With close to 70 boxers showing up for Saturday’s weigh-ins at the Ricochet Rec Center, you had to figure the venue had something to do with the large turnout. With so many boxers vying for a spot on the boxing card, the organizers had the monumental task of whittling that number down to just 24 boxers for the 12 most competitive matches.
Willie Kuhn, the Head of Officials, and Pablo Cortez, the coach from La Gente Boxing, the gym hosting the event, were the gentlemen in the hot seat with the task of mulling over the different ages, weights and experience levels to come up with the ideal combinations for this the latest USA Amateur Boxing under the jurisdiction of LBC 44.
Getting back to the venue – the locals have fallen in love with this place. How do you describe the indescribable? The very large Ricochet Rec Center on West Aten Road, Imperial, Calif. defies description. Locals will tell you, “Just go there, look for yourself and be ready to jump off the walls.”
The 63,000 square foot facility, which opened barely a year ago, has been a dream come true for local residents. Not unlike other U. S. cities, Imperial, California has been dealing with the sluggish economy. The difficult times didn’t stop three young ladies, Tori Rollins, Jennifer Salomon and Sheila Kruger who one night were brainstorming to come up with an idea to revitalize their town. The idea surfaced and they never looked back.
Your typical, all things positive review: “This place is a blast! It’s so much fun. They’ve got everything! Honestly, it’s just what the valley needed! I go there like four times a month and the employees are so nice. We had a great time playing in one of their two dodgeball courts and jumping into the foam pit. The area designated for “little jumpers”, under age four, consists of trampolines and a pit of foam blocks with dedicated staff members not only on alert for a mishap but there to make certain your visit is enjoyable. The food is delicious and very fresh. At their parties, banquets and weddings, they serve beer and drinks out of the Hacienda cafe.”
Now back to our coverage of Saturday’s boxing show, aptly named “The Father’s Day Bash.”
In Bout #1, it was 18 year-old Tyler Herberger of Old School Boxing, San Diego (131.4 pounds) earning the win over 19 year-old Ernesto Verdin of Guerrero’s Boxing (124.8 lbs). This one was difficult to score for the simple reason you had one boxer, Verdin, being slightly busier, while his opponent, Herberger was more accurate and delivering the heavier blows.
Bout #2 featured two, 22 year-olds in a classic righty, Nico Marchan of the House of Boxing, Paradise Hills, San Diego, Calif. (123 lbs) going up against a southpaw Pedro Bernal (122.6 pounds) from Old School Boxing. This time out, it was Bernal the southpaw dominating, as he kept clubbing Marchan with the left hook.
Bout #3, featuring two 16 year-old females, had Nataly Jimenez of La Familia Boxing Club, El Centro, Calif. (128 pounds) going up against Sharon Duran of Old School Boxing (123.6 pounds).
Jimenez’s height and weight advantage proved too much for Duran who spent the majority of rounds one and two back peddling. Jimenez was relentless as she delivered these in-your-face straight rights which soon led to combinations. For Duran, things didn’t start to settle down until the third round and by that time, Jimenez had more than enough points to secure the win.
In Bout #4, it was 15 year-old Santiago Renteria from the San Luis PAL Boxing Club (133.6 pounds) securing the victory over 13 year-old Jacob “El Tiburon” Valenzuela from Devil Dog’s Boxing (137 pounds).
Renteria dominated the first two stanzas by throwing the better leveraged punches. By the final round you would have thought Renteria would be resting on his laurels, but he never slowed down. In the third round, he mixed things up with combinations coming from every angle.
In Bout #5, it was 13 year-old Gabriela Fundora (104.8 pounds) from the Lee Espinosa Coachella Boxing Gym earning her second straight victory over the always tough 14 year-old Roxana Ortiz (106.4 pounds) from the Calexico Boxing Club.
In the early rounds, there was no clear cut winner with Fundora maintaining her supremacy from the outside while Ortiz did her best work in close. By the third round, Fundora was still banging away with the straighter shots to the head, while Ortiz’s looping punches were not finding their target.
Bout #6, featuring two 15 year-old males, saw Jimmy Reyes of the Baja Boxing Club (128 pounds) come away with a close victory over Jose Cordero of San Luis PAL (128.4 pounds).
As they say, the different styles make for the really great fights. In round #1 of this slugfest, Reyes’ plan involved waiting for Cordero to throw the first punch and then counter. With Cordero throwing combinations, Reyes’ plan wasn’t working and soon he was on the wrong side of an 8-count.
On the break between rounds one and two, the Reyes’ corner must have imparted some great advice because from that point on, Reyes was a different boxer. He did much better in their exchanges and eventually came away with the razor thin victory.
In Bout #7, it was 8 year-old Jahir “El Venenito” Romo from Romo’s Boxing Club (60 pounds) earning the victory over 8 year-old Richie “El Suavesito” Quijada of the Devil Dog’s Boxing Gym (64 pounds).
After Romo’s victory, several parents were wondering about the youngster’s diet. Romo went nonstop every second of the way. If there ever is a Superboy TV series or Movie, this youngster should wear the costume.
Bout #8 featured 15 year-old Jose Ortega (112.6 lbs.) of the Guerrero Boxing Club going up against 16 year-old Ivan Guardado (117.4 pounds) from Guardado’s Gym, Ensenada, B. C., Mexico.
The difference in their skill level, age, height and weight (Guardado was five pounds heavier) proved too much for the gutsy Mr. Ortega who never backed down and never stopped throwing these big, all or nothing overhand rights. When he missed, Guardado was right there like a sharpshooter making him pay.
As they say, the nail in the coffin came in Round #3, when Ortega suffered not only an 8-count but a flash knockdown. On an Ortega miss, Guardado brushed against Ortega’s shoulder which forced the off-balance Ortega to use his glove to prevent a fall. When the glove touched the canvass, the referee justly ruled a knockdown.
In Bout #9, it was 11 year-old Angel Castro (115.6 pounds) of La Gente Boxing facing a late replacement Jonathan Lau of Baja Boxing. This was almost a repeat of the preceding bout between Ortega and Guardado where the experience level was too much to overcome. Castro may not have won but he sure made it a struggle for Lau to win.
In Bout #10 it was 14 year-old Jesus Gonzalez (175 lbs.) of the Guardados Gym, Ensenada, B. C., Mexico defeating 14 year-old Adrian Zarate (171.6 pounds) from Yuma, Arizona. Not much you can say. The heavier and more experienced visitor from Mexico dominated from the opening bell.
In Bout #11, it was 15 year-old Citlalli Ortiz (160 lbs.) of the Coachella Boxing Club coming away with the easy victory over the less experienced 16 year-old Rebekah Sanchez (151 lbs.) of La Familia Boxing Club, CA.
Ortiz wasted little time as she went straightaway to the body and pounded away as if she were working a heavy bag in her gym. Before long, Sanchez’s hands dropped which gave Ortiz a golden opportunity to go at Sanchez from all angles and secure the second round stoppage.
In Bout #12, the final bout of the evening, it was 8 year-old Ricardo Aguirre (65 lbs.) from the Baja Boxing Club going up against 8 year-old Isaiah Torres (61.4 lbs) of Romo’s Boxing Training Center, El Centro, CA. In this hard fought battle, Torres landed the most punishing blows against the game Mr. Aguirre.
The next USA Amateur Boxing show is scheduled to take place at the Alliance Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. on Friday, June 26th.