By Austin Killeen Ringside Photos by Austin Killeen – (click on picture to enlarge)
On June 5, 1967 I attended a fight card at Mechanics Hall in Worcester, Massachusetts. By the time I entered the grimy building, legendary promoter Sam Silverman was looking for substitutes for his substitutes to keep his show alive. In desperation he had to put a debuting boxer in the eight round main event to keep the show afloat. Amazingly this four bout card turned into an entertaining evening of boxing. Friday night he must have been smiling down on promoter Isidro Castillo, because only he could appreciate what Castillo had to do to present his card at the Lea County Events Center in Hobbs, New Mexico. Like Silverman’s card fifty years ago, the local promoter had turned stale water into superior wine. Although the entire show encompassed only twelve rounds of boxing, fans were talking animatedly about an entertaining evening of boxing as they exited the venue.
In the main event of the evening, Gerardo Quintana (6-1-1, 3 KO’s) 172.4 lbs. of Hobbs, NM won by MD over Cesar Zamarripa (0-1-0) 174 lbs. of El Paso, TX. This bout is an early entry for fight of the year, as every round was loaded with non-stop, power loaded punches by both combatants. In the opening round I was surprised by the heavy hands of Zamarripa, who is a cage fighter. My experience with MMA fighters in a boxing ring, is that they have a great deal of poise but don’t sit down on their punches. In the cage their legs are targets, therefore they have to be on the balls of their feet to prevent being taken down. That’s a habit that’s hard to break in a boxing ring after years of training for the MMA. If the El Paso boxer continues to appear in the ring, he will definitely be scoring some KO’s.
In the opening round Quintana unloaded on the El Paso import with bad intentions. He was landing to the head and body, backing his rival up. But instead of folding like the deck chairs on a cruise ship, Zamarripa answered with his own offense. It was clear that his punches hurt and the hometown boy realized that this was going to be a long night. I favored Quintana in this round, but it was close. In the second round Zamarripa appeared to outwork Quintana, and his punches were thrown with bad intentions. Quintana didn’t panic, but instead fired back in an attempt to regain control. By now it was evident that Zamarripa had a chin and it wasn’t made out of china. Also left jabs were optional in this contest and neither boxer was interested in throwing one. In the third round it was obvious this was a battle of attrition, with neither boxer willing to submit. Also as action packed as this fight was, both boxers had solid defenses and not fighting recklessly. They took turns trying to break through each other’s guard, but not sufficiently enough to gain control. It’s important to point out; these were close, difficult rounds to score. I didn’t envy the job of the judges.
Sensing the fight was close; both boxers poured it on in the final round. Both boxers gave new meaning to the expression toe-to-toe exchanges. Zamarripa appeared to be the aggressor, but where each judge was sitting might have resulted in differing viewpoints. At the final bell, fans were standing in a show of appreciation to both fighters for a terrific contest.
When the decision was announced it appeared the fight could have three possible outcomes. Judge Ester Lopez scored the contest 38-38, but was overruled by judges Anthony Romero and Juan Nunez, who had identical scores of 39-37 for Quintana. I would say that I got my monies worth, but I didn’t have to pay to get in. this was a terrific fight on a card with some solid bouts.
In the semi-final, Isidro Castillo Jr. (4-0-0, 3 KO) 165.8 lbs of Hobbs, NM won by TKO over Ryan Colwell, 168.6 (0-1-0,) Albuquerque, NM. Castillo gave a workmanlike performance in breaking down his game opponent. Surprisingly Colwell opened the 1st round attacking Castillo, but the Hobbs boxer used a tight defense to easily block most of the punches. He quickly took control driving Colwell into the ropes. Castillo seemingly couldn’t miss, throwing clean hard punches to the head and body. This prompted Colwell’s corner to throw in the towel at 1:35 of the round. Taking the microphone after the fight, Castillo acknowledged Colwell for taking the bout on one days notice. Then he asked the audience to give his opponent a hand for his game effort. Many fighters would have used that time to talk about how great they were. I’ve seen all of Castillo’s pro bouts, although none of his opponents would be classified a monster, he’s always looked composed. I like what I’ve seen from the Hobbs fighter so far.
In the evenings second bout, Desmond Hill (1-0-0, 1 KO) 175.2 lbs., of Odessa, TX won by KO Joe Reyes (0-1-0) 174 lbs., of El Paso, TX. Both boxers were in great shape, but Hill clearly had the superior skills. The first half of the opening round was spirited, and then Hill took charge behind a strong left jab. He appeared to hurt his opponent with a hard right hand just before the bell. In the second round Hill was the hunter, scoring with punishing blows to the head and body of his rival. Reyes was fighting back, but getting hit a lot in an effort to land his own offense. In the third round it was just a matter of time before left to the body dropped the game Reyes. He remained on the canvas long after referee David Rios stopped his count. The official time of the KO was 1:40 of the round.
In the evening’s opening bout, Richard “Rico” Urquizo (2-4-2, 1 KO) 169 lbs., of Clovis, NM fought a Draw with Jordan Gregory (0-2-1) 165.8 lbs., of Albuquerque, NM. This was an interesting contest with a lot of action and little clinching. I first saw Urquizo fight five years ago, and felt he had a great deal of potential. Unfortunately, over the years I’ve witnessed him enter the ring out of shape. Friday night the 2012 Urquizo was back, in shape and ready to fight. I’ve seen all of Gregory’s bouts, he’s game but inexperienced. On Friday night an improved version of Gregory was on display and fans witnessed a surprisingly entertaining contest.
As in his last fight Gregory started fast behind volume arm punching. The more experienced Urquizo was landing with the harder shots to the head and body and clearly was the more polished looking combatant. I favored Gregory in a very close round. In the second round Urquizo started slipping punches and countering with a solid blow to the body each time. Gregory was finding it difficult to hit the moving head of his opponent and exposing himself to counter punching. The third was a repeat of the second round with Gregory looking tired. Although he was more economical in his punching, Urquizo was landing with a higher connect rate. In the final round the tired Gregory, for lack of a better description just sucked it up, throwing more punches. Each time Urquizo would land a solid punch, and there were many, he would back away. When ring announcer Abel Arriaga sorted the score cards in his hands, spectators realized they had seen a surprisingly good fight. Judge Juan Nunez had Gregory the winner 39-37 while Judge Anthony Romero saw the contest 39-37 for Urquizo. Judge Esther Lopez had the fight 38-38, resulting in a draw. If Gregory continues to improve, he will soon break the win column. The 2012 version of Urquizo is back and that’s good news for the fans of the Cloves boxer.
Urquizo/Gregory set the bar high and the remaining contests were fought at that same high level or higher. Promoter Isidro Castillo, Sr. may have had a major headache in the days leading up to this fight, but like the great Sam Silverman, he delivered!