Tucson Boxing

Casino Del Sol: Tucsonan “Guero” Gonzalez wins pro debut, Abreu/Garcia/Tanajara win, world class trainer Robert Garcia detained by police.

The Main Event

Jesus Soto Karass vs Juan Carlos Abreu

Before the fight began at Casino Del Sol’s Event Center, it was clear to see that Abreu looked loose and nimble. Soto Karass actually looked troubled or concerned over something. Not relaxed at all. Once the bell rang, it was hard to watch as Soto Karass moved so incredibly slow.

It pained us in press row to watch Soto Karass simply look so, sloth. Abreu was doing nothing incredibly special but to see Soto Karass look like it pained him to throw a punch or even move about the ring to start the fight, was sad to those of us who have known him to be so much better. Abreu was landing punches at will moving about the ring constantly while, the 35 year old Soto Karass lumbered after him and stalked like what an observer with us said resembled a mummy.

Juan Carlos Abreu lands a hook to the jaw of Jesus Soto Karass en route to stopping the veteran in eight rounds. Photo by Tom Hogan – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions

This awkward and perplexing fighting style from Soto Karass left all of us at ringside truly dumbfounded as it continued for at least four rounds and those of us in press row held out hope that Soto Karass was simply leaving something in the tank for later rounds. We wondered if he was just trying to let Abreu wear himself out. In the 5th and 6th rounds, Abreu began to simply toy with Soto Karass. Smiling as he landed at will.

In the 8th, Abreu landed an enormous right hand that sent Soto Karass to the canvas. Although Soto Karass made the standing 8 count, there was a look on his face we could see from about 20 feet away from him that told us he had accepted his fate. Soto Karass gave the OK to continue to referee Rocky Burke and Abreu attacked him like a piranha. A hard left and right combo less than 10 seconds later and Soto Karass was back on the canvas after almost getting sent through the ropes and onto the press tables. The referee waived an end to the fight and quite possibility the career of one of Mexican boxing fans’ favorite fighters.

Speaking to Soto Karass himself and his trainer immediately after the fight he said of his loss, “I just got caught, really caught by a punch from a guy who can really punch.”

Abreu told Norm Frauenheim of The Ring Magazine, TheRingTv.com and 15Rounds.com, that a knockout could have certainly happened a lot sooner but that an injury in the earlier round caused the Dominican to use caution in the middle rounds. Whatever the injury was, Abreu’s training staff saw fit to leave the venue immediately after the win and seek medical treatment.

Results – Abreu scores the 19th KO of career 1:07 into the 8th round.

Abreu is now 20-3-1 (19 KOs). Soto Karass is 28-13-4 (18 KOs)

Ryan Garcia vs Cesar Valenzuela

For the Junior NABF Super Featherweight Title

Immediately, those of us in press row noticed the tribute Ryan Garcia was paying to the late great Jake LaMotta by wearing the vintage black and white “Raging Bull” trunks. He walked to the ring playing LaMotta’s favorite classical music as well. A change from the hip-hop or cultural Mexican music we had been hearing all night.

Photo by Tom Hogan – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions

Immediately after the opening bell, Garcia dropped Valenzuela in the first round with an enormous, lightning fast left hook that shocked the crowd. It took a while for everyone on hand to even realize how fast that left hook was thrown, landed and Valenzuela was on the ground. Truly stunning display of power and accuracy.

That incredible speed continued to everyone’s amazement. Garcia didn’t move his upper body much. His feet were fundamentally sound. Nothing special. His hand speed was amazing and drew reactions from everyone in the venue. Not only did he demonstrate incredible hand speed, but Garcia’s accuracy was remarkable.

Literally, a half second before the close of the 3rd round, referee Tony Zaino had seen enough and put a stop to the fight.

Result – Ryan Garcia TKO 2:59 of the 3rd round.

Garcia is now 12-0. Valenzuela drops to 14-6-1. Look for a title contention for Garcia soon. Perhaps as early and February.

Hector Tanajara Jr vs Jesus Serrano

From the start it looked like Serrano, a fighter from Nogales, Sonora was in trouble. Tanajara, from San Antonio, Texas, showed every bit of his world class Robert Garcia training. Great footwork, technically sound punch selection and timing. Still, Serrano would not go away. Serrano was being worked over but he continued coming after Tanajara.

