SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Thousands of up-and-coming fighters appear on local, professional boxing cards all across the country — but with little money to show for it.
To make ends meet, one Sacramento fighter delivers both in and out of the ring.
He goes by the name Malikai “Machine Gun” Johnson.
“I want to be the new face of boxing in Sacramento. I want to be a superstar here,” Johnson said.
At just 22 years old, Johnson has been boxing professionally for the last three years and is a featherweight on the rise.
“So far it’s been a good experience because I’m 5-0 with three knockouts. So I don’t have any complaints,” he told FOX40.
Johnson, like thousands of other fighters across the country, said he wants to make a name for himself and hit that big payday.
The reality, however, is local fighters only make between $3,500 and $5,000 per fight, which is hardly enough to survive on.
That’s why Johnson also works full-time with UPS delivering packages.
“It supports my boxing,” Johnson told FOX40. “I use it to support my living and the benefits from there help my boxing too, so it’s a great job for me.”
A typical day has Johnson in the gym for four hours in the morning, working on his craft. Then he heads to his job with UPS in West Sacramento.
“I have a lot on my plate but it’s not too much to handle. I can’t complain about a lot being on my plate when I want to eat,” he said with a chuckle.
“Deliver that right hand like he delivers those packages,” said local boxing promoter Nasser Niavaroni.
Niavoroni said he is a strong believer in this type of work ethic for one simple reason — it keeps the fighters hungry.
“So, if you keep these young fighters hungry, you got to keep them at a level where they still want to go to the gym and train and keep the hunger level where it should be to reach a championship level,” he said.
“I basically use UPS as extra training,” Johnson said. “The heavy lifting, that’s all my weight workouts and my cardio running from trailer to trailer.”
Johnson is undefeated and ready to fight again coming up Friday, Feb. 7 at the Doubletree Hotel in Sacramento. There are six bouts on the card and tickets are still available.