The North American Boxing Federation released their December rankings last week and boxing fans in New Mexico will be pleased to see two of the state’s best fighters ranked by the regional sanctioning body.
In the Super Welterweight division Las Cruces’ Austin Trout (31-5, 17 KOs) moves up to #2 in the NABF rankings.
The current champion, Carlos Adames (15-0, 12 KOs), is currently scheduled to fight next month against Juan Ruiz. Although it is doubtful that Adames’s management would let him step in the ring against the more seasoned Trout at this stage of his career, it is not out of the question either. For Trout a world title is clearly his first priority, but a NABF title could be just the thing that propels him into a match with newly crowned WBC world champion Tony Harrison.
In the featherweight division undefeated Jason Sanchez (13-0, 6 KOs) moves into the NABF rankings at #19. It’s not as noteworthy as the #15 world ranking Sanchez has with the WBO but it is still an impressive distinction. After all, Sanchez never fought for a WBC belt and in fact is the current WBO Youth champion. The fact that he is moving into the NABF rankings despite not fighting for any WBC regional belts means he is attracting attention from a lot of movers and shakers in the sport.
Interestingly enough, at #17 in the NABF 126-pound rankings is Phoenix Arizona’s Francisco De Vaca (19-0, 6 KOs). It goes without saying that Southwest boxing fans would love to see the two undefeated prospects square off in 2019. The current NABF champion is undefeated Manny Robles III (17-0, 12 KOs) out of Los Angeles.
Our neighbors up north in Colorado also were excited to see undefeated Juaquin Trinidad Camarena (8-0, 8 KOs) of Denver move into the NABF rankings at #20 in the super bantamweight division. Trinidad is the son of Donald Camarena, a talented former contender who once held the WBC Continental America’s Super Lightweight title in 2005. However although Trinidad’s competition hasn’t been particularly outstanding, from what we’ve seen so far Trinidad has a lot of his dad’s boxing skills coupled with some serious punching power. He is certainly a prospect worth keeping an eye on in 2019.
Read more Finger Post Boxing News from New Mexico here!
With the long Martin Luther King Jr. weekend coming up I wanted to revisit one of the many “weekend road trips” I’ve taken over the past few years and in particular my trip last year to Vicksburg, Mississippi.
Right off the bat, Vicksburg is a must for any Civil War history buff (which I classify myself as). But it also is a great location to get your first taste of Mississippi. Vicksburg seems to find that perfect balance of Southern charm, living history, and a moderately hip night life. And let’s be honest, Mississippi takes it’s lumps in the important game of public perception, and Vicksburg will help you revisit any preconceived notions about the state that reportedly earned a dubious reputation for finishing last in every survey of American states. I’m not sure how true that is but I reckon there is a reason Wikipedia added a page on the phrase “Thank God for Mississippi“. Sure there were some supporters yelling against the storm (Johnny Cash and June Carter did make me want to go to Jackson after one particularly depressing break up) and The Charlie Daniels Band did strategically place a lyrical homage to the state right after “Devil Went Down to Georgia” on their Million Mile Reflections album. But Charlie Daniels and Johnny Cash aside, there isn’t a lot of praise heaped on Mississippi. Although I drove through Mississippi once before I didn’t spend enough time to challenge that preconception.
Which made Vicksburg so refreshing.
I won’t say it felt like a college town, but the young people wandering the streets of Downtown Vicksburg certainly was proof that this was a vibrant town for young Mississippians. Cool and hip but with a bluesy undertone that we northerners simply could never duplicate (well, maybe Chicago, but nobody else). Vicksburg was quite simply a fun little town.
But then again, I didn’t see much of the town so maybe I should add that caveat. I arrived somewhat late and decided to stop off for a quick snack and drink at the Cottonwood Public House. It was a quite place, and I had just missed the live show from Randy Cohen, a blues musician from New Orleans. But I grabbed one of his CDs and I will say this, if you’re ever in New Orleans and he’s playing somewhere…you’d be wise to stop there and check it out.
But my friend and I didn’t drive across Texas and Louisiana to hear blues music…we came to see the battlefield.
