On Friday evening, June 27, 2014, The Arena MMA, San Diego’s largest gym as it pertains to square footage and membership count, hosted another packed house and showcased their fighters plus a contingent representing the Escondido Fight Club in what turned out to be 24 very entertaining and often quite heated rounds of serious boxing.
In Bout #1, a three round light heavyweight contest, it was a 23 year-old Bench Jeweler Hayden Mayer of Linda Vista by way of Basalt, Colorado weighing in at 169 pounds taking on a 28 year-old Chef by the name of Brandon Garcia who weighed in at 175 pounds.
In terms of serious training, Garcia has been at it for six months, while Mayer has been training for a year and a half.
In round one, Mayer, a southpaw, outboxed Garcia by going with his straight lefts and scoring a solid overhand right just before the bell. In the second round, Mayer added two dandy uppercuts to the mix.
The bout ended up going the full three rounds with Mayer answering the burning question being asked in Garcia’s ring entrance song sung by Jaz-Z and Kanye West, “Who gon stop me?” Mayer’s reply, “I guess that would be me!”
Bout #2 was a three round Cruiserweight contest featuring 27 year-old, 5’6” Rolando Vivar from the Escondido Fight Club weighing 177 pounds going up against 24 year-old, 5’9” James “the Bull” Harris who weighed in at 178 pounds. Harris is currently in the Navy, while Vivar is in the transport business.
This one ended early as Harris went hard to the midsection to secure a first round stoppage.
Bout #3 featured a three round bout between 16 year-old Alex “Lights out” Garcia (six-foot, 150 lbs.) from Helix High School in La Mesa, CA who has been training for six months and 46 year-old, 5’9” Sean “Fresh Meat” Peterson who mentioned he had only been boxing for three weeks.
In retrospect, the two should have exchanged nicknames because it was Garcia who ended up being Peterson’s “fresh meat.” In both round one and two, Peterson’s strategy of rushing at Garcia and smothering him with punches worked well. Peterson's tactic led to a quick 8-count in the first stanza.
Then, in the third round, after Peterson began to tire and the younger Garcia’s confidence had grown, the exchanges started to favor Garcia, all except the final one when Peterson, in the closing seconds, once again pinned Garcia in the corner and let him have it with a final flurry of punches. The referee's decision had Peterson winning two rounds and Garcia one.
Bout #4 was a three round welterweight contest between 25 year-old Jonathan “Guti” Gutierrez (145 lbs.) from the Escondido Fight Club who has been training for 6 months and 20 year-old Ramses “Rampage” Mena (147 lbs.) of San Diego by way of Mexico City who has been training for a year and competed earlier this year in an in-house Muay Thai show.
This bout could be best described as a slugfest. With the many momentum changes in round one, it would be near impossible to side with either boxer. By round two, it was Gutierrez countering well and finishing each exchange with the cleaner shots to the head. Before the round ended Mena’s nose had started to bleed and he had been issued a standing 8-count.
In the all import third round, Mena pressed hard to pull even, but Gutierrez made certain to match his output and then add an additional punch to end each exchange. When the bell sounded, it was clear the slicker punching Gutierrez had won this old fashion donnybrook.
During a brief intermission Jose Martinez and his son Dorian put on the gloves. These gloves weren't your usual 10 ounces gloves, these cumbersome monstrosities looked like they weighed closer to 40 pounds. Then, for two solid rounds, Pop and son went at it to the delight of the audience.
With Dorian being on the receiving end of so many hard blows to the head, you had to wonder if he wasn't taking it easy on Pop. For Dorian, this was as close as he'll ever get to one of those good old fashioned butt whuppings, the one's your parents always threatened to give you.
Bout #5 featured 27 year-old sailor, 5’5” Brandon “Ice Cole” Coleman with his 180 pounds of solid muscle. He certainly looked like he knew how to handle himself. His opponent, 25 year-old, 5’9” Victor Lopez of the Escondido Fight Club weighed in at 182 pounds and mentioned he started training in September of 2013.
This was another bout where our boxers need to rethink their ring entrance music. “Ice Cole” went with 0 to 100 by Drake wherein lies the line “If I’m not the greatest, I’m heading for it.” Lopez’s selection was by Nipsey Hussle - “I could never lose.” Well, Mr. Lopez lost this one in convincing fashion.
In round one, Coleman concentrated on Lopez’s midsection and went in and out delivering these hard shots. He then changed things up in round two and landed two powerful overhand-rights to the side of Lopez’s head. The stoppage came early in round #3 after Coleman landed his third overhand right, what you might call a bell ringer.
Bout #6 featured two southpaws, 26 year old, 5’ 7” tall, Ron Ramos, a Super Lightweight in a three rounder versus 23 year-old, 5’ 5” Andre “Dynamite” Garcia, a 125 pound Featherweight from National City, CA, a college student.
As far as conditioning, both men were in tiptop shape. The problem for Garcia was the power Ramos was able to generate with his height and weight advantage. It also appeared Ramos had been training longer than Garcia who had been training for 14 months. As a consequence, the bigger man landed the harder shots, was busier and won every round.
Bout #7, a three rounder, featured a 5’ 11” Navy diver by the name of Jason Balavram (186 lbs.) from San Diego by way of Brooklyn, New York who had only been training for three months. His opponent was 31 year-old Rafael Guzman (150 lbs.) from Chula Vista, CA who has been training for a year and a half. In boxing terms you had a less experienced Cruiserweight facing a more experienced Super Welterweight.
From the outset, Balavram began to bang away while the smaller Guzman tried unsuccessfully to stay in close to land the shots to the belly along with an occasional uppercut to the chin. Even though Guzman got the worst of it throughout, referee Ernesto Martinez went the diplomatic route and declared the match a draw.
Bout #8, the Main Event of the evening, featured two Super Welterweights, 23 year-old Fernando Rocha (147 pounds) taking on 24 year-old Nick Furst who weighed in at 150 pounds.
Rocha is from Escondido by way of Guanajuato, Mexico, the city best known for its Festival Cervantino and being the site of the first failed rebellion against colonial rule. Furst, from Oceanside, CA, works in the Biotech industry and has been training for eight months.
Since both rounds one and two were very close, that left the all important third round to decide the contest. Once again, the third round had even more back and forth momentum swings. Then, in the closing seconds, with both fighters completely exhausted and bleeding from their nostrils, Furst landed this three punch combination and Rocha followed with a left hook and solid right cross at the bell. It was shades of Rocky I. In Friday night's remake of that famous movie scene, it was Furst being declared the victor.