12/16/2017- Lancaster, Ca.-WCB traveled a long 4 miles to the PEC (Pioneer Events Center) in Lancaster to catch all the fistic festivities and boy was I entertained. There were TEN fights on the bill and normally, there’s a couple that aren’t so entertaining but last night was an exception to the rule. There was only one fight that didn’t measure up. Other than that, there were kos, outstanding boxing, hot, up and comers and an all out WAR. So, let’s start at the top. Big props to the ROMAN-ESTRADA tandem for their help in putting this outstanding event on.
In the main event, welterweights Jessie Vargas (27-2-10K) had a walk in the park as he won every minute of every round (IMO) against Aaron Herrera of Mexico (24-7-1D 15K). For ten rounds, tough guy Herrera plodded forward but not raising too much hell in the process. He was like a piñata and Vargas tapped him with every punch in the book. This was a real nice, smooth boxing exhibition by the title-seeking Vargas but he wasn’t even CLOSE to being tested in this one. Not taking any foolish chances and blowing a title shot, Jessie stuck to the business at hand and made the winging, lunging Herrera pay for every mistake he made. The lone knockdown came in the seventh round when Vargas dropped the fading Herrera with a right hand. Knowing it was in the sack, Jessie went back to tormenting Herrera but not getting reckless. Overall, a good win for Vargas and he’s calling out all the 47’s,Errol Spence Jr. (Jessie, don’t be foolish, now) Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia and Terrence Crawford, (again, don’t be foolish). The talented Vargas would be good work for all those guys and I’d give him a shot at beating Danny Garcia.
In the semi, tall, lanky prospect from Minnesota, Jamal James (21-1-9K) accepted the challenge of dangerous, battle-tested Argentinean, Diego Chavez (26-2-1D-22K). This one had me on the edge a bit. Tall and lanky ala the great Tommy Hearns, with a similar jab, James was boxing well early, keeping Chavez in his place, at the end of that stick. But my old eyes sensed impending danger as the crouching, ducking Chavez was stalking James and just missing with some well intentioned shots. James would occasionally blast away with a right hand left hook set but it didn’t slow Diego’s roll and I really become concerned as to whether or not James was gonna’ be able to keep Chavez off his butt cheeks for ten rounds. In the second, Chavez was finding range, catching the Tall One with a sweet left hook. James ate it and fired back with a three punch set, stopping Chavez in his tracks. Diego was still a threat though and never stopped coming, that is, until he was rocked by a hard right hand and started giving ground. In the third, James started finding out that Chavez wasn’t liking that rib work and really stated digging in. As Chavez was in retreat mode, James landed a rib cracking left hook, dropping him for the count. The crowd was stunned and Chavez spent the next ten minutes walking around trying to relieve the pain of that shot. This was an impressive win for James, considering his last six wins included NO knockouts, and Chavez is one tough hombre. Though he doesn’t have Hearns-like power, James boxes well and OBVIOUSLY hits hard enough to get shit done. I’m looking forward to seeing him again. Talking to his trainers afterwards, they said “we have a lotta’ talented fighters in Minnesota that just don’t get any love from the West coast. Well, if they look like James, bring ‘em on.
In the war of the night, never-a –dull -moment, John Molina Jr. (29-7-23K) was in a life and death struggle with Ivan Redkach from Ukraine, (those guys are always a handful). The muscular Redkach (20-3-1D-16) and big hearted Molina Jr. had the place rockin’ from the opening bell. Molina Jr. thinks ‘feeling out process’ is some kinda’ vulgar phrase, walked right to Redkach, who was right there waiting. It wasn’t long before these two were carrying on like they owed each other money. Molina Jr. had shown some boxing instincts when he was trained by Shadeed Saluki, but apparently a war is what excites HIM. In the second round, Redkach had Molina Jr. trapped along the ropes like a caged animal and dropped him, hurting him badly. It seemed like John was gonna’ be back in his dressing room soon, but for those thinking THAT, you don’t know THIS guy. In a torrid third, things got even hotter. As Molina Jr. sought to gain control, Radkach was being cute, ducking and slipping Molina’s all out assault. He didn’t slip enough though. After a questionable knockdown by Molina Jr. in the third, Redkach barely made it back to his stool. In the fourth, it was the ‘go for it’ round as the fired up Molina, Jr. went after his tiring foe like a lion after a Zebra, unleashing a brutal, double barreled attack, dropping Redkach, setting him up for the finale. Another assault featuring wicked body shots, had Redkach in dire straits along the ropes causing the ref to finally rescue him from Molina Jr’s savage onslaught. Man, when he smells blood….. Molina, afterwards said, “man, my family was here and I wasn’t about to lose, I HAD to dig deep. This was a good win for the once again rejuvenated Molina, Jr. who seems to have nine lives.
Freddy Hernandez (34-8-22K) who seems to fight about once a year, faced Oyewale Omatoso (26-3-21K) in a welterweight contest and never really got untracked as he was outworked by the Nigerian. In this tussle, both guys had their spots but Omatoso was the busier of the two and had a stronger finish, much to the disagreement of the crowd. After ten rounds of action Omatoso was awarded a unanimous decision but I think a split in his favor was the better call. There were no knockdowns and not much to hang your hat on.
In Other Action
In other action on this big night, Efren Lopez (1-0) of Fresno, trained by former champ, Robert (Ghost) Guerrero won his second straight, with a unanimous decision over Tyler Marshall (1-3-1K). Lopez was the busier, more talented of the two and dropped Marshall with a left hook in the first round. Robert Garcia trained Luis Coria (4-1-3K), was impressive as he battered hapless, pony tailed Leonardo Torres (4-9-1K) into a fourth round stoppage. This was the closest thing to a mismatch as Coria pretty much did what he wanted to do to Torres. Carlos Flores (4-7-1D-3K) went to bed early, as Karlos Balderas (2-0-2K) tucked him in at 1:32 of the opening round. Mark (Anthony) Hernandez (10-1-2K) played a nice tune on Oscar Mora (7-4-6K), stopping him with a vicious body shot at 1:28 of the opening round. Hernandez, trained by Riverside’s Henry Ramirez, showed style and patience as he picked his spots while cleverly stalking Mora. After sampling a few shots from Hernandez, it was obvious Mora would be soon joining the packed crowd. In the funny fight of the night, tough guy Yunier Calzada (6-2-1D-1K) spent the better part of six rounds against Missael Rodriguez (5-0-3K) doing two things, daring Rodriguez to ‘stand and fight’ and getting his ass beat. Calzada was a tough guy and very entertaining but Rodriguez pretty much had his hands on him all night, almost stopping him in the first round. Calzada managed to remain upright for the duration and Rodriguez stayed unbeaten with an impressive win.
The Pec was loaded with current and past boxing faces of the southland and it’s always a pleasure seeing my old boxing friends. Abner Mares, Caleb Plant, Ghost Guerrero, Armando and Roberto SantaCruz, Enrique Ornelas, the notorious Javier Capetillo, Robert Alcazar, Robert Garcia, Henry Ramirez just to name SOME of the faces in the crowd as well as in the corners. All in all, a long, busy action packed night, one in which I was GLAD I was only a few miles from home.