World Boxing Coucil No. 1-ranked cruiserweight Francisco “The Wizard” Palacios will receive his long-awaited rematch against Krzysztof “Diablo” Wlodarczyk when they square off on Sept. 22 in Wroclaw, Poland.
Palacios (21-1, 13 KOs), a proud Puerto Rican puncher who was raised in Bayamon and now lives in Orlando, made his first appearance in a world championship fight against Wlodarczyk (46-2-1, 33 KOs) on April 2, 2011. The fight took place in Wlodarczyk’s native Poland.
A partisan, sold-out crowd of over 7,000 packed into the arena in the city of Bydgoszcz. Palacios felt he won the fight against an elusive opponent who appeared wary of his power, and one judge agreed with him 115-113 after 12 rounds. The remaining two caused controversy by choosing Wlodarczyk as the victor by the respective scores of 116-113 and 118-112.
It didn’t help Wlodarczyk that 3.2 million Poles watched the fight on television, and the announcers favored the American in the fight.
“It was a learning experience in that I knew I was winning the fight inside the ring, but I was in a foreign country and should have fought even harder to make Wlodarczyk open up, which wasn’t easy,” Palacios said. “I think the reaction by his own countryman afterwards gives him no choice but to fight more in the rematch, which is what I want.”
Palacios demanded an immediate rematch from the WBC, but the sanctioning organization allowed the Pole an interim fight with Danny Green before facing Palacios. Wlodarczyk redeemed himself by traveling to Australia and stunning Green with an 11th-round technical knockout in a fight he had been losing on the scorecards. Now Palacios looms on Sept. 22.
“The first time I went to Poland, it was a good training camp but I didn’t have the camaraderie I now have with the sparring partners. This time, the guys I’m working with stay with me, eat dinner with me and they are giving me the mental support to beat Wlodarczyk. We are all working together to bring home a world title. This has been the best training camp of my life.”
The ever-talkative and outgoing Palacios has refocused himself for the rematch.
“Before the first fight, I was talking too much. I was paying attention to what Wlodarczyk was saying and responding to that. This time, I’m only focusing on my preparation and nothing else. It’s up to me to win this fight, not about my opponent losing it.
When asked what he’s doing better now than in the past, Palacios was quick to respond.
“I’m doing everything better. My major improvement is in mental preparation. I’m approaching this fight differently. This time, I’m going to tell the referee before the match that I’m coming to fight because this is a world championship.
“Every time I put some punches together in the last fight, the referee would warn me and break up the action. I spent too much time trying to keep the referee happy. Nobody’s going to prevent me from fighting this time—not Wlodarczyk, not the referee, not anyone. I am going to throw a lot of punches and throw caution to the wind, which is the kind of fighter I am anyway.”
Josue Aguilar, Palacios longtime trainer, has seen changes in his fighter.
“We will have a different approach this time,” Aguilar said. “It’s not enough just to win, Francisco must dominate.
“The biggest difference between then and now is we learned everything we needed to know about Diablo Wlodarczyk in the first fight, but he doesn’t even begin to know the real Francisco Palacios. That is who he will face in the rematch. The intensity level will be off the charts.”
Palacios’ promoter Don King has a long history of sending his fighters into hostile territories, so he remains resolute that truth will prevail in the end.
“Thomas Carlyle said, ‘No lie can live forever’ and I truly believe that,” King said. “Cisco is not the first American to travel overseas and receive an unfriendly decision. But that is not important. What is important is how he responds to the adversity.
“I have spoken to him, and he knows how important this fight is to his career. I love Cisco because he comes to fight. He’s my kind of fighter. He’s very important to me and all of us at Don King Productions—we’re all behind him, 100 percent. He will bring home the world title he has worked so hard for.”