By Austin Killeen Ringside
If you believe in a sure thing you might change your mind after the main event favorites at Buffalo Thunder and Clovis, NM both suffered upset defeats Saturday evening. One bout was the result of a gritty performance by a live underdog; the other bout was the result of a freak accident. Regardless how they happened, Antonio Martinez and Elijio Sena both suffered disappointing setbacks on their way to apparent victories. Both boxers are frustrated by the unexpected endings, but can do little about it until the next time they enter the ring. In speaking with Martinez and Sena, I got the impression they’d like to get in the ring tomorrow. But like a bad itch they’d like to scratch, know they just have to sit and wait.
PART I: Buffalo Thunder Casino, NM
In the main event scheduled for 6 rounds, Gabriel Rodriguez (4-1-0) 136.2 lbs., of El Paso, TX won by MD over Antonio Martinez (9-4-4, 6 KO’s) 135.6 lbs., of Espanola, NM. The opening round was a feeling out process fought mostly at long range, which seemed to favor Martinez. Rodriguez, a southpaw, elected to run from Martinez who was the aggressor. But there is a big difference between aggressiveness and effective aggressiveness and that would play a major role in the final verdict. The second round was similar to the opening round with a little more action. Once again I favored Martinez in a very close round.
In the third round both boxers landed overhand shots but could not score with combinations. Rodriguez had some success with his hit and run tactics. The fourth round favored Rodriguez due to switching his attack from head to body to head again. In a fight between an orthodox boxer and a southpaw it’s difficult to land jabs, but Martinez was successful with his left. The fifth round clearly belonged to Rodriguez with his successful hit and run tactics. Martinez failed to cut off the ring allowing his opponent to utilize his superior speed. The sixth round featured more talking between them then actual fighting. Both boxers were guilty of leaving this round up to the judges, instead of fighting with any real urgency.
You could feel the tension at mid ring while the boxers waited for the verdict. Judges Ester Lopez and Mark Sanchez both scored the bout 58-56 for Rodriguez, while Judge Sandy Martinez-Pino had the bout even 57-57. Both Martinez and his trainer Pat Holmes were visibly upset by the verdict and as expected Rodriguez was elated. This was a very difficult fight to score, but the judges were not influenced by the pro Martinez crowd.
Post fight I asked Rodriguez why he fought from the outside. He replied, “Louie Burke and I knew he had power and that I had to stay away from it. So the plan was to stick and move.” When I asked Rodriguez about the swelling under his left eye he gave credit to Martinez. “Martinez has a good overhand right and I felt it when it landed.”
Needless to say Martinez was disappointed in the outcome, but was a gentleman in giving me some time. “I’m a little bet upset about not getting the win; I felt I controlled the whole fight. I don’t agree with the judge’s decision, but once it’s done it’s done.” I didn’t mention this to Martinez, but when I spoke with Louie Burke he mentioned there could be a second fight. It doesn’t take a mind reader to know that Martinez would be happy with that possibility.
The other five bouts on the card were scheduled of 4 rounds.
Leanna Martinez (3-0-0, 2 KO’s) 110.7 lbs., of Espanola, NM won by TKO over debuting Karina Solares 116.3 lbs., of Albuquerque, NM. I’ve seen all of Martinez’s fights and I’m impressed with the improvement I see each time she enters the ring. Giving away both height and reach to her much taller opponent, Martinez used timing to score with an excellent left jab. Each round she increased the pressure, making it very uncomfortable for Solares. Solares does have a good chin and was game to the end. Referee Ray Chavez was forced to halt the contest at 1:55 of round two to save Solares from unnecessary punishment.
In the fourth bout of the evening between debuting boxers, Maurice Jackson 174.9 lbs of Albuquerque, NM won by TKO over Mark Jimenez 172.2 lbs., of Santa Fe, NM. Prior to the fight Jackson said he was going to press the action like his hero Marvin Hagler. When the opening bell rang Jackson proved he could walk the walk not just talk. I can see why Jackson likes Hagler; he looks like him and is a southpaw. He clearly captured the 1st round because of his aggressiveness, but Jimenez caught my eye with his ability to slip punches to the head. In the second round Jackson switched his attack to the body landing some hard shots. Jimenez scored with some nice uppercuts to discourage Jackson’s infighting. In the third round Jackson continued to press the action and his body attack was paying dividends. Referee Tony Zaino had seen enough and halted the contest in favor of Jackson. The time of the stoppage was not given. I was impressed by Jackson, as he showed controlled aggression and didn’t fight with reckless abandon. Jimenez showed some skills and if he adds a jab to his arsenal should see a big improvement in his next bout.
