Determined to reach the top, Jaime Arboleda has been in Florida, United States, since July to strengthen his preparation for the biggest commitment of his career, fighting for the 130-pound World Boxing Association title on November 28th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut, in front of the Interim Champion Chris Colbert.
Arboleda comes from winning a hard-fought elimination fight last February against experienced Puerto Rican Jayson Velez and accumulates a total of 16 bouts won with 13 KOs and only one loss. Nicknamed “Little James”, he began training as a boxer at the age of five in the city of Curundú in Panama under his father’s direction: “at the age of six I already did my first fight. I did so many that I lost count, since I fought almost every week and I kept it up”, he recalls.
He grew up in a humble neighborhood and was always involved in sports: baseball, soccer, boxing. “I did about 130 fights as an amateur. In my beginnings as an amateur, there were many, but when I turned 12, it was difficult for me to fight because I showed a great level for my age and the fighters of my category did not want to fight me. Their coaches did not want to expose them, which stalled me a lot, but after that I entered the National Team and won a gold medal in the Central American games, Bronze in Bolivarianos, bronze in a Roman cup, I participated in some pre-Olympic games for Rio 2016″, remembers Arboleda about his sports career and adds that “if I had not been a boxer I would have been a baseball player, since I was part of the Panama National Team. I played baseball until I was 12 years old, when I decided completely for boxing. I didn’t have such a strong arm for pitching, but I was very fast. They used me mostly for fast plays, for running. My favorite baseball team was the Yankees”.
The Panamanian boxer speaks calmly as he relates some difficult moments: “despite the things that happened I had the unconditional support of my parents. At the age of 11, my house in Curundú burned down and I had to live a few days in the gym where I trained with my father. Then, by the time I was 17, with the rebelliousness of the age, I sometimes wanted to take other paths instead of going to train, but my dad always reprimanded me and kept me focused. Another difficult moment for me was when I lost my undefeated professional record when I was already rated seventh in the world, because they saw me as a good prospect in Panama to fight for the world title”, a story that reveals the pride of staying firm on the road.
Arboleda tells how the experience of jumping to professional was for him: “it was neither easy or difficult to become a professional boxer because I was scheduled for the Olympic Games and my manager at that time already wanted me to take the step because he saw I had the level; and that’s when things got a little complicated because they were offering me good things in the National Team but also my manager here offered me better plans and I decided to move forward. Thank God I have done well, and I have been able to keep up. Now that I made this big change of leaving Panama and coming to train in Miami, it has not been easy because I am away from my family, but I have improved my level, so I am very happy. In Panama I worked three times a day: I ran in the morning, trained in the afternoon and did the physical part at night. What happened was that I was wearing out physically and wouldn’t drink enough water. In Miami I had a radical change, quite noticeable in my recovery, training and the great evolution in my body”, Jaime concluded.
“I remember all my fights because each one is important to improve the level and to see small details, mistakes, the good or the bad, but the one that I have more present is the elimination fight, since I had never reached that level of fighting twelve rounds. I never thought that my body had that great capacity of effort, of work and there I put it in practice and demonstrated that I am for this”. Under the reaffirmation of the path and focused on what is coming, Arboleda says he admires Lomachenko, Mayweather, Theofimo and Roberto Durán, and concludes with an analysis of the challenge he is preparing for: “The fight I’m going to do is like a Sugar Ray Leonard with Roberto Duran, where there was a Duran looking for action while Leonard used his skill and speed. That’s how I see it since Colbert is skillful, fast”.