By Felipe Leon
If you were to drop a quarter right on the border between San Diego, CA, and Tijuana, Mex, and mapped out a 25-mile radius, I believe you would have difficulty to do that anywhere else in the world and find more former champions, world class ranked fighters and up and coming prospects than in this boxing rich chunk of the globe. It is understandable that Tijuana would be shock full of boxing hopefuls as it sits right across the border from the land of plenty. What is surprising is that in the city on the other side of the most crossed border in the world with over one million commuters a day going from one side to the other, you will find a couple of professional fighters ranked high up in the world rankings. With that said, I offer a new series on Fightnews where notes and news of the San Diego/Tijuana boxing scene will be shared with the rest of the world.
WBC light welterweight champion Erik “Terrible” Morales (52-7, 36KOs) will make a quick stop in his hometown of Tijuana on Thursday before embarking to Houston, Texas, early next week for his first defense of his title versus undefeated youngster Danny “Swift” Garcia (22-0, 14KOs) on Saturday, March 14th, at the Reliant Arena. The bout will headline the HBO broadcast with light middleweight James Kirkland facing Carlos Molina in the support bout. Morales has been Otomi Ceremonial Training Center for the better part of six weeks, just like he has done for roughly the last fifteen years or so. Morales will continue his training through out the weekend at the Zona Norte boxing gym that saw him grow.
In other Morales news, super flyweight Ivan “Niño Maravilla” Morales (16-0, 11KOs), the southpaw younger brother of Erik and Diego “Pelucho” Morales, is scheduled to make his U.S. debut on the under card of Morales-Garcia. No news of how many rounds or who the opponent might be but the younger Morales has been training alongside his legendary brother in the mountains of southern Mexico.
When Yuriorkis Gamboa did not attend the two press conferences last week to announce his slated contest versus former lightweight champ Brandon Rios, one that made it clear that he would be more than happy to fill the Cuban’s slot on April 14th was San Diego based 135 lbs. contender Mercito “No Mercy” Gesta (24-0-1, 12KOs). Gesta is scheduled to return in the under card of the proposed Rios-Gamboa fight card and is hard at work in the gym. Despite being almost a month out from fight night, Gesta is already sparring ten rounds with rotating partners featherweight Aaron Garcia and junior welterweights Emilio Bojorquez and Adrian Vargas. One new addition to the team, at least in the United States, is Gesta’s father Anecito who made the trek all the way from Cebu City, Philippines, to help trainer and co-manager Vince Parra get the twenty-four year old southpaw ready for his fight showing of 2012. Mr. Gesta, a renowned kick boxer back on the islands, was the man to first teach Mercito the art of self-defense. No opponent has been set for “No Mercy” although feelers are out there for a good challenge for the lightweight sensation.
With current WBC lightweight champion Antonio DeMarco (26-2-1, 19KOs) heading home to Los Mochis, Sinaloa, from his home base of Tijuana, to defend his title against “Mickey” Roman (37-9, 28KOs), many of his gym mates will be joining him including light welterweights Juan Pablo “CheChe” Lopez (20-1, 18KOs), Antonio “Cañitas” Lozada Jr. (25-1, 22KOs) and super featherweight Adan “Speedy” Mares (1-0, 1KO), the brother of former champ Abner Mares. All training out of the CREA gym, the Wild Card Gym of the south, by Romulo Quirarte and his sons. One fight that is heating up is Lozada Jr.’s versus Daniel Valenzuela (22-11-1, 11KOs) of nearby Sonora. After Valenzuela publicly stated that he looked at the twenty-one year old Lozada Jr. as a kid and he planned to play with him, Lozada Jr. responded with, “there is always fighters who like to talk and the worst thing you can do is listen to them. Almost always they finish knocked out and apologizing. Let’s see if Valenzuela doesn’t get embarrassed when this ‘kid’ sends him to the canvas and knocks him out. He is going to have to apologize.”
After his hard fought draw versus Teon Kennedy last January on ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights”, world ranked super bantamweight Christopher “SD Kid” Martin (23-1-3, 6KOs) said last Friday at the local fight card that Top Rank had not contacted him for his next fight but was suspecting that something might be in the pipeline soon. Martin, a correctional officer by day, is a regular at any fight card in San Diego where he cut his teeth for almost his whole career.
Two CREA fighters who are skipping the Los Mochis show for bigger game is southpaw lightweight Marvin “Cachorro” Quintero and bantamweight David “Morita” De La Mora. The hard hitting Quintero (24-3, 20KOs) originally of Culiacan, Sinaloa, but living in Tijuana for many years, will be traveling all the way to the Philippines in mid-April to face Al Sabaupan (18-0, 13KOs) in an IBF eliminator for the #1 ranking. The winner will be the mandatory challenger for Miguel “Titere” Vazquez, who holds the IBF 135 lbs. strap. Sabaupan might be over his head since he hasn’t faced nearly the same level of opposition as the tested Quintero. The biggest name on Sabaupan’s ledger is Josafat Perez while Quintero has exchanged leather with the likes of Nick Casal, Wes Ferguson and Juan Santiago, beaten them all.
The once beaten De La Mora (24-1, 17KOs) will face the tough Anselmo “Chemito” Moreno (32-1-1, 11KOs) of Panama in El Paso, Texas, on April 21st. The night will mark the second world title challenge by De La Mora. Last year he traveled to Japan to face Koki Kameda in a contest where the Tijuana fighter came up short. Now he will face a bona fide world-class fighter who has beaten big names like Nehomar Cermeno twice, Lorenzo Parra and Vic Darchinyan.
For more news, notes and info on the San Diego/Tijuana boxing scene, please follow me on twitter @SDFights.