The following day we made our way to the Vicksburg National Military Park, a 1800 acre national park where a bloody 47-day battle that saw Union General Ulysses S. Grant capture the city from Confederate defenders in 1863.
Actually, battle isn’t a good way to describe it. It was a siege. And if you are someone who enjoys visiting Civil War Battlefields then Vicksburg should be at the top of your list. Because it is really unlike any other Civil War Battlefield. When visiting Gettysburg or Bull Run or Fredricksburg you can’t help but feel the battle for what it was…two armies throwing everything they had at each other in an attempt to destroy the enemy. When you visit the Vicksburg National Military Park you can’t help but feel something different. This was a battlefield that felt disjointed and confusing and spread out. It felt like a powerful army bogged down by a determined, but outgunned, adversary. It felt like the battle lines owed more to chance than to strategy.
It felt like modern war.
Unlike other battlefields Vicksburg is seen from the car, where 16 miles of road snake across the old Union and Confederate front lines. Much of the battlefield is also peppered with numerous monuments (over 1,300 in total) from all of the states that took part in the battle.
Two antebellum homes are also on the tour, as well as the U.S.S. Cairo, one of the first Ironclad warships that was sunk on December 12, 1862 in the Yazoo River. The Cairo, having been raised in October of 1964 and been opened officially to the public in 1980 the Cairo is a fascinating snapshot of naval warfare in the Civil War. But since being raised the Cairo has suffered from the elements…and one can’t help but wonder how much longer she will be able to hang on as a living museum.
In the end Vicksburg was an amazing and powerful way to spend a Memorial Day…and it remains one of the most powerful Civil War battlefields you can visit.
Denver based welterweight Daniel Calzada ultimately came up short in his clash with the talented and undefeated Brian Ceballo tonight at The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Calzada showed Ceballo early on why the New Mexican was widely regarded as one of the cagiest fighters in Colorado. Although Ceballo was winning the round with activity he still seemed to have trouble with the defense of Calzada. At times Calzada would successfully move his head to such effect that he had Ceballo throwing three-punch combinations that would hit nothing but air. But in the end the speed and strength of Ceballo was too much for Calzada. By round two Ceballo began to find a home for his right hand, although Calzada showed his toughness in standing his ground. By round three Ceballo was in total control and seemed to snap Calzada’s head back with right hands and left hooks. Still, the New Mexico born brawler refused to take a backward step and certainly impressed the capacity crowd with his grit and toughness. After four rounds of action all theee judges scored the fight 40-36. With the win Ceballo improves to 6-0, 3 KOs while Calzada slips to 16-20-3, 2 KOs. Calzada has only been stopped twice in his 39-fight career.
The Southwest is off to a solid start in New York as Mexican brawler Abdiel Ramirez, 142.4, scored and upset against local boy Michael Perez, 142.6 at 0:54 of round eight. Ramirez, who hails from Ciudad Juarez, pressured the Newark, New Jersey native relentlessly from round one. The Mexican dropped Perez in the closing minute of round one (although it did appear to be more of a slip) and continued to pressure Perez relentlessly in rounds two and three. Perez bounces back effectively in round four, dropping the Mexican with a counter right uppercut/cross. But even after dropping Ramirez he was unable to slow down the relentless pressure of the Mexican and by round eight it appeared that he had dug himself a large deficit on the scorecards. Not willing to leave anything to chance Ramirez slammed on the accelerator in the final round, pressuring Perez on the ropes beforedroppinng him with a pair of uppercuts. The fight was waved off without a count. With the win the Ciudad Juarez based brawler improves to 24-3-1, 22 KOs. Perez drops to 25-3-2, 11 KOs.
Odessa, Texas may not be a boxing Mecca yet, but if undefeated Texan Desmond “Dez” Hill (3-0, 3 KOs) continues his winning ways that may change in 2019. The Odessa native will fight for the first time in his hometown on December 8th at the Ector County Coliseum and he will do it with boxing royalty watching.
