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


Boxing in Arco Arena
Arco Arena, Sacramento

December 10, 2004

Golden Boy Promotions and Feather Falls Casino presented Fight Night in the Capitol City.  ARCO is a great venue for boxing matches. It is a first class setting, well maintained and smoothly operated. Everyone involved deserves a pat on the back and thumbs up. A special thanks goes to Kirk Rhinehart for granting me and my crew the opportunity to do what I love so much. Reporting from ringside at a professional boxing event is a privilege.

Being in the middle of the mix grants me the opportunity to keep my finger on the pulse of boxing in the Central Valley.  I exchanged pleasantries with Olympic hero Vincent Escobedo.  I believe Vincent will do well as a pro.  I hope whoever he signs with will take care of him.  I fear that the dark side of boxing will swallow him up. He’s a good kid, who deserves a real shot at becoming a world champion.  I would suggest signing with someone who has a smaller stable of fighters, and actually knows them. The last thing a young fighter needs is to only be seen as a dollar sign.  This is one of the drawbacks of signing with a promoter who does not value you as a human being. I have been following Vincent's career ever since I first met him in Las Vegas at the National Championships. He¹s Ace¹s in my book.  I wish him the best.

My positions as a sportswriter and coach of my own boxing programs places me in a rare position of actually knowing the difference between good, average and great boxing. As strange as this might sound, good boxing is hard to find.  You¹ll meet hundreds of self-created make believe experts who think they know boxing because they watch it on TV. That’s like saying you know how to be a doctor because you watch ER on TV. 

The first bout matched 135 pound, Leonel Madrigal from Oxnard, and Danny Savala from Sacramento.  Danny quickly demonstrated a sharp, fast jab. Madrigal displayed poor hand positioning, which soon had him taking punishment. Danny advanced aggressively and walked into a stiff jab. The first round ended with both fighters going for it, and giving the crowd something to cheer about.  Savala never lacked courage, he did lack polish. His corner lacked an eye for Madrigal’s weaknesses. Even though Madrigal kept his hands low, Danny failed to take advantage of his weaknesses. Madrigal demonstrated good hand speed, but lacked punching power. Savala had the power, but lacked the ability to get past Madrigal's jab. Danny lacked fundamentals, and continuously made mistakes that should have been corrected as an amateur, years ago, before turning pro. As sign of a lack of experience and killer instinct, Danny failed to punch.  Madrigal ran and showed a better eye for dodging a punch and finding an opening.   Danny failed to parry and counter punch, while Madrigal threw twice as many punches. Madrigal won it 40 to 36.

The second bout matched 153 pounds, “Hotdogs” Jesus Hernandez and from Oakland Allen Cespedes. Both fighters came in throwing power shots, trying to end it quickly. They soon started cracking heads and both fought as southpaws. Watching two left handed boxers is a rare. However, neither demonstrated proper fundamentals, and both were swinging for the fences, like ball players instead of boxers.  Allen soon established his jab, which turned the tide of battle, as the crowd became restless.  In round three, Hernandez got rocked and Cespedes came in for the kill. Jesus switched to a left foot lead and somehow recovered. The fans began reacting by catcalling. I was reminded of the 96 percent theory. According to the theory, 96% of the population is of questionable character with dubious intentions.  Ingesting alcohol doesn't do anything to improve their quality Cespedes caught Hotdogs with a left cross and dropped him for a KO in the third round.

The third bout matched two female boxers.  Mercedes Mercury 128 pounds, 3-6, from Denver Co. with Valanna McGee (7-1) of Sacramento. Scheduled for six rounds was note worthy. McGee came out aggressively charging after Mercury who demonstrated composure and stepped out with a right foot lead. McGee soon landed a right cross and left hook that set the tone of the bout. McGee maintained her cool as she attacked behind right hand leads and left hooks.  I was impressed with McGee, who demonstrated superior punching power as well as a more aggressive nature.  Mercury attempted to run but McGee smartly cut off the ring and beat her like a red hair stepchild. While Mercury swung away and missed, McGee nailed her with clean, solid shots. McGee gave me a thrill by granting me an opportunity to witness the second female knock out of my career. I believe that if McGee is managed correctly, brought along slowly, and trained better, she has the makings of a possible future champion. I wish I felt confident in the guys working her corner.  I compliment McGee on her performance. I thought it was The Best Fight of The Night, Congratulations M’s McGee.  Marty Sammon, the only man I know who jumped out of perfectly good airplane while being shot at, worked as referee.

