On Saturday evening, June 21, 2014, San Diego’s Four Points By Sheraton Hotel hosted the latest Battle of the Champions Amateur Muay Thai Show produced by Bob Chaney in association with Victor Beltran under the watchful eye of the IKF International Muay Thai Federation.
Bout #1, a scheduled three round men’s bantamweight (120 pounds) contest, featured 17 year-old Danny Ramirez of Victory MMA, Point Loma, San Diego, CA weighing in at 121.2 pounds making his debut against 18 year-old Joe Cardenas (2-0) of Muay Thai School USA in North Hollywood, CA who weighed in at 119.4 pounds.
In round one, with the punches and kicks being evenly dispatched, it appeared Cardenas’ kicks had more power. Then, in the second round, the match came to an abrupt end after Cardenas kicked Ramirez in the Adam’s apple. Ramirez immediately dropped to all fours and struggled to catch his breath. Seconds later, the attending physician, Dr. Gamboa, was in the ring massaging his throat.
After the round two stoppage, Cardenas, now 3-0, had his arm raised in victory by veteran referee Vichai “Rex” Supkitpol.
Bout #2, a three round men’s Bantamweight contest with modified rules of knees to the body and no elbows, featured 18 year-old Miguel Reyes Jr. (118.8 pounds) from the Reyes Gym, Tijuana, B. C., Mexico going up against 23 year-old Ramon Gallardo (3-5) from Team Double Dose, Fontana, CA who weighed 118.4 pounds.
In round #1, Reyes took the lead by being the busier fighter and then all of sudden Gallardo landed these two, very effective high kicks to the side of Reyes’ head to either pull even or win over the judges.
In round #2, there was another reversal. At the outset, it was Gallardo being the more cunning and calculating to land the harder shots, the majority off counters. Reyes then closed out the round with his own, highly effective kicks to Gallardo’s head.
In the final round, with the judges facing a difficult decision, Reyes, the victim of a hard shot to the liver, suddenly dropped to one knee. After taking an 8-count, Reyes then surprised everyone by ending the round with a strong flurry. In this very close match, that 8-count, most likely cost Reyes the match.
Bout #3 was a three round men’s Super Middleweight contest (170 pounds) with modified rules, knees to the body and no elbows, between 20 year-old Carlos Garcia (1-1) from the Alliance Training Center, Chula Vista, CA weighing 170.4 pounds going up against the rookie Gabriel Pizzaro (166.8 pounds) from The Arena MMA, Point Loma, San Diego who was a late substitute for his stablemate Pablo Alatorre.
Early on, Garcia scored with his fists, while Pizarro dominated with his powerful side kicks to the legs which eventually opened Garcia up for a hard knee to the chest which forced Garcia to take a seat on the canvas.
In Round #2, with those kicks continually bashing his legs, Garcia went with the strategy of grabbing Pizzaro’s kicking leg and trying to hit him with his free hand.
After being out gunned in the first two rounds, Garcia gave it everything he had in the final stanza which at times had Pizzaro gasping for air. Still, it wasn’t near enough to turn the tide.
At the conclusion, it was Pizzaro having his arm raised in victory by veteran referee Jim VanOver.
Bout #4 was a three round men’s Welterweight contest (145 pounds), full rules, knees to the body and head with approved elbow pads between 19 year-old Jorge Agustin (3-2) from Extreme Power, Oceanside, CA going up against 26 year-old Edward Gonzalez (3-1) who trains with Saroyan Corona at the Muay Thai School U.S.A. in North Hollywood, CA.
Just when you thought nothing could top the intensity of the Pizarro/Garcia match, along comes this slugfest. In round one, Agustin bull rushed Gonzalez and almost sent him through the ropes. The variety of punches and kicks used throughout the match was all encompassing. From the powerful uppercuts to the hard left hooks, from push kicks to the kicks to the head, every weapon was used and the majority landed.
When the bell sounded and Austin returned to his corner, he had this broad smile on his face giving you the impression he was having the time of his life.
At the conclusion of this extremely well fought, all-action bout, Gonzalez was awarded the split decision victory.
Bout #5 featured a three round women’s Featherweight contest (125 pounds) with modified rules, knees to the body, no elbows, between 22 year-old Alexa Lucido (1-1) from Black House, San Diego, CA and 28 year-old Julia Perez (1-0) from Elite Muay Thai, San Luis Obispo, CA.
