All roads lead to L.A. in the world of boxing. Whether it’s Los Angeles or Louisiana prizefighting is headed toward a busy weekend in the city of Angels or the Big Easy.
Manny Pacquiao and Lucas Matthysse both have L.A. ties and will meet for the WBA welterweight world title on Saturday. New Orleans native Regis Prograis fights Juan Jose Velasco in a super lightweight title match on the same day. A day earlier, featherweights clash in the city of Angels.
Let’s begin on Friday, July 13.
Featherweight contender Joet Gonzalez (19-0, 11 KOs) faces Rafael Rivera (25-1-2, 16 KOs) for the vacant NABO featherweight title at the Novo Theater in LA Live. It’s a tough match for both fighters on the Golden Boy Promotions fight card televised by ESPN.
Gonzalez (pictured) is a technically proficient boxer/puncher who proved his ability when he defeated Filipino slugger Rolando Magbanua by knockout last month at Fantasy Springs Casino. One fight earlier Magbanua had ambushed another rising Golden Boy prospect by knockout. Gonzalez wasn’t having any of that.
The Glendora-based fighter who is trained by his father has a long history of boxing experience including participation in many amateur national title fights. He used that experience to unravel the strong Filipino fighter’s traps and reversed the outcome.
He’s fighting for his first title as a professional.
“Yes this is my first title fight and it is a little different,” said Gonzalez, 24, whose brother Jousce is an undefeated lightweight and sister a former amateur star. “I’ve trained extra hard for this fight and ready to do what I need to do.”
Rivera, 24, fights out of Tijuana, Mexico and is making his second attempt at winning the NABO title. Last year he was defeated by Jojo Diaz. But that was a different style and Rivera has vanquished one undefeated fighter and upset another former world champion in Puerto Rico’s Wilfredo Vasquez Jr. in 2015.
Also on the Novo Theater card are two female bouts featuring contenders.
Light flyweight contender Seniesa Estrada (13-0) of East L.A. meets Ecuador’s Jhosep Vizcaino (7-6) in an eight round contest. Indio’s Maricela Cornejo (11-2-1) fights Samantha Pill (3-0) in a six round middleweight clash.
Saturday, Hollywood, Calif.
A large Bash Boxing fight card at Florentine Gardens night club in Hollywood takes place on Saturday July 14. The venue is located at 5955 Hollywood Boulevard.
The California promotional company always provides fans a look at talented future prospects that eventually move on to larger ventures. Most of the fighters like Damien Lopez, Ashkat Ualikhanov come from West L.A.; Oxnard and Burbank. It’s always a treat to watch boxing live. Take my word for it.
The fight card will not be televised. The doors open at 7 p.m. For more information call (213) 700-BASH.
Saturday, New Orleans
It’s most definitely my favorite city to visit and historically it’s been a haven for boxing. The city of New Orleans hosts a fight fans delight with native son Regis Prograis (21-0, 18 KOs) defending the WBC super lightweight title against Argentina’s Juan Jose Velasco (20-0, 12 KOs) in a 12-round bout at the Lakefront Arena.
Prograis, 29, has that southpaw edge to go along with speed and power. His past four opponents were each blasted out in less than four rounds. Two of the three were world title contenders. This is a showcase for the New Orleans native and many fans simply want to be dazzled by the lefty.
“I grew up right around the corner,” said Prograis about fighting at the Lakefront Arena. “I have to hide my excitement because I still have to fight. (Velasco) is going to try and knock me out you know what I mean. So I got to go out there and do my thing.”
Velasco, 31, knows it’s a special moment for Prograis and himself.
“Regis is a great fighter. To be a champion you need to fight the best fighters,” said Velasco who fights out of Buenos Aires. “And I want to prove on Saturday night that I am elite like him.”
The co-main event will be a clash between lightweights Teofimo Lopez (9-0, 7 KOs) and William Silva (25-1) in a 10 round contest for the vacant WBC Continental Americas title.
Lopez, 20, born in Brooklyn, has that extra gear that catches the eye.
“People have yet to see everything of me,” said Lopez, who also fought for the Honduras Olympic team. “This is a good step up.”
Silva, 31, is a native of Sao Paolo, Brazil. His only loss was a decision to Felix Verdejo. He also has a few intriguing wins on his ledger including a victory over Bayan Jargal.
“It’s a real important fight,” said Silva. “I’m ready to go.”
The fight card is promoted by Top Rank in association with DiBella Entertainment. It will be shown by ESPN at 4 p.m. PT/ 7 p.m. ET. Following this card will be Pacquiao vs. Matthysse.
Saturday. Pacman vs La Maquina
WBA welterweight world titlist Lucas Matthysse (39-4, 36 KOs) defends the title against former champion Manny Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs) at Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday July 14 (Sunday, July 15 in Malaysia). ESPN app will televise.
Matthysse, 35, won the title in a strange knockout win over Thailand’s Tewa Kiram at the Inglewood Forum last January. It was the first time the Argentine knockout artist had ever captured a world title and his first attempt as a welterweight. Now he’s fighting a winner of world titles in eight weight divisions.
“This is an even fight,” said Golden Boy Promotion’s Oscar De La Hoya who is co-promoting the fight along with Manny Pacquiao Promotions. “This is a dangerous but winnable fight (for Matthysse). These two fighters love pleasing the fans.”
Pacquiao, 39, fought a year ago and lost the welterweight title to Australia’s Jeff Horn. Though many felt Pacquiao won, many also claimed there was a loss of motor power that the Filipino southpaw superstar once possessed in abundance. Has time arrived for the great Pacman to retire as an active fighter?
“I am ready. I have never predicted the outcome of any of my fights, but this training camp is special for many reasons,” said Pacquiao. “I am motivated.”
Even if Pacquiao has lost some of that drive he possessed years ago, he still shows speed and skills. Can the punching power of Matthysse be the equalizer?
“They call him (Matthysse) ‘la maquina’ for a reason,” said De La Hoya. “A lot of people think Matthysse is just a knockout artist, but he’s an intelligent fighter too.”
ESPN+ will stream the fight at 6 p.m. PT/ 9 p.m. ET.
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