Avila Perspective, Chap, 251: Golden Boy Returns to Roots


By David A. Avila

COMMERCE, Calif.-Within a few miles of Oscar De La Hoya and half his team’s old stomping grounds in East L.A., Golden Boy Promotions staged their press conference with a touch of old fashion promoting on Thursday.

World champion Yokasta Valle, lightweight contenders William Zepeda and Mercito Gesta and some local fighters will showcase their skills and pride on Saturday, Sept. 16, Mexican Independence Day at the Commerce Casino in Commerce, Calif.

"For some strange reason, whenever anyone steps inside that ring on Mexican Independence Day, they fight with such passion,” said De La Hoya who grew up less than two miles away in East L.A.

YouTube.com and DAZN will stream the Golden Boy Promotions card.

Years ago, promoter Aileen Eaton would scoop up boxing talent from around the Southern California area like a runaway vacuum. East L.A. and the surrounding areas were always a hotbed for talent if you could pry them away from the barrio gangs.

Mando Muniz, Bobby Chacon, Mando Ramos, Ruben Navarro and Art Aragon, the original Golden Boy, were all discovered within a dozen miles from the Golden Boy promotion press conference.

This boxing show on Saturday has some of those elements that return to the roots and include an international cast of world class elite fighters.

Zepeda (28-0, 24 KOs) and Gesta (34-3-3, 17 KOs) will clash for a regional title and a higher place in the lightweight standings. Both have a thirst for action.

“I am so excited to be facing William Zepeda who is undefeated. Zepeda is an up-and-coming fighter. He's great and he excites me,” said the always classy Gesta (pictured on the right), a fan favorite.

“To face a grand rival like Mercito Gesta is a great privilege, and I can't wait to demonstrate to everyone of what "El Camarón" is made of," said Zepeda, a hard charging lightweight from the state of Mexico.

The co-main event features two-division world champion Yokasta Valle (28-2, 9 KOs) defending the WBO and IBF minimumweight titles against Guatemala’s Maria Santizo (11-3, 6 KOs). Both faced each other years ago as amateurs.

“We have prepared 100-percent for this fight to give you guys the show you have all been waiting for and one that is worthy for this special Sept. 16 date. I am so excited for the first bell to ring this coming Saturday," said Costa Rica’s Valle who has been training in Los Angeles for nearly two years and absorbing the local culture.

The remainder of the boxing show is filled with fighters of various skill level. Some from right down the street in East L.A. and others from out of state such Darius Fulghum from Houston, Texas or Eric Priest from Kansas City.

During the weeks leading up to this date Golden Boy was reaching out to East L.A. area businesses and schools introducing their brand to adults and children. It was old fashioned promoting that seemed to disappear as social media emerged.

It’s one thing to post photos and video clips. It’s more engaging to meet and greet in person. It’s lasting. Even for the fighters it adds excitement.

Middleweight great Bernard Hopkins added a reminder to the fighters of the importance of this show.

“This is an opportunity to get respect for your team because the world is watching,” said Hopkins.

It’s also an opportunity to showcase the Golden Boy brand.

Friday Shows

Two rival promotions are going head-to-head on Friday, Sept, 15.

Matchroom Boxing duels Top Rank with a heavy-duty show featuring both male and female highly ranked prizefighters.

Former featherweight world titlist Erika Cruz (15-2) meets Melissa Odessa Parker (6-1) in a super featherweight fight set for 10 rounds at Auditorio Municipale in Tijuana, Mexico. DAZN will stream the boxing card at 1 p.m.

Cruz battled the great Amanda Serrano ferociously and lost the WBC featherweight belt by decision. It was a bloody affair that cemented her reputation as an awkward but crafty southpaw.

Almost all her fights are bloody.

Parker is a hard charger from Texas who recently suffered her first loss. She will be eager to gain notoriety by defeating Mexico’s Cruz.

Another female title match pits Australia’s super athletic Skye Nicolson (7-0) against Mexico’s Sabrina Perez (18-1-1). Both are fighting for an interim featherweight title. It’s not the actual title but one meant to gain sanctioning money for the WBC.

Lightweight contenders Angel Fierro (21-1-2) and Brayan Zamarripa (13-1) meet for a regional title.

Top Rank

Later, on Friday, Top Rank matches Luis Alberto “Venado” Lopez (28-2, 16 KOs) against always tough Joet Gonzalez (26-3, 15 KOs) for the IBF featherweight world title with super welterweights Xander Zayas (16-0, 10 KOs) and Roberto Valenzuela (21-4) meeting in the co-feature. The undercard will stream on ESPN+ with the three-bout main card on the ESPN platform.

Lopez demolished British isle fighters Michael Conlan and Josh Warrington to get to this point.

Gonzalez has three losses, but all were to world champions Shakur Stevenson, Isaac Dogboe and Emanuel Navarrete. He can fight.

Fights to Watch

Fri. DAZN 1 p.m. Erika Cruz (15-2) vs Melissa Odessa Parker (6-1).

Fri. ESPN+ 3:30 p.m. Luis Lopez (28-2) vs Joet Gonzalez (26-3).

Sat. DAZN 5 p.m. William Zepeda (28-0) vs Mercito Gesta (34-3-3).

Photo credit: Al Applerose