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Rising boxing star enjoying fruitful year, sets big goals

Science, 11-year-old Alejandro Castillo Jr. said in a recent interview, is one of his favorite subjects in school.

He’s especially fond of, and particularly good at, the sweet kind.

Castillo, an Albuquerque amateur boxer, on July 29 defeated Keith Jordan Jr. of Tracy, Calif., for the boys bantam division 65-pound title at the annual Ringside World Championships in Independence, Mo.

It has been a good year in the Sweet Science for Castillo, a sixth-grader at Jimmy Carter Middle School.

In March at the Albuquerque Convention Center, he defeated fellow Albuquerquean Dominik Marquez by unanimous decision in the semifinals of his age group and weight class at the Western Elite Qualifier and Regional Open Championships.

Castillo lost by decision to Phoenix’s Andrew Corona in the championship bout.

“I don’t think Andrew Corona has ever lost,” said Alejandro Castillo Sr., his son’s coach.

The Castillos would love to have another shot at Corona, but the Arizona fighter has moved to a higher weight class.

In June, at TITLE nationals in Hot Springs, Ark., young Alejandro won his championship bout. Then came the victory over Jordan, a three-time national champion and a left-hander, at Ringside.

“I’d been working lefty (sparring with southpaws), because I knew I would eventually fight him,” Alejandro said. “I had the speed, power and timing to beat him.”

So he did, by unanimous decision.

Castillo Sr. had no background in boxing when his older kids, 13-year-old son Eladio and 12-year daughter Sinai, took up the sport.

“I kind of checked it out,” he said. “… I went to a sparring session, and I didn’t like how it went. I didn’t see my kids doing very well.

“I wanted to learn a little bit about boxing so I could help them out.”

He took his kids to the Team Tapia gym, where they – and he – took instruction from coaches Victor Saavedra and Anthony Gutierrez. After the Tapia gym closed, Castillo Sr. and his wife, Brittney, started their own club.

Alejandro Jr., his father said, is a surprisingly complete fighter for one so young.

“I think Alejandro’s strength is he has really good footwork and he’s very fast,” Castillo Sr. said. “… He actually completes combinations. Once he learns a combination, he’s going to throw the whole combination.”

An Olympic gold medal and a professional world championship, Alejandro Jr. said, are his ultimate combination in the sport. But his out-of-the-ring goals are every bit as ambitious.

“I want to be an astronaut,” he said.

CONFIRMED: Albuquerque boxer Fidel Maldonado Jr. has agreed to contract terms and will fight Venezuela’s Ismael Barroso on Oct. 13 in Indio, Calif., said Fidel Maldonado Sr., his son’s trainer and manager.

The Maldonado-Barroso match had been reported by espn.com on Aug. 11, but Maldonado Jr. told the Journal at the time that he had not signed or even received a contract.

That hurdle has been cleared, and the fight is a go.

The money is good, the elder Maldonado said, but the opportunity for advancement the Barroso fight offers is more valuable.

Barroso (19-1, 18 knockouts) and Maldonado Jr. (24-3-1, 19 KOs) will be fighting for the vacant WBA Fedelatin super lightweight (140-pound) title. Maldonado Jr. already holds the WBC Fecarbox title at that weight, having defeated Pablo César Cano for that belt by split decision on June 17 in Frisco, Texas.

A victory over Barroso, Maldonado Sr. said, could put his son one more win away from a world title shot in both organizations. Saturday in Lincoln, Neb., WBC champion Terence Crawford and WBA champion Julius Indongo fought a title-unification bout at 140 pounds.

UPCOMING: MMA lightweight Lando Vannata (9-2), who trains in Albuquerque at Jackson-Wink, is scheduled to face veteran Bobby Green (23-8) on Oct. 7 on UFC 216 in Las Vegas, Nev.

Diego Sanchez (29-10), Vannata’s J-W teammate, is moving back to the 170-pound welterweight limit to face Matt Brown (22-16) on Nov. 11 on a UFC Fight Night card in Norfolk, Va.

Sanchez has contested his last eight fights at the 155-pound lightweight limit.

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