Boxing Moves East After two Blazing Southern California Weekends

Two consecutive weekends saw Southern California blazing like one of those summer forest fires. It all ended with Gennady Golovkin and company closing the show with a sudden burst of power like a fireworks show.

That’s how you close a show.

Now the action moves back east to New York and Pennsylvania where Top Rank, Golden Boy Promotions and Greg Cohen Promotions are opening their acts. Not so far east but in Las Vegas, a televised fight card by Mayweather Promotions takes place. And just east of Los Angeles, Thompson Boxing has another one of its gems.

Let’s start with the Friday shows, beginning in California.

Since 2000, the little company that can – Thompson Boxing Promotions – has been producing champions on a consistent basis. On Friday May 11, at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, California, they are showcasing a welterweight from Nicaragua named Roberto Arriaza.

Arriaza (16-0, 13 KOs) is making his fourth appearance under the Thompson banner. In his last fight he knocked out Sammy Valentin in Florida. It was Valentin’s second loss by knockout and both came against Thompson fighters. Last year, Giovani Santillan won the vacant NABO title against the Florida-based fighter.

The welterweight Arriaza has faced solid competition on Thompson cards and on Friday he meets Tijuana’s Juan Ruiz (20-1, 12 KOs) whose last fight ended in a knockout loss to Alexander Besputin in Fresno.

Others on the Ontario fight card are Erick Ituarte (19-1-1) and Carlos Carlson (22-3) in an interesting featherweight clash. Tijuana’s Carlson fought for the bantamweight world title in Japan but lost. Then he returned home and lost to another Thompson fighter in Isaac Zarate. On Friday, it could be his last chance as he faces Ituarte, a hard-fighting boxer out of Santa Ana, Calif.

For more information call (714) 935-0900. Doors open at 6:30.

Las Vegas

Michigan’s super welterweight contender Tony Harrison (26-2, 21 KOs) meets former world champion Ishe Smith (29-9) on Friday at Sam’s Town Hotel and Gambling Hall in Las Vegas. It’s the main event on the Mayweather Promotions show and will be televised by Bounce TV.

Harrison lost in a world title bid to Jarret Hurd a year ago but losing to that giant of a 154-pounder is not an embarrassment. Harrison is only 27 and can still fight his way to the top. Meeting slick Smith is a start. The former IBF super welterweight champ, Smith, now 39, has shown that his defensive style is capable of tripping up anybody.


Undefeated prospect Devin Haney (18-0, 12 KOs) meets Mason Menard (33-2, 24 KOs) on the main event of a Greg Cohen Promotions show on Friday at the 2300 Arena in Philly. Showtime will televise the lightweight clash.

Ironically, Haney, 19, who has been courted by almost every promotion company, fights out of Las Vegas. He had an outstanding amateur career and fought Ryan Garcia a number of times with some success in head gear and bigger gloves. As a pro, Haney hasn’t met any monsters yet. Could the shorter Menard be the test?

Menard, 29, fights out of Louisiana and has power. But though he has plenty of experience, most of it has been in his home state. It’s an interesting matchup.

Also on the same card a couple of undefeated light heavyweights meet when Alvin Varmall Jr. (15-0-1, 12 KOs) of New York meets Charles Foster (15-0, 8 KOs) of Connecticut in a contest set for eight rounds.

New York City

Golden Boy Promotions is battling on two fronts as its lightweight star Jorge Linares (44-3, 27 KOs) defends the WBA world title on Saturday, May 12, against Ukraine’s Vasyl Lomachenko (10-1, 8 KOs) at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan. ESPN will televise.

Top Rank’s Lomachenko, 30, cleaned out the featherweight and super featherweight divisions and is now gunning for the lightweights. It was thought that Mikey Garcia would meet Linares first, but that never happened. Ironically, Lomachenko and Linares train in California but this show is happening in New York. There’s a reason for that. Lomachenko, though talented, can’t seem to muster interest from fans in California. New York is a different story.

On Saturday, the main Garden should fill up with more than 10,000 fans eager to see Lomachenko and Linares in action.

Linares, 32, seems to get better with age. The Venezuelan has learned to use those skills like a craftsman instead of a thug and its helped further his career along. When he meets the puzzling style of Lomachenko it will be interesting to see how he solves the riddle that has confused all but one: Orlando Salido.

Also on the card is Irish fighter Michael Conlan and American Olympian Mikaela Mayer. Expect both to end their fights by knockout.

Verona, New York

In upstate New York, another Golden Boy fight card takes place as WBO 154-pound champion Sadam Ali (26-1) defends against Jaime Munguia (28-0, 24 KOs) in Verona. HBO will televise the world title fight.

Ali, 29, took the title from Miguel Cotto and now faces a young Mexican tiger from Tijuana in Munguia. It’s Brooklyn boxer versus Mexican puncher.

Munguia, 21, hasn’t fought anyone at this level so remains a big question mark. But he was eager to take the title shot and you have to hand it to him. No guts, no glory. If you remember, last month he wanted to fill the slot to fight Gennady Golovkin in Las Vegas but was denied by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

That brings up a good point.

What right does the NSAC have denying any prizefighter the right to make a million dollar payday?

It’s different if one fighter has no wins and 20 losses, but this kid has 28 wins and no losses and may never get an opportunity like this again.

Somebody has to look into this business of the NSAC acting like a matchmaker.

In the HBO co-main event, WBC super bantamweight titlist Rey Vargas (31-0, 22 KOs), a tall and long-armed boxer-puncher out of Mexico City, faces Azat “Crazy A” Hovhannisyan (14-2, 11 KOs) out of Glendale, Calif. This should be a crackling fight with each able to box and punch. Both prefer to end fights quickly.

Vargas, 27, defeated Ronny Rios by decision last summer in a good showing. The same Rios was stopped by Hovhannisyan in six rounds.

Hovhannisyan, 29, is a rough customer who has plenty of boxing skills and a good motor. It should be an extremely entertaining fight.

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