Current list of the top local contenders as of May 28, 2018

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

Munguia’s savvy management team knew better stating: “With Jaime’s height and weight advantage he has now entered his prime. He’s more than ready. We had to 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 opponent, the now vanquished WBO World Super Welterweight Champ.

In his 100 plus Amateur bouts and 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 Ali’s loss? Plain and simple, this was a gross miscalculation by Ali’s management team. To put it in poker terms, the Munguia group did a great job of covering their cards and hiding those two aces up their sleeve. #1 Jaime Munguia is always training, always prepared and therefore could afford to go without the normal 10 to 14-week preparation period. #2 Weight control: Even though both 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 now has to be 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. That being said, he did not rule out the possibility of a fight versus Gennady Golvkin or Saul Alvarez, since he also has the potential to win in that division.

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

#2 Tijuana’s Luis “Pantera” Nery is now training to fight on Saturday evening, June 9, on a fightcard 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 a second world title fight to replace the one he lost in Japan on the scales by not maintaining the bantamweight limit. 

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

Following up on this news came a Press Release from the WBC:

Then, on Monday, May 28, 2018, the World Boxing Council announced: “We have 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 our pronouncement of March 2. 

“Along with his representatives, Luis Nery then attended a second news conference on March 9th. 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 additional files presented 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 fights within 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 is the 27-year-old Jose “Bolivita” Uzcategui (27-2 with 23 KOs) of Tijuana, B. C., Mexico by way of El Vigia, Venezuela. Uzcategui is a 6’2″ tall, orthodox stance, super middleweight with a 76½” reach. His trainer is none other than Jose Cital of San Diego. Some organizations have Uzcategui ranked #5 in the world. One of Uzcategui’s claims to fame is his 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 latest win on March 3, 2018, over Dirrell, Uzcategui became the Interim IBF World Super Middleweight Champion.

(top, left) The win over Julius Jackson put Jose Uzcategui on the map. Next came those two wins over Andre Dirrell. And finally, the match-up everyone wants to see: David Benavidez vs Uzcategui.

#4 Next, is Giovani “Gallo de Oro” Santillan with a name you’d normally associate with an opera or Shakespearean Play ala Don Giovanni (Don Juan) a light-hearted warning to all the ladies. And while Giovani could easily fit that description, that of being a leading man in Hollywood, he’s totally invested in a different passion, that of pummeling his foes until their corner throws in the towel.

For this reporter who has covered local USA Amateur Boxing for over a dozen years, I’ve never seen or heard of this “Gallo de Oro” ever losing an amateur bout starting at the age of nine. As a Pro, Santillan has now fought 24 times in precisely six years. Still undefeated, with 14 of those 24 victories coming by way of knockout, he has without a doubt faced some stiff competition – 19 of his 24 opponents were either undefeated or had a winning record. In his last Pro bout which took place on Friday, April 27, 2018, Santillan moved one step closer to securing an opportunity to fight for the Welterweight Title after 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 three local boxing scribes who over the years have been on the scene and religiously followed Santillan’s career path, far more so than most sports journalists. (top) by Jim Wyatt of, (bottom left) David A. Avila and (finally, bottom right) Michele Chong.

After his latest battles, Santillan was placed 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 and another 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. who is signed by Golden Boy. His earlier credentials include: 100 amateur victories to include 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 he’s in-your-face and wearing you 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 a win, Antonio Orozco (c) was interviewed by ESPN, ESPN/Deportes Bilingual Sports Personality (Emmy award winning reporter) Bernardo Osuna Jr. plus boxing great 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. Torres has a well-thought-out plan where he’ll be fighting for a world title within five years. Like Orozco, Torres trains at the House of Boxing with trainer Carlos Barragan. Torres is a younger version of Orozco and likes to set his opponent up for these devastating right/left upper-cuts. Even though Torres has yet to fight someone with a winning record, it’s clear he has a wealth of talent and is well on his way.

#8 Genaro “El Conde” Gamez (8-0, 5 KOs) is a 22-year-old, 5’6″ tall, super lightweight from San Diego who has already been tested by fighting five boxers with a combined record of 70-48-7. 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 since 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 defeat Shoki Sakai (23-7-2) in his last outing which Gamez won by a unanimous decision. Even though Sakai was five years older, had more experienced and was much taller, Gamez won every round but one.

To be successful in life it helps to have a great support team and nobody has a better support group than Gamez. His father, Luis and brother Rey Gamez have been there every step of the way along with the well known trainer Robert Garcia. Oh, and lest we forget, Mom’s home cooking is out of this world.

#9 Kenia Enriquez (20-1, 9 KOs) is a 24-year-old light flyweight from Tijuana who stands 5’3″ tall. She is also an avid runner who competes in the 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 defeating the champion Maria Salinas by 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.

In the Honorable mention category- we just have to mention the following standouts:

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 higher if he hadn’t looked so humdrum in his last outing against the 35-year-old, 5’5″ tall Drian Francisco on January 27, 2018, at the Auditorio Municipal in Tijuana. While 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.

Next, we find the unbeaten 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. Which has to be the biggest break of his career. 

Ortega’s coach 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. Approximate 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. To deal with the jet lag, it is recommended Ortega gets to Malaysia at least a week in advance of his fight. Tepora, who is from Cebu City, Philippines is much closer (1,600 miles from Kuala Lumpur) plus he’s in the same time zone.

Midway through April of this year, both boxers 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 life. Which of these support groups will be helping their boxer the most? Which has helped their fighter find the best sparring partners?

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 planet be doing the same? 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 an opponent.

Ulises Sierra (12-0-2, 7 KOs) 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 Baseball pitcher with a mean fastball. For someone who has been a professional boxer for 7 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. The still active, 35-year-old Hernandez now has his record of 19-3-1, with 9 KOs.



Honorable mention designate Keishaun Hill 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’s 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 of the latest and greatest, there is this 21-year-old super featherweight, southpaw Elvis “Rockanrolero” Torres (19-0-2, with 11 KOs) from Tijuana going back into action on June 23, 2018 at the Polyforum Zam Na, Merida, Yucatan, Mexico versus Ricardo Nunez (19-2, 17 KOs); plus there is welterweight Carlos “Chema” Ocampo (22-0, 13 KOs) from Ensenada 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. That does it for your latest update.

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