Al Valentine wants to set an example to younger boxers. He thinks doing it in the ring is the best way.
Valentine, 58, will be taking on James “The Beast” Roberts as part of the fight card during the AK Beatdown 31 at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall, 7 p.m. Saturday.
The AK Beatdown features boxing and MMA bouts held three to four times a year in Juneau, according to promoter Cindy Isaak.
A boxer since 19, Valentine admits it was life before the ring that actually drove him to it.
“I grew up on the wrong side of the fence when it came to fighting,” he said. “But, I was pretty good at it. I figured I would give boxing a try.”
The veteran boxer said his fight against Roberts, a Juneau resident in his 30s — half Valentine’s age — on Saturday will be a challenge, but unlike the last time he fought, and lost, he is more prepared.
“I jumped into my last fight with 10 hours of notice,” Valentine said. “If you want to see where you are at, you just jump in. That’s what I did and wasn’t very good. I feel better now.”
Unlike some of his previous opponents, Roberts offers a challenge to Valentine other than his punches.
“I actually like the guy,” Valentine said. “I don’t want him or me to get hurt. He is a big puncher and I sure won’t let him him punch me straight in the face.”
Valentine said in other matches he has dealt with boxers who are more about talking than just getting into the ring. But with age, he also realizes he may have just grown out of that.
“There is a new breed in boxing and MMA where they are always talking about ‘How I’m going to beat your backside,’” he said. “I’ve gotten a little more patient and realized that a lot of these guys are in their 20s. I think maybe 30 years ago, I was like them.”
That is part of the reason he still wraps his knuckles and laces up the boots.
“I want to set an example that it’s more about in the ring than outside of it,” he said. “I don’t think there is a better example than getting out there and trying to take the championship.”
No matter the outcome, Valentine said when he gets another crack at a championship bout, it will be his last.
“I’ve retired a couple times and people keep calling me back in,” he said. “Win, lose or draw when I get to the championship again, that will be it.”
But it is hard to say when he will be done helping boxers.
“I offer to train boxers,” Valentine. “There are all these people charging for lessons. My door is always open and I don’t charge.”
So even out of the ring, Valentine will likely always have his heart in it.
“It’s in my blood,” said.
Other fights on Saturday include: Kyle Delarosa vs. Codyne Williams (MMA); Brian Lauth vs. Charlie Gallant (MMA); Marco Reina vs TC Storbeck (Boxing); Gabriel Duckworth vs Tevita Moa Maka (Boxing).
• Contact reporter Gregory Philson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 523-2265. Follow him on Twitter at @GTPhilson.