decades, Las Vegas has been known as the “boxing capital of the world,” having
hosted some of the biggest and most lucrative prizefights. Some of the most
historic and iconic bouts have taken place in “Sin City,” yet, ironically
enough, it hasn't really produced that many homegrown boxers. Sure, many
standouts- most notably Floyd Mayweather- migrate to the desert. But how many
boxers raised and developed in the 702 have gone on to win a world title?
lightweight Diego Magdaleno, who headlines this Friday night’s edition of “ShoBox”
from the Casino del Sol in Tuscon, Arizona against Fernando Beltran, might be
the first; believe it or not.
in North Hollywood, California, he moved to Vegas at the age of eight in 1996.
how is it that a city with such a rich boxing tradition hasn't produced more
of the lifestyle,” explained Magdaleno to Maxboxing, “I stay away from the
downtown area, the whole strip area. I mean, I live a lifestyle away from
Vegas. I live in Vegas but I live a lifestyle away from it and I think a lot of
people get caught up in the night life and the club industry.”
other words, he lives in Las Vegas but he's not about Las Vegas.
began boxing in this city at the Golden Gloves Boxing Gym, which is no longer
“When I was a younger kid, I was beating up kids in the neighborhood,”
Magdaleno recalled, laughing. “It was an idea from my dad, He wanted me to get
into sports. My dad's a big sports fan and we tried soccer but I don't know; it
wasn't my feet. It was my hands. I was just very aggressive as a kid.” Las
Vegas is a city of transients but in many respects, it is like growing up in
any other city. “There's a lot of diversity, here; everyone is kinda spread out
doing whatever they can and sports is one of the main things that's out here that's
provided for all the kids.”
graduate of Clark High was the only one among his circle of friends who boxed.
estimated population of Las Vegas hovers around just under 600,000 (http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/32/3240000.html).
And in other sports like football and basketball, you see more and more
athletes from this area earning college scholarships. But according to Pat
Berry, who trains Magdaleno and his talented younger brother, Jesse, you will
see more locally produced boxers in the near future.
“You are starting to see a little more, a larger number, but realistically,
this is a very small town. Geez, even 20 years ago, even though we were the ‘Mecca
of Boxing’ back then because of the hotels and the adult entertainment
industry- and I mean as far as gambling goes- and the shows and whatnot and
that being said, that's what Las Vegas has been known for. But the population
was never like L.A. or New York or cities like that,” said Berry, who came to
the city in 1976 and was a policemen for three decades before retiring a few
continued, “So we didn't have that pool to pick from. The numbers were limited
but as time has gone on now and our population is growing, Las Vegas is now
truly developed into a major city and you're starting to see a lot more proficiency
in the amateurs coming around. We're seeing more national champions coming
about; I got three of them right here in the gym [Berry's Boxing Center] that,
right now, they're fighting in the Golden Gloves Nationals in the next two
issue in developing a fighter in Las Vegas is that while there is an abundance
of big cards at venues like the MGM Grand and the Mandalay Bay, the city hasn't
had a consistent club circuit in years where fighters could be nurtured and
developed. This city is truly about the marquee names who come in to play to
“They had the ‘Silver Slipper’ for like 20 years, the ‘Fight of the Week,’ but
most of the guys that came in, whether it's Oscar [De La Hoya], it's [Manny]
Pacquiao, they come to Vegas to fight. But they're not homegrown products like
[Johnny] Tapia and [Danny] Romero were from Albuquerque or [Michael]
Carbajal from Phoenix,” said Bruce Trampler, matchmaker for Top Rank, who moved
to the desert in 1986, as his company moved west.
are several notable gyms out here, from Johnny Tocco's, the one Berry owns and
operates and Floyd Mayweather's private gym. Top Rank even has its own property
that its boxers can use when they're in town. But even Magdaleno had to leave
town to get sparring for this fight, heading to the Maywood Boxing Club in
Maywood, a working class community just minutes from Los Angeles.
“There was just a line of guys down there,” he said, pointing out that while
his hometown is, “the capital of boxing, there's not enough boxing out here.”
Vegas is about fights, not necessarily fighters.
has steadily improved since turning professional in 2007. He's now 21-0 with
seven stoppages to his credit. He made big strides in 2010 and 2011, notching
nine victories and scoring a few eye-opening stoppages. He also proved he could
sell a few tickets locally. It took time for this fast, southpaw boxer to
develop into a pro. “At the beginning of my career, I was more on my toes,” he
admitted. “Now I'm starting to plant myself and it's still my style but just
sitting on my punches.”
says of his boxer’s evolution, “It was just a matter of settling him down and
bringing him out. All of what he has is God-given talent but a lot of it he
wasn't utilizing, sitting down on his punches and trying the pivots and
rotations, getting the most weight behind the punch to get the most bang for
the buck, so to say. Now, he's getting more confident in himself, so now that's
coming out. So there's a couple of things coming together here. It's not just
one factor but we're seeing, I think, big strides and improvement in the
delivery of his punches and his workmanlike fashion in the ring.
no-nonsense. He's in there to work from bell to bell.”
at the ratings, you’ll see the Magdaleno is listed in all four of the major sanctioning
bodies as high as number two in the WBA and rated third by the WBC. He is
closing in on a title shot.
what they're telling me, it's as close as this year. Anytime this year, so I've
been waiting for it patiently and I'm ready to go whenever they give me the
green light,” said Magdaleno, who's 25 years old. Berry says he'll leave those
decisions up to Top Rank and its matchmakers. “I'd like to see a title shot by
the end of the year but a lot of that depends on who's on top and what the
politics are as far as mandatories,” explained Trampler. “But yeah, he's
capable in terms of ability of fighting for a world title this year.”
Magdaleno will continue to hone his craft and live in the city he calls home.
a lot to do in Vegas,” he insists. “You have Mt. Charleston; you have Red Rock-
which I live real close to- you have the lake. There's a lot of things you can
do, especially at this time of year. You can go down to the lake, which is
nice, and then you go up snowboarding. So there's a lot of things you can do
outside of the club life.”