Emanuel Steward returns to Pechanga with Tony Harrison

Giovani Santillan (R), an extraordinary USA Amateur boxer from San Diego, stands beside his coach, Joe Vargas (L) as they await the final decision from the judges. At the age of 18, he fought a man four years older and 10 pounds heavier and still wiped up the floor with him. Photo: Jim Wyatt

On Monday, April 23rd, the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, CA confirmed reports their next boxing show on May 11, 2012 will include fighters from the Kronk Boxing Gym in Detroit, Michigan. Since this gym is owned and operated by Emanuel Steward,that can mean only one thing. The boxing legend is headed our way.

Being blustery and overconfident has never been Steward’s style. His fighters do their talking in the ring. Even after training a slew of boxing greats to include people like Tommy “The Hitman” Hearns and Lennox Lewis, you never hear the legendary trainer beating his chest. So, when Steward mentioned he’s bringing someone special, a world class fighter to the show, he got everyone’s attention.

Tony Harrison (6-0) is known for his quick hands.

On the fight poster for this May 11th show, you’ll see the budding Kronk superstar Tony “Super Bad” Harrison (6-0, 6 KOs). He’s scheduled to face the veteran Ishwar Amador (11-9, 7 KOs) of nearby Riverside, CA in a clash of Jr. middleweights.

Ishwar Amador, a veteran of 20 fights, will be 37 years of age just two days after the fight. His two biggest wins came over Alvaro Clinton Ayala, at the time 19-4-0, and Ramon Espinoza (6-2-0). Against San Diego boxers, Espinoza lost to James Parison and Steve Macomber but won an unanimous decision over Vince Parra.

Amador’s last win, against the aforementioned Espinoza, came by way of a third round knockout on February 11, 2005, a little over seven years ago.

Amador has a reputation for bringing a ton of fearsome accoutrements with him into the ring: of course there’s his nickname, “El Diablo”; then there’s the fierce red-spangled devilish looking hoodie; and then you have his cornermen sporting t-shirts from their gym, Capital Punishment Boxing Club. When announcers read off his name, Amador usually holds up his arms in a fearsome “X” symbol. What must his opponents be thinking.

With Harrison being God fearing, he’ll likely want to extinguish El Diablo’s fire posthaste. Kronk’s next big star, with his height advantage and quicker hands should put Amador out of his misery early. Harrison has won all six of his fights by KO and possesses the Kronk patented lethal right hand made famous by Hall of Fame alumnus Tommy Hearns.

Back on March 3, 2012, Harrison had patrons cheering wildly as he destroyed Harun Akcabelen with a devastating third round knockout on the undercard of the Wladimir Klitschko vs Jean Marc Mormeck heavyweight title fight. A week later, Harrison knocked Alfred Hall out in two rounds.

As you can imagine, Steward is proud of Harrison and is now touting him as boxing’s next big PPV fighter. “The fans are in for a special treat with Harrison,” said Steward, “He’s very similar to Thomas Hearns. He comes to fight, he is fearless in the ring, he doesn’t fight in reverse like many young fighters of today, he has a lot of poise and confidence, and he has a crowd-pleasing fighting style that Southern Californian fans will appreciate.”

Steward, one of the premier trainer/managers in boxing, a successful promoter with Kronk and current HBO lead boxing analyst, has achieved success at every level. In 1997, he was inducted to the International Boxing Hall of Fame. After helping to train 41 world champions (with 35 coming out of his own gym), Steward’s now the trainer of the heavyweight champion, Wladimir Klitschko.

For over three decades, his Kronk Boxing Gym has cultivated boxers of every age and size, from the preteen Golden Gloves all the way up to the legendary champions.

Just recently, Steward made the claim that his current roster is, “The best bunch of home grown fighters, since the days of Thomas Hearns, Hilmer Kenty, Milton and Steve Mc Crory, Duane Thomas, Jimmy Paul, and Michael Moorer.” Wow! That just goes to show you how much confidence he has in his current Kronk Boxing Team.

Ringside’s interview with Emanuel Steward

Walter "School Boy" Sarnoi (Center) has accomplished much when you consider his balancing act between higher education, politics and the world of pugilism. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Also featured on the fight card is featherweight Walter “School Boy” Sarnoi (10-2, 5 KOs) of Monterey Park, CA. who will be taking on the always tough Jonathan Alcantara (5-7-2, 1 KO) from Novato, CA. Sarnoi is not your typical boxer. He has a Master’s Degree and he’s also tough as nails in the ring. He has ambitions of becoming a politician, and last year ran for City Council in Monterey Park. Sarnoi learned his craft in the gyms of East LA and was a top amateur who has steadily climbed the ladder to contender status.

Jonathan Alcantara (L), Walter Sarnoi's opponent on May 11, is shown ducking under a Jesse Magdaleno (R) punch. Over his three year boxing career, 14 matches, Alcantara has never failed to go the distance.

Also on the card is Kronk welterweight Jacob Bonas (0-0-1) who will be taking on 33 year-old Eddie Cordova (3-1-1, 1 KO) of Clearfield, Utah. They say Bonas is another fighter to watch and should keep the Kronk legacy going strong.

After facing four soft opponents Cordova finally faced a tough one, Alfonso Blanco (7-0-0, 3 KOs) on March 16, 2012 at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, CA. Blanco got that win with an early fifth round stoppage.

The remainder of the fight card features some local talent: welterweight Hector Serrano (13-3, 6 KOs) of Perris, CA vs TBA; jr. middleweights Robert Crespo (3-1) of Riverside vs. John Worthy (2-3) of Ontario, CA; along with welterwieght Giovani Santillan of San Diego, who will be making his pro debut vs Johnathan Zamudio (1-1-1) of San Francisco.

Yours truly had an opportunity to see the 20 year-old Santillan box in the USA Amateur ranks. He’s good and he’s ready. After being under the tutelage of Joe Vargas at the Undisputed Fitness and Training Center in San Diego’s downtown, a gym that’s loaded with professionals, Santillan got to spar against the area’s best, people like Adrian Vargas, Emilio and Christian Bojorquez, etcetera. He throws what you’d call scary leather, the kind of punches that land people in the hospital. He’s also quick with the combinations and favors the left uppercut.

On-line was this Zamudio loss to Ulises Soriano back on October 28, 2011 at the Sherwood Inn in Salinas, CA.

Jonathan Alcantara (L), Walter Sarnoi's opponent on May 11, is shown ducking under a Jesse Magdaleno (R) punch. Over his three year boxing career, 14 matches, Alcantara has never failed to go the distance.

Hilmer Kenty was Emanuel Steward's first world champion.

Time for a quiz: On March 2, 1980, Hilmer Kenty became Steward’s first world champion by knocking out lightweight champ Ernesto Espana. Kenty was also the first World Champion in Detroit since Joe Louis decades earlier. If asked to name an additional 12 of the 35 world champs that Steward helped to train, how fast could you rattle them off?

Starting with the heavyweights, you have Leon Spinks, Lennox Lewis, Oliver McCall, Michael Moorer, Evander Holyfield and Wladimir Klitschko, then there’s the flamboyant featherweight Prince Naseem Hamed, Tommy “Hit Man” Hearns, Sugar Ray Leonard, Julio Cesar Chavez, Oscar De La Hoya, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Aaron Pryor and Miguel Cotto.

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