Boxing History will be made in Las Cruces on April 27

The Finger Post Boxing (February 9, 2019)

 

It’s a story as old and as common as boxing itself.  The heavyweight champion on the comeback trail stopping off in some smaller venue far from the lights of Vegas as he tries to build up some momentum for one more world title fight or at the very least one more big payday.  Sometimes he’s in the top ten and his promoter just pays a local promoter to put him on a small show as a tune-up.  Sometimes he is forced to fight for pocket change just to keep active and hopefully build some momentum.  Michael Dokes, a former WBA world champion, once fought a guy named John Morton and was only paid $500 for that fight.  But it led to a world title fight against Riddick Bowe so it was a good investment in the long run.

Over the course of boxing history these former heavyweight champions ended up in every imaginable venue all across the country.  Larry Holmes was a regular in Bay St. Louis Mississippi in the 1990s but also fought in Hawaii during his comeback.  Riddick Bowe started his comeback in Shawnee, Oklahoma in 2004.  Evander Holyfield stopped by El Paso in 2007 and George Foreman once made a pit stop in Edmonton Alberta in 1990 to fight a guy named Ken Lakusta.  And these are the more well known champions…it is even more prolific and common with the lesser known ex-champs.

Yeah, a former heavyweight champion fighting in your hometown is a story as old as boxing: it’s like seeing the 90s one hit wonder perform at your county fair.

But it’s never happened in New Mexico.

That’s right, there has never been a former heavyweight champion on the comeback trail who stopped off in New Mexico as part of his comeback tour.

Never.

In fact, our history with heavyweight champions is limited at best.  We had two future heavyweight champions come to New Mexico on the way up.  On August 7, 1982 a young undefeated heavyweight prospect named Tony Tubbs won a ten round decision over fellow undefeated prospect Clarence Hill in Albuquerque.  Tubbs would go on to win a decision over Greg Page two year later to win the WBA title, holding onto it for seven months before dropping a decision to Tim Witherspoon in January of 1985.  On April 1, 1995 future WBO heavyweight champion Corrie Sanders would crush former cruiserweight contender James Pritchard in the opening round at the Lujan Building in Albuquerque in a fight that was little more than a tune up.

Of course on July 4, 1912 we actually hosted a world title fight in Las Vegas, New Mexico which is a lot more than Bay St. Louis or Shawnee, Oklahoma can say. Jack Johnson defeated “Fireman” Jim Flynn in a fight that would give Johnson fans some ammunition in the “who was the greater champion” argument with Jack Dempsey fans.  Flynn would be best remembered for destroying Jack Dempsey in the opening round five years after his fight with Johnson.

But despite hosting one world title fight in 1912 and witnessing two future champions on the way up, we never saw a former heavyweight champion in New Mexico…the closest we came was then Frans Botha stopped Steve Pannell in the opening round in Albuquerque on January 8, 2000.  Botha initially won the IBF heavyweight title by way of split decision over German Axel Shultz on December 9, 1995.  But that fight was later declared a no-contest and the title declared vacant after Both tested positive for steroids.  So, yeah that doesn’t count.

But on April 27, 2019, the drought comes to an end.  Former heavyweight champion Oliver “The Atomic Bull” McCall (58-14, 37 KOs) will be fighting on a School of Hard Knocks Boxing Promotions show scheduled to be held in Las Cruces at a venue to be announced at a later date.

Oliver McCall in 1994. Holly Stein /Allsport. Courtesy of Getty Images (photo hosted on Boxrec.com)

This is really a rare opportunity for boxing fan in New Mexico and West Texas and I say this with all seriousness: we will get the chance to see the fighter with greatest chin in boxing history. That is correct, the best chin in boxing history will be in Las Cruces and he will be in the ring, even if it is at the tail end of his career. McCall turned pro in 1985 (yes, you read that correctly) and in a 72-fight career that saw him fight some of the greatest fighters of his generation he never hit the deck or even really was hurt. In the 1980s and 1990s he earned a reputation as Mike Tyson’s most trusted sparring partner because of his ability to stand in there with Iron Mike and never get dropped. I’ve heard tales of those legendary sparring sessions and the one thing everyone agreed upon was that McCall was so highly regarded by Tyson because of his ability to stand his ground and take the best Tyson had to offer without getting hurt.

Let that sink in for a minute. Oliver McCall sparred hundreds of rounds with a young Mike Tyson and never was hurt.

Now don’t get me wrong, the 53-year old McCall is well past his prime and I can’t see any scenario where he makes another run for a world title.

But although he may not be a world class fighter but he is still a competent fighter despite his advance age. He has only one fight in the last four years (a decision over a journeyman named Larry Knight) and really has never been in serious discussion for a world title fight after his historic meltdown against Lennox Lewis in 1997, when he stopped punching or even protecting himself as he openly cried in the ring.

