Once framed for murder, he’s unbeaten and on the way up as he fights on Saturday night in Atlantic City


Avious Griffin may someday get knocked down in the boxing ring, but he won’t likely stay down, because that’s nothing compared to what he’s experienced in the arena of “real life.” You’d have to go a long way to find another pro fighter who’s been wrongfully incarcerated for murder and had to make a comeback from that.

There’s now a success story in progress, and it will continue on Saturday as the native of Chattanooga, TN faces off against Nicaragua’s Lesther Espino in a scheduled eight-round welterweight fight. It’s part of the May 11 show on the Boardwalk, as Larry Goldberg’s Boxing Insider Promotions brings pro boxing back to the Tropicana Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City after a seven-year absence.

Griffin had about 160 amateur bouts, competing with some of the best at the national level, doing so under the watchful eye of his father Alvin, who introduced him to the sport at the age of eight.

The two were inseparable, and planned to climb the ladder together. But fate threw Griffin a curveball. Three weeks before his pro debut was to take place, a blood vessel in Alvin’s brain burst, and as Avious was rushing him to the hospital, he died in the back seat.

Avious felt that his dad would want him to go through with the fight, so he did. That took place in June 2016, and in the first 13 months of his pro career, he registered four knockouts in a total of seven rounds.

Then fate stepped in once again. There was a murder investigation in Chattanooga, and an acquaintance of Griffin’s used his name in connection with the crime. That led to Griffin’s arrest and conviction, and he wound up being imprisoned for eleven months. It was difficult because people turned their backs on him, but he had to believe in himself. In his own words, “I had to rebuild myself from scratch. It was like kindergarten all over again.”

As he was languishing in prison, some of the other people involved with the crime admitted that Griffin had nothing to do with it, and the process that followed led to his release.

After he regained his freedom, he made his way to Floyd Mayweather’s gym in Las Vegas, and went to work. His first fight in almost four years took place in May 2021 as he stopped Jair Garza in the first round.

There’s been no stopping him since.

In thirteen pro fights, only one opponent – Marcelo Bzowski – has been able to go the distance with him. That was in February of 2022. In his last bout, which was back in July, he scored a second-round KO over veteran Jonathan Jose Eniz. He was supposed to fight last November in Costa Rica, but missed it because of an injury.

Griffin is no stranger to Atlantic City, having fought there twice. On Saturday (May 11), he is slated to face Espino, a resident of Nicaragua who is 8-5 with six KO’s. Four of Espino’s five defeats have come at the hands of undefeated opponents.

Currently ranked 7th by the United States Boxing Association (USBA), Griffin is taking aim at anyone rated ahead of him. And he doesn’t care too much about obstacles in his way.

“A lot of people can’t take the kind of blows I have taken and get up and keep going.”

Inclusive of Avious Griffin’s fight, this is the lineup for Saturday night’s  Boxing Insider Promotions show:

8 Rounds — Featherweights
JOHN LEONARDO (10-1-1, 4 KO’s), Manalapan Township, NJ vs. FRANK GONZALEZ (12-5, 6 KO’s), Tampa, FL

8 Rounds — Welterweights
AVIOUS GRIFFIN (13-0, 12 KO’s), Chattanooga, TN vs. LESTHER ESPINO (8-5, 6 KO’s), Nicaragua

6 Rounds — Junior Middleweights
JUSTIN FIGUEROA (8-0, 6 KO’s), Atlantic City, NJ vs. ANTONIO ARMAS (13-7, 8 KO’s), Venezuela

6 Rounds — Jr. Middleweights
DWYKE FLEMMINGS (6-0, 6 KO’s), Paterson, NJ vs. JONATHAN HAMPTON (3-4, 1 KO), Gary, IN 

4 Rounds — Heavyweights
PRYCE TAYLOR (3-0, 2 KO’s), Brooklyn, NY vs. LAWRENCE KING JR. (2-1,1 KO), Rochester, NY

4 Rounds — Middleweights
JACOB SOLIS (3-0, 3 KO’s), New York, NY vs. BRANDON MARTINEZ (1-3, 1 KO), Tucson, AZ

4 Rounds — Lightweights
KOBY WILLIAMS (pro debut), Brooklyn, NY vs. KEVIN HICKS  (1-2, 1 KO), Taswell, WV

Tickets are priced at $60, $100, $150 and $200, and are available through TicketMaster (https://www.ticketmaster.com/boxing-insider-live-professional-boxing-atlantic-city-new-jersey-05-11-2024/event/02006076BA7B700C), or at the Tropicana box office.
This event will also stream live and free of charge at BoxingInsider.com


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