By: Daniel Castillo
A Father and his Son take in a fun night of boxing between San Diego and Tijuana fighters at Bobby D Presents, “Border Wars II.”
This past Friday, July 25, I took my 14 year old son, a huge boxing fan, to his first live boxing match at the Crown Plaza Hotel in San Diego for “Borders War II,” presented by legendary local boxing promoter Bobby DePhilippis.
Like any boxing fan, we were anticipating an exciting night of boxing, and quite honestly the event exceeded our expectations. We arrived well before the first fight and the atmosphere at the place was in full swing, with a DJ playing energetic music in the background, food and beverage vendors working hard to satisfy the fans and a photograph area in the lobby where fighters and ring girls were taking pictures with excited fight fans.
By 7:30pm, the venue was practically full, and I was pleasantly surprised to see so many families attending the event despite the fact that Comic-Con seemed to be taking over the San Diego region. The one thing that stood out to me the most was that Bobby D Presents gave local boxing fans an exciting atmosphere that was family-friendly for all ages and live boxing featuring some of the region’s most popular fighters.
The first fight of the night featured Norberto Pantaleon (0-2-2) fighting out of Oceanside, CA by way of Morelos, Mexico, against 24 year old San Diego native Riccy “The Hammer” Hood (1-0), in a 4-round lightweight category bout. The fight got off to an intense start with both fighters exchanging punches immediately after the bell.
Hood had a slight advantage over Pantaleon in the first round, scoring the more effective punches and displaying better speed. In the second part of the round, the tides turned as Pantaleon was able to catch Hood with a straight right that put him down to the canvas. Hood managed to recover but was visibly stunned, allowing Pantaleon to take full advantage. The punishment being dished out by Pantaleon was fast and furious and was capsized with a combination of left hooks and straight rights that knocked out Hood in minute 1:58 of the first round.
The second bout continued promptly in a bout that featured 29 year old Georgia native, Gabriel Braxton (1-3) against featherweight “Smokin” Joe Perez (4-1-1) in a 4-round super bantamweight category bout. Like the first fight, the fighters came out of their corners in a hurry and began trading punches in the center of the ring giving the fans an exciting start to the fight. Braxton landed straight right hands and power left hooks to the head of Perez early, and followed up with good three-punch combinations. The onslaught from Braxton was impressive, however, it did not seem to bother Perez, who answered back with big overhand rights and shots to the body. The late push for Perez was too little too late, as it appeared that Braxton took the round.
In round two, Perez landed a big left hook early and followed up with a straight right to the chin, stunning Braxton, who then answered with an overhand right and several hard body shots. Sensing he may have been behind on the scorecards, Perez closed the round with an upper cut and two solid left hooks that may have stolen the round for Perez.
In round three things picked up as Perez went after Braxton, landing two vicious left hooks to the body, taking command of the fight and applying relentless pressure on Braxton. Braxton who was visibly worn down, appeared to be in survival mode as Perez landed a flurry of punches. Braxton was unable to respond and like a true warrior he gutted it out until his corner made the smart decision to throw in the towel at 1:51 in the second round.
The third fight featured Ivan “El Oso” Zavala (6-6-1) from Tijuana, Mexico vs. Viktor Chernous (15-1), from Vinitza, Ukraine, in a 6-round lightweight bout. The first round started slow as both fighters were feeling each other out. Zavala threw a handful of combinations and an overhand right that were unable to find their target. Conversely, Chernous chose to establish his jab and pick his spots for throwing his power punches. The first round ended with minimal action, however, both men seemed to learn something from one another.
In round two, Zavala continued to throw combinations and landed a big left hook to the body that got Chernous’s attention. After feeling Zavala’s power, Chernous opened up his arsenal and started throwing one-two combinations on target and with conviction. The back-and-forth in round two was entertaining and it began to feel like the judges would have their work cut out for them.
In the middle rounds of the fight, the pace continued with both fighters landing nice combinations, however, neither fighter was able to truly take advantage and make their presence known. Chernous continued to stalk Zavala and use his jab while Zavala threw more combinations throughout the fight. As the final bell rang, both fighters raised their hands and the decision went to the judges. As expected, the decision was going to be close and the judges scored a split draw.
The Main Event of the night featured Daniel “Huracan” Ramirez (10-1) from Tijuana, Mexico vs. Aaron “Gavilan” Garcia (14-3-2) from Vista, CA for the vacant California State Super Featherweight Title. Garcia, being a local San Diego fighter, was a crowd favorite and was treated to a loud ovation from the crowd as he made his way into the ring. The response was overwhelming and proved that San Diego boxing is in fact alive and well. In the other corner, Ramirez had a large contingent of supporters from Mexico who made their presence known, including myself a native of Tijuana. For me, a diehard boxing fan, Tijuana-native and current resident in San Diego, this fight was what boxing in Southern California was all about. And to have my son with me, enjoying the action and allowing me to teach him the sweet science, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a Friday night.
The first round kicked off to an evenly-matched and explosive start as both fighters landed good power shots that caused the rival fans to get into the action. Garcia landed left hooks at will and vicious body shots, while Ramirez landed straight rights and hooks from both hands. With the round coming to a close, it appeared that Garcia was ahead.
The intensity in round two increased as both fighters planted their feet in the middle of the ring and went toe to toe like true warriors. The fighters chose to exchange power shots and Garcia continued to land a solid left hook to the head and a vicious hook to the body that stunned Ramirez. Like a true Mexican fighter, Ramirez did not back down and began throwing punches at will. Late in the round, Ramirez landed a powerful three-punch combination that stunned and hurt Garcia, all but sealing the round for Ramirez.
Garcia began the third round by landing his signature left hook, which Ramirez couldn’t seem to shake. Garcia continued to use his left hook to control the round before a dramatic flurry of punches at the end of the round brought the crowd to its feet. The exchange was violent and Ramirez seemed to get the best out of the exchange, stunning Garcia and cutting him over the left eye with a big right hand. The round came to a close with Ramirez looking to be ahead.
In the fourth round, the fighters engage in another ferocious exchange that saw Garcia taking significant punishment from Ramirez, who appeared to be aiming for the cut above Garcia’s eye. As expected, Garcia shows courage standing toe to toe with Ramirez, before going down from a straight right. The crowd let out a roar as Garcia went to the mat and cheers as he managed to get back to his feet. Garcia tried to regain his composure, however, Ramirez immediately goes after him and unloads right and left power shots upstairs that were simply too much to handle. The fight ended in minute 1:02 of the fourth round, as Mexico-native, Daniel “Huracan” Ramirez took home the vacant California Featherweight belt across border to his hometown of Tijuana.
It was an excellent night of boxing with exciting fights and a great family-friendly atmosphere. It is good to see that San Diego boxing is alive and well and that the legendary history of Mexican boxing tradition is still strong. I am already looking forward to the next Bobby D Presents card, which is slated for Thursday, September 4 at the Crowne Point Plaza.
Most importantly, for me, as a boxing fan and father, it was special to enjoy the night with my son. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree with my son as he truly enjoys the sport and had been asking me for months to take him to a local gym. I now know that after this exciting night, he will be cornering and putting me against the ropes until I do so.
Special thanks to Bobby D Presents and Felipe Leon for allowing us to be part of this special night. You can follow Bobby D Presents on Twitter @BobbyDPresents, Facebook https://www.facebook.com/#!/bobbyd.presents?fref=ts and get your tickets for their next event on September 4, 2014 from the Crowne Point Hotel at http://www.sandiegofights.com