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The Standing Eight Count: Ringside at Pechanga

By Dave Wilcox

Teddy Atlas and Joe Tessitore were on hand at The Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, California for the latest addition of ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights. The Goossen-Tutor/Ringside Ticket promoted card took a hit when Vassily Jirov and Sam Soliman backed out of their fights. Even so, The Pechanga managed to put on a nice show Friday night.

In a rare event, an eight round Heavyweight bout was the main event. Undefeated Damian “Bolo” Wills took on tough veteran Cisse Salif. Hollywood superstar Denzel Washington is the co-manager of “Bolo” and managed to sneak in the Ballroom for the main event to watch his man take on Salif. To spice it up even more, Hall of Famer to be, James “Lights-out” Toney led Salif to the ring. I’m not sure I paid much attention to fight, because most people’s attention focused on Washington and Toney as they boisterously cheered their guys on. When Denzel was called ringside to help Atlas and Tessitore call the action, Toney slipped into Washington’s ringside seat. A little showmanship by “lights-out” I’m sure.

The bout itself turned out to be a fairly nice effort by both men. “Bolo” won the first three rounds by being more active than Salif. He picked up the pace with a good jab that seemed to keep Salif off him. Salif started to come on in the fourth and fifth, but was penalized for hitting and holding in the fifth. Before the point deduction, I had Salif winning the round. After the penalty, I ended up scoring the round 9-9. I’ll have to go to my Boxing rule book to make sure that is possible and I’ll get back to you. The final three rounds went back and forth with both guys landing. In round eight “Bolo” closed the show with a nice rally. My score card read 77-74 for Damian Wills. Two of the judges scored the same, with the third judge scoring it 78-73.

A much deserved unanimous verdict for Wills and a happy Hollywood megastar. Denzel Washington made a quick exit immediately following the fight. It reminded me of Chris Chambliss and his retreat from the field following his game winning tator in the American League championship series back in the seventies.

Damian Wills improves to 21-0-1 with 15 ko’s, while Cisse Salif falls to 18-7-2 with 17 ko’s.

In the co-feature, Middleweights took the stage as Enrique Ornelas of La Habra, California took on Raul Munoz of Topeka, Kansas. Ornelas was the originally scheduled opponent for Sam Soliman. After watching Ornelas, Soliman might be happy he backed out. Raul Munoz looked out of shape, and Ornelas made him pay dearly. A wicked left hook to the body early in the first put Munoz down and he was hurt badly. After a barrage of shots followed, referee Raul Ciaz Jr. stopped the bout at 2:31 of round 1. With Wayne McCullough in his corner, Enrique Ornelas looks towards a bright future. Ornelas’ record jumps to 25-2 with 15 ko’s and Raul Munoz drops to 18-9-1 with 14 ko’s.

On the undercard:

Joaquin Marquez vs. Roddy “Schoolboy” Grajeda

In a very exciting four round bout, Middleweight Joaquin Marquez from Madera, California came out fast against a guy who took the bout on two days notice. Early in the first, it looked as if “School boy” Roddy Grajeda out of Anaheim, California wouldn’t make it out of the first stanza. Marquez came out firing hard shots and seemed to be destined to blow out the last minute fill in. By the second round, it was obvious that the “Schoolboy” had more on his mind than being an opponent for Marquez. By round number three, the chant of “Schoolboy" was being heard throughout the Pechanga showroom. Both guys exchanged hard uppercuts and pleased the crowd with a fast paced bout. Unfortunately, it was only scheduled for four rounds.

I had the more aggressive Grajeda winning the bout by the score of 39-37. Nobody agreed as two judges scored it 38-38 and the third scored 39-37 for Marquez. The fight ended as a majority draw. I have a feeling we will see these guys in the same ring again down the road. Joaquin Marquez improves to 3-0 with 2 ko’s and Roddy Grajeda falls to 6-5-1 with three ko’s. My first thought is how did “Schoolboy lose five fights already?

Hector Alatorre vs. Carlos Cisneros

Hector Alatorre of Tulare, California won the crowd over before the fight even started as he donned his Spongebob Squrepants trunks and robe. I know when I got home from the bout, young nine year old Richie Wilcox announced his new favorite fighter is Alatorre. Carlos Cisneros from San Miguel El Salvador looked to be a set up fighter when I looked at his 7-13-1 record with 4 ko’s. As it turned out, records can be deceiving. He pushed the action throughout the 4 round affair and gave old Spongebob fits. After four rounds, I scored the bout 39-37 for Cisneros.

Again, I was out voted by the official judges. Two judges scored it the exact opposite of me with a 39-37 score in favor of Alatorre, while one judge agreed with me and had it for Cisneros at the same score of 39-37. I felt Cisneros pushed the action and scored the cleaner shots. Alatorre was in constant motion and threw a lot of punches, but he sure didn’t land much. It was a case of the flashy guy catching the attention of the judges in my opinion.

Hector Alatorre improves to 13-0 with 5 ko’s and Carlos Cisneros falls to 7-14-1 with 4 ko’s.

Other action:

- The pro debut of Jo D. Jonz from the Bronx, New York was spoiled as Carlos Musquez won by TKO in round number three. Referee David Mendoza stopped the bout at 2:27 of the third round. Musquez improves to 1-0-1 with 1 ko, while Jonz starts his career with a loss.

-Christopher Martin of San Diego, California improved to 2-0 with a unanimous decision over Sal Santoyo of Brawley, California. Santoyo falls to 0-2 with no ko’s. The scorecards all read 40-35 in favor of Martin.

Random thoughts:

- On a personal side note. My brother Dennis has been fighting a severe battle with Leukemia over the last year. His motor skills and neurological functions have been affected deeply. He lives in Oregon and came out this week to visit us in Orange County. I wanted to thank Rick Reeno and Boxingscene for getting an extra credential to the fights so I could take my brother to his first live bout. It was quite an experience for him. He is confined to a wheel chair and rarely gets out. He was in heaven under the bright lights of the squared circle.

- My sincere thanks go out to Audra Merrell who is the media relations manager at the Pechanga Resort and Casino. I had asked her in advance if it were ok to get my brother in. I reminded her that he was in a wheelchair and she never hesitated. The sat him ringside and in what I don’t think is a coincidence, my brother was placed next to the ring card girls all night long. They took pictures with Dennis and played around with him all night. The Pechanga is a class act all the way. My deepest thanks to Audra and her staff.

- Also at Ringside was James “Lights-out” Toney. We were directly across the aisle from James and against my better judgment, I asked the Champ to come over and meet Dennis and take a picture. I was scared to death that he might recognize me as the writer who has been very critical of him. Knowing Toney’s famous lack of tolerance for writers, I figured I might have to take one for the team. Surprise, surprise, Toney was a tremendous gentleman and took mug shots with my brother and spoke to him for a few minutes. Very nice indeed. James Toney might be a softy after all.

It was very memorable evening for my family. It’s the little things in life that make the difference.  

Keep punching
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