As a youngster not yet in his teens, Daniel Barrera knew boxing was his calling. Sparring at the Warzone Boxing Club in Rialto, California, Barrera drove two more experienced kids out of the ring with vicious body shots. It earned him a fitting moniker from his trainer. Now at age 20, the nickname “Chucky” seems more fitting than ever for the talented super flyweight prospect.
After a successful professional debut in July, “Chucky” returns during Halloween week against Isaac “Lil Devil” Anguiano of Pomona, California (3-1, 1 KO) on the next Hollywood Fight Nights card on Thursday, November 3 at the Quiet Cannon / Montebello Country Club. The card will be broadcast live on UFC Fight Pass.
Props to putting the serial killer up against Satan.
“They were cousins. They were there for three months. It was only my second week. And we're trading. I made both these kids quit,” recalls Barrera. Barrera's trainer Al Franco was equal parts pleased and annoyed. “He said I was a killer the ring and I was gonna start costing him money.” laughs Barrera. The incident reminded Franco of the serial killer character Charles Lee “Chucky” Ray from the “Child's Play” movies, who disguises himself as a doll to get closer to his victims.
Perhaps Barrera's mother still calls him by his given name.
Chocolatito Boosts Barrera's Ring IQ
Barrera put together a solid 64-5 amateur record aiming at a run at the Olympic Games. But Paris 2024 turned out to be too long a wait. Barrera said he'd already faced elite competition and had to weigh the risks against the rewards of earning a living as a pro. While he's anxious to jumpstart his pro career, Barrera understands the importance of establishing a solid foundation, especially in the competitive flyweight and super flyweight talent pool.
“I'm always super excited once I started thinking about, like, moving up. You know, why don't you get to the top right away? But I know I won't be able to without the patience,” said Barrera. “I'm still young. I'm still growing. I mean, there's no rush into trying to get a world title fight by next year. And if I want a long career and a good one, I have to be patient. So, it's a little hard sometimes, but just stay focused – and focused on the future makes it easier.”
Barrera's schooling in the rough gyms of California's Inland Empire offers advanced placement classes daily. Manager Ray Chaparro got the call for a sparring partner, and Barrera found himself across from future Hall of Fame great Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez. It went so well, Barrera got a second assignment and then another – 48 rounds in all.
“They asked us to come back. And then, we continued to work with them. And I mean, I feel like they loved us. And it was just nonstop action between the both of us,” said Barrera. He said it was an extreme compliment and a confidence booster as he launched his professional career.
“He's taught me a lot, like it's going to a school,” said Barrera, who realized how much more he could learn even after ten years of training. “He (Gonzalez) doesn't have to say anything or explain anything to me. You pick up on his mentality and just see how patient he is. He doesn't have to try to knock you out. Just extremely talented and extremely smart in that room. A high boxing IQ,” said Barrera.
Skills Shine In Smaller Weight Divisions
Barrera credits Gonzalez for generating excitement among American fans in the smaller weight divisions and creating opportunities for younger talent like Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez and himself.
“If it wasn't for him, there still wouldn't be shine in our division. Being who he is and what he's accomplished, he's the one that brought out a lot of fans to our weight division. It's exciting now that a lot of fans are starting to like flyweights, not only just the heavyweights or middleweights. They're giving us little guys that are starting to perform a chance to gain more fans.” Barrera believes Rodriguez has an excellent chance to be the 2022 Fighter of the Year.
Barrera says he thinks of every fight as a world championship fight. “It makes me work hard, stay focused, and remember that you're still putting your life at risk. You want to win these fights. They are just as important as if I was 22 and fighting for a world title. I'm hungry to perform for everybody,” said Barrera.
Barrera: ‘Title Shot In Three To Four Years'
In smaller venues like those produced by Hollywood Fight Nights, serious fans sit up close and carefully assess the prospect's skills. “The fans at the small shows, they see the skill level and the potential of being a champion in the future.” Barrera admits it's sometimes hard to hear his trainer in the corner through all the noise. “But I mean, it's a great feeling. You get the energy from the crowd put into the show. I love it.”
Barrera's immediate plans are to fight six to seven times a year and stay busy with options to fight both flyweight and super flyweight. The goal is a title shot in three to four years. Mark your calendar for September 2025.
“Boxing was the first sport I took up,” said Barrera. “You know, some people don't stumble on their passion and their talent until later, and sometimes it's too late. But I'm blessed to have found a better way.”
Unified super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez also needs to keep his eye on Barrera. Not in the ring, but on the links. Like Alvarez, Barrera has taken up golf as a hobby and cross-training opportunity at the suggestion of coach Al Franco. Barrera says his best friend is a golfer, so they play together often.
“It clears my mind. It's very therapeutic. And it's fun. I love it. I'm very competitive,” though Barrera admits it's humbling. “That's what I find similar to boxing. You can be as good, but you can definitely get humbled by anybody if you don't take them seriously or you don't focus on what you need to do. Golf requires a lot of patience, just like boxing.”
“Yeah, Canelo better watch out for me because I'm definitely all right. That's the only way I can possibly call him out is on the golf course. There's no way I'm ever getting to 168. I am all in on that,” laughed Barrera.
Limited tickets are still available for the November 3 Hollywood Fight Nights at the Quiet Cannon online at https://hollywoodfightnights.festivalsetup.com/ For VIP Booth inquiries, email [email protected].