On Saturday, August 15, 2015, The Arena in Point Loma, hosted the first of what they plan to be many Lucky Invitationals to honor the late Lucky-Phineas Nhlengethwa, who on September 9, 2014 succumbed to an Asthma related illness at the age of 43.
Lucky wasn’t a world renown boxer. He was 43-13 as an Amateur and then 4-7-3, 1 KO as a Professional. What made him special was his charisma and contagious smile. He might just be the most popular boxer/trainer who ever lived, certainly the most likable to come out of South Africa. He graced the San Diego Boxing Community with his presence for 24 years. If you’re questioning his importance to the boxing world, all you need to do is talk to the many people he helped, like former champions Corrie Sanders, Jesus Salud, Larry Dixon, Obar Carr, Paul “The Ultimate” Vaden, Priest Tiger Smalls and Yori Boy Compas.
With his passing, the owner of The Arena decided to keep his memory alive with various memorabilia and this annual boxing show. In other words, you don’t have to step on people and make a ton of money like the Donald, set a world record, become Governor of the State or President of the United States to be loved. Over the years, The Arena has been blessed to have their fair share of in-house heroes but thus far no one has reached the heights of this man.
For Saturday’s show, they solicited Pablo Flores, one of Mexico’s top ring announcers, added oodles of celebrity guests to present the winning medals, rented one of those huge Bounce Castles for the kids, added delicious food and invited some of the top teams to compete. Some teams came from as far away as Yuma, Arizona which is 175 miles from the venue. The Pacheco Boxing Team came 80 miles northwest from San Pedro, B. C., Mexico and ended up taking home three trophies, one for Best Boxer, Best Bout plus the Team trophy.
After the close to 500 chairs were filled, it was standing room only as the fans settled in for the raucous show.
In Saturday’s opening bout they featured two wily veterans, 18 year-old Ernesto Martinez Jr. (127 lbs.) of the host gym, The Arena, going up against 19 year-old Tyler Herberger of Old School Boxing (127.2 lbs.).
Both boxers wasted little time in showing off their amazing skills of slipping punches and landing punches in combinations. As the bout progressed, Herberger started showcasing his superiority. As the fight progressed his punches became sharper and he soon dwarfed Martinez’s output.
When you saw who was in Bout #2, you had to scratch your head. They featured two more crafty veterans. These were the headliners who you usually see in the later bouts, in a Main Event. It was lightweight Austin Brooks, a southpaw (19 years of age, 133.6 lbs.) from City Boxing Downtown going up against tough guy Nick Furst of The Arena (25 years-old, 137.8 lbs.).
It made you wonder, how many of these top athletes could they have on the fight card? Was every bout going to be like this? Every match a virtual toss-up? Point of fact the patrons were being treated to a show better than any they’d ever seen, even on Pay-per-View.
As expected Furst came out banging and never took a step back. While landing just enough blows to win the first round, Brooks found himself doing a lot of ducking and moving from side to side to avoid Furst’s hair trigger blows. As in the first bout, Brooks pedigree started to win out and he began to catch Furst with the beautifully timed, short left hooks and occasional right crosses.
In Bout #3, they had two more of what boxing fans like to call hot prospects, 16 year-old David “Canelito” Prado from The Arena (141 lbs.) going up against 16 year-old Eric Villanueva (148 lbs.), also from The Arena.
Even though Prado had this bloody nose throughout most of the bout, when it came time to adding up the scores, all three judges were in agreement and declared the bout a draw. Since there are no draws in USA Amateur Boxing and no added rounds proposed, each of the judges were then asked to choose a winner according to USA Boxing’s technical rule six which states: Each Judge will independently judge the merits of the boxers using the Scoring System based on the following criteria which is to be weighted equally:
1) Number of quality blows on the target area
2) Domination of the Bout
4) Superiority of technique and tactics
5) and finally taking into consideration any infringements of the rules.
Using the above criteria, the judges broke the tie and declared Prado the winner.
