By John J. Raspanti
Undefeated junior featherweight contender Manuel “Tino” Avila faces former world title challenger Prosper Ankrah July 9 at the Cache Creek Casino Resort in Brooks, CA.
Avila (20-0, 8 KOs) was last seen in the ring three months ago giving the more experienced Rene Alvarado a boxing lesson.
Many considered the bout a real test for the 23-year-old Avila. But after absorbing a few punches in the opening rounds, Avila dominated with lateral movement and nifty counterpunches.
A professional since he was 18, Avila has steadily improved, showing an inner toughness and cool exterior whenever matters have turned testy in the ring. His quiet nature belies his determination.
Avila captured the NABF super bantamweight title last year by dismantling former world title challenger Yoandris Salinas at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, CA.
Usually a slow starter in the opening rounds, Avila got off to a rip-roaring start. He tattooed Salinas with stinging jabs and sneaky right.
Avila floored Salinas with a lead right hand. He kept firing at Salinas with precision over the next four rounds. After Round six ended, Salinas told his team he had enough.
Looking for a change last year, Avila left long-time trainer Al Largado, and began working with Max and Sam Garcia of Salinas. With his new team, Avila notched consecutive victory number 19 this past October, a wide decision victory over journeyman Jose Angel Beranza. But Avila found the new relationship a bad fit.
“The Garcia’s weren’t really a good fit for me,” Avila told this writer via email. “The way they trained just didn’t feel right to me. I’m not saying they’re bad trainers--just saying the way I’ve trained almost half my life before them seemed to work out better. And, I didn’t like being away from home all week, especially right after I got married in January.”
So, Avila returned to trainer Largado, a man he’s known most his life.
“I’m back with Al (Largardo). He started me out boxing when I was 10,” Avila stated. “He knows how I am and the way I train. He knows what works and what doesn’t. Al knows what I’m truly capable of. It’s a matter of working and getting sharper and smarter in the ring.”
Avila prefers to let his corner work on fight strategy.
“I honestly don’t know anything about my opponent on July 9” said Avila. “Al and I know the style of fighting they do, where he’s from. So, we’re kinda working off that. We think he’s going to be long, and have a really sharp jab. He’s not going to be an easy opponent, but I’ll be coming out of the fight with my hand raised.”
Avila has achieved one goal by winning the NABF title, but a world title is what he wants.
“The fight on the ninth is for the IBA championship, but I’m hoping for a bigger title shot,” Avila wrote. “I’m hoping for this year, but if it’s next year, that’s ok. I’ll be fine with the little waiting game.”
Avila learned he’ll soon be a father.
“It feels amazing,” said Avila. “I’m really excited. I feel more motivated and hungrier for what the future in boxing holds for me. Now that I have a wife, and kid on the way, I’m even hungrier.”
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