Manuel "Tino" Avila looks to make a name in boxing and beyond
April 27, 2017
On May 6th at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada most of the boxing world’s attention will be on that night’s main event between Canelo Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Many boxing fans and pundits will tell you that the best fight on the card that night will not be the main event.
On the undercard, Manuel “Tino” Avila (22-0, 8 KOs) will meet Joseph “JoJo” Diaz (23-0, 13 KOs) in a battle of undefeated fighters. It’s rare for two undefeated up, and coming fighters meet each other at this point in their careers. Frontproof Media spoke with Manuel “Tino” Avila to give his thoughts on the fight and much more.
Franco: Thank you so much for taking the time out to do this interview today man, I appreciate it.
Tino: Yeah yeah, just got done.
Franco: What does a typical day of training look like for you?
Tino: Well we don't really have a typical day; every day's a different day. We work on different things. It can be circuits; it can be track, it can be sparring, it could be mitts and bags. It changes a different day; you don't ever want to keep it the same. So it's always a different thing, different day.
Franco: I was looking at your record and some of your past fights. I saw that you fought a lot at Fantasy Springs at the Belasco Theater. This will be your first fight on a major pay-per-view card, under the Chávez-Canelo fight. Can you tell me a little bit about that and what that means to you?
Tino: It always means a lot to me, to get that exposure and get on a big undercard, but when I get in that ring it’s going to be the same. It doesn't really matter the location or what undercard I'm in. It's going to be the same thing. A fight's a fight, the same way, whether it's a non-TV fight at the casino or T-Mobile Stadium on pay-per-view under the Chávez-Canelo card.
Franco: At the end of the day it's just going to be you and Mr. Diaz in the ring anyway.
Franco: Do you know Joseph Diaz, and if so how well do you know your opponent?
Tino: As an amateur, I never even heard of the guy. Even when they announced him as an Olympian I still never heard of him. But now that he's coming up I know about him, I've watched his fights. We actually thought we were going to meet up later on, but it came sooner, and I'm actually happy about that, it coming sooner than later.
Franco: It’s rare to have two undefeated fighters going at it at this stage in their careers. Looking at him, and I'm sure you've seen him fight, and he's probably seen you fight professionally, what advantages do you think you have on him going into the fight?
Tino: I feel like ... I think we're pretty evenly matched. For advantages, I think I'm a smarter fighter but a smarter fighter against the left hand I guess you could say.
Franco: How would you describe your boxing style? I know that going into this fight, this is going to be the first time that a lot of fans may have seen you, so can you give us a little bit of what they can expect?
Tino: I'm more of a boxer, but I'm also a puncher. When I was an amateur, I was a puncher, and then I could box. But I've changed that style, so I'm more of a boxer first, and then if it comes down to it, I can go to war, no problem.
Franco: It sounds like we're in for an exciting fight on May 6th. What got you into boxing? What influenced you to become a professional?
Tino: You know what, as a kid, I was always in trouble on the streets. I played baseball and soccer, but in the off-season, I was just a big troublemaker out on the street. Neighbors would complain, and then I'd get brought home by a cop and my parents embarrassed cause I'm the kid that is getting brought home. But as I got older, my dad put me in boxing, and from the beginning, I liked it because it wasn't a team sport. Because I was always the all-star player of each team that I played as a kid, my dad always put on me you have to be the all-star. So when the team makes a mistake, it's like your making a mistake. And so as a boxer, if I make a mistake, I know I made a mistake, it isn’t a teammate that made a mistake.
But then when I got older, about, I think 14, 15, I was like this is what I want to do, this is going to be my career. And I dug in, I got more motivated at that age, and I started training even harder, and thankfully I turned into a bigger name than I was expecting. I was just expecting to be a local fighter making some chump change per fight because of the love of the sport, not because I wanted to become rich and famous.
Franco: I saw you at the Sacramento Kings game, a couple of days ago, maybe last week. I see that your home state and where you're from definitely showed you love wherever you go. So can you talk a little bit about that, about your relationship with your community, where you're from?
Tino: People always say, why don't I move to LA because that's the better exposure for me, and more trainers out there, and you know what, this is my community out here in Northern California. I'm trying to make a name for myself out here. I'm trying to make a name for Northern California.
I'm trying to do a lot of big things out here. Later on, I'm going to start opening up all these different things, a gym, I want to open up some organizations, kind of help out the homeless and the needy and stuff. And later on down the line, when things start going good I'll open up my own promotion. And my goal is to make it big time, at least get it up there with my name mentioned with Golden Boy and all those other guys, Roc Nations. And to know I'm coming out in Northern California to even out the playing field for new fighters out here. I feel like some of them have more talent than the ones in Southern California, but they just get that exposure and get lucky that they live out there. Even though I know, some of them have a harder life, but still, the talent should prove the point, not the location.
Franco: It sounds like from just hearing you say that that you got a vision in mind, of a bigger picture. I know that we don't want to look past Joseph Diaz, but since you have a vision of doing things bigger than the actual sport itself, what is your ultimate goal within the sport itself? How do you see yourself finishing up in the sport?
