6/11/17 Lancaster, Ca.- WCB was back on the road last night, making that long (10 minute) drive to the fight sight. The last fight I attended was 80 miles away in Ontario. I was sitting ringside with my old friend and fellow scribe Francisco Salazar, who told me it was a 90 minute drive for him from Ventura. I’m sure it was worth it because there was some FIGHTING going ON, tonight. I had the pleasure of chatting with two of boxing’s brightest stars, light heavy David Benavidez and super middle, Caleb Plant. Saw a lot of my fight family I hadn’t seen in YEARS, Effie (The Israeli Bomber) Schneider, (whom I trained). Effie made his debut on the same card that Oscar DeLaHoya made his. They both scored opening round kayos and after the fight Oscar’s dad asked me if I wanted to match the two. Baby Tyson ( a REAL character) and Greg Fajardo, to name a few. Now, what we REALLY came for……
Brandon (Bam Bam) Rios 33-3-1D-23K) v. Jose Herrera (23-6-1-14K))
Back in the squared circle after a 19 month layoff, Rios, a guy I LOVE to watch in action, got in some excellent work with the lanky Herrera. This dude wasn’t just in Lancaster to help Rios get the rust off, he was trying to get some ass. Rios under his new trainer Ricky Funez, showed some improved defense early as he semi-stalked Herrera early. Brandon is too much of a warrior to do too much changing, though and it wasn’t long before he was involved in a shootout. Rios smothered Herrera, winging looping left hooks along with some jarring uppercuts inside. The crowd was already hyped from the earlier action of which there was PLENTY. This was an outstanding card. Those that don’t like Sunday afternoon boxing missed it.
The script for the fight was Rios applying the heat with both barrels and Herrera rallying with some beautiful right hand shots and his hooks weren’t bad either. He went toes with Brandon and made SURE he got his. At one point he dug two serious left hands to the body, a left to the head and another left to the body pumping up the crowd with his variety of shots. Rios was undeterred though, he had shit on his mind and plans for the future and wasn’t gonna’ let Herrera mess up his cha-cha. By the fifth round, Brando shifted to another gear and Herrera’s replies were becoming less frequent but the size of his cajones showed NO signs of shrinkage. He was a game dude but the writing was on the wall. Rios was pinning his wilting foe on the ropes and raising HELL. At the bell, Rios, SOMEHOW still unmarked and still wearing that diabolical grin, that, ‘I’m LOVIN’ THIS shit, grin. Finally while pinned against the ropes under an all out assault, Herrera was drilled with a rib rattling right hand, putting closure to his night’s work. He took the count on his knee after giving it his all. This scribe was very impressed with seeing the old Rios in action and he gave the crowd what they wanted with his ‘take some to get some ‘ style. I’d LOVE to see a Tim Bradley rematch. Brandon was asked pre fight about his return and he said all the right things and GET THIS, he didn’t cuss ONCE, now THAT my friends, bears reporting.
Mario Barrios (18-0-10K) v. Jose Luis Rodriguez (25-8)
Barrios, a very tall jr welter was very sharp and skillful in his hookup with Rodriguez. When I saw the overrated Virgil Hunter in his corner I said, he’s done. But this youngster can SCRAP, so I’m gonna’ get off Hunter for a while. Barrios is a sharp shooter with a piercing jab and lots of tools in his box. He unloaded on the hard trying Rodriguez in every round and it was obvious this wasn’t gonna’ go far. I was wrong, wrong. Jose ate everything Barrios put on his plate and waited for desert. He was there for the duration and was giving Mario his money’s worth. Jose would soak up 4-5 shots in a set and fire back with both hands. He started lingering on the ropes too long though and Barrios was looking for the right moment to get this thing over with. Storming out for the seventh round Barrios landed a vicious left hand to Jose’s side and this was ‘case closed’. Jose seemed more disappointed than hurt but couldn’t beat the count. Evidently, those body shots stay around for a minute. So, Hunter has a pretty decent prospect in Barrios and we’ll see where he goes from here. The ‘40’s is a loaded division.
Kevin (Playboy) Watts (11-1-4K) v. Jose Borrego (12-0-11K)
I was REALLY anxious to see this one. I was also concerned. Watts trains at the AV Boxing Gym in Palmdale which is often MY hangout and was coming off a first time loss and a ko at that. When I saw his opponent’s record and his percentage of ko’s. I wondered who in the HELL thought THIS was a good idea ? Watts is a very talented fighter and I feel he should’ve been facing a different type of opponent. The main reason was that Kevin will brawl too much when it’s what his opponent wants to do. Watts is tall and wiry and has outstanding boxing skills with excellent movement but doesn’t always take advantage of his skill set. When I mentioned the fact his opponent had all those kos, a friend told me, “man, that doesn’t’ mean shit, they fight a lotta’ bums in Mexico”. I said, “what it MEANS is, this kid can punch I don’t care WHO the hell he’s been fighting”
If Watts’ peeps had the book on this youngster and knew he was some wild swinger that Kevin could time, that’s another story. That’s NOT what Borrego was. The first round was ‘on’ from the start. Kevin stood directly in front of Borregos, trading shots. Kevin was doing well early, he was faster and sharper than Borrego, landing good body shots and right hands up top. This was ‘good from the get go’. Nothing changed in the second, at first. Watts was still getting his shit off and looking sharp but the youngster was finding his range and switching from lefty to righty showing he was gonna’ be hard to handle as things wore on. By the end of the round, though still ahead, Kevin was starting to catch some shots and the crowd was going nuts. I don’t know if Kevin was playing to the crowd, but he was standing idirectly in fron of Borrego and I told Francisco, “ he can’t fight this kid like this”. Watts has great lateral movement and excellent balance but he didn’t play to his strength and by the end of round two his face was a bloody mess as if he’d suffered a broken nose. In the fateful fourth, while still in Borrego’s firing zone, Watts was getting drilled with hard shots and by now, it was too late to go to a plan B. A looping overhand left, short circuited Watts and he hit the deck and wasn’t in the best of shape. He got to his feet but now, he was just’ prey’ as the youngster backed him into his own corner and fired off both hands. Though he wasn’t getting caught flush with every shot, given this kid’s rep as a puncher, the ref had no choice BUT to call a halt. Especially knowing a guy had gotten severely beaten in a fight just a couple of days ago. So, what now for Watts? For openers, given his skill set, his peeps have to get him the RIGHT matches, especially in order to restore his confidence. Two straight stoppages is a cause for concern. With his switching style and power, and ONLY 19, Borrego has a banging (pun intended) future. He now has 10 straight ko’s.
Danny Fabela (1-3) v. Phillip Percy (0-3)
In the night’s only ‘gimme’, Palmdale’s Fabela faced a wild swinging, eyes closed, head down whatchamacallit. Phillips had lost all his fights by ko and as wildly as he swings, he probably knocked HIMSELF out in one of those. Anyway, Fabela had a walk over and won a unanimous decision.
Juan Funez, (10-1-4K) son of Ricky was very impressive as scored a 2nd round ko over Edgar Garcia. A big left hook did the job and EridaannLeon 5-2-1-1K) won a decision over a stylin’, smilin’ and profilin’ Issac Freeman (3-5-1-3K). All in all this was a good, entertaining ‘night at the fights’. That’s it, folks, I’M DON AND I’M DONE.