Sunday, 29 November -0001 19:03

A Fighting Chance

Written by Daniel Schechtman

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Six days a week, sometimes seven if he can swing it, 26-year-old Vincent Miranda tightly wraps his hands with tape, slips on a pair of gloves and bangs away at the heavy bag, trading blows with sparring partners and trainer Tyrone Jackson at the Saratoga Boxing Gym off of Weibel Avenue. With each punch thrown the native Puerto Rican is searching, hunting down a dream born of frustration and necessity, a fight that began when, at just 7 years old, he was forced to defend himself on the poor and tough streets of his youth.

“The neighborhood where I grew up in Puerto Rico – it was poor. I grew up fighting, you know?” said Miranda, sitting in the back office across from Jack Nichols, director of the Saratoga Youth Boxing Association. “Learning how to fight, learning how to get respect in the street – that’s what I knew growing up. I had to work to stay on a good path, work to do something with my life and to not stay in that type of environment.”


Miranda is soft spoken, thoughtful and calm – perhaps surprising to some considering the stereotypes boxers and fighters are often saddled with. But these personality traits are no accident. It’s a byproduct of total commitment and focus, of complete dedication to achieving his goals. Miranda is seeking to become the first Puerto Rican to take a cruiserweight world title, and come January the 14-1 (8 KOs) fighter will likely have his shot.

“Where I come from, we’ve never had a champ,” said Miranda. “We’ve had world champions in the light heavyweights, but we never had a light heavyweight, a cruiserweight and a heavyweight champ. So if I can make that happen someday – man, it’ll be a dream come true. We’re trying to make [a world title fight] happen for January.”

Miranda relocated to the Saratoga Region two years ago, leaving behind his home in search of a better life. Jogging down the streets of Troy, shadowboxing his way from corner to corner, a passerby took notice and flagged Miranda down.

“This guy stopped me and said, I see you shadowboxing, do you box? He said he had this friend named Tyrone Jackson, the best boxer in Saratoga. He said I’m sure if you can get into his hands, you’ll make it in boxing,” said Miranda. A couple months later, Jackson and Miranda met together in Saratoga.

“When I talked to Vincent, I got a sense that he was going to dedicate himself 100 percent,” said Jackson. “And that’s me. That’s what I would expect of him, and he gives it to me.”

Jackson has trained several pro fighters in his day, but Miranda is his first contender for a world title.

“It’s a blessing in disguise for me,” said Jackson. “I know we’re going to get there, and I know we’re going to win.”

Jackson has helped Miranda sharpen his skills over the last two years, strengthening Miranda’s defense and footwork, teaching him how to use the ring and improve his angles and positioning. It’s an exciting time for both men, each of them looking to improve and learn from past hardships and struggles, growing after each victory and each setback.

“I was training to go to Greece for the 2004 Olympics, but I got eliminated in the last round,” said Miranda, who was named an alternate for the competition. “That was disappointing,” he admits, “but I grew to be hungrier. I had to be in the ring. I knew I had something to show, so I stayed on my feet and kept working hard.” It’s this attitude that carries Miranda as far as he’s come – a desire to be better than his surroundings, never allowing himself to quit and always searching for something great.

“Boxing is a passion,” said Miranda. “Coming from where I come from, it’s my way of letting my frustration out, letting my anger out. I think if you hold that inside it can just spin out and hurt you. You see all these people having different lives, you see them being better than you or having some other things you don’t you have. So you’ve got to have that ambition – that’s how I feel. I’ve seen other people being better than me, living a better lifestyle, and I just wanted to be up there. I wanted to do something to better myself.”

Already Miranda is starting to cause a bit of a buzz in the Saratoga community. Mike Phinney, owner of the Phinney Design Group, has already stepped up to sponsor Miranda in his world title bid. For other parties interested in sponsoring this promising young fighter, please contact Tom Zanetti at (518) 583-6320.

In the meantime, as Miranda trains for his shot at the world stage, the fighter has one more goal he’d like to accomplish. “We want that shot with those Miller boys,” said Miranda, speaking of one of Albany’s great boxing families. “We want a shot at the New York State Title Fight.”


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