Thrilla in the Villa, latest USA Amateur Event

Manuel Reyes of Escondido (right) and Christopher Bautista (left) of Rhino Boxing pose for a photo after yet another their exciting bouts.

Saturday, the Undisputed Fitness and Training Center in San Diego was the site of the latest USA Amateur Boxing Show. With many youngsters making their debut, the facility was packed with family and friends. Since the gym is located in the East Village, the gym’s owner, Ted Johnson, decided to dub the show, Thrilla in the Villa. The catchy title, reminiscent of the legendary Thrilla in Manila between Smokin’ Joe Frazier and Mohammed Ali, did not disappoint.

There were also the curious who wanted to see how 18 year-old Idris “Prince Tiger” Smalls would fair in his debut. The oldest son of Priest “Tiger” Smalls had everything going for him, an athletic body, his superb training at the Undisputed Fitness and Training Center in North Park, a height and reach advantage, plus a dad in his corner who has been there and done that. What were the drawbacks for young Tiger Smalls? Of course it was his debut, a day every rookie dreads, and the fact that everyone would be measuring his performance against his father’s success.

His opponent was 18 year-old Jorge Ruiz of the Alliance Training Center in Chula Vista. According to the matchmaker, both boxers had almost the same amount of time in the gym. Smalls had trained eight months straight for his debut. Ruiz had recently returned to the gym after a two month layoff and trained for two solid weeks for the match.

There wasn’t a whole lot of action in the first round as the boxers spent their time measuring each other. Most likely Smalls’ reach advantage won him the first round as he kept snapping his jab at Ruiz’s head. In the second round the tide turned as Ruiz became more aggressive and was able to get inside Smalls longer reach to score. The third round was the deciding round as both boxers picked up the pace. In my mind, I honestly couldn’t tell which boxer won the bout, and figured the scores had to be close. After much consternation, Ruiz was given the decision.

Bout #2 featured 22 year-old Jesus Lopez of Pacific Coast Boxing in Vista, facing 19 year-old Esteban Garcia of La Gente. Lopez, coming off a big win last Sunday over Ethan Roeder in the Fallbrook event, had just six days between bouts. Unlike bout number one with all its finesse, this bout was a slugfest from the git-go as both boxers never stopped unloading with powerful shots. In the end it was the relentless and more accurate punching of Garcia that got him the win.

Bout #3 featured Alberto Cazarez of Escondido and Roman Gonzalez of Vista. Watching Cazarez’s flair in his warm-up, boxing and after the bout antics, was quite a treat for those watching. The 11 year-old has mastered all of the mannerisms and salutes of a showman all the way back to the days of  Sugar Ray Leonard’s ilk and like the great ones, Cazarez backs up his bravado in the ring.

His opponent, 10 year-old Roman Gonzalez of Pacific Coast Boxing was no slouch and the two youngsters went toe to toe. They were like mini-gladiators with their swords clashing. The blows, coming fast and furious, took their toll on Gonzalez whose nose started to bleed and soon after was issued a standing eight count by the referee. Despite the pace, not once did either boxer take a step backwards.

Although over-ruled later, I believed this bout should have qualiied as the bout of the day.

Bout #4 featured 11 year-olds Christopher Bautista of Rhino Boxing and Manuel Reyes of Escondido. While Bautista came out wild and trying to throw from different angles, Reyes was more patient and worked his inside game with straight punches to the head. After losing the first two rounds, Bautista made a more formidable challenge in round three.

Bout #5 featured 19 year-olds Eric Cruz of Rhino and Emmanuel Diaz of Barrio Station. As in the past Diaz was primed to give his opponent a boxing lesson and that’s just what he did for three hard fought rounds. Every once in a while Cruz managed to land one of his heavy shots to let Diaz know he was one ill-advised mistake away from being on his back. In the end the boxer with the quicker hands defeated the brawler.

Bout #6 featured the debut of 20 year old Dangelo LeClair of the host gym, Undisputed Fitness and Training Center, going up against 18 year-old Daniel Gutierrez of Barrio Station, also making his debut. Even though Gutierrez was able to do as his corner instructed, that being to get inside, LeClair blocked most every punch and took the shorter boxer’s best shots. To his credit, every time LeClair was cornered, he didn’t panic or cover up; he fought back with rapid fire combinations. The bout was later selected the top bout of the day.

Bout #7 featured 19 year olds Armando Carranza of R & R and Justin Sams of the host gym, Undisputed. After being spoiled by the earlier contests, this bout was fought at a much slower pace, not Sominex slow, but close. After an eight count was issued to Sams, Carranza gained more confidence to stay in close and win the bout with his short rights and lefts.

Bout #8 featured 16 year-old Abraham Rios of USIAA going up against the much shorter Echo Igranim, 17, of the host gym. From the outset Igranim gave you the impression you were seeing the reincarnation of Rocky Marciano. For a little guy, Igranim packs a wallop. After Rios was issued two straight standing eight counts, the referee called a halt to the bout.

Share This Post

Pin It on Pinterest