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Friday, July 31, 2009, area boxers were

The crew of Showtime’s Showbox poses for a photo, (left to right) Steve Farhood, Nick Charles and Antonio Tarver.

competing at the beautiful Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula. The Fight Card, presented by Gary Shaw Productions and Ringside Ticket, Inc. in conjunction with Showtime’s Showbox: the New Generation, had several familiar faces on hand.  Antonio Tarver, the former light-heavyweight champ and only boxer to twice defeat future Hall of Famer Roy Jones, Jr., joined announcers Nick Charles and Steve Farhood to do the color commentary. 


After spending some time with Mr. Tarver, I want everyone to know that all the flack Tarver has taken over the years for playing the mean Mason “The Line” Dixon, the heavyweight champion in the film Rocky Balboa, is unwarranted. Tarver is a great guy and a fun person to be around.

Sugar Ray Leonard was also on hand. While fielding questions from the crowd, he joked with one patron who thought Leonard’s bout with Marvin Hagler had to be his toughest fight ever. I like so many others remember that night very well. It cost me big bucks because I like so many others had confidently wagered on the Marvelous One. Leonard disagreed with the boxing fan’s assessment and coyly said his toughest fight was his second meeting with Thomas Hearns, the fight that ended in a draw. That argument ended with Leonard having this big grin on his face. In other words, his eyes and smile belied his words.

In Showbox’s main event, it was super featherweight Marvin Quintero from Tijuana, Mexico (16-2, 12 KOs) stepping up in weight and class to face Tyrone Harris (24-5, 16 KOs) of Lansing, Michigan. From the opening bell, it was apparent this would be a great contest as Harris’ style matched up perfectly with Quintero. It was a classic battle between a non-stop aggressor and the wily veteran.

While Quintero pressed for a faster pace and many times controlled the action, it was Harris who patiently waited for openings, and then effectively countered. Harris, who from the outset displayed this quiet confidence, must have figured the fight would go the distance and strategically conserved his energy. On the flipside, Quintero had never gone more than eight rounds and surely faced more limited opposition. As soon as the busier fighter, Quintero, began to show signs of tiring, that was Harris’s cue to move in and deliver the more effective blows.

Round five’s action was a prequel to what would come three rounds later as Harris staggered Quintero to the point where referee Raul Caiz Jr. took a hard look at stopping the fight. Quintero, however, fought back valiantly and survived the action packed round.

In the 6th and 7th rounds, it appeared Harris might be the one who was fading. Quintero’s punches were suddenly finding their mark. In the eighth and final  round Harris came back, and in an exciting exchange rocked Quintero. After a few unanswered power shots and seeing Quintero’s glassy-eyes, Caiz stepped in and stopped the fight, giving Harris the TKO victory at 1:05 of the 8th round.

Quintero did little to protest the decision to stop the fight. He recognized that he was in trouble at the time and laboring with an injured right hand, he figured he would have no chance to secure the late round victory. At only 22 years of age, Quintero still has a promising career ahead especially if he goes back to his former weight class of featherweight or even super-bantamweight.

In Bout #3Chris Avalos of Lancaster, Ca. improved his record to  (11-0, 9 KOs) by surprising Andre Wilson of St. Joseph, Missouri. In only the second round of their scheduled eight rounder, Avalos twice knocked his opponent off his feet with hard left hooks. Each time, Wilson, a game opponent, was quick to get back on his feet. Finally, Wilson wobbled just enough for referee Jose Cobian to figure it was time to call for an early stoppage. With the win, the talented, ultra confident, high-stepping, Avalos remains undefeated while Wilson drops to 11-3-1.

In an eight-round welterweight bout, the once-beaten Freddy Hernandez (right) from Mexico City, Mexico (25-1-1, with 19 KOs) faced veteran Hicklet Lau of Miami, Florida (20-20-2 with 9 KOs). Hernandez, who hadn’t fought since April of 2008 started off slow but eventually got rid of the rust. While his opponent, Lau, used every possible ploy from hitting on the break, hitting behind the head, belittling his opponent—“You can’t hurt me!”— to employing the Ali-shuffle, Hernandez remained poised. Even after Lau went after Hernandez with a head-butt, Hernandez could not be denied. The prodding Hernandez kept advancing on the taller foe and floored Lau in the fourth and then again in the eighth round to win a unanimous decision by scores of 80-69, and 80-70 (twice).

