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Saturday, August 27, 2011 the New Official Home for the NorCal P4P Top 10 Rankings!

Where does Gilroy's Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero fall in the Top 10?

Ryan Maquiñana

In recent times, Northern California has enjoyed a Golden Age in the professional boxing ranks. With the rise of four current world titleholders, numerous contenders, and tantalizing prospects, fight towns like Oakland to Sacramento and Fresno to Salinas have experienced a revival.

As a result, our local fans have been left wanting more after the media coverage of our world champions. They want to know who’s next in line. In other words, who are the fighters to watch in NorCal? sought the most comprehensive answer to this question, so we gathered ten other media members who attend the local shows, scour the gyms, and have their ears closest to the heart of the Northern California fight scene in order to get their collective take on the region's best pugilists regardless of weight class.

We also invited three die-hard fans to participate in the poll because your opinion is important to us. Let’s face it. You buy the tickets, you buy the pay-per-views, and most of all, you keep this sport alive.

For a full list of the voters as well as the rules, check out my blog.

So who’s number one? Without further ado, presents the 1st Official Northern California Pound-for-Pound Poll results.

READ MORE: Northern California P4P Poll Rules


1. Each ballot will list the opinion of the top 10 fighters in Northern California in order regardless of weight class and regardless of gender. Some criteria considered are quality of opposition defeated, quantity of opposition defeated, titles won, overall record, and boxing skills.

2. For the purposes of this poll, the line between Northern and Southern California is liberally drawn in the west from Monterey and Salinas all the way east past Fresno. To be clear, "NorCal" includes all three of these cities, and anything above the line within the state borders will count.

3. As far as what constitutes a Northern California fighter, he or she must claim residence in the region described in Rule No. 2. Training in Northern California does not count. In other words, if Fighter X were from Kentucky and held training camp in Vallejo, he would not be classified as a NorCal fighter, especially since he would not be announced as such in the ring on fight night.

4. Each ballot will award points to fighters on a graduated scale, with the voter's top-ranked fighter earning 10 points, the voter's No. 2 fighter earning nine points, No. 3 earning eight points, and so forth. The tenth and final fighter on each ballot will receive one point.

5. All the ballots that are received on time will then be tabulated for points, and the ten fighters with the most cumulative points will be listed in order along with their weight class, hometown, record, age, last fight, next fight, promotional status, and inside scoop.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ward-Froch Presser Set for Oakland City Hall on Aug. 24

By Ryan Maquiñana

I just received word that Oakland City Hall will be the site of an Aug. 24 Super Six Championship press conference to promote the upcoming Oct. 29 super middleweight unification bout between hometown hero Andre Ward and England's Carl Froch.

The presser will take place in the late morning.

Eloy Perez: “I Want to Dominate Jimenez!”

By Ryan Maquiñana

At the press conference for unbeaten junior lightweight Eloy “The Prince” Perez’s upcoming Sept. 2 NABO title defense against Daniel “Azuquita” Jimenez, the mood was celebratory.

After all, not only was the 24-year-old Perez (21-0-2, 5 KOs) returning to his current residence of Salinas, Calif., but promoter Don Chargin was also commemorating the 60th anniversary of his very first fight card.

“I’m happy to be fighting at the Salinas Sports Complex in front of my adopted hometown,” said Perez, who is originally from Rochester, Wa. “It’s great to bring this fight to the fans and something positive to the city of Salinas.”


Glenn Donaire Off Maidana-Guerrero Undercard

San Leandro, Calif.'s Glenn Donaire has an open date after his Aug. 27 fight fell through.

By Ryan Maquiñana

Former two-time world title challenger Glenn Donaire is no longer on the Aug. 27 Marcos Maidana vs. Robert Guerrero undercard at San Jose’s HP Pavilion.

“I was supposed to be facing Jose Cardenas at 115 pounds,” the San Leandro, Calif., resident said, “but now I’m told I’m no longer on it. I was told I was gonna be in it for sure, and that hurts.”


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Crunching the Numbers: How Legit is Cal Coach Jeff Tedford's Success?

I compiled some numbers regarding which programs have won 10+ games in the regular season since Tedford's arrival in 2002, and here's what I found. After categorizing the teams based on whether the school is an automatic qualifier for the BCS, sitting back, and comparing these findings to recent college football history, I'll leave it up to you if you think it's an accurate picture of where the Cal program stands right now.