But even with that bizarre performance in 1997 boxing fans were left in awe…

How many fighters could just drop their hands and let Lennox Lewis unload on them and not end up on the canvas?

McCall’s run as a contender ended in 2004 when he lost a decision to DaVarryl Williamson but he nonetheless remained one of the toughest gatekeepers in the heavyweight division in the 2000s. From 2010 to 2014 he amassed 17-6 record (with one no decision) which included decision wins over an undefeated prospect named Marcin Rekowski (12-0) in 2014, a win over a borderline contender named Damien Wills (30-2-1) in 2011, a win over Fres “next in line for a WBA heavyweight title fight” Oquendo in 2010, former contender Lance “Mount” Whittaker in 2009, former world ranked contender Frank Lawrence in 2009, former EBU Heavyweight champion and WBC International Champion Sinan Samil Sam (27-3) in 2007, and a win over Shannon Briggs conqueror Darroll Wilson in 2006 for the WBC FECARBOX heavyweight title. Even though all of these wins are quite a few years old, they were part of an interesting trend in the early part of the 21st century: boxing insiders waiting to see if Oliver McCall would finally show his age and if his legendary chin would finally show signs of cracking…and then left waiting.

And of course, there is also the fact that Oliver McCall was the former WBC heavyweight champion, having handed Hall of Famer Lennox Lewis his first loss in 1994 in London. Yes, that was almost 25-years ago…but he still remains one of only two men to defeat Lennox Lewis.

 

Even if we don’t see a prime Oliver McCall, this is still a fight worth checking out.

Will Oliver McCall finally show his age on April 27th? Will New Mexico fans be the first to see that iron chin finally crack? Hard to say, McCall has proved everyone who assumed he was washed up wrong in the past. But how long can he keep pushing this envelope? Although the opponent has not yet been formally announced, the names I heard being considered by promoter Isidro Castillo are of some very solid opponents. I can see any of these fighters giving McCall, and boxing fans, a tremendous fight on April 27th. Mark your calendars boxing fans…April 27th in Las Cruces will be a show you don’t want to miss.

The Finger Post Boxing: Keep an eye on Janibek Alimkhanuly…he’s something special (February 2, 2019)

The Finger Post Boxing (February 2, 2019)

Frisco, TX- Texas fight fans may not remember everything that happened at the Star in Frisco tonight, but something tells me that February 2, 2019 may be remembered by boxing insiders as the day they first saw just how special Kazak middleweight Janibek Alimkhanuly is.

This kid is an amazing prospect, and I think it won’t be long before he explodes on the scene.  After watching his demolition of New York’s Steven Martinez I was left speechless.  This kid is the total package.  An amazing jab, great counterpunching, and the size and speed to dominate a lot of good middleweights.

My report for Fightnews from ringside in Frisco, Texas:

In the fifth fight of the night boxing fans in Texas we treated to a first taste of what may very well be one of boxing’s next superstars and undefeated Janibek Alimkhanuly, 162, of Kazakhstan dominated the seasoned Steven Martinez, 160.4, of the Bronx. Martinez came into the fight with a reputation as something of a borderline contender, having lost close decision to then undefeated Terrell Gausha in 2016 and then another decision he dropped to undefeated Christopher Pearson in 2014. Although Martinez had come up short when he stepped in with top level opponents in the past he had never been stopped and always gave a solid performance. But against the talented southpaw from Almaty Martinez was dominated from the opening bell. Alimkhanuly cruised in round one and continued to box beautifully in the second, teeing off on the New Yorker in the closing seconds of the round. The Kazak wisely incorporated the body attack in round three and dropped Martinez to a knee with a perfectly times counterpunch in the opening minute of the round. By round four Alimkhanuly began to toy with Martinez, trapping him on the ropes before stepping back to wave his opponent in. A vicious left uppercut snapped the head of Martinez back in the closing minute of round four and the Kazak continued to dominate at the start of round five. Seconds into the round another left uppercut snapped the head of the New Yorker back, prompting his corner to throw in the towel. Referee Neal Young waved the fight off at 0:21 of the fifth round. With the win Alimkhanuly improved to 5-0, 2 KOs while Martinez slips to 18-5, 13 KOs.

The Finger Post Boxing: New Mexico’s Jason Sanchez crushes foe in Frisco (February 2, 2019)

The Finger Post Boxing (February 2, 2019)

New Mexico’s undefeated world ranked contender Jason Sanchez, 125.4, had his first taste of the big stage as he stepped in the ring with Ixtapa Zihuatanejo Mexico’s Daniel Olea, 125.5, in the third fight of the night. Sanchez boxed well early on but the aggression he showed in Panama City in his last fight quickly emerged when he rattled Olea with a well times overhand right that sent the Mexican back into the corner a minute into the fight. Olea covered up and quickly moved out of the corner but he was unable to keep the Albuquerque native off of him. Sanchez turned into a hunter, stalking his prey, and showed a dazzling array of punches as he mixed up heavy punches upstairs with a solid body attack that had the Mexican doubling over at times. In round two Jason boxed well early on and continued his effective counterpunching as Olea tried to lunge in with looping punches. Although Sanchez did lose his mouthpiece in the second round he maintained complete control of the fight and timed a pictutre perfect overhand right that sent Olea crashing to the canvas. Although Olea rose on wobbly legs referee Gregorio Alvarez waved the fight off at 1:35 of round two. With the win Sanchez improves to 14-0, 7 KOs while Olea drops to 13-7-2, 5 KOs.

