Tijuana Boxing Community issues challenge to Las Vegas

On Thursday evening, July 6, 2012, Angel Rodriguez (c) of Venezuela, a Bronze Medalist at the 2011 Pan American Games, made his successful pro debut with a TKO of Hiram Lopez at Salon Las Pulgas in Tijuana. Photo: J. Wyatt

Tijuana, B. C., Mexico

I wonder how many Boxing aficionados would answer “Tijuana” when asked, “So far this year, which city has hosted the most boxing Professional shows, is it Las Vegas or Tijuana? The answer: overwhelmingly Tijuana.


Who better to know such things than the president of the Tijuana Chamber of Commerce (CANACO), Chalita Karim Rodriguez IV. Thursday evening, Mr. Rodriguez was at the Salon Las Pulgas in Tijuana’s downtown supporting the latest efforts to establish Tijuana as the Boxing Capital of the World.

Joining the president of the Tijuana Chamber of Commerce (CANACO), Chalita Karim Rodriguez IV (L), is Guillermo Mayen (C) of Mayen Promotions, and a representative of the Baja California Boxing Commission. These are just three of the people working hard to make Tijuana the Boxing Capitol of the World.

This is not your conventional “little mouse that roared” challenge. There are many movers and shakers in Tijuana, San Diego’s sister city, who are working hard to make this claim a reality.

On Thursday evening, it was Mayen Promotions’ turn to showcase Tijuana’s talent. The latest in the Mayen Boxing Promotions series “Buscando el Estrellato” translation “Looking for Stardom” took place at Salon Las Pulgas on Avenida Revolucion in downtown Tijuana. It was boxing at its finest in a comfortable concert hall setting, complete with a fun crowd, plenty of parking and ticket prices that make it seem like the whole experience is a gift. Children paid $3.85, women $7.70, general admission was $11.54, and a ringside seat cost just $19.23.

In the main event, they had 19-year-old Reynaldo “El Rey” Russell (6-1-1, 4 KOs) of the Kid Melo Gym going up against Pablo “El Yuca” Cupul (6-6-0, 4 KOs) of Lakeside, Calif. by way of Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. Cupul currently trains at the Marron Boxing Camp in the San Diego neighborhood of Lakeside. Cupul had lost his last six bouts, albeit against stiff competition eg. Christian Bojorquez, Juan Reyes, Raymond Chacon and Arturo Santos Reyes.

By the end of Round #1, Russell, the sharper puncher, had Cupul’s number and there was a steady flow of blood coming from his nose. Russell continued his mastery in Round #2 scoring with stiff jabs and short left hands.

Without a doubt, Reynaldo “El Rey” Russell, shown here, has one of the largest, most loyal support groups of any fighter you’ll ever meet. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Pablo Cupul (l) poses for a photo with his manager Jorge Marron. On Thursday night, Marron, the well-known manager, matchmaker, promoter, gym owner, and trainer substituted as head cornerman to assist Cupul. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Cupul’s frustration bubbled over in the third round when he started shaking his head at Russell to let him and his backers know that Russell’s barrage of blows had no effect on him. His bloody, battered face made that argument a tough sell.

Judge Benjamin Rendon and Alejandro Rochin scored the bout 39-37 while Judge Sergio Lechuga had it 40-36, all for Russell.

While his opponent Saul “Bebe” Hernandez (l) and the lovely ring card girls posed for a photo, Carlitos “Baby” Castaneda seemed more interested in holding up the beverage he had been asked to endorse. Photo: Jim Wyatt

The Co-feature was a battle between two babies. 16-year-old super bantamweight phenom, Carlitos “Baby” Castaneda (3-0-0, 2 KOs) of the Gato Felix Gym and Saul “Bebe” Hernandez (1-1-0, 1 KO) trained by former boxing standout Maykito Martinez (right rear, on the ropes). As an amateur Castaneda ran through the competition to win 33 bouts while losing just one. It now looks like he’s ready to do the same in the pro-ranks. In his first contest, the toughest thus far, he defeated Juan Gomez Torres (2-1-0) and the next two ended early; both with a first round knockout. His favorite boxer of all time? Roberto Duran

