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David Archuleta, left, mixes it up with sparring partner Masaaki Kato.

David Archuleta, left, mixes it up with sparring partner Masaaki Kato. (Carlos Bongioanni / S&S file photo)

KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — Kadena’s David Archuleta is getting his kicks.

His day job is processing cargo at Kadena’s 733rd Air Mobility Squadron. But in his spare time, the senior airman is a premier kickboxer who plans to tangle with the world champ.

According to Archuleta, negotiations are under way for a June 15 bout at Tokyo’s Korakuen Hall against Eric Castano (33-0, 20 knockouts), the world light-welterweight champion.

Archuleta beat Japan’s top-ranked light-welterweight Muay Thai fighter on March 23. Before that victory, Archuleta was ranked No. 9 in Japan’s Martial Arts Kickboxing Federation. The new rankings haven’t been released, but he expects to climb to second or third following last month’s upset.

Heading into his fight with Inoue, who goes by just one name, Archuleta (16-2-1, 10 KOs) planned to strike fast and furious and drop him early. “But he was a tough and determined fighter,” Achuleta said.

The match went the full five rounds, with the three judges giving Archuleta a 50-49, 49-49 and 50-48 edge.

Archuleta became interested in kickboxing after transferring to Kadena in 1999. He turned professional in 2001 and quickly rose through the ranks, becoming Okinawa’s champ last June.

Although he now earns about as much money from kickboxing as he does from the Air Force, he’s not planning to leave the military for a career in fighting.

“This is a real dangerous sport,” said Archuleta, who’d like to remain in the service and seek a degree. “If I break my leg, I can’t do anything to support myself.”


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