Tino: If everything goes well, come out with an undefeated record or at least a good record. I make a name for myself and that way it helps me with my promotions, my organizations, help me out with getting better sponsors and stuff, perhaps to help feed the homeless and stuff, I'm really into that. My wife is on board with that too, so it's pretty cool, we already have ideas. And it's just making money and going with it.
So my big thing is making money and turning it into something outside of boxing. Boxing's a short career, so I want to do something outside of boxing, even though one of my things that I want to do is a boxing gym and a promotion.
But I just want to make sure I'm well invested, not only well invested, putting my money towards good use and not just being greedy and keeping it to myself, or being stingy with it. I want to give back to my community. I want to give back to the people that need it, not just be like 'oh I got all this money, sucks to be you guys.'
I was telling people before I want to open up a homeless shelter kind of thing. But to help them, house them, feed them, help them get a job. Set them up for interviews, get them nice clothes. Do the whole nine yards, not just feed them and give them a house on a lumpy bed. I actually want to help you get off the streets, and then they get that job, six months from then. I can get them help with a cheap apartment, a studio or something else.
I'm just trying to make the change, and I'm trying to give back to my community, I'm trying to do as much as I can. And every time I think about it, people always think maybe one day I'll be running for mayor of Vallejo California, where I'm originally from. So it's just making a change little by little, even if it's a dollar a day to a homeless person you see, it's a difference that you'll see in the long run.
Franco: Tino, I want to ask you this because you’ve brought this up a few times now. Looking at your life, outside of boxing, the issue of the homeless. Homelessness, is that something that is very personal to you, something that maybe you experienced with family or friends?
Tino: I had a very close friend ... I was working the graveyard shift at 24 Hour Fitness, and I had a friend, he had a membership, but he lived inside of his car. So the only reason he had the membership is that it's 24 hours, they had a shower, and he could work out here and there. And that's pretty much the reason that he had it because he had it cheap, it's cheaper than him getting a house. He was on and off jobs, and so it was just hard for him, and he lived inside of a car at one point.
He had a decent car, and it ran, it was good on gas. At the time I looked it up on Kelley Blue Book, it was easily sold for ... I put it under the poor condition, which it wasn't, easily sold for like two grand. This was back like five, six years ago, five years ago, it was like a '99 Saturn, a three-door Saturn, and nobody wanted to buy it off of him. He started selling it for 500 bucks. I was like "man, that's easily sold for 1500, two grand, and no one wants to buy it off you?" The reason he was trying to sell it because he had a job opportunity in South Carolina. So he wanted that money to go to his bus fare, and some food, to get to his trip over there.
So what I did, I emptied my bank account to buy the car off of him, to give him the bus fare, and give him enough money to get some food and to make it over there, and still have a little bit of extra change in his pocket. And since then, I try to keep in touch. I was even paying for his cellphone bill for a while so that I can make sure everything's going well. Anything he needed I could help him out as much as I could. Unfortunately, I ended up losing contact with him because he felt like he was doing better. He got his own phone. I don't know what happened, he ended up coming back down to Northern California, and we just lost touch. He ended up back in the same hole. Like I said, unfortunately, I don't have contact with him anymore, and that's always been a tough thing for me, seeing a good friend in that situation.
Franco: Thank you so much for sharing that story. That's really incredible that you went above and beyond and helped someone in that way. So, switching gears here and looking at fighters. You told me a little bit about how you got started in boxing, what got you into boxing. Who were some of your favorite fighters growing up, and who influenced you to put on the gloves?
Tino: There weren't any fighters I was looking at until like two, three, maybe even four years into boxing. Maybe about three years into boxing, the fighter that I looked up to was Roy Jones Jr. Which is funny because as soon as I figured him out, I copied his style in the amateurs and then I got in trouble for it because you do too much showboating for amateurs and they say it's not ... I forgot what the word they used, but it wasn't something I was able to do, so I got in trouble a few times for that, for showboating.
Franco: Tino, your last fight you got a victory over Jose Ramirez, he's fought guys like Vasyl Lomachenko. Is there anything you learned from that fight or anything that you're going to take away from that fight that you're going to build on, or maybe change your approach going into this fight with Joseph Diaz?
Tino: Oh yeah well every fight that I go into I learn from it. Regardless if it's a second round knockout or it goes the distance, ten rounds, or if it's a wrestling match. There's always something you can take away from it and learn from, and that's a learning experience for me.
Franco: Okay great, and last thing here if you want to give out any social media or any way that your fans or anybody that's looking to know more about you, anyway they could contact you, learn more about you, go ahead and just let the fans know.
Tino: Yeah everybody follow me @team_tino on Instagram. That's where I'll be keeping all my business, my personal and my boxing life out there. You'll see a lot of pictures of my wife and my daughter, so you want to keep up with my life and my career that's where you've got to go to follow.
Franco: Thank you so much once again, Tino, for doing this interview with us. I want to thank you so much for the opportunity and appreciate you taking the time, especially when you just got done out of training. And good luck on May 6th.
Tino: All right, thank you.
(Feature Photo: Tristan Belisimo/Golden Boy Promotions)