McALLEN — Anthony Cavazos took a few seconds to reflect. A man with a gift for gab, an eye for competition and entertainment, the peculiar silence was a statement all unto itself. It spoke volumes, even if he didn’t.
“This is the first time someone’s interviewed me,” he said, his voice breaking up ever so slightly, but noticeable enough to know that reality was striking him with a quick jab at this exact moment. “Usually, it’s one of my boxers being interviewed.”
There have been plenty of those interviews. Cameras, microphones and other recording devices filled the establishments where he would hold news conferences.
Sure, those in attendance were there to interview boxers, but to also eat some food, maybe partake in a couple drinks after the event was over. A card game may even break out.
It’s one of the things that has made Cavazos and his Cavazos Boxing business arguably the preeminent promoter in South Texas.
For him, it has always been about the boxers, about the fans, about the competition and the entertainment. In a business that can be cutthroat, Cavazos always knew how to entertain.
For 20 years, he hasn’t needed the money boxing has provided, he said. That was all just a bonus — a nice bonus — but not a necessity. His passion for the sport is what carried him to the promotion circle or, rather, ring.
However, there will be a huge gap to soon fill in that arena as Cavazos has announced his retirement. After hundreds of shows and fighters, after working with champions at all levels, after traveling the country to promote his boxers, the Chicagoan, whose parents are Rio Grande Valley natives, is walking away from the ring.
“I just want to take it easy,” he said. “I still have plenty of ranch work to keep me busy.”
He’s quick to thank those who have been by his side, first and foremost his wife, Sharon, of 38 years.
Then there are those who sponsored him such as L&F Distributors, and his most recent partner Mario Davila. They helped the dream grow, and succeed. His gab was great, but the results were usually greater.
He has partnered with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, he’s had fighters on undercards of Floyd Mayweather, and he has watched his boxers fight on television and win world titles, such as Omar Figueroa who won the WBC lightweight title in 2014.
Edgar Cantu fondly remembers signing and working with Cavazos as a 22-year-old amateur.
“He took me to a lot of places. We fought in Vegas, in Puerto Rico, in Phoenix and other places,” Cantu said. “He is very smart and everyone wanted to be signed with Cavazos Boxing. He was real good.
“He used to talk to me about things in life, how to be a good man, how to manage my money. He would tell me if I don’t make it in boxing how to be successful in life. That’s what I really learned from him.”
And when he started, he began with nothing. He was working out in a gym in Mission, sparring a little bit, and approached three of his friends to ask them for support if he ran a show, knowing that the Valley’s biggest boxing promoter at the time had retired.
“I asked them and they immediately said yes,” Cavazos said. “That’s how it started.”
Now, 20 years later, Cavazos can drop world class names that he has promoted or co-promoted with the largest and most well-known promoters in the world, including Golden Boy Promotions and Top Ranked Boxing with Bob Arum.
“I like fighters that come to fight, that will fight anybody,” Cavazos said, using the plan when he signed fighters and put together shows. “It’s a very tough sport. You have to take a hit and have a will to win. I like those who are competitive and put on a good, entertaining show for the fans.
“Like Mike Tyson said, ‘Everybody wants to be a boxer until he gets hit in the face.’”
The matches on television and around the nation have been great. But the local shows, with young up-and-comers hungry for their shot at the big time, is what has made Cavazos successful.
He is passionate about the sport and while he may be leaving the business, he’s not walking away from sport. Now, however, he’ll be enjoying more and leaving the promoting to someone else.
“This is a very tough business. I learned that right away,” Cavazos said. “It’s different than a regular business. You have to be able to sell a lot of tickets. If you can’t sell tickets, don’t even get involved in the business. (The rapper) 50 Cent couldn’t do it, Jay Z couldn’t make it in boxing and they had tons of money.”
Cavazos’ last show came in 2019, another sold out show, at the Pharr Convention Center. He had another show planned for 2020 in June, but COVID-19, and the Texas Boxing Commission, put a stop to that and other events across the state.
“Nobody knew that was coming and it hit us hard, like everyone else,” he said. “Over the past two years, I thought more about it. I want to take it easy. I did it because I love boxing. I didn’t need the stress or the aggravation.
“Going to the ranch is stress free but it’s working too. There’s feeding cows, cutting mesquite. Anything in life, you have to work at ֫ — whether it’s real estate, boxing or ranching. I’ve been a hard worker. My dad was a hard worker and I was blessed to have those genes.
“But, it’s just time. Twenty years is a long time. It’s almost a career. I’m happy with my career, helped a lot of boxers and think I did a good job helping boxers across the Valley. Everything looks easy from the outside, but it’s not.”