By Robert Coster
There are 10 foreign boxers pursuing their career in Japan. One such boxer adopted by Japanese fans is Dominican-born jr welterweight Vladimir Baez (24-3-1, 22 KOs), a hard-punching, lanky battler who settled in Japan in 2015.
Baez, signed up by Puma Toguchi Gym, has had five fights in Asia, winning four and losing one (in Thailand). He is unbeaten in Japanese rings and is getting ready to fight for the Japanese National title. A man with two nations, Baez is married to a Japanese woman and is the proud father of a little girl. Fightnews.com® interviewed Baez about how it is to live, train and fight in Japan.
Vladimir, how many foreign boxers are there in Japan?
We are ten foreign boxers living here. There are four Latinos. I’m signed up with Puma Toguchi Gym which is run by Mrs. Satomi Toguchi. The company has in its ranks various national Japanese Champions and Asian Champions.
What is your ranking?
I’m the number one ranked in Japan and number four in Asia.
How different is it to train and fight in the Dominican Republic where you come from and your adoptive homeland?
Japanese boxers are more disciplined and train so hard. In the Dominican Republic, boxers are not given all the facilities they are here. Plus here, boxers are given ample time to train. I had to learn to develop the same work mentality as the boxers here. Not making the weight at fight time is unthinkable in Japan.
You have beaten Japanese boxers. How do the local fans react?
Japanese fans are so fair. Here it’s ‘may the best man win.’ I have been totally accepted. The fans here are demanding and knowledgeable. They pay to see a good fight. They love boxers who have big hearts.
You step into the ring with two flags, the Dominican flag and the Japanese flag. Are you making a statement?
Yes, I’m proud to be Dominican and I’m grateful to Japan for accepting me and giving me the opportunity to further my career. I love this country. My wife is Japanese and we have a little girl.
You will be fighting for the Japanese title in May?
Yes. I’m fighting Valentin Hosogawa on May 7th. I was Dominican National Champion and it would be great to add the Japanese belt.
Your boxing nickname is “Destino Japon” — means Destiny Japan. Did you choose that nickname?
Yes. It means that my fate, my destiny, is this great country – Japan.