The legendary Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran has been confirmed as a special guest for the Odessa show by promoter Isidro Castillo. Duran, a 2006 International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee, is one of the sport’s most recognizable personalities and is widely regarded as one of the greatest fighters of the 20thcentury. He was perhaps best remembered for his trilogy against “Sugar” Ray Leonard as well as his reign as lightweight champion from June of 1972 to January of 1978. Interestingly enough, Duran’s appearance ringside for the Odessa fight card on December 8th will come 29-years and one day after his third and final fight with “Sugar” Ray Leonard. Leonard defeated Duran by way of 12-round decision on December 7, 1989 in Las Vegas Nevada in one of the sports earliest PPV fights.
Although Duran will be available to meet with fans and sign autographs, West Texas boxing fans will nonetheless be excited to also see their native son as he takes his first major step up in class in the boxing ring. Hill, a former MMA fighter and King of the Cage veteran, will take on the cagy veteran Ricard “Rico” Urquizo (4-5-2, 2 KOs) in a four round light-heavyweight fight. Although Urquizo doesn’t possess the flashiest record he has proven to be a more than able gatekeeper in the southwest, who possess a veteran bag of tricks. Urquizo has already scored impressive wins over Michael Sanchez and Omar Acosta earlier this year and also challenged for the NABF Junior Cruiserweight title back in July. Although he came up short in his only title fight it still established Urquizo as the most seasoned fighter in the Permian Basin. Nonetheless Hill has shown flashes of brilliance in his three knockout wins and he has many fight fans talking world ranking…assuming he continues to dominate against the next tier of fighters like Urquizo.
In the co-main event undefeated lightweight Abel Mendoza (11-0, 8 KOs) of Pecos, Texas is scheduled to take on undefeated MExican welterweight Arturo Manriquez (2-0) in a four round fight. Mendoza has looked the part of a world class prospect in his eleven fights…but he has yet to fight a boxer with a winning record and in his last five fights his opponents have a less than stellar record of 8-35-1. Nonetheless matchmaker and promoter Isidro Castillo has earned a reputation in the Southwest of being an able matchmaker who can find gritty and tough opponents for just about anyone, and many are assuming that he unknown MExican will not disappoint when all is said and done.
Also rounding off the card will be Roman Huerta Hobbs against Mark Sanchez of Midland in a heavyweight matchup. Both Huerta and Sanchez will be making their professional debuts. Carlos Villalva (1-0) of Seminole will take on rookie Larry Sanchez of Odessa in a four round welterweight fight. Opening the night of boxing will be Jimmy Meza of Odessa as he makes his professional debut against Roswell New Mexico’s Tyler Cole (0-1). The fight card will be promoted by Isidro Castillo and Eric Gutierrez in partnership with Golden Eagle Promotions out of Texas. Tickets can be purchased at the Ector County Coliseum or by calling promoter Isidro Castillo at 1-575-263-4942.
New Mexico fight fans will be pleased to know that one of our own is fighting on the undercard of the ESPN televised Lomachenko-Pedraza fight in New York City on December 8th. At the weigh in Denver based Daniel Calzada (16-19-3, 2 KOs) weighed in at a ready 147.6 for his four round welterweight fight against undefeated Brian Ceballo (5-0, 3 KOs). Ceballo weighed in at 147.8. Although Calzada lives and fights out of Colorado he was originally from New Mexico and was born in Dona Ana.
Albuquerque New Mexico’s Josh Torres made short work of last minute sub Jesus Alvarez Rodriguez, stopping him in the opening round after just 1:16 of action last night. The fight, which took place at the Manuel Lujan Exhibition Hall at Expo New Mexico, was widely expected to be a difficult one for the New Mexican before the opening bell. And when Rodriguez came in at 155.4 (8.4 pounds over the contracted weight) many wondered if the size advantage might be a substantial factor in the fight. But Torres ultimately had little trouble with the former Mexican prospect. With the win Torres improves to 19-6-2, 11 KOs while Rodriguez drops to 15-6, 11 KOs.
One of New Mexico’s most popular boxers will return to the ring today (December 1st) at the Manuel Lujan Jr. Exhibit Complex at the Expo New Mexico in Albuquerque as local boy Josh Torres (18-6-2, 10 KOs) looks to extend his three fight win streak against last minute sub Jesus Alvarez Rodriguez (15-5, 11 KOs) of Los Mochis, Mexico.
