Spring in Southern California marks the beginning of long road trips spanning from San Diego to Santa Barbara and Huntington Beach to Las Vegas.
Because Major League Baseball begins in the spring it also means covering the Dodgers, Angels and Padres. And, of course, there is also professional boxing and mixed martial arts.
Las Vegas is the site for two important fight cards and in Mexico a female world title bout also takes place.
Let’s start with Rosarito Beach in Baja California, Mexico.
Kaliesha “Wild, Wild” West (14-1-3, 4 KOs) makes her third world title defense when she faces Argentina’s rugged Claudia Lopez (18-5, 4 KOs) on Saturday April 14. The WBO bantamweight championship match will be held at Auditorio Ernesto Rufo and is promoted by Erik Morales’s Box Latino promotions.
“It’s going to be a tough fight,” says West, 24, who lives in Moreno Valley, Calif.
Juan West, who is father and trainer to Kaliesha, expects this to be his daughter's moment to show all of the weapons at her disposal as a prizefighter at Auditorio Ernesto Rufo.
“She's a little hungry for this fight because she hasn't fought in a while,” said West, a former prizefighter originally from Michigan.
West last entered the ring in August 2011 against Jessica Villafranca. It’s been a long while since she was performing but throughout the last several months she was seen sparring in gyms throughout the Southland.
Andre Berto in L.A.
On Monday I drove to Van Nuys to visit Ten Goose Gym, which is operated by Ricky Funez. Former welterweight world champion Andre Berto has been lightly training there for the past month and looks pretty fit.
Berto was scheduled to face Victor Ortiz in a rematch but suffered a training injury to his left bicep. Generally that kind of injury can take a long period of time to recover fully, but here was Berto looking pretty sharp.
“It left a little bump on my arm,” said Berto while showing a muscular knot about the size of a nickel right in the middle of his bicep. “That put plasma inside of it.”
Berto must be a very quick healer because other boxers who suffered the same type of tear were sidelined for much longer periods.
“Yeah, I heal pretty fast,” Berto said.
The Florida prizefighter plans to depart for Miami, Florida next week and begin training in earnest for his date with Ortiz which will take place June 23 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Artemio Reyes Jr.
Reye's father and namesake passed away earlier this week after years of being in a coma. But the lanky knockout puncher feels his father, who loved the sport of boxing, would want him to fight this Friday and he will.
Now Reyes Jr. (15-1, 12 KOs) will fight Alan Sanchez (9-2-1, 3 KOs) in a rematch on Friday April 13, at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Their first encounter was a firefight that Reyes won by split-decision after six turbulent rounds in Ontario, Calif.
This fight will be televised on ESPN2 for those unable to attend.
The welterweight bout is scheduled for 10 rounds and will give both fighters an opportunity to showcase their different fighting skills. Reyes is a boxer who applies pressure with body shots until the opponent's protective stance against head shots begins to shift lower toward protecting the body. When that happens, the tall welterweight attacks the head with either hand and usually applies too much pressure for opposing fighters.
Sanchez comes from Northern California and has shown an ability to withstand and absorb almost any blow. When he first encountered Reyes two years ago he fought toe-to-toe and never showed any signs of withering under the constant pounding. It was Reyes’ ability to slip more punches than Sanchez that proved the difference in scoring in their 2010 fight.
In the Inland area Herrera has built a reputation throughout the years as being one of the most skilled prizefighters in Southern California. That's saying a lot for an area that in the last decade has produced more contenders and prospects than any place in the world.
Herrera (18-1, 7 KOs) faces Colorado's hard-hitting Mike Alvarado (32-0, 23 KOs) on Saturday April 14, at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. Alvarado has been tabbed as a certain future world champion but has taken the slow road due to some personal mishaps.
“I did some things that set me back but that’s in the past,” said Alvarado. “Mauricio Herrera is a good fighter and has good boxing skills but he's never faced anyone like me. I'm on a whole different level.”
Herrera has utilized many of his fellow Inland area boxers for sparring and also those from Orange County to prepare for the talented Alvarado.
Alvarado wasn't about to prepare gingerly for his bout against Herrera and moved his training base to Southern California boxing hotbed to find adequate sparring too. He was seen sparring with former junior middleweight world champion Sergio “The Latin Snake” Mora among many others.
Herrera feels his style is unique and is difficult to prepare against. But he also knows that Alvarado comes with a full war chest.
“His most dangerous punch is his right uppercut,” said Herrera who has spent hours studying Alvarado's tendencies. “My best weapon is my mind.”
Fights on television
Fri. ESPN2, 6 p.m., Artemio Reyes Jr. (15-1) vs. Alan Sanchez (9-2).
Fri. Telemundo, 11:30 p.m., Jose Nieves (19-2-3) vs. Alejandro Delgado (15-6).
Sat. HBO pay-per-view, 6 p.m., Juan Manuel Marquez (53-6-1) vs. Serhiy Fedchenko (30-1); Brandon Rios (29-0-1) vs. Richard Abril (17-2-1) and Mike Alvarado (32-0) vs. Mauricio Herrera (18-1).
Sat. Telefutura, 11 p.m., Edner Cherry (29-6-2) vs. Juan Carlos Martinez (19-13-1).
Who's the best Mexican boxer today?