By: Anthony Whitby
In truth, I limited my expectations beforehand going into last Friday nights bouts on SHOBOX. That’s not a knock against Showdown Promotions who in conjunction with Top Rank Inc. who put together a fun night of fights. That being said going into a fight card that had another “Cuban Fighter” and a Diego Magdaleno who I have always felt was the lesser of Magdaleno brothers let’s just say that this wasn’t going to be my cup of tea when it came to the fisticuffs we were about to encounter. On this night I am not sure if it was my ignorance got the very best of me I am glad it did and change my perceptions in many regards for that matter, maybe these promoters knew what they were doing all along.
The story begins with me in the ride picking up writers Ron Valderrama from Secondsout.com and Albert Alvarez from AZ Front Row Magazine. Hey if you are going to take the two hour trek down to Tucson what better way than spitting boxing talk with your peers right? We talked about the most recent news of El Terrible not making weight and went through our predictions over the coming weekend massive boxing line up. Switching the soundtrack of the drive from old drum and bass to some classic Reggie Noble got me psyched up for some good old’ fisticuffs.
We make it to the lavish Casino Del Sol resort and I got to say the place is beautiful. We grab are press passes and went to check out the seating arrangements and noticed I would be placed right next to Norm Frauenheim and to my left was Lee Samuels from Top Rank so I know much of night I would simply be a fly on a wall and for a boxing nerd such as myself it doesn’t get much better than this. Gerry Truax of Showdown Promotions looked excited for the fights to begin and he was pleased to tell us they sold the show out and that the Casino ended up opening up additional seating so all is well from this hidden fight town who knew?
It’s funny how this fight sold out and many weren’t sure it would while you know who did know, anyone who had paid attention to the Arizona boxing landscape that’s who. It’s a simple formula of supply and demand. While Local Shows in Phoenix without a “major” attraction (I say that respectably) are doing very well to point we are having calendar dates getting booked throughout the year. It would only make sense the fight town of Tucson where many fighters have traveled to over the years would be a viable market. The large crowd of fight fans got the atmosphere pumping.
As fate would have it we ran into 126lb contender Mikey Garcia where he stated he is ready for any champion at featherweight and hopefully by the end of the year he would have a strap. My spidey senses tell me his team will seek out the likes Celestino Caballero before they would of that of let’s say Orlando Salido.
Around this same time Albert ran into Javier “Pelos” Garcia who explained the misfortune that his dance partner for the night Jose Roman had gotten sick and his bout was cancelled. Being that I am high up on Jose Romans talents and that Javier is the nephew of trainer of the year Robert Garcia I was really hoping to see someone’s hand raised.
I missed the opening bout that Abie Han won in UD Fashion and was seated properly as Homero Fonseca vs. Andy Ruiz began these to large fighters cracked the night wide open. The overly pudgy Fonseca had the King Hippo stomach where I am pretty sure it could absorb even a left hook from Clubber Lang. Pick any cliché you want because within the first 30 seconds of the opening round Homero showed Andy that “just because you’re the A side with the lead promoter that there is a reason you are in the ring with me” Homero cracked Andy with a left hook that rocked the giant kid. Andy shook it off and rather than spatting back in an amateurish style he took his time regaining his composure and you could hear his corner lead by Miguel Diaz telling him to use the Jab.
The fight was a constant question of when will the hard shots of Ruiz is too much for the “Mexican Butter Bean”. Fonseca’s will and determination was of that hungry animal fighting on sheer instinct and was down on most rounds but he would get pounding shots off each round that just seems to really stun Andy and really test him. The crowd loved this fight and Norm said it best “this is a human version of two semi-trucks headed for a collision”.
If you were going to give Homero a round, then the fourth would have probably been it with a pair of “swinging for the fences” type left and right hooks landing upstairs Andy had to clinch and recover for a moment. Sitting at press row we were all impress at the damaging head shots both were receiving without the other giving any ground. The later rounds Homero’s nose looked to be definitely broken and you could tell he was having trouble breathing. In the end Andy Ruiz would receive a clean sweep unanimous decision and unfortunately afterwards I heard that Andy was sent to the Hospital to get his left hand looked at and that was the last I have heard let’s hope it’s nothing major.
Around this time I ran into David Benavidez the younger brother of Jose Benavidez Jr. and I wasn’t sure where the rest David was at because he looked dramatically thinner. You can tell he means business as he is going through his slim down. He did state he was hoping to get to possibly around 180lbs. for his upcoming amateur bout. We spoke briefly about his recent sparring opportunities and told him we have to get him and Jr. on the P”N”B Radio Show before his fight.
As the night began to hit a groove next up was Hanzel Martinez vs. Jose Tomayo lasted about half a round; all you need to know is Jose went in and gave Martinez a few solid hits to the chin and Hanzel returned the favor with a paralyzing uppercut it was good night for Tomayo to be put to sleep. Maybe I am Americanized a little and think it’s time for a 16-0 fighter to step it up in competition but regardless he is always fun to watch and to be fair he is a Tijuana fighter so in in comparison he can marinate a little longer if need be.
