Debut Card from “King Sports” a Big Hit
By Michael Montero
Santa Monica, California, USA
“King Sports” owner and president Michael King is known among boxing diehards for his recent “All American Heavyweights” project, which aimed to convert former football stars into heavyweight boxers. Tonight he tried his hand at promoting, putting on King Sports’ inaugural professional boxing card at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California. A passionate crowd got their money’s worth in an intimate setting, with the UCLA marching band opening up the show with a rousing number. Steve Jones, guitarist for the British punk band Sex Pistols, played the national anthem with electric guitar. Actor Kevin Pollock (a big boxing fan) emceed the event. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Ray Mancini and other celebrities were spotted ringside. Indeed King went all out for his first promotional event.
The card featured five bouts with some promising prospects, legitimate contenders and polished veterans who all brought their A-game. Here’s a breakdown of the action.
Louis Rose (9-1-1) vs. Emanuel Ledezma (12-1-2), middleweights
The opening bout was a good one. Early on both fighters tried to establish their jab and set the pace, but Rose appeared to be more relaxed. Ledezma, of San Antonio Texas, appeared to be working through nervous energy. As the rounds progressed, both men had their moments in a close bout with plenty of back and forth action. Rose, of Lynwood California, dug some thunderous body shots and seemed to do the better work. He began to land heavy overhand rights in the middle rounds, and in the eight Rose landed a monster right hand that sent his opponent reeling into the ropes. Ledezma stayed on his feet and never stopped throwing punches, but Rose followed up with a barrage that had him out on his feet. A left hook sent Ledezma nearly through the ropes and the referee had no choice but to stop it. Lynwood, California native Louis Rose improved to 10-1-1 (3) as a pro with the TKO victory.
Yunier Dorticos (16-0) vs. Eric Fields (24-2), cruiserweights
Fields, of Ardmore Oklahoma and Dorticos, of Havana Cuba, had brawled during their weigh in, and brought bad blood into the ring tonight. Things started quickly, and a shot that appeared to land to the back of the head dropped the Cuban just a minute into the first round. Dorticos recovered and then dropped his opponent with a straight right at the end of the round. No feeling out process here… As the fight ensued the Cuban stalked forward, looking for the knockout with every punch. Fields used lateral movement to slip most of his opponent’s work, but the shots that did land caused damage. He hung tough, but got caught on the ropes toward the end of the fourth and ate a vicious overhand right that crushed him to the canvas. Referee Jack Reiss reached the count of ten and it was all over. The man they call “The KO Doctor” is now 17-0 with 17 knockouts. He needs to improve his head movement and use the jab more consistently, but the power is very real. This writer predicts that Dorticos will become a world title holder over the next year or two.
Chris Van Heerden (20-1-1) vs. Ray Narh (26-4), welterweights
This bout, which featured fighters from Africa, was the first of the night to go the distance. Narh, a native of Ghana now residing in Brooklyn New York, started out more active and had his opponent covering up early on. Despite his slow start, Van Heerden soon warmed up and worked his way into the fight. Both fighters were having their moments in a match that was difficult to score. Narh made an adjustment going into the later rounds. He went back to his jab, and had his southpaw opponent’s right eye swelling up as a result. Van Heerden, of Johannesburg South Africa, never stopped pushing forward but the Ghanaian appeared to do the better work. The judges disagreed with this writer however. The official scores were 97-93 Narh and 96-94 Van Heerden twice. It goes in the books as a split decision win for the South African, who improves to 21-1-1 (11).
Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam (29-1) vs. Fulgenico Zuniga (26-8-1), middleweights
The first round was slow, with N’Dam mostly backing up and Zuniga, of Padilla Colombia, chasing him around the ring. N’Dam came out much more aggressive in the second, landing several hard shots and dominating the round. From that point on he set the pace, picking his spots and taking little return fire. The Cameroon native’s jab couldn’t miss, and buy the middle rounds it was target practice. To his credit Zuniga never stopped coming forward, but he just couldn’t seem to get off. This pattern repeated for the entire scheduled ten rounds. The scorecards were only a formality, as the judges had it 100-90 three times for N’Dam. In the post fight interview, N’Dam said he sustained an injury to his left hand. With a heavy heart, he dedicated the fight to his father, who recently passed away.
Charles Martin (15-0-1) vs. Alex Flores (14-0), heavyweights
The final bout of the evening featured the big boys, as two undefeated 6’5” heavyweights squared off. Martin, a southpaw from Saint Louis Missouri, appeared to be the stronger man, and was using his jab to set things up. Flores, of nearby Rowland Heights California, looked like a blown up cruiserweight, sporting a mid section that would make Butterbean proud. He applied pressure, but dove in at times without using the jab at all. At the very end of the third round, Martin landed a flush 1-2 that dropped Flores. The fourth round was all Martin as he teed off on his opponent, working beautifully upstairs and downstairs. Near the end of the round he finished Flores with a vicious liver shot, all set up by the jab. Its boxing 101 folks, work behind the jab and good things will happen. Martin improves to 16-0 with 13 knockouts.
It was a spectacular event top to bottom; Michael King and team deserve a ton of credit. This is exactly the type of card that America needs more of, the small venues that mold prospects into contenders and develop casual fans into diehards. King Sports has several of these cards planned over the coming year, the next one being in August. In you’re in the LA area you should definitely come check it out.
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