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Avina ranked 3rd in North America after recent wins
BOX--Avina pic 1
Manteca resident Vincent Avina has worked his way into the North America rankings thanks to his current hot streak that began with two tournament wins over the summer. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO/Bulletin file photo

Opponents are now thinking twice before stepping into the ring with 14-year-old Vincent Avina.

The Stella Brockman Elementary School eighth grader has been on a roll since his busy summer break in which he won title belts in the 13th Annual Desert Showdown World Amateur Boxing Championships (Indio) and 5th Annual U.S. Independence Day Boxing Championships (Fresno). He also captured a silver medal in the adidas National Tournament (Oxnard).

That was when he was 13.

Avina, who goes by the moniker “The Beast,” turned 14 in September, and because of where his birthday falls he will face 15- and 16-year-olds in major tournaments. He has fought three times since the school year began and won all three against good competition.

“I’ve been trying to put him in as many (events) as I can,” said Albert Avina, Vincent’s dad and trainer, “but the more he wins the less people want to fight him. We’re not backing down from anyone. We want to see the best.”

Vincent has lost just once in his current hot streak. He was outpointed by Jonjairo Gonzalez of Texas in the adidas National final. Gonzalez is No. 2 among North American 110-pound pugilists in the schoolboy division, according to Michael Smith’s North America Independent Worldwide Amateur Boxing Rankings. Avina is ranked for the first time, earning his No. 3 spot by defeating well-regarded Derry Edwards of Vacaville in Nov. 8. It’s the signature win of Avina’s early career.

Also listed are fellow Californians Gabriel Martinez and Flavio Perez, ranked fourth and fifth, respectively. Avina defeated both over the summer, and Perez is a former Junior Olympic champion.

“When I got the ranking I was excited,” Avina said. “I didn’t think I was going to be ranked anytime soon. It was a good relief. My confidence is way up. My fights are like sparring matches now. It feels like practice.”

Avina earlier topped Heyner Diaz of the Santa Maria Boxing Club. Diaz, a 2012 Silver Gloves champion, looked to get a match in before competing in the 2014 National PAL Championships in Oxnard and got more than he had asked for.

“They called me up wanting a tune-up fight,” the elder Avina said. “We kind of took it as disrespect.”

Diaz went on to take second in the PAL Championships 13-14-year-old 106-pound division.

With Vincent picking up steam, he was offered a match in the “And Then There Was One” card at Lightning’s Boxing Club in Oakland, where he squared off with the 15-year-old Edwards in a 108-pound bout. Edwards was then ranked No. 6 in the Junior Men’s 101-pound division by USA Boxing and No. 2 on Smith’s North American list.

“I was nervous for that fight,” Avina said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous, but I went in there and did what I had to do. It was a good, close fight. I just pushed myself harder in that last round.”

That he got the decision surprised his father. Albert admitted he had his doubts considering Edwards was more known around those parts, especially by the judges.

Vincent faced another 15-year-old in Hector Garcia of Reno, Nev. this past weekend. The Thanksgiving-themed “Fight Against Hunger 2” event took place in Stockton, a rare local event for the Manteca fighter.  Avina trains with his father at Nor Cal Viper Training/Deleotega Muay Thai in Stockton. Brockman School teacher A.J. Williams and a handful of his friends were among those in attendance.

“It was good to get that support,” Avina said. “I don’t usually get that for many of my fights.”

Avina hopes to return to action Dec. 6 back in Oakland, but Albert said a match has yet to be set up for his son.

“We just may have to do tournaments now,” he said.

Long-term plans include a return trip to the adidas National Tournament in June and a first appearance in the prestigious Junior Golden Gloves Nationals in Mesquite, Nev. the following month.