DeFrank’s return to ring set at Eastwood Expo Center

By Greg Gulas


A 15-bout amateur card presented by USA Amateur Boxing is slated for July 26 at Eastwood Expo Center

In conjunction with Method 8 Promotions, one of the co-main event has Girard’s Alecia DeFrank returning to the ring after a two-year absence.

Up-and-coming Angel Rojas, a 16 year-old slugger from Campbell, will fight in the other co-main bout.

“It’s a great card for the area and perfect for this time of year,” promoter Brian West said. “Each bout is evenly matched with a nice blend of local fighters just champing at the bit to get into the ring.

DeFrank (22-10), most recently of Hudson, Fla., will square-off against Destiny Santiago, a 28-fight veteran and opponent that she faced five years ago.

Santiago won a four-round decision on points and the fight made DeFrank realize that she needed to become much more aggressive when in the ring.

“I like the physical activity as well as the challenge and competition, so I’m really looking forward to fighting once again later this month,” DeFrank said. “The last time we fought I was a little too tentative, backing Destiny into the ropes but not going to the body as much as I should have.

“I really feel like I have grown and developed as a boxer since that fight.”

As the full-time caregiver for her mother-in-law, who suffered a stroke, DeFrank’s career has been on hold but she is able to return to training with added help on the homefront.

Trained locally by Sammy Calderon, she works out of Keith Burnside’s Gym in Struthers.

“Sammy is teaching me to fight inside more; to not back up and stay in the pocket while working the body,” DeFrank said. “I’ll put pressure on her right from the outset so we’ll soon find out if there’s any ring rust.”

Calderon has been impressed with his pupil’s work ethic and willingness to learn.

“They really taught her a lot while she was in Florida so what we are concentrating on now is being aggressive from opening to final bell,” Calderon said. “She has a beautiful jab, but needs to use it more as it sets up everything else.

Alecia is a quick learner, is open-minded and willing to try new concepts,” Calderon said. “She’s starting to get good movement because her bob and weave is coming along, but that comes with sparring.”

Rojas (3-0) is the youngest of seven brothers whose father, Raoul, was a local Golden Gloves champion in the early 1980s.

“I’ve been sparring two to three times a week so I am ready to go right now,” Rojas said. “I’m looking forward to getting into the ring.

A native of Puerto Rico, Rojas will take on Dustin Weaver of Morgantown, W.Va., in what Calderon calls his toughest test.

“Angel is just 16 years of age yet is a man in a boy’s body when it comes to boxing,” Calderon said. “He picks things up very quickly and is an orthodox fighter with plenty of bang to his punch.”

Other local fighters are Salem super heavyweight Wade Morrow, Struthers lightweight Ericka Barone, Columbiana’s Mardell Halas and Youngstown welterweight Julius Thomas, middleweight Clement Franklin and heavyweight Chris Young.

Tickets cost $15 and may be obtained by calling 234-855-7540 or visiting

Doors open at 6 p.m. with the first fight hitting the bell at 7 p.m.

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