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The Avila Perspective, Chap. 39: A Boxing Journey on L.A. Freeways

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  • The Avila Perspective, Chap. 39: A Boxing Journey on L.A. Freeways

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    By David A. Avila

    Life as a boxing journalist can be like an Uber driver, especially dealing with the bumper-to-bumper traffic of Southern California.

    Prizefighting has leaped to another speed warp since last year and this year makes last year seem like the Griffith Park carousel standing still.

    Another barrage of boxing cards sweeps the Southern California region beginning tomorrow in Hollywood, the film capitol of the world, then followed by Saturday and Sunday events. Golden Boy Promotions begins its DAZN deal this Thursday that entails a monthly fight show on Thursday nights.

    First up will be gentleman prizefighter Mercito “No Mercy” Gesta the southpaw lightweight contender who trains with the venerable Freddie Roach. The main event takes place at the Avalon Theater and doors open at 4 p.m. DAZN will stream the event.

    A.M.

    If covering the prizefighting world has appeal, one must realize that waking up early or staying awake late comes with the territory. These are not banking hours.

    On Monday, around 3 a.m. the day started for me. Making coffee without waking up our dog (a boxer) has become an art I’ve learned to master. I proceed to plant myself on a recliner sofa with my laptop and begin the week’s work.

    Waking up this early allows me to catch up with fighters, promoters and managers in the East Coast before they slip into higher gear. It also provides me time to get stories written before I drive through the heart of Los Angeles. Traffic is your enemy at any time of the day or night. And any time I venture into L.A. it’s an all-day affair.

    Lawnmower man

    First destination on the list: a Premier Boxing Champions press conference took place at the Palm Restaurant near LA Live. Former two-division champion Danny “Swift” Garcia and Adrian Granados met the media at the swanky restaurant that serves $100 steaks. It’s an 11a.m. event and for me and photographer Alonzo Coston that means taking off from our location in the Inland Empire at 9:30 a.m. at the latest.

    We arrive a few minutes late but just in time to grab a seat as Garcia and Granados walk in dressed in dark suits.

    Both are quick-witted guys.

    “Your a** is grass and I’m the lawnmower baby,” chided Garcia to Granados that immediately ignited laughter from the reporters and others.

    That comment was countered.

    “Nobody cuts grass better than a Mexican,” said Chicago’s Granados, a Mexican fighter that elicited more laughter from the crowd.

    Anytime you get a Mexican and a Puerto Rican in a prize ring expect an explosion of unusual proportions. Anything can happen as boxing fans saw last month when Mexican-American fighter Andrew Cancio knocked out Puerto Rico’s Alberto Machado to take the WBA featherweight title away. Machado had never lost.

    Granados, 29, has six losses but has never been beaten decisively despite trading blows with Shawn Porter, Adrien Broner and Felix Diaz. Many could even argue he won each and every one of those fights.

    "Adrian Granados could arguably be sitting up here with a record of 27-1, since all but one of his losses have been by split or majority decision, and usually it's in his opponent's backyard,” said Tom Brown president of TGB Promotions.

    Puerto Rico versus Mexico never disappoints. They meet on April 20 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif.

    Norwalk

    After speaking with both Garcia and Granados we jumped back in the car and headed to the suburban city of Norwalk, Calif. about 20 miles southeast.

    Expected to be at the Legendz Gym but who could not make the media day was Ryan “The Flash” Garcia. Instead, the several dozen reporters at the outdoor boxing complex received their first glimpse of world champion Angel “Tito” Acosta of Puerto Rico who holds the WBO light flyweight belt.

    “My goal right now is to keep defending my title, but if the opportunity to unify presents itself, we will take it,” said Acosta who is co-promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and Cotto Promotions. “But right now, I'm not thinking about any other opponent. I'm focused on Ganigan Lopez. After that, we can talk about other opponents.”

    It’s another Puerto Rico versus Mexico matchup.

    Acosta (19-1, 19 KOs) defends against Mexico’s Ganigan Lopez (35-8, 19 KOs) on March 30 at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, Calif. DAZN will stream.

    Also on the same card will be Ireland’s undefeated welterweight Aaron McKenna. The tall prizefighter known as “the Silencer” has spent more than a year in Southern California. In that time he’s noticed the difference between Ireland and Southern California.

    “There are so many more gyms here. In every gym there seems to be a world champion or contender,” said McKenna, 19, from Smithborough, Ireland. “The sparring is brilliant.”

    Top Rank in OC

    Heavyweights and featherweights lead the Top Rank fight card on Saturday March 23, at the OC Hangar in Costa Mesa, Calif. The fight card will be shown on ESPN.

    A battle of former super bantamweight world champions finds Rico Ramos (30-5, 14 KOs) meeting Jessie Magdaleno (25-1, 18 KOs) in a featherweight clash set for 10 rounds.

    Ramos, 31, trains in Maywood with Rudy Hernandez and has been racking up wins since his last loss back in 2015 against Claudio Marrero. He’s beaten some tough guys but has met the enemy and that enemy is making weight. Working with Hernandez is sought to be the remedy for that problem. This is a make or break fight for the slick fighting Ramos.

    Magdaleno, 27, fights out of Las Vegas now and like Ramos his enemy is the weight scale. He has not fought since losing the WBO world title to Isaac Dogboe by knockout and that was nearly a year ago. He’s a southpaw with serious pop and will need to be sharp against Ramos. It’s a very good match between former world champions.

    Also, heavyweight contender Kubrat Pulev (26-1, 13 KOs) of Bulgaria meets Bogdan Dinu (18-1, 14 KOs) of Romania in a 10 round fight.

    Pulev, 37, has only lost to Wladimir Klitschko and that was back in November 2014. Since then he’s beaten Dereck Chisora, Samuel Peter and others.

    Dinu, 32, has only lost to Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller and that was this past November in Kansas. He’s accustomed to fighting in Eastern Europe and now faces an Eastern European in Pulev. Somebody has got to go.

    Doors open at 3:30 on Saturday.

    Hollywood Again

    Tom Loeffler’s 360 Promotions returns to the Avalon Theater in Hollywood for another of its popular shows on Sunday March 24. This time super welterweights lead the card.

    Serhii “El Flaco” Bohachuk (12-0, 12 KOs) has an extremely tough assignment facing southpaw speedster Cleotis “Mookie” Pendarvis (21-4-2, 9 KOs) in the main event set for eight rounds.

    Bohachuk, 23, is part of the Big Bear crew and is taught by Mexican style trainer Abel Sanchez. This will be his fourth appearance on the Hollywood Fight Night series on Vine Street near Hollywood Blvd. that usually brings a celebrity or two to the party. On paper this might be the Ukrainian’s toughest foe.

    Pendarvis, now 32, has been around the block and has a defensive style that is tough to crack. He won’t be standing still for Bohachuk unless the legs are gone for the lefty speedster who has fought talented foes like Mauricio Herrera, Dierry Jean, and Steve Quinonez. He was often hired as a sparring partner by those facing Floyd Mayweather.

    Though talented, Pendarvis never met expectations and after a nearly four-year layoff he was signed by a manager who took him to Mexico where he reeled off four consecutive victories the past two years.

    Also on the card will be two other Abel Sanchez proteges from Kazakhstan Ali Akhmedov and Meiirum Nursultanov in separate bouts.

    A number of local L.A. fighters fill the card including bantamweight George Navarro whose last fight at the same venue ended in a spectacular knockout win. Another returning fighter will be stylish Adrian Corona a super featherweight from Rialto, Calif.

    Doors open at 3 p.m.

    The marathon of prize fights continues in Southern California and we’re only in March. Imagine once the weather heats up. This year looks to be the busiest in the history of prizefighting in Southern California. It might possibly be the busiest any region has ever been for staging prize fights in history.

    I may need a helicopter to get around.

    Photo credit: LA Magazine

    Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel



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    Early mornings and late nights, the life of a fight writer.

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