ONTARIO, CALIF.---After 14 years, a lot of boxing has passed under the bridge for Southern California’s Thompson Boxing Promotions.
A three title-fight boxing card will take place featuring IFBA junior flyweight titlist Sindy Amador defending against undefeated Maria Suarez on May 16, at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario.
On Wednesday, a large crowd saw the headliners and helped the promotion group celebrate their success the past 14 years, which has seen many stars come and go.
“I remember the first main even fight we ever had,” said Ken Thompson, president of Thompson Boxing. “It was Carlos Bojorquez and it brought all the drama and excitement you could want in a main event.”
Bojorquez, now 42 and retired, fought for the junior middleweight world title in 2004 and had wins over some notable fighters, such as Pernell Whitaker. The Mira Loma fighter now works with Thompson, along with three other former prizefighters.
It all began in the year 2000 with the city of Orange-based company promoting boxing cards primarily in Ontario, California which is about 20 miles north-east. From the very first fight card the boxing company was able to attract a large following.
“In our first fight card we had people coming from San Diego, L.A. and in Orange County,” said Thompson, who also owns Thompson Building Materials. “We’ve had 14 great years.”
In that span there have been 150 shows featuring 1800 prizefighters and they have sold 225,000 tickets. For a small promotion group it has become one of the most successful boxing companies of its size in the world.
During its first four years the company concentrated on producing good, entertaining fights for the boxing crazy fans in Southern California. The very first boxer signed by Thompson Boxing was Josesito “Riverside Rocky” Lopez, who remains part of their promotion team. Others signed in the past were Tim “Desert Storm” Bradley, Jonathan “Momo” Romero, Victor Burgos, Mauricio Herrera and Colombia’s Yonnhy Perez.
Perez captured the IBF bantamweight world title in 2009 by defeating Joseph “King Kong” Agbeko by decision in Las Vegas.
It remains one of Thompson’s most cherished moments.
“Some of the greatest people are in boxing,” Thompson says. “Most of the boxers are very humble and come from poverty.”
Alex Camponovo, who serves as the matchmaker and coordinator for the boxing events, said Colombia’s Perez is a perfect example of a boxer coming from humble beginnings and then achieving fame as a world champion.
“When Yonnhy Perez won the world championship he asked if he could go home,” said Camponovo, remembering the conversation. “He wanted to go home and build a house with his money.”
Perez returned to Cartegena, Colombia to cheers and adulation after defeating Agbeko. He returned with his promoters and trainers to share in the glory and visit his homeland. He showed them his small house that featured two bedrooms and a kitchen. The bedroom where he slept had two hammocks. The kitchen had a small refrigerator about the size of small barrel. With his money won he was going to purchase another refrigerator and give the older one to his sister.
“When Yonnhy fought for the world title in Staples Center he was staying at the J.W. Marriott,” said Camponovo. “He slept on the floor, not the bed. He wasn’t used to sleeping on a bed.”
Perez spent years training in the small suburban town of Santa Fe Springs, Calif. Despite not speaking a word of English, the Colombian bantamweight acquired a huge following from that city who loved his humility and kindness. Whenever he fought large crowds would caravan from Santa Fe Springs to Las Vegas or Los Angeles. Even today, his fans ask how he’s doing?
“It’s true. Yonnhy had a lot of fans in Santa Fe Springs,” said Camponovo, remembering the crowd that showed up at Treasure Island Casino in Las Vegas when he won the world title.
Thompson remembers traveling to Great Britain to see Bradley defeat Junior Witter and bring home the WBC junior welterweight world title. He also remembers going to Japan to see Burgos fight for the world title there. But his fondest moment remains a contest that was not a world title fight.
Of all the great moments and accomplishments, one event stands out over all others.
“When Josesito Lopez beat Victor Ortiz,” said Thompson, who co-promotes Lopez along with Goossen-Tutor Promotions. “That’s the high point.”
During the years they’ve signed fighters from Venezuela, Colombia and Mexico. They’ve also signed many from Southern California and one from Pennsylvania. Not all have been massive successes, unless you count the interest raised at each of their fight cards.
On Friday May 16, one of their new signees, Jose “Gato” Roman, meets Mexico’s Luis Solis in a battle of welterweights. The co-main event features Riverside’s sole world champion Sindy Amador defending her junior flyweight title against Santa Maria’s undefeated Marie Suarez.
Thompson has enjoyed the whole experience and looks forward to another 14 years.
“You meet some of the greatest people in the world in the sport of boxing,” he says.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV