This year’s Boxers for Christ National Championship took place December 16, 17 and 18 at the Escondido Sports and Fitness Center in Escondido. Over fifty some bouts took place featuring over a hundred participants.
The show, sanctioned by USA Boxing and run by the good people of USIAA, the United States Institute of Amateur Athletics, was open to boxers of all ages, all weight divisions, males and females, Pee Wees, Junior Olympians, Elite and Masters.
Organizers handed out trophies to the outstanding team, the Bad Boyz Boxing Team of Garden City, Kansas, the top male and female boxer, outstanding official – Hondo Fontan, boxer showing the best sportsmanship, and even the top coach – Robert Gonzales of the Bad Boyz Boxing Club.
The Bad Boyz Boxing Club made the long trek from Kansas in force and had seven of their boxers compete in nine bouts. The Bad Boyz Boxing Club is where Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios, the current WBA World Lightweight Champion got his start.
The annual event featured three days of some of the best amateur boxing competition in the nation with the caveat of providing Christian Gospel Ministry featuring Bible Study and testimonials from former athletes and coaches.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Bout #1 featured Carla Velasquez of Bad Boyz going up against Ching Chang (Unaffiliated) in the 123 pound female novice category. At the outset, Velasquez was in control and had Chang backing up. Before you knew it, down went Chang. Chang responded as if Velasquez had stolen her boyfriend. After a barrage of punches from Chang, Velasquez suddenly dropped her hands and while turning sideways was caught with an overhand right. The impact put Velasquez on her back.
Bout #2 featured Eric Marquez of Bad Boyz taking on Elias Diaz of Bad Boxing, San Diego in the semi-finals of the 132 pound Elite Class. Marquez had no chance against Diaz who is one of San Diego’s top pro-prospects. Before long Marquez was issued two standing eight counts.
Bout #3 had Aaron Blanco of Ocean’s Boxing going up against Berabe Pineda of Bad Boyz in the Novice 152 pound class. After seeing Pineda getting hit repeatedly, the referee in charge stepped in to stop the bout.
In Bout #4, Ernesto Mercudo (Unattached)faced Jonathan Rodrigues of Ocean’s Boxing in the 60 pound 9-10 year old category. Mercudo was not only older than Rodriguez, he was bigger and dominated the action.
Bout #5 featured Rodolfo Ortigoza taking on Thomas Wu in the 12-13 year old, 85 pound category. Wu, who was taller, had major problems with Ortigoza who stayed small and fought in close. Even though Wu was getting off first, he wasn’t landing any of his punches. Meanwhile, Ortigoza was firing off exacting blows, mostly counters off each Wu miss.
After the bout ended, Ortigoza’s coach climbed into the ring and raised his protege high overhead. He was so pleased with his masterful performance. Then after they announced that Wu had won the match, the crowd reacted with a smattering of boos, a crowd that had been cheering for Ortigoza as he fought so well.
Bout #6 featured Adrian Gonzales of Eddie Herredia Boxing going up against Steve Gonzales of Real Deal in the finals of the 12-13 year-old 114 pound category. This was one of those non-stop action bouts where you needed the help of the clicker to keep track of all the blows.
In the heated first round, the boxers took turns pummeling each other and then just before the bell, Adrian G. landed a four punch combination to steel the round.
Steve G. answered back in Round #2 and was clearly the busier and more accurate of the two which left Round #3 to decide the winner.
In Round #3, Adrian G. was on the attack from the outset and threw everything but the kitchen sink at his opponent. Then in the last 15 seconds of the round, Steve G. landed six solid, unanswered blows to confuse the judges. In the end, the judges awarded the razor thin decision to Adrian Gonzales. I believe the decision could have gone either way and not one person in the auditorium would have complained.
Bout #7 featured Angel Garcia of Heber going up against
Raymond Garcia of MTC for the second family feud in a row
Angel Garcia, the taller of the two Garcias, used his reach advantage to circle and land the head snapping jab to clearly out boxed Raymond Garcia in round #1. Even though Angel G. picked up the pace in Round #2, Raymond G. started landing the cleaner, straighter punches. Round by round, the exchanges became even more heated. In the end, the verdict was clear and Angel Garcia was awarded an unanimous decision.
Bout #8 featured two wily veterans in the 106 pound category, the reigning California State and National junior Olympic champion Homer Palomino of the Gutierrez Gym being challenged by Eduardo Vasquez of the Real Deal Boxing Club.
The punches in this match-up had bite to them. It soon became clear that Palomino was the more accurate of the two and Vasquez needed to get inside and resort to some roughhouse tactics. Then just before Round #1 ended, Palomino, perhaps a bit overconfident, switched from righty to lefty. The dangerous maneuver gave his coach conniptions.