The Finger Post Boxing: New Mexico’s Austin Trout and Jason Sanchez move up in NABF rankings

The Finger Post Boxing (December 29, 2018)

 

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!

 

The Finger Post Boxing: Dez Hill and Rico Urquizo set to clash today in Odessa, Texas (December 8, 2018)

The Finger Post Boxing (December 8, 2018)

 

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.

 

Breaking: Weights from Odessa, Texas

Desmond “Dez” Hill 174
Richard “Rico” Urquizo 174
Abel Mendoza 135
Arturo Manriquez 143
Roman Huerta 248
Mark Sanchez 206
Carlos Villava 148
Larry Sanchez 150
Jimmy Meza 134.8
Tyler Cole 134.4
Luis Luna 160
Isaac Sifuentez 159

 

The Finger Post Boxing: Josh Torres (18-6-2, 10 KOs) returns to ring tonight in Albuquerque (December 1, 2018)

The Finger Post Boxing: December 1, 2018

 

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.

 

Read more Finger Post Boxing news here!

The Finger Post Boxing: Remembering the day Floyd Mayweather Jr. fought in Albuquerque

The Finger Post Boxing (November 30, 2018)

 

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.

Empty seats…as far as the eye can see.

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.

If you are still not sure if you want to go to the fights this weekend just take a long, hard look at those five empty chairs and think about all the money you’ve spent on Canelo PPVs

 

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…

Well, all I can say is I feel your pain.

 

 

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Boxing: WBC #9 minimumweight Tatsuya Fukuhara to return this weekend in Japan

The Finger Post Boxing: July 28, 2018

Kumamoto Japan’s favorite son, former WBO mini-flyweight champion and current WBC #9 ranked minimumweight Tatsuya Fukuhara (20-6-6, 7 KOs), returns to action this Sunday (July 29th) as he takes on countryman Naoya Haruguchi (15-8, 6 KOs) in an eight round fight in his hometown of Kumamoto, Japan.   Although ranked in the top ten by the WBC, the former WBO champion is not rated in any other sanctioning organization, something that a dominant win over Haruguchi could rectify.  However, few are counting out the cagy 29-year old from Kagoshima.  Haruguchi has won seven of his last eight fights, with his only loss coming by way of majority decision to former world title challenger Riku Kano back in November of 2017.  Fukuhara, who is keen on positioning himself back into the WBO rankings for a potential clash with newly crowned champion Vic Saludar, also recognizes that a loss could effectively end his run as a contender and would almost certainly close the book on a potential clash with the young Filipino champion.

 

In the co-main event Dr. Tomoya Ikeda (5-2-1, 4 KOs) will take on one of his toughest opponents to date as he steps in with the undefeated 21-year old Kazuki Nakazono (3-0-2, 3 KOs).  The 21-year old prospect is seen as the favorite over the medical doctor, who at 36-years old is admittedly running out of time for a serious run in boxing.  But Dr. Ikeda’s compelling personal story, which included volunteer work with an NGO in Afghanistan, has made him one of the most popular fighters in Southern Japan.  Even in Japan it is rare to find a prizefighter who co-authored a highly cited medical report such as Dr. Ikeda’s December 2016 report on “Age estimation by ossification of thyroid cartilage of Japanese males using Bayesian analysis of postmortem CT images.”

Rounding off the card is popular super bantamweight Yuki Hirashima (8-2-1, 2 KOs) squaring off against South Korean veteran Jong-Won Jung (5-6-1, 3 KOs).  Jung will be stepping in the ring for the first time since April of 2013.

 

The fight card will take place at the City Sogo Gym in Kumamoto, Japan.  Doors open at 11:30 with the fight fight kicking off at noon.  Tickets start at 5,000 yen.

 

Weights from Kumamoto:

Tatsuya Fukuhara 104.5

Naoya Haruguchi 104.7

 

Tomoya Ikeda 133.8

Kazuki Nakazono 133

 

Yuki Hirashima 121.9

Jong-Won Jung 121.3

 

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Boxing: Salinas stuns Zubia in Hobbs (October 26, 2014)

The Finger Post Boxing (November 3, 2017)

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.

  1. “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.

Boxing: This week’s top fight (you probably won’t see): School of Hard Knocks Boxing

The Finger Post Boxing (November 3, 2017)

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.

Read more Finger Post Boxing here!