SAMMY VASQUEZ MAKES HIS BOXNATION DEBUT on Friday night and is being backed to reach the top by Mike Tyson. The unbeaten southpaw faces Ghana's Emmanuel Lartei Lartey in hometown Pittsburgh, where he has become a huge attraction.
Vasquez turned pro in 2012 after serving in the USA military, serving two combat tours of Iraq.
His former promoter Tyson said, "this kid is very exciting. Before the win against Berlin Abreu, the guys from the other corner were saying that we'll want to sign their fighter after he knocks Sammy out.
"Abreu was a strong, muscular guy and Sammy got dropped, but then he came back and stopped him.
"Sammy has a huge following. The first time I saw him, I said, 'this is an American hero type.' I'm proud to have him associated with my organisation."
Vasquez served his country for nine years. He believes fighting with gloves on is nothing compared to his time in the forces.
He said, "there is no pressure in boxing after some of the things I've been through outside of boxing.
"I always want to win, but win, lose or draw, in boxing you always come out of that ring alive."
Vasquez has only ever gone more than six rounds once and has won his last eight fights by knockout.
Tough Lartey has gone 10 or more rounds five times and never been knocked down, winning 16 of his 19 bouts.
Vasquez, 28, said, "Lartey is a good, tough fighter and it's going to be a good fight.
"I know I'm going to keep my KO streak going. Whether it's in the first or the 10th, it will happen. He's never been knocked out and I like those kinds of challenges."