A week ago, Lou Messina, the manager of the 115 pound flyweight boxer Benji Garcia, was going through his regular routine at the Black Tiger Gym on Miramar Rd. in San Diego, when he received a phone call from promoter Gary Shaw to ask if Messina’s fighter was available for the fight card of July 31st which at the time was only seven days away. He was told Garcia’s opponent would be bantamweight (118 lbs.) David De La Mora (16-0, 11 KOs) of Tijuana. De La Mora had been scheduled to fight Christopher Martin (15-0-1) who pulled out of the fight after sustaining a shoulder injury. Overlooking the fact that Garcia weighed only 115 lbs. and his opponent would be weighing close to 120 lbs., Messina accepted the fight. What can you say in these tough times? When the paycheck is offered, you take it, especially when it’s a $3,500 paycheck. “Hey, Benji! We’ve got ourselves a fight.”

The difference in height and weight of an opponent has little relevance when you’re a journeyman fighter with a substandard record of 13-11-3. Again, when there’s money on the table, you take it. Whether your fighter can win or not, you get him ready. And yes, Garcia, who is known for giving his all, put on a great show. From the opening bell Garcia, a flyweight attacked the super bantamweight De La Mora with the tenacity of an angry swarm of bees.

De La Mora, who withstood Garcia’s barrage of punches, steadily worked over Garcia’s midsection, occasionally slipping outside of his range to frustrate him and kept that jab in his face. In the end it was a lopsided victory for the larger man, the one with the most potential.

In Bout #5, a super welterweight bout, you had hometown favorite Dashon Johnson of nearby Escondido coming through with a 2nd round TKO victory over Alan Velasco, a Cuban native. Velasco, with the reach advantage, appeared to have the upper hand until Johnson caught him with a left hook to back up the taller man. Once Velasco was backpeddling, Johnson continued in hot pursuit flying across the ring to hammer Velasco with right and left combinations. With the victory, Johnson improved to 7-2-2, 5 KOs, while Velasco dropped to 8-3-2.

In the final match, a super lightweight contest, undefeated Aris Ambriz was fed the overmatched Daniel Gonzales. It took Ambriz just 94 seconds to secure the first round TKO victory, his third over Gonzales. I’m not even sure if Ambriz broke a sweat. With the win, Ambriz improved to 11-0. Gonzalez now has twenty-one losses in his last 23 fights.

Record books will show: Timothy Bradley TKO victory over Nate Campbell

On Saturday, August 1st, referee David Mendoza’s ruling gave Timothy Bradley a third-round technical knockout over Nate Campbell, instead of declaring, as they should have, the bout a No-Decision. If the California State Athletic Commission doesn’t over-rule referee David Mendoza’s decision at the Agua Caliente Resort in Rancho Mirage, Ca., it will be just one more in a long history of goofs by a boxing commission.

It was clear to everyone who watched the fight that Campbell received a gash over his left eye from an inadvertent clash of heads and not from any punch thrown by Bradley. Regardless of how the commission rules on the matter, it was clear to those watching the WBO super lightweight title fight that Bradley, with his elusiveness and superior hand speed, was on his way to winning the match. In the third round Bradley was getting the best of an exchange with Campbell and had his opponent backed up against the ropes. All of a sudden Bradley’s head moved down and Campbell’s head came up. The result of the clash was a gaping wound across the length of Campbell’s left eyebrow.

After the fight was stopped, Showtime’s ring reporter, Jim Gray, was quick to ask Mendoza if he saw the head butt and whether it was the cause of the bleeding. Mendoza said, “Yes, that’s what happened.” Then as the two men watched the replay, Mendoza said he saw the butt. “Right there,” he said, indicating the damaging head butt. According to the rulebook, when a fight is stopped as a result of a cut caused by an accidental head butt and it hasn’t gone the full four rounds, the fight is to be declared a no-decision. So much for what should have happened.

As it turns out, the controversy wasn’t the story of the fight. The story of the fight was seeing Bradley bully the bully. The 37-year-old former lightweight champion ran into a younger man (12 years his junior) who’s strategy was to wear the older man down. And, since Bradley’s hands never stopped, that is just what everyone saw.

Grim Statistics regarding the boxers we have lost in 2009

Of the 49 professional boxers who died thus far in 2009: eight were still in their 20’s, 18 never saw their 50th birthday, and only 16 were over 70. Three died at the hands of a professional hit-man, one committed suicide, one died after two carjackers opened up with semi-automatic weapons, five died from head trauma (ring injuries), one was struck multiple times in the back of the head then strangled, one fell from atop a waterfall, and another was involved in a hit and run accident.

