Battle of the Badges at Pechanga – storylines galore

September 7, 2012 No Comments

As a warm up for the Battle of the Badges Boxing Show, two MMA teams did battle against each other at the Pechanga Resort & Casino, Friday, September 7, 2012. Photo: J. Wyatt

September 7, 2012

Throughout the year, members of the Cops 4 Kids & Communities nonprofit organization are busy raising money for local Youth Clubs. The Cops4Kids Boxing Club in Hemet, CA which benefits at-risk youth through sports, education and art programs was their latest recipient.

As you can imagine, their success entails finding a large enough venue to stage such an event. On Friday, for the sixth time, the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, CA insured the event’s success by offering their beautiful main ballroom at no cost.

The Cops4Kids dancers did a bang up job at this year’s Battle of the Badges at the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, CA, September 7, 2012. Photo: Jim Wyatt

After the Cops4Kids Dancers from Hemet, CA and the popular band, Halfway, opened the show, two local mixed martial arts teams, the Riverside Red Roosters and Orange County Arch Angels, members of the Badge Fights Combat Sports League, competed for individual and team honors.

Just as they do for the fighters of Bellator, UFC and Strikeforce, the competitors were given the rock star treatment as they made their way down a ramp to the ring. At first all you could see were their silhouettes as the band performed their inspiring entrance songs. It was a stirring way to honor these guts and glory participants who no doubt risk grave injury each time they enter the cage or in this case the boxing ring.

Bout #1

Bout #1 of the MMA competition had John Sarmenta (R) getting the victory over Eddie Hernandez in the 135 pound weight classification. Photo: Jim Wyatt

In the 135 pound weight class, John Sarmenta of Team Arch Angel defeated Eddie Hernandez of the Red Roosters. With takedowns in both the first and second rounds, Sarmenta finished off his scoring with some ground and pound.

Bout #2

Bout #2 of the MMA competition had J. W. Lee (R) getting the victory over Chris Sykes (L) in the 145 pound weight classification. Photo: Jim Wyatt

In the 145 pound weight class, J. W. Lee of Team Arch Angel defeated Chris Sykes of the Red Roosters. With the various momentum swings, this one featured a great many takedowns followed by immediate reversals.

Bout #3

In Bout #3 of the MMA competition Koury Romero (L) of the Red Roosters team defeated Nick Navarro (R) of Team Arch Angel. Photo: Jim Wyatt

In the 155 pound weight class, Koury Romero of the Red Roosters defeated Jake Hunter of Team Arch Angel. This action packed bout had the combatants fighting everywhere, even out on the apron.

Bout #4

In Bout #4 of the MMA competition Shohei Yamamoto (shown here) won his bout after getting an early stoppage of Patrick Becker. Photo: Jim Wyatt

In the 170 pound weight class, Shohei Yamamoto of Team Arch Angel got one of the quickest stoppages on record. After connecting squarely on his opponent’s chin, Patrick Becker of the Red Roosters fell back into the ropes. Following up, Yamamoto dashed forward to use a high knee kick.

Whether Becker could have weathered further punishment, we’ll never know. Referee Kyle Olson wasted no time and called for an immediate stoppage – a stoppage which was booed by the patrons and discredited by both fighters.

Bout #5

In Bout #5 of the MMA competition at 185 lbs., Mike Vilmer (R) of Team Arch Angel defeated Chris McWilliams (L) by way of a guillotine choke. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Bout #6

In Bout #6 of the MMA competition, 205 lbs. weight class, Nate Murphy (L) of the Red Roosters Team won his bout over Steve Capayan (R) of Team Arch Angel. Photo: Jim Wyatt

In Round #1, after Murphy tapped out at :43 of the first round, it was ruled Capayan had used an illegal heel hook. Given a second opportunity, Murphy then dominated the action from that point on.

Bout #7

In Bout #7, Andre Ballesteros lost to Alberto Franco. Photo: J. Wyatt

In Bout #7 of the MMA competition Alberto Franco of Team Arch Angel got an early stoppage of Andre Ballesteros of the Riverside Red Roosters. Photo: Jim Wyatt

In the 265 pound weight class, 39 year-old Alberto Franco of Team Arch Angel defeated Andre Ballesteros of the Red Roosters to insure the Arch Angels team victory. This one ended early after Franco landed a solid overhand right and followed it up with a kick to the head.

After the MMA show, came the introduction of the many honored guests which included boxing greats Armando “El Hombre” Muniz (whose last professional fight was against Sugar Ray Leonard) and Danny “Little Red” Lopez, the former featherweight World Champion and Hall of Fame inductee.

For those unfamiliar with Lopez’s career, view the attached video of his life, boxing career and ties with Bobby Chacon to bring you up to speed.

Cops 4 Kids & Communities also paid their respects to the beloved 23 year-old boxer/boxing trainer Eddie Leal of San Jacinto, CA who was shot to death in a random, late night shooting.

