Tommy Takes Steve
Tommy Takes Stevie in Distance Fight! Aragon vs. Aragon Tops Off a Card of Unanimous Decisions text & photos by chris cozzone The bingo hall at Sky City had a packed house last night to see who the better Aragon was—Seboyeta’s Stevie or the slugger Tommy. After eight rounds topped off with a furious exchange that had Steve on the canvas from a punch that may or may not have occurred after the bell—the only knockdown of the night—it was Tommy who’d walk away with the unanimous. Although it later became a game of give and take, the early rounds were Tommy’s. Steve spent the first two-and-a-half rounds too cautiously, jabbing air and staying away from a stalking Tommy. He was too far away to be effective. The punches that counted were Tommy’s. They were not many—but they landed with meaning and they tested Stevie’s suspect chin, which held up. For the first time ever, Tommy was also using a jab to set up his bombs. After the 1st, there was already a mouse under Stevie’s eye. Steve finally got to work in the final minute of the 3rd, beginning to move in and out with combinations rather than stay on the outside while Tommy tried to cut off the ring. In the best exchange so far, Stevie unleashed a straight left that actually moved Tommy backward. It wasn’t enough to steal the round from Tommy, but it was enough to show us that Stevie had come to fight. The fight was on in the 4th. Using speed and stickin’ to game plan, Steve worked his way in and out from a less busy Tommy. At one point, Steve actually wobbled Tommy with a right hook. It was Steve’s round. Round Five was close enough to go either way. Steve was getting braver, and beginning to score more often, although the meaningful punches continued to come from Tommy. Round Six was more of the same; Steve scoring in and out and Tommy popping his jab and landing left hooks and rights that were beginning to swell Stevie’s face. By the end of the fight, Stevie looked like a gargoyle and had grown an extra forehead from the swelling. The first half of the 7th was slow but the two Aragons mixed it up in the 2nd half, exchanging toe-to-toe more often. Again, Tommy was scoring the better shots although Stevie was effective in his in-and-out attacks. In fact, his strategic strikes were taking the last round until the very end when they duked it out in the final minute. In a round that might’ve gone Steve’s way, Tommy landed a shot that would, in delayed action, put Steve on the canvas. Only problem was, did it happen just before the bell, right at the bell, or just after? It was difficult to tell as both fighters were still throwing punches as the bell rang. As ref Russ Mora broke things up and stopped the action, Steve was down and dazed. He ruled it a no-knockdown, saying the punch that had put Steve down had occurred after the bell rang. Fortunately, the knockdown-or-no-knockdown did not effect the outcome, although I had the fight damn close at the end: 5 rounds to 3 for Tommy, although I thought one or two of those rounds could’ve gone either way and made the fight a draw. At worst, for Tommy, it’d been a draw; at best, it was 6 rounds to 3. The judges did not see it as close. Two judges had it 78-74; the third, 79-73, all for Tommy Aragon. It’s cliché to even say it, but regardless of the outcome, neither fighter really lost. While Stevie gets the ‘L’, he showed a tougher chin than many of us thought he had. He also displayed some firepower. Had Stevie started out earlier, it could’ve had a different outcome. On the other hand, Tommy was much more than the one-dimensional slugger he’s been in previous fights. He utilized an effective jab and threw straighter punches than those loopy swimmer’s-crawl bombs he’s famous for. “I outboxed him and he ate my jab all night long,” Tommy said after the fight. “But he was tougher that I thought he’d be.” When asked if he’d ever been hurt by some of Steve’s punches, he said, “They were nothing. I was never hurt. They caught me off-balance when they landed.” Steve Aragon, too, admitted that he’d underestimated his opponent: “He had a stiff jab and he was counterpunching effectively. He was also quicker and tougher than I thought he’d be. The guy can punch, too. He had me hurt in the 5th.” The punch at the end, Steve said, came after the bell. Although it had him dazed, he says, it was more of a slip than a true knockdown. Tommy’s camp begs to differ. “They should’ve given him the count,” says Rocky Stapleton, who served as Tommy’s cutman. “The punch came before the bell.” Worthy of a rematch, Aragon vs. Aragon may settle the matter who the best Aragon is . . . but it still leaves questions who the best lightweight is in the state. With Ray Sanchez III fighting closer to junior welterweight, there are but two others who should be pitted against Tommy: undefeated Shawn Gallegos, considered by most to be the best 135-pounder in NM, and possibly Jacob Romero, who’s been talking about coming off a 3-year layoff to give boxing another shot
New Tommy Same Bad Attitude
Whole New Tommy, Same Bad Attitude
Tommy Aragon Says He’s Getting Better With Age—
Come Saturday Night, He’ll Prove It
text & photos by chris cozzone
Tommy Aragon may not be the most skilled fighter in New Mexico, but he just might be the most fun to watch. Tommy comes right at you, looking to land bombs that come out of nowhere. And his opponents, those who make the mistake of standing in front of him, usually end up on the canvas.
That’s what half the fans in Acoma are expecting to see Saturday night—one Aragon dropping another, Tommy knocking out Stevie Aragon. The other half are anticipating the boxer to outbox, outsmart the slugger.
