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Sanchez and Avila Have Fists Raised in Fairfield

Photo © Ryan Maquinana
Photo © Ryan Maquinana

By Ryan Maquiñana at ringside

FAIRFIELD, CA – Local favorite Alan Sanchez continued to impress his hometown fans with his third win in as many bouts at the Fairfield Sports Center, stopping Clint Coronel in a thrilling seventh round that left this writer’s shirt splattered in blood.
In the co-feature, Golden Boy signee Manuel “Tino” Avila took a four-round unanimous decision over Salvador Cifuentes. As far as the rest of the undercard, Guy Robb, Mike Ortega, and Jonathan Chicas emerged victorious in front of a boisterous crowd that included MMA star Urijah Faber.
“All the local kids won and Coronel was double-tough for Sanchez tonight,” said Don Chargin, who shared promotional duties with Rafael “Paco” Damian and Jorge Marron. “It was a good, lively crowd and I would like to come back here to this venue in August.”

Fairfield’s Sanchez, 147, was coming off a wide unanimous decision nod over John Ryan Grimaldo in February, while San Jose’s Coronel, 149, gave Golden Boy bonus baby Mikael Zewski all he could handle in a majority decision loss two months later.
The difference in the two orthodox fighters’ frames was evident from the opening bell, as the lanky, taller Sanchez juxtaposed the stocky, wide-shouldered Coronel. Coronel’s strategy was simple. He hoped to come forward and take Sanchez’s height and reach advantages away. Sanchez, on the other hand, fought off the balls of his feet and looked to outbox his foe reminiscent of the way a matador would deal with a charging bull.
After an uneventful first round where the two combatants got a feel of each other’s stylistic tendencies, Sanchez circled to his left and stopped on a dime in the second, throwing a straight right that found its target. Coronel then got back to basics and pinned Sanchez on the ropes so deeply that the Fairfield fighter’s head got stuck between them momentarily. Coronel’s left arm then locked in Sanchez’s, allowing the San Jose resident to go to the body with an axe of a right hand. Eventually, Sanchez found a home for his right uppercut, a punch that helped Sanchez get his distance and land a flurry of his own.
Sanchez pleased his fans by starting the third with various three-punch combinations that consistently tagged Coronel. The San Jose fighter turned the action to the inside once more and scored with chopping overhand rights to the head. Coronel ended the round strong, hammering away at Sanchez’s kidneys.
Coronel immediately rushed Sanchez with countless body shots on the ropes in the fourth. After two of them touched Sanchez below the equator, referee Dan Stell warned Coronel. Coronel continued to his jab as more of a rangefinder than a weapon and constantly closed the distance. Sanchez scored with a varied attack that included a right uppercut and a short left but Coronel buzzed him with a winging right hand and left hook in return.
The fifth would begin with Coronel landing the best shot of the night, a left hook that caught Sanchez across the cheek. Coronel used the momentum of the shot to use his arms and elbows to get Sanchez backpedaling. Sanchez then utilized his own forearms to push off and flustered Coronel with a right uppercut on three separate occasions.  Coronel then retaliated with a shot below the belt and Stell, having warned the San Jose fighter earlier, penalized him a point. Sanchez caught Coronel sleeping with a one-two. A cut then opened on his right eye as the result of a headbutt. As a result, Stell called time out and summoned Coronel to the corner. Dr. Smith Ketchum inspected the cut and allowed him to proceed.  The gladiators now went toe-to-toe, trading until the sound of the bell, eliciting a standing ovation from the fans.
With blood streaming down Coronel’s right cheek and flying onto this writer’s laptop, the sixth and final round began. The persistent Coronel reverted to his plan of getting Sanchez on the ropes. As Sanchez spun away, Coronel tagged him with a straight right. It was now Sanchez’s turn. He obliged with a left hook and ducked under a shot from Coronel. By this point, Coronel’s cut had widened and Dr. Ketchum was called in to scrutinize it a second time. As soon as the doctor gave Stell the nod to continue, Sanchez assailed Coronel with left hooks and right uppercuts. Seconds later, another Sanchez left uppercut found a home on Coronel’s chin. True to form, however, Coronel would not wilt and decided to compensate by leading with his head and throwing the right hand. As soon as the bell rang, Dr. Ketchum stormed into Coronel’s corner to get an update on the fighter’s face. Again, the longtime California ring physician gave his consent for the bout to continue.
The drama was building as the fighters embarked on the seventh frame. Would Coronel’s cut hold up?  Was he even in the fight on the judges’ scorecards?  Sanchez attempted to make those answers both negative ones by timing his left hook as Coronel plodded ahead and thrashing him with the right uppercut on the inside. Coronel seemed to be gassing at this point, slapping his punches. With moments left in the round and the right side of Coronel’s face a red mask, Stell again referred Coronel to Dr. Ketchum. This time, the decision would be swift and the bout was ultimately halted.
