Tuesday morning, February 18, 2014, Elias Espadas and Manuel "El Venado" Ceballos from the A & T Gym & Boxing Club in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico were at the airport in ample time to catch their red eye flight to Tijuana on the first leg of their journey to compete Friday, February 21st at the Bing Crosby Hall on the Del Mar Fairgrounds in Del Mar, CA.
In preparation, the boxers were told, “Eli, you’re going to fight this 34 year-old, Arturo Brambila from Phoenix, Arizona, a fighter who hasn’t won in almost seven years. The bad news, he's got a ton of experience and he's been in there with some really tough opponents. Among others, he's fought two former world champions Mike Alvarado and Antonio DeMarco."
"And Manuel, you’ll be facing Elliot Lemmon o-1, who at this point we know very little about.”
Today, Wednesday, the San Diego based promoter reported both boxers had made their flight successfully from Merida in southeastern Mexico to Tijuana, where they were met at the airport by their close friend and boss, Andrew "Andy" Perez and his partner, Lakeside, CA matchmaker/promoter Jorge Marrón. From there they were driven the 34 miles Northeast to Lakeside, CA, where they completed their preparations, mainly check medical records, their weight and made ready for Thursday's open to the public weigh-ins at 4 p.m. at Karina's Mexican Seafood Cuisine, 986 Broadway in Chula Vista.
On their arrival, the fighters were informed about the change of opponents. Espadas, who fights at middleweight and has had five pro fights (won four, two by knockout and lost once) was told Brambila is out. "We just got word, he has officially retired. We got this guy by the name of Omar Barefield from Mountain View, CA to take his place. He's 33 years-old and winless. However, that record comes by way of some stiff competition who’s combined record is 17 wins with only four losses."
Espadas, who is coached by Julio Tarrago, a Cuban trainer now based in Mérida, replied, “I trained hard for this fight, just like I have for all my fights. I’m ready and in the best condition ever.”
Next, it was Ceballos' turn. The 20 year-old light heavyweight, who like Espadas forged his career in the amateur ranks and won medals in the National Olympiad, was told of his new opponent. "You'll be facing a guy by the name of Jerome Buchanan, a six foot tall, 27 year-old, former MMA fighter who hails from Kalamazoo, Michigan. He will also be making his professional debut. As you might imagine most of his experience has been in the mixed martial arts, where he’s fought four times as a professional with a record of 1-3. As an Amateur, he was 3-1-1."
Ceballos’ reply: "I'm as ready as I'll ever be. On the top of my game! I'm just thankful that San Diego has offered me this platform."
Like Espadas, Ceballos has set his sights high. He aspires to become the next great Mexican heavyweight and follow in the footsteps Manuel "Pulgarcito" Ramos, the guy who scored an upset 10 round decision victory over former WBA World Heavyweight Champ Ernie Terrell and then gave Joe Frazier a scare when in 1968 he knocked “Smokin’ Joe” off his feet at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Tomorrow, at the weigh-ins, we'll get the official, set in stone Fight Card. As of 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 19, 2014, they're still showing some discrepancies. Plus, there was a poster featured on Facebook that had Jorge "Tito" Ruiz from the nearby Alliance Training Center in Chula Vista being a participant.
The names of five local boxers were on the fight poster - Johnny Boy Quiroz and his step-brother Brian Nevarez of Oceanside, CA., Roque Ramos of nearby Escondido, CA., Emmanuel Diaz of San Diego and Fernando Garcia of Tijuana.