After getting read the riot act by his coach, Palomino returned to being more disciplined and circled about his opponent to land the sharper, more telling blows.
After the bell sounded for Round #3, Vasquez came out with this do-or-die attitude and started landing some solid left hooks. Still, Palomino answered back and the exchanges became more heated. Vasquez then bull rushed Palomino and both boxers went down. At that point Palomino increased the space between the two and circled about doing his best Mohammad Ali impression. From that point on he jettisoned in an out to deliver enough blows to take the final round. In the end, Palomino won an unanimous decision.
After the scorecards were tabulated, a mix-up occurred and the announcer announced Vasquez had won. The cringeworthy mix-up was sorted out and Palomino was soon declared the victor.
Bout #9 featured Roberto Manriguez of Heber going up against Pedro Salome of Punchout Boxing in the finals of the 15-16 year old flyweight category.
In this one Salome made hay with the use of his jab and straight right while his opponent, Manriguez kept walking into punches.
In Round #2 it was all Salome, as Manriguez found it more and more difficult to box while backing up. After Manriguez was issued two straight eight counts, the referee called a halt to the action.
Bout #10 featured Cesar Lopez of Real Deal going up against Daniel Morales of the Gutierrez Gym in the semifinals of the 15-16 year old, 119 pound (super bantamweight) category.
In Round #1, Lopez was extremely accurate and masterful on defense. It was surely a 10-8 round.
In Round #2, Morales came on and was doing a lot better. Someone from his corner yelled, “Come on, he’s tired!” Lopez may have looked tired but he was still slipping punches and proving to be the more accurate puncher, especially with his solid lefts that were doing damage up top and to the midsection.
Round #3 was almost a repeat of Round #2 with Lopez doing more dodging, dropping of hands and slipping of punches as if he had gone several days without sleep. Still, Morales kept missing and he was unable to match Morales’ output. In contrast Lopez rarely missed the mark especially with the clean shots to the head.
As the judges tallied their scores, it was clear that Lopez had outboxed his opponent and done more than enough in Rounds 1 and 2 to cement the victory. Then came the judges’ decision that Morales had been declared the winner. It was obvious the decision was an unpopular one. Myself, I was shocked. Unless the judges were giving extra points for vim and vigor, I just couldn’t see this ruling.
Bout #11 featured Jesus Laguna of the National City CYAC going up against Jose Chollet of Barrio Station in the finals of the 10-11 year old 75 pound category.
After the action-packed Bout #11, this one was a bit of a snoozer, especially in Rounds one and two. Laguna, the taller of the two, circled about his prey and used his weight and height advantage to the max.
Chollet gave it his best in Round #3, but couldn’t overcome the disparity in size.
Bout #12 featured Adrian Gutierrez of the Gutierrez Gym going up against Gabriel Hernandez of the Undisputed Fitness and Training Center, El Cajon, in the finals of the 15-16 year old, 145 pound, welterweight category.
This one was won purely on the difference in skill sets. Gutierrez knew how to slip punches and was masterful when it came to boxing in close.
From the opening bell, things were intense, toe to toe intense. Hernandez used every bit of leverage while Gutierrez seemed more sold on landing the quicker combinations. Then came a questionable slip by Gutierrez that could have been ruled a knockdown. It wasn’t. With his punch count advantage, Gutierrez took Round #1.
Round #2 was just as exciting as Hernandez landed a big overhand right followed by a looping left. Gutierrez, absorbing the blows as if he were in a pillow fight, came right back and delivered his only volleys to secure Round #2.
Sitting on his stool before the start of Round #3, Hernandez received the following instructions from coach Berlin Kerney: “Forget the points! Here’s what you’ve got to do to beat this guy…”
Kerney knew and I believe Hernandez knew Gutierrez’s skills were superior and only a KO punch could get the win. Neither boxer let up in that third and final frame. In the end, Gutierrez was awarded the close decision.
Bout #13 featured Antonio Garcia of Punchout Boxing, a more than decent boxer, going up against tough guy Hussein Fakhreddine of Old School Boxing in the 15-16 year old, 154 pound (super-welterweight) category.
Anyone preparing to go up against a Fakhreddine must be ready for war. It’s well known the five members of this clan have solid chins and they’re always in excellent shape. Garcia, a tall, lanky boxer with quick hands and good boxing skills, was the latest to learn of this.