The official time was 2:41.
“He made it tough by tying me up,” said Coronel in a losing effort that was gutsy until the very end. “It was hard to get started on the inside.”
The winner had a different perspective.
“We knew he was going to be a tough opponent and maybe a little dirty but we were ready in training,” said the 20-year-old Sanchez. “We worked on straight punches inside and throwing the right uppercuts after getting my distance.”
“We knew coming in, [Coronel] was a bull and the way to fight him was to be a bullfighter,” added his trainer, Jesse Lopez. “I instructed Alan to move around and take his time and it worked.”
Sanchez rises to 8-2-1 (3), while Coronel falls to 4-3-2 (1).
Super Bantamweights
19-year-old Avila, 123, another Fairfield fighter, pounded out the unanimous decision over Cifuentes, 124, who had actually been the former’s initial opponent twice before pulling out for unspecified reasons both times. 
Avila began the bout on the backfoot but quickly landed a one-two circling to his left. Cifuentes then rushed Avila on the ropes and threw a flurry to the body. Avila returned fire, which prompted Cifuentes to cover up, a move that allowed Avila to take full advantage by scoring at will to the body and to the side of the head. It wasn’t until Cifuentes turned him on the ropes with about 30 seconds left that he was able to bury a two-punch combination to the body. Still, it was Avila’s round.
Cifuentes employed a face-forward attack that yielded some results in the second stanza, namely a left hook that clipped the retreating Avila. Avila then took control of the rest of the round with his jab and a double left hook that didn’t quite land cleanly but well enough to keep Cifuentes on the defensive. Drops of blood began to form around the mouth of Chula Vista fighter.
The fighters set off some fireworks in the third round. Cifuentes landed the majority of a four-punch combination to the body then head and then Avila turned to his offensive repertoire. A one-two from Avila that knifed through the high guard of Cifuentes was followed by a crushing left hook to the body. Avila then landed most of a six-punch combination highlighted by the straight right hand. To his credit, Cifuentes would not back down and ended the round backing Avila into the ropes and scoring with an effective combination of his own.
With his friends and family pleading for him to close the show in a spectacular fashion, Avila took it upon himself to become the aggressor. Cifuentes landed a couple of short right hands to the body and a quick one-two up top but Avila wasn’t hurt and proceeded to attack Cifuentes with the double hook. Suddenly, a cut opened over Cifuentes’ left eye from a headbutt. Avila then threw the one-two, increasing the size of the cut. Cifuentes valiantly fired flurries and a left hook and arguably took the round but it was not enough as the bout came to an end.
“It doesn’t matter if it goes all four rounds because I’ve been training for these situations,” said Avila. “The right hand over the top was working well for me tonight and I kept going to it.”
Scores were 40-36 across the board.
Avila, who trains in neighboring Vacaville, improves to 5-0 (2).  Cifuentes, from Chula Vista, Calif., plummets to 1-2.
Super Featherweights
In easily the most baffling bout of the night, Sacramento’s Robb, 128, quickly stopped the eccentric Sherman, 128, of Hesperia, Calif.
Robb was returning to the site of his third fight, a delightful four-round win in a war with Manuel Morales that stole the show. Not much was known about Sherman except that he had been training under the auspices of Jack Mosley.
Almost immediately, Sherman’s outrageous style drew catcalls from the crowd. A southpaw with quick feet, he shuffled around the ring vigorously and then looked to potshot Robb by winging wide arm punches. Robb seemed content to assess the situation and sure enough, once the first meaningful right hand bounced off Sherman’s jawline, the Hesperia fighter found himself helpless in the midst of a Robb barrage.
Dan Stell called it at 1:28.
“His style was crazy. It blew my mind,” said a smiling Robb. “It was short but my body feels good. I can fight at 130 or 135 if need be.”
Robb now stands at 5-0 (2), while Sherman starts his boxing career winless at 0-1.
Light Welterweights
Fairfield’s Sanchez, 134, was looking for his first win in three tries.  Zamudio, 139, from San Francisco via Cuernavaca, Mex., was making his debut. The two would fight to a technical draw.
In the opening moments, the two orthodox fighters traded shots and a short right hand from Zamudio put Sanchez on the ground. Sanchez was slightly off-balance but it was correctly ruled a knockdown by referee Jon Schorle. Sanchez, not noticeably hurt, defiantly got off the deck and began to throw lead left hooks as if to display that his equilibrium had not been affected. Sanchez pushed Zamudio on the ropes and tagged him with a left hook to end the round.
