Santa Ana's primary contributions to the world of prizefighting take center stage when southpaw boxer Luis Ramos and orthodox prizefighter Ronny Rios jump into the ring on to face their final exams on Friday.
Recognized as two of Southern California hottest prospects, both Ramos and Rios are knocking at the door of boxing contenders and aim to prove their worth on Friday, Sept. 30 at the Orange County Fairgrounds. Both are managed by venerable Frank Espinoza who knows a thing or two about talent.
Ramos (19-0, 8 KOs) competes in the co-main event against Ventura's David Rodela (15-4-3, 6 KOs) in a lightweight clash set for 10 rounds. They were both set to fight each other in August in Las Vegas but Ramos was attacked by several thugs while running and suffered some head injuries. He's been cleared to fight.
Rodela is a young veteran with impressive boxing skills who is a common sparring partner for welterweight world champion Pacquiao. The slender prizefighter has no fear and relishes an opportunity to prove he is a contender.
"I'm anxious to show that I belong in a higher level," said Rodela, who also helped Victor Ortiz prepare for his fight with Floyd Mayweather. "I've seen everything in the ring. I've got a lot to prove."
Espinoza, who has formerly managed world champions Martin Castillo and Israel Vazquez, said this fight is a necessary step for Ramos to crack that upper tier in the crowded lightweight division.
"I like to move them slowly at first to gain them experience," Espinoza said. "But now we have to beat these kind of guys like Rodela and Gonzalez."
The left-handed Ramos, 23, uses his quickness to get in and out of trouble and has shown a decent chin. He's a combination puncher who's not afraid to engage and not shy about throwing a lot of punches.
Rodela, 29, has met with mixed success but with a higher level of opponent. Wins over former world champions Kevin Kelley and Julio Gamboa can't be discounted. Losses to Eloy Perez in a firefight and to Dante Jardon by technical knockout are not indicative of a fighter over the hill. He's a crafty boxer who can adjust as he proved in fighting to a draw with super quick Cleotis Pendarvis.
"Don't count me out," Rodela says.
Ramos agrees but feels he can pass the test.
"Rodela is a good fighter," Ramos says. "I'm glad to have this chance."
In a featherweight bout Santa Ana's Rios (15-0, 7 KOs) is scheduled to fight Roger "Speedy" Gonzalez (27-4, 18 KOs) a former contender out of Chino, California.
Gonzalez, 33, was a last-minute substitute who has tons of experience. He's fought against current featherweight world titleholders Yuri Gamboa and Jhonny Gonzalez. It's a fight that either can win.
Rios, 21, who can box or apply a pressure style of fighting, didn't have much time to prepare for Gonzalez who was added to the card just days ago. But he's shown grit in all of his fights.
Both Ramos and Rios are undergoing the biggest tests yet of their young careers.
"There's a point in time you have to step it up," says Espinoza who also guided former champion Enrique Sanchez. "You want to see where they're at. We've got to get them on the radar."
Golden Boy Promotions and Roy Englebrecht Productions are promoting the event. For more information call (949) 760-3131.
Fights on television
Fri. Showtime, 11 p.m., Darly Perez (22-0) vs. Oscar Meza (22-4).
Fri. Telefutura, 11:30 p.m., Luis Ramos (19-0) vs. David Rodela (15-4-2).
Sat. Fox, 6 p.m., Rafael Marquez (40-6) vs. Toshiaki Nishioka (38-4-3)
Sat. In-Demand, 6 p.m., Juan Manuel Lopez (30-1) vs. Mike Oliver (25-2).
Sat. HBO, 6 p.m., Sergio Martinez (47-2-2) vs. Darren Barker (23-0).