The percentage of people who have grown up under ideal circumstances, fortunate means and stability, and chose a blood sport like boxing as a pastime or source of income must be fractions of a percent. The men and women who tend to find broken noses, broken hands, broken ribs, cuts, gashes and concussions to be a saving grace in their lives and see all that comes with that as an opportunity to provide for themselves and families must, at times, truly have the grimmest of alternatives.
Boxers with big dreams inside the gym and in the ring, more often than not, had big nightmares that chased them while outside of the squared circle.
A crowded AVA at Casino Del Sol last night showed their appreciation for some of Southern Arizona’s boxing gym rats who have selected that path for themselves. Fight fans sat for three and a half hours in temperatures getting down into the low 40’s and saw just about every possible outcome. Knockouts, TKO’s, split decisions, majority draw, draws, everything short of a, “No mas,” was witnessed by thousands of boxing fans at Guerra de Gallos.
Some of the Old Pueblo’s own, who have turn to boxing as that option to make their dreams come true, absolutely gave their all. Some won. Some lost. Some fought to a draw. All left the ring battered, in some cases bloody and broken but all had smiles and a warm greeting for fans wanting to take pictures with them and show appreciation for tremendous effort.
One prime example of how brutal yet, oddly enough, endearing at the same time the sport is to its athletes and fans came 31 seconds into the first round of the very first fight of the entire card.
Undefeated super welterweight prospect Sebastian Fundora (11-0) landed a massive blow the left side of Jeremiah Wiggins’ head. The crack of Fundora’s glove as he hit Wiggins drew a massive roar from those on hand who arrived in time to see the under cards.
As instantly as the crowd jumped to their feet and cheered, an equally immediate hush came over everyone inside the venue.
Wiggins, knocked out and flat on his face in a neutral corner of the ring, began trembling and shaking uncontrollably. For about 8-10 seconds Wiggins struggled to even hold still as referee Tony Zaino frantically signaled emergency staff to tend to the downed fighter. After about 10 minutes, medical personnel helped Wiggins to his feet and the crowd gave him just as much an ovation as his opponent got for putting him on the canvas.
Bob Arum, Oscar De La Hoya, Russel Pelts and many big names in the boxing world have often lauded Tucson fight fans as educated and truly appreciative of a boxer’s effort, win or lose. They know exactly when to cheer, when to jeer and when to get after a referee.
THE MAIN EVENT
Manzo Elementary, Maxwell Middle School and Tucson High alum, Thomas Valdez (18-3-2) went the 8-round distance against Luis Coria (9-2) out of Oxnard, CA. Credit both fighters for taking each other on, on short notice. Jensen Ramirez had been slated to fight Valdez but suffered an ankle injury two weeks prior to fight night. Coria is trained by world renown trainer and former world champion Robert Garcia. The training was clearly evident and on display. Coria showed great fundamentals, ring presence and took command of the pace. Valdez simply countered Coria’s aggression well and made the Oxnard visitor miss while leaving himself open to be tagged with body shots throughout the fight.
Oscar Valdez Sr, father to WBO Featherweight Champion of the World Oscar Valdez Jr (24-0) and uncle to Thomas Valdez, trains Thomas Valdez in Nogales, Sonora. Valdez Sr said to us, “I was nervous for a while. Those scores were too close.”
Last week at media workouts, I had a chance to speak to Thomas Valdez and ask him about the fact that he has only knocked out 7 of his 24 opponents. I asked Thomas Valdez whether he looks to out score opponents or if he actively tries scoring knockdowns.
“I’m a boxer. A counter puncher. I’ll take what the opponent gives me and use different angles. The knockouts will present themselves and come naturally. I’m not going to try to force a KO. My priority is to outscore opponents and if the KO comes, it comes.”
After the main event bout was over Norm Frauenheim of 15rounds.com and The Ring asked Valdez Sr how he thought his pupil performed, “That was close. Too close. But I think we got him.”
Once the scores were announced and Thomas Valdez had won a unanimous decision, I had a chance to ask Valdez Sr about the comments Thomas had made about outscoring opponents the week prior. Valdez Sr mentioned that leaving your fate in someone else’s hands has a great of going against you.
“We’re going to have to start working on increasing his power and actually try knocking guys out. Waiting for someone else to decide how you did, a lot can work against you.”
