Top Rank Live Brings a Mixed Bag to Maywood
By Gabriel Montoya, from (Feb 7, 2011) Special to Doghouse Boxing
I’d never been to the Maywood Activity Center in Maywood, CA but there I was, Saturday night, taking in the local color (a pleasing brown for the most part), enjoying the home made carnitas, a hot dog wrapped in bacon and a front row seat next to the always-entertaining Tecate girls. To my right was’s Francisco Salazar. My left was empty as the human shark Steve Kim never sits in his assigned seat. However, I was given with the pleasure of talking with former executive director of the California State Athletic Commission, Dean Louhis, who happened to be hanging out for old times’ sake. The man is a wealth of knowledge on fighters and matchmaking, carrying a small stack of cards, slightly bigger than 3” X 5”. On it, in writing only Louhis understands, were the records of every fighter on the card and significant stats. Where they are from, who they have fought, what punch knocked them down or out, where they have been cut. It was as comprehensive a collection of info as I have ever seen someone ringside possess.

“How long have you been doing that,” I asked.

“Oh, about 35-40 years,” Louhis replied.

I smiled and shook my head in amazement and settled in for a night at the local fights.

It’s one thing to experience a big Vegas fight. That has a flavor all its own, an unmistakable energy that places like Broadway or Wimbledon share. But once you have done it, it can get a little old, especially if the fight you are covering is a glorified, pay-per-view mismatch you know fans will ultimately grouse about rather than celebrate.

Local fights are like gyms; they have a familiarity to them, a sense of community you cannot duplicate anywhere, no matter how big the fight. I felt surrounded by family and not just because they were all brown like me. This was a boxing family from my favorite Tecate girl screaming at a fighter to let his hands go to laughing with writers at a corner yelling two differing sets of instructions in two languages to a fighter. Its places like this that are the reason boxing will never die.

The Maywood Activity Center is basically a community center with a peaked corrugated metal ceiling that was hidden by Top Rank and Fox Sport’s light rig. The room was set up with circular white tables and chairs as well as bleachers and some ringside seats. It was well-populated with a mostly Hispanic audience that all seemed to know each other either from local gyms or the local fight scene. Families were there as well as local vendors selling Tecate beer as well as the aforementioned and much-needed food, which was delicious, by the way.

The fights themselves were a mixture of entertaining, oddly entertaining, and flat-out “What the hell?!” boring. The card was supposed to have Gabino Saenz and Vanes Martirosyan, which would have boosted attendance (and in Saenz’s case, action), but for various reasons, neither made it on the card. Still, the action was pretty good to start the evening and comical enough later to call it a success.

In the opener, junior middleweight David Lopez, 3-4-3, of Idaho took a little while to get going, dropping the first two rounds on my card to Sao Paulo, Brazil’s Patrick Teixeira, 12-0 (10). Teixeira is a long, lanky kid who loops his right hand a bit much, is kind of slow and lacks snap in his punches. Think young Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. without the technique. Lopez seemed a little skinny to be in a physical type of fight; he is almost like Steven Luevano in that his body does look very fighter-esque. But like Luevano, Lopez can counterpunch and that he did, as the fight moved along. Lopez would move away and come back with a right jab or hook and a left cross and though the shots were neither pretty nor devastating, Lopez seemed more like the ring general as the fight went on. Over the last few rounds, Lopez seemed to open up late and score solid blows on Teixeira, who was going the distance in the US for the second time.

In the end, the surge of Lopez was not enough to get him a win over an undefeated fighter who may or may not develop into something worthwhile. The judges had it 58-56 for Lopez and 59-55 twice for Teixeira, a split decision. The majority of press row and the fans believed that Lopez won.

Next up was one of my favorite young fighters, heavyweight Andy Ruiz, 8-0 (6). He had his opponent Kelsey Arnold, 4-7-2 (1), hurting from moment one. Andy is a big kid at 257½ pounds. He’s not the tallest kid in the world and can stand to lose another 20 pounds but he is trained by Freddie Roach and has a nice arsenal of punches to go with a great work ethic. I know what you are saying. “How can someone 257 pounds have a nice work ethic?” Well, Andy has actually slimmed down quite a bit over the two years or so that he has been at the Wild Card. He went from a guy I was not sure of to a guy that blew my mind every time I would happen to run into him, looking slimmer than before.

The fight was a “He’s just doing his job kind of fight.” Ruiz went to work early, letting his fast hands go in combinations and hurting Arnold often. By round two, Arnold’s nose was bloody and he was falling all over the place from the hard body work and right hands of Ruiz. At the end of the round, Ruiz dropped two nice right hand bombs on Arnold, which bowled him into the ropes. Things got a little chippy as Arnold pushed at Ruiz on the break and Ruiz answered with a stiff jab that dropped him. It was not ruled as a knockdown by referee David Mendoza. I love the attitude from Ruiz. Don’t let the round shape fool you. Andy Ruiz is a fighter with a lot of potential.

In the third, Ruiz kept on Arnold, whose will seemed to be crumbling as shots rained in on him. Mendoza didn’t have to see much to know Arnold was not going to turn this fight around. It was either stop the fight or wait for a brutal knockout that may not come. The time was 2:19 of the third. I’ll be getting you a full feature on Andy Ruiz very soon.

