Lightweight prospect—who challenges Ladarius Miller Friday night on Bounce TV—was introduced to boxing through a familial hijinx, now spends his time in the sport surrounded by his family.
The videotape sits somewhere, gathering dust. Besides, it’s nothing Dennis Galarza is too proud of. It shows a very young “Surgeon,” as Galarza is known today, getting his eight-year-old butt kicked by a seasoned kid. The memory of it is still fresh in Galarza’s mind, because it’s how he got introduced to boxing.
It began with the simple promise of ice cream. It ended with him getting punched in the face.
Between then and now, Galarza and his whole family are immersed in boxing, because of a 20-year-old VHS tape, showing the time Galarza’s Uncle Mike took him to a boxing gym.
Today, Galarza (16-3, 9 knockouts) is staying true to his childhood passion, looking for redemption after his last fight, a unanimous-decision loss to veteran Edner Cherry in April. He takes on southpaw Ladarius Miller (16-1, 5 KOs) in a 10-round lightweight bout on Bounce TV this Friday night (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) in the main event from Sam’s Town Hotel & Gambling Hall, Las Vegas.
For most fighters, it could boggle the mind and imbed an annoying stain that refuses to go away. But Galarza figures he doesn’t belong in that box. His mourning period didn’t last long at all. Maybe minutes from the time it took the rangy 5-foot-10 lightweight to slip between the ropes and return to his dressing room. Time enough to erase what he felt was a bad decision and recover from seeing Cherry’s hand raised.
Galarza, 25, had not even had his hand wraps cut off when he was told he would be back in the ring within three months. He felt he was the victim of a poor decision against Cherry, losing by a close unanimous decision with scores of 96-94 (twice) and 97-93.
“I won that fight, I beat Cherry, 7-3, or at least 6-4,” said Galarza, who resides in Orlando, Florida, though was born in Brooklyn, New York. “But, hey, I’m not a judge. We’re seeing bad judgments more and more often, and what needs to be realized is that every fighter who steps through those ropes is risking their lives.
“We have some guys today that don’t know what they’re looking at, and because of that, you get decisions like I got the last time I fought. It’s not good for the sport of boxing. I’ll tell you how I overcame it. I’m a father. Things aren’t always going to go your way in life, and it’s one of the lessons I want to teach my son one day when he grows up.
“I have to be a man and keep pushing forward. I’m at a stage in my career where I’m boxing on national TV and the fans can see me fight. But I won’t lie, when I saw Cherry’s hand raised, my first reaction was ‘This is total bull----.’ But, I went to the back, sat with my team and my father, knowing I won the fight. I left the arena in great shape. I was healthy and I went home to a beautiful boy, my son.”
“ I fight for my family and the ones who support me. To me, it’s a lot deeper than boxing. I’m blessed to live my dream. ” Lightweight Dennis Galarza
Galarza’s start came by happenstance. His parents, Jason and Edith, were on an anniversary cruise. Dennis and his cousin were being watched by his Uncle Mike, his father’s younger brother. Mike Galarza took Dennis and his cousin to the gym under the guise that they were hopping into the car to get ice cream.
“We were kids, we didn’t know,” recalled Galarza, laughing. “One of my Uncle Mike’s friends was a boxer. My uncle asked us if we wanted to get some ice cream, and the next thing you know, we’re at a boxing gym. My uncle says, ‘You’re going to go in the ring, you’re going to fight this young man here, and as soon as you get out of the ring, I’m going to buy you ice cream and whatever video game you want to play tonight.”
It sounded like a great deal to Galarza.
The caveat came later, when his parents arrived home.
Galarza went in and got his butt smacked. Adding more embarrassment to that was Uncle Mike taped the fight and popped in the video cassette when Galarza’s parents came back from their cruise.
“My parents weren’t too happy, seeing their little boy get smacked around like that,” Galarza said. “But I’ll say this, I fell in love with the sport. I usually got what I wanted, so when I was around 10 or 11, I wanted a dirt bike. My parents gave me the option of the dirt bike, or giving up boxing.”
Galarza never got the dirt bike.
Jason is now his son’s trainer and his mother Edith is one of the head AIBA officials, as well as supporting a stable of young amateur fighters in Florida.
“There is no pressure on me entering this fight with Miller,” Dennis Galarza said. “I fight for my family and the ones who support me. I’ve known Ladarius since we were amateurs. I’m undefeated against southpaws. To me, it’s a lot deeper than boxing. I’m blessed to live my dream.
“This will be Ladarius’ biggest fight. I’ve been in with top contenders. A lot of people turned down the Cherry fight. I didn’t. With the losses that I have, people are willing to take a chance with me. It’s going to be a great show.”
Galarza is sure his parents still have that dusty, old tape somewhere. He’s also sure he doesn’t want to see it again.
For a closer look at Miller vs Galarza, check out our fight page.