By Felipe Leon
Photos: Renzo Novara
A touching and emotive tribute to Tijuana legend Gaspar “Indio” Ortega was the highlight last Saturday night at the Municipal Auditorium where promoter and Ortega’s nephew, Joe Vargas and his promotional outfit V&B Promotions, presented and eleven bout fight card headlined by the return of San Diego welterweight Rafael Ramirez (18-4-2, 4KOs) after a six year hiatus win an easy win over Alejandro Alonso (2-17-2, 1KO) of Tijuana over six rounds.
Back in the ring, Ramirez easy controlled the action with an educated jab followed with a stiff right hand that would get through Alonso’s high guard. Ramirez, at one point one of the sparring partners for Floyd Mayweather Jr. for the pound for pound king’s fight with Oscar De La Hoya, last stepped in the ring in October of ’06 in his hometown of San Diego with a split decision win over Francisco Maldonado.
Alonso had his moments, going to the body of Ramirez, but the San Diego fighter was just too fleet-footed and was able to slip the body attack with a couple of steps back. Ramirez seemed to hurt his hand at the end of the fifth but went for broke in the last round scoring left hooks to the body and then to the head trying to hurt Alonso but the Tijuana fighter’s experienced was enough to help him weather the late storm. Ramirez took the landslide decision with scores of 60-54 three times.
“I felt good in there, a little rusty but I know in a couple of fights I will be in good form,” Ramirez said immediately after the fight. “I am going to work my way back to light welterweight, get my hand checked and then go from there.”
“Indio” Ortega Gets Crowned
Born a couple of hundred miles east of Tijuana in Mexicali in 1935, Gaspar “Indio” Ortega made his way to the seaside city together with his family to look for a better life. He found it a little after his seventeenth birthday when after being discovered by an American scout, he found himself on a cross-country bus to New York City with five dollars and three quarters in his pocket and as he shared, “a bag full of tacos my mother made me.”
In New York City, Ortega became a darling of the then budding medium of television when he was the star attraction in numerous telecasts in the 50’s and 60’s as well as headlining over twenty events at the famed mecca of boxing, Madison Square Garden.
Since Tijuana was the city in which Ortega, known for his toughness and come forward style, learned his craft, it was only fitting that V&B Promotions would be the one to honor the fighter with an honorary WBC green gold and belt, presented by supervisor Rudy Tellez and international recognized judge Benjamin Rendon, with which the boxing council named him a welterweight champion.
Mr. Ortega challenged for the world title once in 1961 succumbing to the late Emile Griffith in twelve rounds. Gaspar “Indio” Ortega finished his illustrious career with an outstanding ledger of 131-39-6, 69KOs.
De Alba Stops Hernandez
Tijuana featherweight southpaw Jorge “Tremendo” de Alba (10-0-1, 8KOs) returned home after a couple of fights outside of Tijuana to make quick work of Jose Hernandez (0-1), also of Tijuana, finishing him off with hard body shots at the 2:19 of the second round.
It was all de Alba at the onset of the scheduled six rounds with combinations to the body and head that hurt Hernandez early. Surprisingly, the inexperienced Hernandez made it to the second round but only to get more of the same, de Alba easily scoring while Hernandez looked for a corner to hide. He didn’t find it as de Alba, with former two-time bantamweight champion Raul “Jibaro” Perez in his corner, went after the soft body of Hernandez and scored enough punches to force referee Juan Morales Lee to stop the fight. Official time was 2:19.
Castillo Walks Away with Tough Earned Majority Decision
Julio “Niño” Castillo (2-1) had a tough night but came out with a win with a majority decision over Tijuana’s Marino Cañete (1-4) in a super bantamweight four. Castillo, also of Tijuana, looked hesitant in the first as he Cañete made his play with straight punches from the outside. Cañete looked content in trying to score with one punch at a time but was not landing enough. His strategy began to work in the second as the slightly taller Cañete, with his left hand low, allowed Castillo to score in bursts when he would get in close.
Castillo kept going to the head in close quarters, landing wide punches to the head as Cañete attempted his version of the shoulder roll. It seemed effective at times but Castillo was still able to get in. Cañete had success counterpunching the shorter fighter as he would come in or as he was going out of the close quarters but seemingly not enough for two out of the three judges. Diana De La Mora and Brenda Lopez scored it for Castillo 39-37 each while Jesus Gonzalez saw it an even 38-38.
“Chaky” Sandoval Gets First Win
Mini flyweight Victor “Chaky” Sandoval (1-0, 1KO) made his first pro outing a good one as he stopped in impressive fashion Javier Felix (0-4), both of Tijuana, in the second round of a scheduled four.
Sandoval, a well-known local amateur whose aggressive style looked better for the pro ranks, proved to be ready for the smaller gloves as he gave no quarter in the first round and went after his prey with abandon. Felix was not to be left behind as he stood in the pocket with Sandoval as the crowd roared in appreciation as both young men, Sandoval a teenager at the tender age of sixteen, traded leather in an act of attrition. Sandoval’s punches got there quicker and harder as Felix buckled a couple of times but kept his ground.
Felix toughness only lasted until the forty-five second of the second as Sandoval kept the assault and forced referee Christian Curiel to stop the action, slightly early in the opinion of many at ringside.
Twenty-seven year old San Diego super welter Guillermo Castillo (1-0) struggled but earned his first win in a much closer fight that the scores reflected with Juan Carlos “Zurdo” Moreno (0-4) of Tijuana. It didn’t help that Moreno was deducted a point for an intentional head butt. Diana De La Mora saw it 39-36 while both Brenda Lopez and Jesus Gonzalez scored it 40-35.
After suffering a devastating knock out loss in his last fight, San Diego flyweight Jose Toribio (3-1, 1KO) got back on the saddle and in the win column with a unanimous decision over Carlos Lopez (0-6) of Tijuana. Scores were 40-36 three times.
Antonio Margarito’s latest pet project, light flyweight Abraham “Choko” Rodriguez (3-0, 2KO) looked impressive by stopping via a brutal left hook to the body Norberto Espinoza (0-4), both of Tijuana. Official time was forty-seven seconds of the first round scheduled for four.
First timer Sergio “Diamante” Ramirez (1-0) looked exactly that but was able to stop Roberto Nuñez (0-1), both of Tijuana, with a barrage of punches in the second round of a super featherweight four. Ramirez was wild and amateurish but scored enough for the third man in the ring, Christian Curiel, to stop the fight slightly too soon at the 2:17 mark of the second.
Featherweight Christian “Chimpa” Gonzalez (1-0, 1KO) of Buena Park, CA, traveled a couple of hours south to stop Alfredo Echeverria (1-3, 1KO) of Ensenada, MX, forty-one seconds into the first round of a scheduled four.
Danny Ramirez, a light welterweight from Norwalk, CA, earned his second knockout in as many fights by stopping Ignacio Mondragon (0-16) at the fifty-seven mark of the first. Mondragon went to the canvas twice, the second time from a left hook to the chin.
Tijuana bantamweight Christian Nieto (2-0, 1KO) took a hard fought over fellow Tijuana fighter Felipe Reyes (0-3) with a unanimous decision. Scores were 39-37 twice and 40-36.