AROMAS—Watsonville native Hugo “Prince” Chavez Jr. won his professional boxing debut in February that ended with a technical knockout, taking him less than one round to get the job done.
On Saturday, the 18-year old will attempt to keep his unblemished 2-0 record intact.
The “Prince” will go up against Paul Valenzuela of Mexico in a 135-pound super lightweight division bout in “Batalla en el Ring” [Battle in the Ring] at El Big Punch Arena in Tijuana, Mexico.
“As long as I train good, train hard, then I’m sure we’ll come home with a win,” Campos said.
He beat Francisco Chavarria Ramirez with a first-round TKO on Feb. 26 at the Auditorio Municipal in Tijuana.
“I wasn’t that nervous because I trained hard for that moment,” Campos said. “It was good though getting out of town, getting away for a little bit.”
Less than two months later, Campos defeated Daniel Vazquez Becerra on April 16 with a knockout in the first round at Auditorio Municipal in Tecate, Mexico.
Prior to that, he was training for up to two years before he could schedule a fight because of Covid-19 restrictions.
“It didn’t get boring but at the same time I wanted to fight and build a record,” Campos said.
Campos, who used to play soccer and once thought about playing football, opted for the sport of boxing by the age of 15.
Jose Jorge Hernandez, a long-time boxing trainer and promoter for local talent, shows up to the boxing gym to make sure things run smoothly with Campos.
“Hugo [Campos] is a good athlete and I like his daily work ethic,” Hernandez said. “He works hard and he does things well, and I like to work with him.”
Hernandez has a short list of fighters he’s taught and brought up in the professional ranks, including Watsonville native Jonathan “El Gallo de Oro” Garcia.
The 30-year-old made his professional debut in 2013 and returned to the ring in 2019 after nearly a five-year break from the sport.
Garcia—who holds a 20-2 record with 16 knockouts—had won five-straight bouts during his comeback. He recently lost to Eduardo Leonel Rodriguez in a first-round TKO in last year’s welterweight contest on Nov. 27.
In the meanwhile, Hernandez had to move into make-shift boxing gymnasium that sits on private property near the 101 Red Barn.
The walls are decorated with numerous posters of recent fights, including one of Juan Manuel Marquez versus Manny Paquiao IV in 2012. Inside the gym are a couple of treadmills, some free weights and a boxing ring that sits level on the floor.
It’s not the most advanced training facility in the area but it’s just enough for Campos and fellow Watsonville native Tobias Flores.
These two youngsters are there on nearly a daily basis, working tirelessly to hone their skills as they make their way into the professional ranks.
Flores, who also recently graduated at Watsonville High, also played soccer but it was nothing serious.
The 17-year old mentioned he used to get in several scuffles when he was younger. That was until later he realized that his fights led to the end of some friendships.
Throughout his first years in high school, Flores sat in front of the tube playing video games and was mostly a homebody. He noticed he was gaining weight, especially because he’s always had a thin figure.
Flores’ cousin pushed him to do something such as join a gym or some type of physical activity.
That’s when they came across Hernandez’s profile on Instagram where he promoted Campos as he made his debut earlier this year.
“I tried it the first day and it was good,” Flores said as he let out a small chuckle reminiscing about that first day he showed up to the gym.
Flores and his cousin were not expecting to put on the gloves, let alone get in the ring with Hernandez, who was attacking their midsections.
“I had eaten pizza and he went a little hard on me, making me throw up,” Flores said.
Hernandez was impressed with Flores’ natural ability to move, especially having little to no experience except what he learned from his older brother.
The longtime trainer knew from the get-go that Flores had a passion for the sport and the way he moved made an immediate impact.
Despite losing his meal, Flores returned because he didn’t want to be stuck at home.
Since then he’s been sparring with multiple prospects and professionals such as Jesse James Guerrero.
“[Guerrero] got me with a good shot and it was the first time I’d ever seen stars,” Flores said. “I started training hard and I would put in extra hours of training.”
Both boxers got together seven months later and Flores had a flashback of their first meeting. Only this time he was ready, going toe-to-toe with one of the best up-and-coming boxers.
“[Flores] doesn’t want to lose out on this year and he wants to make his pro debut,” Hernandez said. “I see that he’s capable and he’s highly intelligent. He likes to box and he can punch.”
Flores is getting ready to make his debut Oct. 29 against a fighter yet to be determined in Camarillo, Calif.
Hernandez mentioned that Flores has been getting some attention, including kudos from Robert Guerrero’s dad, Ruben Sr., who has an eye for talent.
“It helps [Flores] a lot because he has to be capable of moving and concentrating, training to the fullest,” Hernandez said of Flores sparring with Guerrero. “I like the way they both work together, the respect they have and how disciplined they are.”
Campos has also had a chance to spar with some professionals including “The Ghost” and Justin Cardona of Gilroy.
“It was a good experience, hard sparring and hard training,” Campos said.
After two years of delays, Campos is now aiming for his third-straight win on Saturday night.
“Right now we have to prepare him much better for his third fight and possible fourth [bout],” Hernandez said.
Campos is scheduled to fight on the same night and place that Flores will make his debut on Oct. 29.
Flores said he hopes one day to become a world champion. And he knows this is just the first step in what will take many, many years of dedication to reach his goal.
“I gotta train as hard as I can so I can make the fights easy,” Flores said. “Whatever opponent comes, I’ll do anything to win. I know it’s not going to be easy but I love that.”