Fairfield's Avila to fight in national spotlight

Fairfield's Avila to fight in national spotlight

March 24, 2011
Ryan Maquiana
CSNBayArea.com

Its not very often when an 18-year-old pro boxer gets the opportunity to fight on national television, much less before his hometown fans.

However, for Fairfield native Manuel Tino Avila (2-0, 1 KO), such plaudits are to be expected even at this fledgling stage of his career.

It never feels overwhelming, said Avila, who takes on Frank Gutierrez (2-8-2, 1 KO) this Friday at the Fairfield Sports Center in the latest installment of Telefuturas Solo Boxeo Tecate series. Ive been training out here in Vacaville for eight or nine years here, and Ive fought here in the amateurs. Its just another fight to me.

The pressure to perform is nothing new to Avila. His last fight in February was also televised by the Spanish-language network and also took place at the same venue in front of over 1,000 supporters screaming his nickname.

Hes been used to situations like this, said his father, Manuel, Sr. It doesnt get to him at all.

When he was a little kid, he would cry when his dad would punish him by not letting him go to the gym, chuckled head trainer Al LaGardo. Tino was born to be a fighter.

The recent Rodriguez High graduate passed the test with flying colors, recording his pro first knockout with a fourth-round stoppage of Jose Garcia, a feat made even more remarkable when noting that the right-handed Avila was facing a southpaw in just his second fight.

Tino was making him miss. You get more tired missing punches than hitting somebody, said LaGardo. Hell stand in front of you and counter you to death, or he can be aggressive and throw double or triple left hooks on the inside and get you out of there that way.

It was one of those hooks that staggered Garcia and initiated the final flurry that caused the referee to wave off the bout.

I dont think Tino really loaded up until he threw that hook, continued LaGardo. In fact, this guy hes fighting next is another southpaw. Southpaws are very hard to time, but he spars them all the time.

It was only last June when Avila, the No. 6-ranked American amateur bantamweight at the time, abandoned his Olympic dreams after compiling a purported record of 48-6.

I went pro because the amateur scoring system isnt the best for my style, said Avila without a hint of apprehension. Also, Ill be able to help my family with the money I make.

His decision seems to be the right one. Cameron Dunkin, who currently manages the career of world bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire of San Mateo, immediately offered him a contract.

Hes a bad boy, said Dunkin approvingly. I had heard of him but had never seen him fight until I saw a video of him on the internet. He can really fight.

Soon after his managerial situation was resolved, he became the subject of a bidding war between several top promoters, including Oscar De La Hoyas Golden Boy Promotions, whom Tino eventually chose.

I used to watch Oscar fight, said Avila. Im beginning to see how big it is to be with Golden Boy at my age.

Still, the question remains if the prodigy will be able to handle the transition from four-round fights to a six-rounder this early in his career, a hasty move by most industry standards.

I think Tino feeds off this crowd, said assistant trainer Karl Sharrock. Well know where he is after the fourth roundif it goes that far.

Perhaps the move is a sign of De La Hoya and Golden Boys faith in their young prospect.

Were really high on Manuel, so were going to keep using him since were planning to do more shows in the area, said Hall of Fame promoter Don Chargin, now a Golden Boy consultant. When hes throwing a combination, hes already one step ahead and thinking about the next one. You dont find that too often in a fighter his age.

It makes me feel good to know they think Im ready for a six-rounder, said Avila. Ive actually trained every day for an eight-round fight because Ive been sparring ten rounds. It doesnt bother me. Its just another two rounds added from the last fight.

Fairfield has been the beneficiary of some recent media momentum, as Green Bay linebacker and fellow native son Desmond Bishop was an integral part of this years Super Bowl-winning team. Now Avila looks to make his mark by obtaining some championship glory of his own in the future.

It would feel great to put Fairfield on the map, he said, but Im also representing Vacaville, because I train here. No ones really done the things Ive been able to do here, being 18 years old, as far as signing with Golden Boy or fighting on TV. It would feel great to bring a title back

Boxing writer Ryan Maquiana is a regular contributor to CSNBayArea.com.

A's find themselves in decent shape with Graveman, Gray possibly returning

A's find themselves in decent shape with Graveman, Gray possibly returning

OAKLAND — Some 10-9 records are better than others, and so it is that the A’s can hit the road for a nine-game trip feeling pretty good about themselves.

Their just-completed homestand began with Opening Night starter Kendall Graveman leaving a game early and landing on the disabled list. That was coupled with news that shortstop Marcus Semien would be lost for two months or more with a fractured wrist.

The A’s responded to those developments with a five-game winning streak that was halted by Sunday’s 11-1 rout at the hands of the Seattle Mariners.

The A’s went 5-4 on the homestand, holding their ground after a heavy dose of injury misfortune, and now the outlook changes just a bit. The focus shifts from the players joining the D.L. to those that could soon return to provide a boost.

Graveman, who has a strained right shoulder, is scheduled to throw off the mound Monday. If that goes well, expect him to be activated sometime in the early portion of the upcoming trip. Sonny Gray, who has been out since injuring a side muscle early in Cactus League games, is set to throw Thursday for Triple-A Nashville after an encouraging rehab outing Saturday for Single-A Stockton.