In Thursday’s contest, Hernandez, slightly taller and with a reach advantage, came on like gangbusters and never stopped winging these explosive haymakers – the hard shots that would normally end an opponent’s night early. Even though Hernandez landed four of these big haymakers, Castañeda appeared unaffected, simply took a step back, covered up and regrouped. Castañeda also adapted his offense to fit Hernandez. He stayed in close and delivered the quick short uppercuts, landed these hard right crosses followed by short lefts. For a sixteen-year-old, his maturity level is amazing. In the end, all three judges had Castañeda way ahead.

On the undercard, Bout #1

In Round #1, we see Hiram Lopez (kneeling) and receiving a 10-count from veteran referee Agustin Rivera after getting knocked off his feet. Photo: J. Wyatt

Last October, Angel Rodriguez of Venezuela (3rd from the left) was competing in the 2011 Pan American Games against these three gentlemen.

Featherweight Angel “Humilde” Rodriguez of Tijuana by way of Sucre, Venezuela had come a long way to make his pro debut in Tijuana against Hiram Lopez (2-1). Then, in less than 30 seconds, the 2011 Pan American Games Bronze medalist had Lopez flying backward to the canvas and ready to pack his bags to head home.

To his credit, Lopez did get back to his feet. Then, he stayed on his feet for an even briefer amount of time. After the second knockdown, referee Agustin Rivera could see no point in having this mismatch continue and called for an end to the contest.

Here’s hoping he doesn’t take this the wrong way, but the quick-handed Rodriguez bears a strong resemblance to the former, world heavyweight champion, Floyd Patterson both in looks and ability. Prediction: Rodriguez will have a long and noteworthy career.

Bout #2 was another exciting bout when you consider the hard shots that were thrown by both super bantamweights Guillermo “El Borrego” Avila and Juan Carlos Torres. The end came at the close of round two when Avila landed this powerful left hook. When Torres backed up, Avila was in hot pursuit. Then, Torres went down. He did manage to beat the count but referee Agustin Rivera felt he had more than enough.

Juan Carlos Torres (l) is shown unloading a big overhand right to the side of Guillermo Avila’s head in Round #1 of their scheduled four round bout.

The blows went back and forth, fast and furious. Here we see Guillermo Avila (l) knocking Juan Carlos Torres (5) off his feet. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Guillermo “El Borrego” Avila has his arms raised in victory after defeating Juan Carlos Torres in their action-packed slugfest. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Bout #3 featured two welterweights making their debut, Pastor Elenes and Roberto Acosta, both from Tijuana. Before the contest, we were informed Acosta had started boxing at the age of 12 and had an amateur record of 31 wins with only 3 losses. Since the 25-year-old Acosta had far more experience, it was assumed the younger boxer, Elenes, would have his hands full.
After a lackluster first round, an accidental headbutt early in the second round got everyone’s attention, especially Acosta who couldn’t help but be affected by the blood streaming from his nose. Elenes capitalized on the distraction and began to land more and more punches. After one combination, Elenes finished with a heavy right cross that knocked Acosta down. Even though Acosta was back on his feet, his corner people were quick to notify the referee that they wanted to stop the fight. Official time was 2:32 of the second.

With the blood pouring from Roberto Acosta’s nose, referee Agustin Rivera stopped the bout to have Acosta’s cutman attempt to stop the bleeding.














Bout #4 was a four-round, light heavyweight match between Tijuana brawlers Juan Carlos Moreno from the Pollo Gym (making his Pro debut) and Francisco Flores (0-1) from the Gato Felix Gym. The Irish have a name for this type of fight; it’s called “an old-fashioned donnybrook.”