10 wins or more in the regular season, 2002-10

ELITE (6 schools)

AQ Schools (4):
Ohio St. 7^@~
Oklahoma 7^@

Texas 6^@
USC 6^@*

Non-AQ Schools (2):
Boise St. 8^
TCU 6^

POWERHOUSE (11 schools)

AQ Schools (9):
LSU 5@

Virginia Tech 5

Georgia 4
Alabama 3^@

Auburn 3^@~
Florida 3^@

Oregon 3^~
Penn St. 3
West Virginia 3

Non-AQ Schools (2):
Utah 3^

ON THE CUSP (11 schools)

AQ Schools (11):
Arkansas 2

Cincinnati 2^

Hawaii 2^
Iowa 2
Kansas St. 2
Louisville 2
Miami 2^
Michigan 2

Missouri 2
Notre Dame 2
Wisconsin 2

Non-AQ Schools (0)

ONE AND DONE (25 schools)

AQ Schools (17):
Arizona St.
Boston College
Florida St.
Georgia Tech

Michigan St.

North Carolina St.

Oklahoma St.

Texas Tech
Washington St.
Wake Forest

Non-AQ Schools (8):
Ball St.
Bowling Green

Central Florida
Central Michigan
Colorado St.
Miami (OH)


Northern Illinois

^includes undefeated regular season(s)
@includes national title(s)

*7 before NCAA violations

~NCAA investigation pending

TEDFORD v. THE PAC-10, 2002-10

Here are the regular season records for the last 8 years of Pac-10 teams that made the Rose Bowl or any BCS Bowl, with Tedford's regular season records in italics:

2002: Washington St.* (10-2, 7-1) and USC% (10-2, 7-1); Cal (7-5, 4-4)
2003: USC* (12-1, 7-1); Cal (7-6, 5-3)
2004: USC% (12-0, 8-0); Cal (10-1, 7-1)
2005: USC* (12-0, 8-0); Cal (7-4, 4-4)
2006: USC* (10-2, 7-2); Cal (9-3, 7-2)
2007: USC* (10-2, 7-2); Cal (6-6, 3-6)
2008: USC* (11-1, 8-1); Cal (8-4, 6-3)
2009: Oregon* (10-2, 8-1); Cal (8-4, 5-4)
2010: Oregon# (12-0, 9-0) and Stanfrod% (11-1, 8-1); Cal (5-7, 3-6)

* = Rose Bowl, ^ = Fiesta Bowl, % = Orange Bowl, # = BCS Title Game
Note: Many of USC's 2004 and 2005 games have since been vacated
; Oregon currently under NCAA investigation for cheating

The last Pac-10 team to go to the Rose Bowl with single-digit regular season wins was Stanford in 1999 (8-4, 7-1). Keep in mind that they finished first in the Pac-10 to earn their berth to Pasadena.

So if you break down Tedford's regular seasons at Cal, they go like this:

National championship consideration (12 wins) = 0
BCS "worthy" season (10-12 wins) = 1 (2004)
Conference contender (9 wins) = 1 (2006)
Above average (8 wins) = 2 (2008, 2009)
Just competitive (6-7 wins) = 4 (2002, 2003, 2005, 2007)
Below average (4-5 wins)= 1 (2010)
Cellar dweller (0-3 wins) = 0

Regular season wins (average) = 7.4/year
Total wins (average) = 8.0/year


I don't think it's outlandish for Cal fans to expect Tedford to steer the team to a BCS bowl once every 4-5 years. If making an occasional Rose Bowl or any BCS bowl is the goal of this program, then based on the numbers above, 8 wins per season would be a reasonable floor in the Tedford era from this point forward, with 9 wins as a median, because it will most likely take at least 10 regular season wins to even have a shot to make it there.

On a personal note, I've been going to games since 1988, and while the program has sucked for a long time and have never had the same level of prolonged success since the famed Wonder Teams of the 20s or "Pappy's Boys" of the 50s, the expectations have risen after Tedford received two things his predecessors only dreamed of:

1. $2.3 million salary. In 1992, the program lost head coach Bruce Snyder after a 10-2 season and a Citrus Bowl win (Cal's last New Year's Day bowl), mainly because they weren't able to match Arizona State's offer of a raise. Tedford is now the highest-paid employee of the entire UC system, Nike talent fee or not, and there is no question that the Bear Backers will do everything possible to field a top 25 program.

2. New facilities. The SAHPC will be done soon, and the renovation of Memorial Stadium will be complete after the team plays their 2011 home games in AT&T Park. For decades, coaches from Marv Levy to Tom Holmoe complained that they could not recruit on equal footing with rival programs because of sub-standard training facilities. Not anymore.


In sum, while Tedford should be given most (if not all) of the credit that comes with a consistent winning program, a rejuvenated fanbase, an upgrade in the talent level on the roster, and a Nike contract, judging from the results on the field, the program still has a long way to go before it can truly compete with the elite programs on a national level, much less a conference level.

