The stars are aligned, but Estrada still has to want it
Jason Estrada made some mistakes early in his career. Now, he's making the decision to be better -- and it all starts in his head.
Updated: April 3, 2008, 8:40 AM ETBy Joe Tessitore | ESPN.com
Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty ImagesJason Estrada, left, was a not-so-svelte 262 pounds when he lost at the 2004 Olympics.The more you analyze sports, the more you analyze the human psyche. I know my ringside partner Teddy Atlas says it all the time, but it is so true and very worth repeating: Boxing is more mental than physical. In fact, considering all the different events I'm fortunate to broadcast, I'm convinced that all sports are more mental than physical. At a certain level, everyone has talent and athletic ability. It's the mental side that determines what will happen. I don't care if it's a thoroughbred horse deciding to dig down deep and give a stronger push against a rail-riding rival, or if it's a gritty tennis underdog refusing to feel fatigue in the fifth set. The will to win, the desire to determine your own fate and the ability to convert nervous energy into productive focus is critical. This week, "Friday Night Fights" (ESPN2 Friday, 9 p.m. ET) features a boxer whose career seems entirely defined by the mental aspect of the game. Jason Estrada's early résumé reads like that of a future multimillionaire pay-per-view kingpin. His life is playing out differently: Estrada is trying to escape from under the weight of his own motivational missteps.
The Providence, R.I.-based heavyweight is lingering as a prospect rather than surging. He is 11-1 (2 KOs) as a three-year pro. That follows an amateur career that saw Estrada win two National Junior Olympics, three U.S. National Amateur Championships, gold at the Pan-Am Games. He also earned a trip to the 2004 Olympics. Estrada is promoted by Jimmy Burchfield, who has given him TV exposure and the landscape to succeed. He fights in and around Providence, a hometown that can carry a fighter to riches. Just ask Vinny Pazienza and Peter Manfredo what Burchfield is capable of in southern New England and beyond. Yet with everything lined up, Estrada hasn't shown that he wants it all. It started in Athens. Instead of bringing home a medal, the fighter brought home disappointment. The fact that he was a poorly conditioned 262 pounds was bad enough. "If I'm going to lose, I'm going to lose getting hit as little as possible," Estrada said after losing in the Olympics. Comments like that are inexcusable in the fight game. That was worse than any scale he's ever tipped. Everyone deserves a second chance, and that's what this week's "FNF" is all about. Estrada takes on former heavyweight contender Lance "Mount" Whitaker (32-4-1, 27 KOs). At 27, Estrada may finally be getting it. He checked in at a much more fit 240 pounds for his most recent fight. That's a good sign, as is the fact that he's challenging himself with a new training regimen.
Emily Harney/Fightwireimages.comEstrada is committing himself to boxing and the results are starting to show.
I'm not really doing the traditional three-minute rounds with a minute rest. My dad has had four guys coming in, and we're doing 24 minutes straight sparring. I don't get any rest. That's going to get me in the best possible shape I can be in.
-- Jason Estrada, on his newfound commitment to training and the fight game
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