By: Austin Killeen – Ringside – August 1, 2015
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Grants, New Mexico had to wait forty nine years for the return of professional boxing to their municipality. Judging by the reaction of fans this weekend, the next show is more likely to take place in forty nine days. The five bout card featured an upset in the main event and three action packed bouts in the under card. Even the fifth bout featuring inexperienced middleweights had its pleasing moments. Pouring rains couldn’t dampen the fans enthusiasm, thanks to the venue being covered by a large tarp. For the geologically challenged, Grants is 75 miles west of Albuquerque; offering spectacular views from historic Route 66.
The main event was a beauty between Torres and Krael. Entering the ring, Torres (14-4-2, 6 KO’s) 140 lbs. of Albuquerque had never been beaten in the “Land of Enchantment.” It was obvious “Pitbull’ had brought a large contingent of fans from the “Duke City”, to witness the first defense of his WBC United State National Boxing Championship. Preceding him into the ring, Krael (8-7-2, 1 KO) 139.6 lbs. of Las Vegas, NV was the recipient of some light applause. From the opening bell it was apparent that Krael had plans to soil Torres’s unblemished record in New Mexico. Both boxers had difficulty establishing distance in the first round as many of their jabs fell short. But the pace was fast and many punches were thrown. In the second round Krael started land 1-2’s to the head of the defending champ. Torres responded with jabs of his own and some nice body shots. They were fighting at a fast pace with little clinching taking place. Both boxers were displaying tight defenses, making the first two rounds difficult to score.
Rounds three, four and five were big rounds for Krael, as he employed speed of foot and hand to take control of the bout. When the muscular Torres tried to work his way inside, he was met with punishing uppercuts. From the outside, the taller Krael was landing eye catching combinations to the head and body. Torres appeared confused and was not moving his hands. Torres was digging himself a big hole and his fans were becoming concerned.
Torres showed new life in the sixth round, as he employed volume punching to take the play away from his rival. Krael fought in spurts but it was clear he had taken his foot off the pedal. The seventh round saw both boxers have their moments but Krael was landing the cleaner punches due to his superior hand speed. In the eighth Krael’s jab was throwing Torres’ rhythm off. When he was able to cut the ring off, Torres didn’t throw any punches at his stationary target. He appeared to be drained from the task of making weight.
In the ninth round the lighter hitting Krael started acting like Sugar Ray Robinson, on several occasions’ big right hands moved Torres’ head back. Making matters worse, claret was running from “Pitbull’s” nose. Torres tried to pull it out in the final round, walking through Krael’s combinations; throwing combinations of his own. It had to be apparent to even the most ardent Torres’ fans that it was a case of too little too late. Surprisingly, close scores of 97-93, 96-94 and 95-95 made Krael a narrow winner and new WBC USNBC champion. Referee Ray Chavez did an excellent job as third man, letting the boxers work on a level playing field.
Torres was gracious in defeat saying, “I partied the evening I won the title but tonight I lost to the better man. Krael deserves to enjoy his party tonight; I hope he has a great time.” Torres said he would accept a rematch, even in Las Vegas, if it were offered.
In the semi final bout Alex Holguin (5-1-0, 3 KO’s) 129.8 lbs. of Albuquerque won by UD over John Herrera (4-12-2, 2 KO’s) 128.8 lbs. of Roswell, NM. For Holguin it was his first time going the six round distance. Although he was pressured by Herrera much of the bout, he looked strong and made an impressive showing. Herrera was content to fight in spurts, which was not a smart strategy against a foe that was fighting three minutes of every round. Herrera’s best rounds were the fifth and sixth when he had his best offensive moments. However Holguin was up to the task, answering Herrera with his own counter attacks.
Both boxers would switch from orthodox to southpaw and back again throughout the fight. In the sixth round Holguin was credited with a knockdown when Herrera clearly tripped over his rival’s foot. Scores of 59-54 and 60-53 (2) resulted in a unanimous decision for Holguin. The sinewy Holguin likes to throw in bunches and is always in good shape. He appears to be ready to test the deeper waters in the 130 pound division. Herrera is strong and possesses a solid chin, but is going nowhere unless he starts throwing more punches. On defense he’s content to cover up, never moving his hands.
In the evenings third bout between “Duke City” boxers, Ambrocio Bautista (2-0-0) 164.4 lbs. won by UD over debuting Andrea Galarza. In comparison to the other bouts on the card this was a tame affair. But to be fair to Bautista and Galarza they showed a lot of composure for combatants with little pro experience. Bautista was the aggressor throwing the greater volume of punches, but with no particular urgency. Galarza had a decent left jab, but failed to throw anything off it. Scores of 40-36 (twice) and 39-37 resulted in a unanimous decision for the undefeated Bautista.
In the evenings second bout, Jose Osorio (4-2-1, 2 KO’s) 128 lbs. of Albuquerque won by UD over debuting Guillermo Alvarez 126 lbs. of Albuquerque. On paper this looked like a slaughter, but apparently Alvarez didn’t read that particular piece of paper. Osorio is a promising prospect who has been in against difficult competition. He likes to throw hooks and uppercuts off his punishing left jab. In the opening round that is exactly what he did. Alvarez was dropped by an uppercut at the end of the round. But instead of folding, Alvarez answered the second with new found determination.
This would be the type of action fans were treated to for six action packed rounds. Osorio landed some nasty combinations, including punishing left hooks to the body, looking to end matters early the entire fight. The second half of the fight when it appeared Alvarez was finished, he would respond with solid left hooks of his own. He also threw combinations with serious intent. But Osorio fights well off the ropes, making him a dangerous foe. All three judges had identical scores of 60-53 to the winner Osorio. Osorio is someone to keep an eye on. The commission allowed the bout to be scheduled for six rounds based on Alvarez’s experience in MMA
In the evenings opening bout Ron Baca (4-2-1, 1 KO) 271.8 lbs. of Gallup, NM won by UD over Manuel Otero (2-6-0, 1 KO) 224.12 lbs. of Peralta, NM. Baca opened the fight behind a nice left jab and body punching. Otero appeared rusty from a three year layoff but was in shape. He had success with right hands to the head throughout the entire fight. Both boxers displayed solid defensive skills, to go along with their offense. Although neither boxer was in danger of going down, the fight was fought at a fast clip.
Score cards of 40-36 and 39-37 (twice) all for the winner Baca, by unanimous decision. Baca was 14 pounds lighter than his last fight and it showed. He was faster on his feet and threw combinations to the head and body. Having followed his career, this was the best I’ve seen him look. Baca has a fight scheduled for September 5th at the Buffalo Thunder Casino. I would expect Otero to be much sharper next time out, having worked the ring rust off in this fight.
This was an excellent card well run by Martin Narro, who filled in for promoter Joe Chavez who was hospitalized. Traveling to the weigh in the previous day, Chavez stopped his car when he became dizzy. Opening the driver’s side door, he passed out hitting his head hard on the ground. Let’s wish Joe Chavez a speedy recovery.
I felt Jose Torres looked drained at the previous day’s weigh in and looked tired at times during the fight. He has looked strong in the past fighting at 147 pounds and might want to consider returning to that division. Both Alex Holguin and Jose Osorio look ready to step up in class based on their showing Saturday night. Ronnie Baca is carrying a lot of weight on his 5’ 11” frame, but if he continues to drop pounds he could be an interesting story in the heavyweight division.
Let’s not forget the new WBC USNBC title holder, Cameron Krael, who gave an outstanding display of boxing skills. I don’t know who he’s been fighting, but he looks like he could be the total package. If he can repeat Saturday night’s performance in his home town of Las Vegas, watch out!
NOTE: I’d like to thank Franklin Romero of the Cibola Beacon for his photos that accompanied this story.