Arena, Fresno, CA
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
Colombia. Me--I think they should
have stopped the bout and called it a No-Contest.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
Jose’s career takes care to advise him that not all the attention notoriety
brings is healthy.
See you Ringside,
Jorge A. Martinez