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

Selland Arena, Fresno, CA 
June 27, 2003

The old adage that says “Nobody goes to Fresno for Vacation,” is true.  I only endure the oven-dry heat as a part of my religion--boxing. I love this game. Even though Sal Blanco, the promoter, keeps putting me way back away from the ring. I endure his disrespect because this endeavor is worthy of my best efforts, regardless of anyone’s opinion. I make the trip at my own expense because I see boxers, regardless of skill or notoriety, as more than a dollar sign. I salute these modern-day warriors whose courage brings honor to the sport.

The first bout matched Tania Gomez, from Exeter squaring away with Nicole Beard from San Francisco. Tania’s record is 0-1 while Nicole’s is 1 -6, nothing to brag about. Tania, whom I believe lacks knowledge of fundamentals, took a pounding her last time out.  Tania is a southpaw. She came out displaying a much better defensive hand posture while Nicole looked as if she just woke up in a blonde delirium and decided to be a boxer.  Nicole lacked power and seemingly had no training. Tania waited while Nicole, being ineffective, threw more punches. The second round had Tania being more aggressive and catching Nicole with left-hand crosses.  Much to my dismay,Tania waved her right hand up and down as if signaling an unseen aircraft. All these movements waste energy and accomplish nothing, and demonstrate her lack of proper training. Nicole also appeared amateurish and poorly prepared. The bout served its purpose of “warming” up the crowd, other than that I can¹t say much.  I would suggest Tania¹s trainer rethink his training methods. She needs much more sparring and has to overcome her nervousness. I have to admit I did not have good seating due to Sal’s indifference so I might have missed some of the intensity. It’s very difficult to get into the bout from so far away.  I had it for Tania and the judges agreed. Nicole’s coach should get her a job waiting tables before she gets hurt.

The second bout matched Ryan “Dangerous” Davis, from Granite City, IL facing  Juan Carlos Parra, from San Diego, CA.  Davis came in with a record of 10-2-1-with 5 KOs. Parra had a record of 6-1.  I don’t recall seeing either of these fighters before.  I was sitting with Jerry Hoffman, a promoter from Monterey.  This guy puts on two shows a year, yet works all year-round to make sure he has a good card.  The bell brought Davis and Parra out of their corners. Parra sported a shaved head giving him an “alien” appearance. He missed many of his punches but finally, after many swings, caught Davis with a left hook. My seating prevented me from a better perspective; however, I managed to stay focused despite the many interruptions due to people standing up every time one of the boxers did something. Davis seemed to be better trained, however Parra seemed to want it more. Parra continued to stalk Davis, while he danced away jabbing.  I had the bout for Parra by the third round, however the bell saw Davis charge Parra against the ropes pounding away at him. Parra came back with wild, wide right- and left-hooks. Davis’ hand speed helped take the starch out off Parra’s counter attack.  Davis’ magic continued to work as he danced away and jabbed, throwing upper cuts while on the inside. Davis threw a shoe-shine on Parra’s head, which shone like a search light. Both boxers seemed to lack sparring as each missed many punches and failed to take advantage of serious openings. Davis teed off on Parra during the last round which saw wild exchanges with little effect on either boxer.  I gave the bout to Davis because of his style. Parra was the aggressor.  The judges called it a draw. Both of these boxers need major improvements. Both have some very bad habits which need immediate attention.  I predict disaster unless both of these guys get help.

The third bout squared off Joey Garcia, of Modesto with Jose Manuel Gucho Mendoza from Culiacan, Sinaloa, MX with a record of 6-3.  I call Joey “Radar” because of his excellent evasive techniques. Joey has developed extraordinary senses and can “smell” leather and avoid punches. However, he likes to be called “Lil Bad.”  Joey came in carrying an American and a Mexican Flag. Always the diplomat Joey has come a long ways since he dumped his former trainer, Louis Jordan. This kid stays busy and manages his own career. Mendoza knew he could not out jab Joey, so he threw a right hand every time Joey threw his jab. This is an excellent technique when fighting someone with quick hands.  Joey has good hand speed and excellent inside defensive skills. “Radar” Joey Garcia easily got inside and worked well. Mendoza failed to read Joey or come up with any ideas as to how to hurt him. Joey’s expertise of getting in punching and getting out has been his stock and trade; it’s also his bread and butter. Joey is one of the few boxers who has learned how to get inside and punch up, forcing his opponent to punch down, giving Joey the advantage of being able to use his legs thereby making his shots more effective. On the down side, Joey has still not learned to pivot off his back foot thereby shifting his weight forward so that his entire weight is centered on the two big knuckles of his right hand. If he ever learns to do this, he may develop a knock-out punch.  The fourth round saw a repeat of the last; not very exciting or entertaining. The audience began to boo; and only by a force of will power was I able to stay focused from so far away. Both boxers lacked fundamentals and neither of them knows how to punch. Joey gave Mendoza a lesson on inside fighting. Joey got the decision, however it was not terribly exciting. Joey desperately needs to develop a knock-out punch, otherwise he may never rise beyond this point in his career.

