The fight-crazy region of Southern California’s Inland Empire will be the location of another type of skirmish. A hybrid fight card of boxing and mixed martial arts bouts will battle with an all-boxing fight card.
On Friday, MEZ Sports begins a two-day romp of a hybrid fight card filled with MMA and boxing at the Finish Line Sports Grill in Pomona. Ten miles east, Thompson Boxing Promotions has its all-boxing card at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario.
Will hybrid shows be the norm in the near future?
“It gives fight fans what they really love,” said promoter Craig Zimmerman (pictured), adding that it gives MMA fans an opportunity to see boxing and boxing fans a chance to see MMA.
It’s not unusual to see rival fight cards in the Inland Empire. There are easily more than 50 boxing and MMA gyms in the area. That’s a conservative number. Gyms keep popping up throughout “the IE” as it’s called, where Sugar Shane Mosley, Tim Bradley, Josesito Lopez and many others were discovered. Back in the 1970s there were fighters like heavyweight champion Mike Weaver and Alberto Davila who emerged from the area.
Now, along with thousands of boxers filling gyms all over the IE, there are also thousands of MMA fighters working out too - sometimes in the same gym.
In Indio there is UFC’s Cub Swanson training in the same gym as Bradley and Omar Figueroa.
Having a hybrid show combines both crowds and makes sense dollar-wise.
“It’s just insane,” confesses Zimmerman, whose promotion company is based in Orange County. “It’s a ton of work.”
On consecutive days MEZ Sports presents both pro boxing and MMA fights, featuring Kana Hyatt against Jesse Cruz in the main event on Friday. The boxing main event has Troy Corbin (7-0, 6 Kos) fighting Francisco Gil (18-18, 12 Kos) in a junior middleweight bout. On Saturday, it’s Riverside boxer Hector “Teco” Serrano (16-3, 6 Kos) in the main event against Luis Lugo (13-18-1), along with a female co-main event that has Heather Clark fighting Maia Kahaunaele.
It’s called Pandemonium Fights 9 and Pandemonium 9.5, and the combo boxing and MMA shows are not the run-of-the-mill club shows. You can bet there will be several future stars on both nights.
Thompson Promotions has a female main event featuring undefeated Sindy Amador (10-0) fighting Jolene Blackshear (7-3) in an eight round junior flyweight bout. The co-main will be Artemio Reyes Jr. (19-2, 15 Kos) vs. Sergio Perez (28-14, 19 Kos) in an eight round welterweight clash. Also on the card undefeated middleweight Colombian prospect Alex “El Principe” Theran (13-0, 9 Kos) fights Juan Carlos Rojas (5-5) and there will be a few other bouts.
Zimmerman is well aware of the Thompson Boxing fight card but thinks there’s plenty of fans to go around in the Inland Empire or Southern California for that matter. He’s more worried about keeping everything under control, dealing with the hundreds of details it takes to put on one show, let alone two on consecutive nights.
“Will it work? I don’t know. It’s a ton of work. It’s like having a second kid,” Zimmerman said.
But fans attending either show get something you can’t get while watching on television.
“Once you experience a live fight you are hooked for life,” Zimmerman says.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.pandemoniumfightclub.com or by calling (714) 933-4519.
Other Fight Chatter
Junior welterweight Maurice Hooker (9-0-1) faces Mario Hermosillo (12-10-3) tonight at the Four Points Sheraton in San Diego. Also, on the Bobby D Presents fight card will be Emmanuel Robles (8-0-1) against Arthur Brambila (9-19-1).
Celina Salazar, 24, agreed to fight former world champion Ana “The Hurricane” Julaton, 33, on Aug. 17 in Cancun, Mexico. The 10-round bout will be fought at 124 pounds and will be televised on Televisa and Fox Deportes. Salazar (4-1-2) fights out of San Antonio, Texas. Julaton (12-3-1) fights out of Las Vegas.
Oxnard’s Hugo Centeno Jr. (19-0, 10 Kos) knocked out Mexico’s Isaac Mendez (14-12, 12 Kos) in 48 seconds of round one in their junior middleweight clash in Quintana Roo, Mexico. Also, Jessie Roman (14-0, 9 Kos) stopped Jesus Hernandez (2-3) at 50 seconds of round five in their lightweight match on Saturday.
United Kingdom’s Dereck Chisora (17-4, 11 Kos) knocked out Malik Scott (35-1-1, 12 Kos) in round six to hand the American heavyweight his first pro loss on Saturday. In a middleweight battle of undefeated boxers, it was Billy Joe Saunders (18-0, 10 Kos) emerging victorious over Gary O’Sullivan (16-1, 10 Kos). Both fights were held in London, England.
Argentina’s female WBO and WBA junior flyweight champion Yesica Bopp (25-1, 11 Kos) returned to her winning ways by defeating Anastasia Toktaulova (14-12) by unanimous decision on Saturday. Bopp’s last fight was a loss to Mexico’s Jessica Chavez on June 1.
Jackie Trivilino (9-5-2) faces Lindsay Garbatt (7-6-1) in an eight round female featherweight bout on Friday July 26. The fight card will be held in Saratoga Springs, New York. Both women are featherweight contenders.
Top Rank features China’s Zou Shiming (2-0) against Jesus Ortega (3-1) in a flyweight bout. IBF featherweight titlist Evgeny Gradovich (16-0) defends against Mauricio Munoz (26-3) and WBA and WBO flyweight champion Juan Estrada (24-2, 18 Kos) of Mexico makes his first title defense against Philippine’s Milan Melindo (29-0, 12 Kos) on Saturday.
Nydia Feliciano (6-4-3) of the Bronx faces Nevada’s Crystal Hoy (5-5-3) in a female bantamweight fight set for 10 rounds on Saturday, July 27. The match takes place in North Bergen, New Jersey.
Former world champion Andre Berto (28-2, 22 Kos) faces Mexico’s spoiler Jesus Soto Karass (27-8-3, 17 Kos) on Saturday, July 27 in San Antonio, Texas. Also, Omar Figueroa (21-0-1, 17 Kos) meets Nihito Arakawa (24-2-1, 16 Kos) in a lightweight contest. Plus, welterweight contender Keith Thurman (20-0, 18 Kos) fights Diego Chaves (22-0, 18 Kos).
UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson (17-2-1) defends the title against John Moraga (13-1) on Saturday July 27 from Seattle, Wash. The fight card is called UFC On Fox 8 and also features Rory Macdonald (14-1) vs. Jake Ellenberger 29-6), and Liz Carmouche (7-3) vs. Jessica Andrade (9-2).
Fights on television
Fri. ESPN2, 6 p.m., Juan Carlos Burgos (30-1-1) vs. Yakubu Amidu (20-4-1).
Sat. Fox, 5 p.m., Demetrious Johnson (17-2-1) vs. John Moraga (13-1).
Sat. HBO, 5:30 p.m., Evgeny Gradovich (16-0) vs. Mauricio Munoz (26-3).
Sat. Azteca, 7 p.m., Cristian Mijares (47-7-2) vs. Cristobal Cruz (40-14-3).
Sat. Televisa, 8 p.m., Marco Antonio Rubio (57-6-1) vs. Dionisio Miranda (22-8-2).
Sat. Showtime, 9 p.m., Andre Berto (28-2) vs. Jesus Soto Karass (27-8-3).
Who will win the Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward fight?