Camp Pendleton, CA. – On the 9th of August the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation in association with Sycuan Ringside Promotions and Northeast Promotions graciously presented an exciting eight bout card for the Marine troops of Camp Pendleton. This event was dubbed as a “Salute to America’s Heroes” and was offered as tribute to all the brave men and women in uniform. The idea to put on the fight for the troops came from Sycuan Ringside promotions president and Sycuan tribal treasurer Glen Quiroga. He was inspired to promote the event by a friend’s imminent departure to Iraq. Quiroga said, “I want to bring some entertainment to the troops and their families in hopes of taking their minds off the war for a few hours.” This event marked the first time that a professional boxing card had ever been held at Camp Pendleton. Sycuan gave all of the tickets to this unique event to only authorized personnel of which an estimated 7,395 turned out to take in the action. In addition, ESPN carried the event to a live national audience. The matches took place on a rarely seen outdoor ring before a giant downward draping American flag that floated biliously in the soft early evening breeze.
The card featured as its main event a bout between the former International Boxing Federation lightweight champion Julio “Kid” Diaz against Russell Jones and in the Semi main event Ricardo Dominguez against Rafael Ortiz. In addition to the main events of the evening the card featured a couple of highly interesting and entertaining bouts. Eric “Butter Bean” Esch, “King of 4 Rounders” the former tough man fighter turned professional boxer and an amateur bout pitting the USMC’s own Unir Perez against Christopher Navarro of the United States Navy.
The Main EventDiaz vs. Jones”Salute to America’s Heroes”, main event featured Julio “The Kid” Diaz 32-3, 24 KOs of Coachella, CA. fighting against Russell Jones of Denver CO., 15-12, 10 KOs. In order to challenge for the World Boxing Council Title, Diaz, the former International Boxing Federation lightweight champion, voluntarily relinquished his IBF title. Diaz, however, came up short in his initial pursuit of the WBC title losing to the more experienced boxer and current WBC champion Jose Luis Castillo. Diaz may have been beaten in the ring, but was anything but beaten in spirit, chalking the loss up to a learning experience and a confidence builder and vowing to fight on in his pursuit of the WBC title. His opponent, Russell Jones, originally from Ghana had not lost a fight since 2000. As the opening action begin the two fighters moved around the ring swapping punches taking measure of each other. Diaz, found his form fast and sized the situation up quickly dropping Jones just a 1.59 into the 1st round with a savage left blast. Jones reeling from the hit dropped to his knees in the corner and steadied himself against the ropes and began to paw with his glove at his right eye where Diaz’s punch had found its mark. Jones seemed alarmed if not completely panicked by the sudden turn of events, but avoided a ten count and seemingly regained his composure. He rose to his feet only to immediately kneel before the referee again pawing at his eye with a “deer in the headlights”, look upon his frightened face that screamed, “No mas.” At this point the referee called the fight and Jones pained expression changed suddenly into one of relief. Triumphant, Diaz found himself hoisted onto the shoulders of his handlers and paraded around the ring before the cheering crowd. Meanwhile, Jones looked on with a relived smile playing about his mouth as if he had just been given a last minute pardon from the gallows pole.
Semi-Main EventDominguez vs. OrtizThe semi-main event pitted lightweight Richard Dominguez of Culiacan, Mexico 15-1-2, 9 KOs and Rafael Ortiz of Lebanon, Oregon 11-7-1, 11 KOs against one another in a scheduled eight round bout. This fight was easily the most exciting of the night with each boxer putting forth a marvelous showing. Dominguez dominated the action early delivering several vicious uppercuts. Ortiz, however, held steady and by the fourth round begin to make a move against Dominguez. Pushing in with good combinations and solid hooks to the body he was able to control the action more effectively. The six round was Ortiz’s best yet. He cut Dominguez’s eye and continued to pound away with heavy blows staggering Dominguez and coming within an eyelash of dropping him to the mat. The fighting continued with a back and forth give and take from both fighters each holding his own until the eighth and final round where they stood toe to toe trading punches to the end. There were no knockdowns or knockouts in this bout and the outcome was left in the hands of the judges. The judges gave Dominguez a unanimous decision scoring the bout 77-55, 77-75 and 78-74 all in Dominguez’s favor.
Other Fights on the card
In the heavyweight division Eric “Butter Bean” of Jasper, AL. 71-4-4, 53 KOs took on Rick Zufall of Spencer, IN. 6-6, 5 KOs. The first couple of rounds were slow going with Zufall staying pretty much as far away from Butterbean as he possibly could without get booed out of the ring. With the crowd screaming for the boxers to fight and for Butterbean in particular to “knock him out”, the action picked up in the third with Butterbean moving in for the kill and knocking out Zufall. The crowd went wild with shouts of “Butterbean, Butterbean, Butterbean”, echoing in the early evening night as he made his way through the crowd. Zufall was later seen coming out of the concession line, double fisting a couple of beers and shaking his head saying, “ Man, that guy hits hard…I’m just a club fighter.”
The super lightweight division featured a bout between Felipe Capana of Tijuana, Mexico 2-1-1, 1 KO fighting against Rafael Ortiz of Merida, Mexico 8-9-1, 6 KOs. This fight ended in a Split decision draw.
In an amateur exhibition Yuni Perez of the USMC took on Christopher Navarro of the United States Navy. Perez controlled the bout throughout pounding Nararro relentlessly to the delight of Marine proud crowd. The fight went to the judges who easily scored the fight for Perez bringing out the loudest cheer of the night from the audience.
The final bout of the night featured a women’s super flyweight four round fight between Heather Donoho 2-0, 0 KOs battling against Mirasol Miranda 2-4, 0 KOs. This was a hard fought battle throughout which ultimately went to the judges. The judges scored the bout in favor of Donoho by a score of 59-55.
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