West Coast Crush

Photo by Al Applerose

West Coast Crush: Fights in Ontario, Indio, and Las Vegas

By David A. Avila

It’s the busiest time of the year for boxing promoters as contractual obligations to their fighters must be met before January. This year seems much more crowded than usual.

Across the country and especially in California and Nevada, boxing cards are stumbling over each other to get those 11th hour dates fulfilled.

Southern California gyms have been humming with activity from San Diego to Oxnard. Beginning on Friday several important fight cards kick off the holiday season with regional title fights, world title fights and pro debuts of several Olympians.

NABA super bantamweight titlist Danny Roman (20-2-1) defends against Victor Proa (28-2-2) on Friday Nov. 18, at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario. The Thompson Boxing Promotions event also features undefeated Giovanni Santillan (19-0) facing Miguel Mendoza (23-9-2) in a welterweight clash.

Roman has been on fire since winning the title on July 2015 and has defended it four times since. It’s a crowded division filled with talent and promises great matchups next year should he remain in contention.

"I've stayed busy throughout the year so I know I'm going to come out sharp against Proa," Roman said.


On the same day in the city of Indio, welterweight contender Mauricio “El Maestro” Herrera (22-6) of Riverside returns to face fellow contender Pablo Cano (29-5-1) of Cancun, Mexico. The main event takes place on Friday Nov. 18, at Fantasy Springs Casino.

Herrera, 36, remains one of the area’s most skilled boxers and meets one of Mexico’s toughest welterweights. Herrera looks to rebound from a loss to Frankie Gomez that many experts say is the only real loss of his career.

“It was a bad day for me but I’m not trying to take away anything from Frankie Gomez,” said Herrera. “He’s a good fighter but I can do better than I did.”

The Golden Boy Promotions event also features undefeated bantamweight prospect Joshua Franco (7-0) who trains in Riverside. He fights veteran Felipe Rivas (17-17-4).

Also in attendance will be Vinnie Paz the subject of a new Hollywood motion picture “Bleed for This” a story about his life. The former world champion will be signing autographs and taking photos with fans. Known as the “Pazmanian Devil” during his career he was a five-time world champion.

Las Vegas

In Las Vegas, this Saturday, will be one of the most anticipated fights of the year when undefeated WBA, IBF and WBO light heavyweight titlist Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (30-0-1, 26 Kos) meets Andre “S.O.G.” Ward (30-0, 15 Kos) at the T-Mobile Arena. It’s the first time in 17 years that two undefeated fighters considered among the best pound-for-pound meet since Oscar De La Hoya met Felix Trinidad. HBO pay-per-view will televise.

“This fight is an opportunity for both of us to show the boxing world who is the best pound for pound. I'm sure he (Ward) will be there to do everything he can to get the victory over me and it's the same for me. It's going to be a war between us,” said Kovalev who lives in Russia but trained in Big Bear for this showdown.

Ward, a former 2008 US Olympic gold medalist from Oakland, has not lost a fight in pros or amateurs since he was 12 years old.

Another U.S. Olympian on the Las Vegas fight card will be two-time gold medal winner Claressa Shields who makes her pro debut against former U.S. National amateur champion Franchon Crews. Shields won Olympic gold in Rio this past summer and in London in 2012.

“I’m really excited to be fighting in Las Vegas and it’s on TV,” said Shields, 21, whose fight will be televised on the free portion of the pay-per-view telecast. “I definitely want to show people what I can do.”