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“Next in Line” Francisco Contreras

Francisco_Contreras_H1.jpg’s “Next in Line,” by Alec Kohut, features up-and-coming fighters from around the country and introduces them to readers, then follows their quest to become champions.  


Francisco Contreras, junior welterweight, Irvington, New Jersey (La Romana, Dominican Republic)


An undercard fight at a hotel ballroom in Hagerstown, Maryland is not a place I expected to see a possible star in the making. Yet 30 seconds into one of the early fights that evening, last August, my friend and fellow boxing fan Tony Butler and I looked at each other as I said, “This guy is different.”

We were watching now-26-year-old lightweight Francisco Contreras, not just hitting his opponent, Julian Rodriguez, but punishing him. Not long into the second round, the referee ended the carnage, and Contreras’ scored his tenth knockout in as many pro fights.


Since then, Contreras has won four more bouts, three by knockout, and joins my list of fighters who are “Next in Line.”


Raised in a poor family in La Romana, Dominican Republic, Contreras first entered a boxing gym at the age of five. His father, Bonifacio, had been a fighter, as were his two brothers when he was young. Contreras went on to earn a 350-14 record as an amateur.


Married now with a two-year-old son, Contreras keeps his late father in his heart. “I want to fulfill the dream my father had, but no opportunity, to be a world champion,” said Contreras.


The young fighter works hard to balance the demands of professional boxing and family, spending time whenever possible in his Dominican homeland with his mother, whom he still remains close, and his wife and child. Trainer Valentin Contreras (no relation) said that family is his motivation, “He’s a family guy, he’s always thinking about his family back home that he takes care of. That’s what he’s working for right now.”


First seen by boxing fans nationwide on Showtime’s “ShoBox” on February 5th this year, Contreras wasted no time in dispensing of then-16-2-1, Juan Castaneda Jr. with a knockout, just 1:38 into the contest. With Francisco throwing power shots with both hands, the announcers needed affirmation to determine which hand had knocked Castaneda out.


In the previous fight, Contreras used three knockdowns in six rounds to score his first, and only, victory by decision, beating journeyman Marteze Logan. Entering the ring, Contreras had 18 rounds as a professional; Logan had 455 in 67 fights, including bouts with Paul Williams, and Anthony and Lamont Peterson.


Contreras’ range of punches is impressive, seeing him dig both right and left hooks into the midsection of opponents draws awe, from even longtime boxing aficionados. He’s able to work behind his jab, or throw the lead straight right with precision.


Managed by Cameron Dunkin, who hopes to have Contreras to at least 20 wins by year’s end, his next contest is tentatively set for June 24th in Reno, Nevada, and will be his second “ShoBox” appearance. His opponent is yet to be named.


While his power is not questioned, Valentin adamantly maintains that Contreras is actually a better boxer than he is a puncher, stating that Francisco has the ability to roll with punches to avoid getting hit flush. He did, however, assure me that when hit flush, Francisco can take the punches.


Valentin told me, “He’s natural, a very natural fighter, who has a lot of ability. So far, you’ve only seen his power. But I’m going to tell you, and everybody else, his boxing skills are way better than his punching power. He’s a hell of a boxer.”


If that is the case, expect Francisco Contreras not only to be in the lightweight title hunt very soon, but a household name among boxing fans for at least the next decade.


 Questions or comments can be directed to Please visit Alec at

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