IMPRESSIVE PERFORMANCE OF THE NIGHT
While other bouts ended in KOs and TKOs and would perhaps merit impressive boxing performance recognition, they simply didn’t last long enough to showcase a fighter’s entire repertoire. One bout that went the distance did serve as a pretty excellent showcase of one fighter’s talent and raised eyebrows of everyone sitting at the press table.
Manny Guajardo, fighting out of Boxing Inc., didn’t knock Daniel Garcia-Flores out but he did score a knockdown in the first round and put on a clinic the entire time. Guajardo was able to wind up haymakers and deliver thunderous blows that had many in the crowd calling for a stop to the fight. The referee clearly looked as if he were about to jump in and stop it. Credit Garcia-Flores for doing just enough to keep himself on his feet and in the fight. However, Guajardo hardly broke a sweat and looked pristine as he left the ring after the unanimous decision was announced in his favor. Garcia-Flores had to be tended to by the medical staff on hand.
FIGHT OF THE NIGHT
Alfonso Olvera vs Virgil Green
These two threw caution to the wind and seemingly just wanted to give the crowd a show. Enormous blows were landed by both fighters. Only Green began showing signs of being staggard by counters and would tie up a lot. While Green was able to make a fight of it, Olvera dictated the pace throughout. Green started trying to slow things down by tying up, only the blows he landed weren’t as devasting as Olvera’s.
Honorable Mention: It should be mentioned that Chris Gonzalez and Judas Estrada fought to a draw and a toe-to-toe, hard fought, crowd pleasing bout. The loudest the venue got all night was for these two fighters looking to tear each other up. They know each other well and have sparred plenty of times with each other. The fact that it ended in a majority draw was of no surprise to those who have been around these two. These two had the crowd on their feet and as loud as I’ve ever heard a boxing crowd at Casino Del Sol.
NOTES ON THE NIGHT: The following are notes taken as the action occurred.
Sebastian Fundora (Coachella, CA) vs Jeremiah Wiggins (Newport News, VA) – scheduled 6
R1: Fundora towers over Wiggins at 6 foot 6 inches. Wiggins goes to the body leaving himself open to a straight right. Wiggins goes down and immediately begins trembling on the floor. Wiggins shaking on the canvas uncontrollably for about 10 seconds. Referee Tony Zaino calls an immediate stop to the action. Drs are looking over Wiggins thoroughly. Massive KO win for Fundora who improves to 11-0. Wiggins falls to 10-7-1. Fundora receiving great applause as he walks back to the locker room.
Arturo Resendiz vs (Tucson) vs Brandon Trujillo (Albuquerque, NM) – scheduled 4
Resendiz receives a huge ovation from the home crowd and he makes his ring walk.
R1: Trujillo comes out the aggressor. Resendiz countering well. Massive blows landing for Resendiz. Trujillon is staggerd. Left uppercut drops Trujillo. Trujillo make the 8 count. Resendiz works Trujillo into the blue corner and begins landing everthing at will. Referee Rocky Burke stops the action. 1:38 into the fight, it’s over. Resendiz improves to 2-0 (2KO), Trujillo (0-5) starts his pro career with 5 losses.
Edgar Medina (Tucson) vs David Damore (Chandler) – scheduled 4
Medina is someone Raging Babe Promotions has pushed out onto the Tucson public to really sell this event as he makes his pro debut. His personal story is a good one. Huge ovation for him as he makes his ringwalk and he’s announced.
R1: Damore the aggressor to start things out. Medina lands a massive right to the body. Medina walking down Damore and walking through punches. Huge striaght right lands for Medina. Damore trades well with Medina. Both fighters trading punches and a high rate. Both look tired to end the first round.
R2: Medina developing a mouse under both eyes. Both fighters pick up where they left off. Trading blows…brawling. Medina being warned for low blows. Damore staggers Medina against the ropes. Medina recovers to the chat of GUERO, GUERO from the crowd. A huge right hand land for Medina engergizing his home crowd. End of the 2nd.
This is a nice little scrap.
R3: Both fighters look tired to start the round. Their punches look more like they’re pawing at each other. Medina continues to chase Damore all over the ring and is successful in getting him into corners. Medina landing many more power shots.The crowd is reacting to EVERYTHING Medina does with exuberance.
R4: Damore going for broke. Medina landing haymakers. Damore not going down. Damore is wincing but still on his feet. Huge straight right. End of the fight.
Result: 40-36, 40-36, 40-36 MEDINA wins his pro debut with a unanimous decision.
Mike Martinez (Tucson) vs Edriech Rosa (Florence, AZ) – scheduled 4
Martinez gets an ovation from the crowd as they stand to welcome him to the venue.