For Torres there is a recognition that it is now or never for the notoriously streaky boxer. Torres is a former WBC USNBC junior welterweight champion, having won the belt against Ranee Ganoy (a fighter who at one point in his career fought in an IBF world title fight eliminator). And Torres is perhaps best remembered for giving former WBO junior welterweight champion Mike Alvarado all he could handle back in 2016, losing a close majority decision to Alvarado in Texas. But his record is also peppered with inexplicable losses to fighters like Rufino Flores (2-5, 0 KOs), Cameron Krael (14-13-3, 3 KOs), Jose Marrufo (11-8-2, 1 KO) as well as a four round draw with Joel Vargas (4-16-2, 4 KOs). Nonetheless, despite these setbacks there is recognition by many boxing fans in New Mexico that when he is on point he can compete with many world class fighters in the welterweight division and can still make one more serious run for contention.
However, Torres can ill afford another setback and after his original opponent, Texan Mohamed Rodriguez (11-6-1, 4 KOs), was forced to drop out of the fight earlier this week due to a shoulder injury he may actually be in with a considerably more dangerous opponent. Torres’s new opponent, Jesus Alvarez Rodriguez, is a former undefeated prospect who is best remembered for his fight with Ruslan Provodnikov in 2015. Rodriguez entered that fight with an impressive 15-0 record, but he was ultimately dominated by the former WBO world champion, getting stopped in four rounds.
And unfortunately for Rodriguez he has had little opportunity to right the ship since then. Rodriguez was thrown in with the wolves, fighting (and losing to) four undefeated world class prospects since his loss to Provodnikov. His fight with Torres is widely recognized as a considerably more reasonable matchup for a young boxer looking to rebuild his career and much like Torres, he has his back to the wall. A loss to Torres would undoubtedly end his dreams of contention, something that is not lost on either fighter. Although Torres and Rodriguez is seen as an even matchup, many boxing insiders nonetheless recognize that it is hard to gauge exactly what sort of test Rodriguez would provide for the New Mexican. His losses were ultimately to undefeated world class prospects and one former world champion whereas his wins tended to come against little known journeymen. Whereas his first fifteen fights saw him defeat opponents with a combined record of 27-108-11 his last four fights saw him lose to fighters with a combined record of 49-0-1. It is this mystery surrounding Rodriguez that makes the Torres-Rodriguez match so interesting, and why many boxing fans regard Rodriguez as a much more dangerous opponent that his original foe.
The Torres-Rodriguez fight is scheduled for eight rounds in the welterweight division.
In the co-main event Aztec, New Mexico’s Joe Gomez (21-7-1, 10 KOs) looks to extend his three fight win streak as he takes on Moris Rodriguez (7-11-1, 5 KOs) of Sacramento in a six round junior middleweight fight. Gomez has once fought Alfredo Angulo in a WBC Continental Americas super welterweight title back in 2011 (losing in the opening round). However, he has seen limited action in the ring since then, fighting only six times in the last seven years. However Gomez has picked up the pace slightly in 2018, with his fight against Rodriguez being his second this year. Rodriguez was stopped in six rounds by main event fighter Josh Torres in his last fight in March of this year.
Rounding off the undefeated Matthew Esquibel (10-0-1, 5 KOs) of Albuquerque takes on journeyman Ricardo Fernandez (3-10-4, 0 KOs) of Juarez, Mexico in a six round junior middleweight fight. Although the fight doesn’t appear to be much of a contest on paper, with Fernandez coming in on the heels of an eight fight losing streak, the conventional wisdom is that the Mexican may still surprise some people. Esquibel struggled in his last fight, being held to a draw by lightly regarded Tavorus Teague back in June and if the same Esquibel that showed up against Teague were to show up tonight fans may be treated to a more competitive fight than expected.
Albuquerque’s Lorenzo Benavidez (0-1) looks for his first win against Michael Sanchez (2-2, 2 KOs) in a four round cruiserweight fight. Jose Luis Sanchez (7-1, 3 KOs) of Albuquerque takes on Oklahoma’s Anthony Hill (1-25, 0 KOs) in a six round junior middleweight fight. And in the opening fight of the night Las Cruces New Mexico’s Jamie Aguilera makes his professional debut against Levi Lucero (0-2) in a four round lightweight fight. Tickets for the event, billed “Expo Explosion II,” start at $25 for general admission and $80 for front row seating.
