Joseph Aguirre (23-0, 12 KOs) is one of the more engaging interviews a journalist could hope to have, but that comes with the territory when you have as unique a fighting story as he does.
“I’ve been fighting since I was 12 years old,” said Aguirre when asked about his start in boxing. “I always had a f*** everybody mentality and, ultimately, I kind of had to do it myself.” He’s had an a-typical path to this point in the sport, to say the very least.
Aguirre was competing at a national (and nearly world) level during his amateur career, but those closest to him fully expected that pursuit to end when adulthood began. “When I turned 18, that was it,” said Aguirre. “Kind of like, ‘You’re on your own now. Gotta go get a job.'”
So, he did.
Many, in fact, most fighters have had to balance their sport with a full-time job to pay the bills. Almost none have opted to add a full academic workload onto that. Much less as a law school student.
Aguirre paused before outlining his old schedule–an indicator of how difficult his late teens and early 20s were.
“It was pretty much go to work my day job, then training… law school 3-10 PM, then homework,” said Aguirre. “It wasn’t easy turning pro. The fights are obviously rough, and they barely pay you.”
Maintaining that schedule for a week is an achievement. Doing so for years represents a certain strength of character and willpower. By his own admission, Aguirre knows that he didn’t quite know what he was getting into when he turned pro. He’s thankful that he’s been able to make it this far, which can solely be accredited to his relentless work ethic.
Looking through Aguirre’s record, it’s apparent that his level of opposition was stepped up rather quickly. With some fighters, that is the mark of an ambitious, yet savvy management team.
Not so much for Aguirre.
“I wanted to make a career of this,” said Aguirre. “For that to happen, I needed money. Early on, when you’re making $250 for a four-round fight that you trained two months for, well… that just isn’t enough.”
He pushed and lobbied himself for the fights he wanted. This hunger was fueled in no small part by a chip on his shoulder–a belief that he hasn’t really been given a fair shake by the boxing establishment at large.
“Lots of people in Cancun didn’t want me to win,” said Aguirre. “I wasn’t seen as being fully committed to fighting.”
Results have a way of changing perception. Aguirre won and kept on winning, with most of his early victories coming quickly.
“With my schedule, the truth is that I couldn’t train like I should have been training,” said Aguirre. “I had to go after those guys and try to get them out of there early.” Four of his first six fights didn’t last more than two rounds as a result.
Unsurprisingly, his closest confidantes are fellow fighters he’s known from the beginning.
“Myself, (touted Flyweight prospect) Joselito Velazquez and (current WBC 130 pound champion) Miguel Berchelt were the best amateurs and pros to come out of Cancun recently,” said Aguirre “They both made it out, and we still talk to each other a lot. It’s crazy that we’ve all gotten this far.”
Berchelt is already a champion, but if all three could see their careers come full-circle with world title belts around their waists, it would be a storybook ending.
Aguirre has made some big steps towards realizing that dream in the last few years. 2017 saw him appear on the Canelo Alvarez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. undercard in May, then defeat his toughest opposition to date in October.
He remembers those fights fondly, but maintains that he had to step up his work level to prepare for them.
“Those training camps were so much different than anything I’d experienced before,” said Aguirre. “I worked harder and sparred with better guys. For the fight on the Canelo card, I was even able to spar (former 140-pound boogeyman) Lucas Matthysse.”
Growth is always uncomfortable, but it’s made easier when you have the right mentors. Aguirre credits his trainers, brothers Joel and Antonio Diaz, with giving him the right blend of skills to help move into the upper echelon of the Lightweight division.
“Each guy emphasizes something different,” said Aguirre. “With Joel–he left a bit of himself in the ring in his career–I’ve been able to learn when it’s time to say, ‘f*** it, let’s fight.’ Antonio, on the other hand, is a bit more defensive. Teaches more how to hit and not get hit.”
Being skilled means nothing if you don’t know how to pick your spots. This pair of trainers has helped Aguirre be better equipped to do just that.
The Diaz brothers have trained a number of world champions, and that experience was on display when Joseph Aguirre came back to the corner with a broken right hand against Jairo Lopez in May 2018.
“I broke it in the third round, and was scheduled for 10,” said Aguirre. “I felt off going into the fight, since the gloves the commission provided didn’t fit me right. I was a bit worried after the break, but Joel really got me through that one.”
To read the scorecards, you’d never know Aguirre was impaired through most of the fight. Two judges scored it a shutout, and the third gave Lopez only two rounds.
A 13-month layoff and recovery followed, but the confidence gained from getting through that ordeal has lasted. After a quick tune-up fight, Aguirre was fully back last August–this time, for his first 12-round bout.
The opponent was Jampier Oses. The prize was infinitely important–a chance at a belt. The WBC Continental Americas Lightweight title. Just a regionally recognized distinction, but still a gateway to a full world title.
The experience gained was on full display.
“It felt great to finally go the full 12,” said Aguirre. “I just trusted my training. I knew the stamina was there, and that my skills would get me the rest of the way. Honestly, the only time I really got tired was during the Lopez fight when my hand went.”
In what was a stepping stone fight, Aguirre pitched another shutout. Now, he’s looking for a big fish at 135 pounds. Obviously, the champions are the ultimate goal in any weight class. When asked, Aguirre was ready with an answer.
“I want big fights,” said Aguirre. “I want to show the boxing world what Quintana Roo, and Mexico are all about–what I’m all about. I think Hector Tanajara and Ryan Garcia would be the best fights for me once boxing resumes. I know I can beat them.”
Aguirre tabbed Tanajara because he trains with Robert Garcia, whose gym shares a healthy rivalry with that of the Diaz brothers. Ryan Garcia is of obvious interest as Canelo’s heir apparent in Golden Boy‘s stable.
Aguirre’s technical proficiency and confidence would make him a challenge for either; they’re matchups that boxing fans should definitely ask for when life continues as normal.
Joseph Aguirre is a prospect to watch. The technical ability, along with the heart he so clearly showed in winning a fight one-handed are an easy sell for any promoter. Not only that, but he so clearly possesses the hunger and drive needed of a champion. Look for big things in “Diamante’s” future.