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Avila Perspective, Chap. 103: The 50th Anniversary of East L.A. Riots

David A. Avila

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 103: The 50th Anniversary of East L.A. Riots

When steely-eyed Jose Carlos Ramirez defends the WBC and WBO super lightweight titles against Ukraine’s human tentacle Viktor Postol on Saturday, it marks an important date for a large segment of the population that loves boxing.

On August 29, this Saturday, it’s the 50th anniversary of the East Los Angeles Riots that took place along the Whittier Boulevard corridor in the heart of “East Los.”

When Ramirez (25-0, 17 KOs) meets the taller Postol (31-2, 12 KOs) on Saturday at the MGM Grand Bubble in Las Vegas, it will be exactly 50 years since a peaceful anti-war demonstration was met with police violence at Laguna Park. Several lives were lost.

Here we are a half century later and excessive police violence remains a problem.

That date, August 29th, is burned in memory of thousands and resulted in me taking the long-winding course that led me here to boxing. It’s a very long story.

Back in 1970 anti-war demonstrations against American participation in Vietnam were occurring all over the country. Some say it mushroomed due to one man, Muhammad Ali, a heavyweight world champion, who refused induction to the U.S. Military in 1966 because of religious beliefs. He was stripped of his boxing titles and unable to earn a living in the prize ring. All states banned him.

Ali would not return to the prize ring until October 26, 1970 when he fought Southern California’s Jerry Quarry.

Unrest was taking place throughout the 50 states especially after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Most large urban cities like Detroit, Washington D.C. and New York City experienced rioting when King was killed on April 4, 1968. Los Angeles also rioted and had endured earlier riots in Black neighborhoods like Watts in 1965. The violence started because of police brutality.

There are always a few bad apples in every occupation including law enforcement.

Anti-war demonstrations were common in 1970 when more than 10,000 people marched several miles through East Los Angeles from Belvedere Park to Laguna Park on August 29, 1970. I remember it well.

As they passed by Eagle Street and Atlantic Boulevard near the infamous Kennedy Hall, marchers of all races and ethnicities were joyful and unaware that they would be under attack later that day. It was the furthest thing from their mind. I remember their faces.

East L.A. has always been a “Chicano” neighborhood. That’s a term used by Mexican-Americans to describe themselves for the past 80 years. After days of burning and violence, the riots subsided, then ignited again during the Mexican Independence Day celebrations.

Los Angeles County and the rest of California finally realized a large segment of the population truly mattered. Things began to change in education and employment opportunities. Significant changes.

Among those with East L.A. ties during the riots are brothers Oscar De La Hoya and Joel De La Hoya, and also their neighborhood friend Eric Gomez. All of them lived blocks away from Whittier Boulevard within the heart of the uprising but were not born yet.

Chicanos are comprised of many ethnicities, not just Mexicans. They also consist of every Latin American country with the common thread being Native American blood. Chicanos are mestizos, mixed Latinos living in the USA. Not everyone calls themselves a Chicano, only those that really know their roots and understand they are part of America. It’s a political statement and a way of thinking.

One thing about Chicanos, they love to fight and they love watching fights.

Professional boxing has always been popular in Los Angeles. Even while most newspapers refuse to acknowledge it, prizefighting continues to thrive without support from major media. Latinos love prizefighting whether they consider themselves Chicano or otherwise.

Here’s another secret; whether they live in East Los Angeles or the East Coast, Latinos as a whole love boxing.

Top Rank on ESPN+

Whether Ramirez calls himself Chicano, Mexican or Latino, one thing is certain the prizefighter from Avenal, California has not fought in over a year despite being red hot.

“After the big win against Hooker, I am ready to go and continue my journey to become undisputed champion. I know Viktor Postol stands in the way of that, and he is a very experienced fighter,” said Ramirez, whose last fight was a knockout win over Maurice Hooker for the WBO super lightweight title.

Earlier this year Ramirez was expected to defend the WBC and WBO titles against Postol but the coronavirus pandemic forced two postponements,

Postol has been lurking like a vampire. He’s got that boa constrictor style to cause problems for anyone with his penchant for holding.

