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Avila Perspective, Chap. 226: Another Look at Pomona and More

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  • Avila Perspective, Chap. 226: Another Look at Pomona and More

    Pomona, a hidden treasure.

    If you are not acquainted with Pomona, it’s located 30 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. Decades ago it was an area with roots in farming and livestock. Only the Los Angeles County Fair today maintains that tie to farming and livestock.

    Houses and more houses dot Pomona’s city of more than 150,000 people. It’s the last city inside the border of the County of Los Angeles.

    Years ago, the first time I ever heard the term Pomona was during the 1950s movie “War of the Worlds”. During a town meeting in the film, the characters mention Pomona and Corona. Back then only citrus orchards, grapevines and livestock existed in the area.

    Not many people.

    Pomona also has some bad history. It was not a place welcoming for people of color, though it was first inhabited by Native Americans and later Mexican rancheros. During World War II a Japanese internment camp was placed in the Pomona Fairplex area.

    A few famous individuals were raised in Pomona including Major League Baseball’s Mark McGwire, actress Jessica Alba, rapper Suga Free, author Richard Armour, Olympic gold medalist Bob Seagren, and boxers Alberto Davila, Richie Sandoval and Sugar Shane Mosley.

    That’s where boxing comes in.

    Last week Golden Boy Promotions brought its brand of prizefighting to the city of Pomona. On Thursday a press conference was held inside an artsy Mexican restaurant named El Jefe. The food was good and the service excellent. Golden Boy Promotion’s Oscar De La Hoya held his media conference inside the eatery.

    Across the street from El Jefe the Pomona Fox Theater stands. It was built in 1931 and has that great feel that you only get from the movie theaters of that era. Big and lush the theater was the site for a Golden Boy boxing show.

    Shane Mosley Jr. was one of the competitors in the crowd at the press luncheon. He’s a ranked fighter in the super middleweight division. He also grew up in Pomona and has family, friends and fans in the town located in-between the 1-10 and 60-Freeways.

    Seeing Mosley all grown up made me realize how fast time flies.

    The first time I met Shane Mosley Jr. was when he attended a boxing card in Las Vegas around the year 2000. He was about 8 years old and was with his dad, aunt and grandfather Jack Mosley. We were all there for different reasons. I was covering the Felix Trinidad vs. David Reid super welterweight world title fight at Caesar’s Palace.

    I was with my photographer, who I would later marry, and Jack Mosley asked if we could watch over Shane Mosley Jr. We consented and Jack and Shane Sr. ran off to track down Tito Trinidad who just knocked out Reid and beat Oscar De La Hoya a few months earlier.

    As we watched over Shane Mosley Jr. one of the other fighters seeking a big fight walked over to me. It was Vernon Forrest. He also was seeking a big fight and Mosley was one of the guys he sought. We chatted a bit and even took a photo together. I still have that photo of the great Vernon Forrest who was tragically killed in 2009 during a robbery in Georgia. A great fighter and a great guy. R. I. P.

    Jack Mosley soon returned and we all went into the big conference room to hear Trinidad talk some and Don King talk even more. Nobody can run a press conference like Don King. He had everybody talking and had so many fighters under contract and they all would show up to his boxing cards.

    I remember Mosley taking a shot with the microphone and asking to get a fight with Trinidad and others jumping in to challenge Mosley, Trinidad and each other. One of those was Randall Bailey.

    Anyway, getting back to 2023, sitting in the middle of the Fox Theater in Pomona and watching Mosley Jr. talk to the media was like fast-forwarding in a time machine. While he was talking I could see his grandfather Jack Mosley, aunt Serena Mosley and father Shane Mosley walk toward a row of seats.

    After the session ended everyone got up and began chatting with one another. As I began talking to one of the cameramen, someone tapped me on the shoulder and I looked and he said “remember me?”

    It was Clarence “Bones” Adams the former bantamweight world champion. He now trains Mosley Jr. Back in the early 2000s one of my favorite fights of that era was Adams versus Paulie Ayala. Those guys could fight.

    The smaller weight divisions were filled with great fighters like Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, Juan Manuel Marquez, Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson, Prince Naseem Hamed, Johnny Tapia and more. The list seemed endless. And then came Manny Pacquiao who made the jump from super flyweight to super welterweight.

    Now, 23 years later, we seem to be having a resurgence in the smaller weight divisions. Last Saturday’s match between Luis Nery and Azat Hovhannisyan re-ignited that old spark with a flamethrower.

    It had been about a year since I saw a truly good fight in person that made the crowd roar like a dragster revving its engine.

    Though the Fox Theater doesn’t hold more than 1,000 people it was loud and rocking with excitement at the action provided by the two super bantamweights. It was savage and intense.

    After 11 rounds of this ferocious firefight, the crowd needed a breather to gather their composure. Even those sitting in the media section who have witnessed hundreds of fights needed a moment to register in their mind what they had witnessed.

    Those watching on DAZN saw an excellent example of prizefighting. But those watching in person at the Fox Theater truly got the whole brunt of excitement and electricity that comes from a prize fight like this.


    Golden Boy at Fantasy Springs

    Tonight, the main event pits super flyweights John “Scrappy” Ramirez (10-0, 8 KOs) fights Luis Villa Padilla (16-3-2, 2 KOs) at Fantasy Springs Casino.

    Also featured are super bantamweights Manuel Flores (14-0) versus Franklin Gonzalez (25-1, 2 KOs) in the semi-main event. DAZN will stream the Golden Boy Promotions boxing card that includes two female bouts.

    DiBella Entertainment card in NYC

    Heather Hardy (23-2) leads a main event when she fights Brazil’s Taynna Cardoso (5-1) at Sony Hall in Manhattan tonight.

    Hardy, a former featherweight world champion recently lost her longtime trainer Hector Roca. She is dedicating this fight to her mentor and friend who passed away in January. Watch the fights on YouTube channel: Boxing Insider.

    Super lightweight title fight

    Puerto Rico’s Subriel Matias challenges Argentina’s Jeremias Ponce for the vacant IBF super lightweight world title on Saturday Feb. 25, at the Armory at Minneapolis, Minn. Showtime will telecast the match.

    You never know what you will get from Argentina. Because we don’t often view contenders from South America, you can get a beast or a dud. But when they are good, they are really good like Marcos Maidana.

    Ponce is undefeated and has fought several times in Europe and sports a spotless record and shows power.

    Matias is a Boricua and has speed, power and attracts fans with his flashiness. We will see if he can deal with the Argentine on Saturday.

    Jake Paul vs Tommy Fury

    Fast-rising Jake Paul has chased Tommy Fury for over a year and now they finally meet on Sunday Feb. 26, at Diriyah, Saudi Arabia. ESPN+ will show the fight on pay-per-view at 11 a.m. (Pacific Time).

    “The Problem Child” Paul (6-0, 4 KOs) fights “TNT” Fury (8-0, 4 KOs) at the Diriyah Arena in a cruiserweight clash set for eight rounds.

    From the first time I saw Paul perform I quickly realized he had something. He does pack a punch and has a willingness to learn and accept pain while picking up skills. Those two things are key to any prizefighter. I say prizefighter because it’s different from boxing amateurs which is slap fighting in my opinion. That’s all speed and holding. Prizefighting is hitting and hurting and that’s what Paul strives to do in all his fights.

    Fury is a different matter. He comes from a fighting family that includes heavyweight champion Tyson Fury. But Tommy Fury is not Tyson. They don’t look the same and Tommy Fury looks more bodybuilder than fighter.

    We shall see on Sunday.

    Fights to Watch (Pacific Time)

    Thurs. DAZN 6 p.m. John Ramirez (10-0) vs Luis Villa Padilla (16-3-2).

    Sat. Showtime 6 p.m. Subriel Matias (18-1) vs Jeremias Ponce (30-0).

    Sun. ESPN+ ppv 11 a.m. Jake Paul (6-0) vs Tommy Fury (8-0); Ilunga Makabu (29-2) vs Badou Jack (27-3-3).

    Photo credit: Al Applerose