USA Amateur Boxing at San Diego Combat Academy

Saturday, when Brian Saloman's nose began to bleed, you could see the concern on each and every face. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Sun Tzu, a Chinese philosopher, once said, “All war is based on deception. Whoever is first in the field and awaits the coming of the enemy, will be fresh for the fight; whoever is second in the field and has to hasten to battle will arrive exhausted.”

In boxing you often see this life lesson being played out.


And because of this, one or the other of the boxers will have a distinct advantage. One boxer may have been training for only a few months while the other has been in the gym for a year or more. One boxer could be training with Freddie Roach and the other, Bubba Gump. One could have competed previously while the other is making their debut.

2011 Battle of the Badges Champions included welterweight winner Gabrielle Romero (second from the right). Photo: Jim Wyatt

That’s what happened Saturday on the USA Amateur Boxing card called “Halloween Havoc” staged at the San Diego Combat Academy. In the final bout on the boxing card, 22-year-old Gabrielle Romero, listed as boxing “unattached”, faced 18 year-old Stephanie Salvatierra of the newly opened Cital Boxing and Nutrition Training Center in La Mesa. Salvatierra had been training at the new facility since it opened in September. The gym’s Grand Opening celebration was on Friday, September 16, 2011.

When spotting Salvatierra’s opponent at Saturday’s show, I thought I recognized her but couldn’t remember from where. Even when asking her about her boxing prowess, she seemed sketchy or a bit hush-hush. Then after seeing her perform, I knew she had a wealth of experience.

When I got home from the show, the light bulb came on. She was part of the winning boxing team that defeated the R. J. Donovan Boxing Team in this year’s Battle of the Badges at the Barona Casino on June 18. Romero, who at the time worked for ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, had easily beaten welterweight Julie Chavez. Both trained, at different times, at the National City CYAC and began their training camp in early January.

Since Salvatierra and her coach Jose Aguilar knew nothing of this, shouldn’t Romero or one of her three coaches have mentioned this fact to the matchmaker for his consideration?

Since it’s a part of the boxing game to be cunning and calculating, often times deceptive, that answer is, No. When you enter the ring for a Boxing match, an MMA match or whatever, it’s up to you to learn a little something about your opponent or else you will be paying the consequences.

After such a competitive match, referee Will White (C) holds up the arms of both Gabrielle Romero (L) and Stephanie Salvatierra (R). Photo: Jim Wyatt

Now the twist to this story, Salvatierra ended up winning the match. Of the people I polled, everyone thought Romero had won. To be frank, I thought so too. In my mind, Romero had won beyond a shadow of a doubt.






And now for the rest of Saturday’s boxing card:

Juan Hurtado (L) has his arm raised in victory by referee Rick Ley after defeating Jorge Agiss (R) in Bout #1. Photo: Jim Wyatt



Bout #1 featured 11 year-olds Juan Hurtado of the Undisputed Fitness & Training Center, Downtown facing Jorge Agiss III of the National City CYAC. Rounds one and two went to Hurtado who has a ton more experience and then in Round #3, Agiss held his own in what you would have to call a more even round.





Brian Saloman (R) has his arm raised in victory by referee Rick Ley after defeating Gabriel Hernandez in Bout #2. Photo: Jim Wyatt



Bout #2 featured 16 year-old Gabriel Hernandez of the Undisputed Fitness & Training Center, El Cajon facing 17 year-old Brian Saloman of Oceanside.

Saloman was the faster starter and each time Hernandez dropped his hands, he got a mouthful of leather, mostly straight rights and then he’d follow with an occasional combination. Hernandez seemed more intent on landing the hard lefts to the body, the kind of punches that leave you gasping for air.

At the end of Round #3, both boxers were relieved that the bout had finally concluded. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Round #2, there was a new sheriff in town. Hernandez, who kept up the pressure with the lefts to the midsection, started to see Saloman’s hands drop. When the hands dropped, Hernandez went head hunting and as a result, the referee issued Saloman an eight count. By this time Saloman’s nose became a bloody mess and he seemed to be running out of gas.

In the third round, Saloman made a last ditch effort to trade punches with Hernandez and caught him with a good shot to make his nose bleed. Back came Hernandez with another onslaught and a second eight count was issued to Saloman.

