MCHS grad preparing for Saturday match in Las Vegas
Ask Tyler Pogline why he fights and hear him deliver a Rocky Balboa quote.
“Because I can’t sing or dance,” said Pogline, a 1998 Moffat County High School graduate, echoing the famous fictional boxer.
Those talent shortcomings notwithstanding, Pogline will perform this weekend before a national audience.
On Saturday, he will compete in Las Vegas in his first televised boxing match.
Pogline, 30, who has been a professional fighter since 2004 and sports a 5-7 record, is set to face 8-1 Las Vegas native Anthony Lenk at 6 p.m. on Fox Sports.
“Lenk has knocked four guys out, so he is pretty tough,” Pogline said. “He has a better record than me, but I am pretty confident going into Saturday’s match.”
Pugilism is in Pogline’s blood — his grandfather, cousins and brother all boxed — and he said he’s been interested in the sport his entire life.
However, he said a professional career never would have happened without a few ups and downs.
Being kicked off the MCHS wrestling team in 1997 may have been the best thing Pogline never saw coming, he said.
In Pogline’s senior year, the school district dismissed him from the wrestling team for chewing tobacco, he said.
Looking to fill a void, Pogline turned to the Craig Elks Boxing Club.
“I had done a bunch of fighting in the backyard and on the trampoline growing up,” Pogline said. “I needed to keep doing stuff like that after wrestling, so I joined Ted Moralez and the boxing club.”
Pogline said the late Moralez had him jumping rope, sparring and running almost every day to get in shape.
Pogline said the training wasn’t all that different from wrestling.
Then he had his first match.
“No matter what I did in training, it was nothing like getting in the ring to fight,” he said. “My first fight showed me what was really going to go on in this sport.
“I looked across the ring and thought, ‘What did I get myself into?’”
Using that first match as a learning experience, Pogline said he started to pick up bits and pieces and progressed in the ring.
With the help of Moralez, Pogline got off to a good start.
After winning a few and losing a few over a two-year period, Pogline emerged by winning the 2000 Colorado Golden Gloves Tournament in Denver at 147 pounds.
He was 19 and went 3-0 in the equivalent of a state boxing tournament.
“When I first started, I went about .500, winning one match then losing the next,” he said. “I didn’t feel it was going well but in 2000, I really broke out as a boxer.”
As an amateur, Pogline didn’t earn any money, so he moved to Colorado Springs and tried to put boxing behind him.
“I decided to try something different after winning the Golden Gloves, so I moved away,” he said. “I kind of forgot about boxing for awhile.”
While in downtown Denver, he saw a flier for a fight club.
“The fight club was like a tough man competition with smoking and fighting, so I started going,” he said. “This was before there was a boxing commission in Colorado, so I think having amateur boxing experience helped me do really good there.”
The Denver fight club scene is where boxing manager Steve Mestas noticed Pogline.
“I saw Tyler in the underground fight clubs and he had a lot of talent, and I thought he would make an awesome professional boxer,” Mestas said. “As a talent scout, I could see he was truly a nitty-gritty fighter.”
Without a job or rent money, Pogline jumped on the opportunity.
“(Professional boxing) is a whole new world compared to amateur boxing,” Pogline said. “There are smaller gloves, no headgear and longer rounds.
“It was pretty rough, but worth it to get paid.”
In 2004, Pogline had his first professional match. He lost by technical knockout.
“My first pro match was the only time I had any kind of knockout in my career,” he said. “I don’t plan on letting it happen again.”
Mestas, owner of the Denver-based boxing gym House of Pain, said when Pogline gets in the ring, he can go toe-to-toe with anyone.
“(Pogline) has a chance to beat anyone he fights,” he said. “He has some of the biggest punches of any welterweight I have ever seen.”
In matches where Pogline has been a punch away from falling in defeat, Mestas said he saw determination in the boxer.
“There have been times when Tyler has fought and he has been down and out, but he came back and knocked out his opponent,” he said. “He is relentless and wants to win, so he will find a way to beat people he shouldn’t.”
In Pogline’s last match, he fought undefeated Adam Limon, who many expected to win.
Pogline scored a technical knockout.
“With any boxer, you can’t teach fighting,” Mestas said. “You can teach boxing and technique, but you can’t teach a boxer to fight. That comes natural.”
Even if he doesn’t win, Mestas said Pogline is a spectacle in the ring.
“Win, lose or draw, he is an awesome professional boxer,” he said. “He puts on the best boxing matches and he really thinks about what he is going to do in the ring.”
Pogline’s ability to land hard punches with both hands and his competitive nature gives Mestas high hopes for Pogline’s career in the ring.
“I truly believe Tyler will go down as the greatest Colorado welterweight boxer,” he said. “I am working on getting him a title fight, and I think he will go down as a legend in the sport.”
On his Facebook page, Pogline describes himself in a single sentence.
“Delivery boy by day, professional boxer by night, kind, loving, generous father by the weekend,” he wrote.
Pogline, a father of four children outside the ring and possessor of four knockout victories in it, works days at UPS delivering packages.
He said he thinks the same thing after almost every match, win or lose.
“I thank God it is over,” he said.
Pogline said it takes nerves to step into the ring knowing you’ll get hit.
“You have to control your adrenaline, breathe and realize you could be in there for 25 minutes,” he said. “Be patient and be prepared for getting hit regularly.
“It is a fact all fighters have to accept.”
Near his home in Colorado Springs, Pogline rented out an old airline hanger to start his own boxing gym, Busted Knuckle.
The gym is filled with gear and equipment that Moralez left to him after he passed away.
Pogline’s mother, Craig resident Nancy Pogline, recalls watching Pogline and his brother and cousins box on the trampoline when they were young.
“It is great that he is doing what he wants to do in life,” Nancy said. “I am just afraid to watch often because I don’t want him getting hurt in the ring.
“I’ve seen him box once since he has been a professional and he is really very good at what he does.”
No matter the risk, Pogline said he continues boxing not just for himself, but also for his kids.
“I want to be a role model for my kids and show them that if you dream it, you can give it a shot,” he said. “No matter the people that say you can’t, you can.”