Tino Avila was once on of the most promising prospect in Northern California. Yet, one failed retirement later and two pro losses have Avila staring down the road of the unfathomable. Exodus from the sport of boxing.
Now Avila, working with promoter Paco Damian, is returning on the untelevised portion of the ShoBox: The Next Generation card on April 7th, live from Cache Creek Casino Resort, in Brooks, California. He takes on his former sparring partner Alberto Torres in a featherweight bout, which has Northern California bragging rights up for grabs.
When Tino Avila was set to face Joseph Diaz Jr., as the opener to the Canelo Alvarez versus Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., pay-per-view opener, it was his moment to elevate in the sport. It was May 2017.
A lot of his dreams were diminished in the build-up to the fight, but the second day of sparring set the tone. After sparring Vic Pasillas in San Bruno, California, at the old Undisputed Boxing Gym, Avila voyaged out to Sacramento to spar Alberto Torres, one of the best southpaws in the area to prep for Joseph Diaz Jr.
Within a few rounds, Avila was cut in sparring. I remember getting the call, and feeling dread. Diaz Jr., was a formidable test without the burden of a cut, and after that sparring session, Avila never sparred again for the entire camp. I remember the night before at the Hooters hotel talking with a close friend wondering what would happen? We hadn’t seen Avila spar at all, all camp. Well, Avila faired well – he just didn’t win.
It was the camp from hell. Tino Avila was working with Sean Sharkey and Karl Sharrock. At points during camp, his now head coach, Phil Mondello, was not as involved as per usual, as his son had just died. Avila ate at the buffet and got food poisoning the night before the fight. Add to it all, Mondello and I had a sandwich at the MGM Grand the night before, and Mondello told me sternly that he’d be ‘working that evening.’
He did. The cut opened up quick, despite all the make-up, glue and stitches. The legend Don Chargin asked us about the cut on the Thursday of fight week, and it seemed the whole world knew Avila was cut. The cut was inevitably going to open – and it did. That night still haunts Avila, as that was one of the few times in a fighters' career in which you get to level up.
Now he is on his redemption tour. Avila texted me a few weeks ago, very sincerely talking about how this time around he wants to do things right.
Step one for him is to shake off the Joseph Diaz Jr fight. Though he will more than likely never get to fight Joseph Diaz Jr. again, he now gets the chance to fight the man from the sparring session who compromised him in the fight, Alberto Torres.
Torres is a game veteran, someone who could’ve been a contender like the movie cliche goes, but never had a big promoter to build him up. Torres’ record is deceptive – he is currently riding four fight losing streak, and most would assume this is a stay-busy fight for Avila, but that is false. Torres taking this fight is a sign that he firmly believes he can win this fight. This is more than likely the last hoo-rah for Torres as a professional as the 36-year-old professional knows if he beats Tino Avila, he can get one more chance against a prospect with a win here. If that doesn’t interest him, Torres can simply have bragging rights for being the possibly the best of his era in Northern California for that timeframe.
While most people will tune into ShoBox: The Next Generation on television, watching some of the best fighters in the nation prove themselves against each other in person. Local Northern California fight fans will get to their seats early as two beloved gym veterans, fighters who have given a ton to their local market, fight their heart and soul out. They will look to be great one more time.