After the intermission at Saturday’s USA Amateur Boxing Show at the Marron Boxing Camp in Lakeside, Ca., ring announcer Steve Macomber had several meaningful plaques to present. The first was given to the representatives of the Pacific Coast Boxing team who are still dealing with the April 7th tragic death of their beloved volunteer coach, Hector Gil.
A second plaque was given to the former gym owner, trainer, corner man and boxing historian, Joe Lopez. Lopez is now celebrating his 50th year in the sport. For 22 of those years, he ran a well known boxing gym at 5th and Market in San Diego’s historic Gaslamp District where some of boxing’s top performers trained.
Not to go mentioning names but who doesn’t recall the name, Ken Norton. Norton, who worked out at Lopez’s gym, gave Muhammad Ali his second loss after breaking the former champ’s jaw on March 3rd, 1973. Tales abound how Joe helped this or that boxer pull a giant upset; how he’d fix a lighting problem or a ring belt buckle at the most critical times.
When I asked a boxing insider about Mr. Lopez, he told me, “Joe is one of those soldiers in the trenches who never gets the proper recognition. Some shows would never have taken place without his help. At times he has been indispensable.”
Picking up where we left off: Bout #11 featured two polished, undefeated boxers, 19 year-old Armando Carladza of R & R going up against 17 year-old Nicolas Lopez of Pacific Coast Boxing. Since both plan to turn pro soon this was one of the most anticipated bouts of the day.
From the opening bell the fists were flying. Since both boxers were unloading and taking chances, everyone was on the edge of their seats expecting a quick conclusion. It’s likely that rounds one and two went to Lopez who appeared sharper and won the counter punching battle. Carladza kept dropping his hands and walking into punches. Even though Carladza went full bore in each round, there seemed to be no doubt Lopez would be declared the victor.
Bout #12 featured 10 year-old Henry Liera of El Centro going up against 11 year old Rodolfo Ortigoza of Penacho. Ortigoza, who was three pounds heavier, showed his ring generalship and patiently waited for Liera to make a mistake. When he did, Ortigoza made him pay by landing inside combinations. Even though Liera finished strong, he couldn’t overcome Ortigoza’s point lead.
Bout #13 featured 13 year-old Jorge Munoz of El Centro facing a 12 year-old Luis Enriques of the National City CYAC. Even with Enriques making some uncharacteristic mistakes and getting a two point deduction, Munoz was no match for the more polished southpaw who had his way landing his powerful lefthand.
Bout #14 featured 17 year-old Abel Arias of La Gente going up against 18 year-old Manuel Vasquez of Chula Vista Boxing who was making his debut. From the outset Vasquez was in Arias’ face and benefitted big time from his continuous jabs. Before long an eight count was issued to Arias who couldn’t get his offense going. Vasquez, the shorter of the two, was unrelenting
and kept peppering his foe with combinations. After a second warning for not biting down on his mouthpiece Arias had a point deducted. In the final round two more eight counts were issued to the overmatched Arias.
Bout #15 featured 15 year-old Matthew Garcia of La Gente versus 14 year-old Miguel Bracamontes of Escondido. Garcia, who benefitted from a five pound weight advantage, was definitely the stronger of the two. But Bracamontes was far and away the more polished boxer. Throughout the bout both young men were in perpetual motion,
Bracamontes using his jab and occasionally catching Garcia flush with a left, right combination and Garcia with the heavier hands trying to cut off the ring. More than once the boxers touched gloves to show their mutual respect. Why? Because each knew they were in a very close and competitive battle. According to one judge, who gave the majority decision to Garcia by a point, this was the toughest fight of the day to call. I disagreed with the outcome.
Bout #16 featured 14 year-old Richard Reyes of La Gente weighing in at 112 pounds going up against 15 year-old Esteban Vasquez of Real
Deal who weighed 117 pounds. With Vasquez countering well and definitely the more accurate puncher, the outcome of this bout was never in doubt.
Bout #17 featured 17 year-old Luis Torres of Pacific Coast Boxing going up against 26 year old, David Martinez of San Diego’s Black Tiger Gym who is not only nine years older but nine pounds heavier. Martinez, a true warrior, recently switched from Muy Thai/Kickboxing over to Boxing.
With Torres’ corner urging their boxer to throw more combinations, Martinez used his lightning fast defensive skills to block everything thrown his way. Nothing could penetrate Martinez’s defenses. Meanwhile, Martinez landed just enough offense to secure the unanimous decision.
Bout #18 featured Hector Gil’s nephew, 18 year-old Anthony Quinones in his debut. Quinones is also the son of Gabriel Quinones, the owner of the Chula Vista Boxing Gym. His opponent, 20 year-old Johnny Rivera trains at the Undisputed Fitness and Training Center in Point Loma under the watchful eye of Priest “Tiger” Smalls.
In round one, Rivera looked sharp and gave Quinones an early wake-up call with a hard left. He followed up with several more shots that were definitely testing Quinones’s resolve. Instead of getting down on himself for losing round one, Quinones listened intently as his corner coached him.
Round two was more evenly contested as both boxers landed some good shots. Once again, round three would decide the bout. In that final round Quinones would not be denied. You could tell he wanted the bout more. It wasn’t that he landed the cleaner shots; it was the fact he threw more punches.
Bout #19 featured 17 year-old Fernando Alvarez of El Centro going up against 18 year-old Alfredo Rodriguez from the Alliance Training Center of Chula Vista. Alvarez tried to use his height and reach advantage but Rodriguez kept slipping the punches and countering with solid lefts and overhand rights. With Rodriguez repeatedly catching his opponent right on the button, referee Rick Ley kept calling one eight count after another. He even called for a stoppage to have the fight doctor to check his eyes.
Bout #20 featured 18 year-old Arturo Hoyo of the Chula Vista Boxing Club in his debut going up against 17 year-old Nicholas Cortez of Rhino Boxing. Round one was like watching two Money Mayweathers have at it…defense and then even more defense. By round two the boxers started in earnest to mix it up and by round three the fist were flying. Hoyo stayed in close, became more compact and managed to land the cleaner shots.
For me Saturday was one of those days when you have to stop and smell the roses. I hope the others who visited the Marron Boxing Camp had a chance to reflect as I did about what has transpired on those hallowed grounds. In the adjacent gym many of the sport’s top professionals train or used to train. The walls are covered with fight posters and memorabilia going back sixty years. Most of the posters are signed with a personal message.
Jose Madrid, the show’s organizer, wanted to add his special thanks to Dr. Rafael A. Rosado, the ring doctor, plus the selfless and noble USA Amateur Boxing officials who spent their Saturday officiating the many bouts: Venoria Lindsay, Rick and Melanie Ley, Willy Koons, and Carlos Barragan Jr. who filled in as time-keeper, plus professional boxer Steve Macomber who did a more than an adequate job of handling the ring announcer’s duties. The food was great, the beverages refreshing and everyone was entertained to the hilt.