NorCal Boxing Weekend: Escalante dominates Casillas

NorCal Boxing Weekend: Escalante dominates Casillas
March 10, 2013, 2:00 pm
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Bruno Escalante (right) defeated Rigoberto Casillas at the Redwood City Fox Theater this past Friday. (Credit: Erik Killin)

(all times PT and subject to change)

For ticket information, check out
• MAR. 16 (King’s Gym, Oakland): “Box-Off Showdown” (1 p.m.)*

• MAR. 16 (Lemoore Recreation Center): Amateur Boxing Show (4 p.m.)*

• MAR. 23 (California Boxing & MMA, Carmichael): “Tony ‘The Tiger’ Presents” (5 p.m.)*

• MAR. 30 (Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas): Avenal’s Jose Ramirez vs. TBA, 4 rds., lightweights (HBO, time TBA)^

• MAR. 30 (PYA Gym, Stockton): Amateur Boxing Show (2 p.m.)*

• MAR. 30-APR. 6 (Northern Resort Casino, Spokane, Wash.): USA Boxing National Championships (times TBA)*

• APR. 13 (Radio City Music Hall, New York City): San Leandro’s Nonito Donaire vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux 12 rds., The Ring/WBO/WBA jr. featherweight world titles (time TBA, HBO)

• APR. 20 (Richmond PAL): United Combat Association Triple-Header (6 p.m.)*

• APR. 27 (Barclays Center, Brooklyn): Peter Quillin vs. Hayward-based Fernando Guerrero, 12 rounds, WBO middleweight world title (Showtime, 10 p.m.)

*Region 11 amateur show
^possible highlights

Before the opening bell, Bruno Escalante stared up at his latest taller, heavier opponent and smiled.  After eight one-sided rounds, the 5-foot-2, 115-pound dynamo showed how sweet a scientist he could be regardless of the situation.

Escalante, a junior bantamweight based out of San Carlos, easily outclassed Rigoberto Casillas en route to a unanimous decision victory in front of a sellout crowd of almost 1,500 at the Redwood City Fox Theater this past Friday.

“The key to winning was my speed and ring generalship,” Escalante (7-1-1, 3 KOs) said.  “Casillas could take a punch.  He’s got a hard head.  My knuckles are hurting right now.  But overall, I’m happy I got the victory.”

[RELATED: ‘Little Stick of Dynamite’ returns to ring Friday]

The fight almost fell through on Thursday when Casillas weighed in at 118 pounds, two over the contracted limit.  However, Escalante agreed to fight him anyway after Casillas forfeited 20 percent of his purse; half of that amount went to Escalante and the other half to the California State Athletic Commission.

“He was heavy, but it didn’t bother me because I had the same strategy to hit and not get hit,” Escalante said.

Almost immediately, Escalante deftly stayed out of his foe’s striking range, effectively controlling the pace and setting up offensive bursts.  The Peninsula southpaw’s barrages were highlighted by a straight left hand that staggered Casillas several times and caused his right eye to bleed.

By the time the bout had reached its conclusion, Escalante had unleashed the other weapons in his arsenal.  Though the rugged Casillas (8-10-1, 6 KOs) refused to fold, the Tijuana, Mex., native paid for his mainly fruitless advances in the form of an additional welt around his left eye—indicative of Escalante’s jab and counter right hook consistently finding the target.

“I thought Bruno won every round,” said Brian Schwartz, Escalante’s trainer.  “I thought he looked good.  The other guy was super tough.  He took a lot of shots and kept coming.  It gave him a lot of confidence heading into his next fight.”

All three judges scored the bout 80-72 in favor of the rising 24-year-old Escalante, who made good on his promise to send the Bay Area boxing fans home satisfied with his performance.  Over 500 tickets were sold through Escalante’s gym alone.

“A lot of people were watching me fight for the first time, and honestly, I was a little nervous at first.” Escalante said.  “But when I step in that ring, I have to block out all that and let my killer instinct kick in.”

In the Friday night co-feature, San Francisco junior welterweight Jonathan Chicas (9-1, 4 KOs) returned to the win column with a unanimous decision over Arturo Brambila of Phoenix.

[RELATED VIDEO: Jonathan Chicas: From juvenile court to boxing prospect]

Chicas, who was coming off the first defeat of his pro career last December to Moris Rodriguez, floored Brambila (9-18-1, 4 KOs) in the second round with a left hook and was in control the majority of the six-round affair.  

Official scores were 60-53 twice and 59-54 for the 24-year-old Chicas, who found boxing as a positive outlet after a checkered past as a teenager growing up in the Mission District.

“I think I had the bout after I knocked him down, but give Brambila credit.  He kept coming forward,” Chicas said.  “My plan is to fight three more times and get a rematch with Moris by the end of the year.”

