Norberto Bravo Steals Show

BY Phil Woolever ON July 18, 2008
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TUCSON – Things may not have gone as planned from a promotional standpoint, but all was well for the fans here Friday night as Don Chargin and Telefutura put on another fine fiesta of fights.

After the main event fell through, the supporting cast came through like slugging stars to save the card.

When touted prospect Freddie Hernandez couldn’t get a finalized opponent, they should have called Nito Bravo.

Bravo fought Hernandez to a near standstill a few months back. Most of the raucous, assembled swarm for Tecate’s latest Solo Boxeo series would have been glad to see that action again. As it was, Bravo stole the show in a supporting role (Retirement after 3rd/KO  Roberto Valenzuela), and rode off into tonight’s blazing sunset as a local hero should.

“It’s an honor and a thrill that the fans stay behind me even if I lose,” said and untouched Bravo, “Sometimes I get disappointed or feel like I might be coming to the end of my career, but nights like this I feel like I could go on forever.”

“I’d love it if I could fight somebody like Freddie Hernandez every time,” said Bravo,

“But I have to say that win or lose I get to fight great, classy fighters. I’ve been lucky. It’s been an honor to fight every one.”

Bravo (26-16-3, 15 KOs) scored immediately with looping lefts and follow up hooks. A Southside mortar dropped Valenzuela at the end of the second session and inflamed the audience of around 1,300.

In the third, a right uppercut sunk Valenzuela into a neutral corner. He was in deep trouble, hanging on. Before the fourth frame, Valenzuela’s corner wisely intervened.

“What can I say, this was for my people like always,” reflected Bravo. In terms of braving a humid afternoon around 103 degrees for an outside card, the people definitely earned a good show.

The fighters delivered.

Del Sol’s Ava Amphitheatre is a great atmosphere for the fights, sometimes almost like a high school football game when local supporters come out for duking debutants. Ava looks like a prime venue for nurturing southwestern talent.

One card turned into such a party that boisterous, sometimes trashed audience members took turns with the round card girl waving the signs. The Chargins had to call further such antics off due to liability concerns, but it was a great scene while it lasted.

With or without peaceful loon participation, Casino del Sol has probably become the state’s premier locale for big time, superior level club fights.

In what became tonight’s televised main event, Tomas “Norteno” Villa, 20-5 (5), Odessa, Texas, improved his stock with a consistent, disciplined breakdown of Gilberto Sanchez Leon, 18-5-2 (7), Mexicali, BC.

Other action saw hard luck Paulino Villalobos, listed at 27-40-2 (16), get a well deserved split decision over disappointed Jesus “Estrella” Ruiz, 5-1-2 (4).

Christopher Martin, 11-0-2 (3), Chula Vista, CA, took a split nod over Gregorio “Goyo” Torres, 5-2-2 (2), Nogales, MX.

If not for Bravo’s big blastout, young heavyweight Eric Woods would have easily drawn the biggest response from the energized masses. Novice Woods, now 2-0, is trained by his father Roger, who has quietly and efficiently worked with some of the best in the business. It may not be too long before both Woods start making some real noise as more big trees start to fall in the fistic forest.

Meanwhile, Bravo has had his ups and down since his days on season two of “The Contender”, but he’s still driving a new truck he earned on the show, and his local locos still have good reason in being driven to support him.

For now at least, he seems to have settled into his role as a seasoned professional who understands he’s probably seen his best days in the ring come and go.

It’s a good, honorable living, usually more than good enough for most.

On a hot, beautiful night like tonight, it almost seemed great.

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