For David “Junebug” Mijares, becoming a boxing legend is already written. Just check his history: His mother went into labor at his father’s LA gym. Said gym was owned by Bob Dylan, so young Junebug spent his days training with his dad amongst some of the most remarkable people in the world. What’s more—he learned this later in life—Junebug’s great grandfather was a fighter in the Philippines. And finally, Mijares credits an old Oscar De La Hoya fight as his boxing inspiration—now, he’s signed to Golden Boy.
But play that back to Mijares, and you’ll blow his mind. See, Junebug—a sweet nickname that came from his father calling him that in the womb—grew up as a regular kid in Santa Monica who boxed to stay out of trouble. After juggling homework and hanging with friends, Mijares would find catharsis in the ring. Sports, friends, family, and school—he’s led a pretty simple existence, and still prides himself on being just a local boy with a dream.
However, destiny is undeniable, and fate awaits. As the call of a marquee title fight draws near, so does his power grow. The 23-year-old super lightweight has been undefeated since going pro in 2016, and with a few more recent wins and major campaigns to his name, it’s imperative: forget the simple life, it’s time to step into the spotlight.
TARA AQUINO: What inspires you as a boxer?
DAVID “JUNEBUG” MIJARES: There was a fight way back in the day when I was kid. It was De La Hoya versus someone I can’t remember. I remember Oscar won by stoppage. He held his green WBC belt on the ropes, above his head. Ever since then, I held that golden image in my head. That’s where I wanna be, holding that green belt above my head, right next to my father.
How crazy is it that you’re signed with Golden Boy then?
[Laughs.] I never really thought about it. It’s quite eye-opening.
What’s your training regimen like on the lead-up to a fight?
I do three sessions per day. I warm up in the morning, spar around noon, and at night we correct what happened at sparring. But I’ve been boxing my entire life, so it’s a normal routine for me.
Have you been interested in pursuing anything else besides boxing?
I took a year off after a training injury and tried different things, but I realized how good I had it with boxing. It really forced me to take a step back, figure out what I want, and if my father and I were on the same page, since my father is my trainer. Then we just made sure our whole team was tight and that my boxing career was going in the direction I wanted it to go on.
I tried to stay as active as possible during that time in any way possible. I don’t like waiting around for instructions. I like to work hard, take initiative, and push my body to the limit. You know what they say, if you turn your passion into your career, you never work a day in your life.
What was it like coming back to boxing? Did you approach the sport differently?
While I was out, I watched a lot of fights, usually the lower tier fighters because that’s where I’m at, and I started figuring out what they were lacking and getting frustrated that fighters weren’t making adjustments in the ring. Then, with my father, I figured out how to apply that to my own fighting. There are a couple other things I learned that I need to keep as a secret though. [Laughs.] But taking a year off was a big help. I realized, at some point, you really have to let your mind go and your body flow.