After guiding the Suns to a Western Conference-best 15-6 record to begin the season, Suns head coach Monty Williams and guard Devin Booker were both shown some love from the NBA.
Williams was named Western Conference Coach of the Month, and Booker has been named Western Conference Player of the Month for October/November, the league announced Thursday.
With Williams at the helm, the Suns currently sit atop the Western Conference standings and are now riding an NBA-best six-game win streak while holding a league-best 12-1 record at home.
This marks Williams’ fifth time winning Western Conference Coach of the Month and the fourth time with the Suns.
Booker is getting it done!
In Wednesday’s win over Chicago, Booker added six assists and four rebounds to his 51 points while shooting 20-of-25 from the field. His 51 points were the most ever scored by a Suns player inside Footprint Center. In addition, he joined James Harden (Nov. 5, 2017) as the only players over the last 25 years with 50 points on 80 percent shooting or better through the first three-quarters of a game.
Booker is averaging a career-best 29.0 points, 5.8 assists, and 5.3 rebounds over the first 21 games of the season while shooting 48.9 percent from the field, 37.8 percent from three-point range.
The three-time All-Star has notched three double-doubles so far this season and is coming off a season-high 51-point performance on Nov. 30 against the Bulls.
The performance came two days after Booker tallied 44 points, eight rebounds, and six steals, which matched his career high, in a win at Sacramento earlier in the week. Booker averaged 47.5 points between the two games on 69.8 FG%, 6.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 3.5 steals.
This marks Booker’s second-career Western Conference Player of the Month honor.
Julio Cesar Martinez wants to unleash his frustrations out on Samuel Carmona when he defends his WBC World Flyweight title for the fifth time at the Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona, live worldwide on DAZN.
Martinez (18-2 14 KOs) was was set to face long-running rival McWilliams Arroyo in a rematch, but neck and back issues ruled the Puerto Rican out, opening the door for Carmona to land his first World title shot. The unbeaten Spaniard, who represented his country in the 2016 Olympic Games, has cruised to 8-0 in the paid ranks since turning pro in September 2019 and landed the WBA International title at 112lbs in just his fourth pro fight.
Martinez, who is back in action for the first time since challenging one half of the headline fight, Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez for the WBC Diamond Super-Flyweight title in March, has also been itching to get unification fights in the books against IBF champion Sunny Edwards and WBA king Artem Dalakian but as yet to no avail.
‘El Rey’ remains focused on the job at hand though, to keep hold of his famous green and gold belt, and in turn, putting pressure on his fellow champions to meet him in the ring.
“We weren’t expecting this fight, but we were preparing for any type of fighter, a technical boxer, a come-forward fighter,” said Martinez. “Now we’ve got an ex-Olympian, we’re prepared and as always, we’re willing to give everything in the ring.
“I’ve not seen a great deal of him, but he has also fought Joel Cordova like I have, and I’ve seen that he can take shots and can also come forward. At times he really likes to trade but it’s going to be a good fight and let’s see what he brings and how he counter punches.
“I never underestimate my opponents because we know that it’s all about hunger and desire and everyone comes to win, nobody comes to lose. We know that everyone comes to get their victory and like always, I’ll leave everything in the ring, and we’ll never discredit any opponent.
“As I always say, I’ll fight anyone anywhere. We’re ready for whatever comes and if he likes, we can fight whenever Arroyo wants to. We’re ready to win. But what most interests me is to unify titles and go after the other belts.”
“I want to unify, to go after the other champions. There are various champions and a vacant WBO title, so there are various belts that I would like and I’m ready to fight for them.
“I’ve never ducked anyone. We’ve been ready for a while to unify and go for all those belts. I would like the Edwards fight. It’s what we’re looking for, those big fights and more than anything to unify and go after all those belts. I’ll fight anybody anywhere.