RD1: Tension in the crowd as the opening bell rings. Rosa comes out as the aggressor. Martinez has a massive following in the crowd, it’s stays loud. Fighters trade blows in a huge exchange. Martinez avoiding being hit quite well. Martinez nose is bleeding. Blood being smeared over both fighters.
RD2: Both come out trading blows and landing well. Rosa looks to be asserting himself more. Look in control of the pace. Both swinging at each other at a great pace but nothing much is landing. If this goes the distance, I can see the home crowd for Martinez not liking the decision.
RD3: Rosa’s footwork is incredible. Straight right hand for Rosa landing big. Rosa is outscoring Martinez. Rosa looks comfortable in this round. Martinez looks like he’s pressing to make something happen for himself. Both meet in the middle of the ring and go toe to toe. Martinez goes down, but it’s called a slip.
RD4: These two are simply looking to knock each other out. Martinez is taking shots. Martinez nose is split. Blood gushing everywhere. Rosa is bathed in Martinez’s blood. Referee stops the action for Drs to tend to Martinez. The fight is stopped by ringside medics. The crowd ABSOLUTELY hates the stoppage. Screaming and booing at the ring. I don’t think Martinez would have won the decision anyway.
TKO win for Rosa.
Jose Amezcua Barrera (Phoenix) vs Emmanuel Nieves (Phoenix) – scheduled 4
RD1: Nieves comes out immediately going to the body and opening up Barreras head for massive blows. Barrera goes down. Makes the standing 8. Nieves has already won over the Tucson crowd. Barrera is doing nothing to protect himself from massive shots to the head. Referee Tony Zaino calls a stop to the action 1:51 into the fight. Zero defense being used by Barrera. Nieves was extremely accurate.
TKO win for Nieves.
Emmanuel Guajardo (Tucson) vs Daniel Garcia-Flores (Albuquerque, NM) – scheduled 4
Guajardo gets an enormous ovation.
RD1: Guajardo’s foot slips out of the ring and he falls to start the fight as they clash against the ropes. Both at feeling each other out to start. The crowd reacting to anything Guajardo does with cheers. A hard-right upper cut puts Garcia-Flores down. He makes the standing 8 count. Guajardo is landing haymakers. They crowd roars the loudest it has all night as the round ends.
RD2: Garcia-Flores runs clear across the ring to meet Guajardo in his corner and trade shots. Guajardo landing with incredible power. Garcia-Flores still on his feet. The crowd loving Guajardo.
RD3: Giant mouse growing under Garcia-Flores’ right eye. Guajardo clearly in control. G-F not punching back much AT ALL. Guajardo looks fresh and unscathed to end the round. G-F looks like he’s already gone 12 rounds.
RD4: Guajardo is looking like he is toying with G-F now. Doing anything he wants except KO-ing his opponent. Both have slowed significantly but Guajardo is able to completely wind up his punches and land at will. The fight ends with a great ovation from the crowd.
Decision: 40-35, 40-35, 40-35 Guajardo wins by unanimous decision.
Alfonso Olvera (Tucson) vs Virgil Green (Vancouver, WA) – scheduled 6
RD1: Olvera starts off as the aggressor. Is caught with a counter right from Green. Both taking a cautious approach. Olvera able to get Green backed against the ropes a lot. Green goes own, but it’s not counted to 8. A slip. Olvera is in control as the action resumes. Green tying up a lot. The round ends and the Tucson crowd is please with their hometown fighter.
RD2: Slow action to start the round. Green continues to tie up. Olvera landing big shots. The action has slowed a lot at the end of the round.
RD3: Both fighters swinging wildly. Olvera landing more. Both seem content to simply jab at each other. The pace has fallen. Can’t tell who won that round.
RD4: Huge righthand lands for Olvera. Other than that, not much action in this round. Massive right hook lands for Green. Olvera landing combos with 10 secs left as the pace picks up.
RD5: Jabs from Olvera snap Green’s head back 4 times in succession. Two straight right from Olvera get the crowd on their feet. Olvera dictating the pace now. Both just looking to land huge shots.
RD6: Olvera showing a sense of urgency as the final round starts, landing two quick jabs to stagger Green. Olvera landing at will. Massive shots raining down on Green! The referee almost steps in. Green begins landing his own shot. Members of the crowd throughout the venue on their feet. Olvera is controlling the pace.
The fight ends and the crowd roars. Both fighters share an embrace. Best fight of the night so far.
