By Austin Killeen Photos by Marissa Perez (click on picture to enlarge)
Legacy Boxing Promotions dedicated Saturday’s card to the brave men and woman of the military who have made personal sacrifices, so we may enjoy the freedoms we often take for granted. In front of a near capacity crowd, the local favorites were tested to their limits. All seven matches proved to be entertaining, sending the spectator’s home happy. Contests that might have appeared questionable on paper proved to be very competitive on canvas. Undefeated Jason Sanchez must have thought he was fighting a red wood tree in the main event. Undefeated Brian Mendoza was, well Brian Mendoza. Undefeated Mathew Griego answered the doubters with an excellent performance. The often used expression “The fans got their money’s worth” definitely applied on this particular evening.
In the main event scheduled for 6 rounds, Jason “El Alacrancito” Sanchez (11-0-0, 6 KO’s) 128.8 lbs., Albuquerque won by UD over Stephon McIntyre (3-36-4, 1 KO) 130 lbs., Jonesboro, GA. Sanchez flew out of his corner at the opening bell with one thought in mind, get home early. Apparently McIntyre had other plans because he seemed to like it just fine at ring center. Sanchez unloaded an avalanche of leather on his rival’s body that would have dropped most steers. But McIntyre was more like an antelope, blocking and slipping many of the blows. With a smile on his face, McIntyre would respond with a couple of jabs and dance away. This would continue for five more rounds, leaving Sanchez to wonder what he had to do to even score a knockdown. McIntyre’s durability should have come as no surprise to anyone familiar with his record. He had gone the distance with Jose Osorio and Angelo Leo in previous bouts. I doubt if more than a handful of the audience believed this would go the distance, but it did. Judges Ester Lopez and Anthony Romero scored the contest 60-54; Judge Sandy Pino had a score of 59-55. Don’t judge McIntyre by his win/loss record, he trains himself and finds corner men when he gets to his next assignment. He is one tough customer!
In the semi-final, Brian “La Bala” Mendoza (16-0-0, 11 K0’s) 146 lbs., Albuquerque TKO’d John David Charles (9-13-0, 1 KO) 145.8 lbs., Corpus Christi, TX. Charles, a southpaw, surprised me by aggressively attacking Mendoza behind a strong right jab and overhand lefts. Mendoza is highly regarded for a reason, using a tight defense to effectively block most of Charles’ attack. In the second round Mendoza started to bring out the heavy artillery, dropping his game opponent with a brutal right to the body just before the bell. Two more body shots early in the third round, resulted in knockdowns, causing referee Rocky Burke to halt the bout at 40 seconds of the round. Mendoza is ready to face a real challenge.
In the fifth bout of the evening, Mathew “Diamond Boy” Griego (8-0-0, 7 KO’s) 115.6 lbs., Albuquerque won by TKO over Alejandro Moreno (24-37-3, 11 KO’s) 115 lbs., Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. This was a big step up in competition for Griego, with many questioning if he was ready. In the opening round both boxers were cautious looking for openings. The round was close due to Moreno’s surprising aggressiveness. In the second round Griego started landing some jabs to his opponent’s head. Moreno fired back with combinations, leaving fans to wonder who was supposed to be the slugger. Griego ended the round on a positive note when he landed a hard left hook to the body that hurt Moreno. Round three proved to be the biggest round of Griego’s career. Working off his jab he was able to force Moreno to the ropes, landing some beautiful combinations to the head and body.
When the bell sounded for the fourth round, Moreno’s corner halted the contest feeling their boxer was taking too much punishment. This has to be the defining moment of Griego’s career, as he showed patience forcing his rival to be the aggressor. When he started to land some clean shots in the second, he remained calm not going crazy as in the past. Griego proved he is ready to face stiffer competition, as he can box or punch and displayed nice defensive moves.
In the forth bout of the evening, Cristian Cabral (8-1-1, 4 KO’s) 150 lbs., won by UD over Tavorus Teague (3-17-2, 2 KO’s) 148.8 lbs., Bakersfield, CA. Forget Teague’s record, this young man came to fight. The first three rounds were very close, with both men throwing hard left jabs to get inside. Once there, both fighters landed some heavy shots to the body. When trapped on the ropes both fighters displayed nice spin moves to escape to the center of the ring. Cabral seemed to find a second wind in the final three rounds to take command. Both men continued to fight on the inside, but Cabral always seemed to land the final punch. Judges Ester Lopez and Anthony Romero scored the contest 59-55, while Sandy Pino had a score of 58-56, for the winner by unanimous decision Cristian Cabral. I’ve seen most of Cabral’s fights and I’ve never seen him look better. He was in outstanding condition.
In the third bout of the evening, Matthew “Papitas” Esquibel (10-0-0, 5 KO’s) 146.2 lbs., won by KO over Christopher Russell (3-20-1, 2 KO’s) 148 lbs., Shattuck, OK. Esquibel turned pro in 2006 but has had two long layoffs of five and four years. With one bout in nine years, Esquibel might have been a little rusty. Early in the opening round Russell landed an overhand right to the jaw of Esquibel who went down hard. Rising on unsteady legs Esquibel was given a close look by referee Burke before being allowed to continue. Russell continued to pummel Esquibel who still appeared to be hurt. Once again the hometown favorite hit the canvas, but it was ruled a slip by Referee Burke. Going in for the finish Russell walked into a brutal left hook to the head and it was lights out for the Oklahoma boxer. Time of the knockout was 2:12 of the first round. This clearly is the round of the year and the fans loved it.
In the second bout of the evening, Ronnie Baca (2-0-1, 1 KO) 145.8 lbs., won by MD over Anthony Hill (1-24-0) 146.6 lbs., Fort Worth, TX. This contest was a lot like the Griego/Moreno bout, with the hometown boy facing a stern test against a skilled defensive boxer. In the opening round both fighters were tentative, but Baca landed some jabs from long range. The second round was much like the first but Hill picked up his offense, scoring out of a low crouch. Hill had his best round in the third, slipping under Baca’s attack and countering. The lanky Baca once again surprised me with his ability to fight on the inside in round four. This clearly was his best round of the fight, scoring with combinations while smothering Hill’s offense. Judge Ester Lopez scored the contest 39-37 and Sandy Pino had it 40-36 both for Baca, while Anthony Romero saw it even 38-38 making Baca the winner by majority decision. Baca will travel to Florida for his next fight in a couple of weeks.
Jordanne Garcia (2-0-0) 154.2 lbs., Albuquerque won by UD over Katie Ramirez (0-2-1) 145.6 lbs., Bosque Farms, NM. This was a solid matchup between two tough ladies. But size matters and Garcia appeared to have a big weight advantage after both girls rehydrated. Garcia is well grounded in the basics due to an extensive amateur career. The same does not apply for Ramirez, who is learning on the job. Additionally, Garcia was coming down in weight, while Ramirez was moving up a division. This isn’t intended to diminish Garcia’s victory as she fought a smart fight. Utilizing her strength advantage, Garcia crowed Ramirez the entire fight. When Ramirez fired back, her punches lacked the power to hold her more experienced rival off.
Judge Anthony Romero scored the bout 40-36, while Ester Lopez and Sandy Pino both had scores of 39-37, resulting in a unanimous decision for Garcia. In the world of woman’s boxing it’s difficult to find opponents. Garcia has some talent and hopefully she can get the opportunity to showcase it. The gritty Garcia has been matched tough in all her fights. If she can be matched right, I think she will prove to be a dangerous opponent.