“I also want to go up to Super-Flyweight but I want to do all I can at Flyweight. There are various options and fortunately we’re in good shape. So, we want to do all we can at flyweight and then go up to Super-Flyweight. As I always say, wherever and with whoever, we come to fight.
“I felt good at 115 pounds. I’ve even fought up at Super-Bantamweight because fortunately I adapt well and more than anything I feel strong, tough and consistent at that weight. I think I could even fight up at Bantamweight with God’s blessing and if I look after myself.”
Martinez’s desire to achieve greatness is not surprising given the company he keeps daily. The 27 year old trains alongside Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez in San Diego, and having teamed up full-time with Eddy Reynoso, who also manages Martinez, the all-action champion believes the improvements he’s made in California will be on full display.
“Like my colleague Canelo, I’m going for all the belts,” said Martinez. I want to be a unified champion and more than anything to leave a legacy.
“I worked with Eddy Reynoso for four months for this camp. He is my trainer now and we’re putting a lot of effort and dedication into camp so that things go well, and we can go after all those belts.
“Being constantly with Eddy is the difference now. We work on technique and on many things which are helping us. We’re improving in terms of defence, technique in many things.
It motivates me a great deal to train alongside Saúl and more than anything I don’t want to let my team down and I’ll keep giving my all.
“It’s very different working with Eddy. It’s that attention he gives you. He looks out for everything. We’re not missing anything out, examining every detail and thankfully I’ve been well looked after by Eddy.
“With God’s blessing we’re going in with everything except fear, against whoever wherever because we are men, not clowns. Thank you for supporting me. We won’t let you down.”
The Cleveland Cavaliers(14-8) returned home on Wednesday night to face the Philadelphia 76ers(12-10). Following one of the worst performances of the season, where they were beaten in Toronto by the Raptors, Cleveland played one of its better games this season as they dominated and defeated the 76ers 113-85.
The Cavs led by as many as 33 points in this game and were never really threatened after the second quarter by Philadelphia.
Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ win over the 76ers.
Second Quarter: This was the best quarter of the season for the Cavs. They were an incredible 16 from 17 from the field(94%), including 5/5 from deep. Evan Mobley, who missed the only shot in the quarter for Cleveland, had 10 points, Donovan Mitchell had nine, and Caris LeVert added eight. Cleveland outscored the 76ers 44-27 and led 69-48 at halftime.
The 44 points in a quarter is a season-high.
Cleveland shot 73% from the field in the first half.
Everybody was Great:
LeVert led the way with 22 points off the bench.
Garland had 21 points and nine assists.
Mitchell had 18 points, including five threes.
Mobley added 16 points and eight rebounds.
After struggling against Toronto, Isaac Okoro chipped in with 11 points off the pine.
Defensively, they limited the 76ers to 41% shooting and allowed a season-low 85 points.
Shooting: Cleveland shot 61% from the field, including 52% from deep. They were flat out on fire.
Not So Great:
Nothing to see here!!
Last season, the 76ers swept the season series from the Cavs(4-0), but Cleveland had a different energy Wednesday night. They really wanted to beat Philadelphia, and it showed.
If it wasn’t apparent, the Cavs are a totally different team at home, and they are 9-1 and look more confident at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
You can argue the 76ers were depleted as they were without James Harden and Tyrese Maxey, but Philly had won three straight and four out of five, so this was an excellent win for the Cavs.
Cleveland returns Friday at home against the Magic.
Best of the Rest:
Joel Embiid led the 76ers with 19 points, six rebounds, six assists, and three steals; Shake Milton added 14 points.
Cedi Osman moved to eighth place on the Cavs’ all-time three-pointers made list(544) on Wednesday.
Mamadi Diakite, who got the start for an injured Jarrett Allen(back), earned the “Junkyard Dog” award for his performance against the 76ers. He finished the night with six points, four rebounds, and two assists.
For the first three seasons of his career, Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown was a member of the Tennessee Titans. During his time with Tennessee, Brown established himself as one of the better wideouts in football, including making the Pro Bowl in 2020.
