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HomeSportsBoxingVelasquez Wins at BKFC

Velasquez Wins at BKFC

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It has been a long road for Abdiel Velasquez. Many trials have tested the fighter’s mettle over the last year-plus of his life. He overcame major injuries to himself and his family to emerge a stronger person and boxer.

The first major setback the 30-year-old boxer faced was a torn MCL in May of 2023. He fought through it, rehabbed, and returned. Then, early 2024 threw him another hurdle. Velasquez and his family were in a tragic car accident that almost cost him his children. His son, Arlo, had half of his face burned from a deployed airbag. It was an incredibly difficult time for Velasquez who just wants to be the best father he can be for his two kids, especially considering he grew up without a father.

“That was a lot of mental with me and the trauma as a father, me trying to be a father model and everything and role model, too,” Velasquez said. “[I] had a lot of time to rethink myself, seeing if I really want to do this myself, my wife not giving up on me trying to follow my dreams and just what I want to do. I did not want to give up either.”

Abdiel “The Nightmare” Velasquez’s experiences culminated with his first-round knockout of fifth-ranked fighter Travis Thompson at BKFC (Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship) Clearwater in mid-April. Friday’s event was sold out and subsequently streamed on Fubu and YouTube Live.

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His win over Thompson was a rematch of a close, five-round, controversial victory over five years ago. Thompson wanted the rematch with Velasquez, but his big mistake was thinking that he was fighting “the same Abbie from five years ago.” He did not realize he was fighting the new and improved Abdiel Velasquez.

“It was great,” Velasquez said of the competition. “I had a great performance, a great camp. I had a quick knockout, and I had a great time. Everything [went] pretty much smoothly. Can not really complain about much.”

While he was going through his tribulations, Abbie had spent the last two and a half years training with Team Frankie Boxing at Primal Striking and BJJ (Brazilian Ju Jitsu). Coach Joe Cortez has spent time mentoring the fighter on Muy Thai while Coach Justin trained him on the “ground game” according to Coach Frank Alagna.

Their instruction was critical for Abbie as he had spent much of his time hopping between gyms. He trained with many different staffs and while this helped in the short term, it made it harder for him to progress as a fighter. Once he found a home at Primal Striking and BJJ, his coaches saw him make significant strides. Coach Alagna compared this to a math problem.

“What we call it in the fight game is, you can skip a couple steps up the ladder, but eventually you are going to come to a [plateau]. Like a math problem, maybe you learn a little bit extra that someone else does not know, but you did not learn the basics or certain things. That is where you get exploited.”

Coach Alagna has trained many fighters to state championships and other accolades, and he sees greatness in Velasquez. While he does not want to put any fighter in any specific mold, the coach feels Abbie’s style is reminiscent of Manny Pacquaio. The boxer did need to clean up some aspects of his game to climb to next rung, though, and the first thing was stepping too far from opponents on step-outs. That has now been cleaned up since Velasquez set up shop at Coach Cortez’s gym.

“We started connecting the dots,” Coach Alagna said. “I saw that in him when he first walked in. I am like, man, this guy can be great. He just needs to cut some of the fat off the side […] His awkward southpaw style, his quick hands, his explosiveness, his power, all that together is very hard to defend against […] As long as we control his defense, control distance, I can see him going all the way to number one of BKFC and I can see him winning pro boxing matches.”

The coaching staff at Primal Striking and BJJ puts their fighters first and will do anything to help them get better according to Coach Cortez. He has seen marked improvement from Velasquez as well. “I feel like he has changed and come leaps and bounds since he has been here with us,” said Cortez.
Not only are his coaches recognizing this, but Velasquez as well. “I know he is seeing it in himself,” said Coach Alagna “He knows it now.”

Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch is a Graduate with Distinction, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. He's written numerous articles reporting on Florida Gators football, basketball, and soccer teams; the sports of rugby, basketball, professional baseball, hockey, and the NFL Draft. Prior to Hernando Sun he was a contributor to ESPN, Gainesville, FL and Gator Country Multimedia, Inc. in Gainesville, FL, and Stadium Gale.
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