Alfredo Escarcega Jr. has wanted to be a boxer since he put on gloves for the first time in the third grade.
Now, the Avondale native and Westview High School graduate is making his city proud.
Escarcega Jr. will take on Brian Rodriguez on Friday, June 4, as part of Thunderbolt Boxing’s event at Arizona Federal Theatre in Phoenix. It’s the undefeated welterweight’s first Arizona fight.
“It’s been a long time coming now,” Escarcega Jr. said. “It’s been three years into my professional career and 13th fight. So, I’m excited to finally have my first homecoming fight.”
Years of hard work and dedication to the sport preluded Escarcega’s status as a rising boxing star, though. The southpaw has been committed to getting better at his craft since he was seven years old.
“My uncle was actually boxing at Sonny’s Boxing Gym here in Avondale, and I was only in about third grade,” Escarcega Jr. said. “My dad was at the age where he didn’t want me to get bullied and wanted me to learn how to defend myself. He took me to the gym, and that’s pretty much where it got started.”
Escarcega Jr. remembers it came naturally to him. Because he was left-handed and had an innately good stance, the transition into boxing was smooth. He had his first fight a year later, at the age of 8, and fell in love with boxing. His dad was his trainer, even though he didn’t have a fighting background.
“He just pretty much learned with me,” he said. “He’s been in the boxing game as long as me, 16 years. Every single day he just learns and learns and learns.”
It was not always easy for Escarcega Jr. to be coached by his father, though. But he wouldn’t trade it for anything.
“To be honest, it’s kind of a blessing,” he said. “My dad’s always expecting a lot out of me and pushes me to my limits.”
Boxing has always been a family affair for Escarcega Jr. Besides his father coaching him, he has competed with the closest person he has to a brother, fellow rising West Valley boxing star Breenan “B Fly” Macias. Macias graduated from Verrado High School.
“He’s like a younger brother to me,” Escarcega Jr. said. “He’s not blood, but he’s like my brother. He’s grown up with me since we were kids. He’s lived in my house and everything. It’s always a push between us. It’s good; it’s very good to have that atmosphere.”
As far as idols, Escarcega Jr. has always looked up to Oscar De La Hoya, but as he got more into fighting, he started to love southpaws such as Terence Crawford, Pernell Whitaker and Manny Pacquiao.
While Escarcega Jr. has goals to one day be the welterweight world champion in boxing, he also realizes the importance of getting his education as a backup plan. He is working on getting his degree in communications and mass media at Arizona State University.
“I’m looking to get in the broadcasting side of boxing. I really enjoy it. I want to get started while I’m still boxing,” Escarcega Jr. said.
“I would love to cover sports in general. I love being knowledgeable, and not just about boxing. My other favorite sport is baseball. I love football, and I like watching basketball as well. I’m always up to date when it comes to sports.”
But for now, Escarcega’s focus is his upcoming fight on June 4. He hopes to stay undefeated, but he’s not worried about his record. He’s worried about improving and not shying away from tough competition.
“It’s not about me worrying about who is undefeated or not,” he said. “It’s always about pushing yourself and getting to the next level. At the same time, taking the tough fights, it’s good for your career. You learn a lot more. It’s better than being 20-0 against guys you’re supposed to knockout.”