SPRINGFIELD, Mo–The Ozarks has had it’s share of boxers.
Probably the most famous is B.J. Flores.
But there’s another up and coming scrapper from Springfield out of Smitty’s Gym.
And as KOLR 10’s Dan Lindblad reports, after years of taking it on the chin, Arturo Moreno is coming into his own.
Some people are born to box. Others find their way through a middle school challenge.
“A friend just came up to me and one of my other friends, he said, Hey, do you think he could beat me in a boxing match? I didn’t even know what boxing was. and then me and my friend just went up to the gym and got our butts handed to us and just wanted to get better,” said Moreno.
“I’ve been coaching Arturo Moreno since he was nine years old. Him and Luis Velasquez walked in my gym. He was scared of his own shadow, but they were both the most respectable, manageable kids I had seen in a long time. He trains hard, he lives clean, and that’s why he’s a champion,” said Darrell “Smitty” Smith.
A Central High graduate, Arturo Moreno turned pro in the summer of 2020.
His first fight in Abilene, Kansas.
“It was a hard, dirty fight. I even got my head busted open in that first my first fight. And, you know, yeah, that’s whenever I knew, that’s when I realized I was pro is a lot more different than the amateurs,” said Moreno.
He’d win that bout with a majority decision.
Fast forward four fights, four wins and an IBC welterweight international title later, an early highlight bout in Las Vegas last weekend against a big name in Roberto Duran Jr.
Moreno: “His age wasn’t the thing that was bugging me. You know, his name, his dad, you know, but I had to remember I had to remind myself he’s not his dad.”
Despite a 14 year age differece, Moreno wasn’t intimidated, winning in unanimous decision.
“That’s that was my dream. My dream fight. My dream fight is to fight out in Vegas is, you know, you know, you always see all these top boxes and all these big boxes fighting out there. And I actually did it and I won. And especially against Roberto Duran, Jr.,” said Moreno.
Moreno and Smitty are eyeing what is next for the young bull.
Meanwhile, Moreno still has eyes on his education. With aspiriations of knocking out a college degree.
“This is just a big thing for me because going into college is something that a lot of people in my family haven’t done. You know, we’re known for being that punch, drunk, punching, boxing. Well, that that day and age is over,” said Moreno.
Smitty: “He he’s trying to be something like trying to set the example. I’ve always taught him that you’ve got to be a champion, not just inside the boxing ring, but to be a champion outside the boxing. You’ve got to set the example. And that’s Arturo, the Matador Moreno. “
In Springfield, Dan Lindblad OzarksFirst.