“Ladies and gentlemen, let’s make some noise” — those words are how Abel Arriaga, a Hobbs resident and local DJ, is trying to make it big as a boxing ring announcer.
Arriaga has caught a break in the boxing industry by being hired as the ring announcer for a Roy Jones Jr. Boxing event on Friday at Gilley’s in Dallas where boxers John Vera and Ray Ximenez take to the ring to duke it out. The boxing match is planned for 7 p.m. and will be broadcast live on beIN SPORTS channel (DirecTV channel 620 and DISH Network channel 392).
“Roy Jones Jr. is a 10-time world boxing champ,” Arriaga said. “He just signed a one-year contract with beIN SPORTS and they’re going to do national televised shows for Roy Jones Jr Promotions. This is their kickoff (event) in Dallas at Gilley’s. Little ol’ me from Hobbs is going to be on live TV.”
Arriaga has been a DJ in Hobbs for 19 years and started ring announcing about five years ago when Isidro Castillo, promoter and coach of School of Hard Knocks, asked him to be the ring announcer for his boxing and MMA cage fighting events.
“He was training my son,” Arriaga said. “He knew I was an MC so he asked me, ‘Have you ever thought about ring announcing? Would you like to try it?’ So I tried it.”
Castillo said Arriaga has been the ring announcer for about 12 of his fighting events. Castillo has helped him land other ring announcing opportunities throughout New Mexico and Texas.
“I’m very proud that Abel is coming from Hobbs and he’s going to have his chance to shine in the ring out there,” Castillo said. “He does really well. He’s really confident. I’ve told him I have pro-fighters in my gym and you will probably make it before any of my fighters make it to the big time. And sure enough he is well on his way.”
Arriaga said he practices for his ring announcing gigs while he DJs at local clubs. For Friday’s boxing event he’s practicing at home with a microphone and speaker while standing in front of a mirror.
“I guess you have to have that ‘it’ voice that people are drawn to,” he said. “When I ring announce I use a whole different voice. It just comes out naturally to me. The whole focus is on you — from how you stand, how you annunciate and the feeling you put into each word or when you introduce a fighter.” “I do set up my speaker with my microphone in front of the mirror (so I can see) the way I stand, the way I look and (practice) my timing between introducing the fighter and the description of his record, color of his trunks, his weight and his height,” Arriaga added. “I’ve been practicing trying to get it all down.”
Arriaga said he finds inspiration from professional ring announcers Michael Buffer and Lupe Contreras.
“I look at my idols you see on TV like Michael Buffer and Lupe Contreras, which are the guys I study from,” he said. “I watch how they stand, move and where in the ring do they stand while fighters are coming in. Michael Buffer’s saying is “Let’s get ready to rumble” and Lupe Contreras says “Veremos quien es el mas macho” (Let’s see who is the manliest). Mine is ‘Ladies and gentlemen, let’s make some noise.’ I do it in a high, loud voice.”
Castillo and his wife gave Arriaga his nickname, “La Voz,” which translates to “The Voice” in English. Arriaga said he liked the nickname and has stuck with it.
“He’s got what a takes to become a national televised ring announcer for a major company,” Castillo said. “Believe it or not there is talent that comes with that. Not anybody can get up there and speak in front of a crowd.”
Arriaga said he gets a bit nervous during the first few fights, but said he has been working on putting out his “A-game” from the start to the end of a fighting event. “When I first get in the ring I am very nervous,” Arriaga said. “People say they can’t tell but I think I show and after the second and third fight that’s when I get in the grove and my nerves are gone. I’m working on making my A-game on the first fight and kind of work those nerves off. I don’t know if it’s the nerves or if it’s just a rush from being in there.”
Getting the opportunity to ring announce during Friday’s box in Dallas is a dream come true for Arriaga. He encourages everyone to follow their dreams, regardless of how big or small they are.
“Dreams come true,” Arriaga said. “Chase them because I’m chasing mine and I’m going to go get it.”