After Beating Robert Guerrero, David Peralta Finally Goes Pro – The classic story of the underdog dreaming about making it big while working odd jobs and living in a crime-ridden neighborhood has already been scripted, filmed and praised as a classic. But even the wildly fictional Rocky Balboa had the advantage of getting his big chance to turn his life around in a fight in his own hometown, among other perks.
Argentine welterweight contender David Emanuel Peralta, however, had a few more discouraging twists added to his not-yet-filmed biopic script.
Peralta (26-2-1, 14 KOs) is known now as the hard-punching, take-no-prisoners, crazy-legged-dancing fellow who derailed whatever was left of former multiple champion Robert Guerrero’s career back in August. But before that, even any random part-time butcher/boxer from present-day Philadelphia would have been deemed worthy of better odds to score an upset against “The Ghost” in his home state of California.
And as much as those failed pre-fight assessments are commonplace in boxing, in the case of Peralta someone should have seen it coming. And the fighter himself is the first one to acknowledge it.
“They do underestimate Argentine boxing – and look at how things end up for them,” said Peralta from his home in the neighborhood of Jose Diaz, in the city of Cordoba, right in the heartland of Argentina, during one of his first days of his life as a full-time professional prizefighter after scoring an upset for the ages. “Boxing has given a lot of pride to Argentina, and in spite of that it is a forgotten sport now, people don’t pay attention to it. And that’s bad.”
Had the boxing establishment paid closer attention to Peralta’s record, they would have seen that his two losses (a stoppage to Claudio Olmedo in 2011 and a split decision loss against Cristian Romero in 2015) were more than justifiable setbacks against legitimate contenders, and perhaps the boxing establishment would have made an effort to give him a chance to become a full-time pro, a situation he is only now being able to reach in his life with his imminent move to Miami to train under the orders of Herman Caicedo with his sights on a possible December 10 fight in the States – and perhaps even a dream title bout in 2017.
Peralta has his own justifications for those two losses.
“Against Olmedo I had my mom in the hospital, my mind was not in the fight and even so I beat him up real bad. His face was one big bruise after the fight. I was not in my best moment, and the time wasn’t right for me. Otherwise I would have won,” said Peralta. “And Romero didn’t beat me, and he knows it. He said he wanted to give me a rematch because no one had punched him as hard as me. And I told him, ‘you’re a fighter just like me, you didn’t rob me, the judges did. That’s it, I can’t get mad at you because you’re a fighter, it is the judges’ fault.’ Here in Argentina there are robberies like anywhere else.”
That kind of humility in his loss may have saved Romero and Olmedo from facing him in a rematch, but as karma would have it, Peralta ended up getting a much more important call.
“From what I hear, they offered the fight to other guys in the US and they didn’t want it. I was working at the time. I was happy because I took this as my last chance, so I sacrificed a lot, I trained very hard. Thank God, things went well. I trained one month in Cordoba and another one in Buenos Aires. I saw it as an opportunity to demonstrate my ability, not just to grab a check. I wanted a new chance in this sport, the sport that I love”, said Peralta in regards to his life-changing call to face Robert Guerrero in what is already being hailed as the upset of the year.
But the most defining moment of his career happened for him midway through his bout with Guerrero, when he finally realized he was on his way to finally exorcise his demons and become victorious in his first trip abroad against a former world champion.
“When the 6th round started I knew I had the fight under control”, said Peralta. “I could see that he was frustrated and I had to continue doing the work I had done. I had a plan and I knew I had to stick to it, and that’s what I did. In the fourth and fifth and the sixth were the best rounds I had. I told that to my corner. From then on I just had to keep it going and not leave the plan.”
Even though he scored a major upset and his emotions were running high at the moment, it was impressive to see Peralta restrain himself from an excessive celebration that would have been more than justified, considering his achievement. Instead, he chose to warmly embrace Guerrero and offer him kind words of appreciation for the opportunity.
“I knew I had won the fight, but I was just relaxed. The scorecards didn’t worry me,” said Peralta. “I had seen in his face that he felt he had lost, and he knew it as well. So when they called my name I felt I had to be humble and celebrate humbly, and then go over and thank him.”
What happened next had ringsiders and audience members scratching their heads for a while.
“When I turned towards my team, that’s when I started screaming and celebrating. I was overcome with joy, but I was in no position to disrespect a great champion like Robert, a three-division champ in his hometown,” said Peralta, who immediately engaged in a weird dance that he had already practiced prior to the bout, in fulfillment of a promise made to a friend.
“One of the guys in the team tried out those spicy Mexican peppers that they serve in California, and well…”, said Peralta, who went on to describe his friend’s tribulations in the toilet next morning, with his buttocks feeling as if they were in raw flesh. “I told him that if I won I would walk around like a mandrill, and I did,” said Peralta, as he mimics once again the moves of the red-bottomed ape.
