Tallahassee, FL - Minutes before stepping into the ring, John Jimenez appears completely calm. Stoic, in fact. It's unusual for a 28-year-old whose last fight was about three years ago.
"Just go out there and have some fun. That's it," Jimenez said, referencing his state of mind before the fight.
But Jimenez knows he's not the only one fighting in his corner.
"I lost a trainer, my father," he said. "So missing him took a lot to get back in the ring."
Frank Jimenez, a boxing luminary in Tallahassee, lost his battle with brain cancer about five months ago. Frank had single-handedly created a boxing refuge in Frenchtown starting in the 1980s. His most prized trainee was Nate Campbell, a world champion.
And now it's John Jiminez's turn.
"It means a lot because he was my father and also my coach," Jimenez said. "But I got a good family surrounding me which you see right now. But I'm ready and I'm here."
Once he made his way to the ring, Jimenez was ready for the moment. His legs were shaking. His eyes fixated on his opponent.
Round-for-round, blow-for-blow. As the announcer put the microphone up inches away from his lips to declare the winner, Jimenez couldn't control himself.
Finally, when he heard his name, winner by unanimous decision, Jimenez started wildly jogging in place, bursting out with excitement.
"When he said John, you won, I just thought about my father and how proud he would've been sitting at that corner,' Jimenez said. "Behind closed doors, especially with my wife. It's gonna re-sink in that I wish my dad would've been there. "
His dad wasn't there, but he got what he wanted. To keep boxing in the family.