Justin Pauldo feeling the Cuban influence of Erislandy Lara, Guillermo Rigondeaux and David Morrell ahead of Eduardo Estela clash in Plant City

Justin Pauldo debuts on Wednesday Night Fights tomorrow in Plant City after linking up with ProBox TV on a promotional deal in the past two months. 

The 15-1 (7 KOs) lightweight takes on Uruguayan Eduardo Estela over 10 rounds as the event’s chief support. 

“I’ve been looking for an opportunity for a while, my manager knew people at ProBox TV.” Pauldo said in an exclusive interview. “When she brought it to me, it made sense, a great opportunity. I’ll be expecting Eduardo to be tough, I expect him to test me. He’s picked up some good wins in his career. I don’t see him being any better than me in any category, I’m expecting a great fight.”

Pauldo returns tomorrow off the back of some serious turbulence in his career. He missed weight ahead of a fight with Rolly Romero, the bout was ultimately cancelled. His deal with PBC expired soon after, resulting in over two years of inactivity.

“I’m originally from Orlando, Florida but now I live in Houston, Texas.” Pauldo explained. “I had a chance to train with the legendary Ronnie Shields, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to enhance my career. It’s been great being around Ronnie, and I get the chance to be around a lot of great fighters. A lot of champions and young guys coming up around the gym working. We got a great stable. Ronnie is very knowledgeable and we go over a lot of stuff. He’s one of those coaches that are always focused on the basics and the fundamentals. 

“I been with Ronnie for a minute, about seven years. I came down here with my Family, I got a six year old son now as well. It has been great, it hasn’t always been, we’ve had ups and downs. I had a two and a half year layoff. I was with PBC at that point. Things happened and I end up not fighting for two years. I have had mishaps in my career, I missed weight for the Rolly Romero fight. It was my fault, I shouldn’t have missed weight. I could have been more professional, there were some things leading into that fight too. But a professional should always do his job and be professional. So after that I was out for over two years. But I got a great team with Jolene Mizzone and Adrian Clark, we came up together. Now ProBox came along with this great deal, I want a shot at the title in 2024. 135 [pounds] is a stacked division, there is little margin for error. You get pushed to the side, but it is just business as I understand it.”

Despite the two and a half year crater on his record coupled with missing weight, Pauldo has continued to hone his craft in what sounded like the perfect way to not fight, and still be learning from some of the best.

“We have a lot of great fighters in our gym.” Pauldo added. “Even guys that our outside my weight class, it is just great to see all these great fighters work. I get to see Jermell Charlo and David Morrrell on a regular basis. You pick things up, little tricks and things. We have a great stable of young Cuban fighters in our gym now. We got Yoenis Tellez, he's coming up, he’s a great fighter. I had the chance to do a few rounds with him, even though he is the bigger guy. He fights at 154, he was great with me. It was a great experience. 

“I wouldn’t say it completely changed my style working with the Cuban fighters, but you naturally pick up things no matter who you are with, it must have had a big impact. But I do see and work with different types of fighters with different styles, I’m constantly learning. I don’t care if I think I am better than you or not, if I see something I like, and it is something I don’t do, I will try to pick it up and add it to my game. I have been in the gym for years with Erislandy Lara, I learnt a lot from him. I would just sit and watch him hot the bag or hit the mitts. Then I had the chance to work with Guillermo Rigondeaux a couple of years back. I’ve sparred him before, even though he is the smaller guy we got in there. He taught me different foot work. We shadow boxed together plenty of times too. Just being around guys like that, they are so smart and crafty you learn a lot.”