First look: Boxing in Puerto Rico

I spent the better part of six weeks in my home country of Puerto Rico and in my time there I met the new president of the Puerto Rico Boxing Commission, Luvi Callejas, a former Puerto Rican junior bantamweight world champion.

We spent several hours talking about Puerto Rico boxing and the future of the country’s boxers. Towards the end of our conversation, he personally invited me to attend a boxing card at my birth town’s sports arena on July 8. The venue, El Palacio de Deportes y Recreaciones (The Palace for Sports and Recreations) has been home to many events, such as basketball and volleyball, as well as several boxing events and even hosted pro wrestling events featuring WWE Hall of Famers like Ric Flair, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Abdullah the Butcher, Carlos Colon and The Bushwackers.

The show itself was extremely entertaining and showcased a lot of great prospects from Puerto Rico. The eight-fight card had four fights televised on DirecTV in Puerto Rico with a WBA regional title fight serving as the main event. It is the first of a few solid boxing cards in Puerto Rico with five-division world champion Amanda Serrano fighting in her home country later in July and a Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN card taking place in August.

Several prominent boxing names were present in the card, some of whom include Callejas, former world champion Carlos Quintana and former Olympic boxer Alberto Mercado. Mercado, who was one of only three American citizens who challenged the boycott of the 1980 Olympics celebrated in Moscow, Russia. Mercado beared the flag of and competing in boxing for Puerto Rico after having won the gold medal at the 1979 Pan American Games

Bryan Lopez defeats Jonathan De La Paz: TKO, Round 1: The fight got stopped late in the first round and I have to wonder why the fight was the stopped. Lopez did thrash De La Paz throughout the round, but did not knock him down, nor did he hurt him badly.

John Correa defeats Argenis Camacho: TKO, Round 1: This fight got stopped when Correa landed three gut-busting punches to Camacho's body that left him kneeling on the canvas gasping for air. It didn't look like Camacho could catch his breath and continue to fight comfortably. This stoppage was a good one.

Kelvin Floyd defeats Jesus Feliciano: UD (40-36, 40-36, 40-36): This probably was one of the most bizarre four-round boxing fights I have ever seen. The second round starts with Feliciano throw very wild haymakers and Floyd decided to shove his gloves down Feliciano's shoulders. The referee stops the two of them and sneds each fighter to opposite corners. As the referee talks to Floyd, he turns his back to Feliciano and Feliciano gyrates his hips in a very Rick Rude style, getting a huge laugh from the crowd. Feliciano was wildly inaccurate but did try his best to mount some offense.

Jean Carlos Quintana defeats Andrew Rosser Nunez: TKO, Round 4: Quintana, who is Carlos Quintana's son, made his pro debut and looked very sharp for someone of his limited experience. He's fighting at 135 pounds, but looking at his physique, he does not look like he weighs 130 pounds. No doubt that as the 21-year-old continues to get experience and grow, he'll likely climb up in weight. He already has the ability to mix different types of punches effortlessly and is agile enough to duck and weave and avoid opposing punches. It's still too early to tell whether or not Jean Carlos Quintana will have the same success as his father, but his career started on a positive note.

Ruben Mass defeats Manuel Galaviz: TKO, Round 3: Mass hs already been climbing up the ranks in Puerto Rico's somewhat crowded super bantamweight division. Mass improved to 5-0, but all five wins came against guys with a losing record. Mass has shown that he's able to finish fights quickly. He scored a knockdown late in the second round and that was just enough for Galaviz's corner and the referee to not continue the fight right as the third round was set to begin.

Jayson Velez defeats Giovanni Caro KO, Round 5: Velez, the current WBC FECARBOX super featherweight titleholder, has started to get his career back in line after suffering a four-fight losing streak. He looked great in this fight that served as the television co-feature. Velez had his best round in the fourth, hurting Caro numerous times en route to his second straight win.

Felix Caraballo defeats Edgardo Laboy to retain WBA Fedecaribe featherweight title: UD (78-74, 78-74, 77-75): Very good television main event with a very hot crowd cheering for both fighters from the opening bell. Caraballo dominated early in the fight, Laboy connected on a few good body shots halfway through the fight that nearly knocked Carabllo down, but Caraballo as spurred on by the crowd. Caraballo retained his title after winning the last couple of rounds, keeping himself inside the official WBA featherweight rankings.

Orlando Gonzalez defeats Luis Diaz Torres: UD (59-54, 59-54, 60-53): Solid dark main event that still had most of the crowd from the TV cheering wildly at this gritty fight. Both fighters put together a tough, scrappy affair as Gonzalez kept attacking the body while Torres tried to attack upstairs. Things got heated throughout the fight, with accidental head clashes causing Torres to get cut and was visibly angry at times. Gonzalez did deserve the victory, however, especially with a fourth-round knockdown to help secure the unanimous decision win.

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