Jetter Burgos, named after Yankees legend, wants to be Bronx Bomber of boxing
NEW YORK — Being named after a Yankees legend, Jetter Burgos may have seemed destined for success on the baseball diamond. His parents, despite being fans of the Boston Red Sox, named their son after then-Yankees captain Derek Jeter, pronounced the same way despite an extra T being thrown in in.
One would imagine that naming your child after Red Sox players Manny Ramírez or Pedro Martinez may not have gone over as well in their neighborhood of the Kingsbridge section of The Bronx, just a few stops uptown on the 1 train from Yankee Stadium.
Burgos played baseball from 11-12, but couldn’t keep up with his older cousins, who were far adept at the art of scoring runs.
“I sucked. I was chubby, I was slow, I gave up on that after my second season,” said the Dominican American Burgos, who bucked the family trend by being a Yankees fan.
Fortunately for Burgos, he found his calling in another sport a year later, when he walked into a boxing gym and fell in love with the sport.
Now the 22-year-old is making his name as a different kind of Bronx Bomber. The welterweight prospect Burgos (5-1, 4 knockouts) is set for his second six-rounder as a pro on August 12 when he faces Hugo Vazquez Mondragon (3-12-1, 1 KO) in Tijuana, Mexico.
“I don’t much about him, I just know that he’s tough,” said Burgos, an all-out aggressive southpaw with a withering body attack and deceptive hand speed.
Burgos had a brief, but successful career in New York City. He won the 2019 Metropolitan Championships and New York Tournament, both in the 152-pound novice division, and remained disciplined through the pandemic, even traveling to New Jersey to find sparring.
He turned pro in 2021 with a four round decision, but sat out for 14 months waiting for another fight. He took a fight in Philadelphia with an unbeaten prospect named Thanjhae Teasley in May of 2022, losing a four-round majority decision which The Ring’s Joe Santoloquito described as “dubious” in his ringside report. From that point, Burgoshas adopted the mindset of not allowing the fights go to the scorecards, stopping his next four opponents within the first two rounds.
Staying busy has often meant looking outside of the U.S. for fights. His last three bouts took place in the Dominican Republic, a popular destination for prospects who lack the backing of a big promoter to build their early careers on the cheaper side.
“I went once, they loved me out there and they invited me two more times. I’m trying to get a fight in the states but I don’t know, it’s been hard,” said Burgos.
Burgos is pursuing a life in boxing while also maintaining one outside of the ring as well. He works the front desk at a Marriott hotel in Brooklyn, and is a father to a two-year-old son named Legend.
“Right now I gotta do what I gotta do, so hopefully this pops off and there will be a time where I don’t have to work no more. I also got a son so I work, then gym and then family time, so it’s hard during camps to focus on everything,” said Burgos.
“Even at work, sometimes I’m mad like damn, I want to rest because I know later I gotta go to the gym. I’m built for this so I keep going forward, keep the tunnel vision.”
His ultimate dream – like every boxer – is to win a world championship, though he admits that his motivation isn’t just for himself. He wants to become the first professional champion of his trainer, Marcos Suarez, a local legend who has developed numerous amateur standouts, including Christina Cruz and Pedro Sosa, but has yet to reach the ultimate goal in the pros.
Suarez feels he can do it, too.
“He has a lion’s heart,” said Suarez, who trains Burgos out of the SouthBox by Eric Kelly gym in the South Bronx.
“He has a lot of attributes. We need to keep working and change a couple things on him but he can make it.”
Burgos is staying the course. He has a goal to make some money in the sport, invest it wisely, before looking to his next phase of life. That path in life would be a hit in any man’s league, he figures.
“I don’t want to fight forever, I don’t want to be one of them fighters. I wanna do what I gotta do, get what I gotta get and then go do something else with my life, young,” said Burgos.
Ryan Songalia has written for ESPN, the New York Daily News, Rappler and The Guardian, and is part of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism Class of 2020. He can be reached at [email protected].