Prospects on Display on Top Rank Card in L.A.


By David A. Avila

If you like watching youngsters on the brim of recognition or stardom, tonight’s fight card in Los Angeles has a bucket full.

Top Rank and Bash Promotions are presenting a fight card featuring young veteran Jose Felix Jr. against gate keeper Alan Herrera at Sportsman’s Lodge in the Studio City district on Friday Oct. 14. A few other potential stars are on the card.

Boxing fans can watch it in person at the historic hotel venue or they can watch on UniMas television. It will be absolutely worth the admission.

Most fans prefer watching the big dogs clash on HBO, Showtime or pay-per-view. But the real down-to-the-bone boxing fans enjoy watching the new Gennady Golovkins, Keith Thurmans or Manny Pacquiaos before the mega-watt bright lights are turned on. They love the point of discovery when a 20-year-old unloads a crackling left hook like Oscar De La Hoya in his first pro bout in 1993.

It’s these electric moments that are burned into the memory of a real fight fan.

A few potential future stars are on this card. Not all will reach the top. In fact, one, two or all of them could be erased with one swoop. It’s happened before. But usually not on a Top Rank fight card.

It’s rare for Top Rank prospects to fail early is the Las Vegas-based boxing organization has several ace matchmakers that sit around sizing up talent and opposition like pieces of a large boxing puzzle.

Bruce Trampler heads the matchmaking team for Top Rank and many consider him the best of the best when it comes to evaluating talent. The number of prospects he guided to success are too numerous to name. Let’s just say De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather began under his guidance.

Other boxing promotion companies have their matchmakers too and have learned from the master Trampler. They are catching up but he still has the touch.

One of the prospects being observed is Egidijus Kavaliauskas (14-0, 12 KOs) a 28-year-old hard-hitting welterweight from Lithuania. He’ll be facing Cameron Kreal (8-11-2) a super tough welterweight from Las Vegas. Kavaliauskas trains in Oxnard and has little time to wait at his age. He barely turned professional three years ago. The opponent Kreal has one of the best chins around and though his record doesn’t sparkle he’s basically learned on the job how to fight. He’s raw and strong to a fault. Kreal loves to prove he can take a punch and will test Kavaliauskas if he senses the power is overblown hype. Of course Kavaliauskas can box well as most East Europeans. But boxing doesn’t sell tickets. He needs to blow out Kreal or tame the Las Vegas strong boy.

Another prospect Top Rank is taking a long good look at is Victorville’s Ryan Garcia (pictured). The tall and lean lightweight has a bidding war going on between all the top promoters. He fought four times in Mexico because he was under age at 17 and recorded three knockout wins. He turned 18 in August and fought in downtown L.A and recorded another knockout win. With good height, superior speed and crackling power, Garcia has shown throughout his amateur career that he can box and has numerous national titles to prove it. Now there’s no head gear and the gloves are smaller. He will be matched against Mario Aguirre (2-4) a kid who fought a week ago in nearby Montebello. Top Rank wants to take a good look at Garcia before any bidding begins. According to one source, all of the major promoters are interested and have exchanged calls. Garcia also has plenty of fans and most definitely they will be in attendance.

Lightweight contender Felix (34-1-1, 26 KOs) headlines the main event and has been around the game for a while despite being only 24 years old. The power puncher seemed on the fast track but ran into Costa Rican buzz saw Bryan Vasquez and was educated about the benefits of all- around boxing. The counter-punching Vasquez pummeled Felix like a punching bag two years ago and the Mexican hasn’t recovered his full confidence. He faces fellow Mexican Alan Herrera, a formerly sturdy 135-pounder who has been stopped in two of his last three bouts. It’s a confidence building fight for Felix on paper.

Other undefeated prospects will be dotting the fight card — some that Top Rank has signed and some they want to take a look at. Doors open at 6 p.m.

For more information call (626) 388-8888.

Photo credit: Al Applerose