As for the opening bout for the SHOBOX telecast Yordenis Ugas vs. Juan Garcia: again Being that I wasn’t sold on everything I heard about Ugas and that Juan Garcia looked more shiny on paper at first glance, I thought we were headed to a dominating performance were we were more upset that Ugas let the fight go to the cards as oppose to closing the deal mid to late rounds taking the conservative Cuban approach if you will. The fact is bottom line is Juan Garcia had a style that refused to let Ugas fight in any manner he was 100% comfortable with and by the end of the night made Ugas look like he was hit with muscles relaxers because he refused to throw punches in the later rounds and that would be his demise. Garcia Started out fighting out with a nervousness built off of persistence and by the end of it was led through with confidence. I think Ugas is a tough nut to crack, his long arms allow him to shell up very nicely but Garcia’s body shots thrown out of frustration early on allowed for Garcia to look good in the later rounds when Ugas was doing his best interpretation of Joshua Clottey. Garcia was very effective by weaving into the inside and shooting off left hooks and wide rights to the body. I Know the fight ended in a semi shocking split decision personally I had it a draw because I scored the Ugas falling into the ropes as a knockdown from my vantage it appeared to be a legitimate case, so a one point sway in any direction I am fine with. More importantly however that fight had the audience enthralled and not much more you could ask for at the end of the bout. “I felt good overall, this is a great feeling to come in here and beat a Top Rank Prospect in Ugas” Garcia would tell me after the bout.
With the fight fans ready for the main event Diego Magdaleno vs. Fernando Beltran Jr. the first three rounds were a clear dominant Diego Magdaleno getting off beautiful combinations and watching a fighter work the body as he was doing is an lost art in my opinion. I am not sure if it was Fernando spotting a hole in Diego’s game but in the fourth round he clipped Diego with a shot that sent Magdaleno to the floor. That being said you could easily score the round a 10-9 instead of the status quo 10-80 due to the work Diego did for the remainder of the round. “Fernando was my first lefty and it’s something I can learn from but I knew what was my mistake was, but I got back up and started to change my plan, a fighter can change in every round so you have to be a constant thinker in the ring and that’s what I did” Diego would tell me later after the fight was over. Both fighters would have their moments in round five but it was Diego that seem to get the best of Fernando. It was Round 7 seven when Diego finally started to lay the leather on Beltran that had many fans including myself angry at the ref for not stopping the fight on multiple times where Beltran looked like he needed a life raft. Hey I love a fight as much as the next man but Beltran didn’t look well from the first major blow of the round till the end when the Ref finally waived the fight off. As the accolades ringside were prevalent talks of possible bout for Diego facing Juan Carlos Salgado were sounding off giving the Nevada fighter his first crack at a tittle. Not a bad fight but at one 130lbs. We all know who “The Problem” is. As Diego is setting his path at a title it is clear the kid has charisma and is only going to rise in popularity as time passes.
Much respect goes out to Carlos Alvarez of Team Benavidez, who helped translate for me in what ended up being my favorite moment of the entire night, talking to a bruised and worn Fernando Beltran Jr. In a post-fight interview. First he would express to me “I am slow starter and adapt to the fight progressing as the fight goes, and felt that since Diego was throwing so many power punches that he was going to tire out and I would be able to come on strong” We talked about the stoppage “My father threw in the towel and but I felt I was going to get better regardless hopefully you guys like the fight. Fernando is a warrior who has stepped in the ring with many world class fighters so I had to asked about Diego’s power “He is a good fighter but his punches are quick and stuns you with speed but doesn’t hurt you like other fighters I have faced” Fernando went onto to explain that he normally faces at a smaller weight class and have faced harder punchers. Fernando took this fight on within a weeks noticed and it takes a certain type of fighter to step in the ring the way Berltran was supposed to be served up and he fought with much valor. Talking to him afterwards I felt that he really was disappointed in his father decision to throw in the towel. The humble conviction he would use in just his voice inflection made me feel for his case, even though I still hold my ground that the ref should of stop the fight earlier.
Onto the last bout of the evening was a cherry topper Trevor McCumby vs. Jose Rico it took less than two minutes for Trevor, a Cameron Dunkin fighter who has been looking to get in the ring for almost a year now gave the KO of the night crushing Rico to the floor and the crowd was pleased with the farewell bout. Afterwards I was happy to congratulate McCumby’s trainers Andy and Wayne Viers on their fighter and hope to see Trevor back in the ring very soon. No other way of putting it folks a good looking white kid with even a decent manager can travel well in this game. The eyes from the locals are staring only a matter of time before the casual fans began to hear the name Trevor McCumby.
I could go on and on but what you got take from this read is Boxing is sport not just about the main events, this wasn’t a PPV event I get that but this wasn’t Tim Coleman fighting in front of empty seats either. As we seen week after week of failures in the Texas Commission I see the trends in Arizona that are vibrant and lush for boxing.
The boxing fans here have been waiting for this renancaisse and yes its stretch and a slow cook I get that but credit these promoters for extended a branch to the Tucson fight seen it was huge payoff and Showdown Promotions is looking to do it again with a bigger venue and a bigger name on the marquee come this may with Antonio Margarito.
With that said I am out, you catch P”N”B radio show where we talk to the fans and talk the fight game Every Wednesday Night at 10PM PST, or you can catch the download as well.
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