Photo courtesy of Steven Cosme.
Steven Cosme had two words to describe what he was expecting last week: a win.
Cosme, 27, is coming off of a technical knockout win last Saturday against Jaron Currie. It marked Cosme’s fourth professional win, which also earned him the USBF SC State title. The Puerto Rican boxer has been boxing professionally since May 2021, and he told Slice of Culture that being from New Jersey gave him the edge that he needed.
“I feel like Jersey really has an impact on everybody that’s from there, especially from the part that we’re from – Northern Jersey,” Cosme said. “It kind of gives you this grit, this edge… You gotta be tough to be where we’re from.
“That goes hand in hand with me having to learn how to box at a young age and learn how to defend myself because if not, who knows if I would’ve ever stopped getting picked on.”
Introduction To The ‘Sweet Science’
Cosme’s mother remarried when he was seven years old and he began to have trouble in school. By the time he was 10 years old, he was getting bullied. That’s when Cosme’s step dad, who was a wrestler and boxed in Puerto Rico, introduced him to the sport to learn self-defense.
Cosme, who is originally from West New York, first trained in mixed martial arts at Edge Hoboken, which is on Newark Street. He later joined – what’s now called – Ape Kingdom Boxing in West New York. He walked into the gym in January 2016 and, by February, he had his first fight.
His mother and father were against it at first, but when Cosme had that first official match at 18 years old, everyone was onboard.
But Cosme couldn’t fully pursue professional boxing right away because he also served in the army.
“I was in college and I wasn’t really content with the life that I was living. It was like a Monday morning, I woke up and I was like, ‘You know what, I’m gonna go to the recruiter’s office,’” he said. “I already finished my basic training for the National Guard.”
Now, seven and-a-half years later, Cosme is an E-5 Sergeant. And thanks to his ranking and understanding from his leadership, he’s learned how to balance boxing and work.
During his time in service, he also won the 2018 All Army Boxing Tournament, which he described as his “defining” moment.
Cosme, who now fights out of Fayreville, North Carolina, made his pro debut on May 22, 2021 against Jyrel Briggs (0-8), which he won by technical knockout. Cosme also knocked out his next two opponents: Joshua Hinnant in December and Alfredo Ellis Jr in July 2022.
He was scheduled for a fight in August 2021, but that was scratched after he was sent out to Afghanistan to assist when the United States withdrew its remaining troops there after the Taliban had regained power.
But last Saturday, Cosme was able to go through with his fight.
Admiring The Charlo Brothers
Cosme never looks for a knockout.
He told Slice of Culture that he tries to start the first round slowly. He described his latest bout as one of those fights that he had to take so that by the time he reaches 9-0 or 10-0, he can start taking bigger fights.
And if you ask the middleweight who he’d like to share the ring with one day, he’ll say:
“The plan is, hopefully, that I can move back down to 154 [pounds]… but someone in the future would probably be [Jermell] Charlo,” he said. “I just think both the Charlo brothers are a masterclass at what they do, so it’d be an honor to share the ring with [Jermell].”
Jermell is the current undisputed light middleweight champion; he won his fourth and final 154-pound belt against Brian Castano last May. Jermall, the twin brother of Jermell, is the current World Boxing Council (WBC) world middleweight champion, but he hasn’t fought in nearly two years due to injury and other delays; it’s unclear when he’ll fight next.
But before Cosme gets the call for bigger fights, he said he’s looking at other successful boxers and trying to follow their examples.
His goal? To become one of the greatest Puerto Rican boxers.
Puerto Rico’s Love For Boxing
“[Being a Puerto Rican in boxing] means everything to me,” he said.
“I remember being a kid, like five [or] six years old, watching ‘Tito’ Trinidad [and] then getting a little older and getting to watch Miguel Cotto on TV, you know… Now we have the likes of Xander Zayas [and] Edgar Berlanga… Guys like that that I have to kind of look to and try to follow that example.
“Being Puerto Rican in boxing, as much as it means to me, it’s also a stress right? Everybody’s like ‘Puerto Rico has so many great boxers, are you gonna be one of them?’
“That’s the plan.”
Puerto Rico, a small Caribbean Island about 1,000 miles south of Miami, grew a love for boxing before the sport was even legalized in 1927. In the 1930s, the island got their first world champion, Sixto Escobar.
But the golden era didn’t come until the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. During this age, boxers like two-division champion Edwin Rosario; boxing’s youngest world champion Wilfredo Benitez; and three-division boxing icon Hector Camacho emerged into the scene. Later, three-weight champion Felix “Tito” Trinidad and four-division champion Cotto continued the island’s obsession.
Today, Zayas, a 20-year-old light middleweight, has enormous support from the Puerto Rican community. He is currently 15-0 with 10 of those wins coming from knockouts. He is coming off of an eight-round unanimous decision win against Alexis Salazar, retaining his WBO-NABO super welterweight title.
“As funny as it may sound – I know he’s younger than me – but I look up to Xander Zayas a lot as well,” Cosme added.
Zayas is also stablemates with Cosme’s cousin, Christina Cruz, who competes in the women’s flyweight division. She is currently 4-0 and has won all of her fights by unanimous decision. She picked up her last win against Amy Salinas on Jan. 20.
“I see Xander and think, why not me?”
Cosme is expected to get out of the army next month and hopes to be more active in his pro boxing career.