March 24, 2011
Its not very often when an 18-year-old pro boxer gets the opportunity to fight on national television, much less before his hometown fans.
However, for Fairfield native Manuel Tino Avila (2-0, 1 KO), such plaudits are to be expected even at this fledgling stage of his career.
It never feels overwhelming, said Avila, who takes on Frank Gutierrez (2-8-2, 1 KO) this Friday at the Fairfield Sports Center in the latest installment of Telefuturas Solo Boxeo Tecate series. Ive been training out here in Vacaville for eight or nine years here, and Ive fought here in the amateurs. Its just another fight to me.
The pressure to perform is nothing new to Avila. His last fight in February was also televised by the Spanish-language network and also took place at the same venue in front of over 1,000 supporters screaming his nickname.
Hes been used to situations like this, said his father, Manuel, Sr. It doesnt get to him at all.
When he was a little kid, he would cry when his dad would punish him by not letting him go to the gym, chuckled head trainer Al LaGardo. Tino was born to be a fighter.
The recent Rodriguez High graduate passed the test with flying colors, recording his pro first knockout with a fourth-round stoppage of Jose Garcia, a feat made even more remarkable when noting that the right-handed Avila was facing a southpaw in just his second fight.
Tino was making him miss. You get more tired missing punches than hitting somebody, said LaGardo. Hell stand in front of you and counter you to death, or he can be aggressive and throw double or triple left hooks on the inside and get you out of there that way.
It was one of those hooks that staggered Garcia and initiated the final flurry that caused the referee to wave off the bout.
I dont think Tino really loaded up until he threw that hook, continued LaGardo. In fact, this guy hes fighting next is another southpaw. Southpaws are very hard to time, but he spars them all the time.
It was only last June when Avila, the No. 6-ranked American amateur bantamweight at the time, abandoned his Olympic dreams after compiling a purported record of 48-6.
I went pro because the amateur scoring system isnt the best for my style, said Avila without a hint of apprehension. Also, Ill be able to help my family with the money I make.
His decision seems to be the right one. Cameron Dunkin, who currently manages the career of world bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire of San Mateo, immediately offered him a contract.
Hes a bad boy, said Dunkin approvingly. I had heard of him but had never seen him fight until I saw a video of him on the internet. He can really fight.
Soon after his managerial situation was resolved, he became the subject of a bidding war between several top promoters, including Oscar De La Hoyas Golden Boy Promotions, whom Tino eventually chose.
I used to watch Oscar fight, said Avila. Im beginning to see how big it is to be with Golden Boy at my age.
Still, the question remains if the prodigy will be able to handle the transition from four-round fights to a six-rounder this early in his career, a hasty move by most industry standards.
I think Tino feeds off this crowd, said assistant trainer Karl Sharrock. Well know where he is after the fourth roundif it goes that far.
Perhaps the move is a sign of De La Hoya and Golden Boys faith in their young prospect.
Were really high on Manuel, so were going to keep using him since were planning to do more shows in the area, said Hall of Fame promoter Don Chargin, now a Golden Boy consultant. When hes throwing a combination, hes already one step ahead and thinking about the next one. You dont find that too often in a fighter his age.
It makes me feel good to know they think Im ready for a six-rounder, said Avila. Ive actually trained every day for an eight-round fight because Ive been sparring ten rounds. It doesnt bother me. Its just another two rounds added from the last fight.
Fairfield has been the beneficiary of some recent media momentum, as Green Bay linebacker and fellow native son Desmond Bishop was an integral part of this years Super Bowl-winning team. Now Avila looks to make his mark by obtaining some championship glory of his own in the future.
It would feel great to put Fairfield on the map, he said, but Im also representing Vacaville, because I train here. No ones really done the things Ive been able to do here, being 18 years old, as far as signing with Golden Boy or fighting on TV. It would feel great to bring a title back
Boxing writer Ryan Maquiana is a regular contributor to CSNBayArea.com.