As a California city, San Diego is often characterized as a second-tier boxing scene, sandwiched between traditional powerhouses Tijuana, Mex. and the expansive reach of Los Angeles and its suburbs, despite the locals strong appetite for the sweet science.
The five San Diego boxers starring in Saturday’s “Path to Glory SD Style” event from the local Harley Davidson Dealership are motivated to put their stamp on the game while representing their respective area codes.
“It all starts in your hometown,” said Adrian Vargas, a hard punching 24-year-old welterweight with a clean record of 9-0, 6 KOs and featured on the undercard. “San Diego has always been underestimated in terms of boxing, but there is a lot of young talent here that wants to excel.”
Vargas fights Miguel Rico (2-6-1) in a scheduled 4-rounder.
Leading the show is undefeated junior welterweight Giovani Santillan (13-0, 7 KOs), who fights in the 8-round main event against Osenohan Vazquez (7-1-1, 2 KOs) for the NABF Jr. Title. Santillan, a part-time youth boxing instructor at Undisputed Boxing Gym in downtown San Diego, knows first hand the level of excitement in his hometown.
“I see it everyday, kids as young as five or six-years-old coming in for introductory boxing lessons,” said the 23-year-old Santillan. “Developing a reputation as a premiere boxing city takes time, but I can see us getting there real soon because the interest and demand is high.”
Chris Martin (27-3-3, 9 KOs), another local product, is the elder statesman of the group, having fought on network television on a handful of occasions. He fights Giovanni Caro (24-14-4, 19 KOs) in the 8-round co-main event. Martin, who hasn’t fought in his hometown in four years, has noticed the sport gain in popularity over the years.
“We’ve always had a strong network of boxers here,” Martin said. “But now we’re starting to see the sport grow faster than perhaps at any other time. Virtually every gym is packed during all hours of the day. Its definitely nice to see so many youngsters filling the gyms.”
Also on the card is local product Ulises Sierra (6-0-1, 4 KOs), a middleweight prospect with knockout power in both hands. He fights Jas Phipps (4-5, 1 KO) in a 4-round fight. Sierra, 25, trains at the same gym as Vargas, Santillan, and Martin.
“We all know each other and are friendly with one another,” Sierra said. “We’re all hoping to go five-for-five on Saturday. That would be real nice for all of us to score wins.”
Opening the show is lightweight prospect Antonio Arellano (6-2-1, 2 KOs) of Chula Vista, a city fifteen minutes south of downtown. He fights veteran Mario Hermosillo (12-13-4) in the 4-round opener.
“I get the first crack to show what San Diego boxers are all about,” Arellano said. “I’m going to start us off on the right foot.”