This was your classic lefty, Perez, versus righty, Lucido, matchup, and both had their way when backing their opponent up and throwing the straight punches to the head. After Perez dominated in round one, Lucido came out of her shell and took over in round two.
With the third round having so many momentum swings, the judges’ decision wasn’t going to be easy. At the conclusion of deliberations, it was Perez having her arm raised by referee Kim Kongkriangkai.
Bout #6 featured a three round men’s Light Welterweight match (140 pounds) with modified rules, knees to the body, no elbows, between 18 year-old Charlie Morreo (0-1) from Bob Chaney Family Martial Arts, Murrieta, CA going up against 24 year-old Eric Fore (2-0) from Elite Muay Thai, San Luis Obispo, where he trains with Kru Albert Malatamban.
As it turns out, this one didn’t get very far. In round one, the much shorter Morreo became the victim of three straight knockdowns. The third came from a swift roundhouse kick to the head. Referee Vichai “Rex” Supkitpol wasted little time and quickly called a halt to the match.
Bout #7 featured a three round women’s Super Welterweight contest (150 pounds) with modified rules, knees to the body and no elbows, between 17 year-old Kenya Neves from the Alliance Training Center, Chula Vista, CA going up against 20 year-old Sharon Patray from Extreme Power, Oceanside, CA. Both young ladies were making their debut.
Patray, with the same height and reach advantage as Eric Fore, was able to dominate her opponent. When Neves wanted to box, Patray would out-box her. When Neves wanted to turn the match into a kicking contest, Patray out-kicked her.
Bout #8 featured a three round men’s Super Lightweight (133 pounds) match with modified rules, knees to the body, no elbows, between 19 year-old Ian Barreda (1-1) from Kicks-MMA, Surprise, Arizona versus 25 year-old Shawn Lee of Elite Muay Thai, San Luis Obispo, CA, who was making his Muay Thai debut.
In round #1, Barreda may have been the busier fighter, but it was Lee who was the more composed and accurate puncher. Back came Barreda in round #2, as Lee seemed to fade a bit. The fact Barreda finished the final round with two impressive right hands may have been the catalyst for the judges to award him the victory.
Bout #9 featured a three round women’s Featherweight (125 pounds) match with modified rules, knees to the body, no elbows, between 23 year-old Carla "Canelita" Saldana (4-0) from the Reyes Gym, Tijuana, Mexico) going up against 31 year-old Colleen Saylor (0-2) from Elite Muay Thai, San Luis Obispo, CA.
In round #1, the more athletic Saldana was busier and scored a knockdown. After being on the receiving end of that first hard kick or punch, Saldana made certain to deliver two or three of her own.
Then for no apparent reason, Saldana slowed down in round #2, which in turn gave Saylor an opportunity to steal the round in the closing seconds.
The third round was another close one. When the announcer read off the scores favoring Saldana, a smidgeon of the audience voiced their disagreement.
Bout #10 featured a five round women’s Welterweight (140 pounds) Title Fight between 20 year-old Christine Perry (5-0) from Blue Ocean Muay Thai of San Diego going up against 24 year-old, Navy Gunner's Mate Alyshia Madison (5-0) from Victory MMA in Point Loma.
Round #1 had so much give and take, you could see this matched was going to be a thriller. Both gals were blocking punches and then answering with an even harder punch or kick.
By round #2, with Madison’s bullying tactics starting to pay dividends, Perry started fighting off her back foot. By round #3, the expressionless Madison had established she was never going to take a step back. She was like one of those icebreaker ships that keeps pressing forward to crack the ice in the Arctic Circle, nothing could slow her down. By the close of round #4 and throughout round #5, Perry showed amazing courage just to keep hanging in there and exchanging blows when at times it looked brutal.
The unanimous decision was never in doubt. Like that pop hit from the sixties declaring “It’s Madison Time,” Alyshia Madison now becomes the caretaker of the Battle of Champions Welterweight Championship belt.
And now the rest of the story
We later received the following message from Alex Palma, Perry’s coach: “Unfortunately, Christine tore her ACL in the first round.”
This news opened a floodgate of queries to consider.
