Boxer John Armijo does not have a nickname, but if he did, “Hard Luck” would be as good as any.
Armijo has won his only two professional fights, but completing a third bout has proven difficult.
In the July boxing card at the Irvine Marriott, Armijo was scheduled to fight Lloyd Weaver, one of the Weaver triplets of Pomona and brother of former heavyweight champion Mike Weaver.
But hours before the fight left-handed Armijo learned that Weaver backed out. Weaver said he hadn’t trained to fight against a lefty, though officials told the crowd that night the fight was canceled because of a weight discrepancy.
Armijo then was scheduled to fight on the Marriott’s August card, but he didn’t make it to fight day before the bout was canceled.
Two days before the fight, Armijo was bitten by a dog at a local party. The dog was a full grown German shepherd that Armijo had seen before, but it attacked him nonetheless.
The dog was quarantined to check for rabies and Armijo, who was bleeding internally,got a tetanus shot, effectively knocking him out of the fight. Fortunately for Armijo, the dog didn’t have rabies.
Armijo will try again to complete his third fight; he is scheduled for the September 26 card in Irvine.
The day is overcast and foggy, but this comes as good news to Armijo because the beach crowds near Magnolia and West Coast Highway will be easier to manage.
The bigger the crowd, the more difficult it is for Armijo, a lifeguard who is surveying his area from the top of Tower No. 6.
“The worst day is the Fourth of July because that’s when you have the most people,” Armijo said. “The towers stay open till maybe 8 or 9 o’clock at night. We’re busy all day on that one.”
Having been a lifeguard for five years, Armijo, 23, is well practiced in what to look for.
“You can tell by the way they swim and sometimes just by the way they enter the water,” he said.
“Today’s going to be a busy day because you can see a strong inside rip there.”
Armijo knows his business. Within a half hour he went on three rescues, all to help swimmers who drifted too far out to sea.
“We’re all trained in basic first aid and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) but most of our rescues don’t involve that,” Armijo said. “It’s usually just people who are caught in an undertow.”
Watching Armijo work at the beach, it’s easy to imagine him being just as confident in the ring. Following his lifeguard shift--he’s assigned to a different post every day--Armijo trains at the Westminster Boxing Club, all of which is difficult and tiring. “The sun really burns you out,” Armijo said. “It can really drain all of your energy. It’s not always easy to work all day in the sun and then have a long workout in the gym.”
And that’s all beside Armijo’s recreational activities, which includes surfing and water skiing on Lake Elsinore or Lake Perris.
How does he survive such a regimen?
“I like to eat,” Armijo said. “I live for food. All the fattening stuff, too. Especially pizza.”
It is difficult to tell by looking at Armijo’s muscular frame. Unlike most boxers who struggle to control their appetites,Armijo is able to eat at will.
“Right now I’m boxing at 154 pounds, but I’d like to get down to 149 or 148,” Armijo said. “I don’t know if I can do it, though.
“The most important thing for my career at this point is to get some more fights, regardless of the weight.”
Armijo began his career in Carson, where his father taught boxing in his spare time.
“My dad was training a bunch of kids at a local gym, so I went along, too,” Armijo said. “I’ve really liked it ever since.”
Armijo played football as a freshman at Edison High School, but boxing was his sport. He began professional boxing in earnest early this year under the tutelage of trainer Jackie McCoy, but with only two of four scheduled fights to his credit, he’s a long way from making it a career.
Hence, the summer job as a lifeguard, although it’s easy to see that Armijo’s mind often wanders to the ring during the calmer moments on the job.
Armijo often lifts dumbells during those quiet times.
“I’ve got to get a little more power behind me to put those guys away,” he said.
Looking out to the water, Armijo saw that yet another swimmer was in need of help getting back to shore. Down went the dumbells. Off went Armijo.
An interview with a reporter was over. Cut short, just like his last two fight attempts.