Raleigh, NC (November 1) – Ask eighteen-year-old boxer Jose Ibarra what he wants from boxing, and he will stop everything to quickly and confidently tell you, “I want to be a world champ, and support my family. I want ten title defenses, and I want to move up weight classes for my titles!”
Ibarra, who is looking to make his pro debut at the end of 2017 or the early part of 2018, is a rarity among North Carolina boxers. At the young age of eighteen, he has over eighty amateur fights, he has a work ethic second to none, his fluidity in the ring and million dollar looks have earned him rightful comparisons to the great Manny Pacquiao, and oh, by the way, he is ambidextrous.
Ibarra is quick to tell you he is no natural in the sport of boxing. Everything he has up to this point, he has had to work for it. He will also tell you his cousins and brother are the reasons he fights with such a nasty chip on his shoulder. Ibarra started coming to the gym at eight years old with his brother. “I wasn’t as motivated as my brother and cousins, but I took some lumps, and I slowly got into it. They would always get the upper hand with me, because I really didn’t know what I was doing, and they were bigger than me. As time went on, I got more motivated, and then one day I caught my brother with a shot that really got his attention. He knew I was real, and I just started working harder and harder.”
Eventually, Ibarra would surpass his cousins and older brother. Coach D (Derrick Reed), who has trained Ibarra from day one will tell you, “Jose comes from a family of good fighters, but Jose kept showing up and working day after day, and he left them all. His raw talent and work ethic caught up to each other and man, he has the potential to be the best not just from around here, but in the world.”
Ibarra contributes his drive to his father. Ibarra’s father came from Mexico unable to read, but found a way to San Antonio, TX and then to Willow Springs, NC. His father has made a tremendous life for himself starting as a migrant worker caring for a large family to becoming a successful businessman looking out for and taking care of many Mexican families coming to the United States looking for a better life. “My father did all of this for me and my family without being able to read Spanish or English. He stressed to me no matter what your circumstances are. If you work hard, you will get something out of it. It may not be the greatest, but you will get something to be proud of out of it. You will be something.”
The nasty chip Ibarra keeps on his shoulder comes from his brother. After Ibarra started getting the best of his brother, and his brother saw Ibarra’s talent really starting to take off in the sport, the older Ibarra would always whisper, “You will never be better than me.” This motivates Ibarra to push harder and harder especially when Ibarra feels like he is doing well in sparring, shadow boxing, hitting mitts, or the bags. But, one lesson Ibarra’s brother taught him that sticks out more than any other. “My brother is always telling me to let my hands go. Let my hands go. One day he came up to me in the middle of sparring and told me every fighter has two arms, two legs, one head, and one heart. Every fighter is the same with no real advantage, so let my hands go and earn an advantage. That has stuck with me ever since.”
Ibarra, who has a four month old daughter, is a student of the game. While Coach D tutors other fighters, Ibarra shadow boxes in the background and effortlessly connects to the instructions Coach D is giving. When someone mentions Ibarra made the adjustments Coach D just yelled to another fighter, Ibarra unassumingly flashes a million dollar smile. Someone yells, “Look at the Mexican Pac Man.” Ibarra turns toward them and says, “Just like Pac Man. I’m going to come from nothing to be something!” And in North Carolina, a boxing star by the name of Jose Ibarra is born.