It’s been a busy two weeks in Northern California, ranging from San Mateo resident and new bantamweight champ Nonito Donaire’s momentous knockout victory to the start of the 2011 Golden Gloves festivities in Vacaville last weekend.
I made the rounds and scoured as much information as possible for you fight fans, so in the spirit of this past Sunday night’s Academy Awards, let’s begin this edition of the West Coast Watch with an Oscar-themed feature presentation.
• Donaire’s highlight-reel left hook on defending titlist Fernando Montiel has throttled the boxing world and THE RING has elevated the “Filipino Flash” to the third spot in the pound-for-pound rankings. But now a three-headed monster of a question has presented itself.
1. Donaire, 26-1 (18), the new WBC/WBO titleholder, is technically a free agent, having only agreed to a two-fight extension with Top Rank before his stoppage of Wladimir Sidorenko last December. He will have several options on the table, with Golden Boy being a logical player. Why? The answer lies in the second part of the question, which is…
2. Golden Boy handles Abner Mares, who fights Don King fighter and current IBF champ Joseph Agbeko in the Showtime bantamweight tournament final in April. Now that Donaire holds the cards, he can either let Top Rank sweeten the pot to re-sign or jump ship for a Golden Boy-promoted unification bout with Mares, if he were to win. However, then there is a third factor in play, and that is...
3. Even Donaire’s manager Cameron Dunkin has conceded that they have been looking at a move to super bantamweight, where Top Rank owns the rights to both IBF champ Steve Molitor (who is expected to win his rematch against Takalani Ndlovu) and WBO titlist Wilfredo Vasquez Jr. Team Donaire has also been open to fighting former world champ Koki Kameda in Japan for a nice payday but I think he has bigger fish to fry right now.
• WBO female super bantamweight champion Ana Julaton, 8-2-1 (1), rose to the occasion last Friday in Richmond against challenger Franchesca Alcanter. However, what seemed like a ho-hum unanimous decision victory on the surface was anything but that.
The problems started at the weigh-in when Julaton’s trainer, Freddie Roach, was a no-show, having missed his flight from LAX. In addition, the scale was mighty light, and the “official” results were astounding. “The Hurricane” came in at 116.5 pounds, a staggering 5.5 pounds under the 122-pound limit. Now before any questions of hyper-overtraining surface, Alcanter weighed in only two pounds heavier at 118, which was four pounds and a weight class below the limit as well.
If that wasn’t any worse, Roach ended up not making the trip north at all due to scheduling conflicts as a result of training WBA light welterweight champ Amir Khan. Sans trainer and without the peace of mind that her foe was actually on weight, Julaton was still able to overcome the distractions and please her hometown fans with an entertaining blend of speed and combination punching en route to the win.
Julaton fights next in April, where according to her promoter Allan Tremblay, she will bring the show to the Philippines. As of the moment, she’s in L.A., wishing Roach a Happy 51st Birthday this Saturday.
By the way, the Craneway Pavilion is a beautiful venue, with walls of glass windows overlooking San Francisco and sightlines that could be improved simply with the introduction of collapsible bleachers. Local promoters, take note!
• WBA super middleweight champion Andre Ward, 23-0 (13), revealed to me that the “floating sensation” he felt in his left index knuckle after his title defense in Oakland against Sakio Bika last November has subsided and is now ready to resume training. “S.O.G.” is slated to face Arthur Abraham on May 14 in the semifinals of Showtime’s “Super Six” tournament. The venue is still TBA, although one that keeps popping up in discussions is the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
• After resurrecting his career following a stretch where he lost five of six fights, USBA light heavyweight champ Otis Griffin of Sacramento, 23-6-2 (9), sits just one win away from a world title shot on Friday night when he takes on Yusaf Mack in Woodland Hills, Calif. After two postponements and a change in promoters (from Seconds Out to Bash Boxing), “Triple O.G.” can get a crack at Tavoris Cloud’s IBF belt in the summer if he emerges victorious.
• Lightweight Robert Guerrero, 28-1-1 (18), and his father/trainer Ruben left their hometown of Gilroy for Las Vegas last Saturday for Phase Two of preparation for Michael Katsidis on Apr. 9 on the Marcos Maidana-Erik Morales undercard. “The Ghost” was disappointed when WBO/WBA/THE RING champion Juan Manuel Marquez refused to come to the negotiating table, and if he can get by the always-exciting Katsidis, the two-division champ wouldn’t be against moving up to 140 pounds and fighting Amir Khan, Paulie Malignaggi, or even Tim Bradley.
• Woodland’s Vicente Escobedo, 22-3 (14), who has dropped decision losses to both Guerrero and Katsidis, hopes to get back on track in a crossroads clash with Walter Estrada on March 4 in Indio.
• Fairfield’s Manuel Avila, 2-0 (1), had some early issues figuring out the first southpaw in his early career but he passed the test, jarring Jose Garcia with a massive left hook and finishing him off in the fourth round. The Golden Boy super bantamweight signee is scheduled to appear at the Orange County Fairgrounds on March 18 on the undercard of Luis Ramos’s latest bout against David Armstrong.