“Jose is a good fighter. He is a good champion, but I know I have a good chance to win this fight. I have the motivation because this fight is for two belts. I’ll be ready,” said Postol who’s trained by Freddie Roach.

It’s one of the best male fights so far this year. So far, female fights have dominated male fights in terms of quality matchups. This Ramirez-Postol match is a true elite clash.

Other fighters on the card are Southern California’s Arnold Barboza (23-0, 10 KOs) another super lightweight contender zeroing in toward challenging for a world title. His foe will be Canada’s Tony Luis (29-3, 10 KOs) a 32-year-old fighting for his own place in line.

Barboza seems to have found his power and has four knockouts in his last five fights.

The Top Rank fight card can be seen on ESPN+ at 4:30 p.m. PT.

PBC on FS1

Cuba’s slick Erislandy Lara and Mexico’s Alfredo Angulo meet in the boxing ring at Microsoft Center in Los Angeles, but not at the same time. Too bad. Television coverage begins at 3 p.m. PT on FS1.

The last time they engaged Angulo forced Lara to stand and fight at the StubHub Center back in 2013. Lara was floored twice in their bloody and brutal fight but rallied to stop Angulo in the 10th round in a crazy encounter. It was probably the last time Lara was in a 50/50 fight until he ran into Jarrett Hurd in 2018.

Aside from the Hurd and Angulo fights, Lara never could attract a large following due to his non-fighting style learned in the amateurs. It’s ingrained in him. That served him well in the amateurs but fans attending a pro fight want to see some fisticuffs.

Lately, some are saying he has finally learned how to fight in the pro style. Is it too late?

Lara defends the WBA super welterweight title against Greg Vendetti (22-3-1, 10 KOs) who upset Japan’s Yoshehiro Kamegai two years ago and won’t be a pushover.

In the semi-main event, “El Perro” Angulo (26-7, 21 KOs) meets Caleb Truax (31-4-2, 19 KOs) the former super middleweight world champion. If fans were allowed the Los Angeles arena would be packed with spectators.

Angulo always had a very rabid fan base. Even when it seemed he was heading to the scrap heap during losses to Freddie Hernandez and James De La Rosa, the fans still showed up. When he lost to Sergio “the Latin Snake” Mora after falling behind early, the rally he drummed up convinced his promoter that he still had something left. He did.

Angulo knocked out Evert Bravo in his next fight and then upset Peter “Chocolate Kid” Quillen by split decision in one of the great comebacks in boxing.

Now here we are.

Mexicali-born Angulo just loves to fight and now trains with Abel Sanchez in Big Bear. He’s also proof that whether Mexican or Chicano, fighting is one of the things we love to do. Whether on the streets or in the prize ring you can count on fists flying.

Here’s a toast to all the Chicanos and especially to the memory of slain L.A. Times journalist Ruben Salazar who died 50 years ago during the East L.A. Riots.

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Season 2 of the World Boxing Super Series Concludes on Saturday in Munich

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PRESS RELEASE: The hotly-anticipated World Boxing Super Series Season II Cruiserweight Final between Mairis Briedis and Yuniel Dorticos takes place behind-closed-doors in a film studio at Plazamedia Broadcasting Center in Munich, Germany on Saturday, 26 September. On the line: The Muhammad Ali Trophy, IBF World Title, and vacant Ring Magazine 200 lbs belt.

The final will be shown live on DAZN in the US and Sky Sports in the UK.

“A final for the Muhammad Ali Trophy has proved to be something extraordinary. We have seen that it brings out the best in boxers which reflects the DNA of our tournament as to deliver and continue to deliver boxing at its very best to fans of the sport,” said Andreas Benz, CEO of Comosa, the event organizer.

“Plazamedia is a phenomenal solution, the studios are providing a controlled environment which is of huge benefit to us and the production team to keep everyone safe while also putting on a great show.

“At the same time, we have done everything to secure fair conditions for both teams, and to ensure they remain healthy and isolated until the action starts.”

