In San Antonio the lines are long with boxing fans waiting to get an autograph of Manny Pacquiao.
Despite a population predominantly Latino, fans are eager to meet Filipino slugger Pacquiao who is slated to meet Mexico’s Jorge Solis in a 12-round match at the Alamodome in San Antonio on Saturday April 14.
The fight will be shown on pay-per-view television.
“It tells you the tremendous respect fans have for Manny Pacquiao everywhere he goes,” said Bob Arum, president of Top Tank Promotions who are staging the event. “Even Mexican fans respect what he does in the ring. They know he comes to fight not to run around the ring.”
Even Solis, an undefeated fighter from Guadalajara, grudgingly reveals he has some fan tendencies for his opponent.
“Manny Pacquiao has fought the best fighters put in front of him. He has my respect for that,” said Solis while in Los Angeles. “But maybe I have a few things he hasn’t seen before.”
Solis has not fought the same quality opposition, but he has remained undefeated despite fighting mostly in Mexico where ring wars are expected and protection from promoters is unheard of.
“I used to be good friends with Oscar Larios,” said Solis, who comes from the same city as Larios who fought Pacquiao last summer. “But we haven’t spoken to each other in a while.”
Tall and lean, Solis expects Pacquiao to erupt like he does against everyone he’s faced in the ring.
“I respect Manny Pacquiao very much for what he has been able to do against Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales,” says Solis. “But they are not me.”
Everywhere Pacquiao goes the crowds converge like ants to a slice of watermelon on a sunny day. But everywhere he goes the Filipino superstar greets everyone with respect and humility.
“Even Mexican fans like Pacquiao because he’s a very humble person,” Arum said. “They see this great fighter who’s beaten the best and who is also a very nice person too.”
Most of the seats at the Alamodome have been sold with just a few seats remaining. Though the Filipino population is very small – about 15,000 in Texas – boxing fans are eager to see a boxer who’s proven to be worth the money to see in person.
“Manny Pacquiao always gives exciting fights. Mexican fans know this. That’s why they like seeing him fight,” Arum said.
Remembering Lily Rodriguez
Women’s boxing pioneer Lily Rodriguez passed away four months ago in Los Angeles but due to the lack of interest in female contact sports by most media outlets her death went largely unnoticed.
Rodriguez was the wife of Blinky Rodriguez and sister to Benny “the Jet” Urquidez, a giant in the mixed martial arts world.
“Inside the ring she considered herself as good as any man,” said Bridgette “Baby Doll” Riley who was managed by Rodriguez and her husband. “Lily was one of the best fighters ever.”
Her brother Urquidez was a legendary fighter who fought before thousands of fans in Thailand, China and the United States. His status and his sisters was more recognized in Asia than in their home country.
Rodriguez was a kickboxing champion and a boxing champion and was inducted into the Martial Arts History Museum’s Hall of Fame. She once fought on the same fight card with her husband and both won.
She was 59 when she passed away in January of this year from pneumonia.
“She was like a mother to me,” said Riley, a retired kickboxer and boxer. “The world is emptier without her.”
Las Vegas boxing ring announcer and writer dies
According to www.lvboxing.com Lawrence Hidaka passed away on Monday April 9. Hidaka was a ring announcer in Las Vegas and also wrote for Lvboxing.com. The personable Hidaka was a knowledgeable boxing writer and always willing to help fellow boxing journalists and friends.
He’ll be sorely miss. I met Hidaka at one of the Orlean Casino fight shows four years ago and he was liked by everyone who knew him. The last show I saw Hidaka announce boxing participants was at Layla McCarter’s title defense against Melissa Hernandez.
A memorial is planned for Hidaka on April 20 at the West Charleston Library at 6:30 p.m.
Maywood fight card
Chino’s Roger “Speedy” Gonzalez (25-1) faces Allan Visayas (21-6) in a bantamweight fight at the Maywood Activities Center in Maywood on Friday April 13.
Gonzalez’s only loss came to current WBO bantamweight titleholder Jhonny Gonzalez and that was three years ago. His last fight was on November 19, 2004.
The Maywood Activity Center is located at 4801 E. 58th Street. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. For more information call (323) 419-6534.
Russian Giant defends heavyweight title
WBA heavyweight titleholder Nicolai Valuev of Russia defends his title against Uzbekistan’s Ruslan Chagaev on Saturday April 13. The fight will not be televised in the United States.
Valuev, who is seven-feet tall, is undefeated and faces the undefeated Chagaev in Stuttgart, Germany. Both fighters fought and beat former WBA champion John Ruiz.
In his last match Valuev crushed Jameel McCline January and knocked out Monte Barrett in October 2006.
Valuev says he wants a match with Ukraine’s Vitaly Klitschko who recently returned to action after a brief retirement.
Layla McCarter honored by actress Geena Davis
The Womenssportsfoundation.org did a piece on Geena ((Davis the actress) Takes Aim column on WBA and GBU lightweight world champion Layla McCarter regarding her pursuit and success in becoming the first woman in more than 30 years to fight three-minute rounds and 12 round world title fights.
Before McCarter, women were forced to fight two-minute rounds and title fights could be no longer than 10 rounds. The Las Vegas-based fighter felt it was sexist and finally convinced the Nevada State Athletic Commission to grant her wish for equal championship rules with men’s professional boxing.
McCarter is defending her GBU title against former world champion Melissa Del Valle at the Orleans Casino on Friday April 27. For tickets or information call (702) 365-7111.
New San Fernando boxing gym
A new boxing gym in the San Fernando area in Southern California has been installed.
Called the John Bray’s Boxing Club it’s located at 1051 N. Maclay Street, San Fernando, Ca. 91349. The gym was built by Manny Cotas’ Boxing Promotions and Sam Larios.
One of the main boxers at the gym is former Contender Miguel Espino.