Also in this section:
American citizens: NOW is the time to cast your absentee ballots ---
Panama Historical Society carries on
Scenes from the Handicrafts Fair
Comfort food, book exchange and more at the Dolce Coffee House
The American Society's tentative US election debate
Something of a pugilistic golden age
Panamanian boxing in something of
a golden age
A glorious September for the
It actually didn't start out that well. In July
Rafael "El Torito" Concepción won a WBA "interim" super-flyweight
championship, which was to be good for a bout for a more formal
championship in December, if.... But that "if" didn't happen --- on
September 15, before a Mexico City crowd of some 15,000 on the evening
before Mexico's independence day, he fought hard but was beaten
up and worn down by hometown favorite Jorge "El Travieso" Arce, until he was knocked out
in the 10th round.
Three days later, however, the boxing world turned its eyes on the
Figali Convention Center for another night of stellar bouts and another
Panamanian fighter won another WBA interim championship. This time it
"Maestrito" Córdoba, who took a unanimous decision in a
super-bantamweight bout against Nicaraguan Luis Alberto Pérez. In this,
a battle between southpaws, the Nicaraguan was the aggressor thoughout
most of the fight, but Córdoba danced away and
counter-punched. By the seventh of 12 rounds, Pérez was able to rally and
against the ropes, but by then the Nicaraguan had punched himself out
and the Panamanian came back to dominate the rest of the fight.
El Maestrito's lesson in the penultimate bout was an elegant lesson in
classical boxing and a convincing win, but it was by no means the
Anselmo "Chemito" Moreno's successful defense of his WBA bantamweight
crown in the final bout on the card was also pretty convincing, before
it ended in the seventh round when the Mexican challenger, Cecilio
Santos, was cut too badly by an accidental head butt to continue and
the judges' cards had Moreno winning every round. But that wasn't the
best show either.
Earlier in the night, Celestino "Pelenchín" Caballero knocked Colombian
challenger Elvis Mejía to the canvas with a left hook, then after the
knockdown swarmed all over his opponent until the ref had to stop the
fight at 2:51 in the first round after too many unanswered blows. Count
that as one more defense of Caballero's WBA super-bantamweight title,
but it was really a mismatch to put the 27-7-1 Colombian in the same
ring with the 29-2 champ. But the next one won't be a mismatch. The
next bout, in December, will give Caballero a chance to unite some
titles against some serious competition. "I can get better," Caballero
Preceding that mismatch was another, wherein undefeated Puerto Rican
cruiserweight Francisco "Wizard" Palacios pounded the hapless
Panamanian Luis Andres Pineda to the canvas in the first round and
would have finished the bout but for the bell, then came back in the
second round to end the fight with a thundering left. Palacios is
someone to watch, an up-and-coming ambidexterous talent. It appears
that the knockout blow really hurt Pineda, and if he didn't go straight
to the hospital for a CAT scan the situation would have to be counted
as a major labor grievance for all Panamanian boxers. Nowadays they
have drugs to control cranial bleeding that can kill or cripple a
fighter, and machines that can pick up those sorts of injuries.
In yet a third mismatch, Roberto "La Araña" Vásquez (26-2) moved up to
the bantamweight class against Colombian Felipe Rodríguez (11-5-1) and
beat the guy up for two minutes and 25 seconds until the ref had to
stop it. Maybe the former junior flyweight champ, who has been having
trouble making weight for his fights, is back on track?
On paper, the lightweight battle between Panama's Ameth "Cloroformo"
(24-7) and Mexico's Raymundo Beltrán (22-3) wasn't a mismatch. The
Mexican came out throwing a left hook that might have switched off
lights, had it landed. But it didn't connect, the Panamanian won the
first couple of rounds and then in the third floored the Mexican twice.
After another knockdown in the fifth, the ref gave Díaz the win by TKO. To this reporter, it was the night's most impressive performance.
So what can the nation's boxing fans hope for after a fight night like that?
Well, on September 27 in Hamburg, Germany, Panamanian cruiserweight Guillermo Jones entered a ring on the turf of
Arslan, a German of Turkish ethnicity and holder of the WBA
cruiserweight crown, and pounded the hometown favorite. Jones dominated
the fight at the start and when Arslan tried to rally in the third
round, he landed a lot of punches and they just didn't affect Jones.
But Jones's punches bloodied Arslan's face in that round and after that
the Panamanian took control. The referee stopped the bout in the 10th.
Thus, after a boxing career that appeared to be over at several low points, the 36-year-old Jones (36-3-2)
at long last joins Panama's pantheon of world champions, where so many
figured that he belonged from the start of his professional boxing days.
world champions and an interim champ at one time --- yes, this is in
part a symptom of a professional boxing system that's way too
fragmented, but it's also a valid indication of just how good tiny
Panama's boxing scene really is at this shining moment. Take it all in
while it lasts.