The Lukie Report: Salinas

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Manuel “Tino” Avila did not have an easy night in Salinas, CA at the Storm House. In front of a sold out crowd on a Paco Presents Boxing/Don Chargin Promotions card along with Golden Boy Promotions, the top prospect faced the toughest test of his career. Tino who has been known for his ability to physically wear guys out was far too much for super featherweights. Enter Enrique Quevedo, a man who could take Tino’s power and also offered unique angles that presented problems.

Quevedo was setting traps throughout the fight with subtle head movements, as well as deceptive faints that seemed to catch Tino off guard. “I hurt my hand in like the 3rd or 4th round,” Avila said with his hand in an ice box. “I didn’t listen to my coach out there and learned a valuable lesson out there.”
Tino was referring to large parts of the fight in which Quevedo would pursue him as Avila sat on the ropes firing off counters. It was a fight which no one clearly dictated pace and looking at social media it appeared as though people were split. The only really dominate round was the tenth in which Avila floored Quevedo, knocking him through the ropes.

According to CompUBox, Avila landed 181/695 to Quevedo 181/570, this pretty much sums up the fight. It all had to do with whether you favored volume or judicious punching. Avila was busier and landed the most dominate punch of the fight, but Quevedo gave him hell for every bit of the ten rounds. All three judges scored the bout 97-92 for Avila though many, myself included, felt it was a tad closer, but Tino still won.

For Avila, 2014 was hopefully going to be the year that he would be able to be showcased and breakout as 2013 saw Avila sidelined with injuries. Avila sat in the locker in the back upset about his performance, it was clear his hand was not feeling the greatest. If the hand does appear to delay for some period of time, this would be the second year in a row in which injuries would sideline him and could potentially halt the momentum that he has been earning with impressive wins. Avila, one of the brightest prospects in Northern California, may be entering the iffy realm of “injury prone” if he is not able to fight more than one more time this year.

That’s the Paul Mendez I know
A lot of people got on Twitter and other boxing media platforms and began to bad mouth Paul Mendez after his draw against Louis Rose on Fox Sports 1 last October. Mendez sparred Gennady Golovkin prior to his fight against Louis Rose last October, but the always classy Mendez gave no excuses for his prior performance. “It’s up to you guys, in this room, to critique my performance tonight and tell me how I did, I just go in there and a perform,” said a joyful Mendez.

It was a picture perfect night for Mendez, who is fighting in his adopted hometown of Salinas, CA, the home of the Sam Garcia Boxing Gym, the same gym/management that has reshaped Mendez’s career and propelled him into a fringe top 10 middleweight. For Mendez, one of the sports true good guys, a guy who hours before his fight was saying hello to people he had meet just one day prior at the weigh ins. It was the television debut that many in Northern California had hoped would have occurred in his first outing.

Mendez who beat and battered Raul Casarez, who had been riding a healthy winning streak leading into his fight despite the fact that most people only know him from a knockout loss in the first round to Alfredo Angulo. Mendez controlled the bout from start to finish with the jab, dictating the pace of the action early and often. Casarez was unable to stop it. Mendez furthered the beating slowly accelerating over time that leading to Mendez’s most dominate stoppage win of the past two years all on a national television.

Mendez who stopped Casarez in the third round, now will looking to get a fight in at Cache Creek Casino and Resort on April 5th and look for a fight down the road to solidify himself in the top 10. An interesting name that could be on the horizon and offers a tough test for Mendez is Gabriel Rosado, who may somewhere down the line could cross paths with Mendez and is the type of guy who Mendez would need to be able to beat to silence those who doubt him.

Vences Gets Six Round Fight, but Didn’t Need Those Rounds
“Since he debuted Andy [Vences] has been asking his manager, Herb [Stone] for a six round fight,” said Michael Bazzel, one half of the 2013 Northern California Trainer of Year combo, along with the other head honcho over at Undisputed Boxing Gym, Brian Schwartz. Vences has been viewed as a slow starter. Even Andy admits it himself, as class tends to show over time. Vences’ who fought Dominic Coca landed thudding left hooks to the body early that seemed to slowly take the fight out of Coca minus one thing.

“[Coca] was doing rough house tactics,” said Brian Scwartz afterwards. In short, Coca was trying to get into Vences’ head and make it a street fight, but these antics had started prior to the fight. At the weigh after Coca missed weight by three pounds, he posed in a manner that resembled that of a Mexican gangster stereotype. The night of the fight Coca made a bunch of gestures backstage at Vences to rile him up. Vences said it was just plain foolish. “I don’t get why people think they can do stuff to pull me out of my game plan, it doesn’t work.”
Vences, who broke Coca down, retiring him at the end of the third round due to a hand injury sustained in the fight. At one point a clearly frustrated Coca began to make one thing painfully clear, Vences’ skill level was far above Coca’s and the fact that he would have extra rounds seemed to give the top 130 pound prospect a lot time to give a beating. Vences continues to impress as he looks poised to continue his dominance. Vences appears ready to return April 5th, 2014 at Cache Creek Casino.

De La Hoya Stops Foe Early
Diego De La Hoya lived up to his last name as he stopped Sergio Najera late in the first round after a vicious flurry of punches. De La Hoya who was caught with a punch earlier showed the poise of one years older than the nineteen. The cousin of boxing Hall of Famer Oscar De La Hoya Diego has real talent. De La Hoya’s trainer Joel Diaz recalled the punch, “…he got caught in exchange. [De La Hoya] is a diamond who just needs polishing,” the trainer said when talking of the talent De La Hoya presents in the ring.

“They don’t just want to beat me, they want to beat a last name. It’s a gift and a curse since it opens a lot of doors for me, because of my last name, but also adds a lot of pressure,” De La Hoya said after the fight. “I am young and there is no need to rush anything,” De La Hoya continued. De La Hoya, who showed the killer instinct many want to see in a fighter, also had a large following in Salinas, CA – which is over eight hours away from Mexicali. De La Hoya was met with cheers only rivaled by Paul Mendez and Andy Vences, who are both major local draws in Northern California.

De La Hoya did what was expected of him as the world watched with eyes eager to see him fail. De La Hoya proved that he is more than just his last name – he is a fighter, and a damn good one at that.

Ambrosio Gets Tested
Luis Ambrosio went to war with Adrian Rodriquez in a fight that two judges felt was decided in the first round. Ambrosio, who mirrors a lot of the elements of Abner Mares’ pressure style, came out very hot against Rodriquez, knocking Rodriquez down in the first. Ambrosio looked every bit the top tier talent that the Super Featherweight has been heralded as up to this point. Ambrosio may just be one of the best punchers in the division when his man is on the ropes, the big problem in this fight was once Rodriquez got his legs back, the fight changed.

When Rodriquez was able to use lateral movement, the fight changed, and the next three rounds were dramatically different. Ambrosio struggled at times with the angles Rodriquez created, but would get Rodriquez on the ropes and suddenly let off stinging combos. The last three rounds truly came down to the way you score a fight as Ambrosio pressed the action and landed the harder shots, but in at least two Rodriquez appeared to be landing more volume, but in the form of jabs and punches. It was Ambrosio’s knockdown in the first round that pushed him ahead on two of the three judge’s cards. In the end, everyone saw the fight as 38-37, just one saw it going the other way, in what was a great fight. Ambrosio got tested and pulled out a win in a dangerous four round fight.

Puga is Back
Rudy Puga has had a wild year, so of course he would be involved in a wild fight, right? Puga was knocked out in 2012 only for his opponent, Andrew Hernandez, to get busted for banned substances after the fight making the fight a no contest. Puga is a MMA fighter turned boxer who fought Charon Spain.

In what turned out to be one of the wildest fights of the evening, Spain jumped on Puga quickly only to get caught coming in wide. A ringside observer noted that, “…the wide stance and awkward footwork” of Spain seemed to give him no benefits. Puga was able to move him into a left hook off a right to the body, much like Lucas Matthysee did to LaMont Peterson last year. As the fight got rougher, Puga began to get into a rhythm, “…it felt good out there tonight. I felt him fading,” Puga said afterwards.

Puga upped the work rate and physicality and suddenly, the crowd began to get a bit annoyed with Spain, who began to complain to the ref about fouls. The big thing was Spain, who was game competition, but just seemed a little green. What he lacked in skill, he made up for in heart. After being knocked down one time before, Puga finished off Spain in the third round as he was on the ropes capping the combination with a left hook to the body, a punch that left Spain on the floor agonizing in pain. For Puga, this was the triumphant return he hoped for.

Bautista Improves in Second Fight

Chris Bautista showed improvement from his first professional fight last December as he picked a unanimous decision over Devonte Donaldson winning every round of the four round affair. Bautista, showed improved ability to fight at distance and use his tall frame of around 5’11” to control the terms of the fight.

Bautista found early success with the jab with Donaldson landing counters here and there throughout the first two rounds, but could never sustain anything for a whole round. By the third round, Donaldson found success for a minute by switching to southpaw. That success was relative though as Bautista was able to catch Donaldson with his cleanest punches of the fight late in the third forcing Donaldson back into some orthodox punch throwing. For Bautista, this is only his second pro fight, but the jury is still out on what is in store for Bautista. Bautista showed promise in that he just looked more comfortable than he did last year, and it will be interesting to see what his next showing will be.