Gyms are buzzing all over Southern California even more than usual. Pro boxing enters its “March Madness” much like college basketball.
Beginning on Friday, the Los Angeles area headlines dual boxing cards within 10 miles of each other as Golden Boy Promotions opens up its monthly boxing series “LA Fight Club” in downtown Los Angeles. The Belasco Theater where “bachata” and “salsa” takes place will be dancing a different tune.
Undefeated Jojo Diaz (14-0, 9 Kos) faces Juan Luis Hernandez (17-4-1, 9 Kos) in a super bantamweight clash in the main event. Golden Boy Promotions had a successful run several years ago at a site nearby and is resuming the popular boxing series. It’s sold out, but most of the card will be shown on Fox Sports 1.
Also on the same card will be Las Vegas prospect Cesar Quinonez a junior welterweight from the gym of former world champion Fernando “El Feroz” Vargas. He’s trained by former world champion Joel Casamayor. Another prospect is Ireland’s Jason Quigley and several others are slated as well.
Across town in Glendale, Calif. a fight card featuring cruiserweights in the main event takes place with more interesting prospects. One of those is Russian cruiser Murat Gassiev (20-0, 14 Kos) who meets Cuba’s Yunier Dorticos (18-0, 17 Kos) in a battle of the undefeated.
Gassiev is trained by Abel Sanchez who I ran into on Saturday in downtown L.A. Sanchez, who trains Gennady Golovkin, was there to see Ronda Rousey defend her UFC bantamweight title. He and several others say that Gassiev is “the real deal” and a surefire bet to succeed to the top.
“I only hope he can make the transition to heavyweight,” said Sanchez. “He has all the tools.”
Sanchez, who also formerly trained Sergey Kovalev, said the same thing about “Triple G” several years ago. You have to believe Sanchez, but this fight should substantiate his claim about Gassiev. (ED. NOTE: Sanchez tells TSS that Dorticos needed more time to get ready, the fight is scratched, and he hopes Gassiev will fight in April.)
The Glendale fight card takes place at Glendale Civic Auditorium and is promoted by Bash Promotions.
Three hundred miles east, in Las Vegas, Goossen Promotions stages a fight show at the MGM Grand featuring undefeated Tony Harrison (19-0, 16 Kos) against Antwone Smith (23-5-1, 12 Kos) in a junior middleweight showdown. Numerous other undefeated prospects will also be on the fight card that will be televised by ESPN2.
In Southern California, Thompson Boxing Promotions presents a fight card at the Doubletree Hotel in Orange, a small Orange County town adjacent to Anaheim Stadium. Riverside’s hard-fighting Juan Reyes meets Heriberto Delgado in the main event of a dinner show.
Back in Las Vegas, NBC starts its return to boxing with a primetime slot for “the Sweet Science.” NBC will be airing many shows in 2015.
John Molina, the slugging former lightweight now in the junior welterweight division, has lost his last two fights and now meets former world champion Adrien “The Problem” Broner at the MGM Grand on Saturday.
“Yes, I’ve lost back-to-back fights but I’ve proven that I can hang with anyone,” said Molina, whose losses were to Lucas Matthysse in the “Fight of the Year” and to Humberto Soto. Against Soto, many felt he defeated the Mexican former champion with a body shot, but the referee incorrectly ruled it a low blow. Soto won by a decision. “Who knows if I would have gotten this fight had I won against Soto.”
Broner has shown he has superior defensive tools and speedy fists. Only Marcos Maidana has been able to defeat him, though many felt Daniel Ponce De Leon beat him years ago in a fight in Anaheim. The judges did a horrible job that night and simply mailed in the decision win for Broner.
Still, Broner is very talented.
“You know my career, you’ve been there since day one during the Quiet Cannon days,” said Molina. “We’re excited. It’s the inaugural fight for NBC.”
Molina is a former wrestler with a titanium-powered right hand that tested the chin of Matthysse and rendered unconscious current lightweight champion Mickey Bey. Once more he faces a speedy defensive fighter in Broner.
“I’ve had my most success when I’m the underdog,” said Molina, 32, about his underdog status against Broner. “I’m undefeated against guys like that….Adrien Broner is a great name for boxing. Everyone loves to hate him.”
The other main event showcases two dangerous welterweights.
Keith “One Time” Thurman faces Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero. According to odds-makers in Las Vegas, Thurman is a 5 to 1 favorite. Wow.
Ask me and I’ll tell you this is an even fight. Every once in a while the odds-makers get one wrong and this is one of them. Guerrero has won world titles in different weight classes from featherweight on up. Thurman has not captured a world title and has yet to meet anyone in Guerrero’s class.
Can Thurman fight? Heck yeah. But can he dominate and knock out Guerrero like the odds predict? I don’t think so.
“We respect Robert, he’s never been stopped. I hear that as a challenge,” Thurman said. “Especially being a puncher and knowing that he came up from a lighter division.”
Guerrero fought Floyd Mayweather, Andre Berto and Joel Casamayor. Thurman’s toughest came against a 40-year-old southpaw in his last fight.
“He’s quick on his feet, has power. My job is to prepare for anything he does in that ring. We’re professionals and that’s what we do,” Guerrero said. “I have to show everyone in the world I’m here to take it and destroy everyone that gets in my way.”
More importantly, Premier Boxing Champions will be showing the fight card free on NBC. When was the last time that happened?
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