When he watches boxing on television, Harley Kilfian Sometimes dreams that he's in the ring for one of those primetime bouts.
Kilfian realizes it's a longshot, especially at 23 years of age and the fact he only has 21 amateur fights under his belt. But he continues to dream, simply because he refuses to be counted out.
"I think about it all the time," Kilfian said. "I watch Friday Night Fights, or whatever big fight comes on, and I think, 'That could be me.' Maybe not making as much money as they do, but at least being on and making a name for myself and having a better life."
It's a dream that keeps Kilfian (pronounced Kill-fan) going through the long days of trying to balance life between family, working for J.B. Tile and Construction and training toward his goal of making the jump from the amateur ranks to become a professional.
Kilfian and his training partner, 135-pounder Mike Peralta, both hope to make their dream come true. Under the guidance of trainer and Carson City Boxing Club coach Frank Peralta, they hope to do so sometime in 2003.
"That's my goal. That's what Frank and I have been talking about," said Kilfian, a 6-foot-4 light heavyweight who has posted an 11-10 record in five years as an amateur. "There's no reason to wait any longer than that. I haven't had many amateur fights, but I think I'm better than my record shows.
Kilfian was a winner his last time out when he out pointed Andy Rogers of the Self Defense Club in Klamath Falls, Ore., in a semi main event at the third annual Nevada Day Silver State Rumble held at the Stewart Gym. Kilfian is scheduled to fight again this Saturday night on a card being held at El Rosal Tortilla Factory (850 Steneri Way) in Sparks. The show is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. (tickets are $5, children under 12 will be admitted free.
Kilfian may possibly again on Dec. 7 when Bruno's Boxing Club hosts a card at Stewart.
So, how long can he go?
"Honestly, I don't really know," he said. "Hopefully, I can get in there and keep winning and maybe make some money at the same time and go from there. I want to have at least one or two pro fights and accomplish what I've wanted to accomplish. If I can go for more than that, then that's great.
"I feel I can get a lot better. I fought a lot of people when I was just starting out who had a lot more fights than I did. I took a lot, but I learned a lot from it. You learn a little more each time. You learn what not to do and you work on it in practice."
Kilfian has made a lot of progress since he started in 1997.
"I've coached him since day one, and yes, he's come a long way," Peralta said. "He's listening a lot more and I think he's going to keep getting better. I tell him, 'Go get better, work hard, and show them what you can do. I think he's on the right track."
"Frank's an excellent trainer. I'm looking forward to going pro with Frank," he said. "I won't ever leave Frank. He's my man."
Kilfian says he learns more every time he steps into the ring. That he has been through the School of Hard Knocks was never more apparent than his 178-pound final against University of Nevada standout Ryan Simpson at the Nevada State Golden Gloves Championships in Las Vegas this past April. Kilfian had gone the distance in losing a tough decision to Simpson three weeks before in a box-off at Carson Middle School, but he never made it out of the first minute in the rematch.
The lesson learned? Stay away from Simpson's right hand.
"Frank told me before I went out, stay away, throw a few jabs, loosen up a little bit," Kilfian said "And I went straight after him. I hit him with six or seven punches in a row. I threw a right, he ducked under, my left hand came down, and he came through with a wicked right hook and followed it through with another one. It's the first time I've ever been dropped like that."
There have been some interruptions along the way.
"It seems like I get a few fights in every year and then something happens, like we had a baby or I got to work two jobs, or something where I have to take a break," Kilfian said. "But I go back, and now, everything's kind of fallen into place; I feel myself getting better every day and I'm going to take the chance.
"I want to stay right at this weight, light heavyweight. This is to my advantage. Being so tall and lean, I have a good jab and good reach."
Kilfian and his fiance, Cheyenne, have a 2-year-old daughter, Haley.
"They're supportive," said Kilfian, who has his daughter's name and image tattooed on his left arm. "It's a long day, yeah, I catch a little bit when I get home at the end of night because I'm tired, but it's what I got to do if I want to do this."
Needless to say, stepping into the ring is not an easy way to make a living.
"No, it's not, but I have a lot of determination," Kilfian said. "Before you step into the ring, I won't say it's scary, but you have nerves, butterflies and all that. But as soon as you step in there, you forget everything and you just do what you practice and do what the trainer's taught you. I think I can get in there and accomplish it."
So, why does he do it?
"Ever since I was little, I've enjoyed boxing," he said. "I guess some people are just raised to be doctors and some people are just raised to enjoy fighting," Kilfian said. "I do it because I want to do it. I don't want to be an ordinary person. I want to at least take a step toward making something of myself. I got to reach a little higher than some people. I guess I've got to find it in myself to do that."
Dave Price is a sports writer for the Nevada Appeal