Above a tattoo parlor and up a set of creaky, dimly lit stairs in downtown Renton sits Azteca Boxing Club, home of Federal Way High School and Tyee High School alum Alexis De La Cerda.
He competed in his first professional fight on April 15 at Green River Community College, where he won by TKO — technical knockout — in the first round.
“It’s always been my goal to go pro. When me and my coach decided to do it, I was all in,” he said.
De La Cerda got along with the sport of boxing from a young age.
“Ever since I was little, I have been a fighter. I’ve always been a troublemaker,” he said.
De La Cerda, who goes by “DLC” on social media, is one of a few professional fighters to have come out of Federal Way including Isaiah Diggs, Lance Gibson Jr., and Benson Henderson. DLC, however, is the first boxer from Federal Way since Vincent Thompson fought in the mid-2010s.
“I was ready to put on a show for everybody,” De La Cerda said.
As an amateur, De La Cerda has over 100 fights in his career, but he said to have his first fight close to home was something special.
“I knew my family was going to be there as well as friends. Once I posted on social media, everybody was like, ‘I’ll be there, and come out and support,’” De La Cerda said.
After his win, he said he was proud to win for the people who came to support him.
“There were some of my friends from first grade in the crowd. It felt really good. It was always something I wanted to do. And to be able to do it in front of all my people, just gave me that feeling I wouldn’t be able to experience if I had gone out of state,” said De La Cerda.
His experience growing up in the boxing world is something he takes pride in.
Before he made the decision to go professional, he had the track record to back it up. In 2021, De La Cerda placed sixth in the nation at the 2021 USA National Tournament. Following that, he won Washington’s Golden Gloves Tournament, the regional Golden Gloves in Las Vegas, and competed in another national tournament. This time, De La Cerda finished second, losing in the championship, and after that run, he said he knew he could make the jump.
“I sparred with Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez down in California. When I saw that I gave him pretty good work, that’s when I knew I could make something out of this,” De La Cerda said.
Boxing is the lifeblood of De La Cerda’s family, too. His parents are longtime boxing fans, and he has an uncle who boxes professionally in Mexico. The De La Cerdas are from Aguascalientes, Mexico, and two of his uncles, Claudio and Carlos, grew the sport of boxing in that area.
But he also has goals outside of the ring, such as helping his mother retire and financially helping his family.
“I’ve always thought world champions make a lot of money and I’d want to help my mom out, to be able to say ‘You don’t have to work anymore,’” he said. “My parents sacrificed a lot for me and believed in me, so to give back to them is something they deserve.”
With this family history, De La Cerda and his late brother, Luis, started boxing at a young age. It also brought an expectation for De La Cerda to make the leap to the professional circuit at some point.
In the early days of his career, he only told close loved ones about his decision. But then De La Cerda began to make merchandise to promote his first fight; it became real. Soon, every piece of merchandise he made sold out before the fight.
If you search his name on YouTube, a video from 2015 with 11-year-old De La Cerda is one of the top results. When asked if that childhood DLC would believe the career success he has today, the answer is yes.
“The thing about me is I always believed in myself. I always knew that my skill could take me far if I stayed dedicated and focused,” De La Cerda said.
Boxing is an escape in life, De La Cerda said, adding that amid the violence and ferocity, he finds peace.
“Boxing has always been something that pulled me away from all the obstacles in my life,” he said. “I feel like when I come here, it’s my therapy. It makes me escape from the real world, from everything going on outside of this.”
In De La Cerda’s mind, the vision is simple: “My goal is to be the first world champion to come out of Federal Way,” he said. “Whenever I get that opportunity later on, I want to take full advantage of it.”