In the next several weeks the best of the heavyweights will be fragging each other for recognition, including Lamon Brewster, Chris Byrd, Hasim Rahman and James Toney who all hold titles.
But who else is coming to dinner?
It may not be a seven course meal but some heavyweight appetizers are coming to the California area when Damian “Bolo” Wills looks to avenge the only blemish on his record against Sedrick Fields (21-26-2, 15 KOs) at the Henry Ford Theater in Hollywood on Thursday March 16. The rematch promoted by LB4LB Promotions will not be televised.
Wills, 26, who fights and trains out of the Hollywood area, meets Fields, who befuddled the young heavyweight with his veteran answers for the youngster’s aggressive style, a year ago. It was a midterm exam that Wills barely passed.
“I learned a lot from that fight. I’m glad I went through that,” Wills (18-0-1, 15 KOs) said a month ago after training at the LB4LB Gym. “I guarantee it isn’t going to happen again.”
The Hollywood fan favorite is one of several young heavyweights in the Southern California area destined to either meet each other or proceed alone to the A-level world of big beef prizefighters.
Fields, 33, has one of those crazy kind of records. If based simply on numbers, his record doesn’t look appealing, yet the big boned heavyweight out of Atlanta has wins over Shannon Briggs and Alfred Cole and has gone the distance with Jameel McCline, Oliver McCall, Ruslan Chagaev and Larry Donald.
Big Buck knows what he’s doing.
“He caught me by surprise last time,” Wills says about Fields who rolled with every punch and converted the battle into a smothering inside fight. “It’s not going to go the distance.”
Last week, another California heavyweight upstart named Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola faced Southern-based fighter Curtis Taylor and ended the contest scheduled for six rounds with the first right hand he landed in the first round.
“He didn’t want to fight,” Arreola said shaking his head. “He had a good jab but it was just a matter of time.”
It could be just a matter of time before Arreola and Wills eventually meet to decide the fate of the heavyweight picture in California.
Last week Javier Mora graduated to the A-level with a technical stoppage of world-ranked Kirk Johnson. Though it was a tangling of feet that caused Johnson’s torn knee, Mora walked through the Canadian’s minefield to deliver a few bazooka-like blows of his own to change the momentum.
“I felt just like a proud papa,” said Toney about his protégé. “He fought good.”
A few other heavyweights loom in the California landscape like Mika Gergen, Billy Zumbrun and some guys that seem like native Californians because of the preponderance of time they spend in the Golden State named Terry Smith and Jason Galvern.
Heavyweight title fights
This Saturday it’s James Toney facing Hasim Rahman for the WBC vacated by Vitali Klitschko, who is now in the political arena. Winner seeks to claim what they call the “real title.” Rahman was given the green belt while Toney already has the IBA version.
On April 1, it’s Lamon Brewster defending the WBO title he wrested from Wladimir Klitschko and has defended three times. Now he faces Sergei Lyakhovich (22-1) at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland.
On April 22, IBF heavyweight titleholder Chris Byrd defends his championship against Vladimir Klitschko at Germany. He lost the WBO version to Klitschko in an earlier match in 2000, who then lost it to Brewster. Byrd is making his fifth title defense.
On June 3, new WBA titleholder Nicolay Valuev of Russia is expected to defend the championship he won by decision against John Ruiz a few months ago. The seven-foot giant seeks to fight in the U.S. soon.
Southern California fight cards coming up
On Thursday, March 25, at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, Eddie Sanchez is penned for the main event in a middleweight contest. Also on the fight card will be Moreno Valley, California’s Kaliesha West in her second pro fight. For tickets and more information call (800) 827-2946.
If anyone has been watching ESPN lately, Sanchez is the fighter who was loitering around the Pechanga Casino during a fight card when one of the participants of the main event dropped out. The promoter of the fight card desperately needed an opponent for J.C. Candelo, the junior middleweight contender and saw Sanchez munching on a sandwich. They told him not to take another bite. A day later he shed nine pounds, stepped on the scale and proceeded to outbox Candelo in one of the upsets of the year.
“I was so tired by the eighth round,” Sanchez, 30, said of that contest that took place in August 2004. “Some how I found the energy to last the final three rounds.”
Sanchez has been training in Riverside for this fight and has moved from New Orleans where his family was caught in the Katrina tragedy. He’s moved everyone to California.
Also on the card will be Kaliesha West, the former amateur star.
West’s last bout saw her engage professionally and she was matched against Suszannah Warner, a long-armed jab artist who tried her best to keep the wound-up West at bay. It worked for a round but a left hook by the debuting pro put Warner on the canvas. From then on it was speed and will.
“I can do better,” says West, 18, excitedly. “Believe me I can do a lot better.”
One reason West seems so experienced is the sparring she receives from the likes of Heather Percival, a bantamweight contender, Mariana Juarez, a former junior bantamweight titleholder, and Heather Heap, a former junior National champion. It’s war all of the time for the foursome.
“There’s nothing like sparring with those girls,” West said.
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On Friday, March 31, at the Maywood Activity Center in Maywood, Colton’s undefeated Freddie Barrera (10-0) meets Oxnard’s undefeated Victor Ortiz (12-1, 8 KOs) on a televised match. Barrera is stepping up to the big time with this contest against the highly touted Ortiz whose last two fights were televised. Also on the fight card will be Anthony “The Messenger” Thompson meeting Darnell Boone, a slickster from Youngstown, Ohio who gave Enrique Ornelas a tussle a week ago in a middleweight bout. For information call (323) 270-6810.
Two years ago, Thompson was knocked out by Grady Brewer in a welterweight match. Now he’s a middleweight and the rhythm of his punches and spring in his step seem enhanced like magic. In his last bout he stopped Adrian Lopez in three rounds.
“I was a little off,” said Thompson after the fight. “This weight feels a lot better. I’m stronger.”
Thompson faces Boone who recently fought at Pechanga against Ornelas. It was a closer fight than the scorecards indicated.
On Friday, March 31, at the Quiet Cannon in Montebello, Armando Dorantes (5-0) of East Los Angeles tries to extend his unbeaten streak in a lightweight bout. Also on the card will be popular flyweight Jerry Pavich of Hesperia. For more information call (323) 816-2000.
On Friday, April 14, at the Agua Caliente Casino in Palm Springs, Audley Harrison faces Dominick Guinn in a heavyweight contest. Also on the card will be Riverside’s Chris Arreola possibly against Travis Walker in a match pitting two young undefeated heavyweights. (888) 999-1995.
Fights on television
Fri. ESPN2, 6 p.m., Vince Phillips (48-9-1) vs. Jesse Feliciano (13-5-2)
Fri. Telefutura, 9 p.m., David Diaz (29-1-1) vs. Silverio Ortiz (16-8)
Sat. HBO, 7 p.m., James Toney (69-4-2) vs. Hasim Rahman (41-5-1)