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Vazquez Jr. got his confidence back

In 2010, Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. was a potential star on the rise when he won a vacant junior featherweight world title with a fourth-round knockout of then-undefeated Marvin Sonsona.

It has, however, been rough going in recent years for Vazquez, who is hoping for a fresh start as he looks to rejuvenate his career when he faces Jonathan Arrellano in a 8-round featherweight bout on Saturday (UniMas, 11 p.m. ET/PT) in Caguas, Puerto Rico.

Vazquez is coming into the fight with a new outlook. He has reunited with his father and trainer, Wilfredo Vazquez Sr., a revered former three-division world titleholder and one of the best Puerto Rican fighters in history, and he also has the confidence of middleweight world champion Miguel Cotto, whose Cotto Promotions signed him earlier this year.

"I definitely think this is a new chapter for me," Vazquez said through a translator. "I was down and things were not going great for me in my career. But I am back with my father and I am fortunate to have a great person like Miguel Cotto behind me. I feel this is a brand-new opportunity. I have a completely different state of mind than I had before."

Vazquez is just 3-4 in his past seven fights and while the fight with Arrellano can't be considered a big fight -- it's not for a world title, not for much money and not against a name opponent -- it is the start of what he hopes is another run at a world title.

It is also important for Vazquez to put a win in the bank after getting knocked down with a first-round body shot and losing a 10-round split decision in a rematch with Sonsona in his most recent bout on June 7 on the Cotto-Sergio Martinez undercard.

"Miguel and everyone at the company feels the same as we felt before the Sonsona [rematch]. We have plans for him," said Gaby Penagaricano, Cotto's close adviser. "We had a setback but that was a fight where Sonsona was different than the first fight. He was grabbing and holding. But in general we feel Wilfredo is still a threat in the featherweight division.

"There are fights we can do. The company feels he can come back and win another world title. We have a chance to give 'Papito' great fights with a win on [Saturday]."

After Vazquez (23-4-1, 19 KOs), 30, won his world title at 122 pounds -- the same weight class where his dad won one of his titles; he also claimed belts at 118 and 126 -- he made two defenses, winning both by knockout.

Then came the first fight of his career against a well-known opponent. He was matched with former titleholder and Mexican fan favorite Jorge Arce in 2011 on a huge stage, the pay-per-view undercard of Manny Pacquiao's welterweight title defense against Shane Mosley.

Vazquez, the much younger, fresher fighter, was a big favorite to defeat Arce, which would have given him the biggest name yet on his resume. But things did not go as they were expected to.

Arce survived a knockdown, rallied and was battering Vazquez late in the fight. Finally, Vazquez Sr. threw in the towel in the 12th round to save his son from further punishment.

It was a bitter pill for Vazquez Jr. to swallow. He blamed his father for the defeat and their professional relationship was badly damaged, although they did work together for several more fights after that until finally breaking up. Vazquez Sr. was not in the corner for his son's loss to Sonsona in June.

"I was feeling great in the Arce fight. That was the focal point of everything that has happened to me," Vazquez Jr. said. "I was feeling sensational in the fight and doing well. I dropped Arce. I thought I was winning even though Arce had the good last round. My corner decided to stop it and I completely lost confidence in myself to be in the sport. I know I was having a bad round but I was still feeling very good and thought the fight was winnable. Everything that has happened to me after that has been a result of that fight. It was a lack of confidence in myself and in my corner. I never felt the same as I did before the Arce fight.

"I [eventually] stopped working with my father and there were problems in our relationship. I felt like it was a betrayal by my father in stopping the fight after such a great camp. My father himself prevented me from winning the fight and from earning a high payday in the next fight. I had it in reach but my father prevented the win."

Vazquez is hoping he can get that confident feeling back with a win against Arrellano (15-4-2, 3 KOs), 27, of Ontario, California, and believes he is on his way after patching things up with his father.

Vazquez, who said he is fighting to give his two daughters a comfortable life, said he has come to terms with what happened with his father and that they have a newfound respect for each other.

"My father was the reason why I lost confidence," he said. "I replaced my father with people who had zero family sentiment thinking that would make me a better fighter, but I realized that by doing so I really damaged my career and I concluded that my father is the one I owed everything to.

"He had to be with me and he will be with me. It has been a process."

Despite the difficult issues they were having professionally, Vazquez said he and his father were still able to maintain a personal relationship in the time since the fight with Arce.

"We broke up professionally but we continued a solid family relationship even though we were not working together," Vazquez Jr. said. "It was difficult but we have gotten over it."

Now, after realizing that his father had his best interest at heart, Vazquez said he has given himself over to him once again in the gym, which he believes will carry over into the ring.

"I feel the confidence is 100 percent back," Vazquez said. "I went back to basics. It's an approach like when I first started as a fighter with my father. I do what my father tells me in the gym when we are training and I don't ask questions. He knows what is supposed to be done and how it's supposed to be done. I accept that and it's been magical."