On Saturday evening, the more popular activities of Surfing and Beach Volleyball took a back seat to the fighting sport of Muay Thai as the Battle of Champions Fight Series invaded California’s southern most beach city of Imperial Beach. As you might expect, the host site for this event, the Imperial Beach Boys and Girls Club, didn’t start to fill-up until after sunset as sunsets have become a hallmark of the city’s charm.
Before the first blow or kick landed, the assembly honored Dr. James A. Wilson (Feb 14, 1943 – Feb 8, 2015) the latest inductee into the International Karate and Kickboxing Hall of Fame. The list of his accomplishments from his ordination in the church to his earning of a law degree, from his service as a Probation Officer to his appointment as Judge/Commissioner of the San Diego Superior Court, from his performance in Muay Thai to his passion for teaching the sport, from his founding of the Southwestern Association of Martial Arts to his service as a consultant to the President’s Counsel on Health and Fitness, and finally his recognition as a Grand Master in Tae Kwon Do, Hapkido and Kenpo, it’s a list of accomplishments that might put some people to sleep. Suffice it to say, he wasted little time while serving his community.
Getting straight to the evening’s headliners, it seemed everyone was talking about the four fighters in the two Championship Bouts. The first one involved the young ladies from the Atomweight class (112 pounds). In the Blue corner you had 19 year-old Magalie “Molly” Alvarez (4-0) from the Muay Thai America Gym in North Hollywood, Calif. who is trained by David Huey and in the red corner you had 29 year old Ashley Acord (6-3) who is trained by Tony Cummings from the RFLX Training Center in Lafayette, Colorado.
Besides her athletic prowess, Acord is also a nurse. The petite, slender young lady has been training for seven years and has won quite a few tournaments, trophies and belts, among them the 2014 Advanced Women’s Colorado Muay Thai Championship, WKA National Championship Belt, the USMT National Open Championship plus the Colorado State Championship.
Acord’s opponent, Alvarez, who only recently turned 19 years of age, has been training for four years and fighting competitively for a little over two. Her coach, David Huey, mentioned he’s had a difficult time slowing her down. For instance, on Wednesday, just a few, short days before Saturday’s fight, she went 30 rounds of sparring. “She’s a human dynamo,” said Huey, “she doesn’t know when to stop training.”
In Saturday’s contest, both Alvarez and Acord started off with the close-in clinching and constant knees to the stomach and chest. Both made certain to match their opponent’s output. By the close of the first round, it appeared Alvarez might have an edge when she incorporated these straight rights to her opponent’s face. As the fight progressed, she became even more willing to take that first punch in order to counter with three of her own which eventually wore her opponent down. For the majority of the fight, Alvarez had Acord back-peddling and before long, those straight rights had Acord’s head snapping back.
When it came time to add up the scores, Alvarez won by a split decision. Two of the judges had her ahead by a point while Acord was favored by the third judge. As the split decision was being announced, you could see the grief on both of their faces, the two ladies had been in a war with more action than was seen in the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight. If the taller Acord had been more willing to keep her distance and use her kicking prowess this match may have had a different outcome – until the next time.
In the five round Battle of Champions light welterweight male title fight, the show’s Main Event, they featured the 20 year-old Jeremy Shepard of San Diego’s Black House Team Nogueira gym who has the benefit of training with his two older brothers Zac and Shaun Shepard plus trains under the guidance of Carl Gebhardt and Marvin “The Mad Lion” Madariaga.
Shepard’s opponent needed no introduction, he’s none other than 24 year-old Bruno Borges who trains with Cali Miranda at the Alliance Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. He already has a following after being the giant killer with big wins at the Four Points By Sheraton Hotel.
From the outset of Saturday night’s fight, you had to figure the much taller Shepard was going to win, after all he would surely do what Acord failed to do, that is keep his opponent at a distance and drill Borges with these whip-like kicks. As in the past, that strategy turned out to be fruitless as the deceptive Borges would often dodge the first of Shepard’s offerings and virtually fly past to deliver either a straight blow to the head or a backhand fist. If that didn’t work, he’d mix in a hard kick to the chest or a slashing kick from either leg.