When watching Oregon and Stanford play on national television in a battle of two top ten teams last year, I was taken aback by the fact that there was nary a mention of Cal's chances in the conference race, a departure from seasons past.

But it seems that the Ducks have surpassed Cal in the Pac-10 pecking order. Even though they're on probation, USC is still USC, as evidenced by their continued ability to recruit blue-chip players. Those programs are definitely ahead of us right now.

Sadly, I didn't feel that way about Oregon two years ago. From 2004-08, media consensus was that Cal was the only other show in town beside the Trojans, the bona fide No. 2 (and rising) program on the West Coast.

Does that still ring true now?

Oregon St. has outperformed the Bears on the field and in the standings the past four years.

This year, Arizona and Stanford are ranked ahead of Cal, and barring a miracle run, it would mark the second straight year both schools will have finished ahead of the Bears in the Pac-10 race. These aren't the scrimmages that exemplified past meetings with John Mackovic's U of A teams, or the bumbling two-headed monster of Buddy Teevens and Walt Harris that headed a Mickey Mouse operation on the Farm.

While I think Washington still has a way to go to be a legitimate threat to win the conference, they have beaten the Bears two years running and have now knocked off USC twice in two years.

My point is that not only is Cal NOT the second-best program in the Pac-10 anymore, Tedford & Co. are in danger of falling deeper, and fighting for third place with Arizona and Stanford is becoming a war in itself.

Again, I am NOT calling for Tedford's head. Believe it or not, I think it's only fair that he stays on the Cal sideline as long as he wants based on everything he's done for the program.

But I'll ask you this question, which requires a simple reply of either yes or no:

Is this program better today than it was in the Holiday Bowl five years ago?

Maidana Claims Khan Begged the WBA to Avoid Rematch

Maidana (left) claims Khan begged the WBA to avoid a rematch

By Ryan Maquiñana

Eight months after their blazing war, Marcos Maidana is still throwing bombs at England’s Amir Khan.

Tweeting from his training camp in Puerto Rico, Maidana said, “Very funny that Amir Khan says that he offered to fight to a number of fighters and they said no… What Khan doesn't say is that he begged the WBA in written [sic] that they don't put me in front of him again, like we should have.”

The Argentine was responding to a recent interview with BoxingScene where the current IBF/WBA super champion said, “On July 23rd we offered the fight to [Tim] Bradley and he said no, [Juan Manuel] Marquez said no, [Erik] Morales also said no, [and I’m] glad [Zab] Judah took the fight on. I want to clean up the 140-pound division but no one wants to fight me.”


Monday, August 8, 2011

Roach to Train Filipino Prospect Villanueva

Villanueva will take his 21-0 (20 KOs) record to Hollywood.

By Ryan Maquiñana

Unbeaten featherweight Lorenzo Villanueva will work with Freddie Roach at his famed Hollywood Wild Card Boxing Club, according to a report from Manny Piñol of the Manila Times that was confirmed by sources at the gym.

The 25-year-old Villanueva, a 5’7’’ southpaw from Midsayap, North Cotabato, Philippines, has earned his “Thunderbolt” nickname by starting his pro career 21-0, with all but one bout ending inside the distance.


Pacquiao OK after being hospitalized for acid reflux

Manny Pacquiao immediately resumed his congressional duties after being hospitalized for acid reflux.

By Ryan Maquiñana

Pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao was recently hospitalized due to a recurring bout with acid reflux, according to a report from Abac Cordero of the Philippine Star.

The WBO welterweight champion spent the night in Cardinal Santos Hospital in San Juan, Philippines. He was released the following morning and immediately resumed his duties in the Philippine government as congressman of the province of Sarangani.


What Fights Could Impact the Ring Magazine Ratings This Week?

Joseph Agbeko and Abner Mares fight for both the IBF 118-lbs. belt
and the Showtime Bantamweight Tournament title.

By Ryan Maquiñana

Here are some fights that could shake up the Ring Magazine ratings for next week:

No. 2 strawweight Kazuto Ioka vs. Juan Hernandez

No. 5 strawweight Juan Palacios vs. Armando Torres

No. 7 jr. flyweight Luis Lazarte vs. Nerys Espinoza

No. 2 flyweight Luis Concepcion vs. Manuel Vargas

No. 3 bantamweight Joseph Agbeko vs. No. 4 Abner Mares

No. 5 jr. featherweight Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym vs. Mohammed Metualy

No. 4 lightweight Michael Katsidis vs. Michael Lozada

Unranked heavyweight David Tua vs. Monte Barrett

Unranked heavyweight Kimbo Slice vs. James Wade…just kidding.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Zaveck: Hiding a Belt in Europe Immoral, Berto Beatable

IBF welterweight champ Jan Zaveck makes his American debut
Sept. 3 on HBO against Andre Berto in Biloxi, Miss.