In the third bout between debuting boxers, Loreto Olivas 156.3 lbs., of Santa Fe, NM won by KO over Jake McClain, 159 lbs. of Rio Rancho, NM. McClain is the son of former cruiserweight champion Sean McClain and brother of boxer Bryant McClain. That’s a lot of excessive baggage to carry into the ring, because people have higher expectations of you. McClain was winning the opening round behind an effective left jab, when he walked into a right hand to the head. Suddenly McClain was on floor and Olivas had just scored the first knockdown of his career. The second round was a repeat of the first except this time McClain couldn’t beat the count. Time of the KO was 35 seconds of round 2. I’m sure Olivas will be in demand as he gave a solid performance. Offensively McClain look ok but he can’t afford to carry his hands low. If he can tighten up his defense he’ll do better next time out.
In the second bout of the evening between debuting boxers, Steve Garcia 144 lbs., of Albuquerque, NM won by TKO over Marcus Rodriguez 143.3 lbs., of El Paso, TX. In the opening round Garcia carried the fight to Rodriguez behind a nice left jab. I was impressed with his ability to hook off his jab which resulted in two knockdowns causing referee Zaino to halt the contest at 1:38 seconds of the first round. Cage fighters often have difficulty with power due to the difference in foot placement between the cage and a boxing ring. That certainly doesn’t apply to Garcia as he can punch with some power.
In the opening bout of the night Aaron Martinez (5-1-0, 3 KO’s) 131.9 lbs., of Santa Fe, NM won by MD over Everado Lopez (1-2-0) 131.2 lbs., of Albuquerque, NM. This was an awkward fight between a southpaw, Aaron Martinez, and a right hander Lopez. Despite tripping over each other’s lead foot, both boxers were aggressive. Martinez took the first round behind a nice right jab and overhand lefts. The second belonged to Lopez behind overhand rights to the head of Martinez. The final two rounds both boxers were willing to take chances, but I felt Martinez was more successful switching his attack from head to body. Judge Mark Sanchez scored the contest 38-38, but was overruled by Ester Lopez and Sandy Martinez-Pino who scored the bout 39-37 for Martinez. Martinez said he would like to drop down in weight and I agree with him. Lopez fought well and I’d like to see him in action again.
Patrick Holmes and Ray Zamora were honored by the New Mexico Boxing Hall of Fame for their years of contributions to the boxing community in the “Land of Enchantment.”
PART II: Clovis, NM
I was not in attendance at the Curry County Event Center on Saturday night and had to rely on eye witnesses who were in attendance. All contests were scheduled for 4 rounds
In the Main event at heavyweight, Eduardo Silva (1-1-0, 1 KO) of Belen, NM won by TKO over Elijio Sena (2-1-1, 1 KO) of Clovis, NM. In the opening seconds of the fight, Silva backed Sena into the ropes. Sena got off the ropes and backed Silva into the center of the ring before retreating to create space. At this point his leg gave out from under him, causing him to fall to the canvas. Sena was unable to support his body weight on the injured leg and the contest was over. By phone Sena told me his knee was twice its normal size and very painful. He commented “All I can do is sit around with my leg up and think about last night. If things don’t improve in the next 24 hours, I’ll probably need surgery.” Sena has an upbeat personality and said he’ll just have to deal with it.
In the semi-final at 200 lbs., Rico Urquizo (3-4-2, 1 KO) Clovis, NM won by UD over Omar Acosta (1-2-0) of Herford, TX.
At 126 lbs. Aaron (Angel Boy) Perez (2-0-0, 2 KO) of Albuquerque won by TKO 1 over Michael Petersen (0-1-0) of Clovis, NM.
At 140 lbs. debuting Rudy Montenegro of Amarillo, TX and Derek Perez (1-8-1, 1 KO) of Belen, NM fought to a draw.
VOICES FROM THE CORNER: After the fights at Buffalo Thunder I was surprised to see heavyweight Cody East palling around with Manuel Eastman. In 2015 Eastman scored an upset first round knockout over East. Both boxers looked to be in excellent shape and are interested in getting back in the ring. East would love to get a bout with Ron Baca who he was supposed to fight last year. That would be a tough match as Baca is the top heavyweight in the state. The pride of Gallup, NM has only lost three times in 15 bouts. The majority of Baca’s wins have come against boxers with winning records. If Elijio Sena recovers from his injury, how about Sena, Baca, East and Eastman in a box off to see who is #1.