On Saturday, June 14, 2014, peace officers from the San Diego Police Department, Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility, U. S. Border Control, U. S. Marshals Service, San Diego Probation Department, ICE, Corrections Corporation of America plus soldiers and sailors from the United States Marine Corps and Navy took part in the 11th Annual Battle of the Badges Boxing Show hosted by the Four Points By Sheraton Hotel in San Diego.
Along with it’s 22 participants there were scores of event workers and organizers, donating their time, efforts and sometimes even their blood to insure this year’s event was a huge success. And fortunately, no one left the building on a stretcher.
After opening ceremonies featuring the U. S. Border Patrol Color Guard, it was 33 year-old Lucy “The Law” Rivera (144 lbs.) from the U. S. Department of Homeland Security facing 29 year-old Alexis “The Iron Maiden” Gonzalez (141 lbs.) from the California Department of Corrections in Bout #1. Both young ladies were making their Amateur Boxing debut.
In this one, Rivera benefitted from her seven inch height advantage and an obvious reach advantage which allowed her to pepper Gonzalez’s forehead with jabs each time she approached. That was the strategy, until the “Iron Maiden” negated Rivera’s advantage by working hard to get in close and pound Rivera’s midsection. Of course her money punches were the straight right hands to the face with an occasional crowd pleasing uppercut. The winner of this match was never in doubt as Gonzalez came away with an unanimous decision victory.
From time to time the loser in a contest can also claim victory. Rivera, who has had multiple surgeries over the past three years is still trying to regain full use of one of her legs. She’s even travelled cross country for foot reconstruction. For over a year and a half she couldn't put any weight it.
Her most recent surgery took place in late January of this year, when she had hip surgery. We are talking about someone who has been traveling a very bumpy road, a progression from wheelchair to walker and then on to crutches. She’s still in physical therapy and working to walk without a limp. Her ultimate goal is to run.
At first Lucy learned to box while sitting on a bench and punching a bag. Saturday’s accomplishment was a personal victory; a goal that got her through the many difficult days. A way of moving forward and not looking back at what she has lost (namely the running and being involved in triathlons, etc).
Rivera can also lay claim to having the most popular ring entrance song which was an extension of her nickname - Lucy “The Law” Rivera. She went with the Bobby Fuller Group’s 1966 pop hit “I fought the Law and the Law won,” which had many in the crowd singing along.
In Bout #2, it was 23 year-old Rene “El Lobo” Saucedo (176 lbs.) from the California Department of Corrections going up against 27 year-old Jerimee “J Rock” Joyner (162.6 lbs.) of ICE (Immigration Customs Enforcement). Both were making their Amateur Boxing debut.
In this match Saucedo’s plan was to keep pressing forward by using his jab in combination with the straight right. Nothing fancy.
His opponent, Joyner, was clearly the more skilled boxer. He adapted well to Saucedo’s aggression by being more elusive and mixing up his offense. His quicker hands plus superior punching power impressed the judges who scored every round in his favor.
In Bout #3, it was 29 year-old Miguel Casillas (194 lbs.) from the California Department of Corrections who lives in Alpine, CA going up against 36 year-old Jay “The Extinguisher” Stiles (202 lbs.) of the National City Fire Department. Once again, both boxers were making their Amateur Boxing debut.
In round #1, Stiles showed good movement and scored well enough with the jab and an occasional one, two combination to take round one.
By round #2, Casillas had gained enough confidence to make his push. Since his punches were more accurate and Stiles started to hold, it was clear he had evened things up.
This made the third and final round oh so important. In this one, both boxers were going at it strong and Casillas caught Stiles square in the nose. Even with the blood trickling down, Stiles maintained his composure and became a sharpshooter who was able to potshot Casillas each time he came forward. As a result, the judges gave Stiles the nod.
In Bout #4, it was 38 year-old Mandel “Code 8” Estepa (169.2 lbs.) of the San Diego Police Department going up against 36 year-old Darrell “The Doctor” Roberts (178 lbs.) of the Chula Vista Fire Department who trained at the Bound Boxing Academy. Even though both boxers were making their Amateur Boxing debut, Estepa had some boxing pedigree, his father was a boxer in the Navy.
In round #1, we saw both boxers eating leather and walking right into punches. By the end of round two, it appeared Estepa was tiring as Roberts finished strong in their final exchange.
Then, in the final round, all hell broke loose as each boxer did their upmost to close out this seesaw match. In the end the close decision went to Estepa.
In Bout #5, it was 35 year-old Jay Jay Robles, a southpaw, assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class Navy Destroyer U. S. S. Preble stationed in San Diego going up against 29 year-old Ezequiel Holguin of Chula Vista who works for Armored Car. Over the years, both boxers have trained with the trainer of champions, Carlos Barragan Jr. of the House of Boxing. For this fight, both boxers weighed exactly the same, 185 pounds, which made them Cruiserweights.
