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DOWNEY - Christopher Picos smiles coyly at the memory of his favorite knockout of his young career.
He was 16, preparing for a fight at the Marriott Hotel in Norwalk (now the DoubleTree). His trainer was lacing up Picos' gloves when his opponent, a cocky guy from Arizona whose name is not important, strolled into the makeshift locker room.
"Which one of you is Christopher Picos?" the guy bellowed.
Picos stood up.
"You're Chris Picos? I'm going to knock you out," the guy yapped. "I'm going to mess you up."
Preferring to let his gloves do the talking, Picos didn't say anything back.
He knocked the guy out in 47 seconds.
"It was a beautiful day," Picos laughed.
After compiling an amateur record of 86-6, the 20-year-old Picos will make his professional debut May 18 at the Hollywood Park Casino. One week later he travels to Durango, Mexico for another fight.
His debut bout is contracted at 154 pounds, though Picos plans to eventually compete as a welterweight at 147.
Turning pro is a dream come true for Picos, who slipped on his first pair of boxing gloves at age 10. He honed his skills with other young boxers at the Norwalk Arts and Sports Complex.
By age 12 Picos knew boxing is what he wanted to do.
"You have to be a little crazy to want to box," he admitted. "But I loved it right away. I love the competiveness. I like that it's one-on-one, I only have to rely on myself."
He excelled as an amateur, bringing home trophies from the national Silver Gloves and Golden Gloves competitions.
His success landed him on the cover of "Norwalk Now," the city-published newsletter mailed to Norwalk residents. It may not sound like much, but that little bit of publicity led to him being recognized in the checkout line at Stater Bros., a thrilling moment for a young teen. It motivated him to work even harder.
Norwalk holds a special place in Picos' heart because it is where he spent his formative years, having attended D.D. Johnston Elementary, Corvallis Middle School and Norwalk High.
A few years ago he made the move to Downey, a city he is proud to call home. In fact, he will be fighting out of Downey when introduced at his fights.
Training out of the Ponce De Leon Gym in Montebello, Picos' fighting style is both graceful and aggressive. During a sparring session Monday, Picos weaved his head back and forth before rushing forward with a flurry of hooks to the body.
"He's a good fighter. He has a good future as long as he works hard and doesn't get lazy," said Javier Capetillo, who trains Picos.
Capetillo has had a great deal of success as a trainer, most notably with former welterweight champion Antonio Margarito. But he was nearly banished from the sport after the California State Athletic Commission suspended Capetillo 12 months for illegally loading Margarito's hand-wraps before his 2009 fight with Shane Mosely.
Controversy aside, Picos understands he is responsible for his own success. His training regiment includes waking up at 5:30 a.m. for daily long-distance runs. Then several hours at the boxing gym before returning home for lunch and rest. He finishes the night putting in cardio work at the L.A. Fitness at Downey Landing.
His family members are his biggest supporters, most notably his fiancé, Veronica, and their 3-year-old daughter.
"It takes a lot of dedication, watching my weight and training every day," Picos said. "But it makes it easier that I love what I do. I pray to God I can continue doing this."
As far as his debut fight next week, Picos knows very little about his opponent, other than he's from Tijuana. Still, he says, "I'm going for a knockout."
He's also excited about his fight in Durango, Mexico, where he expects to be heavily booed. And that's OK.
"It makes me hungry," Picos smiles. "They may not know me, but they're going to learn to love me."
For ticket information, go online to playhpc.com or call (562) 879-6151.
Published: May 2, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 03