By David Finger
Boxing fans in New Mexico will be converging on the city of Roswell tonight when School of Hard Knocks Promotions kicks off “Throwdown in Alien Town,” the first boxing show in Roswell since 2012.
The card will feature popular local journeyman John “Smiley” Herrera (4-17-2, 2 KOs). Herrera takes on Belen, New Mexico’s Gene Perez (1-9-1, 0 KOs) in the main event. The last time Herrera fought in his backyard he was seen as something of a gritty journeyman with a longshot chance at pulling it together to make a run as a regional contender. Herrera capitalized on the opportunity and made sure to leave his local fans satisfied. Smiley scored a devastating knockout over Cristoval Larrazolo, giving Roswell boxing fans a hope that Herrera’s career was about to turn a corner. However, it would not be the case for the likeable Herrera, who would go winless in his next fourteen fights.
Although neither fighter possesses much of a record on paper, their grit and durability are well known in New Mexico where both fighters have given noted undefeated prospect Brandon Holmes a trio of tough fight (Perez lost a pair of decisions to Holmes in 2016 and 2017 while Herrera lost a majority decision to Holmes in 2014). In fact, the record of both fighters is littered with tough decision losses to top prospects. Perez has gone the distance in six of his nine losses, including decision losses to Patrick Holmes and Alex Holguin. Herrera has gone the distance in all but one of his seventeen losses and has held highly touted Arizona prospect Keenan Carbajal to a draw in 2014.
Although the Herrera-Perez fight card has the makings of being a crowd pleasing brawl, few fans are expecting the winner to emerge as a contender.
The same can’t be said about one of the chief undercard fights. Undefeated prospect Isidro Castillo Jr. (6-0, 3 KOs) inches closer to the world rankings as he takes on Albuquerque’s Brandon Trujillo (0-1) in a four round fight in the super middleweight division. Trujillo lost his only professional fight to Vernon Brown back in June and isn’t seen as a dangerous opponent for the talented Castillo. But he nonetheless can ill afford to look past his opponent. Castillo hails from nearby Hobbs, New Mexico and already is being seen as one of the best prospects in New Mexico.
Rounding off the card are some local fighters who are taking advantage of the opportunity to fight in their hometown. Undefeated Richard Villa (1-0-1, 0 KOs) of Roswell takes on Mauricio Lopez of Elk City, Oklahoma. Lopez lost his only professional fight in 2015 to Jeremiah Page. However he showed some durability in that fight and may surprise the local boxer.
Also on the card heavyweight Israel Huerta (1-2, 0 KOs) looks to avenge a previous loss in the cage against Omar Acosta (0-1) of Herford, Texas. Acosta proved to be durable as a boxer when he took undefeated prospect Elijo Sena the distance back in May of 2016. And he is going in with the knowledge that he already defeated Huerta in the cage.
“I’ve got a grudge against my opponent,” Huerta admitted at the first press conference to announce the fight. “He beat me in the cage a few years ago. But I have better hands then ground work. I want revenge. He ain’t a boxer. My father was a boxer. My brother was. It’s in the blood. I’ll have my revenge and if he wants a rematch in the cage, I’ll give it to him. I know he ain’t going to hurt me.”
Also on the card, debuting Raymond Lara from Roswell takes on debuting Tim “Tool man” Ruiz of Herford, Texas in a welterweight fight.
Also debuting on the card will be Ysidro Patillo of Odessa as he takes on Oscar Espinoza (1-1, 1 KO) of Hobbs. The fight will be in the cruiserweight division.
Rounding off the card is a middleweight fight between Roswell’s Augustin Perez, who will be making his professional debut, against Hobbs New Mexico’s Ricardo Reyes in a four round lightweight fight.
Tickets start at $30 for general admission. Ringside will be $60 and VIP tables are also available. The card will be held at the Roswell Convention and Civic Center at 912 N. Main in Roswell, New Mexico.