The other three bouts on the undercard involved a blowout and two close decisions.  

San Bruno cruiserweight Joe Gumina (5-1, 3 KOs) made quick work of South Carolina’s Lee Holloman (1-5-1), knocking him down three times on the strength of a heavy right hand for a first-round technical knockout.  Official time was 2:30.

Ricardo Pinell (2-0-1, 1 KO), a former two-time San Francisco Golden Gloves middleweight champion as an amateur, made The City proud with a four-round majority decision over Madera’s Nathaniel Richardson (0-1), who was making his pro debut.  Scores were 39-37 twice for Pinell and 38-38 even.

A four-round majority draw in the junior lightweight division between Redwood City’s Jesus Sandoval (2-1-2) and Sacramento’s Alberto Torres (2-0-1) opened the action in Redwood City.  Twin 38-38 ledgers overruled a 39-37 verdict for Torres.

In all, Friday marked a successful homecoming for Hall of Famer Don Chargin, who promoted the card along with longtime associates Rafael “Paco” Damian and Jorge Marron.  With current stars like San Leandro’s Nonito Donaire and Hayward-based Amir Khan in attendance, the Fox Theater seemingly offered a glimpse of both the present and future of Northern California boxing.

“We’re planning on coming back to Redwood City in May,” Chargin said.  “We were expecting a great turnout and we really feel this place on the Peninsula can be the start of something big.”


The commission administered a 10-count at the start of the night in memoriam of promising St. Louis transplant Preston “Presto” Freeman (3-0, 1 KO), who was tragically shot and killed mere days before his scheduled bout with fellow welterweight Miguel Islas (1-1).  

Freeman, a 2012 bronze medalist at the National Golden Gloves, had been training in Salinas with Garcia Boxing since the outset of his pro career.  However, he pulled out of the fight earlier this week to head back to his hometown, where he met his fateful end outside a local club.  

“He was a good, up-and-coming fighter.  [He was] talented,” said IBF world welterweight titleholder and fellow St. Louis native Devon Alexander, one of Freeman’s heroes.  “It was a tragedy.  I talked to him often on Facebook and gave him words of encouragement.”

Ironically enough, he once told he left the Midwest specifically because of the violence that has engulfed his neighborhood, and that he felt at home in the Central Coast city. He was just 20.

“I’m still in shock,” said Sam Garcia, who had been assisting his father Max in training Freeman.  “He was a great kid, and he was—is—a part of our family.  He probably had the most raw talent we’ve ever seen in the gym.  Words can’t describe how much we’re going to miss him.”


Robert Guerrero spoke to last Thursday about his now viral video of his initial confrontation with future foe Floyd Mayweather at a promotional shoot for Showtime Pay-Per-View.

[RELATED VIDEO: Fearless Guerrero thinks Mayweather’s insecure]

Not only was “The Ghost” of Gilroy explain he was far from intimidated by Mayweather’s flamboyant antics, he felt his superstar counterpart was being repetitive and revealed self-doubt.

“He's that type of guy that tries to manipulate your mind by repeating himself, repeating himself, repeating himself, repeating himself,” Guerrero said of Mayweather.  “[He says,] ‘I'm the greatest, I'm the greatest, I'm the greatest,’ and there's 52,000 people he has following him telling him he's the greatest.  To me, that's insecure.”

The 29-year-old Guerrero (NorCal P4P No. 3; 31-1-1, 18 KOs) also talked about appearing to slightly edge Mayweather in the size department when the two combatants stood toe-to-toe in front of the green screen.

‘I actually was the bigger man,” Guerrero said. “I was the bigger man physically and mentally. I think that's what triggered it off for him to just go crazy like that, to get into my face and try to break me down.”

Guerrero discussed what an upset of Mayweather would mean for his own status on the world pound-for-pound charts and the higher power that guides him in the ring.

“According to all the media and the boxing experts, [beating Mayweather] would make me pound-for-pound the best fighter in the world.  The number one guy,” Guerrero said.  “But for me, it's about being pound-for-pound number one with God, and that's all that matters to me.”

Mayweather (43-0, 26 KOs), who recently turned 36, and Guerrero will clash for the WBC world welterweight title on Showtime Pay-Per-View March 4 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.


Super middleweight world champion Andre Ward of Oakland has recovered from surgery on his right shoulder capsule, and after a stint of rehabilitation in San Francisco, returned to the gym last week for the first time since the injury.

[RELATED VIDEO: Ward’s first day at the gym – The Return]

“I got the release from the doctor to start shadowboxing,” Ward (NorCal P4P No. 1; 26-0, 14 KOs) said. “Obviously, I can’t go crazy and start doing too much, but the fact that I’m able to walk back in here is a big deal for me.  I was able to shadowbox for 15, 20 minutes straight…I know the best is yet to come.”

