Alfredo Cervantes didn't want his wife, Angelica, to feel like she was going to be alone in a fight for her life.
Angelica suffers from Huntington's Disease, a brain disorder with no known cure.
Research is underway toward a cure, and Alfredo is fighting to give his wife a chance to knock out the pain - literally.
Alfredo, a former local boxer, will return to the ring and go toe-to-toe with Wade "Pit Bull" Bruins. The bout was part of the Destiny Live boxing show, to be held Feb. 1 at Rhythm City Casino in Davenport, Iowa.
Cervantes, 46, weighs 240 pounds, but is much smaller than Bruins, 18, of Nelson, who measures up at 6-foot-6, 540 pounds.
Angelica, 37, doesn't really like her husband fighting, but it gives Alfredo something to perhaps relate to.
"I had one fight after we got married," said Alfredo, whose oldest daughter, Andrea, 17, was a baby then. "She didn't like it. She told me to stop and quit. So I did. She didn't like to see me get punched."
Needing the support to help his wife, Alfredo thought about what he could do to round it all up.
"If I was a race car driver, I'd race. If I were a painter, I'd paint. Once you have boxing in your blood, it's in you forever," Alfredo said. "You always got the urge to box; and to me, boxing is a sport. I love the sport. It's in my blood, and I don't think it will ever go away."
A product of local boxing guru Al Silva, Cervantes was 147 pounds during most of his professional career. He started at 8 years old, and rose to participate in Silver Gloves and Golden Gloves competition, with best friend Bruce Rumbolz supporting him along the journey.
Another important person would come into his life late in his career. The Cervantes' met at a wedding in Mexico. Alfredo attended it with his cousin and saw Angelica dancing. Through some persuasion, Alfredo and Angelica soon shared the dance floor, and they have stayed together since. They've been married for 19 years, have also raised Jose, 9, and Adrian, 6, and have made it this far despite Angelica's condition.
Angelica was fired from her job at a food plant 8 years ago, and over the years Alfredo and others were noticing moments of confusion and daily struggle. The patience that Alfredo had to deal with while going through the boxing motions was being pushed to the limit while dealing with his wife's condition.
Six years passed before it was understood why. The doctor who diagnosed Angelica noted the strength of the relationship being a strong one. Once reasons were understood, it strengthened the relationship even more.
"The doctor told us that usually by her stage, most people are usually divorced," Alfredo said. "They don't know there is a disease there, but there is so much conflict because people are losing their mind, and nobody knows why."
Alfredo wants to have his wife at the front of the line for treatment. Research is being done in Europe, and the Cervantes' hope to make it there. Such a mission won't be cheap, and Alfredo is hoping that he can raise enough money by restarting his boxing career.
The absence of a boxing lifestyle throughout his marriage led to less muscle and more fat for Alfredo. Faced with getting back in the ring, he has converted about 25 pounds of fat into muscle while working out every morning and evening at the YMCA or his basement gym in the past few months.
With his age closer to 50 than 40, Cervantes often has people convince him to take it easy on the amount of training.
That's not going to happen.
"Sick people, can they take a break?" Alfredo said. "Can they cheat? There's no breaks. Me, now that I know the disease, I take no breaks. I move forward, and we're going to do this."
Usually, if Alfredo needs someone to train him, he'll call up Rumbolz. However, that hasn't been the case lately.
The original opponent for Saturday's fight was injured, and Bruins was asked to be a replacement. Bruins immediately accepted, knowing that this also was an opportunity to make a name for himself on a larger stage than the local scene.
Rumbolz had been working more with Bruins lately, and will be in the "Pit Bull's" corner.
"He's doing it for a cause, and I'm doing it for a cause, too," Bruins said. "I want to get the win. In boxing, you can make a lot of money, and I want to fight the top guys. I don't just want to fight here, but all over the place."
The bout is part of a multi-fight card; highlighted by an eight-round fight between Rock Island native Limberth Ponce and Davenport native "Stunning" Steve Edwards for the Iowa State Junior Middleweight Championship.
"I got to stay alert," Alfredo said. "If (Bruins) catches me, I got to stay out of the blast zone. If he catches me, it could cause trouble. If I can carry him into the later rounds, I think I can take him."
Source: Sauk Valley Media, https://bit.ly/2DJEniJ
Information from: Sauk Valley Media, http://www.saukvalley.com
This is an AP-Illinois Exchange story offered by the Sauk Valley Media.