Ringside in Las Vegas: Claggett Victorious; “The Rooster” Steals the Show


By Arne K. Lang

After a three-month hiatus, a concession to the desert heat, boxing returned to the Las Vegas Events Center in downtown Las Vegas on Friday, Sept. 9, for another edition of “Knockout Night at the D.” The main event was humdrum, but overall the 7-bout card provided a good evening of entertainment at the cozy outdoor arena.

In the main go, Canadian welterweight Steve Claggett won a workmanlike 10-round decision over previously undefeated Emmanuel Robles. The only anxious moment for Claggett came when ring announcer Joe Martinez revealed that the decision was split. The scores were 98-92 twice for Claggett and 96-94 for Robles. The dissenting judge, Patricia Morse-Jarman, was watching the wrong fight.

Claggett, who fights out of Calgary, Alberta, improved his ledger to 24-4-1. San Diego’s Robles declined to 15-1-1.

The main event was anticlimactic after Neeco “Rooster” Macias and Rolando Garza put on a war in the semi-main, a junior middleweight contest scheduled for eight rounds. The first frame was a furious session and there was little let-up until referee Jay Nady stopped the contest in round five with Garza in distress after being felled with a short right hook.

Macias, who did an amusing impression of a rooster as he awaited the opening bell, dictated the fight while eating a lot of leather. A swarmer who likes to flail away at close quarters, he continually backed Garza against the ropes.

The well-spoken Macias, from Palm Desert, California, advanced to 13-0 with his seventh knockout. Garza, from Austin, Texas by way of Nuevo Leon, Mexico, lost for the first time in what was his 10th start.


Las Vegas welterweight Jeremy Nicholls won his sixth straight without a defeat, scoring a 4-round decision over Steve Belmontes from Corpus Christi, Texas. Nicholls had a shade the best of it in the first three rounds and closed strong.

Ismail Muwendo, a Ugandan now residing in Minneapolis, won a lopsided 6-round decision over Mexico’s Eliseo Cruz who hung on to last the distance in a lackluster bout. A lightweight, Muwendo is 18-0 but needs to step up his level of opposition.

Randy Moreno, a 20-year-old Las Vegas junior lightweight, made a very impressive showing at the expense of Gaige Ireland, halting the Aussie invader in the third frame. Ireland was the stalker and a willing engager, but Moreno, now 4-0, had busier hands and better head movement. The finisher was a wicked right uppercut and although Ireland remained upright, referee Kenny Bayless did the right thing in waving it off.

Max Ornelas, another local product, improved to 4-0 with a 4-round unanimous decision over stubborn Johnathan Quiroz (6-5). The baby-faced Ornelas, who recently turned 18, was very impressive in his pro debut at this venue on June 10, but tonight, although victorious, he looked like a fighter that could have used more amateur seasoning.

In a 4-round contest between junior flyweights, Marina Ramirez out-pointed Rachel Sazoff. Hailing from Hamilton, New Jersey, Sazoff is reportedly 26 years old but looks 14. She was a willing mixer but was outclassed by Ramirez who was more fluid.

There was no need to goad the crowd into being more animated when Ramirez was in the ring. She brought a large rooting contingent that appeared to be equally divided between friends from her former home in Parma, Idaho, and new friends from Las Vegas where she currently trains. Wearing matching tee shirts, they imbued the event with a brighter ambience.