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FIGHTING CHANCE

Avina, 13, enjoys breakout summer in amateur ranks

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FIGHTING CHANCE

Vincent Avina of Manteca pounds the body with a right cross while training with his dad Albert.

JONAMAR JACINTO/The Bulletin /


POSTED July 29, 2014 11:52 p.m.

STOCKTON — Vincent Avina began his amateur boxing career at age 9.

“My first match, I fought a kid who had won seven straight … I lost,” Avina said. “I was only in the gym for like three months. He had been training for about three years.”

Four bouts later he was 0-5.

“I kind of rushed him, honestly,” his father and trainer Albert Avina said. “But he still had the desire, so here we are still going at it.”

Now 13, the Stella Brockman School eighth grader has Olympic dreams with his sights set on a professional career. Never mind the 10-13 record, it’s what Avina did over the summer that has him and his father thinking big.

Vincent captured two belts and a medal in one month’s time and decisively defeated a former Junior Olympic champion in the process.

“I told him that this was going to be his year,” Albert said.

The Avinas returned to the adidas National Tournament held at the Oxnard PAL Mid-City Boxing Gym. It was here last year that the young Avina was eliminated in the first round. He redeemed himself June 18-21 by winning his opening bout against Gabriel Martinez of the renown Robert Garcia Boxing Academy. In the final he took on Azusa-based Jonjairo Gonzalez, a six-time national champion, according to the elder Avina. Gonzalez prevailed with a close decision.

“I was a little worried because we were up against a kid in his own backyard, but we won it by unanimous decision,” Albert Avina said of the first match. “The second one was a coin toss, but they gave it to the other kid. He’s been around for much longer, but I wasn’t disappointed because it was so close. We were all happy with how he did. An official thought Vincent won, so they put it in the book as a win for us. We didn’t get the belt, but we’ll take the win.”

Then on July 5, Avina squared off with Junior Olympic champ Flavio Perez and won a unanimous decision to garner the 5th Annual U.S. Independence Day Boxing Championships title hosted by the Aleman Boxing Club in Fresno.

He continued the momentum two weeks later in the 13th Annual Desert Showdown World Amateur Boxing Championships at Fantasy Springs Resort in Casino, where Avina won both of his fights and his second title strap.

“Getting two belts and one national medal in less than two months is pretty cool,” Avina said. “It gave me some confidence, but I just wanted to test my limits. My dad always says, ‘To be the best you’ve got to beat the best,’ so we were just trying to out and face the best fighters.”

Next year, he hopes to have his chance. The plan is for him to enter the Junior Golden Gloves that takes place every summer in Mesquite, Nev. By then he will be 14, but because of where his birthday falls he will be bumped up to the 15-16-year-old division.

“When I turn 16 I want to try out for the Olympic Trials,” Avina said. “If I don’t make it I want to go pro.”

Until then, he will continue to work on the mitts in his dad’s garage and go on 3-mile runs at dawn. They also hit the bags at Nor Cal Viper Training/Deleotega Muay Thai in Stockton, where Albert serves as a boxing trainer. Vincent’s trains less over the school year, usually up to twice every other week, but plays other sports to remain active.

That doesn’t mean his mind fully strays away from the squared circle, as his dad emphasizes the details of the sweet science.

“In boxing you have brawlers and you have boxers,” Albert Avina said. “Me, I’m more of a brawler; I just go toe to toe. But with my boy and other people I teach them how to box because they don’t need to take hits. My son will brawl if he has to but I want to see him move and pump the jab.

“We realize it’s a sport and he wants to accomplish a lot with it.”

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