A rookie in the ring

Auburn’s Chaney to make professional debut on Lopez’s card at Raley Field
By: Eric J. Gourley Journal Sports Writer
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Most mornings, Ryan Chaney rises before the sun. He runs seven or eight miles with integrated sprint intervals. Chaney returns to his home in downtown Auburn to rest and eat breakfast. He makes time for a few hours at his job before his afternoon boxing workout, resting again briefly before his nightly strength training routine. “I’m just fatigued,” the 23-year-old Placer graduate said. “This is the hardest I’ve been going at it.” Chaney’s training will taper off this week as his professional boxing debut nears Friday night at Raley Field in West Sacramento. Chaney will fight San Jose’s Efrain Rivera in a 146-pound bout at Night Out, Lights Out, an 11-event card assembled by Tony “The Tiger” Lopez, a four-time world champion. After a June fight at Arco Arena fell through, Chaney contacted Jimmy Montoya of ESPN Friday Night Fights, the matchmaker for Night Out, Lights Out. “He wrote me an email asking to be put on the card,” Montoya said. “I asked him what amateur experience he had and he said none, but he said he had been training for a fight.” “Jimmy talked to me for awhile and we got a feel for each other,” Chaney said. “If this fight goes as planned, he’s going to get me involved with his next one.” He’s already slated to fight in Tulare on Aug. 21. “If this goes as planned, we’re going to try to stay busy,” Chaney said. Chaney grew up in Auburn. He moved to Phoenix at age 10 with his parents, Doug and Mary, and sister Allie Hinkley, where he got into youth club boxing. “I was pretty much self-taught, didn’t have a mentor” he said. “I watched a lot of boxing on TV and picked things up. My dad showed me things here and there.” With no family in Arizona, Chaney, along with his mom and sister, pressured Doug to get a job back in Auburn. The family moved back when Ryan was 14, just in time for him to drop the boxing gloves and focus on baseball and golf for the Hillmen. A torn rotator cuff cut his baseball career short and Chaney immersed himself in boxing again after graduating from Placer. He attended Sierra College and Sacramento State, setting up a home gym and working out with his father. “I had a few different trainers and promoters try to pick me up as an amateur, but I really didn’t want to go that route,” said Chaney, president of Eminent Motors, a high-end used car dealership in Oroville. “I had my sights set higher. I’m a pressure fighter. I come forward a lot. I have heavy hands. The pro game fits my style better.” “Ryan’s athletic ability is world-class,” said James Campbell, Chaney’s head strength coach. “He is an animal in the ring. His mission is to destroy his opponent. He doesn’t just want to beat you, he wants to beat you up.” Headgear and padded gloves are synonymous with amateur boxing, and scoring hinges on “how many times you hit your opponent versus how many times he hits you,” Chaney said. “There’s really no power involved or anything, you can play that pitty-pat game trying to get away.” In his pro debut, Chaney will construct casts around his hands of compacted gauze and tape, and the fighters will be swinging paltry eight-ounce gloves. “It’s kind of like getting hit with a sledgehammer,” Chaney said. “One thing I’ve learned about sparring with guys a lot bigger than me is I can take a good punch and deliver a big one, too.” Chaney expects he’ll need more than a dozen professional fights before he’ll get paid and land a contract. “That’s not what I’m concerned with,” he said. “It’s jumping in there and taking that first step. The weekend after the fight I’ll sit down with my dad and trainers, watch it on tape, analyze what I did well and what I didn’t do too well.” Chaney isn’t nervous about stepping into his first professional ring in front of a local crowd. “I’m pretty calm. I’ve been in the ring with top amateurs and pros,” he said. “Obviously it’s different because you’re sparring, but I’m confident in my abilities and I feel like I’m going to go in there and give my all. I’m pretty sure that I’m going to end up victorious.” Not to mention, he’ll enter the ring with an unblemished record. “I don’t have any officially sanctioned amateur fights, but if you count fights in bars, schoolyards and on the streets, I’d have to say I’m undefeated in my lifetime boxing campaign.” Gates at Raley Field open at 6 p.m., with amateur fights slated to start at 6:15. The six-fight event begins at 7. “I have a lot of good fights on there,” Lopez said. “I just want to showcase what Sacramento has coming. My goal is eventually to have world title fights here in Sacramento.”