Current list of top contenders from both sides of the border

#1 The 21-year-old, 6′ tall, six-year Pro Jaime Munguia (29-0-0, with 25 KOs) is currently the hottest topic/commodity in Tijuana. Just ask the local TV stations. (Global ID#659924) And while some pre-Munguia vs Sadam Ali fight prognosticators were saying: “What is his management team thinking? They are feeding this youngster to the lion. First of all, his Title fight versus Sadam Ali (26-1, 14 KOs), on HBO, has been taken on short of notice. It’s ludicrous. He’s too young and inexperienced.”

His more savvy management team knew better. They felt, “Jaime, with his height and weight advantage has now entered his prime. He is ready. We must take advantage of this opportunity.” After the proper preparation, off they went to upstate New York, to the unknown Verona, New York, where this young man destroyed his foe, the now vanquished WBO World Super Welterweight Champ.

In his 100 plus Amateur bouts and his 28 Professional fights you mean Jaime Munguia had never faced anyone of the caliber of Sadam Ali? In his last Amateur bout, he defeated one of San Diego’s top boxers Elias Diaz. Then, after turning Pro in 2013, he soundly defeated a whole host of journeyman boxers before stepping up his quality of opponents. In 2017, he made quick work of Johnny Navarrete (31-8-1, 13 KOs), Uriel Gonzalez (16-2-1, 12 KOs), Paul Valenzuela Jr. (21-6, 15 KOs) and Jose Carlos Paz (21-6-1, 12 KOs) all of whom were either stopped in the second or third round.

So, why would anyone be surprised by the fact that Munguia scored four knockdowns on his way to destroying Ali on May 12, 2018? Who gets the finger pointed at them for his loss? Plain and simple, this was a gross miscalculation by Ali’s management team and it’s now obvious the Munguia management team is far superior. To put it in poker terms, the Munguia group did a great job of covering their cards plus they had two aces up their sleeve. #1 Since Jaime Munguia is always training, always prepared, they could afford to go without the normal 10 to 14-week preparation time. #2 Weight control: Even though the boxers weighed in at 152¾ and 153 lbs. respectively, it was Munguia rather than Ali who was able to put on the incremental weight to be bigger and stronger. On fight night, Roy Jones Jr. said Munguia weighed 170 lbs. while Ali likely only put on an additional five to six lbs. That being said, the proverbial cat is now out of the bag. The rest of the field is now fully aware of Munguia’s size, strength and boxing ability.

In a more recent TV interview: Jaime Munguia suggested that a fight against Jermelll Charlo would be particularly attractive; however, he did not rule out the possibility of fighting Gennady Golvkin or Saul Alvarez, because he also has the potential to win that division.

The gracious and humble Munguia went on to thank everyone for the support he has received from his promoter Fernando Beltran, his team, his  Father and the fans, who have never stopped believing in him. 

#2 Tijuana’s Luis “Pantera” Nery (Global ID#611983) is now in training to fight at home on Saturday, June 9, on a card presented by Zanfer Promotions at the Municipal Auditorium in Tijuana which will be broadcast live on Azteca 7 for all of Mexico to see. Nery, the undefeated 23-year-old, former WBC champion (26-0-0, 20 KOs), is set to face the 28-year-old Filipino star, Jetro Pabustan (29-5-6, 9 KOs) from Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental, Philippines and return to the path of getting another world championship fight, which he lost in Japan on the scales by not abiding by the weight limit for bantamweights. 

Some have criticized Nery for not being professional enough to stay at that weight limit. “I will come out with the mentality of proving that I am a natural bantamweight,” said Nery in a recent interview. “I hope to regain my belt as quickly as possible.” After all this posturing came news that Nery was now waiting for the green light from his doctor in regards to some discomfort in his left hand after accidentally hitting a sparring partner’s elbow. His camp stated they are confident he will be ready. 

Following up on this news came a Press release from the WBC on Monday, May 28, 2018:

“The World Boxing Council has been informed via the media, that former WBC bantamweight world champion Luis Nery is scheduled to fight, which has caused great confusion within the world boxing community as he is currently suspended indefinitely by the WBC in accordance with the pronouncement of March 2. 

“Along with his representatives, Luis Nery attended, an audience on March 9. During this hearing, the position of the WBC was to reach a settlement, after considering the best way to help the boxer return to the ring and eventually contest the WBC World Title. 

“WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman clearly put forward two options to Luis Nery. The first was for him to accept the conditions of the WBC in order to correct the problems which led him to lose his world title. Or,  the second option, was for Nery to ignore the WBC… and pursue his career on a different path. 

“At that time, Nery made it clear he would follow any regulation imposed by the WBC. We deeply regret the decision of Nery to fight while being suspended by the WBC. Due to this action, it is clear that his decision has changed. There were files presented during Nery’s hearing, in which several serious failures were committed. Unfortunately, we will not be able to address them after Nery takes this course of action.”

The fact remains: Luis Nery is the best Bantamweight (115-118 pounder) in the world and as long as he doesn’t use any Performance Enhancing Drugs and he fights in that weight range, he should be able to fight as long as the Tijuana Boxing Commission deems everything is in order through their normal blood test and his weight on their scales is at or under 118 pounds.

#3 The 27-year-old Jose “Bolivita” Uzcategui (27-2 with 23 KOs) of Tijuana, B. C., Mexico by way of El Vigia, Venezuela is a 6’2″ tall, orthodox stance, super middleweight with a 76½” reach. (Global ID#571528) His trainer is none other than Jose Cital from San Diego. Some organizations have Uzcategui ranked #5 in the world. One of his claims to fame is a second-round stoppage of the undefeated Julius Jackson and then his two battles with Andre Dirrell. His only real loss came at the hands of southpaw Matt Korobov (28-1, 14 KOs) from Saint Petersburg, Florida by way of Orotukan, Russia and that was five long years ago. With his win on March 3, 2018, over Dirrell, Uzcategui became the Interim IBF World Super Middleweight Champ.

(top) The win over Julius Jackson that put Jose Uzcategui on the map. (left) The two matches (two wins) over Andre Dirrell. And finally, the match-up everyone wants to see David Benitez versus Jose Uzcategui.

#4 Yes, the name Giovani “Gallo de Oro” Santillan (Global ID#612589) has that sound we associate with Don Giovanni (i.e. Don Juan) a sound recommending a light-hearted warning to all the ladies. And while Giovani could certainly fit that description, being a leading man in Hollywood, he’s more invested in a different passion, that of pummeling foes until their corner throws in the towel.

For this reporter who has covered local USA Amateur shows for 14 years, I’ve never seen or heard of Santillan losing and he has boxed in close to 80 amateur bouts starting at the age of nine. As a Pro, Giovani has now fought 24 times in precisely six years. Still undefeated, with 14 of those 24 victories coming by way of knockout, he has faced some stiff competition – 19 of his 24 opponents were either undefeated or had a winning record. In his last fight which took place on Friday, April 27, 2018, Santillan moved a step closer to securing an opportunity to fight for the Welterweight Crown when he defeated Alejandro Barboza (11-1). The end came at the 2:33 mark of round two after Barboza got caught with an immobilizing, crippling punch to the kidneys.

Photos above were taken by the three local boxing scribes who have been on the scene and religiously following Santillan’s career more so than most sports journalists. (top) Jim Wyatt,, (bottom left) David A. Avila and (bottom right) Michele Chong.

After his latest victories, Santillan has placed himself on that “dangerous to fight list” especially by a promoter like All Star Boxing whose top prospect Sammy Valentin was destroyed in just two rounds and now laments the fact they didn’t have a rematch clause. Santillan not only claimed Valentin’s NABO title with that win, Valentin, who entered the bout ranked #9 in the world by the WBO, dropped big time in the world rankings after losing to both Santillan plus another hot prospect, the 28-year-old, 5’11” tall Roberto “Dinamita” Arriaza (17-0, 13 KOs) who hails from Masaya, Nicaragua. If Arriaza isn’t already signed with the Ken Thompson Boxing Group, they should have a good read on Arriaza since he has already fought three times in a Ken Thompson show albeit never against a southpaw. 

#5 Antonio “Relentless” Orozco (27-0, 17 KOs) is a 30-year-old, super lightweight from the House of Boxing, Paradise Hills, San Diego, Calif. (Global ID#459668) who is signed by Golden Boy. His early credentials: Amongst his over 100 amateur victories were wins over Jessie Vargas and Javier Molina. He stands 5’7″ tall and has a reach of 70 inches. In the Pro ranks he has victories over such notables as Keandre Gibson (16-0-1, 7 KOs), Abner Lopez (23-5, 21 KOs), Ivan Hernandez (29-3), Martin Honorio (33-12-1, 16 KOs), Miguel Acosta (29-9-2, with 23 KOs), Emmanuel Taylor (20-5, 14 KOs) and Humberto Soto (65-8-2, 36 KOs). He’s a boxer who keeps on coming until his in-your-face style wears an opponent out. As of late, Orozco has had problems making weight at super lightweight. Fighting just once a year in 2017 and then 2018 is not going to cut it as far his aspirations of becoming a world champion.

