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Jorge's Corner
The Voice of Boxing in Central and Northern California


Boxing in Stockton California
February 18, 2005

Once again war drums sounded along the Delta and Stockton tribes gathered to witness their warriors do battle. Amongst these tribes a new leader has emerged.  A new promoter and a fast study, James Grunsky put on yet another knockout performance in his latest production.  James has come a long ways. Thanks to James, Stockton is once again on the fight map of the United States. Once known at "Fat City", for its boxing shows, Stockton can once again take its place amongst the proud and the few. You’d think our new Mayor, former police Chief Chavez, Pedoesto’s creation would have made an appearance, but no such luck.  It seems the mayor does not see it within his role to make an appearance.  You’d think he’ d want to show support for a real self-starter, a real dreamer who took a chance and made it happen, without someone greasing the skids for him. Too bad, he might have learned something from James Grunsky.  If James had waited for someone to godfather him in, Stockton would still be without boxing. Right On James.

All that being said, there is no joy in Mudville.  The pride of Stockton, as Kenny Lopez likes to call himself, was knocked cold by a guy with less than half his experience. Then talk about a freak accident, Carlos Zepeda broke his arm.  How in the hell does someone break his arm in a boxing match? You’d think they were in the World Wrestling Federation. Anyone who was there can tell you it happened when Zepdea started his usually method of winging his arms out like a bird and connected with his opponent’s elbow. It was as odd as watching Mike Tyson break his ankle. No one ever taught these guys how to properly punch, block, slip and any other fundamentals. If you want someone to blame, it’s their coach’s fault. A coach is like parent to a young father, if the coach don’t know how to box, neither will the fighter. It’s strange too, if you talk to one of these know-nothing coaches after one of their fighters gets the hell knocked out of them, they usually reply with some ridiculous answer.  Like “yea but he’s got lots of balls”, as if courage is all it takes to be a fighter.  Too bad, Carlos could be a hell of a boxer, if he had someone teach him the game, He may lack fundamentals, but he does not lack courage, power, or the willingness to enter the fray and go for it.  As far as Kenny is concerned, now 40 years old and father of four, he needs to stop pretending he’s still the strapping, brawler, puncher who never gave a damn and simply beat his opponent down, no matter how many punches he took.  I’ve followed his career.  Kenny’s never had proper technique; he’s always been a brawler who would take five punches in order to land one. Only this time he took the wrong punch, which is guaranteed to happen when you lack proper defensive hand position. He has always dropped his right hand and therefore never had any protection from a left hook, which is what he caught and dropped him like a rag doll.   His opponent James Brock didn’t have anything that I could see, and I’ve watched a lot of boxing.  Brock lacked fundamentals, hopped around the ring like a half crazed Ever Last bunny, and punched while standing on one foot.  A better-trained boxer, with sound fundamentals, stamina and a right hand could have finished him.  I don’t know what Kenny was waiting for when he got caught with that left hook. He might have thought he was waiting for a taxi, and got hit by a train instead.  I watched as James Brock simply came in behind his jab, and threw the left hook.  It landed solidly on Kenny’s right side and, banda bing banda boom, game over.  Kenny dropped like he’d been shot, embarrassingly in front of his own home crowd.  The Pride of Stockton lay on the canvas out cold, as the doctor, his corner men and the referee attempted to revive him. All during this time Brock did cartwheels, flips, and leg splits around the ring.  As he celebrated his victory the Stockton crowd, many of Kenny’s supporters stood stunned, silenced and no longer carrying on.  It was definitely a poignant moment, one not quickly forgotten by Stockton Fight Fans. I bet it makes best knock outs on Friday Night Fights.

The next most embarrassing moment came when René Lopez entered the ring without any amateur experience, lacking any concept of what it means to box and got beaten down like piñata.  The poor ignorant wretch didn’t even know how to hold his hands, move his feet, step sideways or parry a punch. He didn’t know how to throw a right, or a left. He swung his arms out like a monkey catching on to a limb and had no power in either hand.  Thank God he wore red, to match all the blood that poured out of his nose. The poor kid took so much punishment I suggested to his corner that they stop the fight. I even told the Jim Montoya, an alleged promoter and knowledgeable man of the sport, his coach ought to be fired. All Jim said was, “You’ve got to give the kid credit; he’s got a lot of balls.”  No sooner had he said that, then his opponent, Gerardo Arcos landed a right hook squarely on the poor kid’s groin.  René who’d already been beaten for three rounds fell to his knees in horrible anguish. His face contorted in anguish and horror. Sitting ringside, on the blue corner, I watched as René who had lots of balls, according to his manager, tried to survive the terrible pain.  No groin protector ever made could have protected him from such a solid shot. I once again suggest they stop the fight; there was no way he could have won.  I was surprised that his corner, clearly someone who doesn’t care about him, told him, it was his fault for now punching and putting more balls into the fight.  All this was said in Spanish, and sounds just like what it is, gutter talk.

Sitting ringside I have been privileged to hear what so corner men say to their fighters, so far I’d say its 50-50. Some complete nonsense some helpful.  However telling this kid to put more balls into the fight was a little over the top.  The poor misguided, unprepared, innocent gutsy kid stood up and walked back into the fray, where this time, his opponent landed a terrible combination and once again landed René on the canvas, this time for good. It was a lesson in the harshness of the reality of boxing.  It is a tough game, one that should not be entered without considering the deadly possibilities.  The reckless and foolhardy forget; you could die in here. Thank God, none of the above seemed to be permanently damaged, although I cannot say that about Kenny. I believe he’s suffered all he can take, without risking his life. I would advise anyone who can influence him to strongly encourage him to hang up his gloves and find pleasure in just watching the sport.

The only hope left in Mudville was accidentally found in a kid making his debut Nick Brooks who convincingly proved that a strong left cross is as good as a right one any day of the week. Nick packs a power in his left cross and anyone who meets him in the ring should be advised to move away from his strong side.

The Best fight of the night was Franky Leal against Ricardo Valencia. Frankly clearly outclassed Valencia and gave us all a good, action packed fight.

Louisito Espinoza took a beating from Cristobal Cruz and should retire. He’s seen more fights than are healthy.

Hilario Lopez pummeled Jose Bermejo and must have made a lasting impression on the poor kid.

No matter what else can be said about any of these men who fought, they are all worthy of respect.  Some may lack training and boxing skills, but none of them lack courage. If nothing else can be learned about boxing in general, one thing is certain, no one can endure public humiliation. Anyone who knows any of these fighters would be well advised not to poke fun or disrespect at their efforts. Boxing is a tough, unforgiving game.

James Grunsky once again did a great job and has much to be proud of.  Right on James.

Boxing in San Jose, California
February 3, 2005

Each new year is accompanied with renewed hope. This year was no different. I attempted to discarded painful memories, disappointments, and the maliciousness of people. Were it so simple, life would not be so difficult. There is no easy way and the best method of dealing with troublesome individuals is to avoid them.  There is no middle ground. You either do battle on a continual basis, or you ignore them, and carry on.  This is why I love boxing.  Even the darkest creatures, who walk amongst us, are ennoble by boxing.  I don’t mean those who think they own boxing, I mean the fighters. Ego, power struggles and greed will never permit those self-claimed "big shots", towards the light.   "Things are what they are, and that's how it is, as my teacher would say. You gotta do the best you can, with what you got". So, once again, I will attempt to focus on the positive.  I will endeavor to preserver.

The first match Shotgun Jesse Martinez. I’ve seen him fight several times and I’m still waiting to be impressed.  I can’t believe someone in his camp would not bring up the topic of fundamentals.  Jesse seems to hunch over and bends at the waist, perfect for an uppercut, which he takes plenty of. He wings his punches out sideways, before he throws them. His hooks like limps blowing in the breeze and he doesn’t seem to have any power in his punches, due to his terrible foot positioning.  But, he has a heart the size of the Grand Canyon and a chin hard as granite.  He’s a super guy, who deserves better, but all I can do is call as I see.  His opponent, Santos Rodriguez is a kid I saw grow up in the amateurs.  He is a hard working and brings his best game. What I found amazing is that the commission allowed this match to take place. Shotgun has twenty bouts, while Santos only has three.  You’d expect to see Shotgun blow the kid out of the water, wrong. I saw Santos had a chance to win as soon as they stepped towards each other. Right away, Santos nailed Jesse solidly with right hands. Santos landed four clean power shots, and Jesse did nothing but endure. His face turned red immediately. Jesse stood at exactly the wrong place, and at the perfect distance to take nasty shots. No technique, just a knockdown brawl. Santos started to show his lack of preparation, while Jesse continued to take punches. Both fighters brawled bringing the crowd to their feet, rocking each other with solid body and head shots.  Jesse seemed to be waiting for God knows what and took unnecessary punishment without a repose. Santos started dropping bombs with overhand rights that rocked Jesse. Santos displayed poor defensive hand and foot positioning, but he never stopped punching. Jesse seemed more upset by Santo’s attitude and total lack of respect, than all the punches he took.   Santos stood and traded shot for shot with Jesse who was clearly insulted by this kid for the central valley. I gotta give Santos credit for being able to trade shots with a veteran boxer like Shotgun.  I would have advised better tactics and less brawling, but things are what they are. I gave every round to Santos, who clearly outfought, out boxed and out muscled Jesse.  Just when you thought it was over, Santos relaxed, and k-pow, he got socked squarely on the jaw, which dropped him, like he’d been shot. The Referee took a point and Santos easily took the decision.

