West Coast Battles – Nose to nose prizefighting erupts this weekend in Southern California. The biggest and baddest of them culminates with two Mexican warriors clashing for the WBC super featherweight title at the StubHub Center.
If you know boxing, that outdoor arena has been like a magnet for some of the best prizefighting in the last 16 years.
First, let’s talk about this past weekend that saw Sugar Shane Mosley and his company Go Box Promotions stage a fight card in Phoenix, Arizona.
Mosley lost a bid for the WBA interim welterweight title against David Avanesyan in a good scrap that lasted the entire 12 rounds. That wasn’t part of Mosley’s plans.
“As you know I go for the knockouts,” Mosley said after the fight that saw him lose by unanimous decision. “You never know how the judging is going to go.”
In this case the judging wasn’t the problem, it was the referee.
Russia’s Avanesyan arrived with a solid game plan and used it effectively. But he was aided unintentionally by the referee who took away the body attack from Mosley. After the Pomona fighter hit Avanesyan with an obvious low blow early in the fight, all body shots that followed were seen as low blows by the referee. I was ringside and I saw gloves hitting flesh, not even hitting the belt, which is still not a low blow. The belt is usually considered the barrier.
Avanesyan’s tactic of jumping up as Mosley attacked helped the referee call low blows too, but all told it was the referee that took away the body attack. He later deducted a point from Mosley on a blow that was not low.
It’s been a pet peeve of mine to note that many referees need to call what they actually see. Not what they guess happened. Otherwise they should get out of the game. They’re hurting professional fighters who are dependent on finding weaknesses in an opponent’s defense. Many referees take away all body shots.
The worst referees calling low blows are the taller referees. They think all body shots are low blows. Kenny Bayless, Jay Nady, Vic Drakulich are notorious for calling all body shots low blows. They are also very tall for referees. The Nevada State Athletic Commission should double check their work and do something about it. Either make them bend down more or check their eyesight.
In Arizona, the referee Wes Melton was not necessarily tall, just not very good at judging low blows. In my opinion he changed the complexion of the fight. Would it have made a difference if Mosley were allowed to go to the body more? We’ll never know. That’s the problem with poor referees.
Referees do not get a lot of work in Arizona. But in that referee’s defense, it happens in California and Nevada too where referees erroneously call low blows. Their actions can change the outcome of fights. A good example is whenever Mexico’s Humberto Soto fights. He is a master of acting like a body shot against him is a low blow and gets away with it. He did so against John Molina who should have scored a knockout win via a body blow, but Soto feigned a low blow and was given the win in the end. He almost got away with that same tactic when he fought Antonio Orozco. The referee in that California fight erroneously warned Orozco. But in the end Soto’s tactics were not enough. What is plain to see is Soto cannot take a body shot any longer, but he disguises it by feigning low blows. I don’t like cheating in sports. If you have to cheat to win, then quit.
L.A. Fight Club
A two-day fight affair begins on Friday at the now very popular Belasco Theater in downtown L.A. It’s a place where all boxing fans should witness a fight card if they love the sport.
Ronny Rios (25-1) meets Efrain Esquivias (17-4-1) in the main event on the Golden Boy Promotions fight card.
Rios, 26, is a featherweight from Santa Ana, Calif. and recently handed Puerto Rico’s Jayson Velez his first loss. He’s a good solid boxer who has a fan friendly style. Rios stays busy and has recovered well from the only loss on his resume that happened in October 2014.
Esquivias, 32, is best known for upsetting Mexican great Rafael Marquez back in 2013 and winning by knockout. That loss basically put Marquez in retirement. The South-Central L.A. fighter Esquivias is a very good counter-puncher and does not shy from offense if necessary.
It’s a very good match.
In a semi-main event Brooklyn’s Zachary Ochoa (14-0) fights Luis Gonzalez (11-3-1) in a lightweight bout. Ochoa, 23, improves every time I see him in the ring. He’s matched against Puerto Rican southpaw Gonzalez.
Another semi-main event features Seniesa Estrada (6-0) against Christina Fuentes (4-7-5) in a flyweight bout set for six rounds. It’s the first time Golden Boy Promotions has staged a female bout on a U.S. card since 2012. That’s a very long time ago. In that last female fight Melinda Cooper fought Celina Salazar in a fierce evenly matched bantamweight battle. This fight doesn’t seem to be evenly matched. But who knows?
Fight of the Year?
Anytime a fight card is staged at the StubHub Center it seems to bring out the beast in the fighters. Still, the best of those was Israel “El Magnifico” Vazquez versus Rafael Marquez in their third encounter. That was one of the best fights I’ve ever seen in terms of action and technique.
Now we have two more Mexican warriors in Francisco “Bandido” Vargas (23-0-1, 17 KOs) and Orlando “Siri” Salido (43-13-3). On paper, this should be a vicious war and potential Fight of the Year.
Vargas, 31, just recently took part in the Fight of the Year for 2015 when he grabbed the WBC super featherweight title from Japan’s Takashi Miura. Both fighters were down in the fight and eventually Vargas caught Miura for the knockout win. Miura is another fighter that regularly fights in some of the fiercest battles I’ve ever seen. But on that night last November, Vargas just happened to come out on top to remain undefeated. He’s a human punching machine.
Salido, 35, is always involved in vicious fights and seems to have a head made of granite. Only once against Mikey Garcia did he seem over-matched. Salido is the only man with a professional win over Vasyl Lomachenko and definitely is a hard man. He has more tricks than a clown at Ringling Brothers Circus. Against Garcia he couldn’t beat Garcia so he took his pound of flesh with a disguised head butt that caused a bad cut on the champion. That’s the way Salido fights: No quarter given.
But that’s not the only potential fight of the year on the fight card.
East L.A.’s Julian “El Camaron” Ramirez (16-0, 8 KOs) faces La Puente’s Abe “Chamaco” Lopez (20-0-1, 15 KOs) in the semi-main event featherweight clash.
If you’ve been following the Golden Boy shows from Belasco then you should be familiar with both of these featherweights. They are what I call intelligent assassins who find a way to win inside of the ring. Both are aggressive and fearless.
When this match was made by matchmaker Robert Diaz I had to pinch myself.
Lopez, 28, took off three years from the sport and returned with a vengeance. He also seemed improved with the time off and more determined. He’s very focused and deadly with his punches. Fans may not be familiar with Lopez because he’s never fought outside of California.
Ramirez, 23, has boxing pedigree. He’s related to the late great Genaro “Chicanito” Hernandez and is a fighter you can’t judge by knockouts. There’s a killer instinct inside him that only comes out when he fights. He thinks he can beat anybody at any time.
This could be the Fight of the Year too.