Fight Report – October 3, 2009 at the West Saint Paul Armory
By: Laura Zink
Jake Backus (left) and Vincente Alfaro, courtesy SnapLocally.com
Last night at the West Saint Paul Armory, Right Hand Promotions put on a family-friendly, yet fierce fight card to the tune of oompa music, pump kegs, and new talent facing competitive fights. It was the kind of fight where you couldn’t tell whether the undercard or the main event would bring you the most action, and where, as libations flowed, you couldn’t even guess what the fan reaction would be. It was a fight card where, even though you may have never seen some of the fighters before, you wanted to see them again, either due to their overwhelming fury, their hammering head shots, their screaming wives at ringside, or their courage amidst blood-spilling head butts. And on top of all that, there was some showcasing worthy of note that could shift views of fights to come in Minnesota’s very near boxing future.
Antwan Robertson and Hassan Wasswa, Courtesy of SnapLocally.com
The night started off with an exhibition between Hassan Wassa (5-9-3) and Antwan Robertson (4-1-1). Robertson, who fought Wassa in Canada three months earlier resulting in what he dubs a controversial draw, floored Wassa in round two with a straight right hand. Robertson showed that, true to what he proclaims, he has a lot more to offer fans with his offense, and is a much more active fighter than what folks saw at the Hinckley Casino last March in his first pro bout against Brad Patraw.
Gustavo Espinoza (left) and Juan Baltierrez, courtesy SnapLocally.com
After watching a fighter get dropped in an exhibition, the a couple members of the crowd, clearly excited about the pro bouts to come, wanted to get in on the ring action. Two members of the crowd stepped into the ring with oversized boxing gloves and headgear to slug it out between bouts. But oversized gloves and scrappy fight crowd aside, pro bout number one between Gustavo Espinoza (1-0) and Juan Baltierrez (2-1-1)brought much more intense action to fight fans at the Armory. The bout began busy and ended doubly so with Espinoza overwhelming Baltierrez with a merciless advance, frustrating Baltierrez with a never-ending onslaught of hooks to the head and body for the entire four rounds. Baltierrez, though beleaguered by Espinoza’s advance, picked up the pace in the middle rounds with his counter-punching. Yet, Baltierrez could not keep up with the pace, and as he tired in the later rounds, he clearly had no answer to Espinoza’s endless onslaught of hooks to the head and body. After the bout ended, Espinoza, lounging with both arms holding him up on the ropes and sipping water as he awaited the decision, looked somewhat surprised when the judges called it a majority draw, by scores of 38-38, 39-37, 38-38.
Jake Backus (left) and Vincente Alfaro, courtesy SnapLocally.com
And after another between bout mixer with ladies fighting in sumo suits in the ring, another exciting pro match up, between Vicente Alfaro (debut) and Jake Backus (debut), took center stage at the Armory. After out-boxing Backus in the first round, Alfaro stunned Backus with a hard right hook to Backus’ ear in round two. Backus then picked up the pace by answering with counter shots to Alfaro’s head and body. But Alfaro answered him loud and clear with multiple shots and another big right hook towards the end of the round. By round three, Backus was working more jabs to keep Alfaro at bay, but Alfaro pushed in another sharp right hook that broke Backus’ control. Alfaro then picked his shots, landing single swaps to Backus’ head, chest, and belly, after which he began leading with uppercuts at close range. Backus, unwilling to show weakness, began to try and outshow Alfaro, dropping his hands and sticking out his chin. And while Alfaro did not take offensive advantage of Backus’ showman tactics, he didn’t seem impressed. In round four, Backus’ began to sense Alfaro’s timing and began to counter more going for body shots and head shots at close range, but Alfaro answered with a big uppercut to the body. And after that, the fighters went from exchange to exchange, ending the round with Backus with his back to the red corner while both fighters traded shots to the head until the final bell. As they awaited their decision, Alfaro held his son in his arms as oompa music played over the speakers. And when the judges called it 39-37, 40-36, 40-36 all in favor of Alfaro by unanimous decision, Alfaro slowly sunk to his knees, and with his son still in his arms, he pressed his forehead to the canvas in a grateful and solemn display of respect for his victory.
David Laque (front) and Levi Cortes, courtesy SnapLocally.com
The crowd participation reached its peak in pro bout number three between Levi Cortes (2-0) and David Laque (1-1), causing even the commissioners to get involved. It all began as the fighters were about to face-up and the following cry was heard from ringside: “Levi! You betta git his ass!” She followed the command by telling someone at ringside, “Yeah, I’m his wife. They better get security ‘cause I might jump in there.” But conjugal matters aside, Cortes held his own against Laque amidst Laque’s somewhat awkward defensive style. Laque began the first round making good use of his jab, but when Cortes began to try and answer him with looping shots, Laque began to duck deeply to close the target zone, bending halfway over and at one point, even turning his back and running away from the onslaught. By the later rounds, this strategy began to throw Laque off balance and, at times, left the back of Laque’s head exposed while Cortes tried to land a combo. In round three, Laque began to fight upright and land more head shots. Perhaps it was this advance which inspired Cortes’s wife to run up to ringside and scream “It’s not time to get tired!” The Minnesota commissioners leapt to their feet, one running over to her and telling her to sit down. And by the end of the round, two commissioners were ringside attending Mrs. Cortes trying to calm her fervent excitement over her husband’s match. And after this almost altercation at ringside, Cortes and Laque began to slug it out in round four. And even though Laque was trading more, Cortes clearly had the upperhand. He threw a huge right hand to Laque’s face which caused Laque’s eye to swell into a nugget-sized bruise by the end of the fight. The judges scored it 39-37, 40-36, and 40-36, all for the winner, Levi Cortes.
Danny Figueroa (left) and Hector Orozco, courtesy SnapLocally.com
And the final bout between Hector Orozco (1-2) and regional favorite, Danny Figueroa (2-0), did not, like the other bouts, go the distance. After wobbling Orozco in the first round with a combination, punching his way out of the corner with heavy-handed jabs in round two, and trading shots for a majority of round three, Figueroa suffered a blood-spilling accidental head butt in round four which caused ref Nelson to halt the bout. The crowd broke into a chorus of boos as Figueroa was attended to by the ring doctor. Unwilling to leave his hometown crowd unhappy, Figueroa jumped up on the ropes with blood still trickling from his brow and raised his arms in victory, turning the boos into cheers and whistles of encouragement. And even with the head butt and early stoppage of the bout, the scorecards had Figueroa the winner with 29-28 scores across the board.
By the end of the night all of the attendees at the fight were smiling with satisfaction over the intensity and merriment showcased at the West Saint Paul Armory that night. And as the oompa music resumed and the last of the beer from the pump kegs ran dry, the crowd at the West Saint Paul Armory began to disperse and make their way back home.