Lawrence natives Alexis Santos, left, and Agustine Mauras jump rope at Lawrence Boxing Club during practice while preparing for the 2007 Ringside World Amateur Boxing Championships in Kansas City, Mo., next week.

LAWRENCE | Agustine Mauras has fought all his life.

About 18 months ago, he decided to fight for it.

"The change has been incredible," said Mauras' boxing coach Sean Farley. "Of all the kids I've had, he's found salvation in boxing like no other. He's just a tough little guy. The kid is absolutely fearless. He's a fighter."

Mauras, 16, and his undefeated Lawrence Boxing Club teammate Alexis Santos, 17, will leave the city for one of the biggest events of their fighting lives, the Ringside World Amateur Boxing Championships in Kansas City.

It's a giant step for both, not only in the ring, but in their lives.

"I've never been out of Lawrence, really. I've never even gone on a plane," said Mauras. "So this whole thing is pretty exciting."

Mauras, who'll repeat his sophomore year at Lawrence High, wears the scars of a tough upbringing. A nasty scar on his right cheek is a reminder of a schoolyard scuffle from the past, the wound inflicted by a knife-wielding foe.

But those were days without hope for Mauras. He is young, but he is a new man.

"I really feel like I can do something for myself in boxing, to make a name for myself," said Mauras, who owns a 7-2 amateur mark. "I have some talent and I'm willing to do anything I can to be the best."

Fighting at 140 pounds, Mauras has given Farley plenty of reason for hope.

He's stood in the ring, sparring toe-to-toe, taking the best from the likes of professional Jeff Fraza and others.

"Really, I think he's only lost one fight. He had the guy beat in the other," said Farley.

"And he ultimately came back to beat that same guy the third time they fought ... knocked him out."

Most recently, Mauras stepped up and fought with a group of New England's finest against a team out of Ireland, scoring the second knockout of his career.

Strangely enough, it was Santos who spotted Mauras and recommended him to Farley as a potential champion.

"Word is, he took on all comers," said Farley.

Santos, an 8-0 heavyweight, has been on a plane once in his life, winning an amateur fight in a tournament out in Oregon earlier this spring. The 17-year-old from Lawrence had announced his presence boldly, only a couple months earlier, knocking out anyone in his path on the way to the New England Golden Gloves novice title in Lowell.

The sledge-hammer-fisted Santos might be the top young prospect in New England.

"I keep my head on straight and stick to one thing, training," said Santos. "I still have work to do on my own, to get my GED, but right now, it's boxing and more boxing and staying out of trouble."

Santos reports that nature is taking its course and he's growing rapidly into the super heavyweight category.

"I'm not really lifting weights, but I'm getting bigger and strong," said the bruiser with six big knockouts already. "This will be my last tournament as a heavyweight (189-201 pounds).

Over 1,000 fighters are again expected in the World Championships, a number that remains impressive.

"This is a big tournament for both guys, and believe me, both are going out to win," said Farley.

You can help

The two young fighters from Lawrence, Alexis Santos and Agustine Mauras, are relying heavily on donations to make the trip to the Ringside World Amateur Boxing Championships. Anyone interested in helping sponsor the two teenagers on their quest should contact their Lawrence Boxing Club coach Sean Farley at 978-771-4301.

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