At the outset, Garcia landed his stiff jab, then followed it up with a one, two combination. Before long this strategy proved futile, as Fakhreddine would eat the first punch, then get inside to tip the scale. Before long Fakhreddine did enough damage to have the referee issue Garcia an eight count in Round #2.
Then in Round #3, with Fakhreddine seemingly ahead on the scorecards, Garcia surprised his opponent with a barrage of unanswered punches to have the tables turned and have the referee issue Fakhreddine an eight count.
Once again, the insane energy level of Mr. Fakhreddine won over the judges and he ended up with the decision.
Bout #14 featured Jonathan Corona of Eddie Heredia Boxing going up against Jorge Marentes of ABC Mongoose in the 110 pound (flyweight)Novice category.
From the looks of this one, it appeared Marentes, a novice, had never boxed a southpaw before Saturday. Corona was winding up his deliveries and went nonstop dishing out the punishment that soon had Marentes’ nose bleeding. You got to hand it to Marentes. He was willing to go the distance and at times he got in some pretty good licks himself.
Bout #15 featured Robert Duran (Unattached) going up against Adan Ortiz of the Sportscene World Class Boxing Team in the finals of the 123 pound (featherweight) Novice category.
At first it looked as if Ortiz was the stronger of the two. He took charge right from the outset and Duran spent the remainder of Round #1 trying to play catch-up. Then in the closing seconds, Duran stole the round by launching a barrage of 8-10 unanswered punches that scored him an eight count.
Round #2 began with Duran’s corner yelling, “Right hand, left hook!” Seconds later, Duran got to it and the recommended two punch combination worked, over and over again.
Then in Round #3, after Duran’s corner forgot to give their boxer his mouthpiece, Duran was forced to take a knee. Upsetting as this was, Duran finished out the round with another strong flurry to seal the victory.
Bout #16 featured Martinez “Marty” Kelley Jr. of USIAA going up against Jose Hernandez of Eddie Heredia Boxing in the 123 pound (featherweight) Novice category.
Early on, Kelley looked to be the more accomplished boxer and circled about Hernandez to score on a wide variety of punches. However, that edge, his momentum, evaporated in Round #2 after the two men exchanged blows in the center of the ring.
By Round #3, it was Hernandez who was doing the chasing and ultimately the headhunting after becoming the busier and sharper puncher.
One of Marty’s friends posted the following video:
Bout #17 featured Johnny Rivera of the San Diego Combat Academy going up against Raul Meza of the Alliance Training Center in the semifinals of the 130 pound (lightweight) Novice category.
In Round #1, Meza got things started after landing two hard right hands. From that point on he was chasing after Rivera to deliver more of the same. His punches certainly had more pop.
In Round #2, there was a reversal of fortunes and it was Rivera who was delivering the big blows.
With the rounds even, that left Round #3 to decide the winner. After getting instructions from his corner, Meza appeared to be focused on what he had to do. As if he had this tunnel vision, he came straight at Rivera and began shooting straight rights and lefts, most were delivered to the midsection. Then in the closing seconds he finished strong by landing a flurry of punches to the head. Did he get the nod? No. All but one judge had Rivera as the winner.
In Bout #18, Idris “Prince Tiger” Smalls faced Jesus Toro of the U. S. Marine Boxing Team on Camp Pendleton in the semi-finals of the 130 pound (lightweight) category.
In Round #1, it was clear this was a mismatch. The snap and delivery speed of Smalls’ punches were amazing. In the entire first round, Toro landed just one solid punch.
Then in Round #2, Smalls’ combinations led to Toro getting a bloody nose and an eight count. Before Round #3 ended, Toro had been issued two additional eight counts. Small’s opponent showed amazing courage just to stand in front of this human battering machine. His punches come so fast they remind you of baseballs in a batting cage.
Bout #19 featured Joseph Hernandez of the DOJO in Oceanside, CA going up against Nazario Hernandez of the Alliance Training Center, Chula Vista in the 141 pound (welterweight) Novice category.
In Round #1, the out of town visitor, Joseph H. was the busier of the two and managed to get in close to deliver the crisper punches.
By Round #2 the exchanges became more of a give and take and it was basically a matter of preference of which boxer had the most pop in his punches.
In Round #3, Nazario H. decided to go for broke and his lunging after the slicker, more elusive Joseph H. got him in trouble. Each time he missed, Joseph H. was right there to counter.
Bout #20 featuring Alexander Robinson of Gladiator going up against Amador Ramirez of Ocean’s Boxing in the 152 pound (super welterweight) Novice category was held earlier and Robinson won.
Bout #21 featured Amin Nasoui of Fabela Chavez going up against Abraham Estrada of North County Boxing in the semifinals of the 152 pound (super welterweight) Novice category.
