Vincent Avina walked into the ring at Gimnasio Municipal Oscar Tigre Garcia in Ensenada, Mexico for his third bout as a professional boxer this past Saturday.
Tonight, the 18-year-old Mantecan will walk off the stage at Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium as a Sierra High graduate. “The Beast” is ready to be unleashed.
“Graduating is a big part of my life, another chapter,” Avina said. “I can focus on boxing now. It has been hard balancing both.”
Albert Avina, his father and trainer, said it’s a proud moment for the family after Vincent had struggles keeping up with schoolwork as an underclassman. Vincent transferred to Calla High during his junior year to catch up on credits and made his professional boxing debut in July.
Avina, now 2-0-1 (two KOs), built an impressive amateur boxing resumé while in high school, earning titles in the Golden Gloves Junior Nationals and Ringside World Championships. Last summer, while still 17, he earned a first-round knockout of Diego Oliver Salazar Gastelum in his inaugural pro bout in Mexico.
“He could have graduated at Calla already, but I wanted him to walk with that class,” Albert said. “He always trains — it’s all he does. And, of course, he wanted to get a part-time job and stuff like that but I told him there’s no time for that.”
The younger Avina wasted little time in his third pro bout on Saturday. He knocked down 33-year-old Antonio Valenzuela twice in the opening round and twice more in the second, ultimately closing the show with right uppercut.
“The last two guys he fought were 28 — they have their man strength,” Albert Avina said. “Vincent is pretty strong already, but imagine when he gets his man strength.”
It was the bounce-back performance Team Avina had hoped for following its previous trip to Mexico. On Aug. 11, 2018, the young bantamweight settled for a majority draw with Gerardo Yescas.
“We took the fight not knowing anything about the opponent,” Albert said. “We figured we were the ‘A’ fighter. Vincent knocked him down twice but the referee called them slips. There was nothing I could do. I guess we were lucky to have even walked out with a draw instead of a loss. That’s the politics in boxing. I realized we needed more of a team.”
Enter the Guerreros brothers.
Avina now trains out of Guerrero’s Boxing Gym in Galt with Russ Guerrero, the uncle of former two-division world champion Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero of Gilroy. Robert is trained by his father, Ruben “Mad Dog” Guerrero, who noticed Avina’s talent in sparring sessions.
The Guerrero brothers have since joined Avina’s corner and were with him for his latest match. The elder Avina said Vincent mainly trains with Russ in Galt and is letting Ruben handle “the business part.”
Vincent enjoys working with the experienced trainers with his dad still by his side.
“I’ve been trained by others in the past,” Vincent said. “It’s a different style and I’m still developing, but I’m comfortable with any coach. It’s nice to have a different point of view. My dad and the Guerreros are able to collaborate on what they think is best.”
The Avinas hope to get another fight lined up, and this time nearer to his hometown. Until then, Vincent will relish his final day as a high school student and then join the workforce next week as he begins his first job at a Bay Area steel shop with dad.
“I already have a job lined up and the hours are flexible, so I’ll be able to train,” Avina said. “Right now, I’m looking at maybe getting a fight late in the summer and hopefully in Stockton. That’s one thing I’m really looking forward to, is getting one close to home.”