The long running “Fight Night at the Tank” series kicked off its 2009 season at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California on Thursday night, unveiling a new format before a crowd of 2,924. Fighters, divided into two teams over seven four-round bouts, competed for cash bonuses while attempting to advance their fledgling careers. Miguel Lopez of Oakland, California was named the fighter of the night, as he took home the “AMI Cup” and an additional $1,000 bonus.
Moris Rodriguez (1-0) of Chico, California appeared on his way to an easy win in the opening bout, but was taken to the limit by Eduardo Herrera (0-1) of Bakersfield, California en route to a four-round split decision victory. Rodriguez, 141, scored two knockdowns with his left hand and had Herrera, 139, in serious trouble late in the opening round. Soon after Herrera rose to his feet, referee Ray Balewicz called for a timeout to replace his mouthpiece, but time never stopped and the bell rang to end the round. Herrera regained his composure in the second and caught Rodriguez coming in several times in the last half of the fight. With less than thirty seconds remaining in the fight, Herrera dropped Rodriguez with an overhand right. The Chico native intelligently held on until the final bell to secure the win. Two judges scored the bout for Rodriguez, 38-35 and 37-36, with one judge scoring it for Herrera, 37-36. Rodriguez’ win gave the blue team a 1-0 lead.
Debuting Miguel Lopez (1-0, 1 KO) of Oakland, California scored a second-round stoppage over David Contreras (0-2) of Stockton, California. Lopez, 154, dropped Contreras, 153 ½, with a clean straight right hand early in the second round. Contreras gamely rose to his feet, but eventually took a knee late in the round. The action prompted referee Dan Stell to stop the bout, despite the protests of Contreras. Official time was 2:06 of the second round. Lopez’ win gave the blue team a 2-0 lead. At the end of the evening, the remaining crowd on hand voted Lopez the winner of the “You Be The Judge” contest.
Ricky Duenas (2-1, 1 KO) of El Monte, California dropped local product Efrain Rivera (1-1) of San Jose twice en route to a second round stoppage. The southpaw Duenas, 147, dropped Rivera, 147, with a short right in the first. In the second, Duenas landed a quick left-right combo to stun Rivera again, sending the San Jose native down a second time with the follow up barrage. When Rivera slowly returned to his feet, his corner stepped on the apron to stop the bout. Official time of the stoppage was 2:37 of the second round. Duenas’ win put the red team on the board, with the score 2-1.
Former California Golden Gloves Champion Andrae Carthron (2-1-1, 1 KO) of Los Angeles, California scored a shutout over massive Jay Horton (4-3-2, 2 KOs) of Pomona, California in a four-round heavyweight bout. Carthron, 226, dropped Horton, 278, early in the first round. As Horton began to tumble he grabbed Carthron and dragged him to canvas with himself. Carthron scored a second knockdown in the round, stunning Horton with an uppercut and dropping him with a flurry. Horton gave Carthron a reason to pause his aggression at various times in the bout, landing stiff and heavy-handed shots, but was not able to sway a judge to award him a round. All three judges scored the bout 40-34 for Carthron, whose win gave the blue team a 3-1 lead.
In perhaps the fight of the night, 2006 National Golden Gloves Champion Melissa McMorrow (2-0-1) of San Mateo, California managed to survive three second-round knockdowns and come away with a majority draw in her four-round bout against former two-time IFBA Champion Jolene Blackshear (4-2-1, 2 KO) of San Diego, California. McMorrow, 106 ¼, boxed well in the first round, but became an easy target in the second. Blackshear, 105 ½, continually found a home for her straight right hand, which eventually dropped McMorrow early in the round. In a costly move, Blackshear continued to swing after her opponent had been down and popped back up. Referee Ray Balewicz decided to deduct a point for the foul. Blackshear dropped McMorrow twice more and took swings at her as she rose each time, but was not deducted any additional points.
McMorrow was able to clear the cobwebs between rounds and out boxed Blackshear in rounds three and four. McMorrow seemed to go for the knockout in the fourth, as she pressed Blackshear and landed some stiff shots throughout the round. Blackshear, in incredible shape despite a nine-year absence from the sport, appeared to be in some trouble late in the round. Two judges scored the bout even, 36-36. The lone dissenting judge scored the bout 37-36 for Blackshear.
Converted MMA fighter Clint Coronel (0-0-1) of San Jose and Ruben Rivera (1-0-1) of Maywood, California fought to a four-round unanimous draw. Coronel, 154, landed the cleaner blows in the first round, but Rivera, 154, came on strong in the second half of the fight. Coronel did his best work on the inside, while the taller Rivera found the most success at long range. By the fourth round Coronel, who holds a (2-5, 1 KO, 1 Submission) record in mixed martial arts, had a steady flow of blood around his left eye. In the end, all three judges scored the bout even, 38-38.
The final bout of the evening was somewhat of a mauling affair, as Alex Paracha (3-0, 2 KOs) of San Francisco, California remained unbeaten, scoring a four-round majority decision over Adrian Tait (2-1-1, 1 KO) of Quartz Hill, California. Tait, 140, did well to smother the attack of Paracha, 141, but was not offensive enough to sway any of the judges to give him the fight. Paracha, the more polished boxer, scored well when he was able to create space and let his hands go. Tait looked to tie up Paracha and rough him up at close quarters. Two judges scored the bout for Paracha, 39-37 and 39-38, with the third score even, 38-38. Paracha’s win gave the blue team the 4-1 victory, which earned each team member a 300 dollar bonus.
A heavyweight bout between Yohan Banks (2-2-1, 1 KO) of San Jose and Brice Ritani-Coe of Las Vegas, Nevada was a late scratch from the card.
Invited guest Shannon Briggs, multi-division champion Carina Moreno, noted trainer Jack Mosley, San Jose middleweight Ricardo Cortes, MMA star Frank Shamrock, welterweight prospect Karim Mayfield, IFBA North American Bantamweight Champion Ava Knight, light welterweight Jesus Rodriguez and super featherweight Eloy Perez were among the notable faces in the crowd. The next “Fight Night at the Tank,” promoted by Roy Englebrecht Events, will take place on June 20th.
Mario Ortega Jr. can be reached at email@example.com.