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!
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.
For boxing fans in Panama City, Panama there was little question that they were watching a pugilistic surgeon in the ring last night in undefeated Puerto Rican Jean Carlos Rivera. The only problem was that the surgeon was standing in front of a New Mexican freight train in Albuquerque’s Jason Sanchez. Sanchez, the prohibitive underdog going into the fight, refused to ever take a backward step against the undefeated prospect and never let Rivera derail his unrelenting pressure. Rivera seemed to have an effective strategy in the opening round, letting Sanchez come on strong but making him pay for his aggression with hard overhand rights. In round two it appeared that Rivera had even rattled the New Mexican when he landed a hard left that appeared to affect Sanchez’s balance. But even as he landed hard counter punches, Rivera could never get the New Mexican to ease up off of him, and soon the relentless pressure of Sanchez began to take its toll. Rivera began to wilt from the pressure by round four and by round six there was no question that Sanchez was now in control. Rivera, who was never able to keep up with Sanchez’s punch output even in the early rounds, continued to slowly fade in the late rounds as his picture perfect counter right became less pronounced and his punch output, always lagging Sanchez’s, began to drop off as well.
By round ten it appeared that Sanchez was ahead, but the Albuquerque fighter wisely elected to fight it out and not leave anything to chance. His aggression and perseverance paid off when he badly rattled Rivera with a left hook that sent the Puerto Rican stumbling into the corner where referee Ken Chevalier correctly ruled a knockdown, noting that the corner and ropes was the only thing that prevented Rivera from hitting the canvas.
But the freight train was not about to let up, even with the decision all but in the bag. Sanchez pressed forward for the knockout against his foe, winning over the Panamanian fight fans and closing the round in dominant fashion, All three judges has Sanchez the winner by scores of 96-93, 97-92, and 97-92. With the win Sanchez captures the WBO Youth Featherweight title, while also improving his record to 13-0, 6 KOs. For Sanchez, it was a perfect night that ended in a perfect victory. With the World Boxing Organization hosting their annual convention in Panama City, Sanchez’s fight was attended by some of the most important power brokers in the sport including Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran, Panama’s most famous citizen. Also, as the original main event fight fell through at the last minute, Jason Sanchez found himself now fighting for a WBO title in the main event.
The acquisition of the Youth title is expected to propel Sanchez into the WBO world rankings as well. Currently there are seven Youth Champions ranked by the WBO, with the highest Youth Champion being ranked #1 in the mini-flyweight division.
“This is a dream come true,” Sanchez said after the fight. “I’ve been waiting for this opportunity my whole life. I worked hard for it and thank God everything went good.”
So I suggested fans keep an eye out for Saturday’s fight featuring Joey Alday and Chris Leyva in Hobbs, and I figured this might be a good time to revisit a previous show done by School of Hard Knocks Boxing in Lea County, New Mexico. So here is my Fightnews.con report from Isidro Castillo’a last show at the Club La Sierra in Hobbs, New Mexico back on October 25, 2014.
Salinas stuns Zubia in Hobbs, New Mexico
(Originally published on October 26, 2014 on Fightnews.com)
In what can only be called a knockout, School of Hard Knock Promotions put forth one of the most exciting boxing events to hit Southern New Mexico in recent memory as local boy Edgar Zubia took on his toughest opponent to date, fellow New Mexico prospect Jose Salinas last night in Hobbs, New Mexico in front of a nearly sold out crowd of over 500 boxing fans. In the much anticipated crossroads fight, local boy Edgar Zubia, 140, took on cross state rival Jose Salinas, 139.8, in a six round war that left many fans calling for a rematch immediately afterwards. The quick Zubia was in a “do or die” situation after losing a heartbreaker to Colbert Lozoya in his last fight back in 2013. The talented Zubia was hoping to revitalize his career with a dominant win over the highly regarded Salinas, and for two rounds, it looked like the plan was working. Despite the fact that Salinas was considerably more aggressive, Zubia initially utilized the effective jab that he abandoned against Lozoya, nailing Salinas coming in on several occasions. However, although Zubia had the edge in speed, Salinas was still able to land a few hard shots coming in. By mid round the fight erupted into a brawl as both men swung for the fences, much to the delight of the crowd. As both fighters touched gloves twice after the round ended (the second one coming when Zubia accidentally tapped Salinas in the face while trying to touch gloves) it was apparent that both men earned the respect of the other in the exchange. Both fighters traded hooks to start the third round, but it appeared that Edgar’s jab would be the most important punch of the night as Zubia seemed to time Salinas on several occasions coming in. Although the fight soon moved back to the inside, it again appeared to the local crowd that Zubia won the round thanks to the effectiveness of his jab and his ability