In boxing, as in life, all fighters may one day compete with someone of equal or even more ability.
On November 29 at the Horseshoe Casino, in Hammond, Ind., undefeated super middleweight prospect Mike Jimenez will meet such an opponent when he squares off against once-beaten Sena Agbecko.
Jimenez, 27, has been boxing professionally for only four years. He’s risen steadily, mixing a fan-friendly style with an entertaining personality.
Last September the Chicago, Ill, native lived an unlikely dream by fighting at U.S. Cellular Field, the home of the Chicago White Sox. Three months later, the experience still makes Jimenez smile.
“Fighting in Sox Park was definitely one of the most exciting and electric moments of not only my boxing career, but my life.” Jimenez (15-0-1, 10 KOs) told this writer via email last week. “It was so cool to be in the ballpark, down in the clubhouse warming up. And it really hit me once we made our way out of the tunnel.
“Once the heat and humidity hit me, and I could hear all the fans cheering, I knew I was going to war,"he said."Nothing was going to stop me from winning. It was an awesome night. And even I got a little emotional out there after the fight. It was a special night I'll never forget it.”
The only blemish on Jimenez’s record is a no contest against Derrick Findley. After Findley surprised many by stopping Jimenez after seven rounds, the result was changed after Findley tested positive for Tylenol 3, a banned substance considered a painkiller. Rumor has it that he was suffering from a toothache.
Jimenez offered no excuses and went back to training.
“I definitely can feel and see improvements,” Jimenez said. “My trainer Sam Colonna, is taking the right steps with me to improve my skills. I understand I need to get better. I feel like I have the right team around me. They can help me make improvements. I think that's one of the goals, to not only win, but get better in training, and see improvements every fight.”
Jimenez supplements his income by working full-time as an iron worker. He’s proud of the job he does, but readily admits how difficult it is juggling two time consuming occupations.
“I'm not going lie, it's pretty damn tough,” Jimenez said. “Being an ironworker here in Chicago is tough, we have a lot of work and our jobs are big. So when I leave a job, I'm tired, I'm hungry, I need a shower, and just want to take a nap. But I head straight into the gym.
“Not to mention getting in my road work and strength and conditioning,"he said. "When I'm training for a fight, there's pretty much nothing else going on. I'm one hundred percent focused on my fights. My family, girlfriend, and friends understand. They need to let me train and stay focused. It's tough, but I understand what I signed up for, and I know I have to put in the work.”
Sena Agbeko, 22, Jimenez’s opponent on Saturday, has won all of his 15 fights by knockout. He’s suffered one setback.
“I haven't really watched any tape on him," Jimenez said. “I've seen a couple small clips, but that's about it. I don't want to focus on any one thing with this guy. I want my trainer to come up with the right game plan for me.
“I’m putting in the hard work. I want to envision this guy as a beast. I hope he sees me as the same," he said. "I know he'll have some good power and I'll stay away when I have to, but I won't be shying away from it. I'm good with my legs. He better be coming prepared for war, 'cause that's what it's going to be,” he added.
Jimenez is very aware there is a lot riding on his upcoming fight with Agbecko.
“This is definitely the biggest fight of my career,” said Jimenez. “He’s a good opponent with a good record. This fight brings excitement for the fans, and after I beat him, I know we'll be on to bigger fights.
“My promoter, Bobby Hitz will have the phone ringing. I'm excited to get in there, and I'm excited for what's to come. It's going to be happy holidays for us.”