By Austin Killeen Ringside Photos by Lori Pina – (click on picture to enlarge)
Once again Pat Holmes Sr. had a sellout card at Buffalo Thunder Resorts and Casino. This makes it eleven sellouts in a row, in an evening of entertaining bouts. My prefight write up indicated just the opposite, I was wrong; the fights delivered solid entertainment. If you’ve never been to the Buffalo Thunder it’s a beautiful venue to see a fight. There are large screens on each wall allowing anyone, regardless of seating, a good view of the bouts. Between fights highlights of the previous bout are displayed, helping to answer any question about a low blow, knockdown or any other infraction that resulted in controversy. In summary, you usually don’t find the amenities in a fight club that you find at Buffalo Thunder.
In the main event of the evening, Brandon Holmes (10-0-0, 6 KO’s) 132.6 lbs. of Santa Fe, NM won by UD over Gene Perez (1-8-1) 131.9 lbs. of Belen, NM. This was a rematch of a bout they had last fall. It would also be Holmes’ last fight due to personal commitments. It has been my experience that when a fighter announces in advance of his fight that it will be his last, bad things can and will happen. Holmes has always entered the ring in excellent shape and last night was no exception. But there is a big difference between physical and mental shape and mental shape is not visible.
At the opening bell Perez flew across the ring and started throwing accurate punches to the head and body. Holmes seemed to be caught off guard and was slow to respond. He is the stronger, harder puncher, but only if he is fighting back. The smaller Perez was like a gnat swarming around a big dog; annoying. In the second round Holmes started to respond, even when his punches failed to land cleanly they moved Perez. But the little gnat was not discouraged, continuing to annoy his opponent on the inside. In the third round Holmes landed the more effective punches, but the pesky Perez refused to be discouraged responding with volume punches. Perez was on a mission and Holmes was now bleeding from the nose. Holmes opened the fourth round in dominating fashion, forcing Perez to retreat to a neutral corner. Scoring with some power shots to the head, the hometown hero was looking to go home early. But instead of firing away Holmes looked for a clean opening allowing Perez to retaliate with his rat-tat-tat offense. The round probably belonged to Holmes, but he was allowing Perez the opportunity to fight back; and he was at every opportunity. Perez appeared to be the busier fighter in the fifth stanza, while Holmes was content to fight off the ropes. Holmes has impressive defensive skills with his back to the ropes, but against a smaller fighter that strategy won’t pay dividends.
In the final round Perez roared out of his corner only to walk into a short right hand that dropped him for a mandatory eight count. Jumping up the Belen fighter didn’t appear to be hurt and appeared to outwork Holmes the rest of the round; a view that two judges seemed to share with me. At the final bell both boxers had bloody noses, testament to an all out effort on the part of both men. The fans had seen an entertaining contest and showed their appreciation with a thunderous ovation. Judges Esther Lopez and Chris Tellez had scores of 59-54 while Juan Nunez scored it 60-53 all for the winner Brandon Holmes. I felt the bout was closer but the right fighter won. If this proves to be the last bout on the part of Holmes I wish him good luck in his future. He was an excellent boxer, always in top shape, had a solid defense, packed a punch and gave value for the dollar. He’ll be missed if his decision is final.
In the semi-final Antonio Martinez (7-2- 4, 5 KO’s) 152 lbs of Espanola, NM won by UD over Brian Castillo (0-3-0,) El Paso TX. Martinez agreed to move up in weight so he could have a fight on Saturday. This almost proved to be a fatal mistake on the part of Martinez, when he found himself on the canvas compliments of a straight left hand to the chin. More surprised than hurt, the Espanola boxer played it safe for the rest of the round. In the second round Martinez put on a clinic in the art of body punching, landing some marrow draining shots to the rib cage of Castillo. He continued this in rounds three and four, while his opponent could do little more than hang on. All three judges had identical scores of 38-37 in favor of Martinez. Martinez showed a great deal of maturity in not panicking and slowly working himself back into the fight. For Martinez it was his eighth straight fight without a loss.
In the evening’s fourth bout, Bryant McClain (3-0- 0, 1 KO) 164.4 lbs. of Rio Rancho, NM won by UD over Jordan Gregory (0-2-0) 166 lbs. of Albuquerque, NM. Neither boxer has a deep background in the sport, as a result threw a lot of arm punches. As they gain more experience they’ll be better able to sit down on their punches, thus generating more power. I gave the opening round to Gregory due to cleaner punches and better defense, but it was McClain who forced the action. The Albuquerque boxer quickly tired, allowing McClain to take control of the contest the last three rounds. One thing McClain did do well was hide the fact that he was tired at times. McClain would fold his arms up similar to the peek-a-boo defense; was he fatigued or looking for an opening? Judges Esther Lopez and Juan Nunez had scores of 40-36 while Chris Tellez scored it 39-37 all for the winner Bryant McClain.
The evening’s third bout was a three round exhibition using 16 oz. gloves.
In the evening’s second bout Alex Holguin (10-1-0, 6 KO’s) 130.6 lbs. of Albuquerque, NM won by UD over Aaron Martinez (3-1-0, 2 KO’s) 128 lbs. of Santa Domingo Pueblo, NM. From the opening moments of the fight I was surprised by the number of times both boxers switched from orthodox to southpaw and back again. Holguin started landing clean shots to the head from either side forcing the confused Martinez to retreat. In the second round Martinez landed a clean right hand, but otherwise the round belonged to Holguin who was landing solid blows to both the head and body. One thing was clearly evident; Martinez has a chin. Little changed in the third round except that most of Martinez’s success was from the orthodox stance.
The final round was Martinez’s best as he landed several solid blows to the head of Holguin. Unfortunately the Native American seemed to lose his balance and the “Duke City” boxer dropped him with a right cross. The verdict was 40-35 on all three cards for a unanimous decision win for Holquin. I was impressed with the skills of Holguin as a southpaw and thought that I’ve never seen him look better. This could be a breakout year for the Albuquerque fighter. I also liked what I saw from Martinez, he has a solid chin and can punch. He showed great determination when he realized he lacked his opponent’s skill level by forcing the pace in the hopes of landing a lucky punch. If Martinez can improve his skills, and I see no reason why he can’t, he will only get better. This was an entertaining fight.
Isidro Castillo Jr. (3-0-0, 2 KO) 150.7 lbs. of Hobbs, NM won by TKO over Derek Perez (0-5-0) 149.7 lbs. of Belen, NM. Castillo’s lack of experience caused him to get involved in a shootout with the unorthodox style of Perez. I’ve seen Castillo’s other two pro fights and know he’s usually a smooth operator. He took a lot of punishment and often lunged at his rival when trying to land his own power punches. This was a great action round for the fans and could have gone either way on the judges’ score cards. The sign of a good fighter is how fast he can make adjustments and Castillo is a good fighter. In the second round it didn’t take long for Castillo to find the head of Perez with a straight right hand, sending him to the canvas. Rising on unsteady legs he was quickly victimized by some brutal body shots, sending him to the canvas again. Referee Ray Chavez had seen enough and stopped the contest at 1:11 of the second round. Castillo is a sharp young fighter; I would be surprised if he makes the same mistake again, that he did in the first round. Perez like his brother Gene has more potential than his record would indicate. I would love to see the Perez brothers headline a card in their hometown of Belen.
All in all it was a much better card than I anticipated, in particular the rematch between Holmes and Gene Perez. There were three bouts that were worthy of being called fight of the night, something you can’t say every time you attend a boxing card. Pat Holmes Sr. keeps putting 2,000 fans in the seats at the Buffalo Thunder, so he’s figured something out.