In the old days, a Pro boxer would continue on until there was a definitive, unconditional winner. In 1893, Andy Bowen and Jack Burke fought 110 rounds, from 9 p.m. on April 6th to 4:30 a.m. on April 7th and still that bout was declared a “Draw.” With 17 bouts remaining, Saturday’s head of officials, Willie Kuhn, went with the USA prescribed method of polling the judges who favored Mr. Prado.
Bout #4 featured 20 year-old Abraham Martinez (158.3 lbs.) from the Gamez Boxing Team in Chula Vista, who is currently in contention for a spot on the 2016 Olympic Team. His opponent was the fearless, 19 year-old Beltran Villa (150.4 lbs.) from the Pacheco Boxing Team, San Pedro, B. C., Mexico.
This was another made for TV bout. Even though both put on an excellent performance, in the end the decision went to the more accomplished Martinez.
Bout #5 had 23 year-old Alicia Baltizar Gonzalez (165.4 lbs.) from Pacheco Boxing going up against 30 year-old Raquel Miller (167.2 lbs.) from The Boxing Club in La Jolla. From the gitgo, this was our first mismatch of the day. Miller could be likened to Sweetwater High’s Olympic track star Gail Devers (in her prime) as she got out of the blocks so fast and her punches were oh so powerful. Gonzalez may have felt as if she were caught up in an Oklahoma twister. Miller simply outclassed Gonzalez and more than likely will outclass future opponents.
Bout #6, a second female bout, didn’t last long. Ophelia Hernandez of the same La Jolla Boxing Club (34 years of age, 144.2 lbs.) made quick work of Aleisha Tosh (31 years of age, 148.6 lbs.). As soon as the bell rang, Hernandez was planting her punches and beating Tosh into submission for the first round TKO win.
Bout #7 featured 21 year-old Jorge Marron Jr. (152 lbs.) from the Marron Boxing Camp, Lakeside, Calif. going up against 29 year-old Brandon Garcia (155.4 lbs.) from The Arena. At one time, Marron was a top prospect and then for whatever reason he took a sabbatical from the sport. On Saturday, he showed flashes of that dynamo of the past but it wasn’t enough against Garcia who had a reach advantage, quicker hands and was in better condition.
Bout #8, another slugfest, featured 13 year-olds, Leonardo Juarez (103.6 lbs.) of Courageous Catholic Boxing, Yuma, Arizona, going up against Ayon Sanchez (109.4 lbs.) of Pacheco’s Boxing. Juarez got caught early and often by Sanchez who was credited with a first round TKO victory.
From Bout #9, there is a lesson to be learned for all you heavy hitters like 17 year-old Daniel Castellanos (148.4 lbs.) of the Alliance Training Center, Chula Vista. Castellanos’ opponent, 16 year-old Ulises Bastida (141.6 lbs.) from The Arena proved to be the more patient boxer. He knew to pick his spots against an opponent who outweighed him by seven pounds and showed his cunning by letting Castellanos get off first. After slipping Castellanos’ punches, he would effectively counter to score more points and earn the victory.
In Bout #10 it was 17 year-old Keegan Ruiz (158.6 lbs.) from City Boxing Downtown going up against 19 year-old David Gates (153.8 lbs.) from the Alliance Training Center, Chula Vista. Gates, with his edge in skill level, spent almost the entirety of the bout chasing the elusive Ruiz and then scoring when possible.
Bout #11 featured 16 year-old Kennedy Ruiz (128.2 lbs.) of City Boxing, Downtown, going up against 15 year-old Aron Avila (123.6 lbs.) of Intensity MMA, South San Diego. While the scorecards may have been close going into the final round, Avila managed to squeak out the victory by being slightly more aggressive in that final stanza. The icing on the cake? With Ruiz circling to his left and Avila in hot pursuit, Avila landed this dandy overhand right just seconds before the bell sounded.
Bout #12 featured the 20 year-old Anthony Rodriguez (153.4), another hot prospect from The Arena, going up against Sanchez Valadal (156.2) from Pacheco Boxing. On this day, Rodriguez, still in the formative stages, met his match. Valadal knew exactly how to shut down his opponent’s offense and cut off the ring to hand Rodriguez his first loss.
