Best in Boxing Awards premiers at the Sheraton

On Saturday evening, December 21, 2019, local Boxing Promoter Borizteca Boxing Promotions (which opened up shop in 2014) in partnership with Global Sports Streaming and their Best in Boxing format, revived the time-honored tradition of celebrating the participants in their shows of 2019. No doubt, those who were honored, from not just Boxing but all three of the fighting sports, made a lasting impression with their performance, whether in a Muay Thai fight, a Boxing match or MMA fight.

The concept of staging a yearend Sports Night/Sports Banquet at a classy venue isn’t new. It’s been used as a great motivator for both professionals and adolescence for generations. So much so, that high schools and colleges would be doing their Athletic Programs a disservice if they didn’t continue the tradition. If you were one of the chosen ones to receive an award on December 21st, 2019, it was indeed a momentous occasion.

Likewise, a promoter knows full well he must never ignore or discount an athletes’ fan base. The fact that Borizteca Boxing Promotions and Global Sports Streaming were willing to invest so much money in this year ending salute is certainly a very positive development. Without further ado, here’s a review of what happened on Saturday evening.

On hand to MC the show were Emmy Award-Winning TV Host Courtney Perna plus Hall of Fame referee Joe Cortez who currently live in faraway Las Vegas, Nevada.
The duties of Master of Ceremonies were shared by two Las Vegas celebrities, Courtney Perna, an Emmy Award Winning TV Host and Producer and Hall of Fame referee Joe Cortez, who after their quick introduction went right to introducing the first Award and it’s presenter the renown boxing trainer Vince Parra who received an assist from the glamorous Ring Card Gal Kirstie Masciel.
From the four bouts nominated for “Fight of the Year” by Global Sports Streaming and the Borizteca Boxing Promotions staff, on-line voters chose the awesome battle between Ricardo “The Blessed” Valdovinos (8-1, 5 KOs) of San Diego and Giovannie “King Gio” Gonzalez (10-4, 4 KOs) from Stockton, Calif. And, as you might expect, Valdovinos was a natural with that microphone in hand. Just as ESPN Sports Center’s host Stuart Scott used to say, “Valdovinos was as cool as the other side of the pillow!”
After Ricardo Valdovinos had given praise to his maker, his parents and his number one supporter, we made certain to get all three in this photo.
At home with his wife and two children, the co-recipient of the award, super lightweight Giovannie “King Gio” Gonzalez, the current WBC Super Lightweight International Title holder called to congratulate his former opponent and wish him a Merry Christmas. He then explained, “With Christmas less than four days away and the distance from Stockton, Calif. to San Diego being 458 miles by car, it would have taken me seven hours to get there. Of course, that’s with no traffic and driving non-stop.” After at first joking around, Valdovinos then added, “Some might say that’s a reasonable excuse for not attending. How long did it take you to come up with it?”
Over the years, famous musicians and rappers like Eminem, Lil’ Kim and Nicki Minaj have adopted alter egos to establish a new creative direction or deep dive into their personal emotions to remove themselves from their usual persona. The best example is David Bowie, who became Ziggy Stardust. Point to be made? When we saw featherweight boxer Brandon “Too Smooth” Cruz come up on stage to present the next trophy, he looked not only amazing, in control, and totally at ease, but certainly well-heeled in his high fashion red blazer with it’s contrasting black silk collar and matching hankie. With microphone in hand, the ladies in the crowd began to swoon and wonder if the multitalented Cruz might be about to grab a guitar and serenade them.

Instead, Cruz settled in and gave an admirable intro to the next category, Comeback Fighter of the Year which went to the 38-year-old, 5′ tall Carina Moreno (25-6, 6 KOs) the former WBA World Female Flyweight Champion from Watsonville, Calif., who after not competing for 5 years and 8 months, returned to defeat both Judith Vivanco in February and Cinthia Martinez in April, both by a unanimous decision. With Moreno’s home being 450 miles north, she too was a no-show.

Above is a collage of our best Carina “La Reina” Moreno photos. (bottom, right) On December 1, 2012, Moreno (left) traveled all the way to Burg-Waechter Castello, Dusseldorf, Germany to defeat Susi Kentikian (right), the WBA Female Flyweight Champion of the World by split decision. Seven months later, on July 6, 2013, Kentikian exacted her revenge with a unanimous decision victory to regain her title. (photo, top) Moreno and her coach toured our fair city and made a stop not only at the Carrier U.S.S. Midway which is now a museum but visited the famous bronze statues of the soldiers with entertainer Bob Hope who during multiple wars traveled the World saluting the Troops.

Next up, it was time for the Best in Boxing Lifetime Achievement Award and stepping up to introduce the recipient was well known boxing trainer Carlos Barragan Jr. from the House of Boxing Training Center, who when it comes to public speaking takes a back seat to no one. Who better to introduce the recipient of this award but the mastermind who in 1992 talked his father into building their first gym in the family’s backyard. Then, with an assist from a slideshow of their most treasured photos, Carlos Barragan Jr. had no doubt succeeded in getting his father’s heart pounding.

Of the many treasured photos in their collection was this one (l to r) Carlos Barragan Jr., the legendary Julio Cesar Chavez, grandson David Barragan, plus the man of the hour Carlos Barragan Sr.
Here’s another photo showcasing a Who’s Who of Boxing working together in support of boxing great Antonio “Relentless” Orozco (28-2, 17 KOs) who to this point has won 3 titles: the WBC United States Super Lightweight Title, NABC Super Lightweight title and the NABF Junior Super Lightweight Title.

The patriarch of the Barragan clan has been instrumental in the development of many top fighters. To name just a few, you have Antonio Orozco, Kevin Torres, grandson David Barragan, Armando Tovar, Elias and Emmanuel Diaz, Nico Marchan, plus the Arrellano Brothers, Israel and Antonio. It’s a list that keeps growing. All have benefitted big time from his expertise and training regimens – from the youngsters to the oldsters.

Like a classic car from the ’40’s,’50s or ’60s, a gym like the House of Boxing often gets a visit from boxing greats like Cris Arreola, Oscar De La Hoya, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, etc., who on occasion stop by to promote an upcoming fight or on occasion train in-house. The House of Boxing Training Center is no doubt well on its way to becoming one of San Diego’s top landmarks.
Since most every Boxing Fan knows that having your arm raised in victory by Hall of Fame referee Joe Cortez will bring you good luck, good fortune, the owner of the prestigious Four Points By Sheraton Hotel, Luci Burni, took full advantage of this golden opportunity.
The Medina Family, plus members of the Bound Boxing Academy were certainly well represented.
It appears there were more than a few attendees from the Brandon Cruz fan club.

Next up, it was my honor to present the Prospect of the Year Award to San Diego’s Adrian Gutierrez (10-0-1, 4 KOs) who went 4-0 in 2019. As you can see from the above list, this category had some mighty stiff competition and remember this, the voting was based on the caliber of opponents each of the nominees faced in 2019. In that category, Gutierrez justifiably ended up receiving more votes than anyone. Even more than the highly touted Brandon Valdes (13-0, 7 KOs) and Elvis Rodriguez (5-0-1, 5 KOs).

Somewhat surprised by all the attention he received and hardly braggadocious, Gutierrez then promised to work even harder in 2020, plus attend next year’s function dressed in more fashionable attire. Need we add, everyone present felt they were playing second fiddle in comparison to Brandon “Too Smooth” Cruz.
After receiving the Top Prospect of the Year Award, Adrian Gutierrez was joined by his very proud parents, one of whom, David Gutierrez, a well-respected attorney in Chula Vista, was at one time an alternate to represent the US at the 1984 Olympics. It was his misfortune to come of age at the same time as future Hall of Famer and 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist Mark Breland who during that period was a 5 time Golden Glove Champion, a 2 time Welterweight Champ, and held both a height and reach advantage over everyone. As a professional, Gutierrez (17-0, 9 KOs) was undefeated until he suffered a career ending injury.
A natural with or without the microphone, presenter Joe Stidman, owner of Heartland Meats in the South Bay, held everyone’s attention as he led them from one of Andrea Medina’s exploits to the next. There was the Chula Vista Mayor’s proclamation, the countless tournament wins, the five National Championships and now the likelihood that she’ll be representing San Diego/Chula Vista at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.
(top left) First, we have Andrea flanked by her lovely Aunt and equally attractive Grandmother. Next are the proudest parents in all the land, followed by Andrea with Ricardo Valdovinos (fellow recipient, same gym).
Another of the evening’s celebrants was JonathanJonny” Mansour, who was chosen the 2019 Amateur Standout Male. Over the last eight-plus years of working extremely hard in the gym, Mansour has broken through to become a force, an actual USA National Amateur Champion who at this point has designs on making it to the 2024 Olympics. Never one to toot his own horn, Mansour gave much of the credit for his success to the Bomber Squad Academy coaching staff led by their top level boxing coach Berlin Kerney IV.
Jonny Mansour’s entire family was in attendance, Mom, Dad, two brothers, younger sister, plus his coach Berlin Kerney IV and three close friends, all in attendance to share in this young man’s amazing success.

On hand to congratulate the recipients was boxing sensation Paul “The Ultimate” Vaden (29 wins, 3 losses plus 16 wins by knockout), the only boxer who was born and raised in San Diego to become a World Champion. Back on August 12, 1995, Vaden defeated the then IBF World Super Welterweight champion Vincent “The Ambassador” Pettway at the MGM Hotel in Las Vegas by TKO in the 12th and final round. Unbeknownst to many at the time, especially the Vaden corner, was the fact that Paul had entered the 12th and final round behind on the judges’ score cards 104-105. Therefore, in order to win the World Title, Vaden needed to either knock Pettway out or secure the referee’s stoppage.

Being that the third round of the Jose Maria Carrillo of Stockton, Calif. versus Eduardo Lopez of Rosarito, B. C., Mexico bout was such a classic, electrifying, a battle royal of give and take, and held the crowd’s attention throughout, it received the most votes for “Round of the Year”.

What led to that third round being so special was the decision by the Lopez corner to have their fighter switch things up and come out in that third round as a southpaw. It worked for awhile, until the equally savvy Carrillo caught on and found a way to counter it.

(April 1, 2020 add on) Super bantamweight Jose Maria Carrillo (7-0-1) has now gone 12 months since that mixed decision (57-57, 58-55, 58-55) victory over Jose Eduardo Lopez, who is now (5-3, 4 KOs) and hasn’t faired that well since the Carrillo fight. He’s now gone 1-2 and is a victim of a first round knockout.
In critiquing our show’s hosts who came all the way from Las Vegas: Joe Cortez was a delight and certainly knows how to dress to impress. His cohost, Courtney Perna, was certainly fun/bubbly and has this unique tendency of pulling no punches and telling an audience verbatim what’s on her mind.
In 2019, Kevin Torres went 5-0 with 4 KOs. His competition, Giovanni “King Gio” Gonzalez, went 4-1, with 2 KOs, Carina Moreno 2-0 and Jorge Marron Jr. came in a close second going 5-0 with 3 KOs.
On hand to present the 2019 Best In Boxing Boxer of the Year Award to Kevin “Diamond Boy” Torres was Saul Rios the CEO of Borizteca Boxing.
With his family and lady faire present, Kevin Torres was sky high. After going 5-0 by way of those 4 stoppages, this award appeared to be the icing on the cake for a memorable year.
Knowing full well he wasn’t going to get away without saying a few words, Kevin “Diamond Boy” Torres (15-1-1, with 13 KOs) after turning Pro in 2017, was his usual unassuming, ultra-courteous self. After first thanking his manager Christina Carrillo, he went on to mention Borizteca Boxing Promotions, Best In Boxing, the Barragan family, his parents, loyal supporters and last but not least his #1 supporter Sandra Ah Nee.

The final Award of the evening “Athlete of the Year” distinction went to Elvis Rodriguez from the Dominican Republic who currently trains in Hollywood with Freddy Roach at Roach’s famed Wild Card Boxing Club. On hand to accept his trophy was local Promoter/Manager/confidant Juan Samuel Cruz.

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