South-Central L.A.-Deep in the industrial pockets south of downtown Los Angeles the media workouts were held for next week’s Cinco de Mayo extravaganza featuring Golden Boy Promotions various supporting cast for star Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.
The media workout was held the day before for Alvarez. On Tuesday, they held the blue collar portion at City of Angels Boxing Gym. All will be participating on the May 7 fight card at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. HBO pay-per-view will televise.
Riverside’s Mauricio “El Maestro” Herrera, East L.A.’s Frankie “The Pit Bull” Gomez, Jason “El Animal” Quigley and Glen Tapia were among those at the media day workout at the urban gym on Hill Street.
Herrera had the longest journey to the gym driving more than 60 miles from the Inland Empire to the media day. He works out in downtown Riverside which is 100 times smaller than downtown L.A. But that area has just as many gyms with just as many quality fighters.
“I have lots of sparring partners over there,” said Herrera who trains in the heart of downtown Riverside.
Facing Herrera will be East L.A. local hero Gomez, a 24-year-old welterweight who has fought his way out of the traps that part of town can befall any youngster.
Growing up in East L.A. there’s just problems you face and invisible potholes you won’t find anywhere else. It’s a macho environment that has existed for 100 years and tests you on a daily basis. It doesn’t matter if you’re a prizefighter or the local priest. If you pick the wrong road you can end up in jail or the morgue.
“Some of us made it. Some of us ended up in jail,” said Gomez who grew up in the Boyle Heights area of East L.A. “A lot of good fighters didn’t make it. It’s tough and hard growing up in that area.”
Gomez credits his family for keeping him straight.
“It’s hard to focus,” said Gomez about the blanket of problems surrounding him and his family living in the area east of the Los Angeles River. “My brother and mom and dad pushed me to stay in boxing. I love boxing.”
Herrera, 35, started late in pro boxing a mere eight years ago at age 27. Despite the late start, the prizefighter who was the first to defeat the mighty Ruslan Provodnikov has shown there’s plenty of bullets left in the chamber. His last fight was nearly a year ago when he won by technical decision over Hank Lundy at the L.A. Sports Arena.
“It wasn’t the kind of fight I wanted,” said Herrera about that fight on July 2015. “I wanted to give a great show.”
Instead, Herrera sustained a horrendous cut due to a head butt and the blood blurred his vision during the fight. Still, he managed to overcome the handicap and win a shortened fight by decision.
Herrera has boxing tools that have enabled him to derail or expose various world champions like Provodnikov, Danny “Swift” Garcia and Mike Alvarado. He’s a Mexican version of James “Lights Out” Toney and can be just as difficult to hit. And if you pause trying to figure out what to do, he hits you.
Gomez is excited about the matchup.
“He’s a good fighter and goes good to the body,” said Gomez about Herrera. “He has speed and a lot of experience.”
Herrera is excited too about matching wits and punches with Gomez. After learning that Provodnikov and Lucas Matthysse were unavailable, it was a pleasant surprise when Gomez was suggested by Golden Boy Promotions
“When they mentioned Frankie Gomez I got excited,” Herrera said. “He’s tough and undefeated.”
Mutual respect seems to go both ways with Herrera and Gomez. That usually points toward a memorable showdown.
Also on the fight card will be Ireland’s Jason Quigley an undefeated middleweight from Donegal who has spent more than a year in Southern California. It’s a vast difference in so many ways and demands the ultimate sacrifice of family and friends.
“To have a career, in life you make decisions that have to be done,” said Quigley about transplanting to Southern California to pursue prizefighting’s elite level. Gone are the friends, girl friends and family members. It’s a fighter’s life choice. “I’ve got a lot of friends out here. I’m always meeting people.”
Fans are beginning to recognize the hard-hitting Irish middleweight.
“I like that,” said Quigley about being recognized on the streets of L.A.
Quigley faces James De La Rosa, a hard-knuckled veteran from South Texas who defeated Alfredo Angulo on a national stage on September 2014 in Las Vegas.
“Everybody brings a different style,” said Quigley. “He’s a good boxer and has some skills.”
Quigley said his extensive amateur career has prepared him for the various styles and skills he’s faced so far in the prize ring.
“I can fight in a variety of dimensions. That comes from my amateur background,” Quigley said. “This fight excites me.”
Though Quigley remains thousands of miles from Ireland, he knows his countrymen and his new friends in California will be watching.
“I know it’s an opportunity to show people what I’m made of,” Quigley said. “It’s a perfect opportunity on the world stage.”