BELL, Ca.-Azteca Gym hosted the Southern California triumvirate of Leo Santa Cruz, Abner Mares and Ponce De Leon in a media bash to promote their upcoming Cinco de Mayo weekend fight.
Famous for housing a number of historic boxers ranging from Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. to Miguel Vazquez in the past 30 years, Azteca Gym was the site chosen by Golden Boy Promotions to allow various media representatives the chance to speak, see and photograph the world champions from different weight classes on Thursday afternoon.
One particular fight stands out as an oddity because two fighters are managed by the same person, Frank Espinoza. Those fighters, Mares and Ponce De Leon, will meet on May 4, at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Showtime will televise.
Frank Espinoza Jr., the head of Espinoza Promotions, works closely with both Southern California-based prizefighters and communicates with both of them on a weekly and sometimes daily basis.
“It’s kind of a bittersweet situation,” said Espinoza. “Somebody’s got to go home a loser.”
Ponce De Leon (44-4, 35 Kos) defends the WBC featherweight title against the undefeated Mares (25-0-1, 13 Kos). Both are managed by Espinoza and have sparred, befriended and known each other for many years.
“On a personal basis both guys are very family-oriented,” said Espinoza. “I like them both. They’re very humble.”
Mares, 27, is a former bantamweight and junior featherweight world champion. He’s also a former Mexican Olympian. So is Ponce De Leon who is now 32 and is a southpaw.
What do you do after someone wins or loses and he’s your fighter?
“This is a sport, there’s got to be a winner and there’s got to be a loser,” Espinoza said. “”It’s going to be an interesting match.”
There is no rematch clause.
Jose Armando Santa Cruz stood a few feet away from his brother Leo Santa Cruz who had a line of camera crews ready to pounce on him with questions. Someone asked the elder brother why the youngest brother Leo emerged as the best of all the brothers.
“It’s because he is the youngest and everybody picked on him when he was little,” said Jose Armando Santa Cruz with a chuckle.
Nobody laughs when Leo Santa Cruz enters a boxing ring. He’s already a bantamweight world champion at age 24, and now looks to move up in weight to fight dangerous Alexander Munoz of Venezuela.
Santa Cruz respects Munoz for his vast experience.
“He’s strong too,” Santa Cruz said. “We’re going to be moving, not waiting for his punch.”
Other fight chatter
Southern California’s Mia St. John (47-12-2, 18 Kos) travels to Denmark to challenge Finland’s Cecilia Braekhus (21-0, 5 Kos) who holds the WBA, WBC and WBO welterweight world titles. The match takes place Saturday April 13, in Frederikshavn, Denmark.
Female and male collegiate boxers nationwide participate in the first National Championships for boxing beginning today at the University of San Francisco. It’s a three-day event and includes more than 20 colleges. Doors open at 5 p.m. For more information visit www.collegeboxing.org.
Tustin’s Paul Velarde (3-3-3) fought Carlos Morales in the main event on Thursday at the OC Hangar in Costa Mesa. Also, Santa Ana’s Alberto Ibarra met Riverside’s Rashad Hughes. The Roy Engelbrecht Promotions fight card also includes MMA and began at 7:30 p.m.
Marcus Oliveira (24-0-1, 19 Kos) and Ryan Coyne (21-0, 9 Kos) square off in a battle between undefeated light heavyweights on Friday April 12, in Las Vegas. Don King Productions is staging the event at the Treasure Island Resort and Casino. The winner gets a title shot. Showtime will televise.
The Ultimate Fighter 17 finale takes place at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. The main event features Urijah Faber (27-6) Scott Jorgensen (14-6) meeting in a bantamweight bout. In a female bantamweight match, Meisha Tate (13-3) fights Cat Zingano (7-0).
Ronica Jeffrey (11-0) and Natasha Spence (6-1-1) battle for the number one spot on the WIBA junior lightweight division. The eight-round event takes place Friday April 12, at Dover Downs Casino and Hotel in Delaware.
IBF female junior bantamweight titlist Debora Dionicius (11-0) against Gabriela Bouvier (9-3-1) in a championship fight set for 10 rounds. The match takes place in Parana, Argentina. Dionicius is from Argentina and Bouvier is from Uruguay.
Former world champion Juan Diaz (35-4, 17 Kos) returns to the ring after a brief retirement and faces Pipino Cuevas Jr. (16-9, 14 Kos) in junior welterweight match. The fight card takes place on Saturday April 13, in Corpus Christi, Texas.
WBA featherweight titlist Chris John (48-0-2, 22 Kos) makes a title defense against Japan’s Satoshi Hosono (23-2, 17 Kos) on Sunday April 14. The match takes place in Jakarta, Indonesia. Also, Daud Yordan (30-2, 23 Kos) fights Simpiwe Vetyeka (24-2, 14 Kos) in another featherweight fight.
WBA bantamweight titlist Koki Kameda (30-1, 17 Kos) hung on to the world title by split decision against Panomroonglek Kaiyanghadaogym (36-2, 19 Kos) after 12 rounds on Sunday. The match was held in Osaka, Japan.
WBA female bantamweight titlist Irma Garcia (7-0-1) retained the title against Janeth Perez (17-2-2) by split decision after 10 rounds in Mexico City. It was their second match in three months. Garcia has won both fights by decision.
Rustam Nugaev (23-6-1, 13 Kos) knocked out Jonathan Maicello (19-1, 11 Kos) at 2:03 of round eight in a lightweight clash. The fight took place at Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez, Calif.. Nugaev now holds the USBA lightweight title. Whittier’s Alex Luna (13-0, 9 Kos) won by decision against Mario Hermosillo (11-10-3) in a junior welterweight fight.