The scream directed towards his team, which later became his war chant to the point of becoming a hashtag and the subject of a t-shirt design in his honor, has an even crazier origin.
“That’s from the first day in our training there, when we were about to cross paths with Robert and his people, on Wednesday. My trainer (Colo Fernandez) told me to be relaxed and unafraid, and I told him I was feeling great, but he said ‘keep calm because Robert is a humble guy, but his dad and his uncle act as if they had the biggest (penises) in the room’. And I said, ‘what does that mean? They didn’t go through what I went through, they didn’t experience hunger and other needs like myself. They wouldn’t have survived where I survived. They wouldn’t even exist. I couldn’t possibly be afraid of him, I am the one with the biggest dick in here’. And now it’s my trademark,” said Peralta, who has seen the words “el más poronga”, loosely translated as “the most (endowed),” become a sensation in his homeland.
But now, the 34-year-old Peralta will find himself working out next to several world-class names including Luis “King Kong” Ortiz, Juan Carlos Payano, Claudio Marrero, Yenifel Vicente, Ramon Luis and many more top professionals, and the size of his privates will matter less than his actual ability to fight.
His promoter Sampson Lewkowicz, known for finding hidden gems in foreign boxing markets such as Manny Pacquiao and Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez among many others, says Peralta is on the prowl for his next victim. And Peralta agrees, knowing that his new full-time dedication to the sport will bring a new beginning to his career.
“There are almost no fighters making a living out of boxing exclusively here, they all have to work,” says Peralta about his native Argentina. “There are great fighters all over the country, and they all have to sacrifice outside the ring, working odd jobs to make ends meet. What I saw in the States is that fighters are like racing horses: they train and they rest, and that’s it. That’s why they are always looking great physically.”
Peralta hopes that the tale of a boxer who was retired for more than a year and who achieved such a stellar record while driving a cab, hauling furniture in his dad’s moving truck, unloading fruits and vegetables at the farmer’s market and going through hell and high water will not only inspire others to follow in his footsteps, but also to shine a light on his compatriots and make him the spearhead of a new golden era of welterweights from Argentina.
“That would be beautiful for the people of boxing, a sport that requires so much sacrifice,” said Peralta, hoping that the rippling effect on the rest of Argentine boxing could one day take some of his friends and even former enemies to be considered for greater challenges. “This fight was great for me because everyone saw it as an uphill battle for me, even the people who support me. But I knew it had to happen, because I had faith in myself, and I had a great amateur career but as a pro things went off the rails, my trainer died, a lot of things happened to me, and I said things have to go my way some day and they did.”
As he gets ready for his new beginning as a full-fledged professional, Peralta can’t help but remember how close he was to giving it all up, only to have destiny turn him into an Argentine version of Rocky and put him on a Rambo mission in his future.
“I quit boxing after a chat I had with my wife, about things not going right, and the need to make money. And then I just trained whenever I could, and I worked a lot because when you have a family things are more difficult,” said Peralta. “I never had the chance to have some continuity, and I’ve been doing this for 11 years in October and I don’t even have 30 fights. But I thought about my trainer Carlos Tello who had just passed away, my grandpa Chichino and everyone who supported me, and I felt I had to go on.”
There are two more reasons that inspired Peralta to trudge on in his comeback trail. And they are both emblazoned in his chest.
“It’s a map of Cordoba and the Belgrano badge,” said Peralta about the tattoo that sits right over his heart. Cordoba, of course, is his province, and Belgrano is the third-tier soccer club from which he drew the extra inspiration he needed.
“They are the club that I love, I follow them wherever they go. They have more downs than ups, just like me,” he said. “It is great to be a fan of Belgrano, to feel their struggle and suffer along with them, and to represent them because they were the first to congratulate me after I won,” said Peralta, who is scheduled to be the recipient of a plaque in the field during Belgrano’s next game in honor of his victory.
True to his spirit as a natural-born jester, he can’t help but recollect a recent episode in which he was the not-so-proud recipient of a much different acknowledgment.
“There were a couple of police cars chasing a suspect around the neighborhood, and they stopped me to frisk me because I looked suspicious,” said Peralta. “But when they recognized me, they asked me to forgive them for the mistake. And just when they were going away they screamed ‘congrats, champ!’ from the patrol car. I told my mom and she didn’t believe me!!. ‘The cops recognized me, mom! First they told me to ****, and then they congratulated me.”
If his luck has indeed changed as much as his recent streak may suggest, Peralta may never find himself in that humiliating and dismissing position again. Boxing is in desperate need of a few dozen Cinderella Men just like him to continue being the one sport in which victory is still possible for a 70-1 underdog making $30,000 to defeat a guy making half a million dollars. His courage and his defiance will hardly ever be questioned again.
After all, he may not be ‘the most endowed’ fighter out there, but he has at least demonstrated that boxing takes much more than just balls.
After Beating Robert Guerrero / Check for more boxing news and videos at The Boxing Channel.