Blazen Rocili celebrates after knocking out Rueben Morales in his professional debut in August of 2021.
Shortly after graduating from Pearl Metropolis Excessive College, Blazen Rocili and his dad and mom left their dwelling in Hawaii to begin a brand new life in Las Vegas. It was a tough however crucial step for the 19-year-old to pursue his dream of constructing a profession as a professional boxer.
It’s that sacrifice that retains him targeted by the laborious exercises and grueling sparring periods within the desert metropolis. His mom left her job on the Honolulu Airport, the place she’d get up at 6 a.m. to arrange Blazen and his little brother for college, earlier than sitting by an hour of island site visitors. His father had been working three jobs to help their household, working as a prepare dinner and doing building earlier than discovering employment within the trucking trade once they relocated to Nevada. The household, which has roots within the Ilocos Norte province of the Philippines, has invested their hopes and goals of their younger son.
Blazen Rocili’s solely focus is on succeeding in order that his household’s sacrifice received’t be in useless.
“They’re all the time paying for my bills, all the time bringing me to the place I wanted to be, serving to me with my vitamin. In a means I felt like, it’s solely proper if I make it. I’ve to make it on this sport to pay them again for the whole lot they’ve completed,” mentioned the 6-foot-3 Rocili (4-0, 4 knockouts), an undefeated southpaw who packing containers within the junior middleweight division.
For Rocili, his boxing journey started at age 8 on the Waipahu Boxing Membership, a fitness center that was established within the Forties and was the start line for Filipino American champions Brian Viloria and Jesus Salud, and former light-weight contender Andy Ganigan. A chubby child rising up, Rocili’s foremost aim was to chop down his weight. He caught on and started to compete at age 13, and estimates that he had about 20 novice fights. There have been few opponents to struggle in Hawaii, so Rocili’s household needed to scrounge collectively cash to fly him to nationwide tournaments, like just like the 2017 USA Junior Open in Salt Lake Metropolis, Utah, and the 2019 USA Youth Nationwide Championships in Lake Charles, La.
It was on the 2019 Youth Nationals the place Rocili met his present coach, Richard Barrientes. Barrientes trains one other pair of Filipino-American prospects with Hawaiian roots, his twin sons Chavez and Angel Barrientes. Barrientes invited them to his base in Vegas, and launched him to promoter Julian Vigil of Pound 4 Pound Promotions. Vigil signed Rocili, and turned him professional in August of 2021 with a 3rd spherical stoppage of Rueben Morales. Rocili’s first three bouts have been in Cheyenne, Wyoming, however he registered his fourth win on Sunday, knocking out Johnny Cheeseboro in three rounds in Aurora, Colorado.
To this point, Rocili has proven energy in opposition to restricted opposition: he has knocked out all 4 of his opponents inside three rounds, although only one opponent – Edison Charley – had any prior professional expertise. Charley entered their bout final December with a 0-10 file, and was stopped within the second spherical.
Matchmaker Steve Mestas, who has matched all of Rocili’s fights up to now, says he likes Rocili’s energy and dedication, in addition to his southpaw proper jab and ending means. He says that there’s no rush in matching him robust simply but.
“Proper now I wouldn’t stick him in with no seasoned vet as a result of he’s nonetheless a newbie and that’s not proper,” mentioned Mestas, who expects Rocili to be again within the ring in April.
“He’s in his studying stage however the child reveals me a variety of promise. He’s bettering with each struggle. I feel he’s going locations.”
The place Rocili is getting loads of robust work is within the gyms of Las Vegas. Among the many folks Rocili has sparred with are Fernando Vargas Jr., the undefeated professional and son of the previous junior middleweight champion, in addition to 2020 U.S. Olympian Troy Isley and undefeated Premier Boxing Champions prospect Jesus Ramos.
Rocili additionally finds inspiration in his Filipino roots, and extra particularly, the nation’s storied legacy in boxing. Rocili met Manny Pacquiao in 2016, when he flew out to Los Angeles for his birthday to look at Pacquiao prepare.
“He was simply telling me to maintain up the nice work. He was giving me reward. To at the present time I actually look as much as him as a result of it shocks me how humble he’s, out and in of the ring,” mentioned Rocili.
Rocili wears his coronary heart on his sleeves and his cultural pleasure on his trunks, that are emblazoned with the Filipino flag. He feels that, if Filipino boxers can overcome their impoverished roots to grow to be champions, he can also hurdle life’s obstacles to determine a legacy of his personal.
“I actually wish to embrace my tradition and simply put it on the market that Filipinos can do it, too,” mentioned Rocili.
“All of them come from nothing. In our youthful years we’re so unlucky, particularly coming from Hawaii as a result of it’s actually costly so we don’t actually come from a lot. I feel, if they will make it, I could make it too.”
Ryan Songalia has written for ESPN, the New York Day by day Information, Rappler, Vice and The Guardian, and holds a Grasp’s diploma from the Craig Newmark Graduate College of Journalism. He might be reached at [email protected]