As they say, “It’s never over until it’s over. After being knocked off his feet, Francisco Flores (kneeling) contemplates his response to the flash knockdown by Juan Carlos Moreno. Photo: Jim Wyatt

After controlling the first round with hard shots to Flores’ midsection, Moreno, a southpaw, then floored Flores with a left hook in one of their wild exchanges. Kneeling and waiting for the referee to reach the count of eight, Flores cleverly planned his next move. At the count of eight, he sprang to his feet and played possum. When Moreno, his over anxious opponent approached with his hands down. Flores greeted him with a straight right that sent Moreno down on the canvas. The crowd went wild after witnessing this deception.

After being knocked off his feet, Juan Carlos Moreno is having a tough time believing what happened. He went from being the guy in the Penthouse to being the janitor on the basement floor, all within seconds. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Francisco Flores has his arm raised in victory by referee Agustin Rivera after making his amazing comeback. Photo: Jim Wyatt

From that point on, the momentum shifted back and forth until it was Flores who eventually had Moreno backing up in both the third and fourth rounds. Flores had adjusted to Moreno’s southpaw stance and was able to slip punches and counter to the body and head. In the final round, we saw Moreno in retreat, as they say on his bicycle. In the end, all three judges scored the bout the same 39-37 for Flores.

In Bout #5, Norberto Vaal of the Montes Gym in Tijuana made his pro-debut against Felix “Chapito” Rubio (0-2) from the Maikito Gym of Tijuana. In Rubio’s last bout on April 2, 2012, at the Antiguo Cine Bujazan in downtown Tijuana, he faced Jesus “Topo” Lopez, a celebrated amateur making his debut. Even though Lopez scored a knockdown in the first round, Rubio showed his toughness and ended up going the distance.

On Thursday night, Rubio began like a man possessed and landed several ferocious, windmill-like blows, several to Vaal’s midsection. Even with Rubio’s quick start, Vaal’s confidence grew, especially after he survived that first round blitzkrieg which included a flash knockdown. Entering the later rounds, Vaal became more confident while Rubio tired. By Round #4, Rubio was still flailing away but his punches were well off the mark. By this time, his head was down and it appeared he was just one uppercut away from having his lights extinguished.

After finishing strong in Round #4, there were some patrons who felt Vaal had done enough to get the victory. They were overlooking the knockdown in Round #1 which gave Rubio a 10-8 round. The hearts were beating extra-heavy as the announcer read off the scores, “Judge Leobardo Bracamontes scores the bout 38-37 for Vaal, Judge Carlos Flores scores it 38-38, a tie and judge Cristian Curiel scores the bout 40-35 for Rubio. We have a majority draw.”

No boxer ever wants a draw, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

After battling Norberto Vaal, Felix Rubio, not exactly the tallest of boxers, posed for an amusing photo with the statuesque Ring Card Girl. Photo: Jim Wyatt


Bout #6 was a case of déjà vu for Jorge Alfredo Pitta (0-0-1), a super bantamweight from the Ray Solis’ Gym. Back on June 7, 2012, in his pro debut, he was involved in a not-so-entertaining draw with Carlos Alberto Avila (0-1) of Tijuana by way of Sonora, Sonora, Mexico. The audience felt the boxers had failed to mix it up. This bout was a repeat, a snoozer. All three judges scored the bout the same 38-38 to give Mr. Pitta his second straight draw.

Jorge Alfredo Pitta (r) finds himself involved in another draw, his second straight, this time it was with Hector Figueroa (l). Photo: Jim Wyatt

Bout #7 was scheduled to go four rounds in the female flyweight division between Kenia “Jaguarcita” Enriquez of the Titans Gym in Tijuana making her pro-debut against Guadalupe Valdez of Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico. However, the match was over before it even got started. Valdez didn’t land a punch and it took just one punch from Enriquez to knock Valdez off her feet. Entonces, there was no way to evaluate Enriquez’s debut performance.

One punch from Kenia Enriquez and down went Guadalupe Valdez for the count. Photo: Jim Wyatt

What happened? One punch, that’s what happened.

With an assist from Coach Ray Solis (r), Kenia Enriquez (l) had begun her most promising Boxing career. Photo: Jim Wyatt

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