By Ryan Maquiñana

When Lou DiBella announced to BoxingScene last month that Andre Berto’s first fight removed from his loss to Victor Ortiz would be a title fight with IBF welterweight champion Jan Zaveck, most observers penciled the former WBC champ in the win column almost immediately.

Well, half a world away Zaveck was reading and contacted BoxingScene in order to make his case. Compared with many European fighters, he’s far from content to protect his belt against lesser competition for the sake of comfortable paydays. More importantly, he says he’s coming to Biloxi, Miss., on Sept. 3 to win.

In our conversation, the boxer formerly known as Dejan Zavec spoke through translator Jure Doler on a variety of subjects, namely his massive following in his native Slovenia, what he plans to accomplish in his first trip stateside, and his reaction to Team Berto’s comment that he’s a “Winky Wright with no jab.”


Saturday, August 6, 2011

S.F.'s Mitchell's magic ends in Olympic Trials final

Ryan Maquiñana

San Francisco’s LaRon Mitchell’s improbable run to the super heavyweight final of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials ended with a 21-9 decision loss to top-seeded Lenroy Thompson of Lenexa, Kan., Friday night.

Despite having lost to Thompson in the opening round of the double-elimination tournament in Mobile, Ala., the S.F. State graduate reeled off four consecutive wins to set up a rematch. Further adding to the plot was Mitchell’s upset of Thompson in June at the U.S. National Championships.

The rubber match, however, was all Thompson, as he used his mobility and accurate fists to capture the 201-plus-pound crown decisively. However, the result probably didn’t reflect the margin since the combatants reportedly received a standing ovation after the final bell.

Friday, August 5, 2011

San Jose's Eros Correa Wins Olympic Trials!

By Ryan Maquiñana

MOBILE, AL – 18-year-old Eros Correa of San Jose became the first Bay Area native to win the U.S. Olympic Trials since Andre Ward in 2004 with a 22-18 decision victory over Reno’s Santos Vasquez in the light flyweight final.

Correa avenged two previous losses to Vasquez earlier in his amateur career, and with Friday’s win, he also becomes the first San Jose fighter since Louis Molina in 1932 to earn a spot on the Olympic Team.

Check out the front page of Comcast SportsNet Bay Area's website,, for more!


Last Minute Quotes from S.F.'s LaRon Mitchell Before His Olympic Trials Final!

By Ryan Maquiñana

MOBILE, AL -- I was able to catch up with San Francisco super heavyweight LaRon Mitchell right before his appearance in the finals of the U.S. Olympic Trials Friday.

Coming off a medical walkover against Andrew Shepherd in the challengers’ bracket final, Mitchell now heads into the final with Lenroy Thompson of Lenexa, Kan. By virtue of having beaten Mitchell in the opening round, Thompson only needs to win tonight to take Trials gold.

On the other hand, Mitchell must defeat him twice after already incurring one loss earlier in the double-elimination tournament. However, the 31-year-old San Francisco State University graduate owns something the other six contenders do not—a win over Thompson last month in the quarterfinals of the USA Boxing National Championships.

The last Bay Area fighter to win the Olympic Trials was Andre Ward in 2004, and on only one year of boxing experience under his belt, Mitchell hopes to keep his dreams for London 2012 alive with a victory tonight.



“He took a knee and an 8-count when he was fighting Lenroy Thompson. I asked him why he took the knee, and he said his arm hurt from the day before against Brett [Rather]. He felt the adrenaline before the fight but when it started, it hurt every time he blocked a shot and he grimaced, so he had to pull out.”


“It’s still hurting, but I got two fights in me. I’m just worried about tonight.”


“I talked to Clay-Bey, and he told me that after how I did at Nationals, I’m an elite guy now. People will look at me with respect. When I started to fight here, I began to notice that. People would come to me and shake my hand or say, ‘You’re LaRon Mitchell.’ It’s definitely different compared to Nationals, when I was a nobody and no one could pick me out of a lineup!” (Laughing)


“We’re both southpaws, and we’re 1-1 against each other. I beat him at Nationals and he beat me in the first round here. Out of everyone here, I’m the only one who’s beat him before. He’s been winning fights and has earned the top spot. His style is touch and run. Play tag all day. I don’t even know how any stoppages he has. Probably very few. I’m sure if he puts something on your chin, he can knock you down because he’s a big 240 [pounds]. But he gets points for playing tag, and I don’t think that style will get far in the Olympics. There’s no way I can let this dude represent America, because I don’t see him winning tonight.”