• Fellow Fairfield fighter, welterweight Alan Sanchez, 7-2-1 (2), is quickly building a cult following. The fan-friendly Sanchez has now helped pack the Fairfield Sports Center to capacity twice in two months on Telefutura shows and is becoming a favorite of Hall of Fame promoter Don “War-a-Week” Chargin as a result of his drawing power.
• Undefeated middleweight Brandon Gonzales of Sacramento, 14-0 (10), who fought on the same Telefutura card as Sanchez back in January, returns either in Reno on April 29, or on co-promoter Joe DeGuardia’s next card in early May, according to his main promoters, Terry and Tommy Lane of Reno-based Let’s Get It On.
• Lightweight prospect Stan Martyniouk, 10-1 (1), was originally in talks to fight on the Julaton-Alcanter undercard but informed me he had gotten sick the week of the fight and would be unable to make the trip north from Van Nuys. Originally from Antelope, the Joe Goossen-trained fighter is looking to bounce back from an upset decision loss against Khadaphi Proctor on the Ward-Bika undercard.
• On the Julaton-Alcanter undercard, super bantamweight Bruno Escalante, who trains with Donaire at the Undisputed Gym in San Carlos, notched his first knockout win with a second-round stoppage of Martin Sandoval. He moves to 2-0-1 (1).
• Nonito’s brother Glenn Donaire, 17-4-1 (9), who now lives in San Leandro, handled the TV-5 Philippines broadcast of the same Richmond card with writer Dennis “dSource” Guillermo. The former light flyweight world title challenger is getting back in shape and informed me he plans to fight on the aforementioned April show in the Philippines as well.
• In case you missed the Telefutura “Solo Boxeo” card at Longshoremen’s Hall in San Francisco (another venue with potential, might I add) a couple weeks ago, NABO super featherweight titlist Eloy Perez of Salinas, 20-0-2 (5), outboxed Roger Gonzalez on his way to another unanimous decision win. His manager, Kathy Garcia, has called out fellow Golden Boy client Jason Litzau but it looks like “The Prince” will instead fight Miguel Cotto-promoted Luis Cruz in a WBO title eliminator on the Apr. 9 undercard of Maidana-Morales in Las Vegas.
• In the San Francisco co-feature, lightweight prospect Mercito Gesta, 21-0-1 (11), remained undefeated with a third-round stoppage of Genaro Trazancos. It appears that Golden Boy is keen on putting “No Mercy” in with Vicente Escobedo next. However, if that falls through, I think the San Diego-based Filipino taking on Frank Espinoza-managed Luis Ramos would make for a great “ShoBox” bout to serve as a litmus test for both guys, who are undefeated.
• On the non-televised portion of the undercard, light heavyweight Joe Gumina, 1-0 (1), brought a boatload of fans with him from San Bruno and San Francisco, who came to watch his debut. They would not be disappointed as the all-action Gumina stopped Jose Hurtado in the first round. While it’s too early to tell if his defense and chin will hold up to better competition, the fact that “The Punisher” knocked out the majority of his opponents in the amateurs gives you an idea of the heavy hands he wields. It also helps that Jesse Reid and his son, Jesse Jr., have taken Gumina under their wings.
• After Gumina’s bout, two-time National Golden Gloves bronze medalist Richard Hargraves of San Francisco, 2-0-1 (2), squeaked by with a majority draw against San Jose’s Clint Coronel, 3-1-2 (1). Perhaps the lackluster result was due to Hargraves’ 11-month inactivity because he looked rusty in there despite displaying all the tools to outbox a slugger like Coronel, who came on strong late.
• Welterweight Karim Mayfield, 13-0-1 (8), undefeated record and all, is still without both a promoter and a fight. Despite being prominently featured on the poster for the “War at the Wharf,” he was told he would not appear on the card due to scheduling conflicts with prospective opponents. Mayfield has stayed in fighting shape and was a sparring partner for Brandon Rios, who recently knocked out Miguel Acosta in a heartrending WBA lightweight title fight.
• Last weekend, the Georgie Duke Center in Vacaville was the scene for the first step of the Regional Golden Gloves tournament, where the eventual national champion will earn one of the eight coveted spots for the Olympic Trials next year. With that said, many fighters, including California PAL middleweight champ Michael Fernandez of San Francisco, pulled out of the tournament since according to his father Robert, the upcoming U.S. Nationals will award four spots.
Still, the event featured some of the best amateurs in the area, including Adam Fiel of Vacaville, Andy Vences of San Jose, MTV “Road Rules” participant Darrell Taylor of Sacramento, and former women’s national collegiate champion Lauren Pettis from UC Berkeley.
Here is a complete list of winners from the Open Division:
Featherweight (125 lbs.): Cassie Mortin, B St. Boxing