As much as the crowd on hand was attached to the Nogales native Serrano and were trying to will him to victory, Tanajara was simply too much. The crowd was emotionally invested in Serrano. In the end, Tanajara was timing Serrano beautifully, fainting well, executing amazing footwork and using incredible accuracy.

Serrano showed flashes. Tanajara was simply looking every bit the part of a legit prospect. Boxing journalists on hand agreed, as much as the Tucson crowd wouldn’t like hearing it, Tanajara has a title shot in his future. It just seemed as if, Serrano could have been knocked down once in every round, the crowd would have still thought the decision should have gone to him. Credit Serrano for never backing down and constantly stalking Tanajara. Serrano definitely proved he belonged in the ring with Tanajara with his display of heart and tenacity. Those of us in press row thought Serrano definitely scored a knock down when he hit Tanajara and Tanajara’s gloves touched the canvas but referee Tony Zaino waived it off as a trip/slip and allowed the two to countinue fighting without counting to eight.

Results – 80-72, 80-72, 79-73 Unanimous decision awarded to Tanajara.

Tanajara improves to 11-0. Jesus Serrano falls to 17-5-2.

Boxing Trainer Robert Garcia being taken away by law enforcement after being detained for his part in an altercation after his fighter Hector Tanajara Jr won his bout.

As Tanajara’s camp made their way to their dressing room, trainer Robert Garcia and the rest of the team got into an altercation with a spectator. Robert Garcia was detained by law enforcement for his part in the ordeal. According to witnesses I spoke with who were close to the altercation and witnessed it all, Robert Garcia and the fan had started not getting along during the bout. The fan had been heckling Tanajara’s corner throughout the bout. They confronted each other once the bout was over and things got out of hand. YouTube videos of Garcia’s detainment have been posted already. According to all the accounts I’ve received, Tanajara himself was not involved in the incident.

What a shame. Tanajara deserves the focus to be on his stellar performance.

The Undercards

Rafael Gramajo vs German Meraz

In a fight filled with antics and Three Stooges style showmanship, the bout was difficult for those of us sitting in press row to score. Apparently it was tough on the judges as well. When the fight journalists talked amongst each other, we wound up giving the fight to Gramajo citing the extended periods Meraz spent holding and hugging.

Behind the back punching, twerking and just about everything else was in this one. I likened it to having two of your drunk uncles putting gloves on and going to the backyard to settle things at a family get together. Fun to watch.

After going the distance, the judges couldn’t pick a winner.

Results – 58-56, 57-57, 57-57 Majority Draw

Rafael Gramajo is now 9-1-2. Meraz is now 58-45-2.

Cesar Diaz vs Pedro Melo

Diaz controlled the fight throughout. Landing huge punches early with great accuracy, Diaz was able to swell and get Melo’s face completely red before we had even reached the middle of the first round. Diaz never really looked back, dominating the fight throughout. In all, Melo went down 3 times. Once in the 3rd and twice in the fifth, grabbing his left shoulder and telling referee Tony Zaino to stop the fight.

Result – TKO Cesar Diaz out classes Pedro Melo and improves to 6-0 (6 KOs). Melo falls to 17-17-2 (8 KOs)

Christopher Gonzalez vs Jesus Arevalo

Tucson’s own Christopher Gonzalez finished his amatuer career as the 2017 National Boxing National Champion. Before he stepped in the ring for his professional debut, fight fans in the Tucson area were comparing him to Oscar Valdez, another Tucson area fighter with a growing legend, purely on the potential of carrying another torch as Tucson’s boxing representative on the world stage.

Gonzalez still has a long way to go to acheive the world champion status Valdez has earned but the show he put on in front of the undercard crowd at Casino Del Sol was a start. Dropping Sierra Vista fighter Jesus Arevalo in the first round less than a second for the closing bell of the round, was the difference. Both fighters fought pretty evenly the rest of the way.

Result – 40-35, 40-35, 39-36 Unanimous Decision

Chris Gonzalez wins his professional debut. Improves to 1-0. Arevalo drops to 2-2.

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