The two young boxers came out firing as if it were the final round of a world title fight. The punches thrown in the first round were the type that put holes in a wall. After the dust had settled, Estrada had blood all over his face and he was having trouble raising his left arm. Unlike “The Warrior” flick now in local theaters where the brother ends up fighting with just one arm, Estrada’s corner wisely threw in the towel.
Bout #22 featured Melvin Rodriguez of the U.S.Marine Corps Boxing Team on Camp Pendleton going up against Arthur Arrington of ABC Mongoose in the 152 pound (super welterweight) Novice category.
In this one, Rodriguez looked to mixed it up but Arrington wouldn’t let him and often held. He preferred the strategy of fighting in close with the short uppercuts and right crosses. Whenever Rodriguez got loose he’d land the straight shots at Arrington’s head.
In the second round, it looked like Rodriguez had Arrington in trouble and visa versa, Arrington had his moments of getting in a few licks on Rodriguez. But neither boxer could finish his opponent off. With Rodriguez being busier and the more accurate of the two, it was a foregone conclusion that he would get the nod.
Bout #23 featured Mario Cuin of Temecula going up against Alfredo Rodriguez of the Alliance Training Center, Chula Vista in the semifinals of the 123 pound (featherweight) Elite category.
This was one of those things of beauty where you just sit back and watch the tacticians work at their craft. The wickedly fast combinations had everyone’s attention.
Since both are accomplished boxers, the referee sitting next to me commented how easy it was for him to score the bout using his two clickers.
On this day, it appeared Cuin was busier and the sharper of the two. At one point Rodriguez had Cuin in trouble but he couldn’t finish him off. Overall it was the defense and angles of punches thrown by Cuin that got him the decision.
Bout #24 featured Carlos Geraldo of the House of Boxing going up against Fernando Fuentes of Real Deal Boxing in the semifinals of the 123 pound (featherweight) Elite category.
In this one you could see there was a definite disparity in the weight, height and experience level of the two boxers. Regardless, Geraldo kept coming against his taller foe who seemed unfazed by anything coming his way. Fuentes just sat there high in the saddle delivering his one, two sharp combinations.
At the end of Round #1, Geraldo’s corner which included Carlos Barragan Sr., recognized it was in Geraldo’s best interest to throw in the towel and come back another day. Fuentes’ performance was a thing of beauty. The only thing left for him to work on is his knockout punch.
This concludes Saturday’s bouts.
To assist with the presentation of the trophies, Robert Coons, the USIAA executive director, enlisted the help of his long time friend Archie Moore Jr. Before introducing Mr. Moore he mentioned several anecdotes about his father, Archie Moore.
Did you know in Moore’s last fight of note, he faced Cassius Clay, at that time a young heavyweight out of Louisville? Moore had been Clay’s trainer for a time, but Clay became dissatisfied and left Moore because of Moore’s attempts to change his style, and insistence Clay do the dishes and help clean the gym floor. In the days before the fight, Clay predicted “Archie Moore must fall in four.”
Moore fired back that he had perfected a new punch for the match: The Lip-Buttoner. Just as Clay predicted, however, Moore was beaten by knockout in four rounds.
In Bout #1, Victor Bravo of the Bad Boyz Boxing Club defeated Daniel Morales of Gutierrez Boxing in the 15-16 year-old, 119 pound weight class. From the outset, Bravo came out firing the left, right combinations and soon Morales was issued an eight count. The second round was a repeat of the first and Morales was issued another standing eight count.
Even into the third round there was no let up from Bravo and soon a third eight count was issued. Instead of a fourth eight count, the referee finally called for a stoppage. Bravo’s three day performance caught the eye of the tournament directors who later selected him “Top Boxer” of the Boxers for Christ tournament.
In Bout #2, Amin Nasouri of Fabela dominated Alexander Robinson of Gladiators in the finals of the Novice 152 pound weight class. At first Robinson was having success with quick one-two combinations while Nasouri was being more deliberate and biding his time to pull out his measuring tape. As soon as he found his range, Nasouri’s punches came with terrific force and each right hand was right on the mark.
In Round #2 the referee began to issue the eight counts as Robinson found himself back peddling. Nasouri gave Robinson not an inch of breathing room as he charged after his opponent. A second eight count was issued after Nasouri landed back to back right hands on Robinson’s chin.
Bout #3 featured Alfredo Ubario (Unattached) going up against Melvin Rodriguez, a U. S. Marine from the Camp Pendleton boxing team, also in the finals of the Novice, 152 pound weight class. Round #1 was evenly fought until just before the bell. That’s when Rodriguez landed this solid blow, right on the chin which staggered his opponent just enough to have the referee issue an eight count.
