By John Philip Wyllie
Angel Estrada knows all too well how the public tends to stereotype professional boxers. The oft held misconception that boxers are 95% brawn and 5% brains is one that he has no doubt heard many times. In Estrada’s case however, that perception couldn’t be farther from the truth. Having graduated as the Crawford High School salutatorian a couple of years ago, Estrada, a 136-pound junior welterweight, is currently working towards a degree at UCSD. He is also undefeated in the ring so far after turning pro last year following a long string of successful amateur bouts and titles. On or about July 13, Estrada will attempt to make it three professional wins in a row when he fights an as of yet unnamed opponent in Tijuana.
“I have a lot of goals in boxing. I’d like to become the undisputed world champion and hold every title in one weight class and hopefully win a couple of other titles in another weight class,” Estrada said. “I know (to do that) I will have to work hard and really learn the trade of boxing.” His trainer, Glenn Salud, who is the brother and former trainer of WBA champion Jesus Salud, likes what he is seeing so far in his young fighter.
“At this level the physical part of it is pretty much a given. You have to be in shape. Angel is just 19 years old right now and he still needs to peak, but he is making progress. When I first got him, he was pretty much brutal. He was thinking with his hands and not his head. Amateur and professional boxing are totally different. Amateur boxing is only about points. When you turn professional, boxing becomes mostly mental. A lot of boxers don’t realize that. To them it is only about the battle, but they won’t last too long in this career. The great ones that have lasted like (Oscar) De La Hoya and (Bernard) Hopkins are also very intelligent.”
Estrada’s superior intellect is one biggest assets, but not his only one. He is determined and focused and adapts well to whatever the situation calls for. He likes to keep his opponents at arm’s length with his jab, but he can also do some damage inside as well.
“The whole point of boxing is to hit while not getting hit. Now that I am a professional, I am learning each day in practice that it is more of a mind game or a chess match. You have to constantly prepare for the next move, see what your opponent is doing, jab him, move him around and make him open up. Maybe you will set him up with something to the head so that you can hit him in the body.”
While the mental game is critical to Estrada, he must maintain his physical conditioning and be in peak condition when that opening bell sounds.
“I wake up early and go for either a five-mile run or I run wind sprints. Then I’ll do sit-ups throughout the day and maybe a few neck exercises. (After he finishes his classes at UCSD) I’ll rest a little bit and eat something and then have practice at about 5:00 p.m. I will shadow box, hit the bag, spar and do a few other things. The workouts are more intense when I am training for a fight. Coach will be pushing me more and I will be pushing myself more.”
Estrada is looking forward to returning to Mexico next month for what he hopes will be the first in a series of successful Tijuana fights. At one point Estrada, who holds dual citizenship, was being considered for the Mexican Olympic Boxing Team, but red tape and a delay in his paperwork thwarted that bid. This time around he will have only his opponent to contend with.