I noticed Boom Boom Mancini in the crowd. I happen to own the ring he once trained in, in Youngstown Ohio. My old friend Pat Nelson and his dad owned the building where Boom Boom made his movie. I got to visit all the gyms in the area and meet the coaches. I also met Ace Miller on that trip; he once trained Ali.

The second bout matched Pat Lawlor with Paul Vasquez.  I first saw Pat fight ten or more years ago. He was fighting for a world title, but he never had a chance.  Tonight, he looked like a long shore man who decided to box in a tough man show. Pat took the fight to Vasquez who seemed intimidated by him. Although Vasquez had the size and the reach, it was Pat who carried the fight to him.  Pat tried to lure Vasquez into attacking, which he failed to do, behind his jab, which should have served him better. Pat attacked by winging a left hook, lunging, and throwing a right hand, which failed miserably.   I gave Pat the first round. Vasquez and Pat started getting booed in the second, both displaying terrible fundamentals. Finally, Vasquez started landing and in doing so, gathered more confidence and slowly gather momentum.  Vasquez finally saw what I’d saw from the beginning and started whaling on Pat who stood, smiled and took punishment. False bravado is as boring as tough guys, which come five cents a dozen. Stupid, tough guys come two cents a dozen, and prisons are full of ‘em.  I would advice Pat to admit he’s over the hill, and Vasquez should consider learning proper fundamentals.  Vasquez beat Pat like a redheaded stepchild, until I thought the fight should be stopped, but the referee let it continue. I thought Vasquez won the fight, but the judges called it a draw.

The next bout matched Sergio Rios with a record of 5-0 with 4 KOs against Calvin Odem with a record of 13-6.  I honestly thought Sergio would destroy Calvin in less then five rounds, but a terrible cut over Sergio’s right eye stopped the fight.  It was the right call by the referee and Sergio will live to fight again. It was a tough break for Rios who has improved considerably since I first saw him fight. Thank God, he is learning better defensive techniques.  I look forward to seeing him again.

The next bout match Mia St. John with a record of 39-4-2 with 16 KOs and Joy Irving with a record of 6-0 with 6 KOs.  I don’t practically like these “novelty fights”, I think they degrade boxing, if that’s possible. I was also disappointed the alleged sex goddess didn’t look hot.  She looked fat, and her legs and butt wiggled like a bowl of jelly.  She did do the job on Joy, who was joyless.  Mia didn’t take long to take charge of the bout and clearly outclassed her. I felt sorry for Joy, who was clearly taking a beating and wanted to stop, but once again the referee was not paying attention.  Joy took ten or twelve more shots that should have been allowed, had the referee been doing his job.  Too bad we can score the referees as well as the judges on their performance.

I wish the Main Event, which match well known Montell Griffin and Sam Reese would have been a better show, but it was disappointing. I know these veteran boxers have many things to consider, aside from pleasing the crowd. I can appreciate that they must weight the risks against the benefits. Both of these boxers were clearly doing just that. Neither of them wanted to win, which is different from not wanting to loose. Neither pressed the other, and neither made an attempt to take charge.  Both fought a careful, cautious fight, which lacked the spark of a main event.  As much as I would applaud Montell’s record and accomplishment, and his ability to survive against bigger opponents, he disappointed me on this one.  I think he could have stopped Reese, or at least taken control of the fight and made it more interesting.  It’s too late now, and as they say, it’s in the books.

I want to take the staff of the HP Pavilion for once again conducting a smooth show with little or no interruptions.  The staff was usually was very professional, polite, while still doing their job. A special thanks to Jim Sparaco and Rebecca Haarlow for their assistance in arranging my press credential.

As I made my way back to Guns Smoke (Stockton) thanked my lucky stars for allowing me to be a part of this tremendous sport, and I had to say Thank God for boxing.

Always in Your Corner,

Jorge A. Martinez