Fight Night at the Commerce Casino
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As 2009 is quickly coming to an end, Southland boxing fans got in their one last fix of live boxing as TKO Boxing Promotions
presented “Fight Night at the Commerce Casino
” in Commerce, California.
Taking place last night in the Ballroom at the Commerce Casino (the largest poker gaming facility in the world), the fighters went “all in,” leaving everything in the ring as rows of ticket holders and VIP tables took in all the action.
For over three hours, fight fans witnessed a night of several knockouts, two good performances by a pair of Russian brothers, and the blazing return of Edner “Cherry Bomb” Cherry.
Hosted by TKO President Chet Koerner, the Thursday night fights were also filmed for syndicated TV broadcast. TKO Boxing Promotions first garnered the attention of L.A. fight fans when they promoted a November charity boxing event featuring reality-TV stars, the Kardashian family.
During nine bouts showcased last night, the first five bouts all ended in knockouts. The sixth bout, between Russian amateur standout Fedor Chudinov (3-0, 2 KOs) and Cesar Ibarra (5-3, 2 KOs) was the crowd’s overall favorite of the evening. The back and forth battle between the young Russian and Ibarra, with the highly-regarded Fontana Boxing Gym in his corner, really caught the fans’ attention in a close, competitive match. The middleweights never let up, and after scoring a knockdown in the second round, Chudinov was awarded the decision with final scores announced of 39-36 twice and 40-35.
The next bout could surely be given the “most memorable” ring entrance award, in a scene straight out Disney’s “Lion King.” Sharif Bogere, who was accompanied by a live female singer in a very theatrical shiny outfit, made his way out of the dressing room wearing a lion’s head costume–complete with glaring eyes, a full row of snaggle teeth, and a furry lion skin covering his back. Was it a faux lion’s carcass? To the naked eye, the roaring fans were convinced it was very real, but I didn’t want to get close enough to find out. Wearing trunks to further perpetuate his lion’s prowess, Bogere (13-0, 7 KOs) faced off against Christian Favela (17-23-6, 10 KOs) in a six-round lightweight contest. The undefeated Sharif couldn’t quite pull the trigger to ever score a knockout, but still won all the judges’ opinions with scorecards reading 60-54 and 59-55 twice.
Next up was Edner Cherry (21-6-2, 13 KOs) in the co-main. This was the “Cherry Bomb’s” first time on the canvas since his loss to junior welterweight champ Timothy Bradley. Now fighting as a lightweight, Cherry wanted to prove he’s still the bomb. Dressed all in red from head to toe, the power puncher came out blazing like a man possessed. Fierce in landing power shot after power shot, there was no let up in three of the scheduled six rounds. On the receiving end of all this pugilistic angst, was the overwhelmed but full of heart, Jovann Jones (now 9-8, 4 KOs). After being knocked down in both the first and second stanzas, referee Ray Corona was forced to stop the carnage in round three. The “Cherry Bomb” is back!
In the main event, Leo Santa Cruz (12-0, 4 KOs) got a TKO over a game Los Mochis product, Juan Jose Beltran (19-16-3, 11 KOs). With Beltran’s face growing increasingly swollen and bright red with every solid punch landing, Lincoln Heights’ Santa Cruz finished his business with a convincing third round barrage of heavy hands to keep his unbeaten streak going.
Rounding out the rest of the undercard action were all knockdowns and knockouts: Joseph Elegele knocked down opponent Juan Carlos Diaz three times to score a final knockout in the very first stanza; Dmitry Chudinov needed just one round to beat Flavio Cardoza (after Cardoza was knocked down three times). Hastings Bwayla was victorious over pro debuting Anthony McDavitt, a scrappy Mohawked fighter, whose MMA-style won over the crowd, even after being knocked down in three rounds of action; and Ukrainian Ivan Redkach scoring an easy first-round KO over Napoleon Mathews. Opening the card was the pro debut of Fidel Maldonado, who needed just over a minute to knock out his foe Nicholaus Brannies.
In one of the very last shows of the year, TKO Boxing Promotions put on a rousing good show and now look forward to presenting more cards in 2010.
I caught up with Rob Garcia, an advisor to TKO Boxing Promotions, and a longtime member of the Golden Boy camp as Oscar De La Hoya’s conditioning coach.
Considering that there were two other shows (live boxing in Irvine and MMA at San Manuel) taking place on the same night, a good crowd showed up to enjoy all the action. “The fighters came out and there were a lot of gutsy performances, and some close matches,” Garcia says. “For our next show, we want to continue to bring the community out for more exciting boxing.”
Rob is currently also the trainer of boxer and MMA fighter KJ Noons and was previously the coach of UFC heavyweight champ Rico Rodriguez, boxing’s welterweight Francisco “Panchito” Bojado, ground-and-pound superstar Diego Sanchez, among many other warriors of the ring and cage. He was also asked by the Kardashians to train sexy tabloid celebrity Kim Kardashian for her ring debut that was promoted by TKO.
Working in both boxing and mixed martial arts keeps the popular trainer very busy in the whole fight game. “I worked six fights with Diego Sanchez, but with all of Oscar’s fights at the same time, Diego deserved to work with someone who could give him all the focus,” the likable Garcia explains.
Based out of the San Diego area, the respected trainer is already planning a busy new year. “KJ’s next fight will be on January 30, we’re waiting to hear the opponent and should find out today,” he says.
And he’ll continue to work with the guys at TKO as the trainer tells me, “Our next show is being planned for March.”
Also at last nights show were tons of boxing personalities including heavyweight Chris Arreola (coming off a recent Brian Minto victory in Atlantic City), Fernando Vargas (now a fight promoter), Sergio Mora (the newest face of Golden Boy), Peter Manfredo Jr. (a “Contender” favorite), fighters female boxer and Peruvian hero Kina Malpartida (who recently was victorious in a nearby Ontario venue), Charles Huerta (a Maywood gym standout), Aron Martinez, Tiger Smalls, Kaliesha West, Walter Sarnoi, trainers Tony Rivera and trainer Rudy Hernandez (brother of Genaro “Chicanito” Hernandez), and football player Daryl Boykin.
Photos by Michele Chong
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