With the coming of spring comes the busy sound of speed bags, three-minute buzzers and the sport of professional boxing heading full blast into its best year in many a season.
Making the rounds, a phone call to Elena “Baby Doll” Reid was answered by the Las Vegas resident who just returned from her battle with Germany’s talented Susi Kentikian that took place last week in Hamburg.
Reid, a former flyweight world titleholder, lost a 10-round decision for the WBA and WIBF titles in a tactical battle that resulted in zero knockdowns, but plenty of punches.
“She’s a great fighter,” said Reid, who tabbed the loser by all three judges. Only one gave her a round. “I just didn’t fight my best.”
The fight is available for viewing on www.Youtube.com and from what I saw, Reid may have won three rounds but no more than that. It was very difficult to see because of the poor camera work that only focused on Kentikian. Most of the footage was very bizarre when compared to American boxing coverage. At one point in the second round, Kentikian lands punches but is immediately countered by Reid. But all you see is Kentikian’s face as she fires blows, and then you see blows coming out of seemingly nowhere in return.
It was Reid’s third fight in Germany and she proved willing to give it her best. But from the start, the odds were against her.
“I couldn’t find someone to work my corner,” said Reid, whose trainer told her a week before the fight that he could not accompany her to Germany. “Finally I found someone and he tried to help me.”
Because of the last-minute change, flight tickets that were bought in that first trainer’s name had to be changed and at a steep price.
What a shame.
As it is, women fighters are poorly paid except in Germany or other parts of Europe. Reid ended paying out of her own purse the difference to buy a ticket for the new corner person at a much steeper price.
“It was expensive, but oh well,” said Reid.
The Filipina-American fighter has many fans in Germany, especially after her two good showings against legendary German fighter Regina Halmich.
“The drive who picked us up was the same one who drove us when I fought Regina,” said Reid. “It was nice. The German people were all very nice to me. They treated me very well.”
It was Kentikian who didn’t treat Reid very well. But, the knockout punching champion was unable to come close to dropping Reid who fought her way out of trouble throughout the bout.
“I think I could do much better if I get better preparation,” said Reid. “I’m very confident about my next fight.”
On Wednesday I drove to Costa Mesa in Orange County to see Edwin Valero spar with Riverside’s Josesito Lopez.
I’m very familiar with Costa Mesa, I once wrote for the Los Angeles Times-Orange County bureau located on Sunflower back in the early 1990s. Not much has changed in the area.
One thing that has changed is Valero.
Inside the kickboxing gym Valero showed up with that look of energy in his face that emanates from him like a lighthouse at midnight. The Venezuelan lightweight is fast, very fast.
Curiosity led me to the sparring session. Lopez, at nearly six feet tall and with good speed and power himself, seemingly posed a threat to Valero. I wanted to see the results of the sparring match up.
One surprise was seeing Roberto Alcazar, the one time trainer for Oscar De La Hoya throughout the 1990s. The gentleman trainer is one of the nice guys in the sport to converse with.
As soon as the buzzer went off Valero aggressively moved forward but with more finesse and focus than I’ve seen from him in many years. Gone were the wild combinations and lapse in defense. In place was a ramrod jab, great balance and sharp combinations from the speedy southpaw puncher.
Lopez is no slouch. He used every defensive maneuver in his roster and tried many times to reverse Valero’s charges with offensive counter blows. But the lightning quick Venezuelan now has that jab, balanced footwork and focus to go along with his legendary stamina.
“He’s a monster,” said Henry Ramirez, who trains Lopez.
After three terse rounds, the sparring session was over between Valero and Lopez. In stepped a youngster with one pro fight.
Boom went the punch and down he went to a knee. The youngster nodded he was ok and was dropped two more times. Out he went. Another Orange County youngster took his place. He was paralyzed by a punch along the ropes and laid there unconscious for several seconds. Luckily, Valero is not out there to kill anyone and he stopped punching every time he saw the life go out of the boxer’s eyes.
Left hand or right hand, Valero’s power and speed are no place for youngsters with little pro experience.
As I drove to Riverside I began thinking about who Valero resembled: it came quick. He looked like Manny Pacquiao did about two years ago. Now, the Filipino super star has elevated to another level, but Valero is right behind. By next year, Valero could be ready for that kind of showdown.
On the Riverside hills looking down below you can see green hills, freeways in the distance and lights from the plush neighborhoods below. This is Willie Schunke’s gym and it’s where Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola trains.
“He said the Lincoln Gym where we used to train was too crowded,” said Ramirez. “So Willie Schunke built this gym for him.”
By the time I reached the hillside gym Arreola, Cisse Salif and Rob Willis are wrapping their hands in preparation for some heavy sparring. These are the big boys.
Arreola is preparing for his next bout on April 11, against Jameel McCline at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. It’s not going to be easy. In fact, none of Arreola’s fights will be easy again. He’s in another plateau now and there is a big target on him.
“Every fight is important for Chris now,” said Ramirez who trains Arreola.
Willis steps in the ring first to face Arreola and both exchange punches at a meager and tentative rate. Blows are landed but they’re not the dangerous earth chattering variety that are tossed in real fights.
Last November, in nearby Ontario, Arreola and Travis Walker exchanged some heavy artillery in their two rounds and 13 seconds. Both men were floored and in the end the Riverside heavyweight prevailed.
Sparring between Salif and Arreola hit a higher note. Several right hands by Salif found their mark and Arreola landed both his left and right on the extremely durable and dangerous Salif. The sound of impact from both fighters was concussive.
About a dozen people saw the heavyweights blasting away. At the conclusion, it was evident that Arreola is ready for a six to eight round fight. He still has a short ways to go to be able to last 12 rounds as scheduled.
McCline can take a punch.
In Los Angeles, the District finals of the Golden Gloves tournament was held at Lincoln Park.
It may be the last amateur tournament held for many months.
The California State Athletic Commission suspended all amateur fights normally held under the auspices of USA Boxing on Monday March 23.
“Young children, many under the age of 16 and some as young as eight, have been fighting in private clubs for entertainment purposes. At these fights, it has been alleged that gambling and drinking took place, and that parents were told not to attend,” stated Bill Douglass, Assistant Executive Officer for CSAC.
A statement by USA Boxing said a hearing takes place on April 13 in Los Angeles.
“USA Boxing is currently in conversations with CSAC to resolve their concerns,” stated a letter posted in USA Boxing’s web site.
Calls to CSAC were not returned on Thursday.
I guess all of those youngsters who participated and won the districts held last weekend will have to be satisfied with their local Golden Glove trophies.
Some of the winners were, Maria Suarez, Mayte Razo, Zachary Wohlman, Salvador Tabullo, Martin Orendeay, Giovannie Oliva, Chris Harris, Seniesa Estrada, Randy Caballero, Gabino Saenz, Yolanda Ezell, Adan Munguilla, Emmanuel Robles, Arman Sargsyan, and Richard Romero.
Congratulations to the fighters.
Meanwhile, the amateur program is in limbo until the investigation is completed and a hearing takes place.
Who will win the Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward fight?