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Eddie Sanchez Returns at Fantasy Springs Casino

BY David A. Avila ON March 20, 2006
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Bad things happen to Eddie Sanchez so why is he always smiling?

When a man stabbed him in a fit of road rage a few years back he simply moved away from that area. Or when a hurricane ravaged his New Orleans digs while he was training he moved from that area too. Yet, he still smiles.

Sanchez, a 6-2 in height welterweight/middleweight, faces Abdias Castillo (9-14-1)of Texas in a middleweight bout at the Fantasy Springs Resort and Casino in Indio, on Saturday, March 25. The fight card is promoted by Ringside Ticket.

“If Eddie is in shape he can fight with anybody,” said Patrick Ortiz, the promoter who has inserted Sanchez in several of his fight cards. “He’s a good fighter.”

With his long arms and good boxing ability, Sanchez has been able to fight from 147 pounds to 165 pounds. But he knows where he belongs.

“I’m really a welterweight,” Sanchez (14-5-2, 9 KOs) admits. “But usually they call me to fight middleweights or super middleweights.”

Though very lean and tall, the Mazatlan-born prizefighter packs a wallop in either fist and has that uncanny ability to enter the ring with little preparation.

“Sometimes I only get a few days,” Sanchez, 30, said.

Against junior middleweight contender J.C.Candelo a couple of years ago, it was only a few hours.

It was a smoldering hot summer day on August 13, 2004 when Sanchez traveled with his manager Lou Messina to Temecula to check out some boxing and grab a bite to eat.

“The food was free and I was hungry,” Sanchez remembers.

Casually picking up sandwich bread from a luncheon spread, a promoter asked him if he could possibly accept a fight if necessary. He never took a bite of that sandwich he was making.

Instead Sanchez made a meal out of Candelo in a 12-round title fight for the vacant GBU light middleweight title. Using his reach and movement, the Mexican middleweight confused the Colombian and rattled jabs off his face throughout the fight. It was one of the biggest upsets of the year and was seen by many on ESPN. It’s still being shown on the cable sports network.

“People always tell me they saw my fight on television,” he said. “I’ve never seen it.”

Sanchez beguiled Candelo with a steady jab that worked like one of those electric cattle prongs. And when Candelo became too aggressive, big right hands thundered off his head.

The win proved a pivotal revelation.

“It did help me…It told me Candelo is one of the best fighter in the world and I beat him. I guess people make it seem they are unbeatable,” Sanchez said of his win by unanimous decision. “But after that fight, it opened my mind a lot more to let me know I can really do this. I just have to find a good trainer.”

Sanchez has never seen a tape of that fight where a hungry and tired fighter use his inner fire to outbox a fighter who had given Winky Wright a dozen rounds of hell.

Boxing experts know that Sanchez can beat anybody including a world champion.

“He’s got an awkward style that can give even a champion problems,” said Paul Hernandez, a boxing publisher and former boxing promoter. “With those long arms of his he causes a lot of problems.”

When Sanchez faced number one WBO contender Jose Celaya a couple of years back, it was a shock to many when it ended in a knockout victory.

But losses to Teddy Reid and Archak “Shark Attack” TerMeliksetian proved he needs something more to stay in the upper echelon of boxing.

“I moved to Orange County so I can focus for my fights,” said Sanchez, who is married and has two children. “I don’t have a trainer, I’m training myself.”

When his wife was stuck in the middle of Hurricane Katrina and the flooding that followed, the father of two found it difficult to prepare for his September 30 fight while his family was stuck in New Orleans.

But he pulled through.

A few years earlier, after a motorist stabbed him on the side of a freeway following an argument, he survived the attempted murder too.

Now, after surviving numerous setbacks, altercations and disasters, Sanchez still has a shot at cracking the upper echelon of welterweights or middleweights despite several losses on his record.

“You never know about Eddie Sanchez. He can look ordinary against and ordinary fighter or great against a great fighter,” said Ortiz who has promoted several of his bouts. “But he has the talent.”

After enduring tragedies and near death one would expect a morose and sullen man instead of the cheek-to-cheek smiles.

“I’m a happy guy,” Sanchez says.

Kaliesha West Returns Too

On the same fight card as Sanchez’s bout, Moreno Valley’s Kaliesha West makes her second appearance as a professional when she meets Tonia Craven at the Fantasy Springs Resort and Casino.

West, who also ran track at Moreno Valley, a track home paradise suburb east of Riverside, has been fighting for about seven years as an amateur where she entered just about any tournament that would take her.

She just plain loves to fight.

At 5-5 and quick as a wisp, West follows every word of advice offered by her father Juan West, a former boxer who now devotes every ounce of energy to his energetic daughter.

“Oh Kaliesha comes to fight,” says the father, who gave up a pro career to raise his daughter and son. “Are they ready for Kaliesha.”

With her nimble footwork and flashing hand-speed the former amateur standout and a junior Golden Gloves National champion arrived in the pro scene with an over-exuberant showing against Great Britain’s Suszannah Warner (3-2) who recently defeated Noriko Kariya (3-1), the sister of NHL Hockey star Paul Kariya. That win put more credibility on West’s ability.

In the bout between Warner and the young supercharged West, it was speed versus a long jab that seemed to land from across a room. Warner’s long pole of a jab kept West a little off-balance until she adjusted and began landing left hooks. It was a left hook that dropped Warner. After that, West was in control and rampaged to victory with combination punching rarely seen from a boxer in her pro debut.

“Kaliesha has fought all kinds of fighters as an amateur,” says her father Juan. “She can fight any style of fighter.”

If that’s not enough, she also spars with world-class fighters like Melissa Cooper, Mariana Juarez and Heather Percival.

“She’s picking up real fast,” said Larry Ramirez of Fontana, who let’s his charge Heather Percival work with the teenager. “Pretty soon she’s going to be too much to handle.”

West seems oblivious to all of the hoopla surrounding her pro arrival.

“I was made for this,” she said after her first prizefight. “I love the attention.”

Facing her will be Tonia Craven, a hard-hitting bantamweight from New Mexico who fought to a draw against Yvonne Chavez in a match that was televised. In that bout, it appeared that Craven came within a punch of stopping Chavez but just ran out of time.

Female bouts are two-minute rounds.

Craven is a gutsy fighter with solid boxing skills who poses a danger against an over-excited fighter like West.

“I think Kaliesha can handle any kind of fighter,” says Juan West. “Not many people can box like Kaliesha.”

For tickets and information call (800) 827-2946. The doors open at 6 p.m.

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