During this year’s draft, Brown was traded to the Eagles from the Titans and signed a four-year, $100 million contract with Philadelphia.
This Sunday, Brown can show the Titans what they are missing as Tennessee travels to Philadelphia to battle the Eagles.
On Wednesday, Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni discussed what he would say to Brown as he prepares to face his former team.
“What I said to [WR] Zach Pascal before we played Indianapolis is going to be similar things in my message to [WR] A.J. [Brown] this week,” Sirianni said. “He doesn’t have to do any more than just go out there and be himself. He doesn’t have to press. He just has to go out there and do his job to the best of his ability with the attention to detail, and to go out there — because if you allow yourself — every week, you can do that to yourself.
“I know there is no team for A.J. to go home to in Mississippi, but I’m going to New Orleans, and I am going to treat that bigger because I’m playing in front of them. Or now I’m going to play my former team here. Oh, now I’m going to play — I’m thinking of Ole Miss guys — now I’m going to play this team, and that was my college roommate, and so now I have to get up for this one.
“If you just treat everyone the same, right? That’s the way to go. And then you don’t allow yourself to ride these waves of the season, because there is always going to be different schedules, there is going to be Thanksgiving one week, and then there is going to be Christmas one week.
“You got to stay true to your process, and that’s the key. Because every game, the next game is always biggest game. We don’t want to let each other down, and so you got to prep for every game the same. But naturally, human nature will take over, and that’s my job as a coach to make sure that he knows he doesn’t have to do anything more than just be A.J. Brown. That’s why he’s here. That’s why we traded for him, that’s why we paid him, because he’s a phenomenal player. Just go be yourself. You don’t have to do anything special because you’re special enough to go out there and play.”
After 11 games, Brown, to no one surprise, has established himself as the team’s number-one wide receiver, as he leads the team in receiving yards(831) and touchdown receptions(7). He’s been as advertised.
Expect Brown to be pretty hype for the Titans.
The Top Rank on ESPN 2023 slate kicks off with a high-powered heavyweight doubleheader Saturday, Jan. 14, at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York.
The 10-round main event is a battle of big-punching Olympians, as Efe “The Silent Roller” Ajagba looks to author a signature win over Oscar “Kaboom” Rivas. In the 10-round co-feature, 2016 Italian Olympian Guido “The Gladiator” Vianello takes a seismic step up in class against fellow unbeaten Stephan “Big Shot” Shaw.
Ajagba-Rivas and Vianello-Shaw will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
Undercard bouts will stream live and exclusively on ESPN+ and includes a 10-round junior lightweight tilt between Adam “BluNose” Lopez and Abraham “El Super” Nova.
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Groupe Yvon Michel (GYM), tickets priced from $49 to $89 go on sale Friday, Dec. 2 at 10 a.m. ET, with pre-sale for TS Rewards Members on Thursday, Dec. 1, and can be purchased at the Turning Stone Resort Casino Box Office, charge by phone by calling 800.771.7711 or online at Ticketmaster.com.
“The heavyweight division is loaded with talent, and we have two 50/50 matchups that will see a pair of contenders emerge at Turning Stone,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum.
Ajagba (16-1, 13 KOs), a 2016 Nigerian Olympian, quickly established himself as one of the division’s heaviest hitters following his pro debut in July 2017. He tallied six first-round knockouts in his first eight bouts, using his 6’6 frame and sledgehammer right hand to dispose of his opposition. Last April, Ajagba utilized his right hand to blast out Brian Howard in a Knockout of the Year contender. Following an October 2021 decision defeat to Frank Sanchez, Ajagba had surgery on both his elbows, returning in August to stop Hungarian veteran Jozsef Darmos in the second round.
“I am injury-free and ready to show the world what I can accomplish when I am 100 percent,” Ajagba said. “I respect Oscar Rivas for accepting the challenge. We will give the fans a great show, but I will be victorious on January 14th.”
