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It was a galaxy of boxing stars attending Thompson Boxing Promotions private dinner show held Saturday night at the Doubletree Hotel in Orange, California.
In the intimate venue near Anaheim, this was the “Golden Ticket” SoCal fans coveted as only 400 attendees were given the opportunity to watch four live bouts (with seven out of the eight boxers putting their undefeated records on the line) after enjoying a Social Hour filled with Mariachi performers and a three-course dinner. Coming out to join the party were some of boxing’s best champions, contenders and celebrities including Kelly Pavlik, Mia St. John, Israel Vazquez, Daniel Ponce De Leon, Henry Tillman, Lamon Brewster and many more.
Presented by Promoter and TBP President Ken Thompson and General Manager/Matchmaker Alex Camponovo, this first-class affair is becoming an annual event for Team Thompson, who has about 25 prizefighters in their current stable. And it’s a busy time for the fight promotion as they gear up for an April 6 card at the Doubletree in Ontario, an April 13 Artemio Reyes bout and an April 14 Mauricio Herrera fight in Las Vegas. And this Friday, March 16, Abe Lopez will go toe to toe versus Gabriel Tolmajyan on ESPN‘s “Friday Night Fights” from Morongo.
During the sold-out special show this past weekend, guests mingled with Thompson fighters including Artemio Reyes, Efrain Esquivias, Abraham Lopez, Jose Reynoso, Aaron Martinez, Jonathan Arellano, Danny Hernandez, and more. Riverside’s Jose “El Niño” Reynoso told me he’s really looking forward to fighting on April 6–his first time back after suffering a slight injury. Esquivias and Arellano also say they may be lacing up in April and can’t wait to get back inside the ropes; and Danny “El Travieso” Hernandez will be fighting in Mexico on April 14.
Joining these young sluggers were many other champs and boxing notables from both the past and present as ring card girls Lindsi and Erin welcomed the VIP guests into the squared circle.
Ring announcer Sonny Franco introduced all the luminaries up into the ring in a veritable “Parade of Stars” including the aforementioned current fighters Kelly Pavlik (fighting March 31 in Texas), knockout Mia St. John (rematching Christy Martin on June 19 at Table Mountain Casino), Daniel Ponce De Leon, Israel Vazquez, Thompson’s squad showcasing Artemio Reyes, Abraham Lopez, Efrain Esquivias, Jose Reynoso, Aaron Martinez, Jonathan Arellano, Danny Hernandez, ex-pugilists like Olympic Gold Medalist Henry Tillman, former heavyweight champ Lamon Brewster (the last man to defeat Wladimir Klitschko), Rodolfo Gonzalez, Frankie Duarte, Hall of Fame trainers Bennie Georgino and Willy Silva, local coaches Charlie Perez (Capital Punishment), Mando Huerta (Maywood), Yuca Morales, trainer and former bodybuilder Robert Ortiz (father of Robert “Scrappy” Ortiz), New Hampshire coach Julio Peña, manager Eddie Gonzalez (Crossroads Boxing), famed cutman Joe Chavez, World Boxing Hall of Fame’s Dr. Joe Noriega, female referee/judge Gwen Adair, blonde boxing dynamo and advisor Angelicque McQueen, fight commentator Carlos Avilas, among several others.
Promoter and business entrepreneur Ken Thompson also presented a very special donation to Today’s Youth Boxing Club from Corona. Thompson is known in the Inland Empire for his action-packed “New Blood,” “Path to Glory,” and “Locked ‘N Loaded” shows held at the Doubletree Ontario and Omega Products International.
His “Night of Champions” evening was a celebration of the sweet science–and a chance for this new crop of boxers to meet the old-school veterans; a lively night where prizefighters were able to get to know each other in a fun and friendly environment. It was a mini-reunion of sorts as old friends greeted their past rivals and stablemates from all around the U.S.
Former WBC Super Bantamweight Champ Israel Vazquez is always a fan favorite. The Mexican powerhouse, who now has his own gym in South Gate, was met with a warm reception from the crowd and created a buzz in the room when he happily announced that his beautiful wife Laura is four months pregnant. The cute couple, who have two young sons, revealed that this time they will be having a girl.
I also chatted with two famed heavyweights in “Relentless” Lamon Brewster and Henry Tillman. Brewster has been very active with his “Fighting Connection” and brand new promotions company and Tillman is a busy trainer at The Rock boxing gym in Carson. Henry just got back from the U.S. Olympics’ “reload” competition where The Rock’s Dominic Breazeale won a spot in the upcoming Brazil qualifier. Efrain Esquivias also trains at the same boxing gym with the All American Heavyweights program. During our conversation, Brewster and Tillman said they never got to fight each other during their careers but each offered a mutual respect between the two in a friendly handshake.
New SoCal resident Kelly Pavlik was there to support his fellow Youngstown, Ohio warrior, Jake “The Bull” Giuriceo. Kelly is training in Oxnard for his upcoming bout and took a break to lend support to Giuriceo. Jake won his six-round contest against Los Mochis’ Jaime Orrantia. Team Giuriceo were thrilled to be in Orange County for this event and to reconnect with Kelly; after the fights, Giuriceo’s pretty fiancée Jackie told me they would be heading to Arizona next for a little R&R.
Another fighter visiting California was Allentown, PA’s Miguel Diaz, featured in the main event of the evening. The flyweight is a new Thompson signee who’s unbeaten with eight pro victories. Firing off against Ventura’s tough Austreberto Juarez, Diaz snatched the WBC US Super Flyweight Championship after their eight-round war. As WBC Supervisor Rudy Tellez awarded the gold and green strap, Miguel and trainer Julio Peña will go back home with the hard-earned victory.
Diaz’s promoter Ken Thompson said it was a good, close fight–with Miguel rising to the occasion to take the new WBC belt at this 2012 “Night of Champions.”
“This was a fabulous night,” Thompson said at the close of his show. “There were great fights and a wonderful turnout of boxing’s best.”
Photos by Michele Chong
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