Drug war to ring war
Castro & Barcenas battle in classic at Juarez battleground
Ringside report by Chris Cozzone
Photos by Chris Cozzone / Fightwireimages.com
Waging a classic war in war-torn Juarez, Mexico, last night at the Gimnasio Muncipal, downtown, Javier “Zorro” Castro and Edgar Barcenas heralded a return to boxing in the bloody bordertown now known as the murder capital of the world.
Ending a two-year lapse and in an attempt to transfer some of the drug war violence to the ring, Promociones del Pueblo revved up more than 3,500 anxious fans with a seven-bout card televised on CadenaTres in Mexico.
In the main event, Castro came home to fight a brutal back-and-forth battle with comebacking Barcenas, of Mexico City, for the vacant WBC Fecombox light welterweight belt. Barcenas took the fight to Castro, rarely letting up on his relentless aggression, even when staggered by one of Castro’s big hooks or chopping right hands.
In the end, however, Castro no more resembled a victorious champion than Juarez, machine-gunned troops stationed downtown at every street corner, resembles Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.
The first round left an impression that this fight could, in no way, go the distance – though it somehow did. Wasting no time, the two met in the center of the ring and bombed away. Both landed big left hooks in the first two minutes, Castro’s version staggering Barcenas. In the last minute, though, Barcenas momentarily stunned Castro with a straight hand. The hometown favorite evened things up with an overhand right of his own in the last ten seconds, taking the round.
Barcenas took the fight to Castro in the second – and did not let up until the closing moments of the 12th and final stanza. Clearly the busier, more aggressive fighter, Barcenas piled up points through the round, but one big right from Castro had him staggered midway through.
The fight went back and forth in the third, Barcenas outgeneraling and outpointing Castro but twice walking into big left hooks that had him rattled. Just when it looked as if Barcenas was hurt, however, he not only weathered the punishment but returned it twofold in the final minute, backing up and blasting Castro to the body up until the bell.
As the fourth opened, with open scoring in effect, the ringside announcer called out the scores thus far, naming Castro as, somehow, ahead, 30-27 on all three cards, which prompted Barcenas to shake his head in disbelief, in between flurries.
He did not falter, however, in his attack – that is, until another left hook bomb crashed down on him from Castro. Again, Barcenas weathered the single punch, until a low blow put him down. Referee Rocky Burke gave Castro a warning and Barcenas was up in 30 seconds, back on the attack.
Barcenas was far busier than Castro through the fifth, though the occasional right hand became the local favorite’s equalizer. A few punches, however, as heavy as they might’ve been, were no match for Barcena’s relentless aggression.
Castro’s hooks in the seventh made a close round, but, in the eighth, Barcena’s output could not be denied. Yet it was, for, as the ninth opened up, new scores were announced – Castro still in the lead, unanimously at that. Shaking his head, Barcenas suffered an unlucky round, first slipping to the canvas (no knockdown was counted against him) then getting staggered by several of Castro’s hooks and even-stronger right hand. To make matters worse, his stool collapsed between rounds.
Both nearly went down in the tenth round. In the first minute, it was all Castro, who staggered Barcenas with his best right yet. Somehow, Barcenas avoided the canvas and follow-up attack, only to launch an even better assault on Castro with a two-minute body attack that had the hometowner appearing on the verge of collapse.
There was very little in the eleventh from Castro – a dominating round for Barcenas – but in the final frame, “Zorro’s” heavier hands found its mark on a retreating Barcenas.
When Castro raised his arms after the fight, he was booed by the crowd, while the out-of-towner was cheered. The judges, however, had seen a different fight, scoring it unanimously for Castro, 115-113 twice and 115-114.
Fightnews.com had the fight a sure win for Barcenas, 116-112.
With the win and new title, Castro rises to 22-2, 18 KOs, while Barcenas, now 21-9-4, 15 KOs, evens out his stats to 1-1 in a comeback following six years off.
“Chucky” stars in “The Body Snatchers”
In the second co-feature title fight, Eduardo “Chucky” Lazcano, bouncing back from his sole loss while making a return to his hometown after more than two years, had little to worry about Lizandro De Los Santos, of Los Mochis, Mexico.
Boxing well, Lazcano let De Los Santos come to him in the first. Catching him with hard jabs, then following up with a pasting to the body, Lazcano had a breeze of a round. It was more of the same in the second, with Lazcano fighting at range.
De Los Santos barely made it out of the round. Stepping forward and blasting his opponent’s body, Lazcano dropped his man for a nine-count at the 2:30 mark. De Los Santos staggered back to his corner.
