By David Finger
Hobbs, New Mexico has already emerged as one of the State’s unexpected hotbeds of professional boxing since Isidro Castillo and his School of Hard Knocks Promotions hosted its first professional boxing show back in July of 2010. And on Saturday, November 4th School of Hard Knocks returned to its roots as Joey Alday, 164, demolished last minute sub Michael Sanchez, 166, in a mere 1:02 seconds of the opening round. The card was held at Club la Sierra, the same venue of Castillo’s first promotion.
Alday, of Odessa Texas, is one of the most talked about prospects in the Lone Star state and his fight in Hobbs was originally slated to be against the gritty brawler Chris Leyva (1-0-1, 0 KOs) of Albuquerque. But the fight was scrapped at the weigh-ins when Leyva came in a whopping 14-pounds overweight. However Castillo was able to secure a last minute sub as debuting Michael Sanchez of Midland, Texas agreed to take the fight on less than one day’s notice.
Nonetheless, although Sanchez should be given credit for taking on a tough opponent like Alday on such short notice there was no question that he was not in the same class as the talented Odessa native. Alday calmly stalked his opponent at the bell as Sanchez tried to wildly loop with wide shots, hoping to find lightning in a bottle. But a perfect counter left hook dropped Sanchez less than twenty seconds in the fight and although Sanchez rose he was quickly felled again by a second counter left hook. Sanchez was counted out by referee Robert Veloz at 1:02 of the opening round.
“He was coming in pretty strong,” Alday said of his opponent’s aggression at the opening bell, “I saw the left hook. It was there. Shout out to this guy, he took the fight on one day’s notice.”
With the win Alday improves to 6-0, 6 KOs. He is next scheduled to fight on the undercard of Jennifer Han’s IBF world title defense in El Paso, Texas on December 1st.
In an intriguing local matchup heavyweight Ruben Sanchez, 219.6, picked apart Gabriel Vejar, 272.4, before the fight was stopped in the corner after two rounds. Sanchez looked like a caged lion during the introductions but fought much more conservatively against his larger foe. The reason became clear almost immediately as Vejar tended to load up with wild punches. Lacking the endurance to go four hard rounds Vejar seemed to recognize his best strategy was to land one big shot on the chin of the Hobbs, New Mexico native. But with Sanchez’s caution approach Vejar was unable to land anything meaningful and by round two it was clear that his was rapidly running out of gas. Recognizing his foe was wilting Sanchez began to tee off on Vejar in the closing seconds of the second round. After returning to his corner Vejar’s cornerman told referee Stan Saavedra that they were calling a halt to the contest.
Undefeated lightweight prospect Abel Navarette, 130.4, made short work of Ernest Hernandez, 132.8, demolishing him after only eighty nine seconds. Navarette, a 25-year old prospect from Amarillo Texas, was widely expected to defeat El Paso’s Hernandez, who had lost six straight fights by first round knockout. In fact the main question boxing fans had was if Navarette could secure his first professional knockout against Hernandez. He did, swarming all over Hernandez at the bell and dropping Hernandez with a devastating combination upstairs punctuated by a hard right to the body. Hernandez rose but was unable to derail Navarette’s offense and was dropped a second time by a right hook to the body. Referee Stan Saavedra wisely waved off the fight. With the win Navarette improves to 3-0, 1 KO while Hernandez falls to 1-7, 1 KO.
Also on the card popular New Mexico journeyman Gene Perez, 132, put forth a solid effort against undefeated Gabriel Rodriguez, 132. Rodriguez, of El Paso, came into the fight with a 2-0 record but had yet to secure his first knockout as a professional. But it became abundantly clear in the opening round that the Perez, of Belen, was not about to hand him one in Hobbs. Perez, who upset John Herrera in his last fight, was clearly coming to win and pressured Rodriguez relentlessly. However although Perez kept each round close, Rodriguez appeared to have a slight edge in speed, accuracy, and athleticism. Although Perez would on occasion break through the defense of Rodriguez it often came after walking into a looping shot that caught the eyes of the judges. Nonetheless Perez was able to stay in the fight and never hit the canvas during the four rounds of action. Judge Ester Lopez scored the fight 39-37 for Rodriguez while judges Mark Sanchez and Chris Tellez both scored the fight 40-36 for the El Paso native. With the win Rodriguez improves to 3-0, 0 KOs while Perez slips to 2-10-1, 0 KOs.
In the opening fight of the night debuting Rafael Gonzalez, 182.8, won a sloppy but entertaining four round decision over fellow rookie Eduardo Silva, 185.8, of Belen. Both fighters landed some heavy shots in the fight but by round three it was the fatigue of both fighters that became the most notable factor in the fight. Silva would be deducted a point for losing his mouthpiece in round three while Gonzalez would be docked a point for the same infraction in the final round. But with less than ten seconds remaining in the fight it appeared that Gonzalez was able to dig a little deeper as he pressured the Belen native and rocked him with a hard right cross that sent Silva stumbling into the ropes. Gonzalez jumped on his wounded foe but was prevented from going for a knockout when the bell sounded ending the round. Judge Ester Lopez scored the fight 37-37 but she was overruled by judges Mark Sanchez and Chris Tellez, who both scored the fight 38-36 for the Hobbs native.