As in the female contest, one of the judges gave more credence to the volume of Shepard’s blows and the straightness of his kicks rather than to the power behind each of Borges’ kicks and strikes. Plain and simple, even though Shepard clearly won both the second and fifth rounds, Borges was hitting harder throughout.
In the remaining bouts, you had Jason Belangoy from the UFC Gym at Midway and Sports Arena Blvd., Point Loma, in his third fight, doing battle against Felipe Aparicio (likely a decedent of the MLB Hall of Fame shortstop Luis Aparicio) who had been training at the Black House Team Nogueira Gym for seven months. The difference in their skill level showed as Belangoy dominated each time he walked his opponent down. However, whenever Belangoy got the least bit lazy, Aparicio took full advantage.
In the third and final round, as Belangoy was clearly trying to finish the fight and deliver the knockout blow, Aparicio was issued an 8-count. Your winner by an unanimous decision, Jason Belangoy.
You talk about having a leg up, Ron Ramos, Jefferson Creighton and Marcos Aguirre of The Arena in Point Loma all held an advantage over their opponents. You’d have to call it fortuitous, as all three of these gents were slated to fight on the undercard of Glory 21 at the Valley View Sports Arena on Friday, May 8, 2015 and then they had their bouts scratched at the last minute due to time constraints caused by the requirements of the TV Network. After being in training camp for eight long weeks, these gentlemen were more than ready for any opponent. As a result, their opponents, Jorge Gamez of San Diego and training at the Black House Team Nogueira Gym, Jose Urrutia of Chula Vista and Alberto Trujillo from Chula Vista, Calif. by way of De Queen, Arkansas and training at the Alliance Training Center, all went down to defeat.
In the Gamez versus Ramos match, even though the first round was quite even, Ramos began to take over from there on out, and at one point landed six straight unanswered blows. As the fight concluded, Ramos, the more battle tested, did much of his scoring on these powerful counters to win over the judges.
What made Bout #6 standout was the lack of striking by both Jefferson Creighton (l) and Jose Urrutia (r). No doubt 95% of the offense came by way of kicks or knees to the midsection. You could have kept track of the punches thrown on your finger tips.
Marcos Aguirre found himself in the toughest match of the three, since Mr. Trujillo doesn’t know the meaning of defeat. He went full bore all three rounds. Still, Aguirre managed to pull out the victory by the slimmest of margins, 29-28, 28-29 and 29-28.
In Bout #3, it was Nick Hallowell of the Black House Team Nogueira Gym coming away with an unanimous decision victory over the rookie Benjamin DeMeulle, who in his senior year at Westview High School, won the San Diego Division II wrestling title. In regards to Muay Thai, DeMeulle has only been training for seven months at Victory MMA and as a result his lack of experience to trade blows with Hallowell was noticeable. Hallowell was quicker on the delivery, remained busier and had better leverage on each of his kicks and punches.
The final match on the undercard had two more rookies, 19 year-old Danny Hun from Blue Ocean Muay Thai and John Phillips of Victory MMA. These guys went all out with the striking as if it were a boxing match. Phillips even sent Hun to the canvas with one blow. Right up until the final 10 seconds both were trying to land that final blow to score the knockout. Surprisingly, Phillips didn’t win an unanimous decision and had to settle for a split decision victory.
The “Battle at the Park” Amateur Muay Thai Event was run to help raise funds for the benefit of the Boys and Girls Club of South County with the proceeds benefitting the youth of Imperial Beach and Chula Vista.
Each time we run across a “lookalike” in life, it’s always fun to point out this discovery and shove it the face of anyone who will listen. Here’s another gentleman that we feel bears a strong resemblance to the famous dog trainer.