By Jared Castellaw – As I write this I’m sitting on my couch at home in New Orleans, on my laptop after getting back from Mexico City two and half hours ago. Jorge Arce fought Angky Angkota last night for the IBC Super Flyweight title at the Restaurante Arollo in Mexico City.
I had initially planned on attending the Shane Mosley Andre Berto Welterweight Title fight at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. The fight was cancelled however as Berto a boxer on the 2004 Haitian Olympic boxing team bowed out of the contest due to the recent and catastrophic earthquake in Haiti..
I arrived in Mexico City at 9:00 am yesterday morning after sleeping on the airplane for the 2 and ½ hour direct flight from New Orleans. I caught only an hour of sleep the night before. In spite of the lack of sleep I felt fantastic. I was due to meet my friend at the Camino Real Hotel Bar connected to the Mexico City airport upon my arrival. Once on the ground I received a disastrously formatted text message from my friend talking about how he missed his flight, had another one, and was going to be about 20 minutes late to the bar. If you ever have the need to meet someone at the Mexico City airport, I highly recommend the bar at the Camino Real Hotel. It is connected to the airport by an overhead tunnel . It is very quiet, low key, and most importantly, does not have the terrifying hustle, and intercom speaker system-1984-watch out for terrorism-airport-vibe to it.
I knew I had made the right decision to go to Mexico City when I sat down at the bar at 9:30 and asked him if they served Bohemia. He asked me which kind I preferred as they had 3 different kinds of Bohemia. I asked if I could see the different types and selected the wheat beer that I didn’t even know existed. It was cold, served with salt and lime on the side, and delicious. Halfway through the beer my friend arrived at the bar and proceeded to tell me the story of missing his flight in Guadalajara and fiercely negotiating to get his fee lowered from roughly $350 to less than $50.
We then got raped by a cab driver for $22 on a cab ride that should have cost $8.
We met my third friend at the Hotel Corrinto with a girl that we had met in Mexico City about two years ago. We spent the afternoon having drinks, eating at various times, and laughing hysterically. Scott had never met Avery and Anna but we all got along great. We went back to the hotel to change and Scott, Avery and I took a taxi to the Restaurante Arollo to see the boxing.
Boxing is a very brutal sport that I find absolutely fascinating. It is as much mental as it is physical. It is a strange cross between discus, tennis, race car driving and football. While a sound and well reasoned strategy may give a fighter the edge, at the end of the day it’s usually instincts, experience, and raw physical speed and strength that carries the day. One of the things that fascinated me about this particular fight, was the choice of venue. Restaurante Arollo. A restaurant? I was curious, looked it up, and it actually has an entry in Wikipedia:
“The Restaurante Arollo is the world’s largest single Mexican restaurant, with seating for 2,200 patrons in 9 dining rooms and parking for 600 cars. It has musical stages, an array of wandering mariachi and jarocho bands, a play area for piñata parties, a cockfighting pit and a mechanical bull. It also may be the only restaurant known that contains its own bullring.”
Maybe the only restaurant in the world to contain its own bullring. It probably is. We arrived at 6:45, the main event was scheduled for approximately 10 in the bullring, and the action was to begin at 6:00. We were able to work out our ticket arrangements with a surly security guard who also functioned as Will Call. He forgot he was holding our tickets and initially denied us access. We worked it out and took our seats. Ringside 5th row, center ring, VIP with a waiter to keep us supplied with cold local beer. The first couple of fights of the undercard were mismatches with one fighter being clearly faster and better attuned and either winning in a clear decision, or punching his opponent until he could not get up off of the floor. There was a second round knockout by way of a punch to the liver.
The third to last fight was a fight for the vacant female WBC super bantam weight title. Tijuana native Jackie Nava 21-3-2 (10 KO) fought Panamanian Shantell Martinez 8-4 (1 KO) for the belt. Nava was knocked down early on in the fight while caught off balance but rose with a cut right eye from the canvas to use her superior speed and movement to pressure Martinez for the duration of the fight. She fought like a female Mike Tyson at 122 pounds but without the devastating knockout power. She moved in after her Panamanian Prey time and again alternatively ducking punches or taking them and throwing lighting fast combinations. Java hit her opponent with three consecutive left hooks in the 6th round as fast as I could pull a trigger. Martinez had a substantial reach advantage but Nava was very aggressive and pushed her opponent for the duration of the ten round undercard title fight. On my card, the only round she lost was the round in which she was knocked down. It was a gutsy performance.
The second to last fight had an astounding amount of action. It was also a huge robbery. I had money on the victor Eduardo Escobedo and was astounded to hear that he had beaten Joksan Hernandez for a ten round Unanimous Decision victory. There were knockdowns, there were point deductions, it was close fight, but I had Hernandez by 3 points despite his 7th round point deduction for rabbit punching Escobedo after being warned throughout the fight and being knocked down in the 3rd. It was a very even fight with dramatically different styles. Joksan Hernandez fought an aggressive fight and maintained a very high punch output for the duration. Pure and simple: he threw more punches, and he landed more punches. Escobedo fought an intelligent fight boxing on the outside, and staying away from his opponent for most of the fight while savagely countering and punishing Hernandez for his mistakes. Escobedo stepped up in the last rounds engaging Hernandez openly and swapping as many as 10 punches each in exchanges that sent the intimate crowd at the Arollo Bullring into a fervor. It was a fitting venue. Escobedo cautiously worked to lure in and counter Hernandez and succeeded substantially, but took more than he gave for most of the fight. It was a very good fight, and a fight that he was lucky to win, in my opinion. The judges score cards read 97-92, 97-93, 96-93 all in favor of Escobedo. Maybe it was the beer, but I had this fight 96-93 in favor of Hernandez.
The main event paled in comparison to the two previous fights with Angkota hunkering down in his corner trying to tire out and wear down Arce with counterpunches for the first half of the fight. Instead, he got absolutely destroyed over 7 rounds in the main event. He showed much better in the later two rounds when he opened up, got out of his corner, and boxed Arce instead of wrestling with him inside. But by then, the damage was already done as Arce had opened up a very serious cut over Angkota’s right eye. After a ringside inspection the fight was called and the final scores were 58-56, 60-54, 60-54 all in favor of Arce.