By David Finger
For boxing fans in New Mexico, there was a lot of excitement about undefeated Matthew “Diamond Boy” Griego since he turned pro in 2016. He was unmistakably a fighter with tremendous talent, but inactivity plagued his career and for some fans there remained many questions that needed answers before they were ready to dub him a potential world class prospect.
Well, after his performance on Saturday night it seems that a number of those questions have been answered.
New Mexico…you have a bona fide blue chip prospect on your hands. Greg, 111.8, dug deep to win a hard fought ten round majority decision over Jeronil Borres, 110.8, of the Philippines.
Borres was seen as a solid litmus test for Griego, having only been stopped twice by world class fighters in Ivan Soriano (who is ranked #5 by the IBF at 108 pounds) and Junto Nakatani (who is ranked #3 by the WBO at 112 pounds). But in round one it looked like the awkward Filipino had just the weapon that could cut the Diamond Boy: lightning fast speed. Borres boxed behind a quick jab and midway through the round he switched from orthodox to southpaw to add to Griego’s frustration. By round two Griego began to work his jab and seemed to find some success with it. But for the Filipino the second round saw him make an adjustment as well. Abandoning the jab, that had proved effective in rounds one, Borres began to load up and fire wild overhand rights. It was a surprisingly effective strategy, but one that still seemed to nullify his speed advantage. The edge in speed seemed gone once he began to stalk the New Mexican while looking to land the hard right hand.
Nonetheless Borres seemed to win the third round as the wide overhand rights were keeping Griego “honest” while also occasionally landing. Griego also seemed to possess a very bad habit, one that he will need to work on in the gym, of turning his head to the side whenever a right hand came close to his chin. The odd defensive technique may have made his chin somewhat more elusive but it also made it appear that many of the right hands that missed did in fact land. Griego again bounced back in round four as he incorporated some heavy body shots into his arsenal. The body work did seem to have the Filipino slowing down, but he roared back with a vengeance in round five. After landing a right cross Borres unleashed an onslaught upstairs that clearly rattled the local boy. But by the end of the round Griego again was able to establish his distance and even landed a hard overhand right from the outside. Borres incorporated his own body attack in round six but it remained the overhand rights upstairs that were the most problematic for Griego, who was clipped by several in the early part of the round. But it was what took place in the final minute of the round that would be the moment that Griego showed what he was made of. A hard overhand right landed flush on the chin of the Diamond Boy and he stumbled, visibly hurt. The Filipino recognized his wounded prey and stepped on the accelerator, trying to take out the New Mexican. Griego survived the round but having never fought past six rounds before and having been badly rattled, local boxing fans were nervous at the direction the fight was heading.
Well, if Matthew Griego is someday destined to become a world champion, that champion was born in the seventh round of his fight with Jeronil Borres.
Diamond Boy boxed beautifully behind a jab, popping his Filipino opponent upstair and throwing combinations to the head whenever Borres cut the gap. Round eight saw Diamond Boy continue his effective boxing, although the round was much closer and more difficult to score. However, it was Diamond Boy who had the gas to finish the final two rounds with a slight edge.
Although it did appear that Diamond Boy did just enough to pull off the fight, most of press row recognized how close the fight was and almost everyone had the fight either even or within a point or two for Griego. The close nature of the fight was reflected in the final decision as Chris Tellez scored the fight 95-95. However he was overruled by Stan Saavedra who scored the fight 96-94 and Juan Nunez who had a somewhat curious score of 99-91, both for Griego. Fightnews.com® scored the fight 96-95 for Diamond Boy, who improved to 11-0, 8 KOs. The tough Filipino sees his record fall to 11-5-1, 6 KOs.
‘I’m a fighter,” Borres said after the decision was announced, “I accept I lose. For me, I really accept it. He’s a tough fighter. A very good fighter. A world champion.”
Griego was excited about winning his first belt (the ABF Continental Americas belt) and was respectful about his opponent as well.
“He was tough, he took everything I had,” Griego said of his opponent. “I thought I won it pretty clear, he’s a good sport. I hope he has much success in the future.”
