Heavy Hands: An Interview with Jonathan Cepeda
Jonathan “El Conquistador” Cepeda (17-1, 15 KO) is a middleweight, currently fighting out of New York, NY. According to BoxingRec.com, he is currently the 44th ranked middleweight in the United States. Growing up on the mean streets of Jersey City and in 2011 being the victim of a brutal rear-end collision, these are just a few obstacles that Jonathan has been able to overcome, while continuing his dream of becoming a world champion. I was fortunate enough to sit down with Jonathan for my first interview as a member of the TopClassBoxing family. Here are some memorable moments from that interview.
> What was it like growing up in Jersey City?
“I grew up in the projects of Jersey City. There were a lot of drugs. There were needles on the floor of the building. It wasn’t a good area, now it is, but back then it was a dangerous place. It was just the environment I was in, my life was good.”
> Who introduced you to the sport of boxing?
“My father, he was in prison for 25 years, and he used to box. I started boxing at 20 when my family moved to Florida.”
> Take me back to your first professional fight, how nervous were you?
“I wasn’t really nervous. Nervousness is doubt. When you are nervous, you don’t want to go in, or don’t want to fight because you’re nervous. I’d say it was more of an anxiety to fight?”
> What has your trainer, Pedro Saez, done to help you end a majority of your fights so early?
“I hooked up with him when I was 12-1 with 11 Knockouts. I would say ending my fights early, since being an amateur, was because God blessed me with power. It’s not something my trainer has done specifically. He has worked with me work on technique and certain movements, but God gave me heavy hands.”
> What was the experience like being on the 2008 Dominican Republic Olympic team?
“It was good. My parents and grandparents are from the Dominican. I have dual citizenship. I didn’t get to go China because I broke my hand. But the guy who ended up going, I beat him in the qualifier. It was a cool experience because I got to go to the Dominican Republic all the time, see my grandparents, and my family.”
> On the car accident in 2011, take me through what happened.
“It was 1:30 in the morning, we were on stuck on the turnpike due to construction. An older gentleman about 78-80 years old, fell asleep, and crashed into us going about 80 miles per hour.”
> After the accident, did you ever think you would fight again?
“When it happened I didn’t think about. Luckily enough I was able to walk, I was able to move. There was some damage. I had some bleeding and stuff. The day before the accident I signed a contract to fight Steve Martinez on ESPN, but at that moment I didn’t think about fighting.”
> After almost a year off, how did it feel to get back in the ring? Was it a sense of accomplishment?
“It felt good, absolutely. Not really an accomplishment, but it felt like I was on my path again.”
> On avenging the only loss of your career, will we see a rematch with Lamar Russ?
“That’s the plan. There should be. My management and I spoke about it, we are trying to get it.”
> In your most recent fight, what did you see in Laatekwei Hammond’s defense that you could easily take advantage of?
“I just wanted to hit him, everywhere and anywhere. It’s not like I saw anything specific. I just went in there to put my fist on his face.”
“When you see people who go through so much, and going back to fighting, why should I ever be scared to fight. There are people with issues way above mine. I try to motivate people and inspire people, because regardless of the situation, if you look for God, work hard, and stay disciplined; everything is going to be ok. This is why I feel I was meant to be a world champion, so I could spread the message of God, not in the sense of “go to church”, just to encourage, He is the one who gives you the strength.”
> What are some names of guys you want to fight next?
“There really isn’t because I’ll fight anybody. All in all, I’m still developing and coming into my own, but I’d like to fight someone who has a small title, someone who will make my ranking go up. I want to fight good fighters. I don’t have a specific fighter in mind, just anybody and everybody.”
> After fighting twice in 2015 already, do you have any idea when the next fight will be?
“We were looking at April 28th, but that didn’t develop. We don’t have an exact date, so we are shooting for mid-April.”
> So you’re ready to fight today then?
“I’m always ready. I’m always in the gym, staying in shape, and as close to weight as possible.”
> Who gave you the nickname “El Conquistador?”
“It came to me while I was in church. The sermon was about how, with God, we are more than conquerors. Later on when I went to workout, I thought about it. I was going to be “The Conqueror”, but being of Spanish and Dominican decent, I went with “El Conquistador”, it came to me while going for a run.”
> In case you didn’t know, there is a fight May 2nd, Who are you picking to win?
“I say Pacquiao if he is able to fight his fight. He has the power and speed to knock Mayweather out. Who knows, it is boxing, and one punch can change a fight.”
This was my first interview in the world of boxing. While being fortunate enough to snag an interview with a professional fighter, I was a tad nervous. Jonathan had some very encouraging words for me, not only as a professional, but also as a person. He said, “Fill your mind with inspiring thoughts, and drown out those negative doubts in your subconscious. You are where you are supposed to be right now. I can feel a lot of favor and blessings coming in your life. I hear it, and I feel it. I can tell by the sound of your voice everything is going to be good, and you are heading toward where God wants you to be.”
It will be exciting to watch Jonathan, and his overwhelmingly heavy hands, as he continues his journey and becomes a world champion.
by Adam Ewing
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