Mairis Briedis, tournament No. 1 seed, qualified for the final through wins over Noel Mikaelian (UD) and Krzysztof Glowacki (TKO3), while Dorticos, No. 2 seed conquered Mateusz Masternak (UD) and Andrew Tabiti (KO10) to enter the 200 lbs decider.

“We are very happy about the announcement of the final,” said Latvia’s Mairis Briedis. “I love the fact that it will be in Munich as it reminds me of every time I went to train with the Klitschko brothers in Germany and the flights were always via Munich. Those are some great memories of the time spent with them there.”

Said Miami-based Cuban, Yuniel ‘The KO Doctor’ Dorticos, IBF World Cruiserweight Champion: “To all my fans worldwide, In Europe and especially in Munich, Germany: I am super happy the World Boxing Super Series final will take place in Munich, Germany, and I will see you all on Saturday, September 26th. The KO Doctor is back and ready to prescribe another dose of pain and take the Muhammad Ali Trophy back to Miami.”

Kalle Sauerland, Chief Boxing Officer of the WBSS, said: “On 26 September we will not only crown the best cruiserweight on the planet but also send a sign to the world that boxing is back with the first major transatlantic championship bout between the undisputed number one and two in their division.

The final is not only about honour and glory, but cementing a legacy. The winner will become a member of an exclusive ‘Ali Trophy Winner Club’ that includes Oleksandr Usyk, Callum Smith, Naoya Inoue and Josh Taylor. It doesn’t get much bigger in boxing, and we expect Briedis and Dorticos to have an absolute barnstormer!”

The Muhammad Ali Trophy was created by the late world-renowned artist Silvio Gazzaniga who also designed the iconic FIFA World Cup Trophy.

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 106: Return of LA Boxing, Josh Taylor, Charlos and More

David A. Avila

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 106: Return of LA Boxing, Josh Taylor, Charlos and More

Let’s call this week the Big Build Up.

Back in the 1920s to the 1950s the City of Angels was known as the place where Humphrey Bogart lived and played characters out of Raymond Chandler’s novels. Books like the “Big Sleep” and “Lady in a Lake” were made into movies based in Los Angeles.

Well, here we are back where boxing thrives, people or not.

Los Angeles kicks off the big boxing week starting with a televised fight card that features home grown featherweight Vic Pasillas at the Microsoft Theater in the downtown area. Fox Sports 1 will televise the Premier Boxing Championship card on Wednesday, Sept. 23.

Pasillas (15-0,8 KOs) faces Dominican fighter Ranfis Encarnacion (17-0, 13 KOs) in the co-main event at a fan-less event that begins a crowded week of boxing as we near the end of 2020.

“Coming out on top against Encarnación is going to catapult me into some big fights at featherweight. The division is wide open and I know with hard work I can take it over,” said Pasillas who is originally from Los Angeles. “This is by far the most important fight of my career. I’m coming with everything I got, because I know this is the turning point that will lead to bigger and better fights. I am ready to bring an exciting fight to the fans and get my hand raised in victory.”

Both Pasillas and Encarnacion are undefeated and unknown to most of the boxing world. A win changes everything especially when it’s difficult to even stage a boxing card.

Promoters are anxious to get their fighters in the ring by any means necessary.

On Thursday in Biloxi, Mississippi, super lightweight Michael Williams Jr. meets Thomas Miller in the headline attraction of a boxing card that will be streamed by UFC Fight Pass.

On Friday in southern Mexico, Serhii Bohachuk (17-0, 17 KOs) meets Alejandro Davila (21-1-2, 8 KOs) in Merida, Yucatan. No word if it will be streamed. The super welterweight from Ukraine has a 17-fight knockout streak and has become a main attraction in Hollywood, California for 360 Promotions.

“Serhii has become one of the most talked about rising stars in boxing,” said Tom Loeffler, promoter of 360 Promotions. “Boxing fans are excited to see if he can continue his knockout streak against Alejandro Davila, the toughest opponent he’s faced. He’s been training very hard with Manny Robles for this fight and if victorious, we’re certain there will be bigger opportunities for him in the near future.”

These are all tasty appetizers for the big buffet coming on Saturday.