I’ve covered fights all across the globe and have sat ringside for some of the biggest fights in boxing history…but I think every boxing writer laments the one that got away. And for me that was the night of May 26, 2001.
I was just kicking off my career as a freelance boxing writer in Michigan. I had submitted some material to a few smaller boxing websites and was 11 days away from covering my first fight card for Fightnews.com: a club show in a VFW hall in Durand, Michigan. (for the record, Fightnews didn’t end up posting it, my first published fight report was from a show in Washington D.C.).
But even if I wasn’t a boxing writer at that point I was still a fight fan, which makes May 26, 2001 inexcusable.
That was the day that “Pretty Boy” Floyd Mayweather Jr. defended his WBC Super Featherweight title in Grand Rapids, Michigan against Carlos Hernandez of Argentina. I don’t know why I didn’t make the drive out from Flint to Grand Rapids to see that fight. Floyd was already established as one of boxing’s best champions and although he would dominate Hernandez it would prove to be a historic night: the only knockdown of Mayweather’s career (for the record it wasn’t much of a knockdown).
I would go on to see Mayweather in action in the future…April 8, 2006, when he won a decision over Zab Judah in Las Vegas. But by then Mayweather was a superstar. In Grand Rapids he wasn’t the most recognizable fighter on the planet yet. Hell, he wasn’t even the most recognizable fighter in Michigan yet. He was talented…we all saw it. But somehow that talent wasn’t enough to motivate me to drive one and a half hours to see him in action live.
I guess I just didn’t appreciate how close to greatness I was back on May 26, 2001. And I guess that is why I often pay special attention to those four round fights on the undercard. You never know if that 3-0 kid on the undercard might just be something special. Admittedly they are usually in against a softer touch…but how many of you would say you wouldn’t drive up to Albuquerque to have seen a young Floyd Mayweather Jr. in action, even if it was against a journeyman? Sure the fight featuring that young prospect ends up being pretty lopsided, but you still get to see a young prospect in action…and sometimes that young prospect turns out to be something really, really special. You see the flashes of brilliance…and sometimes you even get to see the rough edges that you know will be polished out before he fights for his first world title.
Yeah, I may have May 26, 2001 as my missed opportunity to see greatness rising…but I am not alone. Just about every fight fan in New Mexico has a date they also have to carry with them: November 30, 1996. 22-years ago to the day.
Because on that day Floyd Mayweather came to Albuquerque.
In an ESPN televised fight card featuring then WBO Super Flyweight champion Johnny Tapia in a title defense, Floyd Mayweather Jr. stopped by for a four round clash with a little know journeyman from Indiana named Reggie Sanders. And if you are a fight fans from New Mexico who for whatever reason didn’t go to the Tingley Coliseum on November 30, 1996 then watching the fight now on YouTube will be painful. You will see hundreds of empty seats all around the ring. Sure we didn’t know that Floyd would become “Money” but it doesn’t change the fact that you missed this golden opportunity. You missed a chance to see an all time great in his only fight in New Mexico.
And interestingly enough, even though the matchup wasn’t exactly a major test for Mayweather, history was made that night at the Tingley Coliseum. Floyd Mayweather Jr. was taken the distance for the first time. Reggie Sanders was able to last the four-round distance with Mayweather and although judges Levi Martinez and William Gantt had Mayweather winning 40-36, one judge (Sandy Pino, a familiar face to fight fans in New Mexico) actually had Sanders winning one round and scored the fight 39-37. So another bit of boxing history occurred in Albuquerque 22-years ago today and New Mexico fight fans in attendance were able to witness it.
Albuquerque saw the first round Floyd Mayweather Jr. would lose as a professional.
Admittedly a lot of fans were probably not paying much attention to the then young boxer from Grand Rapids who was fighting as a professional for only the second time in his career. But those who did…well, they witnessed history in the making. They saw the Beatles with Pete Best on the drums. They saw Michael Jordan playing basketball in college. They saw a young Floyd Mayweather Jr. go the distance for the first time ever. And who knows, maybe they even realized they were watching something special.
