Traveling to Las Vegas can be arduous and expensive. My photographer Al Applerose and I drove up Cajon Pass around noon and headed up and mountains through the desert. Not a lot of traffic for a Friday.
After checking in to our Vegas hotel we ventured to the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in search of margaritas. The Border Grill inside near the pool has pretty decent margaritas, but rather small for the price. You can get a much larger margarita at El Cholos in downtown L.A. for the same price. They also have the best margaritas anywhere.
We sat in the bar where a baseball game was being played on the TV and ordered some tacos al carbon while we waited for the boxing card on ESPN to begin. Instead they had college baseball going on. After eating and drinking plenty, we realized ESPN was not going to show the Golden Boy Promotions fight card live.
I tried the ESPN+ app and it really is horrible unless you like basketball. I’ve downloaded several ESPN apps and they all pretty much stink. You would think with all of that Disney money they would hire somebody to figure it out. They also make it extremely difficult for boxing fans. They literally hide boxing tabs. If ESPN wants people to subscribe, they better fire whoever designed the current app and get somebody else.
Or start all over.
Poor Top Rank hedged its bet on this stinky app and I have a hunch the numbers were dismal.
As we departed the Border Grill bar the NBA final game began to air. We weren’t interested. For me the basketball season lasts too long.
In the various sports books we visited, most of the people were either betting on the NBA final game or on the thoroughbred race featuring triple crown winner Justify.
When we finally arrived back in our room ESPN only played the interviews from the NBA finals on both ESPN and ESPN2. We had to wait until past midnight to see the boxing card.
De La Hoya and Roman
Diego De La Hoya has proven over and over that he thrives on competition. Whenever he’s matched against inferior competition he performs poorly. Against Mexico’s Jose Salgado, he blistered the former world champion with combinations he seldom saw coming. It was a whitewash and Salgado knew it. He threw in the towel. This was a Mexican fighter throwing in the towel.
De La Hoya holds on to the NABO and NABF super bantamweight titles. What’s next?
Next should be the winner of WBA super bantamweight titlist Danny Roman versus Moises Flores in Dallas, Texas this Saturday. If Roman wins, and that’s almost certain, De La Hoya will be facing an equally talented fighter with a completely different style.
It’s one of those matches I love to see, like a complex puzzle featuring the speed of De La Hoya versus the determination of Roman.
Roman has improved with every fight and added more and more weapons to his arsenal. Unlike De La Hoya, he was never tabbed for world title abilities but he continues to baffle the experts. Hopefully this match can be made quickly should Roman win.
On the same card as Roman will be Errol Spence Jr. defending the IBF welterweight world title against Ensenada, Mexico’s Carlos Ocampo. It’s one of those fights where fans are saying “Why is Spence fighting this bum?”
You just never know.
Last month when another rather unknown Mexican traveled to New York to challenge Sadam Ali for the super welterweight world title, many people including the Executive Director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission felt Jaime Munguia unworthy because of his relative anonymity. Bob Bennett slammed a fight between Munguia and Gennady Golovkin. Well, as we all know now, Munguia manhandled Ali.
Spence could have an easy night with this kid or Ocampo could upset the champion. You just never know until they fight.
History throughout the years is filled with tremendous upsets. Who can forget Ricardo Mayorga handing Vernon Forrest his first loss at Pechanga Casino? Or what about little Carlos Quintana giving tall Paul Williams his first loss at the same venue. You just never know until they fight.
Speaking of new welterweights, last weekend Terence Crawford took the WBO welterweight world title by stoppage against Australia’s Jeff Horn. Many predicted a massacre and worried about Horn’s mortal life. Though Crawford did win in dominating fashion with his blinding speed, the move upward showed his power is not on the same level as others. His skills are very sharp but the power is average for welterweights. Or perhaps Horn has the best chin in the welterweight division. Take your pick. The knockdown of Horn was not a legit knockdown but more of a slip. The punch by Crawford barely grazed Horn who was trying to duck and basically fell off balance and touched his glove on the canvas.
Crawford’s addition to the welterweight division will indeed stir up the pot to some exciting matchups. Can anyone say Crawford vs. Spence?
Thursday at Fantasy Springs
Classy Mercito “No Mercy” Gesta (31-2-2) meets Robert Manzanarez (36-1) in the main event at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, Calif. ESPN will televise.
Gesta, 30, is one of the cool cats of boxing. He’s never moody and always cordial with a hint of larceny in his smile. His fights are mostly entertaining because of his fearless nature. He believes he can beat anyone.
Now trained by venerable Freddie Roach, the Filipino southpaw has entered another level in the boxing game.
Manzanarez, 23, is also a southpaw but seems taller than his listed height. He fought at Belasco Theater in L.A. and dispatched Gamaliel Diaz by stoppage when the old veteran tried to feign low blows. Manzanarez fights out of Arizona and is taking a big risk against Filipino veteran Gesta.
The semi-main event features crosstown rivals Edgar Valerio vs. Manny Robles III in a 10 round fight for the vacant NABF featherweight title.
Valerio, 23, fights out of South Central L.A. and comes with a bucket of proverbs and anecdotes to go along with his long and lean body frame. He is managed by Joel De La Hoya who he chased down one day at the Wild Card because he dreamed of it. Soon, De La Hoya signed the kid.
“Manny is a good fighter and we’re simply going to go in there and see who comes out with the win,” said Valerio. “We will find out.”
Robles, 24, is the son of elite trainer Manny Robles Jr. and has family boxing bloodlines that go beyond his father who is not training him. Instead, Rudy Hernandez will be in the corner of Robles.
“I like the way he talks to me,” said Robles of his trainer Hernandez. “We seem to fit just right.”
The rivalry was approved by both camps immediately.
“You have to love this fight,” said Joel De La Hoya. “When I was first proposed this fight I immediately liked it. Who wouldn’t like this fight?”
All Star Boxing
A large fight card features a number of prospects including the knockout queen Adelaida Ruiz in a bantamweight scrap against veteran Karla Valenzuela on Friday at Pacific Palms Resort in City of Industry, Calif.
Ruiz, 29, has back to back knockout wins and just started prizefighting a year ago. In the short span of 15 months she has zoomed to the top of the bantamweight rankings and is ranked in the top 20 if not higher.
“I used to dream about this day,” said Ruiz who lives in Los Angeles and was out of boxing for more than 10 years. “I had to come back and do what I love.”
Also, in the co-main event, undefeated super featherweight Michael Norato fights veteran Alejandro Ochoa in a six round contest.
All Star Boxing has a lot of success in its history and has featured many world champions on cards including current world champions Murat Gassiev the WBA and IBF cruiserweight champ and WBO super bantamweight champ Isaac Dogboe. Both fought on All Star Boxing cards.
Doors open at 6 p.m. for tickets and information call (323) 816-6200.
Photo credits: Las Vegas Desert Highway by Al Applerose; Mercito Gesta photo by Lina Baker.
Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel