By David Robinett at ringside
Before his fight Thursday night against Travis Walker at the Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino in Lemoore, California, heavyweight Manuel Quezada acknowledged the significance of the bout and the difficulty of his assignment. “By far he [Walker] is the biggest challenge I’ve had,” said Quezada. “It’s the type of high-profile fight I need to get me to world championship level.” Aside from defending his WBC Caribbean Heavyweight title (which oddly always seems contested in California), Quezada was on the cusp of his first top-10 sanctioning body ranking, currently ranked #11 by the WBC. Quezada seemed unfazed however and eager for the fight, promising “I will not let my fans down at Tachi.”
Photos: Jan Sanders/Goosen Tutor
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Turns out Quezada was more than up to the challenge, knocking out the fighter known as “Freight Train” at 2:57 of the first round, with what were essentially his only two punches of the fight.
Walker, whose only two losses in his previous 34 fights were a controversial referee’s stoppage against T.J. Wilson in 2007 and a third-round knockout at the hands of undefeated Cristobal Arreola last November, controlled the action early. Walker repeatedly pumped a stiff jab at the notoriously slow starting Quezada, who spent the bulk of the first round either eating Walker’s left hand or trying to catch it with his gloves. In fact, aside from a few half-hearted attempts with his own jab, Quezada did not appear to have a single connect until, with seconds remaining in the round, he unloaded a seemingly routine straight left, right hand combination that shockingly floored Walker. Referee Jon Schorle immediately waved the fight over and just like that Quezada won the biggest fight of his career.
“I was surprised he went down, I was just trying to finish the round,” said Quezada, with perhaps the understatement of the night. For his part Walker seemed more shocked than hurt, standing in his corner for several seconds after the fight just looking into the crowd.
While it could be that Quezada’s left hand is deceptively powerful, more likely Walker seems to have contracted that unexplainable fragility familiar to heavyweights who have suffered hard knockouts in their previous fight, such as Michael Grant, Oleg Maskaev, and Vladimir Klitschko. However, while Walker is an imposing offensive fighter he is not the same caliber as those three so it remains to be seen if he can salvage his career despite his suddenly glass chin.
With the win, Quezada improves to 28-4, 18 KOs, and likely gains entry into the WBC top ten, while Walker falls to a frustrating 31-3-1, 25 KOs.
Dallas Blows Through Rios!
Junior welterweight prospect Mike Dallas, Jr., (9-0-1, 2 KOs), made quick work of Francisco Rios, (10-10, 6 KOs), scoring two knockdowns before referee Marcos Rosales jumped in to rescue Rios at 2:41 of the first round.
Dallas, a patient boxer-puncher not known for his power, was aggressive from the start, alternating his left jab with lead left hooks and combinations against Rios, who did not fare well under the pressure. During one of Dallas’s sustained attacks, a left hook followed by a straight right hand dropped Rios for the first time midway through the round. Rios appeared to go down more from the steady pressure than from the force of the punches, and appeared on steady legs when he rose. However Dallas dropped Rios again about a minute later with a right hook that sent Rios reeling along ropes, followed by another right hook to body that put Rios down. Rios beat the count a second time, but looked badly shaken, and after Dallas unloaded three unanswered right hands when action resumed, the referee jump in to wave the fight over.
Ragin’ Rakoczy Rips Mohs!
In a six-round women’s lightweight bout, Jessica “Ragin” Rakoczy, (31-3, 11 KOs), continued her return to form following a year off due to pregnancy and the birth of her son with an easy third-round stoppage victory over Jessica Mohs, (7-21-2, 2 KOs).
The fight itself was uneventful as Rakoczy controlled the action from the center of the ring, strafing Mohs with jabs and straight right hands as Mohs dutifully followed her around. On a couple of occasions Mohs would close the distance and let her hands go, but Rakoczy was easily able to re-establish her distance and continue peppering Mohs with the one-two.
Rakoczy started to sit down on her two-punch combinations midway through round two and into round three, and with Mohs not appearing to be able to avoid being hit or mount any serious counterattack, Mohs’ corner signaled to referee Jon Schorle to stop the fight at 1:13 of the round.
Ramos Rolls Past Beltran
Promising youngster Rico Ramos (11-0, 7 KOs) remained unbeaten with an easy stoppage over journeyman Juan Jose Beltran, (19-14-3, 11 KOs), when the corner indicated their fighter could not continue between rounds three and four in a scheduled six-round featherweight bout.
In his short career Ramos has shown a diverse attack and a knack for controlling the action regardless of his opponent’s style. Ramos has performed well as the aggressor and when needing to fight more patiently to let the action come to him. This fight was no different as Ramos adapted to the aggressive style of Beltran with a steady jab at first before dropping down to the body with both hands later in the fight.
Early on the fight appeared competitive as Beltran kept the youngster on his heels the first two rounds and was able to cover up effectively when Ramos tried to lead or counter with combinations to the head. However towards the end of round two Ramos began to unleash stinging hooks to both sides of the body, which appeared to open Beltran up for a dizzying array of combinations by the quick-handed Ramos. By the end of round three Beltran was simply overwhelmed by Ramos, unable to get his punches off in the face of Ramos’s attack. With Beltran’s face swollen and Ramos getting stronger, Beltran’s corner decided to call it a night for their fighter.
Alatorre Gets the Nod over Favela!
Local fighter and once-promising junior welterweight Hector Alatorre snapped a six-fight losing streak with a questionable unanimous decision over gatekeeper Christian Favela, 59-55, 58-56, 58-56 in a six-round contest. Most of the press ringside believed Favela, (17-20-6, 10 KOs), earned a close victory or at worst a draw with his accurate punching and ring generalship, but the judges apparently favored the flashier Alatorre, (16-8, 5 KOs).
Alatorre, who at one time was a 14-0 prospect, fought Favela in a style comparable to Roy Jones Jr., though of course at a much lower skill level, constantly shifting his upper body from side to side, switching stances, and leaping in with lead left and right hooks before darting back out. However the experienced Favela, who retired the great Willie Jorrin and drew with former lightweight contender Efren Hinojosa, appeared to adapt quickly after a shaky first round, often catching Alatorre coming in, particularly with a left hook to the body that gave Alatorre problems throughout the fight.
Favela’s confidence grew as Alatorre’s unorthodox style became easier to predict, pecking away at Alatorre with the jab during lulls in the action then stepping to the side and countering when Alatorre jumped in. Favela fought the last half of the fight backing up, appearing to coax Alatorre forward where he could pick him off. In the final round even Favela appeared to believe he had the fight won, dancing away from Alatorre over the last minute. Unfortunately, the judges sided with the hometown fighter, giving Alatorre only his second win in his last ten fights.
In the evening’s opening bout, Adrian Tait, (4-1-1, 2 KOs), pulled away over the last two rounds from a game Joshua Zurfluh, (1-6-1, 0 KOs), to take unanimous decision in a four-round welterweight bout. All three judges scoring the bout 40-36, although Zurfluh fought evenly with Tait early, scoring several times with his straight right hand until the busier Tait wore him down and cruised in rounds three and four.
The dual boxing and mixed martial arts card was promoted by Goossen Tutor Promotions.