Photos by Hannah Maynard
After eight years in and out of the ring, 26-year-old Reggie Verduzco is ready to make his pro-boxing debut.
Verduzco trains at the DG Boxing Gym on Pine Ave. and every day runs five miles from Pine Avenue to Ocean Boulevard and down the beach trail, passing acquaintances along the way. For the last year, Verduzco, from Compton, has found a home away from home in Long Beach. And this Friday, he will face off in the super middleweight class against Matt Jacobs of Lancaster.
“I’m excited, but more over I’m just ready for it to happen,” Verduzco said. “It’s been a long time coming.”
Every weekend, beginners are expected to actively search for boxing opponents. Verduzco found his first after three months of boxing in 2005. But matches were never guaranteed and the gas and transportation bills for the searches continued to weigh heavily on his finances.
“Boxing wasn’t moving forward for me.” Verduzco said of why he quit the sport for a while. “I had no money for transportation… and you know how your parents tell you, ‘You gotta to something. You gotta do something.'”
Depression set in. Verduzco moved to live with his cousin in Las Vegas for a fresh start. No boxing. No sports. After sixth months, weighing over 200 pounds, Verduzco began training independently again, with the encouragement of the owner of DG Boxing on Pacific Coast Highway, David Gonzales.
“Dave would always tell me, ‘Whenever you’re ready, we’re always here!'” Verduzco said. He returned to DG, where he met the Pine Ave. location’s owner, Anthony Skalberg, his new trainer. “You wouldn’t believe we’ve only known each other for about a year,” Verduzco said of Skalberg. “I learned more in a year than in a whole career in boxing.”
Before he started boxing, Verduzco’s passions were skateboarding and football, which he played at Long Beach’s Jordon High School. Verduzco’s only actual fighting experience prior to discovering DG was in occasional neighborhood competitive play-boxing matches against the younger siblings of his brother’s friends.
“Now that I’m training to be a professional, it’s weird how it’s all come around as if I was always meant to box,” Verduzco said.
Verduzco’s debut fight will take place at the Quiet Cannon in Montebello (901 Via San Clemente), Friday 7PM. Tickets for the match are $50 and can be purchased at either the Pine Ave. or PCH DG Boxing locations. Ask for Anthony Skalberg or Reggie Verduzco.