In describing this bout, the word mismatch comes to light. Of all the matches, on the fight card, in this one, it's a wonder Robles didn’t end up putting Holguin on his back. Robles, who had fought previously, 10 times, did most everything right as if he were already battle tested in the Pro ranks. After being set up by the jab or done in by a combination, Holguin was right there, like a sitting duck, for these devastating upper cuts or some other well leveraged punch. Watching Holguin take so much punishment, it's truly amazing he was able to last the full three rounds - simply amazing.
Immediately following an intermission, Bout #6 featured an exhibition between J.C. “El Nino Feo” Meza and David “The Baby Faced Assassin” Cota, youngsters currently in the National City CYAC boxing program.
Meza, the busier of the two, landed a ton of accurate blows while going toe to toe with Cota who wowed the crowd by repeatedly taking this one step back to deliver the heavier, more damaging blow to the head. At the conclusion of this match, both boxers received a ton of applause for their gritty performance. It’s a good thing the judges stayed clear of deciding this match because both youngsters had many, gung-ho followers.
Bout #7 was an add-on match of two heavyweights, 20 year-old Adrian Neutz (211 lbs.) of Coronado, CA, who is a Navy rescue swimmer, going up against Carlos Fregoso (215 lbs.) of the U. S. Border Patrol who lives in El Cajon.
Novices to the sport, Neutz received two months of training at Victory MMA from Luis Rodriguez and Fregoso about the same at the Alliance Training Center in Chula Vista. Their match demonstrated how really difficult it is to become a boxer in such a short time. You can only grasp the basics. Honing those skills takes a lot longer. Since boxing is one of the most physically demanding sports, the better strategy would have been to first get fit.
As a result, Fregoso turned this match into a grasping, clinching and hugging match. Neutz would throw the first punch and then get tied up. As a result, Neutz won this match by way of his initial offering.
Bout #8, undoubtedly “the Bout of the Night,” featured a middleweight of 160 lbs. going toe to toe against a light heavyweight of 175 lbs. The middleweight was a 33 year-old lifeguard by the name of Chris “Bam Bam” Pharo of Pacific Beach, who trains at Eddie Roa’s Pacific Training Center in La Jolla, CA. His opponent, the light heavyweight was Jay “El Verde” Vasquez of the U. S. Border Control.
From the moment this bout began, you could tell both men were warriors and neither was going to hold back. Every time you thought Pharo was about to stop Vasquez, back came Vasquez to even the score. The only way you could have had a winner in this match was to extend the bout to at least 15 rounds. When the judges’ scores were read, announcing the “Draw”, there was no aversion, hesitancy or disgust in either face, only mutual respect. Both men knew they had been through a war and there was no definitive winner.
Bout #9 was “the most amusing bout of the show.” It featured two more first-timers, Jeanna “The Dark Horse” Carrilho (161.4 lbs.) from the U. S. Marshals Service going up against 28 year-old Rosalea “The Villain” Virata (157 lbs.) of the National City CYAC.
In this match, Carrilho introduced several new strategies. Among her innovations, she had this one maneuver where she clamped her glove on Virata’s right shoulder and then in rapid succession punched Virata in the stomach. The only problem with this tactic, she was leaving her face unprotected which Virata then peppered with these vengeful, stinging blows.
It’s doubtful anyone has ever been as excited as Carrilho to be a part of such a competition. No doubt, this charming young lady made everyone’s highlight reel.
Bout #10 was another exhibition match between two accomplished and well seasoned Amateurs from the CYAC boxing program, Ray “Rambo” Conley and Alexis “Vicious” Villareal.
After Conley ruled in Round #1, Villareal made his comeback in round #2. In the final round the two young boxers went all out and though no winner was declared it appeared Villareal held the upper hand.
Bout #11, the Main Event of the evening, featured a match-up of heavyweights, 34 year-old Mbalaka “The Kenyan Peacemaker” Monololo (209.2 lbs.) from the National City Fire Department by way of Ghana, a West African country bordering on the Gulf of Guinea and 24 year-old George “Hurricane” Carter (210.4 lbs.) a graduate of Will C. Crawford High School in San Diego and now a U. S. Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, CA.
Carter, the busier of the two in round one, landed the cleaner punches. Then, in round #2, as if he had been sandbagging in round one, Monololo became more aggressive and found the openings he wanted. One of his punches, an overhand right, caught Carter flush on the face and his nose started to bleed.
In the final round, both boxers threw caution to the win and started throwing and landing these thunderbolts. The appearance of the bloody nose plus the hard power shots from Monololo certainly swayed the judges who in the end awarded him the decision. With his country’s proud boxing history, which includes boxing greats Azumah Nelson, Ike Quartey, and David Kotei, we should have known Monololo, who is from Ghana, would be up for this challenge.
If you missed out on seeing this show, don’t make the same mistake next year. These yearly Battle of the Badges Boxing Shows are jam-packed with exciting matches and of course you can always expect the unexpected.