“We didn’t really know too much about the other opponent, either,” Avila said, unfazed by the late change. “So it’s just another opponent in front of me.”
And a seemingly safe opponent it is.
“We’re going to test him the first few rounds and see what he’s got,” Avila (12-0, four KOs) said. “Obviously, he’s going to try to knock me out, but [my management isn’t] going to put me in with someone that’s going to endanger my career.”
A loser in eight of his last 10 bouts, the Mexican-born Cota (8-9-1, six KOs) has been stopped short of going the distance six times. But soft touch or no, the 21-year-old rising pugilist Avila isn’t treating it as such.
“The guy can be 0-100, [but] if he gets that one win over me, my name goes down and his name comes up,” Avila said. “Everybody’s hungry to beat me, so I can’t take any fighter for granted, no matter who it is or what his record is. A fighter’s a fighter. He’s going to go for the win, he’s not just gonna come for the paycheck to fight me.”
A pro since age 18, Avila first laced up gloves at 10 — but became fond of fighting much sooner. Street brawling after school prompted Avila’s father to match his child to the gym. Avila obliged, for the idea of bettering his learning in beating kids up was appealing.
“It felt great,” Avila said. “I mean, I could hit this guy as many times as I want and not get in trouble for it.”
And it was during one of those pugilistic lessons where Avila donned a new fighting name.
Once upon on a time in the 1980s, Avila’s coach Al Lagardo had a Fairfield lightweight named Tino Huggins. To the old man, Huggins and Avila looked the same, which is how Avila garnered the nickname “Tino.”
“I was like, ‘Man, why’s this old man trying to give me a new name for?’” he said. “But it just kinda stuck.”
Tickets for the event, priced at $35, $55 and $100, can be purchased online at pacopresentsboxing.com.
WHEN: Oct. 28, main card at 7 p.m.
WHERE: Sports House, Redwood City
TV: Fox Sports 1
MAIN EVENT: Manuel “Tino” Avila vs. Jose Angel Cota