Training Camp Check-in: Arnold Barboza Jr.



Training Camp Check-in: Arnold Barboza Jr.

The sport of boxing has seen fighters come up from various backgrounds and family dynamics to one day become a world champion and earn enough money to support themselves and their families.

On August 29th, live from the Top Rank/ESPN bubble in Las Vegas, Jose Ramirez (25-0) will be defending his WBC and WBO super lightweight titles against Victor Postol (31-2). 

One of the fighters in the co-main is the subject of this article, Arnold Barboza Jr (23-0 with 10 KOs), who will be fighting Tony Luis (click here to see record specifics; 29-3).

Barboza Jr. is a man that will not only be fighting for a potential shot at the title in 2021 if victorious but is also fighting for his family and being able to provide them a comfortable lifestyle.

The California native has the type of story that is relatable to most, which makes it hard not to root for the guy after you read the interview.

Barboza Jr is rated No. 8 by the WBC, and No. 10 by the WBO.

AG: Arnold, thank you for taking the time out of your training camp to do this interview. As we begin, can you give the readers some insight on your family dynamic growing up and what that was like?

AB: I’m from South El Monte, CA and grew up with two sisters, but now I have a younger brother. My sisters are both boxers and my dad is a pro kickboxer. It was fun growing up in South El Monte as the friends I had on the block are still my friends to this day. While everyone has their different opinions of South El Monte, it was fun for us and everyone knew us.

AG: How did you first get introduced to boxing and how old were you when you started?

AB: I was introduced to it when I was five and a half years old. I remember playing soccer and not really liking it but when I was watching fights with my dad, I told him I wanted to start boxing. One day, he took me to the gym with him and I loved it and started from there.

AG: Looking back, was there a particular fight or fighter that stood out to you and influenced your decision of competing in the sport of boxing?

AB: To be honest, growing up, I don’t really remember all of the fights that I used to watch. I do remember watching a lot of Mike Tyson, Shane Mosley and Oscar De La Hoya fights. I am a big fan of Oscar when he was in his prime, so I do remember those fights. After watching him, I would often ask myself if maybe one day I can reach that level so that pushed me even more.

AG: In recent years, we have seen more and more fighters turning pro as young as the age of sixteen. You waited until the age of twenty one to turn pro. Can you let the readers know why?

AB: When I got to high school, I stopped boxing and I decided to play football. I went up in weight, was a gym rat and I blew up to 215 lbs. I fell in love with football and the intensity of it. I put boxing on the side because I had already competed for so many years and felt burned out. When I finished high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with myself because I didn’t want to go to college as I’m not really a school person, so I went back to boxing to give it a shot. I spent so many years boxing, so I wanted to give it a shot.

AG: The biggest misconception in boxing is that all of the fighters are making a ton of money each time they get in the ring. When you are not fighting, do you have a part- or full-time job in order to provide some additional income?

AB: Thank God right now, I am doing boxing full time. In the beginning during my first ten fights, I had a good full-time union job that paid me really good money. I was just waiting for a big promoter to sign me and to go all in. When Top Rank started to look at me and they sent the contract, it wasn’t close to the money I was getting but I needed to make a choice. My dad told me, “you have to make a choice and whatever choice you make, I’m good with it. Right now, you have a great job that you can succeed in and buy a house. If you go with boxing, it’s a long road but you can do it and I believe in you!” So, I decided to roll the dice and go all in with boxing while quitting my job. Good thing I have my dad because he is my manager, trainer and financial advisor which helps in taking care of my money and that allows me to do boxing full-time. My mom, that’s my heart, she is supporting me behind the scenes. She is my chef during training camp and does research on the best ways to cook for me in order to get my weight down. She helps a lot with that which is why after the fights, I give her a little money.

The shirtless Barboza Jr and the dad, Barboza Sr feature eyes of the tiger in this picture, from the fighters' Instagram.

AG: In staying within the topic of family, I have recently saw an Instagram post about your daughter Eliana and her being diagnosed with Turner Syndrome. Can you let the readers know a little more about that?

AB: I have four kids so getting that news about my daughter was life changing. My other kids are healthy, she is too it’s just that she has this syndrome. She had surgery a few days ago and she is doing fine. Things have changed a lot because I’m not only fighting for myself and for her to eat but also to bring awareness to Turner Syndrome because it’s like one in every two thousand kids that have it. It is a very rare syndrome that doesn’t have a lot of awareness out there. I would like to hopefully start my own foundation one day. I would have never thought, and I don’t think any parent thinks, that they will have a child with a syndrome. I’m here every step of the way to fight it with her!

Some basics on Turner Syndrome, from the Mayo Clinic.

AG: Shifting gears back to boxing, your opponent is Canadian Tony Luis. What do you know about him and how are you preparing for this fight?

AB: I know he is a tough fighter who likes to come forward, put pressure and break down his opponents. We just completed a twelve round sparring session with three different fighters, throwing fresh bodies in there every four rounds. I feel that we are well prepared for this fight and it’s going to be a tough one. We have nothing but respect for him and his game. He has beat some undefeated fighters and upset a few but I’m fighting for too much and I won’t let that happen to me.

AG: You are currently ranked #10 with the WBO at the super lightweight division. Not looking too far ahead but is there someone you would like to face? Maybe the loser of the main event on the card you are going to be on?

AB: Not looking too far ahead because we have a tough fight in front of us but maybe the fight we were trying to make with Alex Saucedo prior to the pandemic, can now be made. We both want the fight, but I couldn’t wait until September or October for it because I needed a fight sooner. Hopefully we get through this fight and yeah, I’ll fight the loser of the main event or Saucedo, anyone that is going to take me to that next level.

AG: Any final words you want to get out there to the boxing fans that will be watching you for the first time on Aug 29th or have been following you since the beginning of your career? Also, where can they follow you on social media?

AB: You can follow me on twitter @JrBarbozaArnold and on Instagram @arnold_barboza_jr . For the fans that do know me, they know what I bring and know that I am a threat at 140. For those that don’t know me, tune in, check it out and see what you like. I am a fan friendly fighter! As far as my daughter, I am going to bring awareness to Turner and there will be a link that I am going to post up soon where you can purchase a tee shirt or mask with all proceeds going to the Turner Syndrome Foundation.

My Three Cents: Outside of the ring, Arnold Barboza Jr. seems to be your ordinary hard-working family man who wants to do his best to provide for his family. Inside the ring, he is a tough southpaw with a 72-inch reach who has the tools and talent to give those top ten fighters at 140 some real problems.

See him in action, in his last fight, against foe William Silva, Nov. 30, 2019.

Obviously Top Rank feels like he is ready for the next step… so will Barboza Jr. take the opportunity and shine on the major platform he has been placed?  Will this be the night we see Tony Luis ruin those plans of a future title shot for Barboza Jr.?

Boxing remains the theater of the unexpected so you will have to tune into ESPN+ to find out.

You can follow Abe G on Twitter and Instagram @abeg718 and follow @nyfights on both platforms.

Born and raised in the Bronx, New York City, Abe grew up in a family who were and still are die-hard boxing fans. He started contributing boxing articles to NYF in 2017. Abe through his hard work, has made his way up the ranks and is now the editor at NYFights. He is also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA).