Victor Arriola: I feel like I fell in love with boxing again!
After a Stellar amateur career that saw him compete on a national level, Victor Arriola found himself at a crossroad and just like many fighters before him, the Yuma Arizona fighter chose his job and family over boxing.
“I should have turned pro at 20 or 18 but I was busy with family and I had to work.” said the now 26 year-old Arriola “I’m more mature now. I’m not a kid. Sometimes it’s hard for an 18 or 20 year-old, even 22 or 23 year-old to really take this sport serious.”
After a 5 year hiatus from boxing, the light-heavyweight returned to the gym and made his pro-debut this weekend against fellow Arizona fighter Bobby Lopez. Though the 4 round fight ended in a disappointing majority draw, Arriola says he loved every minute of it and it has sparked new-found love for the sport.
Standnfight’s Dominic Serna caught up with Arriola this past weekend and got his thoughts on the fight and future plans.
DS: You have a pretty good amateur background, tell me a little bit about that.
Arriola: Yea, I had a lot of fights. Specially coming out of Yuma (Arizona), I got to travel a lot, I got to go to New York twice for the Jr. Golden Gloves. I competed in the National Jr. Olympics and got the bronze medal. I won a lot of national tournaments and it was a good experience for me coming from Yuma. We don’t get a lot of opportunities to compete at a national level, so I felt real good about that.
DS: Before making your pro-debut, you hadn’t been in the ring for about 5 years, can you tell me about the lay-off?
Arriola: Yea, I kind of fell out of boxing. I had a lot of amateur fights and I kind of just got out of it.
DS: What made you want to get back into the ring?
Arriola: I didn’t want to regret it later, you know. I wanted to check that off my wish list and be able to say I did it but now that I’ve had my pro-debut, I want to keep fighting. It’s always been what I wanted to do.
DS: Your 26 now, do you feel like your getting a late start now?
Arriola: Yea, its a late start. I should have turned pro at 20 or 18 but I wasn’t into boxing at that time. I was busy with family and I had to work. I’m sure there’s a lot of stories like that in boxing.
DS: How does coming into the game a little bit older benefit you?
Arriola: I’m more mature now. I’m not a kid. Sometimes it’s hard for an 18 or 20 year-old, even 22 or 23 year-old to really take this sport serious.
DS: You recently made your pro-debut against a local kid Bobby Lopez who was the house fighter and probably favored to win, can you tell me about that?
Arriola: This fight came up and it was always my dream to fight pro. So, we started training right away, trained for a couple months and got right back into it.
DS: The fight ended in a Draw but most people felt you won, do you think they were protecting his record at all?
Arriola: I think they were but that was never on my mind. The whole time I was getting ready for the fight, I thought of nothing but the win, training hard and putting on a good fight for the fans.
DS: How do you feel about the decision?
Arriola: I was very disappointing with the decision. I felt I won the fight. When I went through the crowd, everybody was telling me that it was a good fight and I should have got the decision. I took a lot of family and of course they are going to say I won but there were people I didn’t know that thought I won the fight.
DS: How did it feel to get back in the ring?
Arriola: It felt good, like I hadn’t taken all that time off.
DS: Yea, it didn’t look like there was very much ring rust, did you feel like there was?
Arriola: No, there were some things I feel I need to work on but It’s been 5 years since I had a competitive fight and I felt good.
DS: You got this first fight out of the way and you seem pretty motivated to continue with your career.
Arriola: Yea, when I got in the ring, all the fans, the people, the punches, everything. I loved every minute of it. I feel like I fell in love with boxing again. I feel really motivated again and pumped up to continue my career.
DS: So what’s next?
Arriola: I want to drop down one weight class to 160 and keep fighting.
DS: You use to train with Billy Orta, he trained you throughout most of your amateur career but now your training under Gary Diaz and Adrian Zamora can you tell me about that?
Arriola: You know, it’s not that big of a change. Both Adrian and Gary are good coaches. They’ve seen me in the amateurs and they’ve been around since I started so it’s not too big of a change, training wise.
DS: How do you see 2013 playing out for you?
Arriola: I’m hoping to have at least 4 fights by the end of the year.
DS: The Bobby Lopez fight, is that kind of like unfinished business or do you just move on.
Arriola: Yea, I have no problem doing the rematch.
DS: Anything you’d like to say in closing?
Arriola: Yea, just keep an eye out for me.