Decision: 60-54, 59-55, 59-55 OLVERA wins by unanimous decision.
Nicholas Rhoads (Tucson) vs Hamilton Ash (Guadalupe, AZ) – scheduled 4
RD1: Both former MMA fighters come out cautious. Awkward looking fight. Both fighters not doing much.
RD2: Big left-hand lands or Rhoads and staggers Ash. The crowd cheers but Rhoads doesn’t finish him off. Right hand knocks Ash down. Makes the standing 8. Rhoads landing at will but Ash won’t go down. Ash survives the round incredibly.
RD3: Rhoads looks like he used up all his energy trying to put Ash down in the previous round. Rhoads looks noticeably tired. Ash is beginning to land combos and score. Ash deserves a ton of credit. He’s fought his way back from nearly being put down. This round just might go to him in the judges’ eyes.
RD4: Rhoads starts the round landing great right hands. Ash lands some rights too. The crowd, favoring Rhoads, goes quite while Ash starts landing. Tremendous uppercut to stagger Ash but Ash is still standing. Stinging left hand landed by Ash and the two trade tremendously. Ash bleeding under his right eye. As the fight ends.
Decision: 39-36, 40-35, 40-35 RHOADS wins by unanimous decision.
Chris Gonzales (Tucson) vs Judas Estrada (Nogales, Sonora, MX) – scheduled 4
Both of these fighters, having strong ties to the community have huge support and receive great ovations from the crowd as they are introduced.
RD1: Big right hand from Estrada. Another. Chants for both fighters from the crowd. Gonzalez can’t escape Estrada’s right hand. Gonzalez face turning red. Estrada looks composed. Gonzalez land a big right to end the round.
RD2: Both fighters know each other well. Touch gloves to start the round. Estrada backed into a corner and they go toe to toe to the delight of the crowd. Gonzalez bleeding over his right eye. Pawing at the cut. Estrada landing the more effective blows. Gonzalez is scoring but the devasting blows are being landed to his face. Gonzalez steps up his scoring and lands a combination to end the round.
RD3: Both come out swinging wildly and tie up immediately to start the round. They trade against the ropes. Estrada has slowed his pace. Gonzalez continues bleeding. The pace has slowed significantly. Both of these fighters are throwing with all they got. The pace suddenly goes to 100 as that trade tremendous blows in the middle of the ring. Round ends.
Gonzalez cut about the right eye is opening up a lot more
RD4: Gonzalez start with a cautious approach. Estrada landing. Gonzalez back Estrada against the ropes and lands a combo. Estrada backed into a corner. Both are scoring. Estrada landing heavier blows. Both slow down. and the pace goes back up as they both are landing huge haymakers.
Decision: 38-38, 38-38, 39-37 majority draw.
Thomas Valdez (Nogales, MX) vs Luis Coria (Oxnard, CA) – scheduled 8
RD1: Both fighters come out with lightening quick jabs. The hand speed both have is incredible. Valdez lands a right and Coria trades perfectly. The crowd is pretty subdued. No real cheering for either. The first round is pretty anticlimactic. Both seem to be pacing themselves.
RD2: Coria looks to be in control. Chasing Valdez all over the ring. Valdez looks like he’s trying to keep distance between them. Valdez lands a big right hand. Coria missing quite a bit. Valdez bouncing around the ring a lot. Again, the round inspires no passion from the crowd as the round ends.
RD3: Valdez is scoring more. Coria looks to be dictating the pace of this fight though. Huge body shot lands for Valdez. Valdez is scoring strictly on countering.
Crowd cheering the music louder than they’re cheering for this fight.
RD4: Coria comes out of his corner wanting to trade. Coria taking more risk now. Body shot lands for Valdez. A lot of tying up. Coria missing most of his shots.
RD5: Coria backs Valdez into the ropes and lands a fair share of body shots. Valdez responds by landing 4 straight upper cuts and a body shot. Both go toe to toe in the middle of the ring. Valdez ends the round by landing three body shots.
RD6: Slow start to the round. Valdez is landing all the body shots he wants it seems. More body shots landed by Valdez. Valdez is simply looking to score and outpoint Coria. Right hook lands for Valdez and the round ends.
Sat with Oscar Valdez Sr for the final two rounds, asking questions and witnessing his celebration with nephew Thomas Valdez.
WBO Featherweight Champion of the World Oscar Valdez saw the action live on Raging Babe Promotions Official Facebook page