From that point on, Rodriguez was in Ubario’s face to make certain he landed the majority of punches. One eight count was followed by another. After the fourth eight count in Round #3, the referee stopped the bout.
Bout #4 featured Adrian Gonzalez of Herrero going up against Francisco Castillo of Bad Boyz in the 12-13 year-old, 115 pound weight class. This one was an all-out war from the gitgo. There was nothing classy about their styles which featured a lot of holding and roughing each other up. Castillo took Round #1 by doing more of that roughhousing.
Since Gonzalez got his payback in Round #2, that left Round #3 to decide the match. Before the final round began, the referee warned both boxers that their grabbing and holding had to stop. Did they listen? Not at all. They fought to the bitter end as if they were the last decedents of the Hatfields and McCoys. How the judges decided a winner in this match-up is still a mystery. After a furious, evenly fought third round, the judges gave Gonzalez the nod.
In contrast to Bout #4, Bout #5 featured two highly-skilled veterans, Mario Cuin of Temecula Boxing and Fernando Fuentes of Real Deal in the Elite featherweight division. Both boxers were masterful as they showcased their talents of slipping punches and landing combinations with sharpshooter accuracy.
In Round#1, the edge went to Fuentes who used his reach and speed advantage to end up landing more of the telling blows. Round #2 also went to Fuentes whose tighter defense and economy of accurate blows was a beauty to watch.
Round #3 however went to Cuin who came out firing with an all or nothing attitude. After losing the earlier rounds by the slimmest of margins, he probably felt finishing strong was his only chance. He may have won Round #3, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the scores in Round #1 an #2.
Bout #6 featured two more highly-skilled veterans, Jose Vigil of North County Boxing going up against Elias Diaz of Bad Boxing competing in the Elite – 132 pound lightweight division. As in the preceding match, you had Diaz, the taller of the two, utilizing his reach, leverage and power advantage to secure the victory.
In typical Julio Cesar Chavez, no quit, in your face fashion, Vigil kept coming straight at Diaz to mix it up. To counter his strategy, Diaz did the smart thing; he’d land a jab or double up on the stiff jab, then use his footwork to jettison off in a different direction. Twice while holding his ground, Diaz landed two beautiful uppercuts. The only times Diaz found himself in trouble, were the times he allowed Vigil to get in close and pound him with hard left hooks to the midsection. Overall, the match won by Diaz, was a beauty to behold.
Bout #7 featured two heavyweights in the 201 pound, Novice division, Benjamin Rivera of Old School going up against Jose Velasquez of Gutierrez Boxing. At the outset it appeared Velasquez, a southpaw, would have an advantage but that notion soon faded as Rivera kept up the pressure with the straighter punches on the inside. Unlike what you see on TV, with all the hitting and holding, this bout featured many heated exchanges. In the end, it was Rivera, the better conditioned boxer, getting the much deserved win.
List of boxing clubs/teams participating in this year’s tournament:
Alliance Training Center, Chula Vista, CA
ABC Mongoose Boxing, San Diego, CA
Bad Boxing, San Diego, CA
Bad Boyz Boxing Club of Garden City, Kansas
Barrio Station Boxing, San Diego, CA
DOJO in Oceanside, CA
Eddie Heredia Boxing
Encinitas Boxing Club, Encinitas, CA
Escondido Boxing, Escondido, CA
Fabela Chavez Boxing Center, Carson, CA
Gladiators MMA of Spring Valley, CA
Gutierrez Boxing Club, South San Diego, CA
Heber Boxing Club, Heber, CA
House of Boxing, San Diego, CA.
Legacy Boxing, Vista, CA
MTC Boxing Maximum Training Center
National City Community Youth Athletic Center
North County Boxing, Vista, CA
Ocean’s Boxing Club, Chula Vista, CA
Old School Boxing, San Diego, CA
Real Deal Boxing Club of Hemet, CA.
Rhino’s Boxing, Vista, CA
Rubidoux Youth Boxing Club, Rubidoux, CA
San Diego Combat Academy, San Diego
Sportscene World Class Boxing Team (LB Youth Boxing) in Longbeach, CA
Teamsters Youth Boxing of South El Monte, CA
Temecula Boxing Club, Temecula, CA
Undisputed Fitness and Training Center, El Cajon, CA
USIAA, United States Institute of Amateur Athletics
U.S. Marine Corps Boxing Team, Camp Pendleton
Over the next few days, this article will be updated detailing the remaining bouts.