While his next opponent has not yet been determined, it probably won’t be Tavoris Cloud, who ceded his IBF light heavyweight title by unanimous decision to 48-year-old Bernard Hopkins this past Saturday in Brooklyn.  

Ward, who was a part of the HBO commentating crew for the historic bout, then ruled out fighting the ageless Hopkins via Twitter: “Thanks for all the support!! I love doing this!!  And no...B-Hop did not call me out. He said he would never fight me...that's what was said.”


San Francisco heavyweight LaRon Mitchell (1-0, 1 KO) turned pro last Saturday and won his debut, stopping Michael Dennis in the third round at the DoubleTree Hotel in Orange.

Mitchell, who fell just one win shy of making the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team as a 201-plus-pounder, dropped Dennis (0-2) in the first and second round before finishing his foe on his feet in the third with a relentless flurry of power shots out of the southpaw stance.

“It was a trip because right before the bell rang I thought to myself, ‘I’m not wearing any headgear anymore,’ ” Mitchell said.  “But when that bell rang, I was fighting off instinct.  After that, I was able to settle down, and it feels good to get that first win under my belt.”

The 32-year-old S.F. State graduate wasn’t even supposed to fight as Thompson Boxing, the promoter of the card, informed him that the bout was off.  However, with just three hours until showtime, Dennis was ready to go and the two men weighed in.  

Suddenly, Mitchell was faced with the prospect of entering the ring without his trainer, Jimmy Ford, who had not made the trip from The City.  With former pro Andy Nance of Kentfield handling his corner on short notice, however, Mitchell was in good hands and made his maiden voyage a memorable one.

“Now we’re trying to get on the April 13 show in Sacramento promoted by O.P.P. Presents,” Mitchell said.  “Hopefully they’ll let me on and they’ll support the NorCal fighters.  Come on, we’re heavyweights.  We sell all the beer.”


This past weekend, Northern California’s best amateurs descended upon the Santa Rosa Double Punches Gym to compete for the right to officially represent the region in the USA Boxing National Championships in Spokane, Wash., next month.  

USA Boxing will be introducing wholescale changes at Nationals to reflect AIBA’s new international amateur boxing rules, which includes a pro-style 10-point must system that will thankfully replace the much-maligned computer scoring system.  The new judging criteria will be utilized in all tournaments at Nationals (Men’s Senior Open, Women’s Senior Open, Youth).

In addition, the Men’s Senior Open Division will be split into two tournaments.  The first will be called the Elite Men’s Division where competition will involve the removal of headgear.  The second will be dubbed the Senior Men’s Division where the boxers will use headgear.  However, only the newly created Elite Men’s winners will train with the U.S. National Team for international competition.

The Women’s Senior Open Division’s composition will remain the same, because while AIBA is losing the headgear for their top men’s level, all women will still be required to wear it.  In this writer’s opinion, this particular rule makes little sense and harkens back to AIBA’s brief flirtation with making the women’s boxers wear skirts during London 2012.  

While Saturday’s champs will travel to Spokane on USA Boxing’s dime, Nationals are still open to any eligible boxer who is willing to pay out of pocket.  Here are the results courtesy of Lydia Razo, USA Boxing’s Northern California chief of officials:

114 pounds: Eros Correa (San Jose PAL) dec. Angelo Calvillo (Unattached, Sacramento)
123 pounds: Andrew Moy (445 B.C., San Francisco)*
141 pounds: Markshaun Fields (Pacific Ring, Oakland) dec. Ali Ahmed (San Jose Dreamland)
165 pounds: Daniel Thomas (CYC, Concord) dec. Yuri Rybin (AS Boxing, Sacramento)
178 pounds: Joaquin Lopez (Pride Boxing, Ukiah) dec. Jasper McCargo (Oakland Boxing)
201 pounds: Anthony Hall (Warriors 4JC, Santa Rosa)*
201+ pounds: O'Jayland Brown (Unattached, Sacramento)*

119 pounds: Casey Morton (B Street Boxing, San Mateo)*
141 pounds: Nargis Shaghasi, (USF)*
165 pounds: Raquel Miller (Champ Nation, Oakland)*

114 pounds: Brent Venegas III (Golden State Bloodhounds, Sacramento)*
132 pounds: Eder Carrillo (Woodland B.C.) dec. Rosino Legan (San Jose PAL)
165 pounds: Gilbert Alvarez (Oakland Boxing)*
178 pounds: David Gaitan (Unattached, North Highlands)*

*unopposed champion

CSN Bay Area Boxing Insider Ryan Maquiñana is a voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and panelist for Ring Magazine’s Ratings Board.  E-mail him at, check out his blog at, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.