Before 1,700 hardcore fight fans at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, CA, on Friday night, Golden Boy Promotions put on an action-packed card as part of Telefutura’s “Solo Boxeo Tecate” series. The card featured prospects, local favorites, and two fighters near contender status heading in different directions.
In the opening bout, Paramount, CA. native and featherweight prospect Charles Huerta, 15-1 (8), needed just 1:53 of the first round to dispatch Felipe Cordova, 10-2 (4). Huerta showed patience early on but hurt his opponent to the body and then it was game on. Huerta swarmed in and a left dropped Cordova for good to the crowd’s delight. Huerta, an aggressive boxer, still needs to work on his finishing skills as he got a little overexcited when he hurt his opponent. But even still, the proof is in the pudding and the young man hurt his opponent and got him out of there in impressive, short order and you can’t ask for more than that. In the next year, I expect Huerta to step up in competition as he approaches 20 fights.
Next up was heavyweight hopeful and 2008 US Olympic bronze medalist Deontay Wilder, 13-0 (13), vs, Harold Sconiers, 17-21-2 (11). Wilder is a raw prospect with not a lot of amateur experience, despite his Olympic pedigree. At 6’7” with an 84” reach, the man is an imposing figure in the ring; chiseled, gigantic and foreboding. But once he squared off with the ordinary Sconiers, the flaws showed.
Depite dropping Sconiers early and often (two knockdowns), Wilder’s lack of snap in his punches and his defensive flaws began to show. He kept landing then pivoting out with his chin and open to attack. Plus his body work is lacking and the punches are very, very wide. Still, Wilder seemed to have Sconiers falling all over the place every time he tapped him. Then things got crazy when in the second round, Sconiers found and exploited a weakness: Wilder is wide open for an uppercut and Sconiers found that spot, exploded one on Wilder’s face and nearly ended the fight right there. Wilder rose on spaghetti legs and wobbled about on unsure stems while getting pounded on by Sconiers. Mercifully, the bell rang and Wilder trudged to his corner to find out what the hell just happened.
Over the next two rounds, Wilder fought for his professional life and worked his way back into the fight. Finally, in the fourth, Wilder landed a chopping right that dropped Sconiers and then later in the round, a long, straight right that would have sent Sconiers in the first row had there not been ropes. The ref waved it off as soon as Sconiers landed all floppy like a marionette without strings at 1:09 of the fourth.
Up next was junior welterweight prospect Frankie Gomez, 7-0 (6), who looked very raw and at times unsure against Ramon Montano, 17-8-2 (2). Montano is a veteran tough guy with zero punching ability and still, he worked well to the body early, despite Gomez’ complaints that he was going low (he wasn’t).
Montano, despite his record, is no slouch although a limited fighter. Still, he kept his never-been-knocked-out streak alive as he took the fight to Gomez, eating his best shots and still coming forward. Gomez looked a bit gassed, which is not a good sign for a young prospect who will only get better in tip-top shape that allows him a physical and mental freedom in fights.
The rounds were good for Gomez, however, and despite the rough spots, he won by scores of 58-56 and 60-54, twice. The six-round fight marks Gomez’ first time going the distance.
Local featherweight sensation Randy Caballero, 5-0 (4), also fought to his first decision win over Missael Nunez, 4-10-2. Caballero brings a huge Coachella Valley, CA following. Everywhere you looked, Team Caballero shirts walked about, covering all manner of ages and it appears that Mr. Caballero has a large, screaming, female fan club.
Cabellero brought the heat, taking the fight to his opponent early and often. Nunez played the part of “Reluctant Roy,” backing away and not engaging near enough to leave the power-punching Caballero with much to work with. Still, the rounds were solid experience for Caballero, who generally blasts fighters out of there. Scores were 40-36 across the board.
Also in support was heavyweight Seth Mitchell, 19-0 (13), who made quick work of Derrick Brown, 13-6-3 (11), who looked woefully soft and outgunned. Mitchell stalked his opponent and banged away to the head and flabby body of Brown, dropping him three times and ending things near the final bell.
Mitchell, a former All-American linebacker at Michigan State University, looked poised and dangerous in there but with an opponent like Brown, it’s hard to say how he would fare against tougher competition. Still, for a guy who started boxing in 2006, he looked better than the guy with a bronze medal. I look forward to seeing more of him.
The main event, between junior featherweights Eloy Perez, 19-0-2 (5) and Dominic Salcido, 18-3 (9), was a tough fight to score and at times, a little tough to watch. There was action in spots but the fight was really a chess match between two counterpunchers hell bent on letting the other man lead.
Salcido had things his way early, taking the first two rounds on my card with his jab and movement while Perez gauged range and waited to counter.
Perez would get things going in the third and fourth rounds but things didn’t heat up until the middle of the fight as both men wrested control from each other in spots of each round.
However, down the stretch, it was Salcido who seemed to take control, letting his hands go and taking the fight. In the tenth and final round, it was Salcido stepping on the gas, landing his right hand, putting Perez into retreat mode.
The judges saw it a bit differently than I did (I had Salcido winning by a couple rounds) and they awarded Perez (to the crowd’s delight, I might add) a majority decision win with scores of 96-94, twice, and 95-95. With the win, Perez successfully defends his NABO belt and moves higher in the rankings.
All in all, the crowd seemed happy with the night, despite long breaks in between fights and a crowd fight that stole some thunder from the main event.
Fantasy Springs and the enthusiastic crowd it brings bode well for future fights in a small venue that packs a big punch.
You can email Gabriel at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gabriel_montoya and catch him on each Monday’s episode of “The Next Round” with Steve Kim or tune into hear him live on Thursdays at 5-8 PM PST when he co-hosts the BlogTalk radio show Leave-It-In-The-Ring.com. Gabriel is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.