By David A. Avila
POMONA-It was a solid show presented by Top Rank with a rather unexpected large and rowdy crowd that arrived with horns, flags and carloads of fans eager to support their country’s hero.
Nicaragua's Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (32-0, 27 KOs) felt right at home making his WBA world title defense against Mexico's Ramon Hirales Garcia (16-4-1, 9 KOs) and proved it with a knockout win on Saturday night in the shadows of Sugar Shane Mosley's home. The Pomona Fairplex was a perfect site for the rush of people.
After a slow first minute a couple of left hooks started the action for Nicaragua's Gonzalez as he figured out the left-handed Hirales style. Slow pressure by Chocolatito forced Hirales to seek space and distance.
Mexico's Hirales (16-4-1, 9 KOs) looked for the bombs while Gonzalez continued the steady pressure shooting short left hooks and rights to the body and head. A counter left hand landed for Hirales but Gonzalez kept the pressure on.
Hirales continued working the body with long lefts, but was being countered with two punches for every blow he landed. A right cross from the champion moved Hirales backward but both had their moments.
The champion was getting closer to the challenger and found his opening with a three-punch combination ending with a right uppercut that dropped Hirales like a rock. He beat the count and tried dancing out of range by Gonzalez wasn't allowing him time to recover. The exact same combination capped by the right uppercut floored Hirales once again. Referee Raul Caiz Jr. stopped the fight immediately without a count at 2:09 of round for as Gonzalez retained the title.
“He surprised me in the first couple of rounds with his boxing, but once he felt my power he was going backwards. Then I landed that great right hand. I knew he was done,” said Gonzalez. “It felt like I was fighting at home, like in Nicaragua. I'm very happy to fight in the United States. I hope to defend my title again.”
Southpaw Anthony Lenk (14-1, 7 KOs) won a unanimous decision over Riverside's Alberto Herrera (8-6-1, 5 KOs) after eight rounds of a welterweight fight. Lenk used his steady jab and speed to offset Herrera's inside fighting. The Riverside fighter had his best round in the seventh by landing multiple uppercuts. Lenk was able to out score Herrera with a busier output. Two judges scored it 78-74 and one 77-75 for Lenk.
Santa Ana's rising prospect Jessie Roman (10-0, 7 KOs) needed a couple of rounds to figure out Mexican veteran Jaime Orrantia (14-31-5, 5 KOs), but when he did it was bombs away. A right uppercut and left hook combination started the downfall for Orrantia in round three. By the fourth round Roman was fast on Orrantia's movements and began connecting regularly. A left hook stunned Orrantia and referee Zach Young wisely stopped the match at 2:13 of round four.
Wale “Lucky Boy” Omotoso (22-0, 19 KOs) knocked out Dallas welterweight Larry “Slow Motion” Smith (10-11) at 2:00 of the eighth and final round. Omotoso was in control of the entire fight but Smith fought mostly in a defensive posture and rarely looked for a knockout. Instead he was stopped by Omotoso with a right hand.
Jesse Magdaleno (9-0, 6 KOs) fired a pretty combination of a right cross-right uppercut to knock out Kansas City boxer Nick Fast (7-2-1, 6 KOs) at 2:07 of the first round. It was the second knockdown of the round.
Vahe Saruhanyan (5-0-1, 2 KOs) out-pointed Edwin Solis (3-2, 3 KOs) after four rounds of a junior lightweight match. The judges scored it 60-54, 59-55 and 58-56 for Saruhanyan.
A female welterweight bout saw Holly Lawson (2-2) start quicker against veteran Tammy Franks (2-20) and hold off the late charging fighter from San Antonio, Texas. Lawson fights out of Los Angeles. All three judges favored Lawson.
Considering the unexpected crowd, the California State Athletic Commission officials performed extremely well. The judgments of the score cards also went well with nary a bad decision. The referees also did well with regulating the action.
On occasion when there are large crowds things seem to get out of control. Not last Saturday night. The inspectors and officials were on their A game. For example: when several eager journalists from Nicaragua tried to sit in the corner of one of the fighters, they were immediately scooted out of there. Several people from the crowd tried to crash through the barrier but were rebuffed immediately. Supervision by CSAC was efficient and professional.
CSAC Executive Officer George Dodd was present at the boxing card and has established a very effective group since becoming the head. Boxing along with MMA are booming in California. CSAC is quietly reclaiming its position as the top commission in the U.S.