A gray-haired gentleman in his forties, with his lovely wife clutching his arm, said it best on Saturday night as he exited the Ayva Center in Houston, Texas. “Well, that was different,” he said to his better half as the two strolled to their car after witnessing the eight bouts featured on fledgling promotional company G&M Boxing’s inaugural Fight Night series.
The main event featured Alfonso Lopez, a super middleweight from Corpus Christi, Texas who made it just about as far as any club fighter from the Lone Star State could hope for. Lopez has been on television numerous occasions and his claim to fame is once losing a majority decision to former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik.
Lopez dominated Juan Manuel Reyes in the main event of the evening. The latter fighter employed a half-witted strategy of bending down low at his waist and attempting to grab Lopez as the much larger fighter, now campaigning at 175 pounds, pummeled Reyes until the bout was halted after three one-sided rounds.
But that wasn’t nearly the most interesting fight on the card, nor was it the worst mismatch. And there were plenty of both.
Interesting was the set-up at Ayva Center, a converted night club with ample room for the around 1,500 attendees who came to see the fights. It appeared G&M put a lot of money into making everything look nice. There were at least 25 pretty girls with staff shirts on standing around the venue who didn’t have a clue about how seating worked or just about anything else. But they all had the same outfit on so you knew they worked there.
Notable light heavyweight Andrzej Fonfara was in attendance sitting ringside, but wasn’t noticed by anyone until one of his crewmembers won one of the various raffle drawings conducted by the announcer and ring card girls between every fight. The winner took home a large Floyd Mayweather “The Money Team” poster but seemed more excited to tell the audience how his friend, Fonfara, was scheduled to face Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. soon on Showtime.
Above the ring on all four sides were large, 50-inch flat panel televisions. One had to wonder two things about them. First, was the makeshift construction of such large items really all that safe sitting atop a ring that seemed to move and shudder at the slightest of combatant footsteps? Second, since they were only 50-inch panels, who exactly were the TVs intended for? If you were close enough to the ring to also see the television set, you didn’t need it.
There were picture-taking opportunities with all the featured fighters after they won their bouts. That makes more sense if you saw the one-sided matchmaking of the fights. At least three of the undercard fighters in the blue corner appeared to have never boxed a minute in their lives before the bell rang on Saturday for their “professional” debuts. One poor sap, Anton Fuller, slid down slow to the mat as if he would stay there until someone came along to scrape him up to bury him after Hector Garcia knocked him silly in Round 1 of a scheduled four rounder. Don’t worry. The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation was on hand to momentarily halt the fight card after the slew of egregious and outrageous mismatches to make sure everyone at the venue wasn’t drinking out of glass bottles. They must be poured into a plastic cup! This for everyone’s safety, of course, except for the three or four young men who came to the ring in swim trunks, basketball shoes and only a vague concept of how to hold their hands up like a boxer. Don’t bury your head about them too low. They had some guy in their corner with them who didn’t even carry a towel and probably has never thrown or even eaten a punch in his life either.
That’s not necessarily an indictment of G&M Boxing. Every young fighter with some money behind him fights these types of fighters, or something close, during his first few bouts. It was just something too easily recognizable because those in attendance witnessed four of them in the row, all quick and ugly knockouts of fighters who had almost no business being in the ring that night. But don’t shake your finger at anyone too hard in righteous indignation. Chances are that your favorite fighter, whether it be Floyd Mayweather, Roy Jones Jr. or Muhammad Ali, knocked out a few of these guys along the way, too. That’s boxing. It maybe shouldn’t be. But that’s it.
Nonetheless, the final four bouts on the card were entertaining. Junior middleweight Rogelio De La Torre defeated Ramon Barber by majority decision in a four rounder. The two men put on the fight of the night, likely the even draw one of the judges scored it, except for the fact that De La Torre was in the red corner with the rest of the expected winners and the other two judges remembered poor Barber was brought into the venue to lose.
The two most interesting fighters on the card—meaning the ones you might someday care about even if you live outside of Houston—were Devonte Williams and Tomas Dorsey. Williams, a 21-year-old junior middleweight from Houston, knocked out the tough-but-outclassed Anthony Hill for the sixth win of his career. Williams works with Edward Jackson, a local strength and conditioning coach who does the same for Andre Ward, Erislandy Lara and Bryant Jennings. The lanky and well-schooled Williams was the 2013 National Police Athletic League champion in the 152-pound male senior open division and appears to have real potential as a prizefighter. Moreover, he was matched decently and had to work to get his knockout win, something G&M Promotions should probably consider for future shows, too.
But the most fascinating fighter of the night goes to heavyweight Tomas Dorsey of Houston. The 40-year-old, 205-pound bowling ball of muscle stands only 5 feet, 6 inches tall but has speed and power to die for. He cut down Armando Herrera, a fighter who outweighed him by over forty pounds, with the skill and precision of a young (and shorter) Mike Tyson. Dorsey has legit power. He knocked Herrera down a total of three times in three rounds from both head and body shots. And perhaps most interesting was how decent the height-challenged fighter’s defense appeared. His shorter frame gave the hard-swinging Herrera a small target, and his fast, athletic movements made him the better man of the night.
In short, G&M Boxing is a welcome addition to the local Houston fight scene. Yes, they have some kinks to work out if they are to catch up with the area’s premier promoter, Savarese Promotions. Yes, they offered some sadistic mismatches on the early part of the card. Yes, they probably need to learn where to focus their efforts a little bit. But the fight card was well attended, and the fighters they promoted on the card (aka the red corner) were in shape and ready to fight. These men were the types who have dreams about bigger things. Most of them will fail. But there were some on the card who looked like they might accomplish something in boxing, the roughest and toughest of sports.
Watching them try isn’t a bad way to spend a Saturday night in Houston.