Originally the StubHub Center was elected as a tennis venue, and they probably envisioned it with stark white wardrobe, perfumed handkerchiefs and pristine etiquette being the norms in that venue.
But prizefighting took over and with it came bloody canvases, lost teeth and stolen brain cells.
It’s like a terror-dome, said one fighter.
Welcome to the StubHub.
Two prizefighters familiar with the environment will lace up this weekend. One is Mercito Gesta, a contender focused on getting another world title shot, and another is Julian Ramirez, a valued prospect climbing the ladder to featherweight relevance.
Each has fought at the location before.
Gesta (28-1-2, 16 Kos) faces Mexico’s Martin Honorio (32-9-1, 16 Kos) in a junior welterweight clash and East L.A.’s Ramirez (14-0, 8 Kos) faces Mexico City’s Hugo Partida (21-5-2, 16 Kos) in a featherweight showdown. Both take place on Saturday, Oct. 3, at the StubHub. HBO will televise portions of the Golden Boy Promotions card.
They’ve been there before. They know what to expect.
“I got a win there before,” said Gesta, a Filipino southpaw with quickness and power. “I know Martin Honorio is a good fighter. He’s fought for world titles three times. He beat a good fighter in John Molina.”
The speedy Gesta has fought for a world title too. He had the clever and elusive Miguel Vazquez in front of him for 12 rounds three years ago. But the former WBC lightweight champion known as “El Titere” dangled and danced away, like his puppet nickname.
“He was hard to fight. He was very awkward,” remembers Gesta of Vazquez. “But I learned from that loss.”
Gesta faces another veteran of the wars who’s not shy about extra-curricular activities inside the ring, like errant elbows, low blows and coconut head butts. Honorio has no shyness about doing what’s necessary to win a fight.
“I have to take this fight serious,” Gesta says. “I have to and do take every fight serious.”
The Filipino followed a large contingent of fighters from his country that crossed the Pacific Ocean to try and follow the footsteps of Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao. Most have returned with few of the laurels they sought. Gesta remains one of the few who can make a run at a world title.
“I love what I do. I’ve been doing it a long time, since my father taught me,” Gesta said at the Rock training center in L.A. “I fought at StubHub before. I won. All fights there are tough.”
Featherweight prospect Ramirez has fought at the StubHub and in his first and only appearance in the sports center, the feisty East L.A. boxer took out another undefeated featherweight in one round. Seems he likes competition.
“I don’t want to be a cherry picker,” says Ramirez, whose family bloodlines include the late Genaro “Chicanito” Hernandez. “I like fighting good fighters. They bring out the best in me.”
Ramirez looks at other fighters who take easy matches and cringes at the opportunities lost, perhaps forever.
“I study boxing. I look at fights from the 80s and they fought the best. Win or lose they still have the respect. These guys nowadays they fight nobody and they don’t get respect,” Ramirez says about champions avoiding other champions. “I understand you want to make the most money you can. But I wouldn’t want to wonder could I have beat him if I fought him? I want to fight other champions.”
Ramirez faces hard-hitting Partida, a recent replacement. They were supposed to meet earlier but a cut suffered by Partida forced a cancellation. Now he’s finally facing Ramirez. He expects the Mexican veteran to come out firing.
“If I know there’s danger I look better. That’s the name of the game,” says Ramirez, 22. “I grew up watching Leo Santa Cruz and his brother Jose Armando Santa Cruz, Urbano Antillon and seeing stuff like that. They had wars.”
He also knows the dangers of all out wars. Furthermore, he knows fighting outdoors in the elements can also bring unexpected dangers.
“I like fighting outdoors. Fighting in the cold is nothing. Once you get hit, you forget about all that,” Ramirez says.
So far the StubHub has kept its reputation as a warrior’s den. Will we see it again on Saturday?