After one of his recent wins, we see Antonio Orozco being interviewed by Bernard Hopkins.

#6 Mercito “No Mercy” Gesta (31-2-2 with 17 KOs) is from San Diego by way of Mandaue, Cebu, Philippines. (Global ID#218078) This 30-year-old, 5’7″ tall, southpaw is currently coming off a loss in January to the former WBA World Lightweight Title holder Jorge Linares (44-3-0). On May 12, 2018, Linares lost to Vasyl Lomachenko, the current champion. Next up, Gesta will be facing Robert Manzanarez (37-1-0, 29 KOs) from Phoenix, Arizona at the Fantasy Springs Casino, Indio, Calif. on June 14, 2018. Manzanarez may have an incredible record but his opponents were all carefully selected and in the retrospect were easy targets.

As they say, “Win or go home.” This is a very important fight for both of these gentlemen.

#7 Kevin “Diamond Boy” Torres (8-0-1, 7 KOs) is a 21-year-old super welterweight now living in Chula Vista, Calif. who’s hometown is Bellingham, Washington (Global ID#775110). Torres has this well-thought-out plan to fight for a world title within five years. Like Antonio Orozco, Torres trains at the House of Boxing with trainer Carlos Barragan. Torres is a younger version of Orozco and likes to set up his opponent for these devastating right and left upper-cuts. Even though Torres has yet to fight anyone with a winning record, it is clear he has a wealth of talent. His next fight is on June 22 in Tijuana against an opponent to be named.

It doesn’t really matter who he’s fighting, the result always seems the same, “KO in round# “

#8 Genaro “El Conde” Gamez (8-0, 5 KOs) is a 22-year-old, 5’6″ tall, super lightweight, an orthodox boxer from San Diego who has already been tested (at least experience-wise) by fighting five boxers with a combined record of 70-48-7. (Global ID#746299) As an amateur, Gamez was part of that controversial exclusion by the scalawags at AIBA who didn’t allow the top USA Amateurs to compete for a spot on the Olympic Team and instead handed that position over to Karlos Balderas because he performed in the AIBA Pro-like competitions. In the Pro ranks, Gamez has yet to be tested as Golden Boy has preferred to bring him along at a slower pace. That being said, Gamez did fight and defeat Shoki Sakai (23-7-2) in his last outing which Gamez won by a unanimous decision. Even though Sakai was five years older, obviously had more experienced and was three inches taller, Gamez won every round except for one.

To be successful in life it helps to have a great support group and nobody has had a better support group than Genaro Gamez. His Dad, Luis Gamez, and brother Rey, have been there every step of the way. Of course, having trainer Robert Garcia plus promoter Oscar De La Hoya in your corner helps. Oh, and lest we forget, his Mother’s home cooking – delicious.

#9 Kenia Enriquez (20-1, 9 KOs) is a 24-year-old light flyweight from Tijuana who stands 5’3″ tall. (Global ID#619551) She is also an avid runner who competes in the various local 1ok runs. On November 18, 2017, she defended her Interim WBC World Female Light Flyweight Title by defeating the 24-year-old Jessica Nery Plata (21-1, 3 KOs) from Mexico City after she first defeated the champion Maria Salinas TKO in the 3rd round. Nery then turned around and won a split decision victory over Silvia Torres to win the WBA version of the same title, the Interim WBA World Female Light Flyweight Title. Enriquez has impressive wins over such notables as Amaris Quintana, Brenda Flores and Jolene Blackshear.

Honorable mention based on their well-respected talent:

As far as #10 we have a logjam of above average, talented fighters.

For over 12 years Edivaldo “Indio” Ortega has been a boxing legend in his hometown of Tijuana, B. C., Mexico and now he has a golden opportunity to take it to the next level.