Zamudio doubled his left hook to start the second and it was to his detriment, as Sanchez timed him well enough to cleanly sting him twice with a counter left hook of his own upstairs. A war would soon break out, with both fighters scoring with right crosses and left hooks. However, a cut would emerge from the top of Sanchez’s scalp and a slight trickle of blood streamed down his face onto his trunks, the result of an accidental headbutt.
The two continued their swift pace in the third and Sanchez seemed to get the better of their exchanges with a clubbing left hook off the counter. However, midway through the round, a second headbutt opened up a sizable gash over the top of Sanchez’s right eye. Schorle called a time out and pulled Sanchez aside. Dr. Cesar Banda examined the cut and opined that Sanchez could not continue.
At first, the bout was erroneously announced as a no-contest but CSAC officials informed this writer later that it would be ruled a technical draw.
“Usually, I’ll allow the fight to go on if the blood flows here or here,” said Schorle, pointing to the bridge of his nose and the flesh between his eye and his ear. “In this case, however, it was coming down his eye.”
Sanchez moves to 0-2-1 and Zamudio starts his pro career at 0-0-1.
Light Middleweights
Sacramento’s Ortega, 152, eventually wore down Alexander, 154, en route to the  fourth round technical knockout.
Ortega was coming off a 34-month layoff where he had been fighting in MMA, which prompted his friend Urijah Faber’s appearance. Alexander, from nearby Antioch, had only one win on his ledger but was known around Northern California circles for scoring a knockdown of currently undefeated middleweight prospect Brandon Gonzales in a 2008 defeat.
Ortega opened the scoring with a left hook in the center of the ring and Alexander initiated his offense off his left jab. However, Ortega began to unleash a devastating series of left hooks to the jaw and body.  Alexander did his best to parry several of the shots but did not return enough fire to draw even, as another jarring left hook from Ortega shook him before the bell.
Alexander gamely pressed forward to open the second round, pumping his jab and weaving his way around Ortega’s heavy hands but Ortega would not be denied. Patient with his punches, Ortega grazed Alexander with a lead right and a left hook.
Round three saw Alexander do his best impression of a video game joystick, as he jerked and juked to avoid Ortega’s onslaught. Ortega landed another left hook as Alexander circled away but the Antioch fighter took it well before the bell.
The final frame had Ortega apply a sense of urgency. Behind a strong lead right hand, he looked for an opening to no avail, as Alexander came forward and smothered Ortega’s punches. Finally, Ortega struck gold with a hard left hook that stunned Alexander and the subsequent finishing blow and two chopping right hands over the top that floored his opponent. Referee Dan Stell instantly called the bout upon Alexander hitting the ground.
The official time was 1:50.
“It felt good to be back,” said Ortega. “I just want to get back in there ASAP. I wasn’t looking for the knockout but the last two right hands hurt him for good.”
Ortega, 2-0 (2), finally adds that second win to his total three years later, while Alexander descends to 1-5-3.
Light Welterweights
San Francisco’s Chicas, 142, fresh off a first-round knockout of Maja Khali in his April pro debut, took the unanimous decision over Islas, 139, who entered a pro ring for the first time.
Off the bat, Islas pumped his jab effectively and looked to pressure Chicas, who retaliated by going to the body in close quarters and put a solid left hook behind it in a close first round between the orthodox fighters.
In the second, Chicas must have heard something out of Islas’ camp because now, he began to jab to the body. The taller Islas continued to throw the jab, attempting to vary his attack with a lead left hook and an uppercut. But again, Chicas landed the most telling blows, including a solid one-two that snapped Islas’ head back with seconds left in the stanza.
Chicas turned on the heat in round three, commencing the action with a two-punch combination to the body that found its mark. Islas finally caught Chicas with a right uppercut that drew applause. With his corner screaming for him to be first, Islas turned on the shoeshine with a four-punch combination that scored for the most part. Chicas showed brief signs of tiring and Islas tried to walk him down. However, Chicas was waiting and landed a big left hook and looping right that landed clean. 
In the fourth and final round, the two immediately traded left hooks; Islas’ landed. Chicas relished the combatants’ return to inside fighting and slipped Islas’ volleys. Chicas swung for the fences with an overhand right that missed. With seconds left, Islas got a bit reckless, charging in and getting caught with counters to close the show.
Scores were 40-36 and 39-37 twice for Chicas.
“He knew that I was going to the body,” said Chicas, “so I had to switch it up and go to the head as the fight went on.”
Chicas stays undefeated at 2-0 (1), while Islas, from Madera, Calif., drops his debut to go to 0-1.


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