SAN DIEGO, Calif., October 14, 2020 – Cancellation of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games until 2021 dashed plenty of dreams. Faced with the decision to train for another year with no guarantees, it turned out to be the catalyst many amateur boxers needed to turn professional.
Three-time national champion Aaron “Alien King” Aponte of Hialeah Gardens, Florida, joins their ranks officially on Friday, October 14 in a four-round junior welterweight debut a long time coming. The fight airs from Kissimmee, Florida on Boxeo Telemundo at 9 p.m. PT. Aponte’s opponent has yet to be named for Saturday.
Aponte signed with Top Rank Boxing, which has scooped up many Olympians and amateur champions including Shakur Stevenson, Jamel Herring, Oscar Valdez, and fellow Floridian and undefeated prospect Xander Zayas, who also appears on Friday night’s card.
“I was prepared to start making money, doing the big thing, and being on TV, having people recognize me from my work. They don’t really recognize you as an amateur,” explained Aponte.
“I’m ready right now. I feel like it’s a great time, I’m going to have TV exposure. The only thing I wish I could have was fans. Fans fuel me to fight harder. But the TV is all worth the risk right now. The time is right.”
Aponte’s pro debut prompted, then delayed by pandemic
Aponte says the decision to turn pro wasn’t too difficult, but waiting for his first fight due to delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic was far longer than he anticipated. The 18-year-old said he’s been staying patient and awaiting his time. “I know my manager (Peter Kahn of Game Advisors) and my team will put me in the best situation possible. I’ve been training hard, getting better and better every day,” said Aponte. Aponte and his trainer and father, Reniel, co-own and run their own Florida gym, KO Fitness in Miami, which allowed him not to miss a workout during weeks of national shutdown.
“I’m actually real calm,” said Aponte. “I’ve been in these big moments all my life” thanks to his extensive amateur experience, amassing a record of 98 wins and 18 losses. “I’m used to these big moments now. I feel like I’m mature enough to assess the situation and go full force.” Aponte has already gotten the attention of noted trainers Robert Diaz, Stephen “Breadman” Edwards, Teofimo Lopez, Sr., and Pedro Diaz.
Aponte, a tall six-foot junior welterweight, is of Puerto Rican background through his father, and Argentinian through his mother, Marisa. He gets the opportunity now to demonstrate his power punching skills as a pro, and he intends to take them out to play on Friday. “Whoever they put in front in of me, I will knock them out. KO. I want people to fear my power,” said Aponte. “I’m ready to take it on.”
Aponte already a well-rounded boxer-puncher
Aponte feels he is a well-rounded fighter in the ring. “I’m a great boxer. I have lots of skills. But watch for my power. (Fans) better be watching if not they’re going to miss it. They don’t pay me by the round, they pay me by the fight!” laughed the self-assured Aponte.
Aponte’s goals include unifying the junior welterweight division, giving himself a three-year timeline making him 21 years old, “maybe 22” he says. Aponte takes inspiration from current lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez Jr., heading for a unification bout of his own with multiple titleholder Vasiliy Lomachenko on Saturday. Lopez Jr is also trained by his father, Teofimo Sr.
“We watched Teofimo Lopez grow up. He came from around the same place we’re at. Me and my dad know it’s possible. They did it; we can do it too. They’re a big inspiration. We have a great relationship. I trust him. He gives me a plan, and I do it.” Aponte’s success makes it hard to argue with the methods.
Social responsibility comes with athletic fame
Aaron Aponte counts three of boxing’s greatest names as his inspiration for different reasons.
“Sugar Ray Leonard, his skills and his speed, and his composure was a real big thing. I want to be composed and skillful just like him. Felix Trinidad, I want that Puerto Rican pride, that left hook, the just straight power, the bodywork,” said Aponte
Finally, Muhammad Ali for his accomplishments outside of the ring. Aponte believes responsibilities come with fame. “I want to use my voice in boxing such as they are doing in the NBA now. They’re being more than athletes. They’re being mentors and leaders.
“It’s really important. The problems of our world are not going away. We have to make those changes, we have to make those changes in ourselves before they go away. We have to stand up. We have to tell the people who look to us what’s right and what’s wrong. We have to change it.”
An out of this world nickname
It wouldn’t be a proper introduction to this prospect without explaining his nickname, “Alien King.” Says Aponte, “My dad would call me an alien because of all the crazy things I’d do in training; they were out of this world. My other trainer (Michael Robles) called me the king of the gym,” and the Alien King was born, complete with artwork and swag.
Aponte says he plans to save most of his first paycheck, but will try investing a little in the stock market. How about real estate? Fortunately for Aponte, his mother is a Florida realtor.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is an award-winning boxing journalist covering the Sweet Science for Communities and for boxing fans worldwide. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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