Heading into his first fight since an historic debut in December 2018, trans boxer Patricio Manuel entered the ring in The Pyramid at Long Beach State University Saturday against fellow super featherweight Hien Hyunh with a question looming: After four years, how much rust would be evident?

The answer came in 90 seconds of set-up leading to a sweeping right hook to Hyunh’s jaw that sent him onto the canvas. By round 4, Manuel had recorded his second professional win in men’s boxing with a technical decision.

“There was some rust coming in, but I starting getting my rhythm,” Manuel said after the win. “I’m just happy to be in this ring. This where I am supposed to be.”

A first-round knockdown set the tone as Manuel took command and never let up

Heading into the fight Manuel held the height, weight and reach advantage on Hyunh and used them to cut the ring off from an opponent who had solid quickness and at points mounted rallies in the second and third rounds. Manuel regained control with an improved jab to set up the strong counter attack seen in his his first professional fight four years ago.

The improvements came, in part, because of the long wait between fights. As frustrating as it’s been, the time away from competition set up the crisp outing Manuel had against Hyunh Saturday.

“I’m actually physically at the best I’ve been in years,” Manuel said in an interview with Outsports in November weeks before the fight with Huynh was signed. “In the last fight, I had injuries I had to push through so that I was able to compete. In 2019, I had a fight that was supposed to happen and I had a pretty gnarly hip injury that knocked me out. We were getting ready to go back in 2020, and then the world stopped because of COVID.”

The layoff between fights served to get Manuel healthy and build some new weapons, including a defense-to-offense that served well to stave off a quick and game opponent in Huynh

An accidental head butt between the fighters with 2:14 left in the final round led to a gushing cut on Huynh’s eye that abruptly ended the round and the fight. Manuel was leading all cards — 40-34 — when the match was ended by technical decision.

You can watch the final minute of the match:

The way the fight ended didn’t blunt the enthusiasm of a partisan local crowd. Long Beach holds a special affection for Manuel. Since beginning his transition and restarting his boxing career as a coach at a local LGBTQ center in 2014, the community has been his home base.

After the win, he and the crowd shouted mutual love.

“I am not a self-made man,” he said to the crowd after the win. “I am the sum of everyone, not only my supporters and my friend but also my family and my team. I am so loved and supported that I feel unbeatable.”