The next bout, which actually turned out to be another sparring session which Hector “Grandpa” Lizarraga seems to excel in.  Hector, who has never impressed me inside or outside the ring wore a Texas Ten-Gallon Hat and a black leather vest. His opponent, Isidro Tejedor Barranquilla from Colombia, sported a record of 15-14-4 with 8 KOs. Lizarraga is alleged to have once been champion of the world, but from watching him fight, it’s hard for me to believe. He can’t seem to punch without stepping over with his back foot, thereby reducing the power of his punch to nothing.  I have watched Hector Lizarraga spar other opponents with the same dull results. Hector’s lack of punching power and his inability to hurt his opponent, even though he punches nonstop, makes for a dull event.   It’s amazing almost beyond belief that he has 38-11-5 with 21 knockouts. However, this is the business of boxing. A boxer has about five years to earn his reputation and establish his name. Afterwards, as Hector is doing, he can earn fair paydays just on his reputation. I got bored as did the booing crowd. I actually stopped recording live coverage and missed nothing.  I don’t begrudge Hector for trying to earn a pay check. I believe he needs to retire and give somebody else a chance at the spotlight. Years ago as an amateur referee at the old East Side Boxing club, he  sat next to me.  He was so drunk he started arguing with me about something while I was trying to do my job.  Someone finally came over and moved him away, thank God. Poor guy.  People in Fresno seem to think he is something special. To me he seems like a street thug who got lucky. The boos and this performance should be evidence enough. I believe Sal Blanco will not hire him again, but one can never tell. Boxing is a strange and often mysterious business.  Isidro Tejedor Barranquilla did about as little as Hector. The judges saw it for the guy from Colombia.  Me--I think they should have stopped the bout and called it a No-Contest.  It stunk.

The main event proved to be much better.  Jose “Cuate” Celaya, whom I call the “Iron Man” from the Salinas Valley, came to Fresno with TNT in his fist.  I have written on several occasions that, in my opinion, Sugar Shane Mosely is protecting him too much and not allowing him a chance to develop.  This is not a bad thing, and very common in the business of boxing. Mosely is smartly protecting his investment. However, I’d like to be present when Sugar Shane Mosely, his manager, does the talent search for the next opponent. I don’t know how much a roundtrip airline ticket to Colombia might cost, but it can’t be that much if this is where they found this guy. Fray Luis Sierra Barranquilla came in with a record of 15-9-0- with 13 knockouts--on paper, an impressive record. The Salinas Iron Man proved that paper is all it was worth, as he put all of his dreams of glory to rest.  I have never seen Jose perform as well as he did this evening. His timing was impeccable.   Jose came out smoking, firing both guns with equal effectiveness.  I had a difficult time seeing the action from so far away. By now all the booze had taken effect and the audience was getting rowdy.  Celaya switched from left-foot lead to right-foot lead easily. He is one of the few boxers who I have seen do this effectively.  Barranquilla came in with over-hand rights, while Celaya threw two-  and three-punch  combinations. He connected repeatedly with powerful punches and knocked the Colombian into the ropes, taking control. Celaya moved left and right throwing smooth, hot jabs with both hands. He was beautiful to watch, poetry in motion and deadly as a 45-caliber slug. The round ended with Celaya pounding his opponent at will, eagerly awaiting the next bell. Barranquilla came out aggressively, but quickly got beaten down while Celaya threw combinations of left crosses-right hooks, slipped and punched and stepped in again with left crosses-right hooks. A continuous bombardment of left crosses and right hooks put Barranquilla onto the ropes on his butt. The referee gave him an eight count, while Celaya waited like a shark, watching him bleed, aching to come in for the kill. Celaya provided a merciless ending of this deadly dance. I was very impressed with the patience he demonstrated as well as his punching power, which he seems to be developing.  I tried to get a picture of the Salinas Iron Man, but the crowd dissuaded me. I saluted him from a distance and moved back to the south 40, where Sal Blanco had situated me.  Mexican music played in celebration and the crowd went nuts.  I gathered my equipment, said my goodbyes  and headed out into the sweltering Fresno inferno.  The  temperature must have been 100 degrees as I made my way back to the Radissson Hotel. Thank God for air conditioning.

I look forward to seeing Jose Celaya, whom I have christened the “Salinas Iron Man” in action again. I hope that his manager, Sugar Shane, performs equally as well when he faces De La Hoya in their upcoming fight.

The Native American Tribes of the Southwest usually performed a cleansing dance after each battle. This was done especially for the warriors who had taken another’s life in battle. If the fallen warrior had fought bravely, he was honored and a song written for him. If he had not fought well, the living warrior cleansed himself of his spirit so as not to permit any of his cowardice to magically attach itself to him.  Let’s hope that whoever is guiding Jose’s career takes care to advise him that not all the attention notoriety brings is healthy.

See you Ringside,

Jorge A. Martinez