Minnesota based welterweight DeLorien Caraway (10-1, 5 KO’s) put some finishing touches on a solid training camp this past weekend and says fans can expect to see explosiveness this Saturday night. The 28 year old Minnesotan is set to headline this Saturday’s pro boxing show at the Grand Casino in Hinckley, MN against a tough and battle tested Witchita, Kansas fighter named Noel Esqueda (7-4-2, 5 KO’s).
Caraway has had a nice run in 2017, defeating Deonte Wilson (then 5-1), Jerome Rodriguez (7-6-3), and then Gilbert Venegas in a rematch bout last August. Minnesota Fight News caught up with Caraway to discuss the Venegas fights, his bout this Saturday night and more.
You lost a close fight to Gilbert Venegas in November of 2016 and then came back to beat him in the rematch this past August. It was a pretty clear and convincing win despite the fight going down as a split decision. What were the differences that you saw between the two fights?
Caraway: I didn’t want to let it be known, but in the first fight, I had a fractured right hand going into the fight. I had fought six weeks before against a tough kid named Matt Murphy. I injured my right hand on his elbow in the first round. So it was kind of a dog fight from there. We knew that we had a date coming up in November. So we got right back in the gym and I was literally hitting the bag with 26 ounce gloves on. Just to stay sharp. We knew we only had six weeks to prepare. So I went down to Vegas and I sparred maybe twice that whole camp. And maybe had ten rounds of pads. I just focused more on running and focused on conditioning to be the key for the fight. I don’t want to take away from anything he did (in the first fight). The judges did like his style. But I did not fight the fight that I normally fight. Normally, I box and come forward a little bit more. And use both hands. In that fight I basically just had a jab. I thought that one hand would be enough. I planned on boxing off the back leg and to show the crowd that he was missing and stuff like that. He won though and it was a good lesson learned.
The rematch went down as a split decision win. But most people that watched the fight felt like you won pretty convincingly. Talk about the rematch with Venegas.
Caraway: The second fight was a split decision. One judge gave him the fight. Again, I did not agree with that. I thought he maybe got a round. But we did better in being able to throw more combinations. We backed him up with the jab. I didn’t move just to move. I moved because I wanted to. I felt like I had to move in the first fight because I didn’t have my guns to keep him back. So I knew the second time around would be different. I wanted him to know right at the weigh-ins that this was going to be a different fight.
Let’s talk about training. I know that you have been all over the country in general. Philadelphia, Las Vegas. Talk about the different places that you have been training.
Caraway: I’ve gone to Philly the last few years, Las Vegas a lot. I am actually planning on going back to Vegas after this fight. One of my close friends Keandre Gibson trains out of there. He’s a world class fighter. I like to go down there and get that great work. It’s hard to always get great sparring in the Midwest, especially when guys don’t have fight dates. But down there it’s world class talent year round. I like to stay sharp by being down there with them. Same goes for the East coast which I think is the mecca. Tough fighters, I mean guys with poor pro records can shine in the gym any day. I just like the atmosphere. I’ve been down to Florida, Texas, Colorado Springs with Terrance Crawford. Omaha obviously. California with Canelo’s (Alvarez) camp. I am based here in Minnesota though. My kids are here, and my family is here.
Minnesota was preparing to watch the showdown between you and Marcus Morris. You were originally supposed to fight him on this show. Talk about what happened to the fight between you and Marcus Morris.
Caraway: Yeah, the fight was brought up to me and I jumped on it right away. I wanted that fight right away, earlier in my career. I think he’s a decent, rangy fighter like I told you before. But talent level and experience, I don’t think there’s anything he can do with me. Given that he had some type of injury being why he pulled out, I can tell you right now. I have a couple of injuries right now that I haven’t even talked about. As a fighter, I don’t think you are ever 100% going into the ring. Let alone in training camp. For him to agree to the fight and then pull out two or three days after, knowing that you have two months? All in all, I feel like the fight will happen down the line. Obviously I have to take care of the fight coming up next weekend. And I am not looking past that. That’s a tough, rangy, durable kid too. So that’s what I am prepared for right now.
Let’s talk about the fight that you have in front of you then. What do you know about your opponent?
Caraway: We’ve seen him fight, and he looks very durable. He looks lanky and durable. He looks like he likes to fight on the inside rather then box and use his height. I don’t know if that works better for him, but I am looking to look spectacular in this fight. Either on the inside or the outside, wherever the fight comes about. He (Noel) signed the contract though. I give him credit for that. So let the best man win.
You had said that he is a tough opponent like you just stated but that he is nothing you haven’t seen before. Explain that a little bit.
Caraway: I’ve been in the ring a lot with bulldogs. Shawn Porter being one of them. Another kid that is on this card, VeShawn Owens. Wild style, comes forward, aggressive. Come forward, and put there head in your chest style. I’ve seen that style a ton in the amateurs. And sometimes I lost to that style. A lot of times I have looked good against that style. Truthfully, whatever style my opponent brings doesn’t really matter to me. I think that people are going to see that they can’t box with me. That they are going to have to dog out and go for broke. Hit my chest and try to wear me out. So that’s what we prepare for all the time. Given that is his style, we are going to try to go opposite of what he likes!
It’s been nice to see Corey Rodriguez in your corner. Let’s talk about that. How did the connection between you and Corey come about?
Caraway: It’s crazy. My first five or six fights, were about finding the right fit. That’s not to say that Rasheem Jefferson was not the right fit. Because that’s a great fit in itself. He’s still very much a part of my team. But it was more the traveling and leaving my family for long periods of time. But with Corey, it happened after my manager was reaching out to me after my loss. I didn’t let this be known either, but I trained myself for that fight. So me and my manager sat down to talk about different trainers that might be good locally for me. The only real name I had was Antonio Johnson. He’s like my big brother. He’s who I look up to probably the most in Minnesota. As far as his IQ and what he knows about the game. And just his one on one with me. We talk a lot outside of boxing. With his schedule, it didn’t really pan out. So we were in the gym and I think I was supposed to work with Alfonso (Vasquez) one time. I think it was around Christmas and he couldn’t make it. Corey was hitting the bag and I said to my manager, see if he would hit the pads with me. I was hitting the pads with him and he was showing me a couple of Mexican boxing tricks and things like that. So I asked Eric to see if he (Rodriguez) would come back Monday. See if he would come back Tuesday. And we just started having a connection from there. I didn’t think it would grow to where it’s at now. I fought him twice in the amateurs, and he beat me twice (laughing)! I need someone dependable and that will be there. I don’t want to be a bag beater. Someone that comes to the gym, hits the bag, and leaves. I want someone there to critique me. And point out the rights and the wrongs. There were a lot of times I was training myself and I wasn’t growing. I needed someone like that so it’s a fit, and it’s working.
Let’s wrap it up by telling the fans what they can expect for now and into the future with you.
Caraway: Expect the same explosiveness next Saturday. I plan on being sharp, and being smart. It’s my second main event and my first eight rounder. I’ve prepared real tough in this camp. Next year, expect bigger things then this year. This is my fourth fight this year so expect four or five more next year. Expect better opposition and things like that.