In the co-main event one of New Mexico’s most enigmatic fighters may have finally solved the riddle and put the missing piece of the puzzle in place as “Irish” Bryant McClain, 172.5, dominated Lorenzo Benavidez, 174.6, en route to a six round unanimous decision. McClain initially saw his career come off to a solid start, winning his first four fights. But since January of 2017 McClain seemed to be unable to put it all together and always appeared to do just enough not to win a fight. Three draws, a majority decision victory over an 0-1 fighter, and three losses (including two majority decision losses) followed and many fans couldn’t help but wonder why McClain was suddenly having so much trouble putting it together in the ring after such a promising start. It was particularly frustrating when fans of the boxer realized that, had he got the nod in every draw and every majority decision he was in, he would be sitting on a 10-1 record.
A draw against Benavidez in November of last year seemed to close the book on McClain as a prospect, but Irish was not willing to go quietly into journeyman status and he reinvented himself at Isleta. McClain proceeded to box effectively and kept his much shorter opponent at the end of his jab. Also, McClain wisely didn’t let Benavidez drag him into a brawl every time he got in close, rather electing to clinch and smother the smaller man’s punches. All three judges had the fight 60-54 for McClain, who sees his record improve to 6-3-3, 1 KO. Benavidez slips to 3-2-1, 1 KO.
“I stayed away from him as much as I could,” McClain said. “He’s a little grizzly bear!”
Undefeated Mario Gonzales dominated a game Brad Greick of Gillette, Wyoming, stopping him at 0:47 of the second round. Greick, a rookie making his professional debut, was something of an unknown quantity coming into the fight. But he quickly proved his toughness, standing in with Gonzales and trading hard overhand rights with the flashy boxer. But Gonzales was not deterred and boxed beautifully behind a wicked jab and a relentless body attack. Although Greick was taking some heavy punches he remained dangerous with the right hand, winging it with bad intentions. But the pressure of Gonzales finally paid off for the Hobbs native as he dropped Greick with a vicious body shot halfway through the round.
Greick was up quickly but it was clear that he was hurt and Gonzalez unleashed on him in the corner, sending him to the canvas a second time seconds later. A bloody and wobbly Greick tried to survive the round but with less than twenty seconds remaining in the round Gonzales felled him a third time, this time with a hard right upstairs. Nonetheless referee Rocky Burke decided to give the game brawler one more shot.
Unfortunately for Greick, it was Gonzales who capitalized on the additional time. A vicious right hand to the chin seconds into the second round send Greick down in a heap, prompting referee Burke to wave off the fight.
With the win the talented Gonzales sees his record improve to 4-0, 3 KOs. Unlike other talented prospects in the state of New Mexico, Gonzales is a very active fighter and is tentatively slated to fight in Albuquerque again on March 28.
In a featured undercard fight undefeated Clinton Chavez, 147, dominated debuting Luis Mares, 143.8, stopp ing him at 2:53 of the opening round. Mares was tough and willing, but the undefeated prospect simply had to much of an advantage in size, skill and reach. An uppercut badly wobbled Mares and he stumbled into the ropes defenseless, prompting referee Rocky Burke to stop the fight. With the win Chavez improves to 4-0, 3 KOs while Mares falls to 0-1.
Also on the card debuting Jozette Cotton, 159.8, almost pulled off the upset against local prospect Jordanee “OMG” Garcia, 164.6. Cotton boxed effectively in the open round and used her reach to keep OMG on the outside in the opening two rounds. But she appeared to run out of gas in round three, allowing OMG to outbox her in the closing two rounds. Judge Juan Nunez scored the fight 39-37 for Garcia while Judge Chris Tellez scored there fight 39-37 for Cotton. Judge Stan Saavedra scored the fight 38-38, resulting in a draw. Cotton, who was making her professional debut, remains undefeated at 0-0-1 while OMG sees her record now stand at 4-1-1, 0 KOs.
In the opening fight of the night Travis Foster, 167.6, won a four round unanimous decision over Clovis New Mexico’s Nikko Nathan, 169.4. Foster sees his record improve to 2-0, 0 KOs. Nathan slips to 1-2, 0 KOs.
The Fresquez Productions promoted show marked the return of legendary promoter Lenny Fresquez into boxing and it appears, based on the fights and the attendance, that he hasn’t lost a step. No word as of yet as to when Fresquez’s next card will be.