Combat Sports

NorCal Roundup: Donaire, Mendez, Khan KO foes

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NorCal Roundup: Donaire, Mendez, Khan KO foes

San Leandro’s Nonito Donaire might have locked up the Fighter of the Year after thrashing Jorge Arce in three rounds Saturday night at Houston’s Toyota Center to effectively defend his junior featherweight world title.

After a first round where he measured his foe, Donaire (31-1, 20 KOs) dropped Arce as the two traded right hands in the second stanza.  From that point forward, Donaire dictated subsequent terms of the bout, and they would be one-sided.

In the final minute of the third round, Donaire sent Arce (61-7-2, 46 KOs) to the canvas once more with another right hand and two solid left hooks.  Although the warrior from Los Mochis, Mexico, would get up on shaky ground, the East Bay fighter would swiftly finish him off with another signature spectacular left hook.

As Arce lay on his back, referee Laurence Cole called a halt to the bout at 2:59—the same time when Mexican star Juan Manuel Marquez knocked out Donaire’s fellow Filipino, Manny Pacquiao, last week in the sixth round.  

“There were a lot of fans who were telling me, ‘You gotta get him for Filipino respect,’” said Donaire, who proudly sported a Filipino crest on his trunks and was accompanied into the ring by Filipino musician Apl.de.ap of the Black Eyed Peas.  “But I’m friends with a lot of Mexicans.  My trainer, Robert Garcia, is Mexican.”

National pride aside, Donaire’s performance was another stark reminder of how dominant he has been in 2012.  In his four victories, he floored each of his opponents, but he saved his most sensational one for last.  

“My career is over,” said Arce, who retired after the bout.  “I lost to the best man.”

Following the fight, Donaire revealed that he's not done cleaning out the 122-pound division, with the other two beltholders, Abner Mares and Guillermo Rigondeaux, waiting in the wings.

“I want to get Mares and he’s calling me out,” Donaire said.  “But if that doesn’t happen, we always have Guillermo Rigondeaux next.”

The pair of challengers will have to wait until 2013 to get their chance at the throne.  By then, they could probably be facing the reigning Fighter of the Year.

MENDEZ BLASTS GONZALEZ IN FIVE

In Salinas, middleweight Paul Mendez of Walnut Creek paralyzed Lester Gonzalez’s legs with a crippling body attack and eventually stopped him in the fifth round at the Storm House.

Mendez (11-2-1, 5 KOs), who appeared earlier this week on Chronicle Live, was fighting with a heavy heart.  His amateur trainer, Mike Dallas Sr., passed away due to leukemia last month.  In addition, Mendez was raising money to help pay for the medical bills of Sy Sherman, a 10-year-old boy from Salinas who is currently battling liver cancer.

With Sherman watching the fight from a balcony overlooking the ring, Mendez knocked Gonzalez (12-8-4, 6 KOs) down in the third round with a right and left to the ribcage.  Gonzalez, a Cuban who now resides in San Diego, would recover, but the end would come two frames later.

In the fifth, a thunderous left hook from Mendez exploded on Gonzalez’s midsection.  As Gonzalez gasped for air, Mendez took advantage and unleashed a series of power shots that had referee Ed Collantes stopping the fight with the Cuban still on his feet.  Official time was 2:35.

“It feels great to win it for them both.  I see you up there, Sy,” Mendez said, pointing to the area where a delighted Sherman lay in a makeshift bed.  “He said I would win by knockout and I had to follow through.”

KHAN TOO MUCH FOR MOLINA IN 11

Amir Khan made his maiden bout with new trainer Virgil Hunter a successful one, stopping a game Carlos Molina in the 11th round of their junior welterweight contest at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.

Khan (27-3, 19 KOs), who hails from Bolton, England, but now trains in Hayward, overwhelmed Molina (17-1, 7 KOs) with rapid-fire salvos and a high volume of punches.  Though the Rosemead, Calif., product amped up his output as the fight progressed, he lacked the power to make Khan respect his offense.  

After repeatedly getting tagged, blood began to stream down Molina’s left eye.  With his face a swollen mess, the fight was stopped before the 11th was under way.

With the victory, Khan broke a two-bout losing streak and is back in the mix with the big names at 140 and 147 pounds.

In the co-feature, junior middleweight Alfredo “El Perro” Angulo (22-2, 18 KOs), who also moved his training camp to Hayward to work with Hunter, pounded out a competitive 10-round decision over upstart Jorge Silva (19-3, 15 KOs) of Tijuana, Mexico, on the Khan-Molina undercard.  Scores were 97-93 across the board in a clash where Silva was outgunned but still managed to land several solid shots.

MORE RESULTS FROM SALINAS

• Look out for Jonathan Garcia (10-0, 8 KOs).  The junior welterweight from Watsonville impressed yet again, stopping the tough Rodolfo Armenta (12-8-1, 9 KOs) in one round on the Mendez-Gonzalez undercard.  Utilizing a variety of combinations, namely a triple left hook that he can aim in whichever direction he pleases, Garcia has established himself as one of the region’s top prospects.

• Former welterweight contender Jose Celaya of Salinas was unable to make a triumphant return to the ring after a three-year absence, falling by unanimous decision to Fresno’s Loren Myers (9-17-1, 2 KOs).  Now a light heavyweight, Celaya (31-7, 16 KOs) had his moments but was decked twice by Myers.  Scores were 39-35 and 38-36 twice for the Fresno fighter.

• Oscar Godoy (9-2, 4 KOs) has found moving down from 154 to 147 pounds to be the right choice, as the Watsonville welterweight earned a third-round technical knockout of Javier Gomez (13-10, 9 KOs).  After an even two rounds, Godoy let his hands go with a two-fisted attack and hurt Gomez, causing the Tijuana, Mexico, native to take a knee.  Moments later after Gomez ate another Godoy barrage, referee Marcos Rosales waved off the fight at 0:48.

• Welterweight Preston Freeman (3-0, 1 KO), a St. Louis native who now trains in Salinas with Garcia Boxing, remained unbeaten with a four-round unanimous decision win over Tulare’s Vicente Guzman (0-1), a former amateur standout who was making his pro debut.  Freeman controlled the pace in the center of the ring, coolly staying out of his foe’s range and then striking when necessary; he put Guzman down in the second with a counter left hook.  All three judges scored the bout 40-35.

• Rounding out the card, San Francisco junior welterweight Jonathan Chicas (8-1, 4 KOs) incurred his first defeat as he was stopped by Chico’s Moris Rodriguez (4-1, 3 KOs) in the third round.  Chicas was doing fine on the outside until he traded left hooks with the heavy-handed Rodriguez, whose shot landed first and sent Chicas to the canvas.  Chicas would beat the count, but his legs would ultimately give way and cause Ed Collantes to halt the bout at 1:00 of the stanza.

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 rmaquinana@gmail.com, check out his blog at Norcalboxing.net, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.

What they’re saying: Congratulations to Andre Ward

What they’re saying: Congratulations to Andre Ward

Oakland's own Andre "Son of God" Ward is calling it a career at 32-0. And plenty of noteable teams and icons showed the champ respect on Thursday...

Gary Brown never recovered on the field from 2015 DFA: ‘Hurt me to my core’

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AP

Gary Brown never recovered on the field from 2015 DFA: ‘Hurt me to my core’

There was a time when Gary Brown was considered the Giants’ top prospect – their center fielder of the future. Hype was never higher than in 2011, when the fleet-footed 22-year-old set a franchise record with 188 hits in 131 games, earning California League Rookie of the Year honors with the San Jose Giants in his first full minor league campaign.

But six seasons and seven major league at-bats later, Brown’s professional baseball career ended at 28 years old.

“I feel like I let my emotions get the best of me in the years after that (2011 season),” Brown told NBC Sports Bay Area in an exclusive phone interview. “I think I started to believe the hype that everyone started to give to me.”

Brown never matched his magical .336-season in High-A ball with 14 home runs plus 53 stolen bases, and then struggled finding a routine with the rigors of the Pacific Coast League’s travel schedule once he reached Triple-A. Despite three hits in his seven at-bats as a September call-up with the Giants in 2014, Brown was designated for assignment on March 31, 2015.

Brown’s career spiraled playing the draining waiver game. Unsuccessful stints with the Cardinals and Angels sent Brown to the land of the last chance: Independent ball in the Atlantic League.

“It was not fun for me for quite a few years. I wasn’t a very happy person,” Brown said. “After I got DFA'd by the Giants, that really took a toll on me. I never really recovered from that, so I was kind of stuck in the past and things kind of just got away from me. 

“I was kind of heartbroken to be honest. I mean, it hurt me to my core.”

Through tumultuous career turns, the Southern California native never turned on the team that drafted him 24th overall in 2010.

“I'm thankful for the opportunity the Giants gave me. No matter how big or small mine was, I am very thankful” Brown said emphatically. “I definitely wish I could have shown what I feel like my true potential was, but it didn't work out that way. 

“I still root for the Giants. All my friends with the Giants, I'm still pulling for them. They run that organization so well. I have no ill intentions or anything bad to say about the Giants organization.” 

Far removed from his days with the Giants, Brown found new life with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in 2016. Brown batted .249 and returned to the team in 2017. He started strong with a .298 batting average in 31 games while having fun for the first time in years, but injuries struck at an inopportune time.

Chronic aches in his hip joints and intense back spasms, in addition to a frustrating lack of interest from MLB teams and the fact he and his wife had twins on the way, spurred Brown to retirement in the middle of the season on July 5.

“Retirement has nothing to do with the lack of competitiveness (of the Atlantic League). It was the distance and the time away, matching the minor league salary,” Brown said. “Going back to that makes it really hard on the family and when you get older it really becomes about what you value more.”

The player he once was is gone, but the person he is has only grown. There’s one piece of advice which goes beyond the diamond that Brown was sure to pass on to the next wave of future top Giants prospects.

“Never stop making adjustments,” Brown said ruefully.

Days away from turning 29 on Sept. 28 and out of baseball for the first time in his life, Brown is certainly making his own.

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Part 2 of our interview with Gary Brown focusing on where he is now in his life will be released Friday on NBCSportsBayArea.com.