|Ready For Prime Time
By Gabriel Montoya (July 7, 2006)
If you’re on foot on the way to Sacramento’s Prime Time Boxing Gym, your surroundings have all the trappings of a fighter’s stomping ground. Homeless walk the streets. The occasional lady at work. Liquor stores dot the landscape. Del Paso Heights is the kind of classic, impoverished neighborhood famous for giving birth to some of the world’s most fearsome fighters. Indeed Sacramento itself has a rich history in the sport with such fighters as Loreto Garza and Tony ‘The Tiger’ Lopez calling it home. However, stepping into Prime Time Boxing, the differences from every other boxing gym inhabiting such landscapes is readily apparent.
Prime Time isn’t 100 degrees and it doesn’t smell like day old prospects. What it is, is a state of the art, well-lit, very clean facility. Treadmills and speed bags line the walls. There is a wall length mirror for shadow boxing. Posters of various fighters cover the large windows looking out into the street and a television plays fights non-stop. A small ring dominates the room; the ultimate destination shared by those who take their myriad of classes for personal fitness purposes to those who aspire to the sport’s highest ranks like California State Golden Gloves Champion Michael Ortega. Make no mistake, this is not a white collar, weekend warrior gym. There is a method behind this cleanliness.
“This club has been heralded as too trendy,“ says co-owner Angelo Nunez. “But in reality this is the way every club should look like. Why? Because every boxer wants to be successful. Why can’t you have a clean well-lit facility? If that’s how you live that’s how you exemplify yourself. I have been to these gyms that are really dirty, stinky. That’s not what boxing’s about… that’s the whole persona that I fight day in and day out… that’s one of the reasons why boxers
get backroom pay because they live in that stereotypical reality.”
When it comes to the trials and tribulations of the everyday prizefighter, Angelo Nunez knows exactly whereof he speaks. Mr. Nunez spent 10 years in the pro ranks and is one of only three fighters who have fought Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Mr. Nunez also spent two years following his bout with De La Hoya as the De La Hoya camp’s chief sparring partner in Big Bear, CA. His wife, Cary Williams-Nunez has been in boxing for over ten years, working as both a manager and trainer as well as being an amateur boxer herself. Both are Level IV Olympic Boxing trainers making Cary one of only three women with that distinction. They are also two of the most passionate, friendly boxing folks you could ever meet. Their every move is made solely for the furthering of fighters they train, promote or meet along the way to becoming pioneers in the sport they love so much.
Before Prime Time, many boxing purists scoffed at the idea of classes. The mysteries of the Sweet Science were only to be reserved for those willing to join the amateur or professional ranks. But the Nunez’s have taken the true meaning of the word amateur, which is from the Latin translation means “To love“, and translated that into their gym. From the way they train his students to the way they promote their fighters, everything is done out of respect for anyone willing to learn about the sport.
“You go to the worst part of town, you’re in the worst gym you can find. But everybody says that’s an authentic gym. But bottom line is every fighter is just as good as their surroundings,“ Mr. Nunez continues.
In upgrading the environment from the start, Prime Time has started several changes in the way boxing is seen and taught. Gyms as storied as Gleason’s and The Wild Card have now begun teaching boxing classes to anyone willing to earn. White Collar boxing gyms have sprung up on the East Coast. Workshops and boxing as a fitness outlet as well an art of self-defense has become the norm now thanks to Prime Time. And as this evolution from the streets of Sacramento has come to fruition, the Nunez’s have pushed themselves further still. This Saturday, July 8 marks Prime Time Boxing’s foray into the world of boxing promotion. It also marks a milestone for Sacramento, as it is the first outdoor boxing event and marks the first time that Raley Field has been used for a boxing event. The stadium is a state of the art baseball field for the River Cats, Sacramento’s minor league wing of the Oakland A’s.
The Rumble at Raley Field features “26 rounds of action”. It has 8 fights, 7 of which are 4 round fights with 1 six round fight. The weight categories range from lightweight to heavyweight with one women’s bout. Truly something for every boxing fan. There is also a guest appearance by Eric ‘Butterbean’ Esch.
Now you may look at the card and ask "Where is the name?” or "Where is the ten rounder?" and Mr. Nunez has an answer for that.
“The card it self is really breaking tradition,” he explains. “And the tradition is you have to have a ten round fight or something comparable of that nature. I think that with the evolution of boxing and the way that our generation is… everything has to be a quick fix. What we have noticed in the time that we have been dealing with amateurs, we’ve noticed the audience. The three-minute rounds get boring for some people. Four round fights bring not only the attention but also the adrenaline. People want to see this kid or woman progress. When you deal with 12 to 15 minutes of action… I think that’s enough. And that’s why [Prime Time] pursues four rounders and six rounders.
“The show is about entertainment. Don’t get me wrong. It is also about professional fighting. We have quality opposition. But the point is that I want people to come back out and see boxing. “
Taking this approach is a risky move but a refreshing one for this writer. In a day and age when our sport has millionaires fighting just twice a year if that, boxing needs purist displays like this to remind us how great the Sweet Science can be.
“Honestly, the way we look at it,“ said Mr. Nunez. “And the way we’ve always treated boxing is that in order to get the pure form of boxing you have to start at the simplest form. And that is the beginning of the fighters. Because they bring what a lot of people comes to see and that is the progression that is made through a great work habit. That’s what we are after. “
Hopefully, with luck and success, this Saturday marks the beginning of something special. Not only for Sacramento, the Nunez’ and Prime Time Boxing, but for the sport itself. Lord knows, we need more positive influences in this, at times, troubled sport of ours.
For info on the card, you can reach Prime Time Boxing by visiting www.PrimeTimeBoxing.com
Tickets are available through TicketMaster.
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