Too Young

Is 15 Years Old Too Young Even for Joseph Landeros

By David A. Avila

Prizefighting in the Inland Empire has been booming.

A good number of young local boxers saw action in important bouts over the weekend with most hailing from Riverside.

Not all resulted in victory but one noteworthy fight took place in Mexico where a Riverside fighter still attending high school made his pro debut.

Joseph Landeros, a pencil thin15-year-old who attends Martin Luther King High in Riverside, won his professional debut by technical knockout in 16 seconds on Saturday in Tijuana, Mexico. Because boxers under 18 are not allowed to fight in California, Landeros crossed the border where the age limit is much lower.

He overwhelmed his opponent.

Landeros, who weighs about 118 pounds, is not the first or only under age boxer this year to cross the border and make a pro debut.

Earlier in the year Victorville’s Ryan Garcia fought four times under age in Mexico and won all four. On August 17, nine days after his 18th birthday Garcia made his U.S. debut in downtown L.A. and won by knockout. Garcia has a fight scheduled for Oct. 14 in Studio City.

It’s not unusual in Mexico for teens under 18 to become professionals.

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, 26, began his career at 15 in Guadalajara, Mexico. Now he’s perhaps pro boxing’s top draw and most recognized fighter in the world. He recently captured the WBO super welterweight title by knockout over England’s Liam Smith in Dallas, Texas. He’s also the former WBC middleweight titlist but relinquished that title and dropped back down to super welterweight.

Another is Tijuana’s Antonio Margarito a former welterweight world titlist who retired in 2012 and recently un-retired in 2016. He began fighting at the age of 15 years old too and is now 38. Known as the “Tijuana Tornado,” he ironically seeks a fight with Alvarez. Margarito ran into trouble back in 2009 when he fought Pomona’s Shane Mosley and was caught using illegal hand wraps. Margarito and his trainer Javier Capetillo were suspended for one year in the U.S. Now he’s back.

Women too have entered the pro ranks under age. In Nevada, petite Melinda Cooper was given permission by the Nevada State Athletic Commission to make her pro debut at age 17. She won by decision and within three years won a world title as a flyweight in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

Entering the professional boxing world before age 18 is not common but has been done before. Usually it means that boxer has extraordinary talent. The jury is still out on Landeros who runs for his high school cross country team. It’s a tricky road navigating through the professional fight world as a young teen.

Other local boxers

Down in Indio, a few other local fighters saw action. No longer a teen, Jonathan Navarro (7-0, 5 Kos) who recently turned 20 in August and fights out of Riverside, fought and defeated the awkward Farkhad Sharipov by unanimous decision after six rounds filled with clinching. It was good experience for Navarro who is viewed by many as a knockout puncher.

Not fortunate was Michael Perez (24-2-2) who also trains in Riverside. The lightweight contender lost to Petr Petrov by knockout at the end of the sixth round in Indio. It was an elimination bout to see who contends for a world title next year. Petrov, who trains in Santa Fe Springs, Ca. moves on.

San Diego’s Genaro Gamez (3-0, 3 Kos) had the most impressive showing on the Indio fight card by knocking opponent Vernon Alston (8-7-1) flush out of the boxing ring. Despite only two pro fights on his resume his promoter Golden Boy Promotions staged him in the co-main event.  

“It was awesome knocking him out of the ring,” said an excited Gamez after the knockout win. “I’ve only seen that happen in the movies.”