Chucky’s easy fodder didn’t last too much longer. After Lazcano crashed another big shot to the ribs, De Los Santos folded, with Referee Jerry Venzor calling it off at 1:47 of the round.
With the win, Lazcano rises to 15-1, 8 KOs, becoming the new WBC Fecombox super bantamweight champ. De Los Santos falls to 8-3, 3 KOs.
Body Snatchers, Part II
In an eight-rounder at superflyweight, Chihuahua’s Victor “Nene” Zaleta (11-1, 6 KOs) had an easy time taking out Ricardo “Rocky” Armento (9-2-1, 4 KOs), of Sonora, Mex., at :15 of round three.
It was all Zaleta, from the opening bell. Casually pursuing Armento, Zaleta let loose with a right that collapsed his opponent to the his knees.
After a brief spurt by Armento, Zaleta weathering the weak attack with minimal effort, the Chihuahuan resumed tearing into the body. Again, Armento hit the floor, at around the two-minute mark.
A final blow to the breadbasket finished Armento early in the third. Dropping to his knees, Armento spat out his mouthpiece as he was counted out.
Walkout bouts - "Cobrita" strikes
In the first of two walk bouts, following the telecast, former world champion Cesar “Cobrita” Soto (60-18-3, 41 KOs), was on his way to losing a decision when he kayoed Angel “Acertijo” Reyna (9-3-1, 4 KOs), also of Juarez, at 1:17 of round six.
Reyna, garbed in question mark attire, has clearly earned his nickname, “Acertijo,” for you never quite know what he is going to do, from fight to fight.
On this night, he decided to fight while sprinting. And as boring as it was to watch, it still enabled Reyna to pile on the points and frustrate the slow-plodding Soto.
Unable to trap his opponent, cut off the ring or engage Reyna mano a mano, Soto continued the chase until, in the sixth, Cobrita struck, landing a flawless right to Reyna’s chin.
Down crashed Reyna. Trying to clear the cobwebs, he was barely able to stand upright when the fight was stopped at 1:17.
Lucero outdukes “Duke”
In the final bout of the evening, Juarez Mauro “Punos de Oro” Lucero (44-13-1, 30 KOs), of Juarez, outduked Ruben “Duke” Lopez (0-2-1) for a second round kayo win.
In the first, Lucero pressured and Lopez boxed, making a competitive fight. In the second, however, Lopez was given a time-out when he complained of having wrenched his knee. When the fight resumed, Lucero, sporting a gash over his eye, kept up the attack until, in the third minute, Lopez was folded to the canvas from a right to the body, official time 2:08.
Pasillas decisions Moreno
In a four-round swing bout, Juarez flyweight Alejandro “Apachito” Moreno (21-26-3, 10 KOs) lost a split decision to Chihuahua’s Victor “Dragon” Pasillas (1-0-1).
In a great opening round, the two stood toe-to-toe in the center of the ring for three full minutes, blasting away at one another. Though Pasillas was slightly more accurate, Moreno was twice as busy.
Pasillas’ cleaner shots and increased aggression evened the score in the second, but when Moreno gave himself a bit of range in the third, it was clearly his fight.
Moreno continued to jab and measure his rights but, early in the fourth, without a warning, Moreno was zapped a point for an unintentional low blow.
Two scores still favored Pasillas, 39-36 twice, while the third had Moreno ahead 39-36. Fightnews favored Moreno, 38-37.
The fans, somewhat tame for a Juarez crowd – but that could’ve been the addition of machine gun-armed troops stationed at the Gimnasio, too – booed the decision.
Chavira defeats Murillo
In a four-round bout between Juarez featherweights, Juan Carlos “Cuervo” Chavira (2-3) won a unanimous decision over Arturo “Sombra” Murillo (5-10-1, 3 KOs).
Chavira allowed the gutsy Murillo to lead in the first two frames, but bashed him coming in, with jabs and left hooks.
In the third, Murillo nearly turned the fight around, staggering Chavira with body shots. His hostile takeover was even more pronounced in the first half of the final frame, though Chavira might’ve stolen back the round with a slug-back rally in the final minute.
Judges scored it 39-37 twice and 40-36, for Chavira.
Fightnews had it even, 38-38.
In the curtain raiser, Juarez females Ivette Mendez and Pilar Fierro fought a three-round exhibition. Originally set for a full-fledged bout, it was a good thing, for Mendez, that the bout did not count for, through three rounds, the much shorter, stout Fierro landed the significant punches, losing only the third round when Mendez flailed her arms about to win her only round.