Next up was Oscar Meza, 21-4 (17), who looked very good under trainer Joe Goossen in beating Leo Martinez, 15-15 (7), via unanimous decision. The scores of 80-72, 79-72, and 78-73 make it seem like a lopsided fight but it was actually very entertaining. Martinez came to win though early on, it seemed like Meza was going to steamroll him. Meza started out simply with the jab and right hand, then he added in an uppercut/right-hand combination. Next, Meza layered in nice body work to keep Martinez off balance and wondering where it would come from next. Meza is not fast or super powerful. He is, however, mindful of his defense, straight with his punches and able to adjust.

Martinez dropped the early rounds waiting for an opening on Meza. For his trouble, he ate a lot of leather and started to swell as a result. Martinez began to box and move more in the middle rounds. He didn’t get greedy but instead got off and got away. This forced Meza into a follow-around pattern that allowed Martinez back into the fight.

Meza went back to the body and in the seventh, scored a knockdown off a left hook to Martinez’s dome. A follow-up right and left helped the trip downward but it was the right that set things in motion. Martinez recovered well and even rallied a bit in the 12th. But in the end, even with one judge forgetting to deduct the point for the knockdown and incorrectly scoring 80-72 instead of 80-71, the judges got it right and gave Meza the decision.

The main event looked good on paper. Dyah Davis, 18-2-1 (9), looked like he made Francisco Sierra, 23-3-1 (21). There was a fair breeze on press row from all the missed right hands that Sierra insisted on throwing exactly the same way all night. When he threw the left hook or went to the body, Sierra seemed to land a bit. The best thing I can say he did all night was move forward. Davis was the boxer, moving away, jabbing to the target, not through it, but for the most part, boxing smart en route to what was surely an 8-2 win.

This brings me to the judges Marty Denkin, Fritz Werner, and Barry Druxman. I didn’t ask but all of them appeared rather old and all of them judged every fight. These are men who are supposed to be experienced, yet one of them missed a knockdown in the previous fight. And in this fight, both Druxman and Denkin scored the bout 95-95 while Werner scoring it right with 98-92 for Davis.

It should be noted that no one in the arena seemed to think this was a draw. One person walked over to press row and said, “This is why people don’t want to watch boxing anymore. When they do, stuff like this happens.”

We most likely will see these judges again. Denkin regularly judges big fights. There will most likely be no disciplinary action of any kind. After all, boxing is a subjective sport judged by three men and a crowd who have no say. The best a fighter who gets the sh*t end of a decision can hope for is that it’s written about and at least acknowledged.

Dyah Davis won that fight and the judges screwed him badly.

The death knell of the card was its last two non-TV bouts. The crowd was restless as they waited for the telecast to end. Usually the off-TV bouts can add energy. It’s generally some all-action prospects who are looking to bring it on a bigger than normal stage. Not on this night.

In a twin duel of feints, clinches and shots unfired, Raymond Chacon won his pro debut by outmuscling Manuel Machorro, 0-3, over four rounds that were painfully boring to watch. Machorro is a curious case, as in “How the hell did he get licensed for this fight?” He debuted in 2005 and got TKO’d in one round. He took five years off and returned only to get stopped in three brutal rounds in December of last year. Now here is cannon fodder for Chacon, totally unable to let his hands go and devoid of confidence or the knowledge of what to do to win. It was sad to watch as Chacon worked his way inside awkwardly on legs too far apart to generate power while Machorro backed to the ropes, tied up and generally feinted his way through the fight.

Rounding out the duel of bad fights was Jose Roman, 9-0 (7), flooring Johnny Frazier, 2-5-2 (3), in the first round only spend the rest of the fight in a staring contest that featured action in the last ten seconds of every round. I’ve heard of protecting a lead but doing it after a knockdown in the first? It was horrible to watch to people take zero chances to win. Roman won by unanimous decision.

All in all, it was not a groundbreaking or division-altering night at the fights but certainly an entertaining one. The best thing a promoter can hope is for first-timers to come to an event and say, “I’ll be back.”

Well, I’ll be back.

The Rounds

I thought Lateef Kayode looked very raw in beating Nick Iannuzzi. The guy is just damned stiff in the upper body. He is always in shape but what I would like to see is a more varied attack.

How sweet was it to see Bryan Vera pull off another upset? I kind of feel bad for Sergio Mora. Where does he go from here? I wonder if Golden Boy would throw him and Danny Jacobs together. I wouldn’t mind seeing Vera and Jacobs in a fight or two as “The Golden Child” gets acclimated to his new trainer, Freddie Roach.

I thought Luis Franco pulled out the win against Leonilo Miranda but it was close. Franco doesn’t have much pop but I think he learned a valuable lesson this week in how to box in spots and mix things up.

How about that Chris Chatman? Sure, Emanuel Augustus retired but now we have a new super underdog to root for in Chatman. I love his never-say-die attitude. If there was justice in the world, much less boxing, I’d give him that win. Hatley lost in drawing.

You are probably wondering where the mailbag is. Well, it’s on hiatus this week. Some of the emails came in late and I figured, “Why not document my first time at Maywood rather than do my old mailbag?” It shall return.

I’ll also have a Gary Russell Jr. interview as well as couple other things throughout the week like a trip to the L.A. Matadors gym and a piece on how the CSAC allowed Dennis Sharpe to get a license to fight next weekend, much less Mr. Machorro.

Have a great week, fight fans.

You can email Gabriel at, follow him on Twitter at and catch him on each Monday’s episode of “The Next Round” with Steve Kim or tune into hear him live on Thursdays at 5-8 PM PST when he co-hosts the BlogTalk radio show Gabriel is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

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