On Saturday, November 12, 2016, The Arena in Point Loma hosted a capacity crowd for the Lucky II Memorial Boxing Show. Beholding to a promise made in September of 2014, the owner, general manager, in-house staff and membership of The Arena plan to maintain this tribute to their dearly departed friend Phineas Nhlengethwa, otherwise known as “Lucky” one of the sports’ most beloved boxers/coaches. After Lucky’s untimely passing, the above group spoke in unison, “Believe me, he will not be forgotten.”
In the words of Rick Norton, one of Lucky’s former students: “There are not enough words to describe what he did for people. At the time I came into the gym, my dad was just getting out of the hospital and Lucky became my personal trainer. The best damn part of my day was coming in here to work out. It was the way he put his hand on your shoulder to show his love. It changed me forever. It’s hard to let his passing just slip away. What I wouldn’t give for one more conversation with Lucky. The times you appreciate are now the times you regret. Regretting that I didn’t have more time with him. Plus, I would be thanking him for being a part of the family.”
Now for the results from one of the best ever, USA Amateur Boxing shows:
In Bout #1, it was 9-year-old Xadrian “X-man” Garza (59.8 lbs.) from the Tiger Smalls Boxing Club in San Diego’s Mission Valley going up against 8-year-old Nico Sanchez (59 lbs.), this year’s Gold Medal winner at the Junior Olympics held in Dallas, Texas.
In Bout #2, they had 16-year-old Jorge Chavez (122.6 lbs.) from the National City CYAC taking on 15-year-old Adan Palma (119.4 lbs.) from the host gym, The Arena, Point Loma. Deciding the victor in this match was near impossible. After the referee issued Palma a standing 8-count early in round one, Palma came right back and pinned Chavez against the ropes.
After Palma was issued two standing 8-counts, he made certain Chavez would suffer the same fate. With the rapid fire punching and momentum swings, it was near impossible to decide on a winner in this match. On Saturday, that distinction went to Jorge Chavez of the National City CYAC.
In Bout #3, it was 21-year-old Anthony Franco (152.2 lbs.) from The Arena going up against the courageous, come forward prodder, 19-year-old Luis Tapia (152.6 lbs.), from the Mariscal Boxing Club of Tijuana. The naturally talented Franco kept landing punch after punch but stalwart Tapia refused to take one step back. In the end, the decision was easy, Franco was awarded a unanimous decision.
Bout #4 featured 14-year-old Mario Salas (122.2 lbs., red trunks) from The Arena taking on 14-year-old David Gutierrez (124.8 lbs., blue trunks) from the Undisputed Downtown Gym, San Diego, Calif.
In Bout #5, they had 20-year-old Tyler Herberger (133 lbs.) from Old School Boxing, San Diego taking on 17-year-old Jason Meza (136.6 lbs.) from The Arena. In this one, both looked sharp especially on their offense which included trading blows off counters. Despite their mutual respect, Herberger often capitalized by forcing his shorter opponent to throw punches off his back foot while backpedaling and when Meza did hold his ground, Herberger would often land these fully leveraged uppercuts.
In Bout #6, it was 24-year-old Miguel Sanchez (133.6 lbs.) from Gamez Boxing going up against 20-year-old southpaw Philip Villanueva (134 lbs.) from Old School Boxing. After Villanueva had a strong first round, Sanchez took over from there. One 8-count after another and finally the referee stopped the bout for the fight doctor to have a look. Here Villanueva was having some discomfort and bleeding from the braces on his teeth. This would occur each time a blow swiped across his mouth. After the resumption of round two, referee Rick Ley could see Villanueva was still under duress and called for a halt to the match.
Bout #7 featured 22-year-old Ricardo Mercado (146.8 lbs.) from KO World, San Diego going up against 18-year-old Yonis Muya (147.6 lbs) from Old School Boxing. After the feeling out round, Muya had his confidence and went on the attack. Soon after, Mercado was being issued an 8-count after he lost his footing while backing up. Following that opening round, Muya appeared to be in charge since Mercado lacked the fire power, and never went the route of using his two and three punch combinations.
Bout #8 featured 17-year-old Francisco Vargas (119.6 lbs.) from Intensity MMA, South San Diego going up against 16-year-old Erik Hernandez (117 lbs.) from Gamez Boxing in Chula Vista, Calif. Vargas did exactly what he set out to do. His coach told him, “Get inside his reach advantage and work over that midsection!” Then, as the first round came to a close, Vargas started to do a little showboating, fighting in spurts and finally he dropped his hands down by his side. In round two, the boxers started throwing these wide looping punches and it was noticeable that both had their chins up. The flaunting of good technique led to Hernandez being caught square and issued an 8-count. In round three, Vargas was back imitating the Jorge “El Maramero” Paez and again both hands dropped down by his side. With Hernandez unable to capitalize on his opponent’s chicanery, Vargas came away with the victory.
Bout #9 featured 13-year-old Gael Soler (98.8 lbs.) from the United Boxing & Fitness Gym, Chula Vista, taking on 13-year-old Rio Hays (103.3 lbs.) from Old School Boxing, San Diego in another crowd pleaser. Late in round one, it happened. Soler got caught right on the button and the blood came streaming out of his nose. Being a gamer, Soler had his coach wipe away the blood and the bout continued. In the following round, the boxers literally had their foreheads almost touching as they went nonstop. Round three was more of the same. The way the fists were flying, it reminded you of the clothes tumbling in one of those giant dryers at your neighborhood laundromat. Not one punch was a repeat. Their punches came at you from every angle.
Bout #10 featured 18-year-old Ulises Bastida (138.8 lbs.) from The Arena taking on 19-year-old Kyle Erwin (141.8 lbs.) from the Nevarez Boxing & Training Center, Vista, Calif. Early on things looked dire for Erwin, especially after Bastida landed one square on Erwin’s chin. Erwin’s legs buckled and he started to go down. Then, miraculously, Erwin regained his balance. Irregardless, the referee issued him an 8-count. Disregarding the traumatic blow, Erwin went right back hoping to salvage the round. Following round one, Erwin was on his game and likely won both rounds two and three. At the close of the bout, his backers could be heard crying out, “Amazing! Kyle has pulled it out!”
In Bout #11, it was 15-year-old Aldrin Lucero (119.2 lbs.) from the National City CYAC going up against 16-year-old southpaw Brian Aguilar (119.6 lbs.) from Intensity MMA in South San Diego. As if there weren’t enough close, exciting bouts, the final bout of the show was another doozie. Lucero, a lefty, starts things off in round one by landing these bombs and his final flurry nets him an 8-count. After his showing in round two, it appeared Aguilar had evened things up. In the midst of these furious exchanges going right up until the final bell, Aldrin landed this one punch that landed square on the kisser and that one punch, along with the fifty or so others likely impressed the judges enough to award him the victory.
Next up on the docket: