Miguel Diaz is aiming for a title shot, pretty soon. (photo by Baeza)
Call it exporting prizefighting.
Another wave of Inland area prospects hits the Southern California boxing scene when Riverside’s Richard “The Terminator” Contreras (9-0-1, 8 KOs) returns to the ring after suffering a broken jaw earlier in the year. He’ll face Jonathan Alcantara (6-8-2) in the main event at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario on Friday, Sept. 21.
It’s a Thompson Boxing Promotions fight card and there’s no other mid-level promoter that has discovered or developed as many solid prizefighters as the organization based in Orange County.
Weirdly, most of their talent is dug up from the gyms of the Inland Empire in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, not Orange County. So be it.
In February, Contreras was hit by a punch that came after the bell had rung by Mexico’s Daniel Quevedo. It was ruled an illegal punch but that didn’t prevent the blow from cracking his jaw. Despite the visible injury, Contreras rallied furiously to a majority draw against Quevedo.
Time has healed the break.
“I feel good,” said Contreras, 22, recently. “I can’t wait to fight again.”
That’s his boxing mentality.
In the co-main event Allentown, Penn. flyweight product Miguel Diaz (9-0) returns for the ninth time to Southern California. The rapid firing boxing machine will face San Antonio’s Joseph Rios (11-7-2) for the vacant WBC USNBC flyweight title.
“We’re trying to get Miguel Diaz a world title shot somewhere down the line,” said Alex Camponovo of Thompson Boxing Promotions.
Also on Friday, about a hundred-plus miles north, Thompson Boxing Promotions sends a few of its fighters to headline a boxing card at the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez.
Carson’s Efrain Esquivias (16-1, 9 KOs) meets Colombia’s Jhonatan Romero (21-0, 12 KOs) in the junior featherweight main event set for 10 rounds at Chumash.
Both Esquivias and Romero are promoted by Thompson Boxing. Romero has been training in Riverside the past few months and sparring against Riverside boxers. One of the boxers he’s worked against is Ontario’s Jonathan Arellano (13-0-1, 3 KOs), a speedy junior featherweight set to fight in the semi-main event against Roman Morales (12-0, 6 KOs). It’s Arellano’s big test.
“It’s a good fight for Jonathan,” said trainer Henry Ramirez.
Last week’s exports
If you doubt Riverside has been an impact on prizefighting today, all one has to do is look to last weekend.
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. learned his trade in Riverside boxing gyms training with Willy Silva. This was over a decade ago and there he was last weekend trading blows with Argentina’s Sergio Martinez for the middleweight championship of the world at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Josesito Lopez learned his craft working in the Lincoln Boxing Gym under the guidance of the late Andy Suarez in Riverside. Ironically, on the biggest night of his career he fought Saul “Canelo” Alvarez for the junior middleweight championship at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
A decade ago the odds of two Riverside prizefighters competing in rival fight cards in Las Vegas would have been 1 million to one.
Last weekend, the boxing world saw two products of the Inland Empire in competing Las Vegas fight cards: Josesito Lopez lost by technical knockout to Mexico’s heralded Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. bowed to Argentina’s Sergio Martinez.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
More on last week
It was a little bit too much to ask for Lopez to move up yet another weight division and face the best 154-pound fighter in the world, Alvarez. But as always, Lopez stepped on the gas and marched forward to provide fans an exciting fight. Especially Alvarez fans, who were able to see their hero fully charged face someone that tries to win, not to survive. Lopez’s efforts were not lost on Alvarez.
“I’d like to thank Josesito for a good fight, he fought bravely and I wish him well in his future,” said Alvarez at the post fight press conference.
The redheaded Mexican expects to fight Miguel Cotto and Floyd Mayweather in the immediate future.
Golden Boy Promotion CEO Richard Schaefer also spoke effusively of Lopez’s efforts and said the Riverside prizefighter could be part of an informal welterweight tournament in the near future.
Lopez was gracious in defeat.
“Canelo was stronger than I thought he would be,” said Lopez. “He’s bad ass.”
Because the Lopez-Alvarez fight ended in the fifth round, many reporters at the MGM Grand were able to watch the Chavez-Martinez fight on their laptops. In the final round Martinez was decked twice but had built such a commanding lead on the score cards it was nearly impossible for Chavez to win a decision. He did not.
However, Chavez Jr’s near knockout win likely gained a rematch with Martinez.
Fights on television
Fri. NBCSN, 6 p.m., Ronald Cruz (17-0) vs. Antwone Smith (21-4-1).
Fri. Showtime, 11 p.m., Efrain Esquivias (16-1) vs. Jhonatan Romero (21-0).
(UFC) Sat. pay-per-view, 6 p.m., Jon Jones (16-1) vs. Vitor Belfort (21-9); Joseph Benavidez (16-2) vs. Demetrious Johnson (15-2-1).