During Corporal Christopher Farias’ introduction, everyone got on their feet to give the Marine hero a standing ovation. While serving in Afghanistan, his courage, selfless actions under enemy fire, saved the lives of fellow team members. Photo: Jim Wyatt

The final honoree was Corporal Christopher Farias of the 1st Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment who is stationed at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, CA. Farias was recently awarded the nation’s second highest honor for bravery, the Navy Cross.     

The show also benefitted big time from the able commentary of one of the most engaging ring announcers you’ll ever meet, Mark Blanton, a 25 year veteran paramedic from American Medical Response in Hemet, CA. His whimsical one-liners made the show a fun experience.

Adam Acuna (R) has his arm raised in victory by referee Tom Taylor after destroying Felipe Juarez in Bout #1 of the Cops 4 Kids & Communities fundraiser at the Pechanga Resort & Casino on Friday evening, September 7, 2012. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Bout #1 saw welterweight Adam Acuna (3-2) of the Baldwin Park Police Department going up against Felipe “The Disciple” Juarez (0-2) of the U. S. Forrest Service

According to Blanton, the ring announcer, during their weigh-ins, Juarez referred to Acuna as Hakuna Matata. The Lion King phrase which means “no worries for the rest of your days.”

In this match, Acuna gave Juarez plenty to worry about as he was pummeled his opponent from the opening bell.

After the doctor’s recommended stoppage in Bout #2, referee Tom Taylor is shown raising the arm of Mark McGill (R) to signify his victory over Nick Bennallack (L). Photo: Jim Wyatt

Bout #2 featured heavyweights, 6’3” Nick “Buckshot” Bennallack of the Anaheim Police Department making his Battle of the Badges debut against 6’ Mark “Hands of Steel” McGill (0-1) of the U. S. Fire Service.

In the chaotic first round, it appeared Bennallack was landing the cleaner shots and getting the best of McGill who after losing his balance went down. McGill was having an ongoing problem with his head gear.

Then, in Round #2, after a second knockdown, an amazing turnaround occurred, and McGill, no longer having problems with the head gear, started beating Bennallack to the punch. It got so bad that Bennallack walked into three straight lefts. After having breathing problems, he eventually spit out his mouthpiece.

As the third round started, McGill was right back in Bennallack’s grill. At this point, referee Tom Taylor recognized Bennallack’s plight and called for the fight doctor, Dr. Koka, of the San Jacinto Medical Clinic’s Urgent Care to look at his nose. After she recommended a stoppage, Taylor took heed and called a halt to the match.

In Bout #3, it was Nick Herstine getting the TKO victory over Nick Boyd shown here getting examined by the fight doctor, Dr. Koka. Photo: Jim Wyatt

In Bout #3, it was Nick Herstine (R) getting the TKO victory over Nick Boyd who took too many unanswered blows while being pinned against the ropes.  Photo: Jim Wyatt

Bout #3 featured two more debutants, light heavyweights 6’2” Nick “the Slick One” Herstine of the Pechanga Department of Security who trains at The Boxing Gym in Temecula going up against 5’11” Nick “The Bulldog” Boyd a Military Police officer in the Army National Guard who trains at The Arena in Point Loma.

To give the bout more flair, Blanton announced another sly remark: “Boyd said, ‘How can Herstine expect to beat me? All he ever does is stand around and protect little old ladies with the plastic cups full of nickels.”

Once again, the snide remark had the crowd chuckling.

Herstine took Round #1 by being busier. Then early in Round #2 he delivered a combination of blows to the head that went unanswered until the referee had to finally step in and call a halt to the action.

In Bout #4, it was Robert “Don’t Doubt Me” Morales getting the TKO victory over Moses “Moe” Lomeli. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Bout #4 featured heavyweights, 41 year-old Moses “Moe” Lomeli of the California Department of Corrections at Chino making his debut against Robert “Don’t Doubt Me” Morales (1-0) of the Rialto Police Department. On his way to the ring, Morales had an entourage that out numbered the population of Rhode Island.

From the outset, the two men went toe to toe with Lomeli showing true grit by walking through punches. Before long his face became a bloody mess from the accumulation of blows. Once again the fight doctor was summoned and once again she recommended an early stoppage.

Light heavyweight Frank “The Tank” Holguin Jr., shown here with his son, has his arm raised by referee Tom Taylor after defeating Brandon Birchett in Bout #5. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Bout #5 featured light heavyweight Frank “The Tank” Holguin Jr. of CIW (1-1) going up against Brandon “The Trembler” Birchett (1-0) of the U. S. Fire Service in Corona.

In this one, Holguin did his best impression of Joe Frazier and went after the much taller Birchett, the same way Frazier went after Ali with the looping and lunging left hooks to the midsection and occasionally the side of the head. At the end of the contest, Holguin, the brawler, was way ahead on the scorecards.