If Gray comes out of Thursday’s start well, look for the 2015 All-Star to join the active roster and pitch sometime against Minnesota in the final series of this road trip. Nothing can be taken for granted until both pitchers actually return healthy, but it’s a promising scenario to possibly add two starters of their caliber as April turns to May.

“I think any time you look up and you’re over .500 and you’ve had a great homestand and you’re missing your best two pitchers, that’s something to be pleased about,” catcher Stephen Vogt said. “Getting Kendall back is huge. And Sonny obviously did great last night, and felt great, which is more important than the results.

“We’re excited to get those two guys back but in the meantime, we’re gonna continue to keep playing the way we are because we’re playing really good baseball and we’ll just keep things rolling.”

It was clear early on Sunday that a five-game winning streak wouldn’t reach six. The Mariners led 2-0 in the third when Andrew Triggs missed location on a 1-0 sinker and Taylor Motter launched a grand slam over the wall in left-center.

Triggs, who excelled at missing the fat part of bats over his first three starts, didn’t have the feel for his cutter Sunday. When he fell behind to Motter, the cutter is normally a pitch he would have gone to had it been working for him.

“I wasn’t commanding well,” he said. “I didn’t wanna go 1-0 to 2-0. I felt better going with the sinker. I got it down, but missed location in and out. In a perfect world, the cutter would have been great to get a groundout.”

But to this point, the A’s rotation has held firm without Gray and with the short-term absence of Graveman. Perhaps the biggest test moving forward is whether an offense that is tied for the American League lead in extra-base hits can continue to produce consistently with Semien’s absence, particularly without anyone having established themselves as the regular leadoff man.

A’s manager Bob Melvin likes what he’s seen from his team in light of the injuries.

“Every game we go out there there’s an expectation to win,” Melvin said, “and when you win multiple games in a row, you get that feeling and it’s a little more significant. So hopefully we can carry that on to the road trip. As a group, we’ve been able to manage these injuries here recently, and once we start getting guys back it’s gonna be a good thing for us.”

Instant Replay: Mariners mash Triggs, A's win streak ends at five

Instant Replay: Mariners mash Triggs, A's win streak ends at five

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND – That pristine ERA wasn’t going to last forever for Andrew Triggs, and it was no secret why things took a wayward turn for the A’s right-hander Sunday.

His command deserted him in the top of the third against Seattle, and that led to a disastrous inning that told the story in an 11-1 loss that halted the A’s five-game winning streak.

Triggs, who hadn’t allowed a single earned run in winning his first three starts of 2017, walked Robinson Cano to load the bases in the third, then issued another free pass to Nelson Cruz that forced in a run and put the Mariners up 2-0. After striking out Daniel Vogelbach, Triggs caught too much plate with a 1-0 pitch and Taylor Motter drilled it for a grand slam that made it 6-0 and put this one out of reach with the way Yovani Gallardo was pitching.

Gallardo (1-2) gave up just four hits over 6 1/3 innings as the Mariners prevented the A’s from completing their first home sweep of a four-game series since July 3-6, 2014, when they took four from Toronto.

Seattle turned it into a rout as Nelson Cruz belted a three-run homer in the seventh off Raul Alcantara, who was left in to eat up innings and surrendered two***more runs in the ninth.

Triggs (3-1), in a season-opening rotation for the first time in his major league career, opened the year by throwing 17 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run. That was the longest such season-opening streak by a starting pitcher in Oakland history. His ERA went from 0.00 to 2.42 with Sunday’s outing.

The A’s (10-9) finished 5-4 on their nine-game homestand that was shortened by one game due to a rainout Easter Sunday.

Starting pitching report

The first batter of the game was a bad omen for Triggs as he hit Jarrod Dyson to put the speedster on base. Dyson stole second and Cano knocked a run-scoring single to right field that quickly brought Triggs’ earned-run streak to an end. The right-hander was charged with six earned runs over 4 2/3 innings. He gave up five hits with four strikeouts and the two walks.

Bullpen report

Daniel Coulombe entered in relief of Triggs in the fifth and provided 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Then Alcantara, who was replaced in the rotation by Jesse Hahn on the last road trip, was left in to soak up three innings to save the bullpen any more wear and tear in a lopsided game. He gave up five runs in three innings and walked two.

At the plate

The A’s, after falling behind early, couldn’t muster anything against Gallardo, who the Mariners acquired in an offseason trade from the Orioles. Their only run came in the seventh, when Ryon Healy led off with a double, moved to third on Trevor Plouffe’s single and scored on Matt Joyce’s sacrifice fly off reliever Tony Zych.

In the field

Neither team committed an error, making it five games in a row that the A’s have gone errorless. Gallardo was aided by an outstanding diving snag by third baseman Mike Freeman in the sixth. Matt Olson, drawing a start in right field for the A’s, made a sliding catch that turned into a double play when Daniel Vogelbach wandered too far off first base.

Attendance

The homestand finale drew 24,165 fans.

Up next

The A’s take Monday off and then begin a nine-game road trip against the Angels on Tuesday. The opener pits Jesse Hahn (1-1, 3.00) against J.C. Ramirez (2-2, 6.46). On Wednesday, it’s Sean Manaea (1-1, 4.43) against Matt Shoemaker (0-1, 4.98). Then Jharel Cotton (2-2, 4.76) matches up against Ricky Nolasco (1-2, 4.76) in Thursday’s finale. All three games begin at 7:05 p.m. and air on NBC Sports California.