My Second Pro Fight, and Life in the Gym

Officially, my second professional boxing match came in the fall of 2002. However, my second fight as a pro actually happened later that summer. This fight never made it to my pro record because Minnesota didn’t have a commission at that time. The day after my pro debut Chuck Horton and I met in the gym for a brief meeting. Chuck told me that was it. He was done promoting pro boxing. He was rethinking his aspirations of promoting professional boxing in Duluth.  Although the show was an overall success it didn’t go quite as he’d hoped. I pleaded with him to give it at least a year before making up his mind. He eventually agreed and we kept going. What a relief! The following weeks I trained for my next fight which was to be held a few weeks later.

We made a bloody show of our match. We gave the crowd four solid rounds of back and forth action. It was a very fun fight and I’ll never forget it.

We made a bloody show of our match. We gave the crowd four solid rounds of back and forth action. It was a very fun fight and I’ll never forget it.

Chuck Horton had a two fight deal with the Wade Stadium so he was obligated to hold another show there later that summer. With careful planning he pulled it off and it was a good show. Scott LeDoux was a guest announcer. There were several amateur fights and a hand full of pro fights on the card too. It was a fun show, but it didn’t count on my record. Minnesota didn’t have a commission at the time. I boxed a crafty boxer under an alias name. We made a bloody show of our match. We gave the crowd four solid rounds of back and forth action. It was a very fun fight and I’ll never forget it. My second official fight was a memorable fight as well, but before I get into it let me give put into context what life was like for me at that time. 

My living arrangement was most unique. At this time I lived in Horton’s Gym. I found my way to making Horton’s Gym my home though a course of random life events. If you remember, I had recently gone through the court system and was accepted into an intensive probation program called “Drug Court”. This was an open ended program that gave the courts full access to my life to make sure I was living to their standards. If I successfully completed it, my charges would vanish from my record. I was fully committed to changing my life so I saw the whole program as a huge opportunity to get my life straightened out. Shortly after my pro debut my probation officer had a search team do a random inspection and search of the college house I was living in. This was popped on me randomly without warning. I was not worried about it since I was living straight, but following the search they deemed it “unfit as a recovery environment”. At the end of the day, my roommates were good friends, but they liked to party here and there so I couldn’t disagree. Probation reported their findings to the Drug Court Judge, the honorable Carol Person, and she gave me two weeks to find a new place to live. It was a wrench in my plans, but I had to make it work or be written up on a probation violation.

 I didn’t know what to do in such short time so I called Chuck to see if he knew of any open rooms I could sublease. I told him my predicament and he had a simple solution. He said; “Just move in the gym, kid. You can stay in my office. It will work out fine.” I was taken aback by his generosity and thought living in the gym would be really cool. I didn’t hesitate to jump on the opportunity.

I quickly moved in before Chuck could change his mind. I don’t think he would have, but just in case I wanted to act quickly! I didn’t have many belongings in those days so moving was easy. I did it all in one move with my car. Chuck Horton’s office was not that big, maybe 10×8 feet. I bought a cheap curtain railing and anchored it close to the ceiling about three feet from the back wall of his office. Behind the curtain I had a hanger railing for few shirts with a few stackable bins below it with drawers I used for a dresser. My bed was a mattress that I laid on the floor. During the day I tipped it up against the wall behind the curtain to hide it and dropped it down at night to sleep. 

There was another area of the gym separate from the main rooms of that had a shower room. The room was very large with a simple shower head coming out of the cement wall. I didn’t complain. It worked. Most mornings were very cold so I’d turn the shower on extra hot to make a bunch of steam around the shower head to offset the draft. Just outside of the shower room I set up a kitchen area. I used a book shelf as a pantry and put a small dorm room fridge alongside of it that worked as a small counter top. To make up for regular kitchen amenities I had a variety of appliances; a hot plate burner for cooking Mac n Cheese and frying eggs, a small microwave for heating things up, a blender, and a toaster. I mostly ate egg and cheese sandwiches so my hot plate got the most play. 

It was a simple time, but I time I’ll never forget. It hardened me into the person I am today. When I look back I will always think fondly of those times. It was very “Huck Fin”. There was a sense of adventure in the air every day I woke up in the gym. The simplicity also made it easy to focus on my goals; do well in college (this was my first semester getting on the Dean’s List at UMD) and commit 100% to boxing. 

I didn’t pay rent so in return I helped out around the gym. I was the odd job guy. If it needed to be done, I did it. One of my duties was to open the gym for the 7:00 am class before I went to school. I also cleaned up at the end of the days doing janitorial type work.

