ALEX DILMAGHANI: THE BRIT WHO SURVIVED MEXICO’S SPIT AND SAWDUST BOXING GYMS AND SPARRING LEGEND JUAN MANUEL MARQUEZ
Mexico has a rich heritage for developing some of the greatest names in the sport’s history . Might the next one from the conveyor belt be the custodian of a British passport?
Super-featherweight hotshot Alex Dilmaghani returns to these shore on Saturday 25th May at the Victoria Warehouse in Manchester on the undercard of Hughie Fury, exclusively live on Channel 5
Alex Dilmaghani was born in Redhill, Surrey, of Iranian ancestry but, following just a fistful of amateur bouts and eight pro starts in the U.K, the then 22 year old southpaw boldly uprooted to the sweltering slums of Mexico City to fast track his ring education.
‘I HAD to go abroad if I was to progress’ admits the well-spoken 27 year old, who holds a law degree from Southampton University.
‘I chose Mexico because it’s a great country and the Mexicans are really great people. It has a great boxing tradition and so many genuinely hungry fighters.’
The Iranian knight entered the profession as a callow 17 year old under the wing of long-term Eubank mentor Ronnie Davies way back in April 2009. Over the next four and a half years he racked up seven wins in eight starts – without ripping up too many trees – prior to taking the plunge across the Atlantic in early 2014.
Based at the capital city’s world famous Romanza Boxing Gym, Dilmaghani lapped up the wisdom of Hall of Fame trainer and national treasure Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Beristain.
‘I only started to take boxing seriously once I moved over to Mexico City,’ declared Dilmaghani who had the privilege sharing gym space with native all-time great Juan Manuel Marquez, the seven-time, four division world champion.
‘I did all my proper learning over there; how to train, how to fight, how to live. It was in the gyms of Mexico City that I developed all the subtle stuff, a proper stance, how to put your hip and shoulders into punches, the real science of boxing.
‘I meticulously studied the way (Juan Manuel) Marquez conditioned himself. He possibly wasn’t the hardest trainer I’ve ever worked alongside but he was definitely the most specific. Everything he did had genuine purpose.’
On a daily basis, the young ‘gringo’ challenged himself to survive then thrive against some seriously sinister hombres.
‘I sparred Juan Manuel in the build up to the last Pacquiao fight and, trust me, he lacks for nothing; very smart, very skilful. I also sparred lots of rounds with (three-time, two-weight world champion) Jhonny Gonzalez and (former WBC super-feather boss) Francisco Vargas. The sparring over there was always very hard,’ recalls Alex.
Between 2014-2017, the Azteca adventurer triumphed in all five fights in the Land of the Sombrero, completing the 10 round trip for the first time, and making quite a commotion by bombing out three hapless victims for the full ten count.
‘Mexico was a sacrifice I had to make and ended up a brilliant life experience,’ he says.
‘It took me out of my comfort zone, taught me not just about boxing but about life in general. It built mental strength. Though I’ve many great friends in Mexico now, initially I arrived on my own and couldn’t speak a word of Spanish.’
And having graduated the grime of Mexico, academic Alex attended a two-year finishing school in Canada, having been headhunted by Toronto promoter Lee Baxter in late 2016.
‘In Canada, a beautiful place, I may not have learned so much but, career wise, it was a great move for me, more about the fights than the training,’ claims Dilmaghani, who further expanded his global fan club by remaining undefeated in seven Canadian starts (one No Contest) which included a further three early finishes.
Having survived America, the stylish Surrey southpaw (now an impressive 18-1-1NC), is intent on conquering Britain and dazzling UK fight fans with his unique cosmopolitan skill set.
‘Apprenticing abroad will undoubtedly stand me in good stead,’ insists Alex who recently penned a deal with manager- promoter Mick Hennessy and features in a 12 rounder against Slovakian hard case Martin ‘Cracker’ Parlagi at Manchester’s Victoria Warehouse on Saturday week.
‘Living away from home, alone and so young, certainly taught me how to cope with pressure. I was living in a ghetto over there and the British inner cities just don’t compare. It was a seriously dangerous place. I came through and now nothing can faze me.’
Promoted by Hennessy Sports, Channel 5 and Infinitum, in association with VIP Promotions, Hughie Fury headlines an action packed show on Saturday 25th May at the Victoria Warehouse, Manchester, when he takes on undefeated Canadian Chris Norrad. Exciting super-featherweight Alex Dilmaghani faces the hardened Martin Parlagi. Female super-middleweight sensation Savannah Marshall returns to action. Steve Brogan defends his Central Area Lightweight Championship against rival Adam Hague and completing the card will be Matty Fagan, Connor Lynch and Marcel Braithwaite.
Tickets priced at £40 & £70 are available from vipboxing.tv