Crosstown rivalries were the bedrock for prizefighting in Los Angeles and always have been for more than a century.
Norwalk’s Javier Molina (17-2, 8 KOs) meets Garden Grove’s Jesse Roman (22-3, 11 KOs) in the main event at Belasco Theater in downtown Los Angeles on Friday June 1. RingTV.com will telecast the event.
Though both have no ties to Golden Boy Promotions, they signed to meet each other in an eight round super welterweight clash.
Molina, now 28, is the twin brother of Oscar Molina and both were Olympians. Javier Molina was a 2008 US Olympian while Oscar was a 2012 Mexico Olympian. Their older brother Carlos Molina was a welterweight contender who fought Amir Khan in 2012.
The Molinas all were products of the little known powerhouse gym Commerce Boxing Club in the city of Commerce. That gym – that few boxing fans know about – produced not only the Molina brothers but Panchito Bojado, Elizabeth Quevedo, Lily Magana and a few other title-holders.
The tiny gym located across the freeway from East Los Angeles no longer manufactures national champions. But for the first decade of the 21st century it ruled the amateur boxing world.
Roman, 27, is erroneously listed as 5’2” on Boxrec.com but is actually 5’9.” His older brother Jose “Gato” Roman is also a prizefighter and both have roamed the Southern California landscape sparring with different fighters for years. They know the Molinas.
Recently, Orange County has seen boxing programs expand throughout its vicinity. At one time there was only the Westminster Gym and now towns like Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, La Habra, Santa Ana, Anaheim and Garden Grove have boxing gyms producing fighters like Ronny Rios, Alexis Rocha and, in the past, world champion Julio Gonzalez.
Rivalries are built like this.
Back in the 90s it was crosstown rivalries that built boxing to what we see today. The San Fernando Valley area had Gabe and Rafael Ruelas, South Central L.A. had Genaro “Chicanito” Hernandez, Pomona had Sugar Shane Mosley and East L.A. had Oscar De La Hoya.
During the 1970s you had Pacoima’s Bobby Chacon and Anaheim’s Danny “Lil Red’ Lopez, San Pedro’s Mando Ramos, L.A.’s Raul Rojas and East L.A.’s Ruben Navarro.
The list of crosstown rivals goes back to the 1920s.
When Molina and Roman meet at Belasco Theater it’s a continuation of a long line of regional rivalries.
“They both bring crowds and they both bring action,” said Robert Diaz, matchmaker for Golden Boy.
A World Fighting Championship boxing card takes place at Agua Caliente Casino at Rancho Mirage, Calif. on Saturday June 2.
Most of the participants come from the San Bernardino and Riverside County areas which is primarily desert region. In the past 20 years this area known as the Inland Empire has begun to churn out world champions like a factory.
Tim “Desert Storm” Bradley, Julio Diaz, Randy Caballero, and Shane Mosley were all from this region and many more are following the same path.
Several fighters from the Inland Empire expected to engage are undefeated boxers Jonah Flores, Louis Lopez and, making his pro debut, Oscar Torres. All three are trained by Riverside’s Henry Ramirez famous for working the fight corner of heavyweight contender Chris Arreola.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. For more information call (888) 999-1995.
About three dozen reporters gathered at the Wild Card Boxing Gym in Hollywood, Calif. for a Golden Boy Promotions media day.
On June 8, super bantamweight prospect Diego De La Hoya risks his undefeated record against fellow Mexican Jose Salgado (35-4-2, 28 KOs) in a fight for the NABF and NABO titles at Turning Stone Resort Casino in New York. ESPN will televise.
“Like anybody else I’m looking to fight for a world title this year,” said De La Hoya, the cousin of Oscar De La Hoya, the owner of Golden Boy Promotions. “I’m very prepared for this fight.”
Diego De La Hoya happens to be smack in the middle of super bantamweight territory as many other top 122-pounders are contending for world title opportunities in the Southern California region. WBA super bantamweight titlist Danny Roman lives and trains in Los Angeles. There are others.
“I feel pretty good and I’m ready for this,” said De La Hoya.
A week later yet another crosstown showdown takes place between Los Angelinos but 160 miles east at Fantasy Springs Casino.
For those boxing fans that venture to Belasco Theater on a monthly basis, when they heard that Los Angeles boxers Manny Robles III and Edgar Valerio were going to meet each other, eyes perked up, phone lines began to ring and plans were made to make the 160-mile trek to Indio, California. That’s where the crosstown rivalry takes place.
In a fight too big for L.A. the expansive desert paradise of Fantasy Springs Casino will be the site for the NABF featherweight showdown between Valerio (13-0, 8 KOs) and Robles (15-0, 7 KOs) on Thursday June 14. ESPN will televise.
“There is no A side,” said Joel De La Hoya who manages Valerio. “We really don’t care. All that matters is this is a really good fight for two young prospects.”
The main event will be Mercito “No Mercy” Gesta (31-2-2, 17 KOs) facing Robert Manzanarez (35-1, 28 KOs) for the NABO lightweight title.
For tickets and information call (800) 827-2946.
Photo credit: Luis Arevalo
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