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Saturday morning, especially if you live in the California area, ESPN+ will showcase the IBF, WBA super lightweight world title fight between champion Josh Taylor (16-0, 12 KOs) and Apinun Khongsong (16-0, 13 KOs) in London. It will be streamed live on Sept. 26, Saturday morning, starting at 11 a.m PST.

This is an important match for Taylor (pictured on the left) who needs a win to nail down a unification clash with Jose Carlos Ramirez the WBC and WBO titlist. If Scotland’s Taylor emerges victorious the super lightweight clash will be one of the top fights of the year.

And if that fight happens to take place, then that winner more than likely meets WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford.

But first things first. Taylor needs to defeat Thailand’s Khongsong on Saturday.

“I didn’t want a warm-up fight, so getting straight back in there against my mandatory challenger is great, as it’s kept me fully focused. I want big fights in my career, so this is an important fight with my belts on the line,” said Taylor.

Charlos Pay-per-view

The Charlos brothers asked for it and they got it.

Long have the brothers from Houston, Texas asked for a pay-per-view fight card and it never seemed possible until now. The Charlos will headline a pay-per-view double-header on Saturday via Showtime.

Beginning at 4 p.m PT/ 7 p.m. ET the Showtime pay-per-view card begins with three top notch bouts:

WBO bantamweight titlist John Riel Casimero (29-4) vs Ghana’s Duke Micah (24-0, 19 KOs).

WBA super bantamweight titlist Brandon Figueroa (20-0-1, 15 KOs) vs Damien Vazquez (15-1-1, 8 KOs).

WBC middleweight titlist Jermall Charlo (30-0, 22 KOs) v Sergiy Derevyanchenko (13-2, 10 KOs).

Charlo was not impressed with Derevyanchenko’s performances against Daniel Jacobs and Gennady Golovkin because both were losses. He expects to dominate.

Derevyanchenko says he’s ready for Charlo.

“Golovkin is a very different fighter than Charlo, but Jacobs is similar stylistically, so that’s something I’ll be used to,” said Derevyanchenko. “This training camp has been very similar to camps for my previous fights though. We just brought in different sparring partners for this one. We’re using fighters who can show us what Charlo will bring to the ring.”

After a 30-minute intermission the second half of the boxing card begins.

Former bantamweight world champion Luis Nery (30-0, 24 KOs) moves up in weight to face Aaron Alameda (25-0, 13 KOs) for the vacant WBC super bantamweight world title. Both fighters are from Mexico.

Former super bantamweight titlists Danny Roman (27-3-1) and Juan Carlos Payano (21-3) meet in a 12-round bout.

In the grand finale WBC super welterweight titlist Jermell Charlo (33-1, 17 KOs) challenges IBF and WBA super welterweight titlist Jeison Rosario (20-1-1, 14 KOs) in a fight for all three belts.

“We lions,” said Charlo.

It’s a very big week for boxing that begins on Wednesday and ends Saturday.

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The Return of Wednesday Boxing Evokes Memories of a Golden Era

Arne K. Lang

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There’s a Wednesday card on the boxing docket this week. The card, which features several undefeated up-and-comers of the sort usually found on Showtime’s developmental series, “ShoBox: The New Generation,” will play out at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles and air on Fox Sports 1.

Not to be out-done, “ShoBox” is returning. The long-running series, which suspended operations in March in obeisance to COVID-19 restrictions, returns on Oct. 7 with a show emanating from Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun Casino. The contestants in the main go of the four-fight card, Charles Conwell and Wendy Toussaint, have identical 12-0 records.

It just so happens that Oct. 7 is also a Wednesday. And these upcoming Wednesday shows transported this reporter back to his boyhood when boxing was a fixture on radio and television on Wednesday nights. The Wednesday series sponsored by Pabst Blue Ribbon beer ran from 1950 to 1960, airing the first five years on CBS and then on ABC.

Fights were all over the TV dial during the 1950s, not that there was much competition. The Big Three — NBC, CBS, and ABC — ruled the airwaves with DuMont a very distant fourth and cable television well off into the future. (For a time, the short-lived DuMont network aired boxing shows on Mondays.)