Of course only the very famous make the headlines. July 1st, came news that former champion,Alexis Arguello, was found dead at his home in Managua, Nicaragua, in an apparent suicide. On July 11, Arturo Gatti, a former two-time world champion was found dead at a Brazilian resort. Then July 25th, Vernon Forrest was shot and killed in Atlanta, Georgia.

Forrest, who lived in Atlanta and was an Augusta, Ga. native, reportedly stopped at a gas station to put air in the tires of his Jaguar around 11 p.m. Another car pulled up and Forrest was approached by at least two men in an attempted carjacking. At some point, Forrest, who had a gun, gave chase and both sides exchanged gunfire. Forrest ended up being shot eight times by two semi-automatic weapons.

On August 1st, about 400 people gathered at the site where Forrest defeated Marlon Thomas in 1995 to win the IBC light welterweight belt. Forrest (41-3, 29 KOs), a 1992 U.S. Olympian, went on to win three major titles in the welterweight and then middleweight divisions.

Forrest is best known for his two victories over Shane Mosley in 2002. Forrest had beaten Mosley to keep him off the 1992 Olympic team but when they met in January, 2002, it was Mosley, who was regarded as boxing’s number one best pound-for-pound fighter and a significant favorite. Instead, Forrest knocked Mosley down and dominated the fight to hand him his first pro loss and win the WBC welterweight title. Forrest beat Mosley again in their July rematch.

After signing a multimillion dollar contract with HBO after the wins against Mosley, Forrest was stunningly upset in the first fight of that deal when Ricardo Mayorga knocked him out in the third round in January, 2003. In the rematch that July, Mayorga won again by a majority decision. Forrest entered that fight with nagging shoulder and elbow injuries, which required surgery and forced him into a two-year layoff. He returned in July 2005 and knocked out Elco Garcia; he was still troubled by his left arm, but continued to fight. After another layoff, he won a controversial decision against former welterweight titlist Ike Quartey before another 11-month layoff. He came back again in July, 2007 and easily out-pointed former welterweight champ Carlos Baldomir to win the vacant WBC junior middleweight title.

After knocking out Michele Piccirillo in the 11th round of his first defense in December 2007, Forrest was upset by former “Contender” reality series winner Sergio Mora via majority decision in June, 2008. In their rematch on Sept. 13th, Forrest reclaimed the title by dominating Mora in what turned out to be his last fight.

Though he was understandably lauded for his skills in the ring, those who knew Forrest best, remember his tireless efforts with charities and for being such a dear friend.

Upcoming Fights of Note

At the Pala Casino on August 22nd, TKO World Championship Boxing features junior middleweight Anthony “The Messenger” Thompson facing Grady Brewer, winner of The Contender, Season Two, for the I.B.O. Junior Middleweight Title. Also on the card are: Los Angeles based bantamweight, Leo Santa Cruz (9-0-1), middleweight, K. J. Noons (8-2) of City Boxing, Vietnamese featherweight Dat Nguyen (15-1) and Mexican jr. featherweight Rafael Valenzuela (12-1).

Bobbi D Presents has an interesting fight card planned for August 27th at the Four Points Sheraton Hotel off Aero Drive in Kearny Mesa. The main event will feature featherweight Emilio Bojorquez (13-1, 10 KOs) and in the semi-main event, City Boxing’s Denis Grachev (5-0). Since no one has lasted very long against Grachev and the combined record of his opponents is 9-22, the jury is still out as far as Grachev’s potential. In the past, few have dared to face the Russian World Kick-Boxing champion. La Reina de Chula Vista, 19-year-old flyweight, Amaris Quintana (1-0-1), will again compete at this same venue. Her last fight was against Melissa McMorrow (3-1-1) which ended in a draw. At Pechanga Resort & Casino, Sept. 12th (Showtime): super middleweights Andre Ward vs. Shelby Pudwill.

At Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico, September 12th (Top Rank PPV): middleweights Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Jason LeHoullier and then in Las Vegas (HBO PPV): welterweights Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Juan Manuel Marquez and Chris John vs. Rocky Juarez, a rematch for John’s WBA featherweight title.

At the Staples Center in Los Angeles (HBO) on September 26th: Vitali Klitschko vs. Chris Arreola who trains in Riverside, Ca., for the WBC heavyweight title. Not only does Arreola have an opportunity to bring the heavyweight title back to US soil, he has the opportunity to become the first, ever, world heavyweight champion of Mexican-American ancestry.

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