Rodriguez stays busy beating up overmatched, overweight Polley in 'Cruces
Ringside report by Chris Cozzone and Ricardo Trujillo
Photos by Chris Cozzone
Battling, battering and beating one of two elephants in last night’s ring, at the Pan Am Center in Las Cruces, N.M., heavyweight hopeful David “Nino” Rodriguez added another notch on his career bedpost with a second round stoppage of St. Joseph journeyman Byron Polley.
Fighting ugly, clinching plentifully and plopping down to the canvas three times before the referee closed the curtains on what was, otherwise, a decent fight card, Polley had little to offer the unbeaten behemoth, ‘sides a win, that is.
The scheduled-for-ten heavyweight caper capped off a six-bout show before a crowd of 2,300, promoted by Zeferino Entertainment and Nino Bravo Promotions.
Rodriguez took his time with the opponent that had talked a good talk at the presser, but left hooks buried into the side of Mount Polley had the 250-pound bowl of gotsta-be-jelly-cuz-jam-don’t-shake on his knees twice in the first and once in the second before ref Richard Espinosa called it off at 1:28.
“I wanted to get the year over and stay active,” said Rodriguez, who upped the stats to 36-0, 34 KOs, while winning something called the “NABU” heavyweight belt.
Polley, meanwhile, has now lost five out of his last half-dozen, all by knockout, his numbers falling to 24-13-1, 11 KOs.
“Next year, it’s a different story – we’re going after bigger names – guys like Saul Montana, James Toney and, down the road, Chris Arreola.”
Though it’s a story the media and frustrated fight fans have heard often, both, promoter, Zeferino Ramirez, and the fighter agree it’s time to get busy instead of just stay busy.
Ramirez admits the presence of the elephant in the ring that shadows the forever-prospect from the border - the second of which isn't a gift of a white elephant like Polley, and actually more of the 800-pound gorilla variety.
“We know it’s time to step up and fight the big names,” says Ramirez. “David knows it too, and it’s all in the works. We talked with HBO and offered Sam Peter vs. Rodriguez but they said no. Now we’re talking with Gary Shaw about a possible March ShoBox date against a top 20 guy, someone like Travis Walker or Travis Kaufman.”
“Next year’s our move,” says Rodriguez. “We’ll fight anybody.”
Escalante’s long climb back
In the co-main, former contender Antonio Escalante (26-4, 17 KOs) continued the crawl back toward contention, needing seven of the scheduled eight rounds to stop southpaw Rynell Griffin (6-7-1, 2 KOs) of New Orleans, who’s now dropped four straight.
Though winning the rounds, Escalante showed flashes of his former fireball self against the patiently crafty southpaw. Digging into the body and landing repeated right hands on Griffin, however, did not show their mark until the late rounds. Meanwhile, Griffin was increasingly braver as the fight progressed, trading with Escalante and landing a fair number of counterpunches.
In the fourth, Escalante backed off for much of the round when a cut opened up near his right eye and, two rounds later, was visibly gassed. One round later, however, Escalante pounded away to the body, dropping Griffin a total of three times before referee Rocky Burke called it off at 1:57 of seventh.
“I couldn’t figure him out and my body wasn’t responding,” says Escalante. “I couldn’t warm up in the locker rooms either.
“I still need more work. But I will work on it.”
Han masters Dennison
Fighting her toughest opponent to date and putting on a clinic, former amateur star Jennifer Han (7-1-1) gave gutsy Albuquerque 130-pounder Nohime Dennison (4-2-1) a lesson in six rounds.
Dennison made a fight of it, especially in the first, but Han immediately showed her pedigree, establishing the jab and landing straight rights.
Dennison’s herky-jerky style, leading with the head and unorthodox lefts gave Han fits in the first few rounds, but Han’s basic one-two was all that was needed.
As the fight progressed, Dennison bled from the nose and a cut opened up over the left eye – possibly a result of a clash of heads, though by the fourth, Han was mixing in her rights with left hooks and uppercuts, all of which found their mark.
At the end of six, Han cleaned up with scores of 60-54 and 59-55 twice.
“I didn’t expect an easy fight but my performance has improved,” says Han. “I’m pleased with the fight. She was leading with the head and that’s dangerous, so I had to be careful, but I finally learned in the fifth that, duhhh, I should be throwing the uppercut.
“I’m ready for whoever is next. I’m on the road to the top.”
Bruno Escalante falters in the flash department
In a four round flyweight bout, Filipino Hawaiian Bruno Escalante (5-0-1, 3 KOs) pitched a shutout to game Aaron Fernandez (2-6), with scores of 40-36 trice.
The “Aloha Kid” introduced himself to gamely-charging Fernandez with occasional flashes of brilliance, but they were far too few and in between. Though picking up each round with just a handful of punches, Fernandez came at his foe, and was never seriously hurt or put in his place.
After a couple rounds of the same ol’ dance, the crowd got bored waiting for something to happen.
“I was trying too hard to light him up with my left hand,” Escalante said afterward.
Garcia, Rivera steal the show
Stealing the spotlight – what little spotlight there was, that is, in the dimly-lit arena – was a six-round war between flyweights Joel Garcia (5-0, 1 KO), of El Paso, and Rafael Rivera (1-4), of Arizona.
No one expected such a war from Rivera, but that’s what Garcia got – but he showed his stuff by counterpunching his way, then taking the fight to his man, through six tough rounds that had the crowd cheering.
Rivera edged the first with big left hooks and pressing forward, but Garcia turned it around after that, proving himself the better boxer and landing rights.
The Garcia-Rivera dance followed a Margarito-Cotto-like path around the ring for rounds three through six, but Garcia, fighting a swelling eye, picked his spots and kept Rivera from getting too comfortable in his bull-forward chase.
In the fifth and sixth, Garcia came close to stopping his opponent, staggering him at least twice and forcing him to move backward for the first time in the fight.
Though most at ringside saw a clear win for Garcia, the scorecards were split, giving him the win by split verdict, with scores of 58-56, 56-58 and 59-55.
“This was a tough fight,” Garcia admitted. “I tried to put more pressure on him, tried to box and create space.”
Villa decisions Quevado
In the opening bout, El Paso welterweight Carlos Villa (4-0, 2 KOs) decisioned Omar Quevado (0-3) of New Mexico, with scores of 40-35 x 3.
Villa landed the cleaner shots against the New Mexican jumping bean, though as the fight wore on, many of them found their way south of the border. The borderline shots and the true body bombs eventually wore down Quevado, who went down in the third and barely managed to stay upright as he weathered Villa’s storm in the final frame.