Despite massive fires seemingly in every corner of Southern California the extensive smoke and poor air quality hasn’t stopped fighters like Antonio Margarito, Victor Ortiz and Chris Arreola.
With the busiest month for professional boxing approaching Southern California-based fighters are ignoring the ring of fires in San Diego, Valencia, Malibu, Lake Arrowhead and Santiago.
Martin Castillo, the former junior bantamweight world champion, was busy working out in various gyms in the Los Angeles area. Last Friday he beat the rugged and slightly dirty Jonathan Perez in a 10-round bout in Cicero, Illinois. The Mexico City native looked fresh after eight rounds then seemed to take a safety-first approach. It’s been said he’s in line for a fight against WBC titleholder Cristian Mijares. Castillo tends to cut badly after every fight. He was very careful in this fight, preferring to fight outside while Perez repeatedly tried to rope him in with one arm every time the Mexican fighter was close.
Giovani Segura, the junior flyweight contender, trained at Azteca Boxing Club in Bell. Though the area is more than 40 miles from any fire the constant wind and smoke covered the entire Southern California sky with an orange cloud cover. It definitely was not good to breathe. But Segura wasn’t tested by his opponent Wilfrido Valdez. After getting tagged a few times by the Colombian the Acapulco native countered with a single left hook to the liver and down went Valdez for the count.
Maybe the California-based fighters prefer bad air quality.
Jorge “Raton” Paez, the son of the popular Jorge “Maromero” Paez, trained in Montebello under the tutelage of Javier Capetillo. Previously all of Capetillo’s fighters trained in El Monte but the boxing teacher moved his army into Sergio Mora’s gym because of the lack of air conditioning. Capetillo prefers his guys to work up a sweat. Paez won his junior welterweight contest against Aaron Drake by unanimous decision. But he doesn’t look like a 140-pounder. It’s only going to get tougher for Paez despite the win. He looks more like a junior lightweight.
Also in Montebello is Antonio Margarito who’s anxious to return to the ring and save his place at the top of the welterweight list.
“I want to make sure I stay number one,” said Margarito, who fights veteran Golden Johnson at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 10. “I’ve been told I’m going to fight the winner of Shane Mosley and Miguel Cotto.”
Margarito looks in shape and much sharper than in his last fight against Paul Williams that he lost.
“It’s good for him so he doesn’t end up staying out of the ring so ling,” said Sergio Diaz, who co-manages Margarito.
The Tijuana resident says he learned his lesson from his last performance.
“I know now I started to late against Paul Williams. That’s why I want another fight to stay sharp,” Margarito said. “It doesn’t matter who wins the fight between Mosley and Cotto. I’m going to be concentrating on my fight with Golden Johnson. He’s a very smart fighter.”
Also training in Montebello were Jorge “El Travieso” Arce who is scheduled to fight Dec. 1, in New Mexico against Wyndel Janiola. If he wins, then it opens up the dance card for Arce to face a number of popular fighters.
Francisco “Panchito” Arce was also training in the same gym. Both are tutored by Capetillo. The younger brother is one of the hardest workers in the sport. If he had the same power then he would be a top tier fighter. But every opponent turns into a war.
Also in the gym were Isidro “Chino” Garcia and Alfredo Angulo. Garcia lost his last fight against Abner Mares in a heavier weight class and undefeated middleweight Angulo was said to be fighting undefeated James Kirkland. Both had sparred with Sergio Mora during the summer. But according to Angulo’s trainer Clemente Medina that fight is not taking place. A good thing, both should wait a awhile to build an audience.
Ortiz avoids car accident
Victor Ortiz drove past two major wildfires on his way from Oxnard to the Montebello Gym and almost ended in a car mishap while on the freeway. His brother was driving the car when the front left tire suffered a blowout and nearly tipped over. But the younger brother held the wheel and managed to keep the control under control. Inside the car were Victor, Robert Garcia and Javier Garcia.
“We were scared,” said Ortiz. “The first thing I thought was there goes my fight. But my brother kept control. That was a close one.”
Ortiz fights Carlos Maussa on the Nov. 10 card and the southpaw power-hitter has performed impressively with three consecutive knockouts include Joshua Clottey in his last fight.
It’s his first fight at Madison Square Garden.
“It’s just a boxing ring,” said Ortiz.
Bolo and Nightmare
Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola is preparing in the middle of two massive fires near his boxing gym in Riverside. The heavyweight contender meets Teke Oruh on Nov. 16 at St. Lucia.
Helping out with the sparring was none other than former foe Damon “Bolo” Wills who tangled with Arreola last year in Las Vegas. Both were undefeated at the time and Arreola emerged the winner. But it was clear that Wills has the fortitude to go on to success if he continues.
The pair of heavyweights sparred four rounds at the Lincoln Boxing Club and neither fighter held back though it was the first sparring session. It was a continuation of their fight a year ago and though not in condition, the punches and blows were furious. Uppercuts and left hooks by Wills and right hands and body shots by Arreola could probably be heard a block away.
“I think he still has animosity,” said Arreola who shook hands with Wills.
Both fighters are a California force.
Also working out was Josesito Lopez who had been scheduled to fight against New York’s impressive Darling Jimenez. But the East Coast fighter was unable to meet the commitment. Now Lopez faces Michigan’s Tyrone Harris on Friday in Washington. Both fighters hit hard. Look for a knockout. The fight will be shown on Showtime. Lopez recently signed a contract with both Thompson Boxing and Goossen-Tutor Promotions. The lightweight has improved greatly and is now ranked by the WBC.
Fernando “El Feroz” Vargas is scheduled to fight on Nov. 23, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles against Ricardo “El Matador” Mayorga. The former world champion from Oxnard was training near one of the first big fires in Valencia. No word on whether he moved his training camp or stayed in the smoke-filled area near Magic Mountain amusement park.
It’s going to be the last fight for one of the most popular fighters to ever come out of the Southern California area.
It rained on Saturday in Southern California, not a lot but just enough to hopefully slow up the massive fighters that surround the southern part of the state.
Mosley stayed in his Big Bear camp though the fire was running up the mountains about 10 miles west of his cabin.
Through fire and smoke the show must go on.
Just a prayer for those who lost their lives to the fires and those unable to return home. It was a tragic two weeks for thousands and thousands of people.