1) This was not the first time, but the second time that Perry has injured her knee.
2) Initially, Madison was scheduled to face Lauren Rojas from Triple Threat Muay Thai in Oceanside at a catch weight of 145 pounds. Then, Rojas, who had specifically asked to fight Madison, pulled out of their match on June 9.
On March 11, Rojas pulled a similar stunt and dropped out of her fight with Madison at XFS Muay Thai V stating she had gotten caught with a hard knee to the chest during sparring. After that cancellation Rojas added: “I would love an opportunity to fight her in the near future.”
After Rojas pulled out, the matchmaker then asked Perry if she could come up in weight to 140 pounds to fight Madison who would be asked to come down in weight to reach the catch weight of 140. Sounds a lot like the Ronda Rousey vs. Cris Cyborg dilemma. This meant by showtime, Madison, after her weigh-in and after eating a substantial meal, could possibly outweigh Perry by 10 to 12 pounds.
3) With Perry being use to fighting “full rules Muay Thai”, she was restricting herself from using her elbows. Call it what you will, it appears the acclaimed Blue Ocean Muay Thai camp may have been a bit overconfident.
4) We were also advised later of Madison's difficulties. Not only did her Military commitment restrict her training, she was dealing with a shoulder injury that still bothered her on fight night.
Bout #11 a three round men’s Welterweight match (145 pounds), with modified rules, knees to the body, no elbows, featured 24 year-old Nick Mitsunori (1-0) from Black House Team Nogueira, San Diego versus 30 year-old Mitchell Rhodes (2-1 Muay Thai, 2-1 MMA) from The Arena MMA in Point Loma.
In round #1, the momentum swings were continual. With Mitsunori finishing the round strong, it’s possible he did enough to sway the judges.
Round #2 saw a reversal of fortunes and it was Rhodes finishing the round with a strong kick and punch combination.
With both fighters matching each other’s output, the only thing you could say was Rhodes looked fresher at the end while Mitsunori had nothing left in the tank. In the end, the judges sided with Mitsunori.
Bout #12 featured a three round men’s Super Welterweight (150 pounds) bout with modified rules, knees to the body, no elbows, between first timer, 26 year-old Allan Gabriel (143.8 pounds) of Extreme Power, Oceanside, CA going up against 22 year-old Daniel Velez (145 pounds) with a record 0-2 from City Boxing, San Diego.
Aside from Velez’s punching prowess, this match turned out to be a one-sided affair as Gabriel was more multifaceted. He used all eight limbs to dominate and get the win.
Bout #13, a three round men’s Super Lightweight bout (135 pounds) with modified rules, knees to the body, no elbows, had 23 year-old Jarrell Madrid (3-1) of El Mirage, Arizona and training at Kickers MMA, Surprise, Arizona taking on 17 year-old Adrian Rivero of Double Dose, Fontana, CA, making his debut.
In round one, it appeared everything was working for Madrid who finished the round with an impressive knockdown. In round two, Rivero performed much better, to the point where the judges could have gone either way. In round #3, both fighters gave it everything they had and by the close of the fight the noses were bleeding.
When it was announced Rivero had won, the crowd’s reception could be described as lukewarm. It was clear many thought Madrid had done more to earn the win.
Bout #14 was the five round, full rules men’s Welterweight Title match, the Main Event of the Evening featuring 22 year-old Bruno Borges (4-1) from the Alliance Training Center, Chula Vista, going up against 30 year-old Michael Jaeger (5-1) from Extreme Power, Oceanside.
Round one could be considered a toss-up as both fighters whacked each other with the hardest kicks imaginable. By the close of Round #2, Borges had become the busier of the two and started using every imaginable weapon from his arsenal, from the Superman kick to the flying knee.
The third round was another, too close to call round.
By the close of round #4, you could see Jaegar had developed a slight limp from the constant bombardment of kicks to his left leg. In the final round, both fighters went as hard as they could leaving everything in the ring.
In the end, the Battle of Champions Welterweight Title was awarded to the excitable Mr. Borges who together with his large fan base were jumping for joy.
Overall, it was a great show with only a few matches failing to go the distance. Looking ahead to the next Battle of the Champions show which is tentatively set for late October, this dummy promises to never, ever forget to have the all important memory card in his camera. How embarrassing is that?