But the 36-year-old suit & tie businessman-by-day-fighter-by-night says that there’ll be more to him than knockout bombs come Saturday night:
“We’ve been changing over to a new style,” Tommy said Wednesday morning before his last hard workout before the fight. “I’m putting things together now, learning how to get out of trouble situations, and my trainer, Mike Winkeljohn, has been working extraordinarily hard with me on defense and offense, getting in and out. It’s a whole new me, with the same bad attitude.
“I’m going to show people that despite my age, I’m still upgrading. Age is a matter of mind—if you don’t mind, it don’t matter.”
Aragon is also right on schedule for the 130-pound weight limit. In the past, Tommy’s had his share of difficulties making weight; the fight against 128-pound Steve Aragon will see Tommy at his lightest yet.
“My first three pro fights were all at welterweight—and those were all knockouts. But I’ll be staying around 130 now. I’m on a new diet and you’ll be seeing me at the weigh-in coming in at 129 ¾ or so. I have my weight down and my strength up—last night I was still benching 285—so I feel good. I’m much better at 130 and unlike fighting welterweight, I won’t have to worry about guys in the heavier weight classes who are so much taller than me, and who’re able to keep me at bay with jabs. Power, I’m not worried about from anyone. It’s been the height factor.”
In Tommy’s last two fights, he was up against taller opponents who were able to outbox him. Last December, he lost a close 8-round decision to Denver veteran Arturo Cruz, and last September, lost another close fight to Robbie Lovato.
“I still feel like I’m undefeated,” says Tommy. “My last fight, with Cruz, was my toughest fight. I thought I beat him the first three rounds and the last round, which would’ve made it a draw. It wasn’t so much that I ran out of gas in the middle rounds, it was that I got away from my game plan. I stood right there in front of him and let him catch me with uppercuts, instead of moving away or taking a step back and regrouping. That’s something that only comes from experience; sticking to a game plan and not letting someone knock you out of it.”
Aragon is still sore over his fight with Robbie Lovato last September.
“I thought I won that fight,” he says. “I knocked him down and they didn’t rule it a knockdown but a slip.”
After a late start, Aragon started to get the best of Lovato, who’d been fighting on the outside, jabbing and outscoring Aragon. But as the rounds wore on, Lovato was getting rocked by Tommy’s bombs.
Aragon’s only other loss was against still-undefeated El Pasoan Adan Hernandez, back in August of ’00 in a 4-rounder.
“I knocked him down in the first round and I knocked him down in the 4th round—but they ruled it a push when it was clearly a body shot. There was no way I should’ve lost that fight. Like I said, I still consider myself undefeated.”
Unlike Steve Aragon, who’s level of opposition has not increased dramatically, Tommy has the advantage of having been up against tough fighters. Most of his opponents have had winning records—a combined 31-22 record as compared to Steve’s 10-34-3—or have had a successful amateur background, like Adan Hernandez and Jesse Hernandez, who was KO’d in the 1st. Their only shared opponent is Lorenzo Estrada—Tommy TKO’d him in the 1st; Steve won an 8-round decision.
“Stevie better watch out,” warns Tommy who does not expect this fight to go the 8-round distance. “I have the utmost respect for Stevie. He and I go way back, to the time we fought as amateurs. I beat him in a decision but he had two standing 8-counts. I feel I’m a whole lot better now and then. Back then, I was very, very new to the game.”
Tommy and Steve have also sparred a few times since that amateur fight.
“Stevie and I know each other pretty well,” Tommy says. “There’s not too much I can tell Stevie that he doesn’t know already. He knows that my left hand is strong. I heard something about him saying that he hits as hard as I do—that’s something I strongly disagree with. On Saturday night, I’ll prove to him how just how hard I can hit, and with more than just my right hand.
“Stevie’s always been very competitive, and he always comes to fight. That’s what I want. But I’m ready to go. The question is, does he have a chin? Well, we’re gonna find out because I guarantee you, he’s gonna taste that left hook several times. We’re not taking any prisoners.”
Although Tommy’s done his share of sparring to prepare for his fight (against guys like Andre King, Danny Slade, and kickboxers James Martinez and Eric Kuckovich), his focus has been on skills.
“The only problem is, there hasn’t been two many southpaws. But that’s okay. I’m prepared to cut off the ring and I know what his weaknesses are. He’s got tools on both sides but what it comes down to ism who wants it more. I think the world of Stevie, but when you get in the ring, it’s business. He’s out there for the same reason I’m out there—to get away with the ‘W.’”
Considered by most New Mexicans to be the best lightweight in the state (that is, if you consider Ray Sanchez II to be a junior welter,) undefeated Shawn Gallegos has called out the winner of Aragon vs. Aragon.
“Shawn Gallegos? I kind of laugh at it. I don’t have any ill feelings for Shawn—he’s a hell of a competitor—but I don’t think I’d have any problem with him. If that’s all there is being offered, I’ll take the fight. But I really want to shoot for something bigger.