There is a fight coming up this weekend in Albuquerque, and although I won’t claim that any of the fighters on that card will become the next Floyd Mayweather Jr. I have to admit…back in 2001 I didn’t think Floyd Mayweather Jr. would become the next Floyd Mayweather Jr. So what do I know? Maybe you shouldn’t take my word for it and you should head down to the Manuel Lujan Building in Albuquerque Saturday night just to make sure you don’t miss something special. A week after that show boxing will head to to Odessa, Texas where a pair of undefeated fighters in Desmond Hill and Abel Mendoza are slated to fight in two separate fights at the Ector County Coliseum. Are either of them the next Canelo Alvarez or Manny Pacquiao? Most people would say no. But those are the same people who didn’t buy these five empty ringside seats for Canelo Alvarez fight agaist Raul Pinzon in Miami back in 2008. Don’t be the five guys not sitting in those seats on Saturday in Albuquerque or on December 8 in Odessa.
And for those of you who missed Albuquerque’s brush with greatness on November 30th, 1996…for those fight fans in New Mexico who were old enough to have gone to that fight card at the Tingley Coliseum and for whatever reason didn’t…
New Mexico’s had no shortage of attractive prospects in boxing since the era of Danny Romero and Johnny Tapia…and for boxing fans in the Land of Enchantment Albuquerque’s undefeated featherweight Jason Sanchez (13-0, 6 KOs) was one of the best prospects the state had ever produced.
Well, it’s time to stop calling him a prospect.
Because now that the World Boxing Organization has released it’s November ratings earlier this week Sanchez graduated to something bigger.
After stunning fellow undefeated prospect Jean Carlos Rivera on October 31 in Panama City, there was little doubt that Sanchez was going to make some noise in boxing. After all, he had just beat one of the best featherweight prospects in the world in front of some of boxing’s biggest power brokers (the WBO annual Convention was taking place that week in Panama City at the same hotel where the fight card was held). He also captured the WBO Youth belt in the process, a belt that often is a precursor to a world ranking.
Sanchez’s hard work and dominant title victory was more than enough in the eyes of the WBO to propel the Albuquerque native into the world rankings at #15.
So where does Sanchez go from here? Well, he needs to continue to win if he is going to move into the top ten, but looking at some of the fighters ranked above him I have to admit, I like his chances against a few of them. I for one think that a fight with California’s Erick Ituarte (20-1-1, 3 KOs) would be a very good match up for Sanchez. Ituarte, the #5 ranked contender, struggled to beat Alberto Torres (11-1-3, 4 KOs) in an NABF Junior title fight back in August of 2017 (Ituarte won a split decision). He also struggled to defeat Isaac Zarate (16-4-3, 2 KOs) by split decision in his only other NABF Junior title fight in May of 2017. Sanchez may not be seen as a puncher but it was obvious that his had enough pop in his punches to give Jean Carlos Rivera a lot of trouble in Panama. And I think he could find similar success against Ituarte, who only has three knockouts in his 22 fights. In fact, one of the most impressive things about Sanchez’s performance in Panama was his relentless attack on Rivera…never letting up and never getting deterred. Against the light punching Ituarte I could see Sanchez duplicate his winning strategy from Panama: walking through Ituarte and manhandling him with relentless pressure. Ituarte was dropped by Zarate in their fight with a counter left cross in the third round, and although it was something of a flash knockdown it was clear after round three that the pressure of Zarate was giving Ituarte a lot of problems. But the underdog simply couldn’t keep the pressure up. By round five Ituarte was in control as the badly winded Zarate began to backpedal.
The thing is…I don’t think Sanchez would fade. He certainly didn’t in Panama, where his relentless pressure was a thing of beauty. Rivera tried to weather the storm but Sanchez never took his foot on the accelerator. Ituarte simply lacks the power to frustrate a determined Sanchez in my opinion. And unlike Zarate, who faded down the stretch, Sanchez will be in Ituarte’s face for all ten rounds. If the same Jason Sanchez who who went to Panama were to head to California for a fight against Ituarte I believe that the New Mexican would come home with the win.
And that could propel Sanchez into a world title fight in 2019…something every fight fan in New Mexico would be excited to see.