to punish Salinas from the outside. However, the clear edge in conditioning for Salinas would soon become abundantly clear in the third round as Salinas began to tee off of the Hobbs native. Zubia’s jab, which had worked so effectively for him in the first two rounds and kept the fight close up to that point, became non-existent as he showed signs of fatigue. A hard overhand right from Salinas seemed to briefly stun Zubia midway through the round and by rounds end Zubia appeared to be sporting a knot under his left eye. Salinas again dominated round four, landing several hard right hands and at one point tagging Zubia as the local boy was raising his arms in an attempt to rally the crowd and wave in Salinas. Edgar seemed able to close the gap somewhat in round five, but still ate several hard right hands and a sharp left hook that ensured that Salinas would win the round on all three judges. By round six it appeared that Zubia would need a knockout, or at least a knockdown, to win the fight. But, in a move reminiscent of Oscar de la Hoya and Felix Trinidad, Salinas appeared willing to circle the ring and seemed disinterested in mixing it up with Zubia. Zubia appeared to find his second wind, aggressively trying to mix it up with Salinas and on several occasions raising his arms and inviting Salinas to stand in the middle and brawl with him. As the bell sounded ending the fight, it appeared to many fans in attendance that Zubia might have pulled off the improbable comeback and won the decision. However, Zubia would come up short on all three judges scorecards with Joel Perez (who scored the fight 58-56), Ray Chavez (who scored the fight 60-54) and Anthony Romero (who scored the fight 59-55) giving the nod to Salinas. Fightnews scored the fight 57-57. As soon as the decision was announced the fans in attendance began chanting “Rematch! Rematch!”, something that both fighters were more than happy to entertain.
“I’ll be willing to do a rematch at 135,” Salinas said through a translator after the fight, “and an eight rounder.”Zubia expressed a desire to do a rematch as well, and even indicated that he would go to Las Cruces (the hometown of Salinas) for the rematch. School of Hard Knocks Promoter Isidro Castillo indicated a desire to bring both fighters back to Hobbs for a rematch in early 2015. With the win Salinas sees his record improve to 6-1, 3 KOs, while Zubia drops to 4-3-1, 3 KOs.In the opening fight of the night Albuquerque’s Brandon Munoz, 120.6, won his first professional fight after stopping Albert Tapia, 121.8 and hailing from Plainview, Texas, in the third round. The excitable Tapia seemed to do well in the first round but ultimately was unable to get inside the jab of Munoz. Tapia’s aggression led to a pair of accidental head butts in the first and second round, and the Texan did find a home for the overhand right on occasion. But after two fast pace rounds, in which Munoz seemed to edge, Tapia was simply unable to maintain the pace. A hard left hook from Munoz seemed to hurt Tapia in the opening seconds of the third, something that was confirmed when a hard counter right knocked Tapia nearly out of the ring. Although Tapia started to pull himself up, he waved “no mas” to referee Rocky Burke, prompting Burke to wave the fight off at 0:53 of the third round. With the win Munoz improves to 1-1-1 while Tapia drops to 0-2.In the second fight of the night a new prospect exploded onto the scene as hard punching Raul Rosas from Clovis annihilated the game, but outgunned, Anthony Rocha, from Amarillo, Texas. Although both fighters weighed in at almost identical weights (144.8 for Rosas and 144.4 for Rocha) Rocha looked somewhat soft around the middle whereas Rosas looked to be in peak condition. But although Rocha looked to be the sacrificial lamb at first, to his credit he fought with grit and toughness. Three straight right hands from Rosas in the opening seconds dropped Rocha hard. Although Rocha was visibly hurt, he gamely told referee Ray Chavez that he wanted to fight on after getting up on unsteady legs. However, Rosas swarmed all over the badly hurt Texan, prompting Chavez to jump in and wave off the fight at 0:41 of the first round. With the win Rosas now sees his record stand at 1-0, 1 KO while Rocha drops to 0-2.In what will probably go down as the New Mexico knockout of the year, tough Benjamin Vasquez from Amarillo, Texas won his first professional fight after he brutally stopped debuting Ray Howell from San Antonio in a junior welterweight fight. Howell was a fighter with some obvious talent, but the rugged aggression of Vasquez almost ended the fight in the opening minute. Timing a Howell jab perfectly, Vasquez landed a devastating overhand right that badly rocked Howell. Vasquez then jumped all over the debuting fighter, dropping him with another hard right hand. Howell looked like he was finished after he got up on very shaky legs, but the inexperience of Vasquez kept him in the fight after Vasquez came after Howell recklessly. Although Howell looked finished, he shocked fans in attendance by going after Vasquez and even hurting him with a shot at the bell in the final ten seconds. The Howell comeback continued in the second round as the suddenly rejuvenated Howell traded bombs with Vasquez for the better part of the round. Howell landed a hard three punch combination of his own, which visibly hurt Vasquez. By rounds end Vasquez was showing signs of frustration and fatigue, as Howell landed a quick combo as the round came to an end.
