Several goals are in place this year for Alexis Rocha.
Among them is to win his first major title. The hope along the way is to face and beat a former champion or at least a past title challenger. For now, Rocha settles for Ghana’s George Ashie, a late replacement for Anthony ‘Juice’ Young whom the streaking contender faces in a DAZN-streamed main event this Saturday from YouTube Theater in Inglewood, California.
“It’s really a matter of who they can get in front of me,” Rocha told BoxingScene.com. “The past few fights we’ve tried to get former world champions to fight us. Things just fall through, whether it’s the business side of it or whatever.
“So… it wasn’t even about choosing anyone. It’s just fighting the guys who say yes.”
Rocha (21-1, 13KOs) is no stranger to fights falling through. Saturday's showdown was originally tabbed to come versus Atlantic City's Young (24-2, 8KOs), who was removed from the mix just prior to fight week. Nevertheless, the show goes on for the streaking southpaw from Santa Ana, California, who has won five straight since a twelve-round decision to Rashidi Ellis in their October 2020 pairing of unbeaten welterweights. Among his current run was a ninth-round knockout of unbeaten Blair Cobbs last March 19 at USC Galen Center in Los Angeles.
The win provided Rocha with the confidence of one way competing with the division’s elite. It was a dream fulfilled by his older brother, Ronny Rios, albeit in a losing effort to unified junior featherweight titlist Murodjon Akhmadaliev last June. Rocha has posted two more wins since then, and enters Saturday’s bout with Ashie (33-5-1, 25KOs) as the number-three contender in the WBO welterweight rankings.
There is a chance that Rocha could land a title shot versus reigning WBO champ Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford (39-0, 30KOs) before he gets a title challenger or former titleholder in the ring. Vergil Ortiz (19-0, 19KOs) and Keith Thurman (30-1, 22KOs) are the only two boxers rated higher in the WBO’s top fifteen, and both have other commitments. Rocha will gladly accept that route, provided he wins on Saturday and Crawford is still in need of an opponent by the time both are prepared to return to the ring.
Should a stiff challenge come his way prior to the point, Rocha’s track record suggests he will run, not walk, in the direction of that opportunity.
“I’m here to prove myself against the best,” insisted Rocha. “All we can do is fight the guys who agree to face us. Let’s see how it goes [Saturday night] and then we’ll go from there. God willing, things go our way, we’ll continue to seek out the best fighters in the division willing to get in the ring with us.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox