Brothers in arms Ronny Rios and Alexis Rocha face a big month – Orange County Register


SANTA ANA – Alexis Rocha’s days were simple, as are most roads that lead to nowhere.

“I would get up. To eat. Go to school, ”Rocha said. “Come home. Eat. Play video games for a while. Eat again. Then have a snack before I go to bed. And then start over.”

“He was 13 and he wasn’t quite 5 feet tall and he weighed over 200 pounds,” said Hector Lopez, now Rocha’s coach at TKO Boxing Club. “And he was being harassed.”

So Rocha introduced himself, because his brother Ronny Rios was already there, creating a career as a caliber boxer.

Rocha told Lopez that he was only there to leave a good part of himself on the sweaty floor. No boxing.

“The first workout I had to run four miles,” Rocha said. ” It was hard. My older brother Salvador encouraged me. I almost threw up, I won’t lie. I was really in pain, but I came back.

One day, Lopez needed someone to train. “Lex, get your ass in the ring,” he said.

Before Rocha could say, “Who, me?” he was looking at another guy with gloves, who was looking back.

“Lex knocked him down in the first round,” Lopez said proudly, as Rocha and Rios prepared for a workout last week, speaking into tape recorders, posing for photos.

“We said, wow. He had all this talent and didn’t even know it. We got him his amateur license. In one year, he won a national championship.

Rocha had lost 40 pounds in four months and 60 in six. Now 24, he’s a 17-1 welterweight with 11 knockouts.

On November 13, he will face Jeovanis Barrera at the Honda Center, on the undercard of the duel between Jaime Munguia and Gabe Rosado.

Six days later, Rios (33-3) is aiming for his own stars. In Manchester, NH, he meets Murodjon “MJ” Akhmadaliev, who holds the IBF and WBC championships in Super Bantamweight.

This will be Rios’ second try for a world title and his fifth fight since a damaging loss at Azat “Crazy A” Hovhanisyan at the Hangar de Costa Mesa three years ago. Rocha had already won that night. When he watched Rios go through that particular wringer, Lopez saw tears in his eyes.

“If Lex had fought after Ronny, he would have been a mess,” Lopez said. “They have different fathers, so they’re technically half-brothers, but they’ve always lived together.”

“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after this fight,” said Rios. “But Lex has a lot to do with my return. He said, ‘Look, I don’t want to see you hurt yourself. If you come back, do it because you want to. It marked me a lot.

“Since then my attitude is, hey, I’ve lost three fights now. I have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

Rios, 31, was a Demolition Ball 4-0 since then, with a knockout of Diego De La Hoya and a virtual shutout of Oscar Negrete.

“After the loss to Azat, I didn’t really think he would come back,” Lopez said. “I said, look, I don’t want you to hurt yourself. But he showed us all.

“We’ve been through the COVID-19 year,” Rios said. “We haven’t stopped working. Lex and I turned our garage into a gym. I am capable of doing a lot of things in life, but I kept wondering if I would be happy if I didn’t box. I’ll quote Sugar Ray Leonard: The best words a boxer can hear are after the fight when they say, “And the NEW…” That keeps me going.

Rocha too. He lost once, to Rashidi Ellis last year in an empty Las Vegas venue, where Rocha could hear the clicking of cameras. Confused by this and Ellis’ speed, Rocha couldn’t unlock his hands.

He told Lopez he didn’t want to feel this anymore and he didn’t. He is part of a long line of ambitious welterweights, but he has the push to progress.

“Power cannot be taught,” Lopez said. “He trained with Canelo, Josh Taylor, Manny Pacquiao, Mikey Garcia. There are a lot of advantages. ”

For her part, Rocha remembers that her head had receded during a first session. Things got dark for a moment.

“I grabbed a right hand,” he said. “I was looking at the ceiling. It scared me. Hector started shouting: “The lights are fine. I don’t know why you are looking at them.

“But you don’t lose that much weight unless you’re driven at an early age. Then I look at the way Ronny works. He’s the real warrior.

Sometimes the old can borrow from the new.

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