Sadly for Howell, his miracle comeback came to a crashing end in the opening seconds of the third round when Vasquez wisely listened to his corners advice and returned to the devastating overhand right that worked so well for him in the opening round. Timing a jab perfectly, Vasquez dropped Howell with a devastating picture perfect overhand right in what was the “knockout of the night”. Referee Ray Chavez wisely waved the fight off at three as Howell lay on the canvas. With the win, Vasquez improves to 1-1, 1 KO while Howell drops to 0-1. The official time was 0:35 of the third.
In the co main event, undefeated Augustine Banegas, 118, of Las Cruces stopped winless Christopher Salinas, 122, of Plainview, Texas. Despite the less than stellar record of Salinas, he fought admirably well, although he did show a disturbing tendency to switch from southpaw to orthodox while standing in front of his opponent. After a slow first round, Salinas seemed to outbox Banegas in the second and third. However, Banegas sealed the deal after a dominant forth round in which he dropped Salinas with a devastating body shot. Banegas lost what few fans he had in Hobbs after that by mocking Salinas as he walked away after dropping him. In a classless move, Banegas mockingly “kicked dirt” over Salinas like a dog at a fire hydrant, something that immediately made him the “heel” of the night. Salinas was able to get up and finish the fight, but the knockdown ended any possibility of him getting the decision. All three judges (Anthony Romero, Ray Chavez, and Joel Perez) had the fight 39-36 for Banegas, who improves to 2-0. Fightnews had the fight somewhat closer, at 38-37 for Banegas. With the loss Salinas drops to 0-3.
So going back to the series I started earlier this year, I decided to pick my top fight you probably wouldn’t see for the weekend of November 3-4, 2017. And my pick?
Joey Alday vs. Chris Leyva.
I know, I know. This hardly seems like the most significant fight in boxing this weekend. And the 22-year old Alday looks to be a world class prospect whereas Leyva seems to be more of a tough regional fighter. But here me out. The reason you should see this fight doesn’t have to do with Alday or Leyva. It has to do with promoter Isidro Castillo. You see, Castillo is one of the best regional promoters I’ve seen in action, having covered several of his shows. He has an eye for talent and more importantly he has an eye for matching fights. Almost every card I’ve ever covered of his has a fight that would be candidate for fight of the year had it been broadcast on ESPN, and I have the sneaking suspicion that his card will be no different. There will be fireworks in Hobbs, New Mexico on November 4th, maybe not in the Alday fight (although I consider Leyva to be a dangerous underdog who can’t be counted out), but fireworks nonetheless. In seven years of covering Castillo’s fights in Lea County, New Mexico I saw only two fights I’d consider “stinkers”. One was a female fight where one of the fighters quit after one round and the other was a fight where a last minute sub was needed to fill in for a bout featuring his son: Isidro Castillo Jr.
Two fights in seven years. Not a bad streak by any means. Even if Castillo had a fight that ended early, even if the fight wasn’t particularly competitive, Castillo always seemed to find a kid who refused to quit. He just had a knack for finding tough guys who will come to fight.
So if you are reading this in Texas or New Mexico, consider heading down to Club La Sierra in Hobbs tomorrow night for what should be a tremendous night of boxing. ANd if you don’t live near Hobbs, well, I guess your stuck with a WBA international title fight featuring an undefeated Russian prospect against 44-year old Ricardo Mayorga.
Southeast New Mexico has two of the best options for departures out there. Both Hobbs and Roswell are small airports that allow a lot more flexibility to the traveler: free parking, short lines, and an ability to check in a bit later than you would have to if you flew out of a Denver or Houston.
But I have to admit, I really love flying out of Roswell.
I feel like if I ran an airport it would look like the Roswell International Air Center. First, it has a free book exchange, which is a nice touch. And the book selection is surprisingly good…usually. Today’s trip had nothing but Daniele Steele books and some other paperbacks I wasn’t interested in, so I fear I may have jinxed it.
But the best part is the airport in Roswell is like a junkyard full of random old planes and parts just scattered all over the place.
Now I don’t mean that as a negative. It gives the airport atmosphere and an adventurous feel. It can feel comparable to “Brad Pitt escaping the World War Z zombie apocalypse” when you are going down the runway and, looking out your window, you see dozens of old, gutted commercial jets.
It’s just a unique experience and coupled with an awesome staff at the Air Center you really can’t go wrong flying out of there.