Who was seen at “Friday Night Fights”?
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SoCal boxing fans are lucky ones indeed. There’s always live boxing to be found where you’ll see some of the best prospects, contenders and champions punching their way to the top.
Last week’s ESPN “Friday Night Fights” show at Pechanga Resort and Casino offered the crowd six bouts presented by Goossen Tutor Promotions. Tickets sold fast. And during the week of the fight, fans were really scrambling to get a hold of a coveted ticket to Pechanga Boxing’s first event of the year.
You’ll find my reports of the main event’s Chris Arreola vs. Joey Abell and all the undercard action in previous columns. So this one is dedicated to a few of the behind-the-scenes players in the game as the “Chatter Box” had some time between bouts to catch up with some familiar faces in boxing. Here’s the scoop with some exclusive pics from the fight night!
When I first entered the hallway leading into the Pechanga Ballroom I ran right into our ring card girl pal, Paula Fernandez. It would be hard to miss the statuesque beauty. Sporting a hot pink and aqua blue bikini, she and her trio of ring girls were putting the finishing touches on before entering the arena. I’ve seen Paula at various shows and she is always a true professional. She mentioned that her friend Christina’s company “Got Galz” is the team that provided the ring card girls for this night’s show. Joining Paula were Kathleen Montes and Vanessa Franco; later in the night the threesome really got the audience cheering between rounds.
I then saw manager Jackie Kallen. Part of the famed Kronk Gym team from her early years in Detroit, this “First Lady of Boxing” remains just as passionate about the sweet science as ever. She has a knack for finding good young talent and, most importantly, has the backbone to survive and succeed in this male-dominated sport too. Jackie, wearing a “Silent Assassin” shirt, was excited and full of energy when I greeted her. One of her prizefighters was the co-feature on this night, Mike Dallas Jr. The 24-year-old, whose grandfather was recently ill, was putting his unbeaten record on the line to face Josesito Lopez for the NABF Light Welter crown. Also with Kallen were several Dallas supporters and fellow fighters, including amateur boxer Zachary Wohlman. While the evening didn’t exactly go the way Team Dallas had hoped for, the camp says Mike will be back stronger than ever.
With action-packed bouts taking place during the event, those in the venue witnessed a knockout night on the canvas.
One Goossen Tutor boxer who also came out to show support for his stablemates was John Molina Jr. The Covina favorite and his cornerman Javier Adame walked over to say hello in a break in the action. The WBO NABO Lightweight is beginning 2011 with a lot of new and exciting plans. His current camp says Molina may be fighting next month and that he’s now training with Mario “Yuca” Morales in Whittier. But the biggest news is that Johnny is now engaged. Check out his gorgeous fiancée, Neda. Molina is used to “boxing rings”…but as you can see in this glittering “rock” on Neda’s hand, the power puncher did real good in the wedding ring department too!
Also out of the Goossen stable and in attendance was Stan Martyniouk, boxer and 2008 Olympian Javier Molina, former WBC Bantamweight Champion Wayne McCullough, baseball legend Pete Rose, former MLB pitcher Mark Gubicza, trainer (and father of “Sugar” Shane) Jack Mosley, “Lights Out” actor Holt McCallany, among many other celebrity guests at ringside.
During the post-fight press conference, I saw some of the youngest supporters and fresh faces in boxing as well. Little Danae Arreola, 8, was having a blast after watching her father, Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola’s latest heavyweight victory. “Awesome!” was her answer when asked what she thought of the main event. I also met young Max and Drew from the Goossen team. The two boys fit right in the boxing scene; and the teens said they had a great time during the show.
Next up was a chat with a Team Estrada member, former boxer Arnulfo Bravo. He is manager and cornerman to Shawn Estrada, a former Olympian now known as “Manos de Oro,” complete with the pair of gold gloves he laces up in. Shawn, barely breaking a sweat, scored a first-round knockout to keep his perfect undefeated streak going.
“We knew that Shawn was gonna come out and be aggressive,” Bravo told me. “We wanted to set up everything off the jab; he can punch with both hands. Next we’re gonna step up the opposition.”
“How are his hands?” I ask after the brief hiatus earlier in his pro career due to a hand injury.
“His hands are 100% fine,” his manager confirms. “No problems.”
“So when is he gonna fight next?”
“Hopefully next month! We want to get some good opponents and go to the next level; not fight guys who get dropped at the touch, that won’t help him,” Bravo candidly admits . “He needs to learn and get experience. Some say he’s ‘sloppy’ and just goes head hunting, but he’s got good body work and is an all-around fighter.”
“What score would you give him in this fight, scale of one to ten?” I inquire next.
“I give it a 6. Only because I know Shawn real well, back from the amateur days and I know what he can do!” nods Bravo. “He, himself, would probably say a 7. We expect the best and I know what he can do.”
As Shawn walked by, he joined his friends and family while celebrating another win. He had a beaming girl by his side in his pretty girlfriend Cristabel, who was very proud of Shawn’s KO victory.
Also supporting her own man was another gorgeous brunette, Tanya. It’s safe to say that her #1 boxer is Josesito Lopez, who scored a knockout win over the previously undefeated Mike Dallas Jr. in the co-main. After an accidental head butt early in the battle, Jose had a small cut that was bruising his forehead; but in his celebration, I don’t think he was feeling any pain.
“He got seven stitches, but he’s okay. He’s fine,” his longtime cutman “Indian” Willie Schunke told me today. “He’s been cut before but this was the deepest one so far. What I like about Jose in this fight was that there was a lot of blood but he just kept fighting on. He didn’t let it bother him one bit!” The camp says Jose is right on schedule to be in line for a title shot soon.
Lopez, in the same stable as Chris Arreola, gave his trainer Henry Ramirez (whose birthday was the next night) an early B-day present with the KO victory. And while his fellow Riverside fighter Arreola always gets a lion’s share of autograph and photo requests, on this night, I noticed that after the win, Jose had a huge swarm of new fans surrounding him.
And with this win, Lopez, co-promoted by Goossen Tutor Promotions and Thompson Boxing Promotions, has a beautiful brand new championship belt to wear into the ring. Although most of the males watching on said they would gladly give up the belt if they had his stunning girlfriend Tanya next to them!
For the courageous athletes that choose “prizefighting” as a profession, as they say “to the victor go the spoils.”
Congratulations to all the boxers that fought that night–and see you next time at the fights!
Photos by Michele Chong
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