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Avila Perspective Chap. 54: Quakes, Super Middleweights and the Globe Theater

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  • Avila Perspective Chap. 54: Quakes, Super Middleweights and the Globe Theater

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Name:	Caleb Plant and Mike Lee by the Nashville Post.jpg
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    By David A. Avila

    Earthquakes or not, the flood of prizefighters into Southern California boxing gyms continues.

    They come from all points of the globe and train in places like Oxnard, Northridge, Hollywood, South Central Los Angeles, Maywood, East L.A., Norwalk, Azusa, Pomona, Riverside, San Bernardino, Big Bear, Indio and San Diego.

    Many boxers from other parts of the world experienced their first major quake on Thursday. Although the epicenter for the temblor was nearly 100 miles away, at 6.4 it could be felt throughout Southern California from Salinas to San Diego. Many even felt it in Las Vegas, Nevada.

    Every gym seems to be at full tilt in preparation for looming battles.

    One visiting fighter Chicago’s Mike Lee (21-0, 11 KOs) has been training in Los Angeles and has a world title challenge against IBF super middleweight titlist Caleb Plant (18-0, 10 KOs) on July 20, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The fight will be shown on pay-per-view on the Manny Pacquiao vs Keith Thurman card.

    “I'm excited. This is an incredible opportunity and I will make the most of it and I think I'm going to shock a lot of people,” said Lee, 32, a former football player with the Notre Dame Irish. “I know that this is my moment and as moments get bigger and bigger, I perform better and better.”

    Lee will be trying to shake loose the world title from the slick fighting Plant who grew up near Nashville, Tennessee, and is making his first defense of the title he wrangled from Jose Uzcategui last January in Los Angeles.

    “I'm gunning for him more than I was gunning for Jose (Uzcategui),” said Plant of Lee.

    Plant, 26, seems perturbed by the fact Lee has been given the opportunity to challenge over other contenders. When they met for a press conference at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Plant was overtly heated and seemed insulted that Lee was his opponent.

    “(Lee) hasn't accomplished or done some of the things that some of the other guys I fought have,” said Plant who trains in Las Vegas. “He's delusional. He's never faced anybody like me. He's never even come close.”

    Last January at the Staples Center, the quick-fisted Plant showed off his defensive skills against the always attacking Uzcategui. In the second round, during one of the Venezuelan fighter’s charges Plant cracked him with a perfect check hook and dropped him. He repeated the tactic in the fourth round. It led to a quick lead on the judge’s score cards that despite a late rally by Uzcategui, proved to insurmountable to overcome. Plant won the world title by unanimous decision.

    Lee, despite being undefeated, has not faced a top 10 contender since he made his pro debut in May 2009. But a win a year ago against Jose Hernandez, whose best win was against Jose “Shibata” Flores, helped garner the vacant NABO light heavyweight title. Now he’s dropping down in weight to meet Plant.

    “When I got the phone call about this specific opportunity, I was all about it. I knew 168 wouldn't be a problem and I knew I could bring my power and my speed down to this weight class and rehydrate the right way,” said Lee who is from Chicago. “So when a world title comes, you say 'yes' and especially when I know that I can win.”

    Plant shakes his head in disgust at the thought of losing to Lee.

    “He's going to learn a lesson July 20, one that he can't be taught. One that can only be taught by me,” Plant says.

    Lee smiles at Plant's assertions.

    “It only takes one punch,” counters Lee.

    Top Rank

    Speaking of shaking up things, last week’s boxing card at Pechanga Resort and Casino by Top Rank was pretty electric.

    A super featherweight battle saw local fighter Saul “Neno” Rodriguez engage in a firefight with Mexico’s Miguel Angel Gonzalez (not the same guy who held the super lightweight world title and lost to Oscar De La Hoya in the 1990s) and get knocked out viciously during a furious exchange in the third round.

    Rodriguez, 26, was caught with his feet squared up by Gonzalez who fired a left from a southpaw stance that caught the Riverside fighter with his chin exposed. It was two defensive errors by Rodriguez that were capitalized by the Mexican slugger Gonzalez.

    A pretty large crowd showed up mostly to support Rodriguez who has gained a large fan base in the area throughout his past eight years in the pros.

    Another fight saw IBF lightweight world titlist Richard Commey eventually blast out former lightweight world champion Raymundo Beltran in the eighth round. Both departed with faces only a mother could love.

    Top Rank already has plans to stage another boxing card at the rather new venue at Pechanga Resort and Casino. No date has been set.

    L.A.'s Globe Theater

    Inland Empire super welterweight prospect Darious Harris (6-0) appears on the KO High Boxing Promotions card on Sunday July 7, at the Globe Theater located at 740 S. Broadway in downtown Los Angeles. The boxing card doors open at 6 p.m. (213) 489-1667.

    Harris, 28, has fought most of his first half dozen professional fights on the other side of the Mexican border. In his last appearance he defeated Earl Henry by majority decision in Burbank.

    Trained by Riverside’s Henry Ramirez, known for working with Chris Arreola, Josesito Lopez and Joshua Conley, the super welterweight resides in Rialto and had a successful amateur career that saw him win the Golden Gloves, Blue and Gold and Desert Showdown tournaments.

    “I’d call myself a boxer puncher,” said Harris while at his gym in Riverside on Friday night. “I’m an orthodox fighter.”

    Harris and his brothers were introduced to boxing by his father at age nine but he stopped boxing for a dozen years before his return.

    “I love everything about boxing,” says the amiable prizefighter Harris.

    After his victory in Burbank various promoters have come calling.

    “Once your foot is in the door you get called,” Harris realizes.

    Harris is scheduled to fight Chad McKinney a southpaw from the state of Washington.

    “We’ll see what happens in there,” said Harris about fighting in Los Angeles.

    After speaking to Harris on Friday evening, Southern California was hit by several more monster quakes at 6.9 and 5.0 on the Richter scale. Wonder if that’s a sign?

    Photo credit: Nashville Post

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