“In the first fight, I showed that I was faster than him and I was able to cut the ring off. I kept pumping, pumping the jab. I clocked him a couple times on Monday and one of them was the standing eight. You kind of got to catch him on the way out. He’ll literally turn and run. There was another shot where he took a knee but they called it a slip. I feel like I have to be like Marvin Hagler with the light jog and walk him down. More importantly, I feel like I need the mindset that I have to do it with a sense of urgency. If I don’t, I’m done. I need to beat him hands down.”


“If he beats me over all three rounds, then I’ll give him his props. When I beat him tonight, though, I’ll get in his head for tomorrow.”


“There’s no bad blood between Lenroy and myself, but this is the Olympic Trials. Now we’re on a level where you’re representing the whole country, with not only your character not also in the ring. It’s not about Lenroy Thompson or LaRon Mitchell. Styles make fights, and I think I have a better style to fight internationally.”


“It still hasn’t hit me what I’ve done in Colorado [at Nationals in June]. When the Giants made their run to beat the Patriots, they found out that each game is bigger, and that they had to forget about last week’s upset. It’s kind of like that. Every fight is bigger. I lost to Lenroy in the first round and now I got six straight to win. It started with hoping I could just get a win at Nationals in June to fighting the best guy in America in the Olympic Trials final.


“He simply said to leave no doubt. From an outside perspective, yes, it’s great for Jimmy to finally get recognized for everything he’s done for me and for all the people at Ring of Fire, but Jimmy can care less. Jimmy’s just enjoying the fact that I’m doing well and creating memories for me and my kids, and everyone in the Bay Area who’s supporting us.”


“Eros and I went to Nationals together, too, and I’m just happy for him that he got his revenge on Louie Byrd. He’s probably in the hotel room right now eating Subway. (Laughing) It’s indescribable that we’re both this close to winning it all and that we’re both representing the Bay Area.”


“I talked to my daughter, but I’ve been texting my two boys back and forth all week. I told my boys I wouldn’t call them until the tournament was over. The reason is that in Colorado for Nationals, I didn’t have service on my phone. It would be like 10 or 11 o’clock at night when my fights would be over, so I’d call home on the payphone and their mom would tell me that the kids would be asleep. So we’d leave voice messages for each other, and I’ve been winning, so it’s kind of turned into our little ritual.”


“It doesn’t stop here. Anybody can do anything in life. Don’t ever limit yourself. If you told me 10 months ago that this is where I’d be, I wouldn’t have believed you. I just want to thank everyone who’s been behind me, and you, too, Ryan, for all the support. I’ll do the best I can and leave it all the ring, and bring back that Olympic spot to the Bay.”

Ryan Maquiñana is the boxing correspondent at Comcast SportsNet Bay Area and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. E-mail him at, check out his blog at or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.

Last Minute Quotes from San Jose Eros Correa Before His Olympic Trials Final!

MOBILE, AL -- I was able to catch up with San Jose light flyweight Eros Correa mere hours before his appearance in the finals of the U.S. Olympic Trials Friday.

Fresh off a Wednesday upset of top-ranked Louie Byrd of Denver, the 18-year-old Correa only needs to beat Reno’s Santos Vasquez once to claim the gold, whereas Vasquez must defeat him twice after already incurring one loss earlier in the double-elimination tournament.

The last Bay Area fighter to win the Olympic Trials was Andre Ward in 2004, and Correa hopes to join him tonight.



“I was right on the dot at 108 pounds. Now I’m eating what I always eat before a fight, a ham sandwich from Subway. No mayo. Just oil, vinegar, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, jalapeño, on wheat bread. It’s my routine.”


“We’re pretty good friends. We’ve been sparring before tournaments a few times. As far as fighting each other, we fought twice. He’s strong. Every punch he throws is hard. He beat me in the [Golden] Gloves and USA Nationals last year, so we haven’t fought in a while. But my boxing style has changed since last year, so I’m not nervous this time.”


“I’m going to do the same thing I did with Louie Byrd, keep him away. I’m going to box him on my toes, and step back and move to the side before he can hit me. I have to let my hands go first. Using my reach is the key here.”


“My family’s happy. They tell me one more win and you’re an Olympian. Something like that hasn’t hit me yet, because we still have to qualify at worlds, but still. Number one in the nation. I’ve thought about it in the past and wished for it before, but now that it’s here, wow, I don’t know what to say except I still have to keep going and win.”