Rivas (28-1, 19 KOs) is a 2008 Colombian Olympian who moved to Montreal in 2009 to start his professional career. He notched his signature professional victory at Turning Stone in January 2019, knocking out former world title challenger Bryant Jennings in the 12th round. His only blemish came six months later when he traveled to England and dropped a unanimous decision to Dillian Whyte after knocking Whyte down in the ninth round. Since the Whyte defeat, Rivas has fought twice, knocking out Sylvera Louis in three rounds and outlasting Ryan Rozicki by unanimous decision in an all-Canadian showdown while winning the WBC Bridgerweight title. After multiple prospective bouts fell through, Rivas will enter the Ajagba match coming off a nearly 15-month layoff.
Rivas said, “I’m extremely happy to be back in the ring in Verona where I had a lot of success not too long ago. I’m proud of my WBC Bridgerweight title and will be defending it soon, but this opportunity Top Rank gave us at heavyweight was too good to pass up. I also have a lot of respect for Ajagba, and while I agree with him that it will be spectacular for the fans, my skills and my experience will be the difference.”
Vianello (10-0-1, 9 KOs), the fighting pride of Rome, turned pro with great fanfare in December 2018 and won his first seven bouts by stoppage in three rounds or less. His momentum stalled following a 2020 draw against Kingsley Ibeh and an injury-plagued 2021 that saw him fight once. Vianello came back in July and knocked out Rafael Rios in four rounds. Three months later, he returned home to Rome and had thrilled the local fans with a dominating eight-round decision over Jay McFarlane.
Vianello said, “Stephan Shaw is a good, undefeated fighter, but I fight better when presented with top opposition. I look forward to fighting on ESPN as part of a great heavyweight doubleheader.”
Shaw (18-0, 13 KOs), from St. Louis, Missouri, is one of America’s most talented big men, a 6’4, 235-pound boxer-puncher who has knocked out three of his last four foes. He made his Top Rank debut in January, becoming only the third man to knock out Philadelphia’s iron-chinned Joey Dawejko. Shaw tallied three knockdowns in just 2:35 to wipe out Bernardo Marquez in July and then preserved his date against Vianello with an eight-round shutout over Rydell Booker on Nov. 22 in New York City. Shaw will receive his nationally televised big break a decade removed from winning U.S. National and National PAL gold medals as an amateur.
“I’m excited. This is my time to shine. This is my moment,” Shaw said. “I’m ready to go out and there and have some fun. I won’t be under the radar after beating Guido. He’s a good boxer, but I am superior. I will prove that on January 14th.”
Nova (21-1, 15 KOs), born in Puerto Rico and raised in Albany, New York, is returning to the junior lightweight ranks after briefly testing the featherweight waters. Last January at Turning Stone, Nova knocked out late replacement William Encarnacion in the eighth round. That knockout led to an ESPN-televised co-feature in June against southpaw Cuban dynamo Robeisy Ramirez at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden. After four competitive rounds, Ramirez knocked Nova out with a left hand in the fifth. Nova returns to the friendly Turning Stone confines against Lopez (16-3, 6 KOs), a native of Glendale, California, who is making his junior lightweight debut. Lopez last fought in May against Encarnacion, surviving knockdowns in the first and third rounds to eke out an eight-round unanimous decision.
In other undercard action:
Junior featherweight Floyd “Cashflow” Diaz (8-0, 3 KOs), the 19-year phenom who went 5-0 with three stoppages in 2022, will fight in his first scheduled eight-rounder.
Rising junior lightweight Haven Brady Jr. (8-0, 4 KOs), who won four fights in 2022, makes his 2023 debut in an eight-rounder against an opponent to be named.
Junior welterweight prospect Bryce Mills (10-1, 4 KOs), the local favorite from Liverpool, New York, aims to increase his winning streak to five against Margarito Hernandez (3-3-1) in a six-rounder.
