Words: Alan Dawson – London
Pictures: Stacey Verbeek – Maple Avenue Boxing Gym, Dallas
The proven popularity of ShoBox: The New Generation and ESPN: Friday Night Fights, combined with the focus of undercards on BoxNation is evidence, if ever it were needed, that as well as a desire to see the publicised contests there are large numbers of fight fans whose eyes are also glued to pugs on the cusp of contender status, improving prospects and even debutant professionals. It is for these reasons why the Winstar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma could play an even bigger part in hosting similar cards for Top Rank Boxing in 2012, than it did in 2011…
If Winstar plays host to further Top Rank Live shows in 2012, you can bet it won’t just be the house that prospers. Mid-level boxing was brought to the Thackerville megacasino in 2010 by promotional behemoth Bob Arum. The ‘Red River Rumble’ in October was headlined by Raul Martinez and Rodrigo Guerrero’s closely-contested 12 round super flyweight bout, an official eliminator with the IBF, and the winner – Martinez – even went on to challenge for the world championship the following year.
It has been match-ups such as this that have typified Winstar and Top Rank’s partnership. Arum has long enthused the involvement of the “exciting, entertaining and first-class facility” and a number of fighters within his stable have found themselves operating out of the world’s third largest casino, providing much headline-grabbing action.
Burgeoning prospect Roberto Marroquin has twice headlined at the venue, Baltimore Ravens safety Tom Zbikowski battered Blake Warner and Casey Ramos hung John Jackson over the ropes like wet washing in a move that exhibited such power that Stetson-clad cowboys were forced to repair a snapped rope.
One of Freddie Roach’s pupils, Vanes Martirosyan, has also showcased his skillset in OK, albeit in a one-sided and drab affair against Richard Gutierrez just two months ago. And, in a series of (unpunished) acts that lived up to the drama at Winstar, Andy Ruiz Jr reproduced Dereck Chisora or Mike Tyson’s best impersonation of Nosferatu, with Theron Johnson providing the part of bitten victim.
Most recently, Marroquin (21-1-0, 14ko) took centre stage on December 17 and, having suffered his only professional defeat in the same ring earlier in the year, managed to exorcise any demon by picking up a solid, shut-out ten round decision victory over Carlos Valcarcel (12-4-4, 5ko).
Elsewhere on the card, touted novice Hector Vazquez (7-1-0, 2ko) defeated Julio Cesar Rangel over six threes, teenage talent Luis Zarazua (3-0-0, 1ko) dominated Guadalupe Perez in a four rounder, Jerry Fuentes was dropped and then decisioned by hard-hitting Ivan Najera (5-0-0, 4ko) and rotund heavyweight Ruiz Jr (13-0-0, 8ko) easily slayed Johnson with three scores of 60-53.