LOS ANGELES-In the first club fight held in downtown Los Angeles in several years, it was Oxnard’s David Rodela who managed to hold off the late-charging Juanito Garcia in a back and forth struggle on Thursday night.
At Club Nokia, the first of a series of Golden Boy Promotion fight cards was a success in showing local talent and proving that Rodela and Garcia (14-3, 5 KOs) were evenly matched before more than 1,700 fans at the new venue.
“I’m excited because I made history tonight,” said Rodela (13-1-3, 6 KOs) about becoming the main event for the first fight card at the music club.
Rodela jumped on the Arizona fighter immediately and landed the quicker and more impressive punches in the early going. But slowly Garcia, who had suffered back-to-back knockout losses, began to find the range.
A right hand in the third round caught Rodela who wobbled slightly but was able to recover. Then, in the fourth round, Rodela landed two big right hands that had Garcia hovering near the ground but his glove never touched the canvas. It looked like the referee was going to step in but Garcia recovered and fought on. Rodela hurt his hand with a right hand on Garcia’s head in the process.
“I didn’t know if it was a knockdown or not. I looked at the referee because I didn’t want to get penalized,” said Rodela. “It should have been a knockdown. But that’s OK. He hurt me too.”
After hurting the right hand, Rodela was forced to rely solely on the left. The rest of the rounds were very tight and hotly contested.
“I don’t get excited when I get hurt. I’ve been hurt by Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton and one thing I learned is not to get excited,” said Rodela about his sparring experience with elite fighters. “Manny Pacquiao told me I can be a banger, but be a smart banger.”
In the final tally judge Vince Delgado scored it 57-56 for Garcia, but judges Ray Corona and Alejandro Rochin scored it 59-55 for Rodela.
In the semi-main event between undefeated featherweights, it was Paramount’s Charles Huerta (11-1, 6 KOs) who proved the extra six pro fights under his belt against Noe Lopez (4-1) were a vast advantage in winning by knockout in the third round. A short 12-inch left hook caught the southpaw Lopez on the chin and down he went. He recovered and was met with a left uppercut-right hand combo that sent him to the floor again. He recovered, but more gingerly beat the count. When the fight resumed a counter right hand by Huerta ended the fight for good with referee Pat Russell counting Lopez out at 1:02 of the third round.
“I was preparing for a right hander when they told me a week ago it was changed to a lefty,” said Huerta, who had more than 200 fans cheering for him. “I had seen him (Lopez) win a national tournament in Mexico.”
Huerta was pinpoint by the second round and dropped Lopez in the second, but it was not counted by the referee. In the third round he used the same left hook to floor Lopez again, this time it counted.
“I knew he was hurt the first time,” Huerta said. “He wobbled a little.”
Orange County’s southpaw slickster Luis Ramos (11-0, 6 KOs) showed more than flash in decking veteran Baudel Cardenas (18-17-2) with a picture perfect right hook at 2:26 of the fifth round of a lightweight bout. Ramos had dropped Cardenas with a left to the body in the first round but the tough Mexican fighter covered up pretty well until the fifth. Referee Lou Moret counted out Cardenas.
Ramos thought for a second that first knockout was the clincher, but it wasn’t.
“I thought I had him with the body shot,” said Ramos who fights out of Santa Ana and is managed by Frank Espinoza, who also manages Israel Vazquez. “I was surprised but he was strong.”
In the past Ramos had blitzed through opponents with early knockouts. But lately the OC fighter has settled into a more scientific boxing rhythm. It helped against the gritty Mexican Cardenas who has 37 pro fights.
“His head popped open and I landed the right hook,” said Ramos.
Oxnard’s Ricky Lopez (4-0) was the more polished fighter in beating Santa Maria’s taller but wilder Rufino Serrano (1-1) in a four round featherweight bout. Lopez was able to take advantage of Serrano’s sloppy defense to convince the judges 40-36.
Serrano has good tools but most of his punches are wide and he telegraphed almost every punch except the uppercut. Each time he pressured Lopez and fired uppercuts they landed. Serrano was close to winning the second round but was tagged repeatedly by left hooks at the end of the stanza.
Their contest was voted Fight of the Night by the Versus crew Bernard Hopkins, Doug Fischer and Mario Solis.
In the last bout of the evening Santa Ana’s Jose Roman survived a first round knockdown from Wilmington’s Ramon Flores. In the second round Roman rallied and fired a big right hand that froze Flores and left him vulnerable for four more big blows before referee Lou Moret stopped it for a knockout at 43 seconds of the round. Flores needed nearly five minutes to recover but was able to walk out.
In attendance were Mario Lopez, Sugar Shane Mosley, Victor Ortiz and Sergio Mora. After the fights ended most of the crowd stayed to watch the L.A. Laker-Orlando Magic finals play game 4. When Fisher made the three-point shot you would have thought you were across the street at the Staples Center, the cheers were that loud.
Club Nokia looks like a perfect fit for boxing.
Who will win the Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward fight?