After so many blows to the midsection, Gabriel Hernandez (R) finally began to see Brian Saloman's hands drop. Photo: Jim Wyatt



Then came Hernandez’s downfall. After dominating up to this point, the referee, Will White, emphatically called for a “Stop!” in the action. Hernandez, not listening or caught up in the action, paid no attention to the referee’s command and clearly landed another shot to Saloman’s head.

Without further ado, the referee stopped the bout and had the judges add two points to Saloman’s score. Since Saloman had won the first round, the two points added to Saloman’s score in the final round, made it virtually impossible for Hernandez to win the contest.

Berlin Kerney IV, Hernandez’s coach sent along the following video of the Hernandez vs Saloman bout plus the action packed Bout #7 featuring  Hendricks versus Jose Sanchez.

After their solid performance in Bout #3, referee Will White raises the arms of both Juan Medina (L) and David Gutierrez (R) the eventual winner. Photo: Jim Wyatt


Bout #3 featured two 9 year olds, Juan Medina, 54.4 pounds, of the Gutierrez Gym of South San Diego facing the much taller David Gutierrez, 58.2 pounds, of Golden Hands Boxing Club of Chula Vista. Despite their young age, both boxers have much experience.

Throughout the match, Medina tried but couldn’t get inside on his taller opponent. Meanwhile, Gutierrez took his pot shots from the outside and scored well. Whenever, Medina  got in close, Gutierrez held, or got him in the clinches so he couldn’t throw a worthwhile punch. The strategy worked and of course Gutierrez came out victorious.

Raymond Ramos poses for a photo with his coaches, one of whom is professional boxer Adrian Vargas (R). Photo: Jim Wyatt






Bout #4 featured 11 year-old Raymond Ramos of the Undisputed Fitness & Training Center in Downtown San Diego, going up against 10 year-old Adan Sanchez of Cital Boxing & Nutrition who was making his debut.

Ramos was in charge from the outset, landed the more accurate blows, and did especially well with his lefts to the head. In Round #2, Sanchez kept getting hit while backing up and the experience level between the young boxers became quite evident.

In Round #3, Sanchez started to hold and was later issued an eight count after receiving a direct hit to the head.

Cory Snyder (R) has his arm raised in victory after defeating Israel Caballeros (L).


Bout #5 featured 12 year-old Israel Caballero, 113.8 pounds, of Barrio Station going up against 13 year-old Cory Snyder, 116.6 pounds, of Cital Boxing & Nutrition.

The first round went to Caballero who was more accurate and busier. Round #2 was more of a mixed bag as both boxers landed some good shots, Caballero at the outset and then Snyder at the very end of the round.

Round #3 was as they say, the make or break round to decide the match. And just to confuse the judges, both boxers put it all out there. The ever so close decision went to Snyder.

Bout #6 winner Jesus Toro (R) has his arm raised in victory by referee Rick Ley after he defeated Bruce Ntwari (L). Photo: Jim Wyatt



Bout #6 featured 25 year-old Bruce Ntwari of Cital boxing & Nutrition going up against 20 year-old Jesus Toro of the U.S. Marine Corps Boxing Team from Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, CA.

Over the past year, both of these boxers have been quite active. This was Toro’s third bout in less than six weeks. In Round #1, Ntwari was the more effective of the two and he landed several nice shots to the head.

Back came Toro in Round #2 and he landed two overhand rights that slowed Ntwari down. By the end of Round #2 it appeared Ntwari was running low on petrol.

In Round #3, Toro got things off to another great start after landing this big left hook. Endurance wise, it was clear he was in much better shape. Still there was no quit in Ntwari who came back firing his own salvos. As the final seconds ticketed away, things got sloppy and it was hard to tell who was winning with all the flailing punches that kept missing their mark. After being awarded rounds two and three to insure victory, Toro had his second straight win in the month of October.

Just minutes into Round #1, Terrence Hendriks (R) was being instructed to go to a neutral corner while referee Will White gave Jose Sanchez (L) his second of four counts. Photo: Jim Wyatt

The eight counts kept coming. Here we see referee Will White issuing Jose Sanchez the first of three eight counts.


Bout #7 featured two middleweight bangers 24 year-old Jose Sanchez from Victory MMA going up against 22 year-old Terrence Hendricks of Undisputed, El Cajon.

At this point in his boxing career, Hendricks is gaining some notoriety for putting people on their backs. At the area’s last show, October 1st at Castle Park High School, the fireworks started early. Within seconds of the opening bell, Hendricks had caught the very tough Salvador Alvarez flush to knock him off his feet. Within the same stanza, Alvarez was issued two additional eight counts. After receiving a third 8-count in the same frame, you have to forfeit the contest.

