"Sweet Pea" to give patient Ruvalcaba a workout today
By Steve Yingling
When trainer Juan Torres phoned protege Simon Ruvalcaba on Sunday afternoon, the 22-year-old boxer was hoping the conversation would reveal the confirmed date of his pro debut.
Instead, Ruvalcaba learned that he’d be sparring with four-time champion Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker today at Caesars Tahoe.
“He’s one of the greatest in boxing history. Just being in the ring with him, I’m honored,” Ruvalcaba said. “I’m not worried at all; I’m excited.”
Ruvalcaba is one of several boxers Whitaker plans to use during today’s 1-3 p.m. public workout in the Caesars Tahoe Showroom in Stateline.
For the past 14 weeks, Ruvalcaba has been training with Torres, a six-time world kickboxing champion and former pro boxer. He had planned to launch his pro career last month on the Johnny Tapia-headlined card in New Mexico but didn’t have the required federal identification that is now required of pro boxers.
“It’s been frustrating finding an opponent. I know they are taking care of me,” said the 5-foot-9 Ruvalcaba, who compiled a 54-17 amateur record, fighting almost exclusively at 139 pounds. “I’d love to turn pro in my hometown, but we’d have to pay more for the physical than we’d be getting paid for the fight.”
Ruvalcaba hopes to parlay a sound showing during today’s sparring session into a deal with Duva Promotions, which is putting on Friday’s show.
“If Lou Duva sees something and I get a deal with him, I could be on my way to a good future,” Ruvalcaba said.
Whitaker won’t be the first champion Ruvalcaba has sparred. Several weeks ago, the South Tahoe High grad shared the ring with former junior middleweight champion Lupe Aquino in Reno.
“I didn’t know it was him until afterward. Had I known it was him, I might have been more nervous,” Ruvalcaba said. “It made me realize that a lot of times it’s a name or personality that beats a guy going into a fight.”
Consequently, Ruvalcaba says he won’t be nervous stepping into the ring with “Sweet Pea.”
“It gives me a good chance to see where I’m at and what I have to work on,” he said. “Other times sparring sessions have turned into fighters wanting punching bags instead of fighters. I’m not going in there to take punches but to learn.
“I’m looking forward to him being a southpaw and great on defense. I’m sure he’ll give me a lot of different looks that I don’t normally see.”
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