Scrapper From Seboyeta
“Sensational” Steve Aragon has been about transition—changes in weight, in trainers, and in styles. Next week, that steady progression will apply to his step up in opposition when Steve takes on Tommy Aragon.
Tommy Aragon is only the 2nd opponent Steve has faced with a winning
record; he is also, by far, the most dangerous fighter the Seboyeta fighter has
lot of people get on me for not stepping up the competition,” admits Aragon.
“But that doesn’t bother me. For me, it’s about getting experience. It’s
about learning as I go.”
less-than-optimum amateur experience has him moving at a slower pace in the pros
than, say, celebrated amateurs Joseph Brady or Ray Sanchez III. Now at 6-1 (3
KO’s), secure in styles and his training team, Aragon feels it’s time to
step things up.
played around with boxing as a kid but it wasn’t until he was in the Navy that
he started fighting. Two years into the Service and stationed in the Tacoma,
Washington area, Aragon was hitting a bag at the gym when he ran into a fellow
New Mexican who owned a local gym. Steve started working out there. Before long,
he was doing the smoker circuit in the Portland-Tacoma-Seattle area.
the time I was pretty big and out of shape—about 178 pounds,” says Aragon.
“For the last two years in the Navy, I started dropping weight.”
now in the 140’s and 23 years old, came back home after the Navy. Still
interested in fighting, Steve hooked up with Sammy Kidd who enlisted him in a
few amateur fights. After Kidd wanted him to fight Vernon Payne one night in the
South Valley, Steve decided it was time to switch trainers.
wasn’t ready to fight Vernon,” said Steve. “He was too heavy, too big for
me. Sammy said, ‘Oh no, he can’t take a punch. You’ll knock him out.’ We
ended up not fighting; Sammy and I went our separate ways.”
didn’t fight, but Payne and Aragon started talking. Together with Mike
Connolly, the three trained under Luis Chavez at San Jo.
started fighting quite a bit. I fought Shawn Gallegos, and Ray Sanchez III for
the state championship in Socorro. We went to the PAL together but I lost in the
2nd round to a guy named James Countryman. He was tall and lanky and
I was outboxed. That was always the case. I was always getting outboxed.”
fighting around 139, Aragon felt it was time to move on again.
is an awesome trainer and I have a lot of respect for the man,” says Steve.
“But we were disagreeing on a few things. Me and Vernon decided it was time to
move on. We got introduced to Rocky Stapleton . . .”
who’d been with Tommy Cordova in the 80’s, turned Aragon pro.
would’ve turned pro under Chavez in July of ’00, fighting on the Linson-Reed
I card in Santa Fe, but the fight was cancelled in the last minute. Instead,
Aragon fought a four-round exhibition against Tomas Felix. Steve’s pro debut
wouldn’t happen until October when he was matched up against another pro-debuter,
Luis Torres, on a Fresquez card in Santa Fe.
didn’t come to fight,” says Aragon, who stopped him in the 2nd.
“He was an easy fight.”
second fight was a month later at Sky City—where Steve would become a fixture
on the Fresquez card. This time, Steve was matched up against “El Chocalate,”
Rafael Labacena, 0-1 at the time.
was coming in heavier and Rocky was started to get cocky, telling me, ‘We’ll
knock this guy out, we’ll take the fight . . .’ But Labacena was a big guy
for me. He said, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ He wanted me punching bell to
bell, told me to bury my head in his chest and punch, wear him out.”
out, Steve had little to worry about. Labacena ended up looking tougher than he
actually was in the ring. Aragon knocked him out in the 1st. Despite
the win, Aragon was less than comfortable with the way he was being trained to
worked out hard with Rocky, which was good because you don’t want to come into
a fight getting tired, but he was training me to be more of a banger, to just
bang it out.”
says he wanted Steve to move side-to-side and change angles, while throwing
punches. He didn’t see Aragon as a pure boxer who kept to the outside.
would be just one more fight under Rocky Stapleton—the fight against veteran
Juan Aranday in February of 2001.
5-18-3, Aranday was a big test for Aragon. Despite the lop-sided losing record,
Aranday had 24 more fights than Steve had. He was also heavier.
was 130 and Aranday came in at 136,” says Aragon. “Rocky said he had a lot
of fights but that I could take him. But that week, I was coming down with some
flu symptoms. I was pretty weak. I told Rocky, ‘I don’t know about this . .
.’ I hated to pull out. All these tickets had been sold and my family was
coming down for the fight. I kept on taking medication. Rocky said I’d be
was fine, at least in the first round. But in the 2nd, Aranday
caught Steve with a hard right and dropped him for the first time in his pro
until Aranday, my opponents hadn’t really come to fight. I could push them
around . . . but Aranday came to fight, and I could feel the weight difference.
I thought he’d be another quick knockout. After the 1st, I came
back to the corner and told Rocky I had no legs. I was weak. He said, ‘Do your
thing, throw more punches.’ But in the 2nd, he caught me with a
sloppy punch and down I went.
remember thinking, This can’t be happening. I didn’t see the punch.
There was no pain, just a daze. I looked up at the ref who was counting, I
thought, I got to get up, I got to get up. That was a mistake, jumping up
when I did. I should’ve stayed down for the 8-count. I panicked and I had no
legs after that.”
the knockdown, Aragon showed heart and continued to fight only to lose a
a day I wish I could live over, but it ended up being for the best. I was
disappointed for a few days. I didn’t answer the phone, I was pretty beat up.
