For the last few years, Hesperia boxers Khadaphi Proctor and Sammy Yniguez have traded punches, exchanged hopes and shared dreams. Finally, just two months ago, the boxers from the Hesperia Pride Club gym finally got their big chance to see if they had the stuff dreams are made of.

Turning pro wasn't going to be easy. First were the business formalities.

Proctor, a father of two at the age of 22, had discovered a sense of direction since joining the gym owned by boxing coach Al Piccione, a Hesperia insurance broker when he's not at the gym. And so Proctor signed a five-year deal with Piccione, himself a top amateur boxer in his day, as Proctor's trainer and manager.

For Yniguez, 20, the boxing business is a family affair. He is trained by Piccione and his father, Sammy, Sr., who several years ago was named the Hesperia Recreation and Park District's "Volunteer of the Year." Formally, Yniguez, a 2005 graduate of Hesperia High, is trained and managed by his father.

With a date secured -- the two were slated to box on Friday, April 27 at the Morongo Casino Resort in Cabazon -- the duo had to maximize their efforts. Training had always been tough, but with their professional debuts in sight the coaches increased the intensity. Sparing had more purpose. Punches connected with verve.

Their next biggest concern was making weight.

For Proctor, making the 136 to 140 pound weight to fight in the super lightweight division wasn't that difficult. His normal weight isn't that much more.

But for Yniguez, who normally weighs around 130 pounds, getting below 118 to make the bantamweight class was a real challenge. To lose the weight, Yniguez had to dehydrate his body by withholding liquids while still maintaining strength.

After weighing in -- and making weight -- he gorged himself on his liquid of choice.

"I drank a big bottle of Gatorade in less than a minute," Yniguez said.

When Yniguez's moment of truth came, he faced Eddie Leal of Hemet, who also was making his debut. Scoring a first round knockdown, Yniguez went on to win a unanimous decision, scoring 119-106 on the three judges' cards.

"Fighting is a lot different," Yniguez said. "The gloves are a lot smaller. You can feel the knuckles."

But Proctor faced boxer Anthony Ramos of Los Angeles, who already had one professional fight under his belt. Although there would be no knockdown, Proctor's hard work and talent paid off and he defeated his opponent by a decision of 119-109.

"We trained to win. It was a perfect start," Piccione said.

(Fellow Hesperia boxer Michael Franco, who trains at another gym, knocked out opponent Baladan Trevizo to take his record to a perfect 7-0.)

Looking ahead
The two boxing professionals are eager to expand their careers and face new opponents. Proctor, who Piccione says is one of the most impressive talents he has seen, was ready to fight two weeks ago, but the bout was canceled due to scheduling technicalities.

"Friday, he was all set," Piccione said. "He was a razor's edge. We were ready to fight."

Yniguez is set to face young professional Constancio Alvarado at the San Jose Civic Auditorium later this summer.

"That's already contracted."

And they're ready.

"They've been training real hard," Piccione said. "Their workouts have been upgraded. They've been real intense."

Although it's unlikely the two again will fight on the same card in the near future, it's clear both Yniguez and Proctor have fulfilled simple dreams: to turn professional and to continue winning.

"They're training hard. They've embarked on their professional careers," Piccione said.

"Life's good," Yniguez said. "You get to do something you love. And the money. It feels like it's coming natural to me."

"I feel that I have a lot more responsibility," Proctor said. "It's a business thing now. I've got a manager. It's more businesslike. My manager takes good care of me inside and outside of boxing.

"I'm a professional boxer. That sounds a little better than amateur."