Quick, think back to when you were 18 years-old. If you were anything like me, then being 18 only brought a constant sequence of uncertainties to like. Hell, I would venture to guess that the majority of teenagers at that tender age have little forethought in terms of their career path. However, the same cannot be stated for Dallas native Manuel Rey Rojas. For you see, as early as age nine Rojas knew what it was he was destined to be and that was a boxer. On April 30, Rojas will fulfill this desire when he steps into the ring for his professional boxing debut. Rojas will duke it out on the undercard of the Paulie Ayala Productions card entitled “Battle of DFW” taking place at the Fort Worth Convection Center.
For Rojas, this is history in the making. Still, in speaking with the humble young fighter his passion for the sport grew out of youthful curiosity.
“I was nine years old and my big brother had been boxing,” explains Rojas in a recent interview with North Texas Fisticuffs. “He had been to the gym and he would come home and talk about it, and that just made me interested.”
They say that fighting comes naturally to born warriors and Rojas was no exception as he quickly adapted to the physical grind and technical nuances of the “Sweet Science.” It would not be long before a young Rojas was winning prestigious amateur tournament in increasingly regularity. As an amateur Rojas would go on to hold a record of 80-17 which inclined winning such accomplishments as the 2006 Silver Gloves Championships, 2008 Junior Olympic State Championship, 2008 National Junior Olympic Finals, 2008 World Ringside Finals and the 2009 National Silver Gloves Championship.
With such an accomplished amateur career, it is easy to see why Rojas and his team feel that they are ready to jump into the professional ranks. Needless to say, there is a tremendous amount of buzz around this young fighter who commutes from his home in Dallas to work out the Fort Worth boxing institution that is Premier Boxing Club. On April 30, Rojas will face Alex Lopez. Unlike the amateurs, professional boxing is much more vicious game. Adding to matters will be the fact that Rojas will be making his professional debut in his own backyard. Though, to hear Rojas tell it pressure to perform will not be an issue.
“No, no extra pressure” assures Rojas. “I know I’m a prepared fighter and I’m just going to go out there and do what I do.”
What Rojas does is fight. It was this very trait that caught the attention of former world champion and Fort Worth native Paulie Ayala who moved quickly in signing the 18 year old prospect.
“I believe Manuel is young, talented and has a lot of potential. I want to help Manuel by developing him one fight at a time and keep him busy,” stated Ayala in a recent press release announcing the signing.
Rojas seems equally excited, “Yeah, it’s exciting. It was overwhelming, signing with Paulie.”
But, first things first, Rojas has a date with destiny on April 30. The soft-spoken Rojas makes no bold claims of first round knockouts, or complete domination of his opponent. No, on the contrary, he is surprising grounded one the eve of such a big night.
“I want to feel comfortable in the ring,” explains Rojas. “It’s my first pro fight so I don’t want to go in there and try to knock him out, you know, making a big mess of a fight. I’m just going to go in there calm and work with whatever he gives me.”
Photo credit: Paulie Ayala Productions