The next bout was a tragic comedy. The world got a chance to meet Oscar Zaragaza during “The Next Great Champ”. I thought the show was pretty sad. Not only was the boxing horrible, the stunts and training techniques were equally as bad.  I was embarrassed for Oscar.  I thought he had more character than to let FOX use his name to sale this terrible excuse for a reality show. I also lost all respect for Lou Duva whom I never cared for. According to Rusty Rosenberger¹s book, “Unclaimed Destiny”, Lou Duva, slipped him some pills before a match and he took a beating.  Whoever trained Gilbert (The General) Zaragaza should have their license revoked, the boy looked awful.  All the hype on the show painted him like some wanna be badass without the skills, or discipline to scare anyone.   His blond high lights, and his camouflaged outfit, only added to his already damaged image.  The real problem came when I saw his opponent.  Richard Page fought less than three weeks ago in Monterey, at The Riot At The Hyatt, Nov. 27, 2004.  He was awful. The poor boy had no boxing skills, no footwork, no balance, no technique, terrible defense skills and possessed only one thing his opponent didn’t..... better conditioning. Plus, I gotta say. Richard wanted to win.  Zaragoza¹s boxing skills are absent and he was out of shape, which is equivalent to wanting to fly without go to flight school.  The fight went from bad to awful, as it deteriorated into a brawling contest with both boxers swinging and missing, grabbing, and stumbling around the ring. Thank God, it finally ended with Page getting his second win and a KO. Zarogaza looked worse then he did on TV. The Main Event was simply awful. I wish I could say it demonstrated some kind of positive trait, but that would not be calling it honest.  Michael Simms (14-2-1 with 12 KOs) has no idea how to parry a jab, step into his punch, maintain his balance, or hold up his hands.  He had a great write up in the brochure, which held the fight card, but I gotta wonder who he has been fighting in order to be considered worthy of a main event. I wonder who taught him all these horrible habits, this guy has no fundamentals.  The only worse thing was watching Joseph Kiwanuka 27-8-2, 20 KOs.  I think his corner must have been blind, because no one noticed how poorly Simms was parrying a jab.  I have not seen such terrible techniques since watching Oscar’s boxing show. He parried a left jab, but reaching out with his right hand, and brought the jab up and out, leaving himself completely open for a left hook. The fact that Joseph failed to see it or take advantage has to make me wonder if he came here to fight or just get paid.  The crowd, who was now pretty toasted, booed, catcalled and hooted throughout the bout.   Kiwanuka lacked heart, courage and risked nothing.   Once offered an excuse to surrender, he did so quickly. It would have made an average sparring match, but it stunk as a main event.  I gotta say, in order for Simms to be this bad and have this kind of record means he is only getting tomato cans as opponents. We have the same kind of paper champions in Stockton's.  Hey, maybe we should match Michael Simms with some of the make believe hometown heroes we have, and then we could call it “Fantasy Champions”.  Then FOX and Oscar De La Hoya could get it on TV, at least we¹d get a laugh.  I gotta wonder about the average fan, if they consider this “good boxing”.  I predict a very short career for Michael Simms, if he ever leaves the protection of Sacramento.

I want to congratulate Arco Arena¹s Staff. It was great.  Except for the brawl at the end of the night, the event went smoothly.  I am still amused at the wanna be heroes, who won¹t step into the ring, but will throw punches, in a drunken stupor to demonstrate their make believe courage.  The fog coming home was so bad I expected to see monsters creeping around. Now that would have been a story!   I gotta be half nuts to be out there battling the elements, but even after all that,  “I gotta say Thank God for Boxing”.

I hope to see you again ringside, soon. 

Always in Your Corner,

Jorge A. Martinez