LAWRENCE — Like so many young New England pro boxers, Carlos Candelario Jr. gets peppered by the question, “So what’s next?”
The 23-year-old Whittier Tech grad from Lawrence has taken it slowly, rolling up a 5-1 mark early, against an unimpressive cast of opponents.
He knows there is no better time to step it up and take on all comers.
“There’s a Golden Boy (Oscar De La Hoya promoted) card coming up at the House of Blues in Boston in October,” said Candelario. “I’m supposed to be on that against an opponent they’re still trying to get. That could be great exposure for me. It’s on TV (Fox Sports One).”
From there, the 140-pound Candelario notes, the sky is the limit.
“It’s getting tougher and tougher to find better opponents around here,” said the former high school halfback. “I’m ready and willing to travel. There are good opponents out there in New York and Philadelphia. We just have to find them.”
With over eight years in the ring as an amateur, Candelario is seasoned beyond his time between the ropes.
His dad, Carlos, and uncle Edwin — currently training Candelario — were fine amateur boxers in their day. These days, they are the architects and directors of the sparkling Lawtown Boxing Club in the basement of a Merrimack Street mill.
Carlos Jr. is their prized pony.
“Look, we know he’s got a bright future,” said his dad. “He’s got the talent and he wants to be great.”
Right now, Carlos is on hold, having bruised a knuckle in his last fight, a TKO of winless Moises Rivera about three weeks ago.
“He hurt it, banging his right hand too many times on the other guy’s head,” joked his dad Carlos.
But Candelario will be back in the ring training this week. All systems are go, full speed ahead.
“I feel great and I want to be busy,” he said.
Added his dad, “We’ve had so many fights fall through because opponents decide they don’t want to fight or the card falls apart. He should have 15 fights by now, not six.”
Candelario needs a break, though. He currently works full time in maintenance at Summit Place in Methuen. But success in the fight game takes dedication.
It can become a vicious cycle. To make money, you have to beat good fighters. To beat good fighters, you have to get a break. To get that break, you have to prove you deserve it, and to prove it, you have to be in shape.
“I’m going to make my own breaks,” said Carlos. “I know I can do it. I can be a contender. I just have to make it happen.”
Candelario seems ready for big things. Recently engaged, he goes into the ring or into the gym to train with his stepson, Mason, on his mind, looking to make things better.
Most of all, he’s in there, because it’s where he thinks he belongs.
“I love the gym, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” said Candelario. “I’ve always loved contact sports, playing football and wrestling. But this is my life now, and it’s right where I want to be.”