“LaRon’s been doing good, too, and it’s been great that we’re both in the finals. Every time I see him here, at the hotel or anywhere, we say, ‘Let’s take it home to the Bay Area.”


“This is my final. I want to win. I’m going to win.”



“Eros’s style is suited for Olympic-style boxing. He can throw jabs in distance, whereas Santos will stand and trade. He lost by a one-point decision to Santos last time they fought. Now he’s going to use his lateral movement and give him angles, and I think he’ll win it this time around.”


“I helped coach the Olympic Team in 2000, and it’s the culmination of any coach to actually develop an Olympian. I’ve been doing it for 37 years, and this is the ultimate. For him to do it, this is amazing. Unfortunately, I’m back here in San Jose, but the man who taught him first how to fight, Martin Nuñez, is there with him. Everybody here’s fired up, keeping tabs on the internet. They’re all watching to see if he can do it. Thank you, Ryan, for covering his story since the beginning. We’re all proud of Eros.”

Ryan Maquiñana is the boxing correspondent at Comcast SportsNet Bay Area and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. E-mail him at, check out his blog at or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.

S.F.'s Mitchell Wins by DQ, Advances to Olympic Trials Final!

S.F.'s LaRon Mitchell must avenge his first round loss to
Lenroy Thompson twice in a row to win the Olympic Trials.

By Ryan Maquiñana

MOBILE, AL -- San Francisco Ring of Fire's LaRon Mitchell joined San Jose PAL's Eros Correa as the Bay Area's second finalist at the U.S. Olympic Trials with a medical disqualification victory over Andrew Shepherd.

Shepherd, an Army Staff Sgt. from Fort Carson, Colo., was unable to compete after a series of injuries incurred over the course of the double-elimination tournament.

Now the 31-year-old Mitchell faces top-ranked Lenroy "Cam" Thompson of Lenexa, Kansas, in Friday's super heavyweight final. The two have quite a recent history; in June's U.S. National Championships, Mitchell upset Thompson 12-10 in the quarterfinals, but Thompson avenged the defeat with a 14-11 Olympic Trials opening round win last Sunday.

This time, the southpaw and San Francisco State alum must beat Thompson twice in a row in order to win gold, while the Kansas pugilist only needs to win once by virtue of pinning the aforementioned first loss on Mitchell.

Correa, an 18-year-old recent graduate of Overfelt High School, fights Reno's Santos Vasquez in Friday's light flyweight final.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

S.F.’s Mitchell Gets Sweet Revenge, Moves on to Olympic Trials Semifinals

S.F.'s LaRon Mitchell advanced to the Olympic Trials semifinals at super heavyweight
with a 16-12 win over Dominic Breazeale on Wednesday night.

By Ryan Maquiñana

MOBILE, AL -- Four months ago, San Francisco’s LaRon Mitchell experienced a foreign feeling after facing Anaheim’s Dominic Breazeale in the California Golden Gloves super heavyweight final.

“When they raised his hand after the fight, it broke my heart,” remembered the S.F. State alum, who at the time was 9-0 as an amateur boxer after a 3-0 stint in MMA. “I like Dominic a lot, but he gave me my first legitimate loss in all of combat sports.”

Wednesday night’s rematch with Breazeale in the third round of the U.S. Olympic Trials bred a more familiar outcome, as Mitchell won 16-12 to advance to the semifinals.

“The plan was to try to land my shots and make him miss on the inside,” Mitchell shared. “I gave him a lot of movement and was too slick for him this time around.”

The 31-year-old from the Fillmore district attributed his victory to his trainer Jimmy Ford of Crocker Amazon Park’s Ring of Fire Gym.

“I have to give Jimmy all the credit,” he said. “We hit the mitts for about 45 minutes straight. He kept rushing me with a light jog, and he forced me to use my footwork to move away from him and pump my jab.”

Imagine the delight that consumed Mitchell when the extra preparation came to fruition against Breazeale.

“You couldn’t have written a better script, but what we were doing the night before actually happened in the fight. There was a point in the third round when it felt like he was coming forward, and all I could do was pump the jab. It worked to perfection. While I thought I won by a bigger margin, like I told you yesterday, Ryan, revenge is best served at the Olympic Trials.”

With only a year’s worth of boxing experience under his belt, nothing has been handed to Mitchell. On Wednesday night, he battled through a lingering right shoulder injury that forced him to pull out of the gold medal bout at the U.S. National Championships in June.

“The pain is killing me right now,” he admitted. “We were icing it right after the fight. In fact, right now I’m going to go eat and then ice it again when I get back to the hotel room.”

Mitchell forfeited a shot at a national title to save his ailing shoulder for the Olympic Trials, and right now, he seems to have made the right choice.

