LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) – From bullied high school kid to a stint in reality TV, to now a contender in the boxing ring? It’s the path Albert Ochoa embraces as he prepares for his next fight a week from tonight in Florida.
Ochoa moved to Las Vegas to become a welterweight champion and prove to his doubters that this former reality TV guy is not a lightweight. His story also points to a new trend in boxing. Social media influencers looking to land a knockout punch in the ring.
We caught up with Ochoa in the gym where he trains six days a week, twice a day.
He represents a new kind of boxer in the sport. He has a huge social media following and brings his own style to the ring. Check out the thriller shoes, a tribute to the king of pop!
Ochoa has had four matches and has won every one of them and he’s confident of what’s going to happen at his next fight next Friday.
Ochoa’s got a big name in his corner. Long-time trainer Bob Santos.
Santos has trained hundreds of fighters over the past three decades. Sports Illustrated named him trainer of the year in 2022.
It was Santos’s son, also a trainer, who told his father about Ochoa.
“He said, hey, dad, there’s this guy, and even when he first mentioned it to me, I say, man, I don’t really got time to hear this story. Oh, daddy, yeah, he has a good background, so forth. And I was like, no, I’m focused on Olympians. And you know, guys that have 400 amateur fights and things of that nature,” Santos said.
So what convinced Santos to sign this unknown?
“A lot of talented guys, sometimes they fall short, because, you know, not attention to detail, discipline, but discipline over time, will get you there. And then one thing that I liked about him was he had a lot of discipline; I could see that I could see living a clean lifestyle. And he took things serious,” Santos admitted.
“I want to show people that I’m really that guy, and I got to get the job done December 8,” Ochoa said.
Ochoa’s life and trajectory changed long before he put on the gloves.
He went from a bullied high school student to a reality TV star after Kylie Jenner unexpectedly reached out to him.
“She said, you know, you’re really cute. And you were very alike. And I was like, well, you’re cute, too. Hahaha.”
Ochoa asked her to his prom and she put him on her reality show and on the map.
His Instagram followers quickly ballooned to a quarter million.
Ochoa is not the only social media influencer fighting in the ring these days. Santos says anyone who brings new fans, and revenue to boxing should be welcomed in.
“So you don’t want to downgrade people that are bringing eyes to the sport, committed to the sport. As long as they’re putting everything into the sport. They’re committed to the sport, and they’re bringing eyeballs to the sport. I think as a whole, it’s a good thing for the sport,” he said. “You have to be all in, in all aspects in the sport nowadays, with social media and all these things that go along. It’s a lot different than when I came into the sport 31 years ago, you know, back then you had a maybe a publicist, and he kind of handled everything. But now there’s so much more that goes into it behind the scenes,” Santos continued.
Ochoa says he had his doubters at the beginning: how could this young unknown, with some celebrity, possibly compete in the ring
“People say I’m not a real fighter, or that I don’t take it serious. But you know, nobody’s doing the things I’m doing,” Ochoa explained.
His wins have quieted the noise.
He approaches the sport with an unusual mix of humilty, faith and confidence.
“You know, I’m still me. I’m still humble. You know, I’m still putting God first. And you know, I think you know, everything you have just keep getting more blessed and blessed each day and I’m very grateful.”
“I am going to be a star in the sport. You know, I want to have those big fights, and I want to entertain the people and the fans. So, you know, champion being a champion. Yeah, would that’d be great. Sure. But my goal is just have the big fights right now. And to entertain and put on great shows and big performances,” said Ochoa.
The woman watching Ochoa is his grandmother. She tells us she gets nervous at his matches but quickly gets into cheering for her grandson.
You can watch his fight next Friday night, 5 p.m. PST, on pay-per-view through Fight.TV.
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