“I broke my hand punching a wall in middle school,” he said. “It was stupid. I was a punk.” A broken ankle caused him to miss his junior year of football.
Marc Gargaro is Meuse’s trainer in Newton. “Joe’s always exciting. He throws hard combinations with bad intentions,” said Gargaro. “He doesn’t wait for the fight to come to him.” Meuse’s fight night at TD Garden is an indelible memory.
“I remember walking from the dressing room through the tunnel and seeing how many people there were. The atmosphere made me think about turning pro.”
Meuse is an apprentice electrician and wants to be a part-time firefighter in Millis.
Perez, 22, started boxing in Puerto Rico when he was 10, under the tutelage of his father. It did not go well.
“I quit,” he said. “I didn’t know anything about boxing. I just wanted to play and run around like the other kids.”
At 13, he had a change of heart. He scored a knockout in his first fight, and won five bouts in a row. “I was more serious,” he said. “They called me ‘Diamante.’ Diamond. I have it on my robe.”
The family moved to Marlborough when he was 16. He hooked up with Cancel in Framingham where O’Connor trained.
“Carlos showed me some moves,” said Perez. “We became friends.” Perez works out at the Hudson Boxing Club now.
Perez still relies on his dad, an expert kickboxer.
“I always call him my trainer,” he said. “He knows more about me than anybody.”
Perez said he’s won most of his 66 fights, and, like almost every amateur, aims high. “I want to be a pro some day,” he said. “I didn’t do well in school. All I cared about was boxing.”
Perez works for a company maintenance crew in Shrewsbury.
Cancel said Ramos, whose day job is fixing vacuums, has “unlimited potential. He sparred over 200 rounds with O’Connor when Danny was an amateur.”
Now, O’Connor is getting paid for what he does. For Meuse, Ramos, and Perez, it’s a steep hill to become a headliner like O’Connor. It’s not for everybody, but fight dreams die hard.
Lenny Megliola can be reached at email@example.com.