August 17, 2013
On Saturday night, V & B Promotions, returned to Tijuana’s Municipal Auditorium with another exciting boxing show. This time around they added a special treat, a salute to the Hall of Fame career of Gaspar “El Indio” Ortega, a local and international boxing legend of whom millions watched on TV during the early fifties to mid sixties on the popular Gillette Cavalcade of Sports Friday Night Fights.
Now 77, Ortega was born in Mexicali, spent his formative years in Tijuana and now lives in Connecticut. He fought such notables as Emile Griffith, Tony DeMarco, Benny “Kid” Paret, Kid Gavilan, Carmen Basilio and Nino Benvenuti. As far as getting a shot at a world title, that happened just once, on June 3, 1961 when he lost to the Welterweight Champion Emile Griffith.
It was a whole different ball game 60 years ago when a challenger would have to come up with the front money and often fought four to six times within the same month. Twice Ortega beat Paret, and yet neither time was a title on the line. He fought all over, from Medford, Oregon to Miami, Florida, from the Boston Garden to Olympic Auditorium in Los Angles, from Miami, Florida to the Civic Auditorium in Honolulu, from the Royal Albert Hall in London to the Palazzetto dello Sport in Rome, from the Palais des Sports in Paris to Madison Square Garden.
After his illustrious career ended, he was of course inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame. The one lament for any great boxer is not winning a world title. On Saturday night, the World Boxing Council honored Ortega by issuing him a WBC green and gold belt, presented by supervisor Rudy Tellez and one of their internationally recognized judges Benjamin Rendon. With the belt goes the official recognition of being one of their welterweight champions.
Ortega finished his illustrious career with an outstanding record of 131 wins, 39 defeats and 6 draws, with 69 victories coming by way of knockout.
Results from Saturday night’s contests:
Bout #1 featured two flyweights from Tijuana, 16-year-old Victor “Chaky” Sandoval making his first professional start and Javier Felix (0-3-0).
With both boxers having a reputation for throwing hands nonstop, the action packed first round soon had the crowd on their feet. Since something had to give and Sandoval’s punchers were cleaner and harder, you could see he held the upper hand.
Round two began the same way with very little thought given to defense. Again, since Sandoval’s punches seemed quicker and had more power, Felix soon buckled under to the pressure. Once referee Cristian Curiel saw Felix taking the unanswered blows to the head, he quickly stepped in to call a halt to the match.
Bout #2 had a ton of interest since it was the pro debut of 26 year-old Sergio “Diamond” Ramirez from the Final Round Boxing Club of Tijuana going up against fellow debutant 22 year-old Roberto Nunez who local fight fans felt had similar potential.
With both boxers on edge, the first round turned out to be wild and wooly. Then, as in the first round, Ramirez was able to duck under Nunez’s offerings to land the more telling blows. His combinations to the head, soon had Curiel stepping in to stop the bout at the 2:17 mark of round two.
In Bout #3 it was the winless 22 year-old Carlos Lopez of Tijuana (0-5-0) who trains at the San Luis Boxing Gym in Tijuana going up against 21 year-old Jose Toribio (2-1-0, 1 KO) from Tijuana and fighting out of the Undisputed Fitness & Training Center in San Diego.
With his June 15th loss still fresh on his mind (a first round KO loss to Saul “Baby” Hernandez), Toribio stayed completely focused on this contest. He went back to his tight defensive style and the solid inside work on offense that made him a winner. His blows had better leverage as he kept working the body with the left to bring Lopez’s hands down. With scores of 40-36 from all three judges, it appears the changes he made in training had a noticeable affect on this contest.
For Bout #4, it was featherweight Cristian “Chimpa” Gonzalez of Buena Park, CA taking on Alfredo Echeverria of Tijuana. Gonzalez and his very large support group didn’t have to wait long for the results. This bout turned out to be one of the shortest on record (41 seconds).
After the opening bell sounded, it took Gonzalez all of 30 seconds to corral his opponent, Echeverria, in the neutral corner and start blasting away with these home-run shots. One shot to the face, a devastating uppercut, appeared to rearrange Echeverria’s nose. Referee Cristian Curiel immediately stepped in to protect Echeverria from further harm. With the loss, Echeverria goes to 1-3-0, 1 KO.
The crowd booed the ref’s early stoppage. If they had been close enough to see what transpired, they would have applauded his quick thinking.
Bout #5 featured featherweights Christian “El Coralillo” Nieto Ayala (1-0-0, 1 KO) from Tijuana going up against the wild man, southpaw Felipe Reyes (0-1) who is also from Tijuana.
Reyes, with his fashionable locks, has a reputation for being impatient. He’s continually winding up from way back to deliver these big knockout blows. The problem with a telegraphed punch, it hardly ever reaches it’s target.
Despite not having any amateur bouts, Ayala continues to impress. After looking so good in his first bout, he’s now looking even better.
Even though Reyes landed a few big punches, he was no match for the naturally gifted Ayala who took the decision with scores of 40-36 and 39-37 twice.
Bout #6 featured light heavyweights, 27 year-old Guillermo Castillo, who trains at the Undisputed Fitness & Training Center in downtown San Diego, making his professional debut against the more experienced Juan Carlos “Zurdo” Moreno from Tijuana.
If we go right to the scores, judge Diana De La Mora saw it 39-36 for Castillo while both judges Brenda Lopez and Jesus Gonzalez scored the bout 40-35 for Castillo.
This fight was closer than the scores indicate. In Round #1, Castillo had problems with the awkward, bullying tactics of the snarling Moreno. Plus, he hardly ever used his jab which his corner kept pleading for him to do. What finally put the W in Castillo’s column was a late point deduction for what referee Cristian Curiel deemed an intentional head-butt. Castillo’s real strength lied in the way he countered off each of Moreno’s misses.
