A couple of Reno boxers have dropped into freezing Iowa, aiming to keep their record on the rise.
Reno’s Kenny Davis Jr. seeks his fourth-straight win when he faces Jeff Chaske, who will be in his first professional fight. Heavyweight Arhan Castillo, who recently won his debut, will go up against Kevin Childs of Ottumwa, Iowa. Friday’s venue is the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds in Davenport, Iowa. There will be no television broadcast on the West Coast.
Tonight’s forecast calls for a low temperature of 6 degrees, and Davis, a 134.5-pound lightweight, has even colder feelings for his opponent. A resident of Flandreau, South Dakota, Chaske weighed in at 143 pounds, eight more than the agree upon limit.
“It’s very disrespectful,” Davis said. “We both signed at contract at 135. I think he’s doing some things to get out of the fight because I think he knows what time it is.”
By missing weight, Chaske must give 20 percent of his purse to Davis.
Davis has a 3-2-1 record, turning his career around after inspiration from the birth of a son. The former Wooster High School running back has made daily roadwork a training staple. This week he says he ran 7 miles in 53 minutes. His sparring partners are professional welterweight Peter Cortez and light heavyweight amateur James Lara.
“This is the most prepared I’ve been in my professional career,” Davis said.
During his winning streak, Davis has been poised and patient. Counter punching is his specialty, and a powerful left hook to the body is his best weapon.
“When I put it in my head to just box, stay calm and let it open up, I tend to do better,” he said. “In my last fight, I kept my guard up and let my opponent use some energy and (I wait for an opening) so I can catch him. My strategy is I’m going to box. I’m going to capitalize on every mistake he makes.”
Castillo is happy to get some live action. He’s 6-foot-4, 329 pounds and has no sparing partners. He trains with mitt-man and trainer Ken Davis Sr. in a camp called Team Supreme.
“He looks very intimidating and, unfortunately, all the guys that he has had an opportunity to spar with, they have not shown up for more sparring,” Davis Jr. said. “We don’t see them or even hear from them again. This has happened with multiple guys at multiple gyms.”
Castillo’s foe tonight is 6-feet tall, 316 pounds. Like his opponent in his debut, Childs is left-handed.
In his debut on Oct. 17 in Florida, Castillo won a four-round decision against 390-pound Gary Kelly (1-10).
What did he learn fighting as a pro for the first time?
“I definitely had to kick up my conditioning,” he said. “I put in way more roadwork. I’ve been on the bicycle every day, doing the Stairmaster all the time. But for whatever reason, I just don’t lose weight.”
Castillo had Kelly in serious trouble in the second round but then became fatigued.
“Normally you would see somebody get stopped but that’s not what happened,” he said. “In the third round he was hurt and gassed. Me being tired wasn’t as bad as being hurt and tired. Coach told me to hit and grab. And then in the fourth I had more energy.”
Castillo, whose grandparents immigrated from Cuba, won 10 of 11 amateur fights when he was in his 20s. He is from Buffalo, New York, moving to Reno when he had a good job opportunity.
“I was in a rough place, always falling back into the street life,” Castillo said. “I kept getting terrible temp agency jobs. A man named Mike Haderer spotted me. He saw me working hard and would check on me. Haderer found work in Reno and he brought Castillo with him.
Castillo had no intentions to become a professional boxer. He simply wanted to train and teach. But Davis encouraged him to turn pro at the age of 34.
Citing George Foreman, Shannon Briggs and James Toney, each who held titles in their 40s, Castillo has championship ambitions.
“Heavyweights can get old and still be very good because of the heavyweight style,” he said. ‘They don’t take 500 punches in a fight. And I’ve never taken any abuse.”
His goal is to have 18 to 23 wins under his belt by the time he’s 38. That’s with win No. 2 coming tonight in Davenport, Iowa.
Notes: One of the best-known heavyweights, Mike Tyson also happened to be in Iowa this week. Iron Mike referenced the weather on social media: “I came to see my daughter play tennis and this is bulls—. … “It’s freezing!” … Davis Sr. has a new nickname for his son: “The Biggest Little Bomber.” … Iowa’s most famous fight was the Rumble on the Riverbank in 1991 when James Toney knocked out Michael Nunn in the 11th round to win the IBF middleweight title.