FARMINGTON — Farmington’s Jonathan Abeyta is set to step into the ring for his second professional boxing match on Friday, April 22 when he faces Leonid Grachev in the co-main event at the Empire Event Center in Albuquerque.
The 27-year-old made his pro debut last August when he defeated Ricky Martinez by technical knockout in the second round. Prior to that, Abeyta fought twice in the amateur ranks in 2020, with one win and one loss.
Abeyta, who’s been training in Albuquerque for the upcoming fight at the Power and Glory Gym, has learned a lot between his pro debut and what is required of him in preparation for his second fight.
“It’s a lot more disciplined this time around,” Abeyta said. “I know what to expect of myself and I’ve learned to relax a little more and have confidence in what I can do.”
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Abeyta is still learning the approach to the fight game as he and his sparring partners and trainers prepare for the 4-round match, which will be a part of the Battle at Five Points program.
“We’re putting in a lot more work this time around, and I think the confidence and belief in myself to get out there and staying calm has helped a lot,” Abeyta said.
Grachev, 31, will be making his fourth professional entrance into the ring, and putting his unbeaten streak on the line as a pro. As an amateur, the Russian-born heavyweight now residing in Louisville, Colorado went 11-15 in the ring.
Grachev made his amateur debut in 2015 before turning pro in 2020, making his first two starts in Tijuana.
In his most recent bout, Grachev defeated Brandon Heredia by unanimous decision at the Kiva Auditorium in Albuquerque on Oct. 16, 2021.
“He’s a come-forward type of fighter, he relies on one punch a lot,” Abeyta said of Grachev. “I know he’s beatable.”
Abeyta’s journey back into the ring has come full circle after being sidetracked as a youth due to his own self-admitted mistakes.
“I started fighting when I was about 10 years old, but ran into some problems in my teenage years with gangs and drugs,” Abeyta said. “That took me away from boxing for a while, but then I decided to get back into it because I was wasting my talents.”
A lifelong Farmington resident, Abeyta said the key to his return was the confidence he’s found in those around him, particularly his trainers and his father, Anthony Abeyta, Jr.
“There’s been so many people along the way, from my nutrition coaches to my trainers and my father,” Abeyta said. “The journey has been rough, getting to the gym sometimes four or five times a day, making sure my diet was right, doing all the work to get back to this point.”
As for his own approach to boxing, Abeyta also admits to being a come-forward fighter who will not be afraid to mix it up inside.
Abeyta weighed in at 247 3/4 lbs. for his debut last summer, and is confident he’ll be right around that same weight for his upcoming bout.
Part of the training for his pro debut last summer and his upcoming fight has been a radical change to his diet, which has not always been easy.
“Eating foods I didn’t want to eat was one of the hardest things to do,” Abeyta quipped. “I don’t like the healthy foods all that much, but that’s just part of the sacrifice.”
Going through the training and conditioning for the fight against Grachev has meant substantial time away from his family and loved ones, but he said the sacrifice has been worth it as he continues to follow the dream of remaining unbeaten.
“It’s been rough being away from my family for so many weeks,” Abeyta said. “But I feel like when I get my hand raised, it all gets paid off.”
The Battle at Five Points card is also going to be highlighted by several bouts, including the main event, a flyweight showdown between El Paso’s Abraham Perez (2-0) facing Mulapi Njani (9-7-3) from Kigali, Rwanda.
Also scheduled on the fight card is a women’s boxing match between two debuting pro fighters, Albuquerque’s Katherine Lindenmuth facing Kara Liebowitz from Santa Fe.
For more information about the fight card, check out the New Mexico Pro Boxing Page on Facebook.
Steve Bortstein can be reached via email at [email protected], via Twitter @DTSBortstein or on the phone at (505) 635-2680. Support local journalism with a digital subscription.