By Round #2, Castillo had gained more confidence and did well each time he had Moreno fighting off his back foot.
In the final minute of a lackluster Round #3, Moreno appeared to be doing much better and may have stolen the round by landing four unanswered blows in the closing seconds.
We should call Bout #7 the smoke and mirrors bout. It featured welterweights, 23 year-old Daniel Ramirez (1-0) from Norwalk, CA who trains at the Hawaiian Gardens Gym, and Ignacio Mondragon (0-15-1) who might not train at all.
As forecast, Mondragon kept his seven year losing streak alive. Even though I’m averse to calling any boxer a quitter, it sure looked as if Mondragon had quit.
Once upon a time, a boxer by the name of Roberto Duran told referee Octavio Meyran "No mas” a reply that still haunts him.
Late in the seventh round of their fight, Sugar Ray Leonard threw the most memorable punch of the night. Winding up his right hand, as if to throw a bolo punch, he suddenly snapped a left jab to catch Duran flush. With 16 seconds left in the eighth round, Duran turned his back on Leonard and quit. At first, neither Leonard nor referee Meyran knew what he was doing, and Meyran motioned for the fighters to continue. Duran waved his right hand and said, "No mas. No pelea mas." ("No more. No more boxing.") Meyran then waved the fight over, and Leonard was declared the winner.
Following Duran's surrender, the first report claimed he had not quit but merely misunderstood the referee. Minutes after the fight, WBC president Jose Sulaiman told the press, "Roberto told me that when he threw a right hand in that round, something happened to his shoulder."
Later yet, Duran, told the media he quit because of stomach cramps.
After the bout, Duran's purse was withheld by the athletic commission. The day after the fight, Duran was fined $7,500 for his "nonperformance" and the rest of his guaranteed purse, chump change, $7,992, 500 was released.
In regards to Ignatio Mondragon’s purse, all $4,000 pesos or $307.80, I suppose it would be fair for the Tijuana Boxing Commission to ask him to pay a comparable fine which would amount to 29 cents. Excuses or no excuses, having Mondragon return to the ring for loss #17 sounds a bit whacky.
Bout #8, a four round bantamweight bout between Marino Canete (1-3-0) and Julio “Nino” Castillo (1-1) both of Tijuana, went the distance. In the first stanza, the hesitancy of both counter punchers to throw a punch almost put the crowd to sleep.
Things did heat up as the match continued and by bout’s end, there was no doubt Castillo had landed more of the solid blows. Still, one judge, Jesus Gonzalez saw it as an even draw at 38-38, while the others, Diana De La Mora and Brenda Lopez were in agreement and scored this tedious bout 39-37 for Castillo.
Bout #9 featured flyweights, 23 year-old Norberto Espinoza (0-3) going up against 18 year-old Abraham “Choko” Rodriguez (2-0) another of the hand picked prospects now being managed by Antonio Margarito.
There’s not much to say about this one. The fight only lasted 47 seconds. Rodriguez made his way to center ring, delivered this crunching left hook to the liver and down went Espinoza to his knees.
In Bout #10, the co-feature, it was the 22 year-old southpaw, super bantamweight, Jorge “Tremendo” de Alba (9-0-1, 7 KOs) of Tijuana having his way with the debutant Jose Hernandez of Ensenada, B. C., Mexico.
The only reason Hernandez made it out of the first round, de Alba most likely needed the work. The grinding lefts to the midsection soon took their toll. When Hernandez finally went down, it appeared he had no inclination to get up. The official stoppage came at 2:19 of the second round.
Talk about having quality people in your corner. De Alba had the former two-time bantamweight champion Raul “Jibaro” Perez working his corner.
Bout #11, the featured bout of the evening, saw the successful return of 32 year-old welterweight Rafael Ramon “Pride of San Diego” Ramirez (17-4-2, 4 KOs) of Spring Valley, CA.
The opponent he faced, Alejandro “Iron Man” Alonso (2-16-2, 1 KO) is from Rosarito, B. C. Alonso can be best described as a non-threatening, sparring partner. With Ramirez not fighting since October 5, 2006, he looked reasonably sharp against a guy who for five rounds threw mostly short arm-punches. For five rounds, Alonso appeared to be in survival mode as he circled about the ring while being caught by an occasional head-snapping jab or a rare combination.
The number five has been repeated for good reason. At the one minute mark of the fifth round, Ramirez broke his right hand on the crown of Alonso’s head. How do we know this? By the immediate pained expression on Ramirez’s face. From that moment on, everyone saw how Ramirez was dealing with the torment. Unable to hide the throbbing, stinging pain, he grimaced with each twinge of discomfort.
You would have thought Alonso, given the green light, would have taken full advantage. After all, he was now fighting someone with the use of just one arm. Instead, Ramirez’s left jab became even more formidable as it snapped Alonso’s head back. For the next two minutes, the question remained, can Ramirez finish out the round? Or would he throw in the towel? Or, would Alonso, already down four rounds, close in for the kill and go for the much needed knockout? Neither happened as Ramirez, relying solely on his left, kept Alonso at bay.
In the sixth and final round, Ramirez reversed roles and survived the bout by circling about the ring. Whenever Alonso came forward, Ramirez would land the hardest, cleanest jab possible, then move away. With Alonso’s lack of firepower, Ramirez even resulted to throwing some wide angle left hooks.
The decision was never in doubt as the one armed man came away with scores of 60-54 from all three judges to indicate he had taken every round, even the fifth and sixth after breaking his hand.