achieve my dreams. From June 6-9, I hope to see you in Canastota, New York”.

Mr. Valcárcel presented rising star Juan “Juancito” Zayas (8-0-1, 8 KOs) as Prospect of the Year with an exclusive miniature WBO title.

Members of the WBO’s executive committee who were present:

Mr. Luis Batista Salas (Founder), Mr. Alberto Rodríguez (Secretary), Adolfo Flores (Treasurer), and Mr. Gustavo Olivieri (In-house attorney).

We thank the presence of referees Roberto Ramírez, Sr. and Jr., Ramón Peña, José H. Rivera, Judge Jerry Martínez, manager Márgaro Cruz, Juan de León, and promoters Peter Rivera and Félix Clovis Zabala.              

Photos by V. Planas / WBO

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