It was a combination of being sick, of being up against a heavier opponent—and
of not having enough boxing skills. It was a big wake-up call for me. It’s not
fun getting beat up.”
says he nearly gave up boxing after that, but instead moved on, changing
trainers yet again.
still respect Rocky and I know he meant well, but I thought it was time to move
on. I talked to Leonard Fresquez who said he’d continue giving us fights.
Then, I thought about another trainer. Leonard suggested Freddy Esquibel or Luis
Chavez, but I thought they had too many fighters already. I thought about Ronald
Herrera, who trained his brother Moises who I sparred with at 4th
Street. I called him up and we agreed to try it for a couple weeks. The workouts
were tough but it was just what I needed. He agreed to train me.”
been with the Herreras ever since, training in their garage in Bernalillo,
sparring inside a makeshift ring that fills most of the area.
then, my style’s changed. Ronald said, ‘Let’s throw everything out. I
don’t want to change your style but let’s go back to basics, start with
fundamentals.’ We worked on the jab, straight punches instead of looping
punches, throwing combinations. We worked big on defense, keeping my hands up.
It’s been a learning experience and every fight, we pick it up.”
months after losing to Aranday, Aragon won a four-rounder over 0-1 fighter Juan
Carlos Cortes, then stopped Mike Sloboda (1-0) after two rounds two months after
that. Three months later, Aragon fought a tactical match between an improved but
2-12 fighter Lorenzo Estrada, winning a six-round decision.
October saw Aragon at his best, beating a 3-2 Guillermo Vara. While Vara was
much slower, Steve kept to his game plan and fought him on the outside, boxing
his way to a six-round decision.
seven opponents have a combined record of 10-34-3 (Aranday responsible for
5-18-3 of that.) Aragon and the Herreras now felt it was time to step up the
first Fresquez offered us Jacob Romero,” says Steve. “Me and Ronald wanted
that fight. Ronald said, ‘Let’s step it up.’ Jacob was coming off a long
layoff, I was coming off one of my better fights. It was perfect timing. We took
the fight and I was training for it, but it fell through. Then I went through
some personal problems and they had me working where I couldn’t train.”
works for Western States Fire Protection, a company that installs fire
sprinklers. During November and December, they had Aragon working in Los Alamos,
but in January, they had him working at Intel where he could train again.
That’s when Fresquez offered them Tommy Aragon.
said, ‘Tommy’s too big,’” says Steve. “I’ve seen him at 135 and he
couldn’t make the weight. Leonard [Fresquez] wanted the fight at 132-133. I
said I’m coming up in weight and usually fight at 126-128. Tommy really wanted
the fight so we agreed on 130. The big question now is whether Tommy will make
reports coming out of Winkeljohn’s Kickboxing, where Tommy trains, can put
that fear aside—supposedly Tommy Aragon is down to 131 pounds now, just one
week out from the fight.
first, the Aragon vs. Aragon fight was set as a 6-round co-main event for the
February 22nd card at Sky City—but after the main event crashed,
the card was rescheduled for March 9th and Aragon vs. Aragon was
pumped up to an 8-round main event.
wanted eight rounds to begin with,” says Steve. “Eight is to our advantage.
Tommy always loses wind and I’m always in shape.”
9th won’t be the first time Tommy and Steve have fought. Several
years ago, the two fought a 4-rounder in a smoker at 4th Street.
was when I was training under Sammy Kidd,” says Steve. “I was only a month
out of the service and I gave up a few pounds to fight him at 156. Tommy’s a
big guy and he came out to fight the same way he always does—wailing. I lost
the decision and spent the time just trying to survive. I never thought about
facing him again but he started coming down in weight.
9th is going to be a war. He comes to fight and he doesn’t back
down. He’s a hard puncher and I’ll be the first to admit that, but I think I
can take a pretty good punch. The only way to beat him is with some skill.
gonna outbox him. We’re not gonna run, we’re gonna fight—but
smartly. We’re not gonna get suckered into those big punches. We can run all
night but we’re not going to. We just won’t let him get set up. Once he
does, be careful. He throws those awkward punches and likes to fight on the
ropes. But I think I can punch just as hard as him—but smarter punches and not
just one, I’ll throw 4-5 where they count.”
Steve’s team does not want to look past March 9th, they would like
to fight at least ten times this year. What’s more, they will no longer take
an opponent without a winning record.
they don’t have a winning record, they’re not worth fighting,” says Steve,
who’s been criticized for his soft opposition so far. “The criticism
doesn’t bother me. If you can’t take criticism, you’re in the wrong sport.
If we don’t get respect, that doesn’t bother us, either. Ronald has really
worked my career around, and with every fight, I’m improving. We just do our
own thing. But people do pay a lot of money and they deserve to see something
better than what they’ve been seeing with me.
for Tommy Aragon? I’ll respect his power, I’d be stupid not to. His biggest
challenge will be in making the weight. We’re saying that he’ll probably
come in one or two pounds heavy and will have to lose it the day before. But
we’re ready for any situation.
“Whatever happens in the ring, we are ready.”
2002 by New Mexico