Change in trainer refreshes boxer Jessie Magdaleno

Jessie Magdaleno hopes Ismael Salas can do for him what Salas did for Jessie Vargas.

Salas helped train Vargas and was in the corner when Vargas won the World Boxing Association junior welterweight title in April 2014.

Now the Cuban-born Salas is working with the unbeaten Magdaleno, who has moved back to Las Vegas to be with his fiancee, Julia Dominguez, and their 9-month-old son, Leonardo, after living in Palm Springs, Calif., and working with Joel Diaz the past two years.

“I felt we need to be together as a family,” Magdaleno said. “I was doing a lot of commuting between Vegas and California, and to me, it made more sense just to come back to Vegas.”

Magdaleno (20-0, 15 knockouts) will headline a Top Rank card April 11 in Laredo, Texas, where he will fight John Apolinario (18-5-3, five KOs) in an eight-round super bantamweight bout that will be televised by UniMas.

Magdaleno, 23, said it was a tough decision to leave Diaz, who continues to train his older brother, Diego.

“Joel was great,” Magdaleno said. “I learned so much from him. But I felt like I needed to do what was best for my family. Julia’s going to graduate from UNLV in May, and she’s working and we’ve got the baby to take care of. We bought a new house, and we’re all together.

“Joel wasn’t happy about it, but he understands.”

Magdaleno said he and Salas met through a mutual friend. They’ve been together for three weeks, and Magdaleno said he is learning a lot.

“He sees everything, and he’s got me moving my head more and doing a lot more jabbing and going to the body more,” Magdaleno said. “So far, it’s been great working with him. I feel like I’m on track for a (world) title shot, and I believe he can help me get a title.”

Salas said he doesn’t want to make too many alterations to Magdaleno, who is ranked No. 2 by the World Boxing Organization and No. 4 by the International Boxing Federation and the WBA at 122 pounds.

“He’s got good fundamentals, and all I want to do is make him even better,” Salas said. “I like his determination. He’s got power in both hands, and he listens when you show him something.”

Salas is Magdaleno’s fourth trainer since he turned pro in 2010, when he was trained by Pat Barry and Augie Sanchez. Salas envisions Magdaleno being a classic Mexican fighter, one who will engage, trade shots and not back down.

“I think that’s who he naturally is,” Salas said. “He’s not tall, so we have to change his approach when he fights a taller guy. That’s why I want him going to the body more.”

■ PBC ON ESPN — A deal between Premier Boxing Champions and ESPN and ABC is official, and there will be 12 two-hour televised cards this year beginning July 11 on ESPN.

PBC now has agreements with ABC, NBC, CBS, ESPN and Spike TV.

The announcers for the ESPN and ABC cards will be Joe Tessitore and Teddy Atlas, and the PBC content will replace the longstanding ESPN “Friday Night Fights” package. The final FNF telecast will be May 22 with the finals of the Boxcino tournament.

■ MARCH 7 NUMBERS — The inaugural PBC event on NBC on March 7 at the MGM Grand Garden sold 9,806 tickets and produced a gate of $1,063,050, the Nevada Athletic Commission reported.

The commission’s report indicated no complimentary tickets were issued for the card, in which Keith Thurman retained his WBA welterweight title with a 12-round unanimous decision over Robert Guerrero in the main event.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

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