“It’s been well worth it,” he said. “Everyone in my camp looks like geniuses now. Who knows if I would be standing here this close to winning it all right now?”

Bum shoulder be damned, Mitchell will encounter Army Staff Sergeant Andrew Shepherd of Fort Carson, Colo., tomorrow in a virtual semifinal.

“[Shepherd] seems like a pretty good banger with fast hands,” Mitchell said. “He’s an Army guy so I know he’s going to be in good shape. He looks and fights like [former pro heavyweight contender] Ike Ibeabuchi, and I anticipate about 100 punches from him. He throws a lot of combinations, and I was surprised he beat Brett Rather easily because I thought Brett would be the one in there with me tomorrow.”

The winner earns a spot in Friday’s finals against Lenroy Thompson, with the Kansas native already owning the advantage of only needing one win for gold compared to his opponent’s two as a result of going undefeated so far in the Trials.

“It’s going to be tough if I make it, but I can worry about Lenroy on Friday because if I don’t stay focused on Shepherd, I’ll be packing my bags and sitting there watching the finals,” Mitchell stated.

Mitchell isn’t the only Bay Area boxer still dancing. Earlier this morning, San Jose’s Eros Correa upset top seed Louie Byrd 25-25 (132-131 tiebreaker) to advance to Friday’s light flyweight finals.

San Jose’s Correa ‘Shocks’ Byrd, Advances to Olympic Trials Finals!

Correa (left) interviewed by Ryan Maquiñana of Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

By Ryan Maquiñana

MOBILE, AL -- Eros Correa stared across the ring at the man who had beaten him in both their previous meetings.

Many fighters in his shoes would feel apprehensive, or worse, a sense of intimidation.

Not in this instance, as Correa surprised the crowd in attendance with a razor-thin 25-25 (132-131) victory over top-seeded Louie Byrd of Denver via the punches counted tiebreaker that sent the 18-year-old from San Jose PAL into the finals of the U.S. Olympic Trials.

“It feels great just to shock everyone,” Correa declared. “Coming over here, everyone was about him winning, but not this time.”

In their previous meeting at U.S. Nationals, the recent Overfelt High School graduate let a late lead slip through his fingers. He vowed not to fade tonight.

“It was a little different from the last time I fought him,” Correa said. “I let my hands go a little more. I learned my lesson from the last time we fought when he snuck up and scored a couple more punches in the third round. This time, I didn’t let up. I thought I won by a couple more points, but I’ll take it.”

With his sister’s father-in-law, Martin Nuñez, in his corner, Correa was able to stay even-keeled in the pressure cooker.

“Martin just said to keep him outside and to watch for his overhand right,” Correa recalled. “I kept turning and stepping back to get out of the way of it. I boxed him good.”

Now comes the waiting game. Correa gets a bye on Thursday while Byrd and Reno’s Santos Vasquez fight for the right to face the San Jose pugilist on Friday. Moreover, by virtue of winning his first three fights, Correa only needs one win to clinch gold, whereas his opponent must beat him twice to do it.

In the amateurs, a tournament like this can test one’s mental toughness in that a fighter must meet the weight requirements the morning of each bout. For Correa, the target is 108 pounds.

“I’m not eating much tonight,” he shared. “In the afternoon, I’ll eat Subway. I’m just going to run to keep my weight down, and I’ll be ready the day of the fight.”

Correa is just one win away from becoming San Jose’s first Olympic Trials winner since lightweight Louis Molina in 1932 and the first Bay Area native since Andre Ward in 2004.

Given the implications of Friday's final, conventional thinking would assume that a little anxiety could creep into a fighter's psyche. But the understated Correa has proven this week that he isn’t your conventional fighter.

“There’s no pressure,” he insisted as calmly as ever. “I know everything’s going to be alright. I’m just going to continue to fight my fight, and if I win, I win. Thanks to everyone for supporting me!”

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

S.F.'s LaRon Mitchell Advances to Olympic Trials Final Four Via Medical Walkover

San Francisco super heavyweight LaRon Mitchell (third from left) and
San Jose light flyweight Eros Correa (far left) are both one win away from the Olympic Trials finals.

By Ryan Maquiñana

MOBILE, AL -- LaRon Mitchell received some welcome news Tuesday night when Brett Rather was physically unable to fight, allowing the San Francisco super heavyweight to advance to the final four of the U.S. Olympic Trials via medical walkover.

"It's tough because you have to fight every day," Mitchell said, referring to the double-elimination nature of the tournament. "[Rather] and Shepherd had quite a battle the other yesterday, and when you have two grown men going at it, sometimes the pain from those shots can linger to the next day."