The 27-year-old featherweight Edivaldo “Indio” Ortega (26-1-1) is now in the preparation stages for his first world title fight against the 25-year-old Jhack Tepora (21-0, 16 KOs) from Cebu City, Cebu, Philippines. We would have had Ortega ranked much higher if he hadn’t looked so mediocre in his last outing against the 35-year-old, 5’5″ tall Drian Francisco on January 27, 2018, at the Auditorio Municipal in Tijuana. Even though the scorecards had Ortega winning a unanimous decision, he looked completely drained in the closing rounds and Ortega fans feared Francisco was on the verge of stopping him. Fans are now wondering if Ortega is having problems maintaining that mandatory 126-pound weight limit.

And now, we find unbeaten boxer Jhack ‘El Capitan’ Tepora euphoric about the news that he’ll be fighting Ortega for the vacant IBO featherweight title on the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao vs Lucas Matthysse WBA welterweight title fight of July 15 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the biggest break in his career. 

Ortega’s management/promoter better have all the bases covered. First up, he’s having his fighter fly to the other side of the world for this title to fight someone who will be more used to the climate plus traveling a much shorter distance. Malaysia is 13 hours ahead of Mexico. When it is 1:00 am in Tijuana, it is already 2:00 pm in Malaysia (that same calendar day). Approximate flight time for a non-stop flight from Mexico City to Kuala Lumpur is 21 hours and 30 mins. The distance covered is 10,355.9 miles (16,666.2 kilometers). To deal with the jet lag, it is recommended Ortega gets to Malaysia at least 10 days in advance of his fight. Tepora, who is from Cebu City, Philippines is much closer (1,600 miles or 2,574.95 kilometers from Kuala Lumpur) plus he’s in the same time zone.

Midway through April of this year, both fighters should have gotten word of this title fight to take place on July 15th. Upon learning the news, both the Tepora and Ortega camps should have begun their preparations for what has to be the biggest fight of their boxer’s life. Which of these support groups is helping their boxer the most? Which team has helped their fighter find the best sparring partners – clones of their opponent?

From the photos in the center of this collage, it appears Jhack Tempora is also a proud father.

An early response from Tepora: “I can’t promise a knockout but I’ll do whatever it takes to win this fight.” No doubt Ortega will be voicing the same sentiments. But in reality, it all comes down to who wants it more. In their preparation will Ortega run faster and harder? While Tepora is knocking out 75 to 100 push-ups in training, will Ortega on the other side of the world be doing 80 to 100? Do they now have someone concentrating on Ortega’s diet? The difference in this match will be so minute. Simply put, Ortega’s support group must work harder and smarter than Tepora’s staff.  

San Diego light heavyweight Ulises Sierra (right) is shown making quick work of his opponent.

Ulises Sierra (12-0-2, 7 KOs) Global ID 657144 is a 29-year-old, 6’1″ tall, light heavyweight born and raised in San Diego who did fight twice in 2017 but has been inactive since November 17, 2017. His Dad is a former Major League pitcher with a mean fastball. For someone who has been a professional for seven years, his career has gone painstakingly slow. Sierra has only fought two boxers of note: those being Ricardo Pinell (16-3-1, 9 KOs) a fight that ended in a draw and Sierra did stop Jose Hernandez (12-2-1) from Lancaster, Calif. after just 28 seconds into the first round. Since that time, the still active, 35-year-old Hernandez has improved his record to 19-3-1, with 9 KOs.

Honorable mention designee Keishaun Hill (Global ID#731906) is a 27-year-old, 6’3″ tall heavyweight from San Diego with lightning fast hands, a powerful punch and outstanding boxing skills. Lately, he hasn’t been that active and last fought on August 5, 2017. His record against the six opponents that he faced is (6-0 with 6 knockouts). Most boxing critics would agree – only two of Hill’s opponents were competitive.

Finally, according to our records concerning the latest and greatest, we see that 21-year-old super featherweight, southpaw Elvis “Rockanrolero” Torres (19-0-2, with 11 KOs) Global ID#659919, from Tijuana, B. C., Mexico, is back in action on June 23, 2018 at the Polyforum Zam Na, Merida, Yucatan, Mexico versus Ricardo Nunez (19-2, 17 KOs); plus welterweight Carlos “Chema” Ocampo (22-0, 13 KOs) from Ensenada, B. C., Mexico will be battling one of the best, if not the best in his division Errol Spence Jr. on June 16th at the Ford Center at the Star, Frisco, Texas for the IBF World Welterweight Title.

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