Simon Ruvalcaba: Jabs and Hooks

Michael Smyth / Tahoe Onstage
Referee Jay Nady watches Shakur Stevenson jab Juan Tapia in Reno earlier this year.
Tahoe Onstage photo by Michael Smyth

When Jabs and Hooks last left you, we were heading into a big fight weekend where pound-for-pound king Vasyl Lomachenko was about to go up to the lightweight division and challenge for Jorge Linares’s crown. What a fight it turned out to be.

The bout featured momentum changes galore with Lomachenko hitting the canvas and coming back to stop Linares in Round 10. The performance answered questions that Lomachenko had never been asked before in his pro career. Most impressive was Lomachenko having shoulder surgery afterward and the revelation of a shoulder injury suffered in the second, which means Lomachenko defeated a very worthy world champion with one hand.

Tahoe Onstage
Gabriel Flores knocks down Alexander Acuna in the first round last year in Reno.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

Congrats to the homegrown fighters

In the last week, there have been two occasions worthy of acknowledgement. Last week, Gabriel Flores Jr., who turned pro in Reno in 2017 and has fought in Northern Nevada in three of his seven pro bouts, graduated from Cesar Chavez High School in Stockton.

Flores, the youngest-ever fighter signed by Top Rank when he was 16, fulfilled a promise to his late mother that he was going to graduate from high school. The Central Valley hero gave a speech at his graduation and gave the school the robe that he wore for his recent fight in Corpus Christi, Texas. One forgets with a young pro like Flores that they have everyday lives and the graduation is a reminder of the great sacrifice he has made for success in the ring. He gave up a childhood and normal teenage years for the pursuit of his dream. That in itself deserves praise for how much he has achieved so far with the whole boxing world ahead of him.

Flores’ whereabouts will change this weekend as he will go from his high school’s auditorium to the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas Saturday night as he appears on the undercard of a boxing show featuring Terrance Crawford.

Crawford moves up in weight to fight for the welterweight crown against Manny Pacquiao conqueror Jeff Horn of Australia. Along with Flores, Olympic Silver Medalist Shakur Stevenson, a Reno area favorite is also slated for action on the undercard, which can be viewed on the new ESPN app, ESPN+. Fans can also follow my live ringside report of the action on under the “Simon Says” tab. Prior to Flores turning 18 on May 1, a special commission meeting was required whenever Flores would fight in Nevada as officials needed to approve an under 18 fighter for competition in a professional boxing match.

Carson City’s Diego Elizondo fought to a draw in his Reno bout on May 4 and then traveled to Stockton to serve as a sparring partner for Flores in his recent training camp. Elizondo was back in town, however, this past weekend for an engagement he could not miss. Tahoe Onstage would like to congratulate the now married 20-year-old Elizondo and sends its best wishes to Diego and Vernonica Avina Elizondo for the journey ahead with married life and the rise of the hard working lightweight prospect.

Tahoe Onstage
Carson City’s undefeated Diego Elizondo won the ultimate decision last week.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

Boxing Hall of Fame weekend 

Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York, is upon us for 2018. Congratulations to the incoming inductees. Former heavyweight champion with the highest knockout percentage in history, “Dr. Iron Fist” Vitali Klitschko; multi-time world champion and Mexican icon Erik “El Terrible” Morales, and former junior middleweight champion Ronald “Winky” Wright head the class of participants.

The non-participant category features German boxing promoter Klaus Peter Kohl and boxing announcers Steve Albert and Jim Gray. It will be a heartfelt posthumous ceremony. Inductions in this category are old-timer Sid Terris, announcer Johnny Addie and promoter Lorraine Chargin. My first pro bouts were under the Don Chargin Banner, for whom Lorraine Chargin was always the doing the behind-the-scenes work.

My first coach and boxing guru, Ted Walker, introduced Chargin to the industry, so fighting for him was a great honor. My initial time sitting with Lorraine was not pleasant for me as a young pro. Despite popular belief, fighters don’t get a box of tickets to hand out for their bouts. With only two passes for a bout in my Lake Tahoe debut, I thought it was a good idea to give them to family members. Lorraine was keen to that tactic and pulled me aside to chew me out in the warm up moments of my second pro bout. In a subsequent bout I fought in Sacramento, she pulled me aside to talk to me as a mother type and informed me that she was disappointed to see me pulling that stunt, and that all I had to do was to ask and they could’ve arranged my parents and siblings to be ringside. After that, I was always comfortable to perform and be around their promotions even if I was just in attendance and they where always good to me. Don Chargin turned 90 recently and is still going strong, as senior adviser to Golden Boy Promotions, among other active boxing roles.

Guitar Phish
Trey Anastasio and Phish have been snubbed, Simon says.
Larry Sabo / Tahoe Onstage

Boxing, music Hall of Fame snubs

Of course with every Hall of Fame, there are participants who seem to be overlooked over and over again. With Tahoe Onstage being a music website, I have thought about the bands and fighters that so far, despite worthy credentials, have not been given the distinction of Hall of Fame honors.

Among fighters who have gotten snubbed are Esteban De Jesus, who handed the legendary Roberto Duran his first career loss but had a murder conviction in 1981. For me, he deserves honors for his in ring accomplishments. Dariusz “The Tiger” Michalczewski (48-2), a dominant light heavyweight champion from Poland, reigned from 1994-2003 but gets criticized for never fighting Roy Jones Jr. That wasn’t his fault, as two promoters could never sit down and agree on a deal.

Ricky Hatton most likely will get in soon. Losing his two biggest fights to Mayweather and Pacquiao probably slowed his induction. He was a longtime champion before he came into the public eye. Donald Curry, once touted as a future superstar,  has his championship run ended early when he was upset by Lloyd Honeyghan. He was one of the United States’ greatest amateurs, unfortunately never got to go for gold in 1980 as the United States boycotted the Summer Olympics.

Only being a novice music aficionado, I’m gonna give a shot with my top four Rock and Roll Hall of Fame snubs. Phish, The Guess Who, Def Leppard and Duran Duran. Full disclosure, it was boxing business man Ric Glaser who sold me on Curry and The Guess Who.

Big bouts in Vegas, Los Angeles

Besides the mentioned Horn vs. Crawford show in Las Vegas, the other big bout upcoming is also Saturday night, in Los Angeles at the Staples Center. Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares rematch after their epic encounter in 2015. Look for another action fight with the punching machine Santa Cruz against the powerful Mares. I predict that Mares’ effective punches get a little more credit this time and he sneaks out a close decision to set up a rubber match. I’m sure we won’t have to wait three years for that one.

Dana White coming to boxing?

Finally for this month’s Jabs and Hooks, I’ll turn a little to ongoing transition with MMA. Recent rumors have swirled that Dana White has approached boxing superstar and free agent Mikey Garcia. If White is indeed looking to erupt onto the boxing scene as a promoter, where does that leave the UFC, where White has been the face of the promotion for much of the last 15 years? I think it will open the door for some young up and coming suits of the MMA world to get exposure and Mixed Martial Arts would still be in good shape moving forward as talent is developing and soon will be competing at the big time level.

– Simon Ruvalcaba

ABOUT Tahoe Onstage

Tahoe Onstage
Tahoe Onstage is an online entertainment and sports magazine covering Lake Tahoe, Truckee, Reno, the Carson Valley and June Lake.


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