There a lot of perks to living there too. One of them was access to lots of boxing videos. Between the office/entry way and the rest of the gym was a small living room area where there was a TV with cable access. There was a boxing video library with movies about the great boxers from the past. I took full advantage of these and watched all the videos countless times. After all, I had no roommates and so this was like my social outlet. This was also before I had a cell phone, so keeping in touch with friends was tough. That part didn’t matter though, after I hit rock bottom earlier that year I didn’t feel very social anyway. I liked my quiet times. Of course I had some favorite videos, two for sure. One was “Latin Legends” about Roberto Duran, Alexis Arguello, Carlos Monzon, and Julio Cesar Chavez and the other was “The Fabulous Four” about Marvin Haggler, Thomas Herns, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Roberto Duran. I also made time to catch the “Wednesday Night Fights “and “Friday Night Fights” on ESPN 2 as well as any HBO or Showtime Boxing that was on. I was on a quest to do my best. I saw boxing pro as a new beginning. I started undefeated and I wanted to keep it that way long as possible! I thought of the great boxers from prior generations as ones that left a road map to be followed. I wanted to do well so I studied as much as I could about their lives. 

Another perk was I could train any time I felt the need. As I learned more about the sweet science I was able to try out new moves and perfect them any time I felt like it. Having things to hit also helped me in my late night college studies. When I’d start dozing off reading text books I would glove up quick and hit a few rounds on the bags to get my blood moving to wake up. The gym was the perfect place for me to live at the perfect time in my life.  I will always remember living in the gym as a really cool experience and be forever thankful for the opportunity.

Now we have window to see my life at the time I can fill you in on my second ‘official’ pro fight. It took place October 26, 2002 at the Golf Sky Dome in Hermantown, MN. Chuck Horton had to pay the Iowa Commission to come up as he did with my pro debut. The show was titled “Battle at the Dome”. Prior to the show being scheduled I was looking for a fight that would excite the local fans and make a good show. In my search I found out that another Duluth boxer had turned pro in July the same year as I had and at the same weight as I was. His name was Joe Lorenzi. He and I both had one pro fight. Mine was a TKO win and his was a draw. Joe Lorenzi felt he deserved the win and the draw was unfair to him. We both entered the match with an agenda to prove. For me, I wanted to prove my TKO win was well deserved. For Joe Lorenzi, he wanted to prove he should have a 1-0 record. We also had scores to settle from the amateur days.  We had boxed twice already and I knew him well. I knew him as a crafty boxer with good skills. That being said, I had beaten him both times; the first time by decision at the Lake Superior Ball Room at the DECC and the other by KO at the Golf Sky Dome. I felt confident I’d beat him again and also give the fans a good fight.  At this time Lorenzi was training with Clem Tucker Sr. in St Paul, MN at “BT Bombers” boxing club. The BT Bombers had a long list of talented amateur boxers and had a few successful pros as well. They knew the game. I knew Lorenzi would bring his A-game so I trained for this match like I did all my fights; like my career depended on it.

At this time I had Bill Plum and Chuck Horton in my corner. Bill Plum was very hardcore with his fight strategies and knew how to get my mind ready for any fight. He could put me in a very intense state of mind to be ready for any kind of ring war. Chuck Horton was great on laying out a game plan and winning strategy. Together, they partnered to get me in great shape mentally and physically. The basic plan was to fight on the inside and use pressure and angles instead of fighting outside with my reach. They wanted to tweak my skills a bit to make me into a foreign boxer to Joe Lorenzi. We didn’t train to box like we did the first two times. We trained to straight up fight. 

Fight time came and I entered the ring. Joe Lorenzi and I mugged across the ring at each other in confidence. Then it was time to fight. From the opening bell the fight was messy. Both of us threw everything into our punches and never let up. The plan to prepare for a fight was the right plan! I did a bit of boxing at range too, but most of the fight was a battle of wills fought in close quarters. Jim Perrault was the referee. He had his hands full as this was a fight both Joe Lorenzi and I were passionate about winning. Each round was charged with action. After the final bell the judges unanimously scored the fight a 4-round Unanimous Decision victory for me and my career improved to 2-0-1KO. 

The fight was everything we’d hoped. It was exciting and full of back and forth action. The fans definitely got their money’s worth that night. Following that night our careers went on opposite paths, but nonetheless we both look back at this night as a great fight.

Author: Zach Walters

To learn more about Duluth Boxing, please visit Chuck Horton’s other sites.