“I’d like to get myself a good TV spot. My dreams are not just to sit here and fight in New Mexico until I run out of brains or have nobody else to fight. I want something bigger and better. I’ll fight anybody, I don’t care who it is. But if I can get a chance to get in there with someone with a bigger name, I’d do it in a heartbeat. That’s where I’m at right now.”
Aragon & Holm On the Rise Two Boxers out of Winkeljohn's Kickboxing Breaking the Mold photos, story by chris cozzone You won’t find many boxing gyms in Albuquerque’s Heights, but you will find Winkeljohn’s Kickboxing. Going on its 15th year, the gym-dojo is mainly a place for kickboxers, muay thai fighters and aerobics enthusiasts—but you will find a ring and all the necessary boxing gear. You’ll also find two boxers; one proven, the other, looking to prove. Both are trained by owner Mike Winkeljohn, former two-time Muay Thai and one-time kickboxing world champ in the middleweight division. Primarily training the 15 competing kickboxers (3 are pro) who work out there, Winkeljohn also fills his evenings training the hard-hitting Tommy Aragon, and the soon-to-turn pro, Holly Holm. Tommy Aragon’s rep is on the rise, due to his last couple fights—and his upcoming bout against undefeated Shawn Gallegos on the 30th. He’s not the greatest boxer but guy can bang, from weird angles, too. He’s currently at 5-2 with 4 KO’s. He’s got 1st round KO wins over Jesse Hernandez and Lorenzo Estrada, and two losses: a four-round decision to the undefeated El Pasoan Adan Hernandez, and a close majority decision to Robbie Lovato in September. “Both losses were very marginal,” says Aragon. “I felt I beat Lovato. I clearly knocked him down in the 7th but they didn’t count it. And the judges gave him the first three rounds even though he didn’t hit me. All his punches hit my gloves. It was like that Angel Manfredy – Julio Diaz fight. From the 4th round, I flipped my switch on, and I hurt him bad three or four times.” Despite the loss, Aragon says the fight upped his self-confidence. “I feel good even though I lost the decision,” he says. “All in all, it was a big confidence booster. If he wants to play again, I’m in. I’d love a rematch, but I doubt they’ll give me one.” Aragon weighed in at 141 ½ for his fight with Lovato. Right now, he’s at 139—but he’ll be dropping down to 131 when, at the end of the month, he goes up against lightweight hopeful Shawn Gallegos (5-0, 4 KO’s) from Las Vegas, NM. “I’m prepared to go the distance with Gallegos,” says Aragon. “And I’m confident. I’m planning to box, but I’m gonna hurt him. I know he can’t hurt me.” Tommy will fight anywhere from 130 to 140, although he’s gone up to 147 for a fight. “It all depends on what fights are offered,” he says. “We’ll fight anybody. We want to go as high as we can go.” Many would say he doesn’t have much time: Aragon is 36 years old. “I’ve always done things backwards,” he explains. “I waited until I was 34 before I started boxing.” Aragon might’ve started boxing when he was 34, but he’s been no stranger to fighting. He’s been kickboxing and training in karate most of his life. He “officially” “retired,” though, three and a half years ago. “’Enough is enough,’ is what I told myself,” says Tommy. “But Mike [Winkeljohn] saw me fight and we started training for boxing. I just love to fight.” Aragon is no dumb pug, either. He owns a furniture store and a real estate business, not to mention several homes. He also holds a degree in business administration and finance. “I’m a shirt and tie man in the daytime,” he says. “But come night, you’ll find me in battle fatigues.”
Aragon v. Aranday rd. 1 - No jabbing in this one, it's a hooking fest with the southpaw Aragon getting the better of it in the 1st round. Both men trade hard shots at the bell. rd. 2 - Aragon is committing to the body trying to pin Aranday against the ropes. Aranday is tough and lands a beautiful right uppercut that shoots Aragon's head back. A low blow by Aranday has Aragon gasping. Ref Burke gives Aranday a warning and Aragon a respite, the fighters resume with Aranday waving to the crowd as the bell sounds to end the round. rd, 3 -Low blow by Aranday gets a point deduction, but Aragon is pushing his head down. Close fight with Aragon landing the cleaner and harder shots. rd. 4 - Now the ref warns Aragon for leading with his head. The fight is being contested at close quarters. Both combatants are fighting hard as Aranday spins off the ropes and lands a left and a right to the head as the bell sounds. rd. 5 - Aragon is creatging distance with his right jab. Pressing his attack he now pins Aranday against the ropes. Aranday spins off and losses his mouthpiece. Another point deduction, Aranday is slowing down. rd. 6 - Aranday needs a knockdown to draw and a KO to win. Looking for openings Aranday crouches in the cebnter of the ring and lands lefts and rights. Aranday is warned again for leaping in, he looks desperate. Both trade in the center of the ring as the bell sounds. UD Aragon 57-55, 59-55, 58-55.
It is apperent Tommy made up his mind early, he was going to beat Juan at his own game, and wage war on the inside, this was a very good win for Tommy, hard fought and well deserved.