In Bout #6, it was Eddie “the Warrior” Pena (R) standing over the fallen Smokin’ Joe Finch and hoping he was down for good. Photo: Jim Wyatt

In Bout #6, it was Eddie “the Warrior” Pena (L) getting the victory over Smokin’ Joe Finch. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Bout #6 featured cruiserweights, 43 year-old Eddie “the Warrior” Pena (1-1) of the California Department of Corrections at Norco going up against 35 year-old Smokin’ Joe Finch of the U. S. Fire Service in Corona (1-2).

In this one, Pena was far and away the better boxer. Still, he got over confident and got caught several times with straight left hands. He was willing to take a punch in order to deliver three in response. In the end, the win was never in doubt.

In Bout #7, Nick “The Flying Jalapeno” Vega (C) of the Pechanga Department of Security got the best of Michael “the Operator” Mastaler (R). Photo: Jim Wyatt

After his victory in Bout #7, Nick “The Flying Jalapeno” Vega of the Pechanga Department of Security was joined by his support group. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Bout #7 featured two more debutants, 33 year-old Nick “The Flying Jalapeno” Vega, 200 pounds, of the Pechanga DPS going up against 27 year-old Michael “the Operator” Mastaler, 215 pounds, of the Rialto Police Department.

This one was as close as you get to a barroom brawl. After each heavy blow, the momentum of the puncher, usually Pena, had him falling forward on his opponent. It’s a wonder it didn’t turn into a ‘raslin match. After the smoke cleared, it was Pena, getting his arm raised in victory.

Both Bouts #8 and #9 were cancelled. Since Leo Rendon of Pechanga DPS was ready to go in Bout #8, he got the win by default. Concerning the scheduled fighters for Bout #9, the 275 pound Manuel “The Big Dawg” Ayala from CDC – Chino was a no-show for his bout against Matthew James De Hoog. Blanton, the show’s MC, purported that “Big Dawg” more than likely was getting neutered.

In Bout #10, Anthony “Tomahac” Camou (R) got the decision victory over Lee “The Hammer” Hanger in a bout later declared “The Bout of the Night”. Photo: Jim Wyatt

In Bout #10 they had super middleweights, 5’10” Anthony “Tomahac” Camou from the California Highway Patrol going up against 47 year old Lee Hanger from the Department of Corrections-Ironwood. Both boxers were making their Battle of the Badges debut.

Despite Camou having the better boxing skills, Hanger’s overall strength advantage precluded any thoughts of a knockout and thus this Battle Royale lasted up until the final bell.

Despite the constant clinching by Yesenia Nelson, Allison Jablonsky did a good job of sharpshooting her shorter opponent. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Barring any backlash from a Women’s Rights Organization, Mr. Blanton introduced Bout #11 as: “The Chick Fight.” In this female bout, 5’ 6”, 35 year-old Yesenia Nelson (1-0) of CDC – Chino faced 5’9”, 28 year-old Allison Jablonsky of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. Jablonsky was making her Battle of the Badges’ debut.

After her tough bout with Allison Jablonsky, Yesenia Nelson takes a brief moment for a photo with her husband and coach. Photo: Jim Wyatt

From the opening bell, Nelson was hoping to stay inside while Jablonsky preferred to remain at a distance to take full advantage of her superior head-snapping jab along with an occasional overhand right.

Despite the constant clinching by Nelson, Jablonsky did a good job of sharpshooting her shorter opponent to win an unanimous decision victory.

In the Co-main event, it was Ryan “The Hitman” Hotchkiss getting the TKO victory over Manny Jesus “Iceman” Rocha. Photo: Jim Wyatt

In the Co-Main event, it was 6’2”, 210 pounds, Ryan “The Hitman” Hotchkiss (2-0) taking on 5’10”, 205 pounds, Manny Jesus “Iceman” Rocha (0-2) of the Department of Homeland Security (ICE).

This one didn’t last long as Rocha was more of a “swing and a miss” boxer while Hotchkiss’ punches were on the mark. After having trouble with his headgear, Rocha started taking even more shots to the head. At one point he was clearly dazed and the referee issued him a standing eight count. By Round #2, Hotchkiss had himself a knock down and soon after a stoppage for the quick victory.

In the Main event, it was Jorge “The Bulldog” Salazar (R) improving his record to 4-0, while Mario “Fattdaddy” Alonzo’s record dropped to 1-2. Photo: Jim Wyatt

In the main event, Jorge “The Bulldog” Salazar (3-0) from the Riverside County Sheriff Department in Murrieta sought to remain undefeated in his bout against California Department of Corrections-Ironwood officer Mario “Fattdaddy” Alonzo.

Just like you see in a featherweight match, the two heavyweights went toe to toe unloading their best shots. While Alonzo’s punches were wider and often off the mark, Salazar’s were more accurate and soon enough you could see which side was loosing ground. Then all of a sudden Alonzo got popped and down he went.

Until the next Battle of the Badges, some time in December, I’m sure you’ll be seeing some of these gentlemen and ladies of law enforcement in your local gym honing their skills for the next competition.

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