My boxing weekend began on Friday night after intense two hour traffic filled drive up the 15 highway from San Diego to Temecula, CA’s Pechanga Resort and Casino. The casino is pretty impressive, so much so that once you step foot in it, you can imagine being in Las Vegas with how plush and expansive it is inside. The long drive was well worth it since I got to witness some pretty good scraps in the eight round card except for two duds. The main event between Ruslan Provodnikov and Ivan Popoca was an excellent one as we saw a light welterweight systematically destroy another with effective counter punching. The definition of insanity is to do the exact same thing over and over but expecting a different result and that is what Popoca did. He threw is combinations the right way but once he saw they weren’t working; he didn’t have a plan B which was his downfall. Provodnikov earned a eight round TKO. In the semi-main event, Tijuana’s own Marvin Quintero only needed three rounds to stop late sub Juan “Chango” Santiago. Quintero looked great as he had been in the gym for about 5 months. Quintero graduated as an Industrial Engineer the day before and after the weigh-in, drove back to Tijuana to receive his diploma. He was originally slated to face the hard hitting Ji Hoon Kim but after the Korean failed the eye exam, Santiago was brought in as cannon fodder for the quick southpaw. Hope we see more of Quintero soon.
Saturday night took me to my usual haunt… Yeah, that’s right, the Perro Salado!! Where the beers are served cold and the fights broadcast live! I couldn’t wait to take my place at my usual table to catch all the night’s action. First up was the Khan-McCloskey joke. Not much to say about this bout except that McCloskey didn’t look like he wanted to fight and for it to be stopped for that cut was more of a favor to us fans than to McClosky. I don’t see much in Khan. Granted he is quick and somewhat technically sound but to me, he is the worst elite fighter that Roach trains. He doesn’t use his distance well and seems to fall over himself when throwing punches. I hope the Bradley-Khan gets made this summer which it looks like it will. I think that Khan will not be able to handle Bradley’s high output pressure and will fold. The X factor in this bout is Roach who might just be able to draft the perfect game plan for Khan to follow but that will be the question, will he follow it once Bradley is all over him. Interesting match up.
The sixth round of the Ortiz-Berto match up on HBO for the WBC welterweight strap is the front runner for the three best boxing minutes of the year. The early knockdown of Ortiz to start the round might have been a result of the hardest punch I have ever seen land on TV or live in a long time. It was devastating and I find it hard to believe that Ortiz was able to not only get up from it but drop Berto seconds later. After picking Berto because of his speed and size advantage, I have to give it to Ortiz. From the opening bell it was obvious that he had a plan and Berto didn’t. From the first knockdown which was ruled a slip, Berto had a “deer caught in the headlights” look and never seemed determined to keep his title.
Being that I was at the Perro Salado, the channel was then turned to Televisa in time to catch local Tijuana fighter Jackie “Aztec Princess” Nava versus WBC super flyweight champion Ana Maria Torres in a ten round super bantamweight female war. We were able to catch the last rounds of Jessica Chavez take Irma “Guerita” Sanchez to school to earn the IBF female light flyweight belt. It was surprise to see that Chavez was trained by the great Nacho Beristain and it was no wonder that she was able to easily defeat Sanchez who although tough, possessed very limited in skills.
To much fanfare which included Aztec or Mayan costumed escorts, both warriors stepped into the ring and put on a display of your classic boxer versus puncher with Nava taking the role of the former and Torres the latter. The bout was a main event on a nationally televised open broadcast in Mexico. When will we see that in the U.S. regarding a female fight? After ten close rounds in which Torres scored the harder punches but Nava displayed the better boxing skills, the two women walked away with a draw. The rematch is set for the Azteca Channel in September. I hope it is in Tijuana.
The best fight of the weekend for me was the huge Orlando Salido upset over “JuanMa” Lopez in Puerto Rico for an alphabet title. From the get go, it was obvious that Salido was a determined warrior who was much better than the eleven losses on his record indicated. Lopez had no answer for that sneaky, looping right hand that Salido kept landing over and over again. True, it is said that Lopez has many distractions outside the ring with his pending divorce but that only tries to take away from Salido’s masterful performance. I truly didn’t give Salido a chance since I thought Lopez was all that much better skilled. Even though giving great fights to the likes of Robert Guerrero and Yuriorkis Gamboa, it was against a “B” level fighter like Cristobal Cruz who Salido won the IBF title from and I didn’t believe that he was a world class fighter because of that. He still might not be but he put together a performance of a lifetime Saturday night. What he does have of a world class level is heart and a determination that made him ignore he was the underdog in his opponent’s backyard. Now the Yuriorkis Gamboa-”JuanMa” Lopez fight seems far, far away.
Despite all the great fights we saw this weekend, for me, the fight of the year is still the Marquez-Concepcion fire fight from Panama. That fight had action the whole way while the Ortiz-Berto fizzled out at the end and the Salido-Lopez had that controversial ending. All in all, it has been a great 2011 for boxing and I hope the rest of the year only gets better.