For this one, they brought in Sanchez who they figured would be more durable. He had power in both hands and the experience. The one thing he didn’t have was the hand speed to match Hendricks.

The crowd appreciated the efforts of both Terrence Hendricks (R) and Jose Sanchez (L).

In Round #1, Hendricks scored a quickie knockdown, followed by an eight count. He repeated his onslaught in Round #2 to gain a second eight count. Early in Round #3, came the third eight count, which forced the referee to call an end to the bout.

And so the reputation of Terrence “the Hitman” Hendricks  continues to grow.


First it was the Marine, Melvin Rodriguez (L) getting an eight count while Aaron Blanco waited in the neutral corner.

Then it was Aaron Blanco (R) who went down. Photo: Jim Wyatt









Bout #8 featured 25 year-old Aaron Blanco of Ocean’s Boxing in Chula Vista, CA going up against 22 year-old Melvin Rodriguez, another of the Marines from the Camp Pendleton Boxing Team in Oceanside.

If we mention there was a series of knockdowns and a series of eight counts to end the bout, you’re immediately going to think, this was another one sided affair but it wasn’t.

This one is best told by the photos herein. Blanco scored the first flash knockdown of Rodriguez, followed by an eight count. Then in the second round, Rodriguez caught Blanco over the top with his own looping right hand. Blanco retaliated with another eight count.

After their non-stop battle, Aaron Blanco (L) was declared the victor over Melvin Rodriguez (R).

Round #3 was an all out slugfest, as the punches came in bunches. Then just as you thought the match was going to be up for grabs, Blanco started catching Rodriguez with punches right on the kisser. At first he went up top and then he worked over the midsection. A flurry of unanswered blows gave referee Will White probable cause to halt the bout to award Blanco the Referee Stops Bout (TKO) victory.

In this photo we see Francisco Rodriguez (L) landing an overhand right to the chin of Michael Martin.

Bout #9 featured 17 year-old Francisco Rodriguez going up against 20 year-old Michael Martin of the U.S. Marine Corps Team. This was another all action bout with Martin taking the first round after Rodriguez refused to use his jab and got caught several times, enough to have an eight count issued.

After their grueling battle both Francisco Rodriguez (L) and Michael Martin (R) take a moment to smile at each other. Photo: Jim Wyatt

From the second round on, Rodriguez appeared to be winning the battle. After figuring Martin out, he had him backing up. He started using his jab and getting off first. Before long, it was Martin who got issued the eight count.

As you can see from this photo, there is a sizable difference in the height of Delano Sanders (L) and his opponent, Reece Bennett (R).

Bout #10 featured 31 year-old Delano Sanders of ABC Mongoose Boxing on Market Street here in San Diego going up against 22 year-old Reece Bennett of Jesse Reid Boxing in Los Angeles.

The name Jesse Reid should sound familiar. He’s the Hall of Fame trainer who’s second in command at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles.

Left to right: Jesse Reid, Reece Bennett, and Reece's biggest fan, his dad. When this photo was taken on July 16th, Reece had just left the ring after winning the open Division Light-heavyweight championship belt at the Desert Showdown World Amateur Boxing Championships in Coachella, CA.

Bennett, one of Reid’s latest finds, is lean, mean and stands 6’5” tall. If you’re not intimidated by his size, then you must be a bit slow on the uptake.

It may be, he just can’t find anyone in Los Angeles willing to spar with him and that’s why he traveled south for this show. To put it out there for all to know, Bennett, with his one punch KO power, looks scary good.

When he used his leverage and unloaded his punches, they often had a downward projectory. The punches that hit Sanders were the type that get a crowd going, Ooh!! Aah!! Why he hasn’t turned pro is a mystery, unless he’s saving himself for the 2012 Olympics. This match had no chance of going the distance and luckily for Sanders the referee stepped in to end it early.

Trivia time: Can you name three boxers that the 68 year-old Jesse Reid trained? It shouldn’t be that difficult. After all, he did train 23 World Champions and develop over 40 world-rated boxers.

To name just a few, we have Jesse Burnett, Bruce Curry, Hector Camacho (for his bout against Ray Leonard), Paul Spadafora, Roger Mayweather, Gaby and Orlando Canizales, Johnny Tapia and Lamon Brewster.

Share This Post

Pin It on Pinterest