By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Tucson boxer Alfonso Olvera doesn’t just step in the ring to win. He wants to put on a show for the hundreds of people who are there to watch his match.
“I try to give an exciting fight,” he says through his strong Spanish accent. “I box. I don’t run. I have to look strong and go to the punches and move around. I want to give an exciting fight, something people will remember.”
Junior welterweight Olvera (10-4-1, four KOs) will face off against Wilberth Lopez (21-9, 15 KOs) at Casino del Sol on Saturday, July 21, as part of Michelle Rosado’s Raging Babe event “Guerra de Gallos.”
Olvera has faced top competition since turning pro. In his second fight, he went the distance with Ivan Baranchyk, currently unbeaten at 19-0. Olvera’s trail of upsets includes a 2005 unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Ryan “Cowboy” Karl and another over Chicago’s Genaro Mendez.
Lopez, who knocked out Phoenix’s Keenan Carbajal in his professional debut in 2013, has gone on to fight stiff competition across the country. He was the first to take World Super Bantamweight Champion Isaac Dogboe the distance when they met in 2014. Three years later, Lopez upset Jose Roman (24-2-1, 16 KOs), via unanimous decision in Roman’s backyard. Lopez’s southpaw style and reach kept Roman at bay and earned him the win.
“This is a fight between two highly skilled, local fighters who have never had the benefit of hand-picked opponents and hometown decisions,” Rosado says. “This fight will be one of the best Arizona has seen in years. I’m excited to give Tucson fans what could be ‘fight of the year,’ and to bring back the pride that comes with competing to be the best in the state.”
The card is stacked with Tucson talent. Junior lightweight Jensen Ramirez (5-2-3, one KO) makes returns against Jesus Arevalo (2-3), and Tucson junior welterweight Christopher Gonzalez (2-0) will make his return to the Old Pueblo after securing his second win in Phoenix earlier this year. Mike Martinez, Emmanuel Guajardo, Nicholas Rhoads, Judas Estrada and Breenan Macias round out the eight-bout card.
A 20-year Tucson resident, Olvera is excited about the fight, and showing off in front of his friends and family. Nerves play a part in his prefight routine—but they’re good nerves.
“It helps me when I go into the ring,” says the Sunnyside High School graduate. “I try to take it as a positive nervous. In other words, it helps me for what I’m doing. I want it to happen already. I want to be done with it and show everyone I’m the best.”
Boxing is a family tradition in the Olvera family. He watched the sport with his parents as a youngster and yearned to participate in martial arts or boxing. When he told his mother he wanted to box, she wasn’t quite convinced that he was going to stick with it.”
“When I was 18, I said I was going to try it and if it works, it works. If it didn’t, I was doing to stop doing it. Thank God it worked,” he says.
He trains Monday to Friday, and occasional weekends with his coach, Jesse Haro of Scrap Yard Boxing Gym, someone Olvera admires.
“The key to victory is always to listen to the coach,” he says. “Before we go into the ring, he says we’re going to do this and this and that. When I get back to the corner, he may have me adjust a few things. He can see everything from the outside, things we can’t see.”
Haro says he appreciates Olvera’s motivation and work ethic.
“He’s a joy to work with,” Haro says. “He’s a very hard worker and does what I ask him. He’s very coachable. He doesn’t need to be motivated. He soaks in whatever I tell him.”
In the three years they have worked together, Haro has seen Olvera grow.
“He’s an extremely talented person and a lot of fun to be around,” Haro adds. “It doesn’t feel like you’re working. He knows what he has to do. I don’t have to push him in that direction. It’s very comforting to know he’s doing his work outside of the gym. I can’t be holding their hands every single minute of the day. But since he went pro (about three years ago), he fits right in that spot. I always told him there are things you can get away with as an amateur that you can’t as a pro.”
Casino del Sol has hosted boxing events since 2003, and has become a premier destination for boxing in Southern Arizona. Fernando Vargas, Mia St. John and Yori Boy Campas are just a few boxing legends to have graced the casino’s ring.
“We are excited to bring boxing back to Tucson once again,” says Kimberly Van Amburg, CEO of Casino Del Sol. “Our goal is always to provide the best entertainment in Southern Arizona, and ‘Guerra De Gallos’ will definitely deliver.”
“Every fight is exciting,” Olvera says. “I always say it’s an addiction. I just keep on doing it. I’m really thankful for Michelle and everyone organizing the fight. I’m really excited to give a good show to everyone who’s going to be there.”