The Las Vegas-based Rather's forfeit couldn't have come at a better time, since Mitchell was nursing some injuries of his own that were incurred during his slugfest against Iowa's Donovan Dennis last night.

"Basically it was a bye, and it was kind of a blessing," the southpaw Mitchell reflected. "This time off to heal was just what I needed. I'm about to get my shoulder rubbed and iced, and I'm sure by the time tomorrow comes, the adrenaline will have me ready to go when the bell rings."

Now comes a familiar foe--Anaheim's Dominic Breazeale, who defeated Mitchell in the finals of the California Golden Gloves earlier this year.

"[Breazeale]'s got quick feet and he can fire that right hand," Mitchell said about the former Northern Colorado quarterback turned Olympic hopeful. "He's tall, too, about 6'6'' and 250 [pounds], so I'm going to circle and outbox him."

Their last meeting left a bad taste in Mitchell's mouth, and the 31-year-old San Francisco State graduate vowed that the outcome would be different on Wednesday.

"This one will hurt him more than it hurt me at Golden Gloves," Mitchell promised. "Revenge is best served at the Olympic Trials."

Mitchell, from The City's Ring of Fire Gym, is one of two Bay Area fighters still alive. San Jose PAL's Eros Correa fights Louie Byrd in the light flyweight semifinals tomorrow.

Like Mitchell, Correa has revenge on his mind. At U.S. Nationals last month, the 18-year-old Overfelt High alum tied Byrd 21-21, but the Denver native got the nod via the punches counted tiebreaker, a decision the South Bay fighter hopes to overturn tomorrow.

"[Byrd] said that he had an off-night last month and it shouldn't happen again," Correa said. "We'll see what happens this time."

Monday, August 1, 2011

S.F.'s LaRon Mitchell Stays Alive on Tiebreaker in Round Two of Olympic Trials

S.F.'s LaRon Mitchell (far right) poses with his corner

MOBILE, AL -- Super heavyweight LaRon Mitchell of San Francisco's Ring of Fire Gym got back on track in the Olympic Trials with a slim victory over Donovan Dennis of Davenport, Iowa.

With both southpaws having already incurred a defeat in yesterday's opening bouts, today's loser would have to pack his bags for home in the double-elimination tournament. Unfortunately for Dennis, that would become his fate as he drew 16-16 with Mitchell, only to succumb based on the tiebreaker of punches counted (84-79).

"It was a slugfest, plain and simple," Mitchell said. "We were hitting each other with some good shots. He got me a couple times, especially when my headgear went over my eyes, but I had my moments when I hit him square to the body and stopped him in his tracks."

Mitchell re-aggravated an injury to his right shoulder that forced him to pull out of the gold medal bout in last month's U.S. Nationals, but after a physician's postfight examination, was cleared to fight tomorrow against Brett Rather of Las Vegas.

"The shoulder is fine now, but I had to talk to the doctor first to get the news on it," Mitchell added. "I'm not sure who I'm facing, but I'll be ready to go tomorrow, no matter who it is. It's all on the line now."

Whoever comes out of that bout victorious faces the winner of St. Paul's Jonathan Hamm and Anaheim's Dominic Breazeale in the semifinals.

San Jose's Correa Beats Rangel 18-6, Moves to Olympic Trials Winners' Bracket Finals

MOBILE, AL -- San Jose's Eros Correa inched one step closer toward London with a 18-6 thrashing of Scottsdale, AZ's Marco Rangel in the second round of the U.S. Olympic Trials Monday morning.

"I was just waiting for [Rangel] in the middle of the ring," Correa told this writer immediately after the victory. "He never really could get inside. I kept using my jab and straight right."

The 18-year-old Correa now faces his sternest test in the light flyweight division, a Wednesday date with top-seeded 108-pounder Louie Byrd of Denver. The two have met before, with Byrd winning both meetings. However, their last encounter was a 21-21 draw in last month's U.S. Nationals that tipped in Byrd's favor solely due to the tiebreaker of punches counted.

"I’m going to beat [Byrd] the same way I did Rangel," a resolute Correa said. "I’m just going to keep the fight in the middle of the ring and outbox him."

Correa fights No. 1 light flyweight Louie Byrd of Denver on Wednesday.

Byrd has long been a fixture on the national scene, and in another close fight, concerns arise whether Correa will get a fair shake with the judges. The recent Overfelt High School graduate touched on the subject.

"I felt I won our last fight, but the judges didn't see it that way," he said. "Hopefully it doesn't happen again, but if that happens, it happens. It doesn’t bother me. If I know I won, I won, and I feel like this time, I'm going to win."