As cars drove by on U.S. Highway 90 on Tuesday, 18-year-old Jorge Monclova was putting in his normal workout in the boxing ring along with a couple of younger boys.
After racking up more than 50 victories in over 70 fights, Monclova has had his calendar erased. The lightweight was going to have an exciting spring and summer that could have included the National Junior Olympics in Lubbock in June.
“Training this hard not to fight is frustrating, but I'm sure this will all pay off when all this is clear,” Monclova said. “You push yourself every day, run every day, and you look forward to that fight.”
For over eight years, the Alpine Boxing Club has opened its doors to anyone, young or old, who was interested in learning about the sweet science. But now trainer Frank Guerrero is only working with a handful of fighters in the wake of COVID-19 precautions.
USA Boxing has closed most of its gyms across the nation, but Guerrero has allowed a few existing members to keep working out at the local ring. Sanitizing the equipment was already part of the routine, but now it’s even more of a priority. A lot of Guerrero’s fellow trainers are now feeling uncertain about the future.
“We’re worried this is the last nail in the coffin,” he said. “Boxing is already a dying sport.”
Managing the Porter’s on 5th Street takes up a lot of Guerrero’s time, but his passion is boxing. The Boxing Academy has changed locations over the years, but has survived with the help of a generous community. The work he and others have put in was going to culminate in a Boxing USA Regional Tournament at Sul Ross State University this June.
Instead, Guerrero holds quiet practices in the afternoon, and is willing to meet Ashley Baker before dawn to train with her a few times per week.
“It's the thing that helps me more than anything else during all of this,” Baker said. “Having someone pushing you is a lot better then working out by yourself.”
Over the last year, Baker has taken up boxing. She had done it more when she was younger, but drifted away as she worked and raised her children. Guerrero was trying to talk her into competing in her first real fight ever before everything was postponed.
Her husband was a Golden Gloves fighter just like Monclova and his younger brother, Diego, are now. Between the two of them, the brothers have fought in over 100 matches. Their curiosity about boxing and their introduction to Guerrero eight years ago was a perfect twist of fate.
“We just wanted to train to get in shape, and we stuck with it,” Monclova said about him and his brother. “No more punching each other in the face.”