Little venue, big punches

Hundreds witnessed Valley’s first-ever boxing extravaganza in the South Gym April 24.

By Yesenia Burgara, Staff Writer

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Nobody will mistake the South Gym for the MGM Grand, but Valley recently hosted its own fight night and there might have been more action on campus than in Mayweather-Pacquiao.

The K.O. Boxing event sported 12 bouts, including one female fight and a main event featuring Valley’s own Emilio Rodriquez, 22, a promising Golden Gloves fighter.

Tickets were $20, not $10,000, and Valley fight fans got to see celebrities, including Justin Bieber. Beiber was here to watch friend Xavier Smith fight. However, the headliner, whose fight was witnessed by 1,200 who packed into the South Gym on April 24, was Rodriquez.

The super middleweight faced McArio Del Castillo, but the match did not last long. Rodriquez (9-1) came in demonstrating his ability as a fighter, complementing defensive skills with power punches. In the first round, Rodriquez’s right hook to Castillo’s face gave the hometown hero a TKO and his ninth win in 10 professional matches.

“I was so focused throughout the week,” said Rodriquez.

Celebrity sightings included Obba Babatunde (host), Beverly “Mama” Sherman (mother of star NFL cornerback Richard Sherman), actors Charles Malik Whitfield and Kyle Massey, and Kenisha Norton (daughter of late boxing great Ken Norton Sr.). Middleweight Fernando Guerrero was also in attendance to promote the all-purpose, charitable Fernando Guerrero Foundation.

As spectators arrived, they were given the opportunity to choose items from a large table with shoes, athletic shirts, children books and toys.

K.O. Boxing and promoter Marvin Columbus gave out awards to Whitfield, boxing trainer Ricky Funez and Naja Crawford, Valley’s Commissioner of Athletics, for bringing the event to Valley.

“The show was amazing,” Columbus said. “So many people came out in support.”

Columbus, who toured as a dancer with Midnight Starr and the SOS and Gap Bands and others in the ‘80s, said he plans another event in June at Valley that will include boxing and a concert, with some of the proceeds going to “Hands Off Our Children,” which according to its Facebook page, “uses a multi-media platform to raise awareness, provide info and resources to safeguard and prevent against all forms of child abuse.”

Columbus kicked off the evening by welcoming everyone and introducing host Obba Babatunde. Lexy St. George performed the National Anthem.

Some of the undercard fights saw Timmy Ortiz defeat Steve DeVelasco and Brandon Mendoza, Josh Torres, Jonatan Walley and Danny Anthony all picking up wins.

In the women’s event, Gerrica Trais dominated the entire match against Valley’s Breenah Goldberg; Trais came into the ring in better shape and demonstrated more power than her opponent.

Recording artist Tammy Task hyped up the crowd during intermission to prepare them for the remaining six fights. James Vu, Damon Lopez, and Xavier Smith were among the late winners.

In the main event, Valley’s Rodriquez came storming out at the bell and tore into his opponent with thundering rights and lefts. Del Castillo, a late replacement, probably wished he’d stayed home after facing the relentless barrage. At least his night was a short one; after two brief stoppages by the referee, an unbridled sequence of six haymakers ended the fight by TKO.

For Rodriquez (9-1), his victory relieved weight off of his shoulders after having an unsatisfactory football season as Valley’s third-string quarterback, along with a tough first loss by decision in his last Golden Glove tournament.

“[I was] so determined,” said Rodriquez. “With all the hype that was building in the school and with my momentum of being an upcoming amateur boxer in the community I wanted to prove that I was more than just an average boxer.  I’m proud that I was a apart of the first boxing show every held at Valley as well as being a winner.”


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