Cleveland-born light heavyweight Dante Benjamin Jr. (4-0, 2 KOs) fights in his first scheduled six-rounder against fellow unbeaten Emmanueal Austin (6-0, 6 KOs).
The Dallas Mavericks have signed free agent guard Kemba Walker, the team announced Tuesday.
According to Marc Stein, it’s a one-year, non-guaranteed deal for Walker.
On Monday, the Mavs waived guard Facundo Campazzo to make room for the four-time All-Star.
After appearing in 37 games (all starts) for the Knicks in 2021-22, Walker was traded to Detroit along with the draft rights to the 13th overall pick Jalen Duren in exchange for a 2025 first-round selection. Walker was waived by the Pistons on Oct. 17 and became a free agent.
Dallas is hoping to lighten Luka Doncic’s load and is hoping the 32-year-old Walker can be that guy.
The 11-year veteran holds career averages of 19.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.2 steals, and 33.3 minutes per game in 741 games (696 starts) with Charlotte, Boston, and New York. He has shot 36.0% (1,663-4,614 3FG) from 3-point range and 84.0% (2,801-3,333 FT) from the foul line for his career.
Walker averaged 20-plus points in five straight seasons from 2015-16 to 2019-20, earning four consecutive All-Star nods from 2017 to 2020. Walker, who garnered All-NBA Third Team accolades with Charlotte in 2018-19, is also a two-time winner of the NBA Sportsmanship Award (2016-17 and 2017-18).
He was selected by Charlotte with the ninth overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft and spent his first eight seasons with the Bobcats/Hornets.
We’re getting late in the NFL season, and some teams might be able to punch their tickets to the playoffs.
The two top teams in the NFC, the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings, could be in the playoffs at the end of Sunday’s play. The Vikings could clinch the NFC North, while the Eagles can clinch at least a wild-card spot.
Below are the playoff scenarios for the Eagles and Vikings:
MINNESOTA VIKINGS (9-2) (vs. N.Y. Jets (7-4), Sunday, 1:00 PM ET, CBS)
Minnesota clinches NFC North division title with:
1) MIN win + DET loss or tie OR
2) MIN tie + DET loss
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (10-1) (vs. Tennessee (7-4), Sunday, 1:00 PM ET, FOX)
Philadelphia clinches playoff berth with:
1) PHI win + WAS loss + SF loss or tie + SEA loss or tie
(as long as both SF and SEA each don’t tie) OR
2) PHI win + WAS tie + SF loss + SEA loss
The Cleveland Cavaliers(13-8) finished their three-game road trip in Toronto on the second half of a back-to-back against the Raptors(11-9). Cleveland was again without Jarrett Allen(back) and Lamar Stevens(illness). However, they did get back Caris LeVert, but it wasn’t enough.
Toronto led by nine at halftime and dominated the third as they led by as many as 18 in the quarter. The Raptors had their largest lead of the game of 20 in the fourth, and they would defeat the Cavs 100-88 at Scotiabank Arena.
Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to the Raptors.
Evan Mobley had his second straight double-double with 18 points, 15 rebounds and two blocks. This was his fifth double-double in the last seven games.
Darius Garland had 18 points, 10 assists, and three steals. He was 7/11 from the field; he shot it well for Cleveland. It’s his third double-double in the last four games.
Not So Great:
Isaac Okoro got the start for the injured Jarrett Allen. His shot was off as he shot 1/11 from the field. Okoro was solid in the past two games but was not very good on Monday night. He finished with two points.
Donovan Mitchell scored five points in the first quarter but added only three points the rest of the way. Mitchell ended the night with a season-low eight points on 3/11 shooting. He was 2/4 in the first quarter but was 1/7 the rest of the way.
Shooting: The Cavs shot 38% from the field and was 7/38 from deep. Against the Pistons, they were 8/28 from deep. In the last two games, the Cavs were a combined 15/66 from downtown.
