Before Aaron Aponte walked to the ring for his second pro bout at Hard Rock Stadium, where more than 10,000 people would watch Canelo Alvarez demolish Avni Yildirim in two rounds, his father wanted him to not get hit at all.
The CompuBox numbers for his win against Harry Gigliotti are astounding to say the least. According to the fight stats, Gigliotti didn’t connect on a punch until the final moments of the third round and only landed just four total punches in the 16 minutes that was fought. To say Aponte, nicknamed “Alien King,” had a great defensive night was an understatement.
“My dad, before the fight, told me that the most important number he wanted to see was me getting hit the least. He didn’t want me to get hit at all. I avoided getting hit. I was looking for the knockout, but it didn’t come. We got the job done though and he didn’t touch me,” Aponte said.
Now 2-0 as a pro, Aponte is ready to keep the momentum going with his third bout, set for April 17 on a Matchroom Boxing USA card headlined by Demetrius Andrade vs. Liam Williams for the WBO middleweight title. Aponte will take on 11-fight fighter Javier Martinez in a four-rounder.
It’s not exactly a career trajectory that Aponte anticipated two years ago as he had Olympic aspirations. Once the coronavirus pandemic shut the sport down and delayed the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo to 2021, it was an easy decision for Aponte to turn pro.
“Honestly, there’s no regret in the decision I made. We all talked about it and we decided that turning pro is the best way to go. We ended up turning pro and it’s been working well so far. If we had waited, we would have never had the opportunity to fight on a Canelo Alvarez card, a Demetrius Andrade card. There’s no regret. We’re getting our name out there. We’re getting exposure and we’re getting paid for it,” Aponte said.
Training with his father in their own gym in Florida, Aponte is starting to make his presence known, both in and out of the boxing ring. Outside of the ring, Aponte has a growing audience on TikTok, with more than 63,000 followers on the platform. While his followers are able to check out behind-the-scenes videos of him training, engaging in photo shoots, there is also a more charitable side to Aponte outside of boxing.
The 19-year-old Aponte hosted a drive-in movie event where proceeds went towards children battling cancer in Hialeah Gardens, Florida, where they made February 5 “Aaron Aponte Day” to honor the young boxer. The day has significance for Aponte, as his cousin Julian lost his bout with cancer on that day back in 2015.
Inside the ring, Aponte’s defensive skills were already on display against Gigliotti. In Aponte’s own words, he grew up watching tape of various ring legends and incorporate elements of their respective styles into his own boxing.
“I had three fighters I used to watch all the time. Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard and Felix Trinidad. So I always wanted to fight like those guys and I try to mix my styles with them. I wanted to box like Muhammad Ali, be as fast as Sugar Ray Leonard and hit as hard as Felix Trinidad. That’s what I really try to resemble my style,” Aponte said.
As for his “Alien King” nickname, Aponte said the inspiration for the name came from multiple sources, including both of his parents.
“When I was born, my mom called me an alien because of how I looked and my fingers. Then, my dad used to call me an alien because he used to watch ‘Ancient Aliens’ and he used to watch me work out and be like, ‘Yo, you’re crazy. A regular person can’t do this. You’re an alien.’ Then, my other trainer called me king because I was like the king of the gym and he respected me. So we put those two together and made ‘Alien King,'” Aponte said.
Not everyone would be thrilled at the thought of their parents calling them an alien, but it’s an identity that Aponte embraced.
“I always accepted it. I thought it was kind of cool being called an alien because I think aliens are cool. If they ever come visit us, I’ll say, ‘What’s up? I’m the Alien King.”Aaron Aponte
With his next fight set, Aponte wants to be the first person to defeat Martinez inside the distance and hopes that will send a message to the sport.
“I definitely want to get a knockout in this fight. I want to send the biggest message and I want it to be impressive. I want to be the first to knock this guy out and put my name out there and get a highlight victory,” Aponte said.