2017 LBC 44 Cal Border Jr. Olympic District Qualifying matches

The President of LBC44 Cal Border Hondo Fontane (rear, center) poses for a photo with seven of the youngsters and their coaches who will be representing LBC 44 in the Junior Olympic regional qualifying tournament to be held at the Indio Boys & Girls Club on May 20 and May 21, 2017 in Indio, Calif.

On Saturday, April 22, USA Amateur Boxing’s LBC 44 Cal Border held their Junior Olympic District Qualifying matches at the National City Community Youth Athletic Center and in the only contested bout, 14-year-old Gael Soler (106.6 lbs., 4 bouts) from the United Boxing & Fitness Gym of Chula Vista, Calif. faced 13-year-old Michael Figueroa (107.6 lbs., 5 bouts, unattached) from Vista, Calif.


Unlike the majority of the pro-boxing matches where you see the promising young fighter facing the washed-up silent offering, the tomato can, the stiff with the negative record of say 2-13, the match between Figueroa and Soler turned out to be a real gem.

While Soler had better head movement and quicker hands, it was Figueroa who was landing the harder shots, especially to the head. Then, just before the first round ended, Soler’s nose began to bleed. Even if Soler was matching Figueroa’s output, which he was, the negative perception was there for all to see. From that point on, there was no way of convincing anyone that Soler was not getting the worst of their exchanges.

Halfway through round two, referee Andrew Moreno called for a stoppage to have the ringside physician have a look at the bloody nose. Convinced that Soler was not in danger, the physician gave his consent for the bout to continue. With his history of being a bleeder and his new strategy of banging Figueroa and then quickly holding him, Soler seemed doomed to defeat. In past bouts, the knock on Figueroa was his conditioning and how he’d slow down in the final round. That didn’t happen on Saturday. Figueroa seemed to be as fresh in round three as he was in round one. He never took his foot off the pedal. Come decision time, it was Figueroa having his arm raised in victory.

With little if any defense at the start, both boxers, Michael Figueroa (l) and Gael Soler (r) were unloading the heavy artillery in round one of this LBC44 Cal Border Junior Olympic District Tournament competition.

Gael’s strategy became, bang and then hold.

After Michael Figueroa’s victory, stablemates plus his proud coach Ivan Puente joined him for photos. All photos: Jim Wyatt

13 additional boxers received a free pass to the second stage of the Junior Olympic Tournament competition when they went unopposed. At the Regional tournament, with the number of boxers involved and the number of boxers coming from the Los Angeles County area, the free pass is near impossible.   

The 13 additional boxers that will be accompanying Mr. Figueroa to the Regionals in May include:

15-year-old Angel Munoz (144.2 lbs., a veteran of 76 bouts) from El Centro, Calif. (No Club Affiliation). He will be entered in the 145 lb. Open weight class.

12-year-old Sammy Vences (94.2 lbs., a veteran of 8 bouts) from Oceanside, Calif., No Club Affiliation, will be entered into the 95 lb. weight class.

15-year-old Esteban “Mexican” Rojas (99.8 lbs., a veteran of 27 bouts) is from the Bound Boxing Academy of Chula Vista. He will be included in the 101 lb. weight class.

16-year-old Alfred Vargas (105.6 lbs., Open category) from National City, Calif. and training at The Arena Gym in Point Loma, San Diego, Calif., will be competing in the 106 lb. Open weight class.

13-year-old Diego “Zorro” Luna is from South San Diego (99.8 lbs., 27 bouts) and trains at the Bound Boxing Academy, Chula Vista. At the JO Regionals he will be boxing in the 101 lb. weight class.

16-year-old Adan Palma out of the Fairmont Village area of San Diego (117.8 lbs., 28 bouts) trains at The Arena Gym in Point Loma, San Diego, Calif. He will be competing in the 119 lb. weight class.

15-year-old Jabin Chollet from San Diego (122.4 lbs., Open category) now training at the Bound Boxing Academy, Chula Vista will be competing in the 125 lb. Open weight class.

12-year-old Alejandro Bastidas (78 lbs., 9 bouts) from the Otay Mesa West section of San Diego and training at the Bound Boxing Academy in Chula Vista, Calif., will be competing in the 80 lb. weight class.

11-year-old Isaiah Bernal (83.8 lbs., 13 bouts) from Calexico, Calif. (No Club Affiliation), will be competing in the 85 lb. weight class.

13-year-old Isaiah Torres (85.4 lbs., 17 bouts) from Westmorland, Calif. (No Club affiliation) was slotted in the 90 lb. weight class. We recently heard that Torres was injured in training and will more than likely have to bow out of the competition.

15-year-old Juan Medina from Chula Vista, Calif. (95 lbs., Open Category) from the Bound Boxing Academy, Chula Vista, will be competing in the 95 lb. Open weight class.

14-year-old Pedro Arenas (165 lbs., 5 bouts) from Chula Vista, Calif. and training at United Boxing & Fitness Gym, Chula Vista, will be competing in the super middleweight division.

14-year-old Daisy Medina (101 lbs., 5 bouts) from Chula Vista, Calif. and training at United Boxing & Fitness, Chula Vista, will be competing in the 101 lb. female weight class.

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