Cleveland was not very good against the Raptors; they did not have the energy and could not make shots. This is a make-or-miss league, and the Cavs missed a lot. Nights like this happen in an 82-game schedule, but they must be better.
The Cavs return home on Wednesday to battle the 76ers.
Best of the Rest:
The Toronto Raptors had six players in double figures on Monday night; O.G. Anunoby had 20 points, and Pascal Siakam, who returned after missing 10 games with an adductor injury, added 18 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists.
LeVert, who returned after missing four games with an ankle injury, added nine points for Cleveland off the bench.
Juan Francisco Estrada and Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez meet in an epic trilogy fight on Saturday night (December 3) at the Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona, live on DAZN – and the Super-Flyweight legends opened up on their remarkable journeys to the pinnacle of the sport.
The rivalry between Estrada and Chocolatito spans a decade with the pair first meeting in Los Angeles in November 2012 and then rematching in Dallas in March 2021 – with Chocolatito winning the first and Estrada leveling in Texas.
Ahead of their trilogy battle, Matchroom sat down with both fighters in camp, and while they both had plenty to say on the fight and their futures, they took time to reflect on their incredible paths from poverty to greatness.
Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez:
“I was born in Managua, in the Esperanza neighbourhood. I was born in a poor family and God has blessed me, enabling me to provide a life for my family and my children and I feel immensely proud to have come from a poor family and to now be able to show lots of youngsters that if I can do it, so can they. It makes me proud. Really proud to have been born in the Esperanza neighbourhood and to have come from the San Judas gym where I spent almost all my time training and still do today.
“All of my fans, my people know me there and I feel proud to know that I come from a poor family. So, this makes me immensely proud to know that bit by bit, I’ve made a life for my family and flown the flag for my country.”
Juan Francisco Estrada:
“I’m from Puerto Peñasco, Sonora. I started out in boxing at nine years of age. Prior to that, when I was seven, my mother died. When I went into boxing I followed my path, training, having fights locally and then municipal, interstate contests. At 14 my father passed away and I carried on boxing, my aunt and uncle looked after me and my siblings.
“I thought, now I’ve lost my parents I have my siblings and family still with me and I must achieve something. Sport was something my aunt and uncle always instilled in me, and my brother and I played every sport but I liked boxing. My brother, who’s a year older, said, “Come on, let’s do some boxing training.” And two or three months after he’d joined, I said, “Let’s do it!” And I stayed there. After a while my brother stopped going. He wasn’t a fan of the diet and I stayed in boxing. At 14 I went to a state event in Hermosillo, I was spotted by the national boxing team trainers, (Jose) Alfredo Caballero was trainer there, too. And they said, “Come to Hermosillo and join the Sonora boxing team.
“From 14, through to 15 when I graduated from secondary school, I spoke to my aunt who was responsible for us back then and I told her I’d been asked to go to Codeson, which was the name of the high-performance facility in Hermosillo. And she told me if that was what I wanted, she would support me and she did. I went and stayed there, and I’ve stayed in Hermosillo until the present day. And those were my beginnings. I went to three national championships, I won three gold medals, I went to a fourth and won silver.
“When I wanted to join the Mexican national team, there were Mexican fighters that were preferred over me, and I was never called up for a fight. Back then I said to Alfredo, “Let’s go pro now,” my dream was to go to the Olympic Games and that never worked out. And Alfredo decided I should make my debut as a professional at 18 years of age.
“I don’t have any memories of being with my mum or dad. My mother died of Leukemia. My aunt and uncle knew she was ill. My siblings and I would go on holidays to Mexicali with aunts and uncles, my grandparents and that’s how we did things.
