With no live action during a Holiday season boxing fans have to be content to observe verbal and legal jabs thrown between camp Mayweather and camp Pacquiao in the media. I will leave that story to the big boys in hopes that it will work itself out and fans will get to see much anticipated showdown on March 13th in Las Vegas.
Last Sunday, WBC Legends of Boxing hosted a toy drive to help underprivileged children during a difficult holiday season. Many from local boxing community showed up at Baja Bar and Grill to extend a helping hand with toy’s and money donations.
Local favorite, super bantamweight champion, Israel Vasquez, who is just as nice and humble outside the ring as he is ferocious inside, was on hand to donate his time and money for the event. A beautiful team Vasquez jacket was raffled off during the party that featured live music and a delicious buffet. El Magnifico is scheduled to meet his rival Rafael Marquez for battle number four on May, 22nd at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. Their last meeting in March of 2008 that took place in Home Depot Center was a brilliant bloodbath that left most people in the arena breathless and won a distinction of being a fight of the year for 2008. Both brave warriors left everything they had in the ring that memorable night. And despite the fact that I am happy they will get a chance for a big pay day, headlining a show at the Staples Center, I am worried about their health inside the squared circle on May 22nd.
Most likely to win the trainer of the year award for the third time this year, Freddie Roach was presented with an honorary WBC belt for past and present accomplishments. Supervisor Rudy Tellez read a letter addressed to Freddie Roach from WBC president, Jose Suleiman: “You have the ability to stay humble and work hard. For all that you have accomplished, the WBC presents this honorary belt to you. You are the true example of humble and kindness. I appoint you as an honorary ambassador,”
After being in the corner of yet another prized student, a local undefeated prospect, Vanes Martirosyan, on Saturday evening, coach Roach flew back to Los Angeles on Sunday to be at the WBC event and promptly donated a thousand dollars to support the toy drive. Being an ex boxer has allowed him to connect with his fighters on a very intimate level. That plus his humility and an intricate knowledge of the fight game is what turned him into one very special trainer. Aside from his most prized student Manny Pacquiao, Roach led his new pupil Amir Khan through a very successful year that included a destruction of ring great Marco Antonio Barrera and winning a light welterweight title by beating a very seasoned Andrei Kotelnik.
But let’s leave the champions alone for a while and take a look at Freddie’s prospects. After leaving Freddie in 2008 and spending a year in Houston under tutelage of Ronnie Shields, 2004 US Olympian Vanes Martirosyan came back home to train with Roach in 2009 and looked nothing short of spectacular. According to Freddie, Vanes is ready for big fights. Ironically Vanes has been telling me for the last nine months that he wants to fight the most feared fighter Paul “The Punisher” Williams. But before he can get to the really big fights, Vanes is scheduled to face a seasoned, if may be a little too long in a tooth , veteran Kassim Ouma on January 16th in Las Vegas, less than a month removed from his three round destruction of veteran Willie Lee in Youngstown, Ohio. I expect great things from Vanes this year.
Another prospect that has been spotted training at the famous Wild Card Boxing Club under the watchful eye of Roach is a two time Olympic gold medalist from Cuba, Guillermo Rigondeaux.” I haven’t been so excited about a fighter since Manny Pacquiao!” said Roach about his new charge after they did a mitts work out. With over three hundred amateur fights to his credit and Freddie Roach behind him, Rigondeaux is poised to burst onto a professional boxing scene in 2010. In the ring Guillermo is a combination of Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, blazing offence and flawless defense. He is the one to watch.
Last but not least, Roach has recently signed an amateur standout from Arizona Jose Benavides. Jose and his father moved out here to Hollywood to work with Freddie. Young and muscular lightweight has been holding his own sparring with Amir Khan and helped Timothy Bradley to get ready for a bout with Lamont Peterson. Jose is fast and throws hard accurate combinations in the ring. Watch for him to turn professional in 2010.
There is one more prospect, light middleweight Shawn Porter, who is not being trained by Roach, but who is worth mentioning for the future and who was Pacquiao’s chief sparring partner in preparation for a fight with Cotto. I have never seen young Porter in the ring and was very surprised to hear reports from Philippines that he was giving Manny all he could handle in sparring. I have finally seen the 22 year old in the squared circle in December on Show Box the New Generation demolishing another undefeated prospect, Jamar Patterson in four rounds. Despite being short for a light middleweight, Porter is a special fighter with speed, skills and power that would be very hard beat.
My favorite fight of this year was a February showdown between Juan Manuel Marquez and Juan Baby Bull Diaz. The violent and dynamic action throughout and dramatic and sudden conclusion has left thousand fans in attendance in Houston in awe of the sweet science. Nobody wanted to leave the arena after the fight and many fans and media stayed up all night talking about it, knowing they witnessed boxing history.
Happy New Year and all the best wishes. May 2010 bring you all the two fisted action you would like to see.