Andrew Cancio picked up his phone while on his lunch break and dialed in for a conference call. Media from around the world were waiting for him -- a construction technician for a gas company in Southern California -- to share his unique perspective. This is a new experience for Cancio, the WBA "regular" junior lightweight champion who truly is juggling two worlds.
For every Canelo Alvarez, Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder, who each make eight figures per fight, there are boxers such as Cancio who still work a 9-to-5 day job and have never come close to seeing even two-hundred grand for a fight.
Cancio is in the field daily, jackhammer in hand, working on the gas lines. It's hard, tiring work outdoors in the heat that is partly responsible for keeping Cancio in good shape. In fact, when he spoke to reporters on one recent afternoon, Cancio did so while at his job.
"I'm actually taking my lunch while doing this conference call right now in my truck," Cancio said.
Such is the life of a fighter with a world title but one who has not yet reached the level where he can make big money.
"When I first started doing this job, picking the jackhammer up, actually using it, was very brutal. It takes at least two to three months to get used to the digging. I used to go home and be so drained from the job that I couldn't do anything else. Now I can use all these tools and dig all day long, then go home and go train. I already got my strength and conditioning workout out of the way." Andrew Cancio
Of course, if Cancio can repeat his upset of Alberto Machado in their rematch, his financial outlook will be much rosier and perhaps allow him to focus full time on boxing. He is expected to make in the low six figures.
On Feb. 9, Machado was making the third defense of his 130-pound world title and was a huge favorite to defeat Cancio. Cancio survived a first-round knockdown and in the fourth round dropped Machado three times, all with body punches, to get the knockout victory and win the belt.
Cancio pulled what was the leading candidate for upset of the year before Andy Ruiz Jr. dethroned unified heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua in shocking knockout fashion on June 1. Now Cancio is getting ready for the rematch with Machado but is still working at the gas company during his preparation ... with a few exceptions.
Cancio took a vacation day to appear at a recent media workout. Even in fight week, he worked his normal hours on Monday. Only then did he take four vacation days, Tuesday through Friday.
It's a less-than-ideal situation, but Cancio doesn't harbor any ill will.
"Oh, yeah, it's been worthwhile. Paid off," he said.
Cancio's coworkers were aware that he had the fight coming up and did what they could to help him out during the work day.
"They try to help me out whenever it gets closer to the fight," he said. "They'll tell me to save my energy, they'll dig or they'll pick up the jackhammer. They do try to look out for me that way so I don't injure myself. I have that in the back of my mind when I am working the pneumatic tools to make sure I'm in a proper position. That way I don't tweak my back or I'm careless to injure myself before the fight."
But that hard day work, Cancio said, has essentially served as his strength and conditioning for the fight.
"When I first started doing this job, picking the jackhammer up, actually using it, was very brutal," he said. "It takes at least two to three months to get used to the digging. I used to go home and be so drained from the job that I couldn't do anything else. Now I can use all these tools and dig all day long, then go home and go train. I already got my strength and conditioning workout out of the way. I would say it's definitely helped me out."
Eric Gomez, the president of Golden Boy Promotions, said he admires the dedication that Cancio has displayed as he balances a day job with the rigors of training for a prize fight.
"It shows his character and determination," Gomez said. "It's hard enough to box, but when you have a 9-to-5 job, you have to put food on the table for your kids, find ways to train early in the morning, after work. I mean, it builds character. It's a sign of a true champion, a true overachiever.
Cancio was ready to give up boxing
That Cancio even got the opportunity to fight Machado the first time was a surprise given where he had come from. In September 2016, Cancio suffered a ninth-round knockout loss to Joseph Diaz Jr. in a featherweight bout on the Alvarez-Liam Smith undercard at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and retired from boxing.
He was done with the sport and resigned himself to a different lifestyle.
"Post the Diaz fight, I had a lot of things going on in my personal life as far as the gym life between trainers and manager," Cancio said. "There was just a lot going on. I was just mentally frustrated with everything. Nothing was going right. I got cut one week before a fight on my nose sparring. There was a lot going on. I was just frustrated. I felt like, here I was once again getting nowhere. Like I said, I was just more mentally frustrated and just drained from everything."
After leaving the stadium following the Diaz fight, Cancio said he didn't pick up a pair of gloves for about 18 months.
"I was on the couch [and] working my 9 to 5," Cancio said. "I didn't have no enthusiasm going into the gym or running, doing nothing. I did absolutely nothing."
But eventually, Cancio (20-4-2, 15 KOs), 30, went to the gym, but just to work out to take off a few pounds. Then, with the goal still to win a world title in the back of his mind, he made the decision to return to the sport.
"What made me get back in the ring, in the gym, was, I knew I [had] a lot to prove. I knew I could be a world champion, like I am right now," he said. "My kids wanted to see me fight again, as well. I got the itch again. That's what made me come back to the sport that I love doing."
Cancio to prove first fight wasn't a fluke
Machado (21-1, 17 KOs), a 28-year-old southpaw, exercised his contractual right to an immediate rematch, and they will meet again on Friday (DAZN, 9 p.m. ET) at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California, the same site of their first fight. Cancio, who is from Blythe, California, once again will be the heavy crowd favorite.
"[Cancio] feels he has confidence, has what it takes to remain champion, but more importantly, he wants to silence his doubters and prove that his victory was no fluke," said Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya. "Obviously, [Machado] wants to redeem himself. He wants to go back to where the knockout took place and get redemption."
But the way Cancio sees it, he has worked too hard to allow Machado to take the belt away from him and prevent him from being able to forget about working a day job.
"A lot of people are saying it was a fluke or it was because he was weight-drained, that that's the reason why I won the first time, but come the second time, he's going to win the rematch," Cancio said. "It does bother me. But it's only pushing me to train even harder, to go in there and do what I did the first time around, shut these critics up, these doubters that doubt me.
Cancio is hoping another victory against Machado will allow him to focus on boxing full time instead of continuing to dig gas lines.
"What keeps me motivated is I want the bigger fights, the bigger platforms," Cancio said. "I want to go after other champions. I feel like there are a lot bigger fights out there for me. I'm still on the grind. I still got a lot to prove to the boxing world. That's what keeps me motivated. I got my family that I got to fight for."