“My aunt that was from Mexicali knew a gentleman who I got so close to that I would call him “Daddy.” And he was from Los Mochis, Sinaloa. Over time, I remember being four years old and back then we were in Peñasco and the gentleman spoke to my mother and asked if he could take us with him to Los Mochis on holiday and that was what I wanted. I wanted to go with him because he treated my siblings and I well. And my mother and my aunt all knew that my mother was unwell, and they let me go. So, we went to Los Mochis and from four to seven years of age I was with him.
“He took me to kindergarten, to primary school and I was with him for that entire period. Then when I was seven my mother passed away and my aunt, who would care for us, spoke to my [adopted] father, explaining that she’d passed away. And back then the gentleman was suffering financially, and he couldn’t take me back to Peñasco for the funeral.
“My aunt, when we were in Mochis, she did what she could as we came from a simple family, we had no money for the bus, but she raised some to get us there but not for the return journey, she was struggling to raise funds for that. I remember we came on the train back then. And we went to Puerto Peñasco and that’s where I lived from seven to 14 years of age then at 15, I moved to Hermosillo. I lived there with my siblings, I got into boxing, and I did sports with them.
“Well, when I was in Puerto Peñales at seven years of age, sometimes along with my siblings and my aunt, we’d really have to hustle to eat. I used to go with my aunt to gather plastic containers, we’d help down at the port on ships that came in.
“They’d give us shrimps, fish and we’d sell it, my aunt also made tortillas which we’d sell too. We weren’t there for a long time, then my aunt met a gentleman, and I also grew close to him, and he was like a father to me. He worked in construction and sometimes me and my brother would go and work with him. His brother was a gardener and sometimes we’d go and work with him. We’d struggle through together. In fact, the house my brother now lives in was built by me, my [adopted] father, his brother, my brother, and my aunt too.
“We all did our bit; mixing, laying bricks and we were there for a while. It was a tough upbringing, but I can say it was a happy one.
“When I started boxing at nine years old, at that age a child doesn’t look beyond that. In fact, when I went into the gym, I think I was the only kid who was disciplined because all the kids were only interested in kicking a football around and would go.
“They came to play and have a chat, but I was there to train. My trainer saw that I was serious and gave it everything. So, when I was about 12 or 13, he took me to a professional boxing event. It was the first one I’d been to. It was in San Luís Rio Colorado. I remember watching the main event, the fighter came out in a beautiful outfit and the first thing I asked my trainer was how much a fighter like that earned.
“I remember he told me 25 thousand pesos. And I thought that was a huge amount of money. And even though I was a kid I started to see more fights and I said that one day we’ll be fighting on those cards, earning that type of money.
“When I moved at 15, that’s when I thought, “This is going to be my career.” I finished secondary school, I started upper secondary but as I was moving around to fight a lot in different towns in Mexico, I’d miss lots of classes, so I decided to fully commit to boxing.
“I left upper secondary, signed up to an English course, dropped out of it, and to be honest I was more focused on boxing than studying because I set myself the goal of becoming world champion one day. As I say, from 15 years of age, that was my goal. I said, one day I’m going to be world champion and that was the reason for going to Hermosillo.
“Back then at 15, when I went to Hermosillo, my family, my siblings and I would say, “Well, I have no parents. I have to give it everything to become someone in life.” And I’ve always prepared myself psychologically on my own. Now I’ve got four children. They motivate my every day, my wife who always supports me.
“I met her at secondary school, we’ve been together since we were 17 and thank God we’re still together today. And they are what motivates me. They came to visit me a week ago because I’d not see them for a month and I was happy because my kids are growing up and all of them are my motivation and when I go into the ring and even in training, I’m doing it for them. They are the ones that always motivate me.
“I feel like all the sacrifice, the effort and hard training sessions because boxing isn’t easy. I think it’s one of the most difficult sports out there and I’m happy and grateful to my trainer Alfredo Caballero who has been with me since I was 15. My wife and family have also supported me, and I think that allows me to keep moving forward. And it makes me very happy because I feel I’ve achieved a lot more than I expected to.”