Bout #13 featured two 13 year-olds, Moises Ortiz (123.2 lbs.) of Courageous Catholic Boxing, Yuma, Arizona and Mario Salas of The Arena (119.4 lbs.). While Salas looked every bit the more accomplished and flashier boxer, Ortiz won the hearts of the judges by being more elusive and picking his spots, especially on the inside, to outscore Salas.
Bout #14 featured 18 year-old Bryan Pazuego (127.4 lbs.) from the ABC Mongoose Gym going up against 24 year-old Rael Dadante (130 lbs.) from Pacheco Boxing.
This match-up ended up being one of those bouts where the less skilled, stronger willed fighter refused to lose. Despite being punched square in the face, repeatedly, Dadante kept coming forward to wear his opponent down and secure the victory. The photo below illustrates this point.
Bout #15 featured two brawlers, Nico Marchan (23 years of age, 124.4 lbs.) from the House of Boxing facing the more elusive, mighty mite David Jimenez (17 years-old, 121.8 lbs.) from the Vivero Boxing Gym in Mexicali, B. C., Mexico. It was one of those in your face punchfests where Jimenez proved to be quicker on the draw. The patrons, judges, show organizer, everyone loved this match so much that Jimenez was not only selected “Top Boxer of the Show” but he garnered enough votes to have his team selected “Top Boxing Team” of the show.
Bout #16 featured Jorge Chavez (15 years-old, 115.4 lbs.) from the National City CYAC going up against Raudel Salazar (16 years-old, 115.6 lbs.) from the Pride of San Diego, Bonita, Calif. This toe to toe battle got the crowd so excited it was comical to listen to their screams, their pleas of: “Let’s go! Faster! Faster! You got to throw more than one punch! Let your hands go!!” Why? Because that’s all they did for the entire bout.
Despite a late, four punch flurry by Chavez in round #3 which led to an 8-count being issued to Salazar, the judges deemed Salazar was the winner.
Bout #17 between 17 year-old Jose Tadeo of La Gente Boxing (168.6 lbs.) and 25 year-old Walter Garcia from the Pride of San Diego, Bonita (161.2 lbs) had to be cancelled.
Bout #18 had Bound Boxing Academy’s Jan Carlo Meza (10 years-old, 72.4 lbs.) going up against Eli Escamilla (10 years-old, 72.6 lbs.) of the Indio Boys & Girls Club of Indio, Calif.
With Meza scoring more of the better leveraged punches, mostly big, overhand rights to the head, this decision was never in doubt. Meza’s punches kept coming, like the waves at the beach.
Bout #19 featured the big boys, 30 year-old Jvon Wallace of Bound Boxing, Chula Vista (254.4 lbs.) and the even taller, 26 year-old Adam Stewart (226.6 lbs.) from Grampas Boxing, Warminster, Calif., the gentleman who just got done defeating all comers in the heavyweight division at the 14th Annual Desert Showdown World Amateur Boxing Championships in Indio, Calif.
For Wallace, who had done just enough to win rounds one and two, it was a matter of holding on until the final bell. And “hold on” he did, right when Stewart was catching a second wind and began pounding Wallace right up till the final bell.
The final bout of the day, Bout #20, was yet another slugfest. This one had 16 year-old Brandon Cruz (126.6 lbs.) from the Pride of San Diego Gym taking on 17 year-old Roberto Ocampo (126.8 lbs.) from the Pacheco Boxing Team.
In this one, Cruz’s attempts to circle and look flashy led to his downfall. Ocampo remained focused and got inside to score with the harder blows.
This being their first USA Amateur Boxing Show, the principles were delighted with the turnout and wanted to add their sincere thanks to all the boxers, coaches, workers plus USA Amateur Boxing officials.
When and where is the next USA Amateur Boxing show? Your LBC-44 will now travel to Brawley, Calif. for the La Gente Boxing Show with it’s 2 p.m. start on Saturday, August 30. You can always check out the USA Amateur Boxing schedule on our website, SportofBoxing.com which is updated on a daily basis.