When televisions first came out, they were a big-ticket item. In 1948, RCA’s cheapest model sold for $395. That’s the equivalent of $10,400 today. By 1954, the cost of the least expensive model had declined to $189 and it came in a bigger box, with a 17-inch screen compared with the 13-inch screen that was standard six years earlier.

With the cost of the coveted contraption beyond the means of many wage earners, saloonkeepers cashed in. Boxing fans flocked to the neighborhood tavern to get their boxing fix. The saloonkeeper could write off his television sets on his taxes as a business expense.

Those were the days, and I date myself, when every town had a TV repair shop and the repairman, like the family doctor, made house calls.

The Wednesday Night Fights were a spin-off of the Friday Night Fights on NBC. The matchmaker for both series (through 1958) was the International Boxing Club which was headquartered at Madison Square Garden. The president of the IBC was James D. Norris (who would come to be seen as a puppet for mobster Frankie Carbo, but that’s a story for another day).

James D. Norris inherited a vast fortune from his father, Canadian businessman James E. Norris. The elder Norris was a big wheel in the sport of hockey and had a financial interest in the arenas that housed NHL teams in Chicago, Detroit, and St. Louis. He made these arenas available to his son and the Wednesday fight cards moved around, unlike the Friday fights which were pinned to Madison Square Garden.

Both series would eventually venture out at times into virgin territory, but the Wednesday series was the trailblazer. The first nationally televised boxing show from the West Coast was a Wednesday affair. Jimmy Carter defended his world lightweight title against LA fan favorite Art Aragon, the original Golden Boy, at the Olympic Auditorium on Nov. 14, 1951. Aragon had upset Carter in a non-title fight 11 weeks earlier, but Carter took him to school in the rematch, winning a lopsided decision.

The Friday boxing series, which took the name “Gillette Cavalcade of Sports,” would come to be more fondly remembered, but once the TV became a living room staple, which happened fast, the Wednesday series drew higher ratings. This was predictable as more folks stayed home on Wednesday nights than on Friday nights. And although the Friday series had a larger budget, some of the most important fights of the era were staged on Wednesdays.

One of the highlights of the 1951 season was Ezzard Charles’ world heavyweight title defense against Jersey Joe Walcott at Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field. It was Walcott’s fifth crack at the title and he was considered ancient at age 37, but he avenged his two previous losses to Charles with a thunderous one-punch knockout.

Carmen Basilio appeared in The Ring magazine Fight of the Year in five consecutive years (1955-1959). The first two — his second meeting with Tony DeMarco and his second meeting with Johnny Saxton – were televised on a Wednesday.

Although he would be quickly forgotten, the Wednesday series brought Bob Satterfield a cult following because of his unpredictability. He certainly left an impression on octogenarian boxing writer Ted Sares who recently named Satterfield his all-time favorite fighter.

To conjure up a portrait of Satterfield, think Deontay Wilder and then fix Wilder with a glass jaw. Satterfield, whose best weight was about 182 pounds, was a murderous puncher, but during his career he was stopped 13 times.

LA’s Clarence Henry and Pittsburgh’s Bob Baker were ranked #3 in the heavyweight division when they ventured to Chicago to tangle with Satterfield, Henry in 1952 and Baker the following year. Henry knocked out Satterfield in the opening round. Satterfield hit the canvas so hard, said a ringside reporter, the resin dust flew up.

The Satterfield-Baker fight would also end in the opening round. Baker out-weighed Satterfield by 34 pounds, but Satterfield flattened him. Later on, in a non-Wednesday fight, Satterfield knocked out Cleveland “Big Cat” Williams in the third round. Williams, 33-1 heading in, was the larger man by 25 pounds.

One bet on or against Bob Satterfield at one’s own peril.

The Wednesday Night Fights had a nice run before the series was cancelled and supplanted in its time slot by “The Naked City,” a critically acclaimed police drama series. Perhaps the return of boxing on Wednesdays augurs well for another mid-week boxing series, but we won’t hold our breath.

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