'I'm not scared of anyone': Humberto ‘Filly’ Rubalcava interview
Don’t be fooled by the gentle demeanour, the glasses or the fact that he’s studying criminal law. Twenty-two-year-old prospect Humberto ‘Filly’ Rubalcava is a real handful in the ring. Boxing Monthly's Paul Zanon was fortunate enough to catch up on the phone with the endearing 8-0 Californian resident, to find out more about his future inside the ring, in addition to shining a torch into his personal life.
PZ: Where does the name Filly come from?
FR: It’s short for my middle name, Filemon. It was my sister who started calling me Filly, maybe because it was shorter and easier for everyone. It kind of stuck to me after.
PZ: Nobody mistakes you for a Philadelphian?
FR: All the time! They think I’m from Philly, but I tell them that I’m just from Orange County, California….and that the name is with an ‘F’!
PZ: You have an incredible backstory. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
FR: I was about nine or ten years old when my dad left. I was always mad at him and hated him, but deep inside I would always cry for him. Then when I entered my Freshman year, my mum started to talk to herself and laugh, which was scary, because I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t understand her situation, but it turned out she had schizophrenia. She would go out and we’d be out looking for her at two or three in the morning. We’d also get the cops coming over to the house to drop her back. [Filly takes a deep breath before continuing.] That was not a good ride, for at least five years throughout my high school career. Then my dad passed away in 2016, which was very tough. I was able to speak with him two weeks before he passed and he was proud of me; that’s for sure. I know he’d want me to continue my journey. My brother-in-law, Juan Juarez and my sister raised us. Juan has known us for pretty much all of my life, since I was in kindergarten and he went through the journey with us. My sister [who’s 11 years older], was pretty tough [on Filly and younger brother Luis]. She would make me do my homework, especially when I didn’t want to do it. She’d have me up all day until it was done. I’m glad she taught me to do the right things, because I learnt a lot from her. That’s why I have good grades now, throughout high school and college. I’m now studying criminal justice.
PZ: Have you had any jobs to subsidise your studies and boxing? [N.B. Filly needs boxing sponsors - get in touch if you can help!]
FR: I never know when I’m fighting so I need to get extra cash. I work at Home Depot and they know I’m a boxer. They’re great with me. They know I’m a boxer and know I go to school, so they give me good hours at the right time, which is perfect.
PZ: Your sister Julie was a professional boxer?
FR: That’s correct. She started me off! She had a record of 4-1-1 and fought at minimumweight. We even sparred back then, when I was a lot lighter. She used to kick my butt.
PZ: You had an amateur career of 55-8 and are currently 8-0 with six stoppages to your name. You are ranked 33 [out of 139 in the USA] in the featherweight division according to Boxrec - what are your plans over the next 12 months?
FR: I’m actually super bantamweight. [At 5'9" with a big frame and dynamite in his fists, that’s a daunting prospect for any boxer who steps through the ropes to meet Filly]. I make weight easy. I always start my diet really early and make sure there’s no fast food involved. My sister makes my meals. In terms of the next 12 months, ideally, I’d like to be fighting six times. It’s tough getting fights, but that’s my goal. I love fighting. It’s my job.
PZ: You have six stoppages in eight fights. Has that made it difficult to get boxers to step in the ring with you?
FR: Oh yeah. John Maresca and Juan [Juarez] always tell me, we’ve got guys lined up, but they all say no or drop out. I do think my record has an effect on my opponents. But that’s fine. That’s why we need to step it up a notch and fight guys higher up the rankings. I don’t care what their records are, I just want to fight and show them what I have and who I am.
PZ: Toughest fighter you have fought so far in the pro ranks?
FR: That was my seventh fight against Raymond Chacon. He was tough. We went the distance and he really made me think during that fight. He’s southpaw and I’m not, but I switch. He would hit, move, hit, move and at that time I had to be the aggressive one, which is not the way I usually fight. I had to go to him, fight with him and put the pressure on him.
PZ: Tell us a bit more about the team you work with. Who trains you and who manages you.
FR: My brother-in-law, Juan, has trained me my whole career and also trains my little brother to. John Maresca manages me.
PZ: No pressure, but John Maresca tells me you’re better than Arturo Gatti at this point of your career. What’re your thoughts on that?
FR: Ha! It’s an honour for someone to compare me to a legend like that. I’m not a cocky guy. I’m humble and just accept the compliment very warmly.
PZ: The super bantamweight and featherweight divisions are pretty competitive. Do you have any fighters in your sights that you would like to challenge over the next 12-24 months?
FR: I’ll fight anyone.
PZ: Shakur Stevenson?
FR: Yeah. I’m not scared of anyone and if they want to fight, I’ll fight.
PZ: Who wins – Vasyl Lomachenko or Jorge Linares?
FR: That’s a good fight! I’m going for Lomachenko. That guy is an unbelievable fighter, but Jorge is no walk in the park. He’s a tough fighter. I think the fight will go the distance and could even be decided on a split decision.
PZ: How much more of Filly Rubalcava are we yet to see?
FR: This is nothing. I hope you get to see what kind of fighter I really am. Many just see me as a knockout artist, which is not my goal heading into the fight. I’m a boxer before I’m a brawler. I can do it all. I can switch southpaw and beat you at your own range. There’s a lot more to come from me.
PZ: If you could spar three rounds with any past boxing legend, who would it be?
FR: I’d probably go with Miguel Cotto. He was one of my favourites growing up as a boxer. Even though he’s much bigger than me, that would be a great opportunity.