One Training Center hosts the latest USA Amateur Boxing Show

Fan support is important. Our count of well-wishers who came to see Gael Soler box on Saturday came to 32 (which included family, friends, and coaches). However, our tally might be off since we did count the silhouettes in the rear.

Bottom line, you can’t get better unless you put yourself out there and compete against your peers. With so many of our local athletes competing in Albuquerque, New Mexico from March 20 thru March 26 in the USA Amateur Boxing Western Regional Tournament, it had to be tough finding enough competitors to take part in Saturday’s show at the One Training Center in Spring Valley. All told they were six bouts scheduled.


In Bout #1 it was Paula Cordona (14-years-old, 118.2 lbs.) from Mariscal Boxing in Tijuana, B. C., Mexico taking on Danna Vega Balanzar (13-years-old, 120.2 lbs.) from the host gym One Training Center on the Tiger Smalls Boxing Team. Round one got off to the slowest start ever. Balanzar spent the entire first round measuring distance (only 2 punches actually landed), while her opponent, Cordona, tripled that output with 7 punches landed. You had to figure the gals would receive a tongue lashing from their coaches and things would improve in round two. The output in round two, Cordona landed 11 punches while Balanzar landed four. As is usually the case, the output in the final round was much better and despite her lack of production throughout the contest, the three judges awarded Balanzar the victory.

Before the start of Bout #1, we see referee Andrew Moreno (c) giving the boxers, Danna Vega Balanzar (l) of One Training Center and Paula Cordona (r) of Mariscal Boxing their final instructions. All photos: Jim Wyatt

As referee Andrew Moreno held up Danna Balanzar’s arm, you could see the frustration building on Paula Cordona’s face. If she were a tea kettle warming up on the stove, no doubt at that very moment she would have been exploding.

In Bout #2, they had 21-year-old Ryan Polk (145.2 lbs., Unattached), going up against 17-year-old Hunter Williams (146.2 lbs.) from Encinitas Boxing & Fitness, Encinitas, Calif., both of whom were relative newcomers to the sport. In round one, a slugfest ensued and both boxers landed some big shots mostly to the head. In rounds two and three, Williams took over and landed some fierce shots resulting in the puffy mouse under Polk’s right eye.

At the outset of Bout #2, we see Ryan Polk (l) going on the attack against Hunter Williams (r).

After getting his feet wet, Hunter Williams settled in and soon began to take over, often delivering hard combinations to both Ryan Polk’s head and body.

At the conclusion of Bout #2, we see referee Hondo Fontane raising the arm of the victorious Hunter Williams.

Bout #3, featuring super welterweights, it was the 27-year-old Kyle Olson (154 lbs.) from City Boxing, Downtown San Diego facing 18-year-old Eric Villanueva (151.6 lbs.) from Old School Boxing in the SDSU College area. This was another non-stop bout featuring quite a few solid left hooks and void of the more preferred jab. With this bout being so intense, the crowd became more boisterous and no doubt would not have objected if it were to go a full 15 rounds.

“Let’s do this!” Super welterweights, Kyle Olson (l) and Eric Villanueva (r) touch gloves prior to the start of their Bout #3 slugfest.

(bottom photo) At the conclusion of Bout #3, we see referee Hondo Fontane raising the arm of the victorious Kyle Olson from City Boxing.

The City Boxing family joined Kyle Olson after his big win.

Bout #4 between 25-year-old Jaime Suazo (127.2 lbs.) from North County Boxing and 17-year-old Aron Avila (122.6 lbs.) from Intensity MMA in South San Diego had to be canceled after Avila was a no-show. Suazo was declared the Walk-Over winner. Considering their age and weight difference plus Suazo’s skill level this was no doubt a wise choice.

Before leaving the facility Jaime Suazo and his support group from North County which included his proud uncle (left) posed for one last photo.

Bout #5 featured two highly-skilled and cunning pugilists, 13-year-old Gael Soler (108.6 lbs.) from United Boxing & Fitness of Chula Vista, Calif. and 15-year-old Cesar Hernandez (108.8 lbs.) from North County Boxing. In terms of being evenly matched and oh-so competitive, this has to be considered “the Bout of the Show.” Throughout their bout, both of these well-coached boxers used solid technique, trickery, and payback in an attempt to gain the upper hand. In the end, the judges had Soler ahead ruling that he had landed more of the cleaner shots, especially to the head.

When it comes to in-fighting, the use of the elbow shiv is perfectly legal in the mixed martial arts (MMA) but certainly frowned upon in the sport of Boxing.

Cesar Hernandez (blue gloves) tries to return the favor with his own elbow.

After getting hit by Soler’s jab, Hernandez went all out to try and land this extremely wide left hook.

Soler (right) had a lot of success going to Cesar Hernandez’s midsection.

Between rounds, Cesar Hernandez listens intently to the instructions of his coach Tony Contreras.

Before closing out the bout, Cesar Hernandez (blue) started having a lot of success landing his powerful left hook.

Whenever you need a breather, a chance to regroup or slow your opponent down, it’s always advisable to do as Soler did, grab and hold.

At the conclusion of Bout #5, we see veteran referee Will White raising the arm of the victorious Gael Soler from United Boxing and Fitness. With all the strategy that had been played out in this match, both youngsters had a tremendous amount of respect for each other at the end of the contest.

Bout #6, featuring middleweights, had 22-year-old Joshua Rivera (158.4 lbs.) going up against 19-year-old Luis Martinez (157 lbs.) from Mariscal Boxing, two veterans with almost identical styles, that of being a middle of the ring, toe-to-toe brawler. The one big difference was stamina and in Saturday’s contest, it was Martinez outlasting Rivera who’s output slowed considerably in rounds two and three.

In Bout #6 between Luis Martinez (blue gloves) and Joshua Rivera (red gloves), the majority of the punches were landing right along the belt line.

Another left hook from Luis Martinez landed to Rivera’s midsection.

Between rounds, coach Mariscal implored his boxer, Luis Martinez, to keep up the pressure. “You’ve worn him down, now go out theer and finish him.”

At the conclusion of the final bout of Saturday’s show, we see referee Rick Ley raising the arm of the victorious Luis Martinez of Mariscal Boxing, Tijuana.

The next USA Amateur LBC 44 boxing show is scheduled for April 21, 2017 at the Bound Boxing Academy in Chula Vista – see you there.

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