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Alonzo ready to make most of second chance

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Published:   |   Updated: March 21, 2013 at 06:46 AM
PORT RICHEY -

There were times when Jose Alonzo's kids saw it.

On evenings when televised boxing matches were the order of the night, Alonzo, his son, Jose Jr., and daughter, Nyasia, would head to the couch to watch the fights. Instead of a mundane, sterile dose of boxing, the kids got more of an interactive experience.

See, from 1999 to 2003, Alonzo was a rising prospect in the middleweight division. During that stretch, the Spring Hill resident went 11-0, winning seven bouts by knockout.

Midway through 2003, things changed.

There was an ankle injury and a fallout with his former promoters. That mixture dampened his desire to fight and Alonzo walked away from the sport.

That passion wasn't fully gone. For eight years his kids watched him unable to sit still while watching those fights, bobbing and weaving from his seat inside the living room.

"They, for years, have been telling me, 'Papi, go back,'" Alonzo said. "Finally I just went back and I think they're more excited than me."

After making a successful comeback in February, Alonzo (12-0, 7 KOs) will headline the latest boxing show Friday night inside Tampa's A La Carte Pavilion. He'll face Sarasota's Adam Jaco (9-4-1, 4 KOs) for the vacant USA Florida super middleweight belt.

In making his return, Alonzo has shown a new form of dedication. He's hired sports physician Dr. Kevin Connor, Florida Boxing Hall of Fame inductee Leo Thalassites as his conditioning coach, veteran Jim McLoughlin is his advisor and cut man and has boxing veteran Carlos Rivera as his second.

His stepfather, Nelson Saldena, also keeps a watchful eye.

The adhesive to all those parts is trainer Don Kahn. For Alonzo's first 11 fights, Kahn was his trainer and was integral in him winning the vacant WBA Fedecentro super middleweight belt in 2003. The only time Kahn wasn't in his corner was during February's comeback fight.

Leaning against a car just outside Four Corners Gym in Port Richey, Kahn, who has tutored champions Alexis Arguello, Wilfredo Benitez and Wilfredo Gomez, admitted he's seen a promising change in his pupil.

"I've trained many world championship fighters and the dedication Chelo has, in this opportunity to fight for a title, has been great," Kahn said. "This guy is 100 percent into the business. He's strong, he's followed the training. His dedication is what's going to give him the triumph because he really wants to get into the top 10 and have an opportunity for a (major) title fight."

That change is the by-product of eight years and the maturity it brings.

Alonzo understands he's no longer that 24-year-old, who was ready to turn a fight into a brawl if needed. Now, there's a craftiness and intelligence of a 34-year-old who can still brawl.

"Every day I'm blessed to be in that ring," Alonzo said. "I look at the bags and I see how I'm moving, I see the people around me. I see my son and my daughter, see my fiancé, my father and how they look at me. They inspire me, they motivate me.

"They have so much belief in me and that's all I need."

As successful as he has been in the ring, he said there are lessons he wants his kids to glean from him. First, pursue your dreams and never give up. The other one?

"For one, they love the sport," Alonzo said of Jose Jr., a 3.8 student and baseball player, and Nyasia, a 4.0 high school student who takes college courses. "The reason ... I always had them there was to let them know there's an easier way out than just doing a brutal sport. I love the sport, don't get me wrong, but it's a brutal sport at the end of the day."

That said, Alonzo wants to dole out the beating Friday night, leaving the ring with another belt.

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