Thursday, July 5, 2018

Update on local MMA, boxing action

A short post today from the blog, after returning from vacation. One June 23, Mountain Force MMA had its Pat Reeves Fight Night MMA card in Logan. In a pro bout, Ogden's Dominic Gero scored a win. Another Ogden fighter, Joe Flores, won an amateur title fight and Ogden's Eric Munoz lost via decision in another amateur title bout. Full results are here.

In a SteelFist MMA card in Salt Lake City on June 29, Ben Moa, of One Hit MMA, successfully defended his SteelFist heavyweight professional title, In the co-main pro bout, returning LJ Schulz, of One Hit MMA, scored a win over veteran James Russell Francis, who announced his retirement after the bout. Amateur winners included Hayden Brown and Jordan Marshall. Full results are here.

At a Tuff N Uff card in Las Vegas on June 30, Destiny McCubbin came up short in a strawweight title bout, losing via third-round stoppage to undefeated Mandiau. This was an exciting that can be viewed on TuffNUff's Facebook page. After being rocked in the first round, McCubbin rallied in round 2. The third round was being fought on even term until McCubbin was floored by a shot from Mandiau. The fight was stopped shortly afterward, a decision many fans disagreed with.

Also, Steven Siler's next bout in the Professional Fighters League tournament is set. The pro MMA featherweight will meet Alexandre de Almeida July 19 in Long Island, NY. Card is here.


There was a 28-bout amateur card at Clearfield Aquatic Center on June 30. It was organized by Lights Out Gym's Julian Stevens. Channel 13 did a great story on it that is available here. Winners included Jon Bryant of Lights Out, Shakeem Barnwell and Jay Wright, Foley's gym, and Mateo Holt, of Louie's gym. Speaking of Louie's, the gym is having a fundraiser/car show this Saturday. Details are here.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Chats with James Francis, Kelsey Skillman and Destiny McCubbin

This week includes a couple of chats with MMA fighters competing at the Friday June 29 SteelFist MMA card at the Union Event Center in Salt Lake City (Doors open at 6 p.m.). James Russell Francis takes on returning LJ Schulz in the co-main three round event. They’re featherweights. Francis, in his career, holds a pair of wins over Daniel Stratton and fought Steven Siler earlier in his career.

Here’s our chat with Francis:


Utah Fight Game: What got you interested in MMA, who are some MMA athletes you admire? Where are you training for the bout. Who are your coaches? What other fighters are training, or sparring with you? What are your strengths, what are your opponent’s strengths and what’s your strategy to come out on top? Where do you hope to be in your career a year from now?

FRANCIS: I’ve been in the fight game for quite a while and I can definitely say why I took my first fight and why I decided to stay fighting are not the same. My next opponent LJ and I go way back. He is a very dangerous and talented opponent, so I look forward to the challenge that he brings to this fight. There is no doubt in my mind we will be fight of the night. Regardless if it ends in round one or round 3, I guarantee it will be the best fight. 

As far as my future, I’m climbing up the hill in age and my goals are to put focus on coaching and improving my coaching skills, along with other skills. I look to open my own MMA school in the next 5-8 years if possible. Nothing is set in stone for my future goals though as far as time frame... except that LJ is going to get a beating on Friday June 29th ha ha ha!! We both come from very high-quality gyms, but I will come out on top for this fight.

Also fighting on the card is Kelsey Skillman, (below) an amateur from KOA Kingdom gym in Davis County. Kelsey is fighting Shandra Sisneros. The bout’s at 135 pounds. Utah Fight Gamde  asked her the same questions.


Skillman: I am 27, a single mom of two little girls and I own Salon Vibe in West Jordan. I started out just kickboxing to lose weight after dropping 50 pounds and being in the MMA gym consistently I decided I wanted to take a fight and fell in love with MMA and the MMA community. My biggest influences in MMA are my coaches David Castillo and Miles Welk. On an UFC level I like Thug Rose and Holly Holm. 

I train out of KOA Kingdom in Layton. My coaches are David Castillo, Miles Welk, Bobby King, and Anthony Lobato. We have a super strong team right now, I train with- Miles Welk, Bobby King, Bryce Edminster, Hector Lopez, Brandon Rease, Tyler Trantham, Bryce Scanlon, Edgar Sorto, Alonzo Salas, and Sammy Conners. 

 I'm known as a striker but I feel good standing or going to the ground. I don't know much about my opponent besides she's only had one fight. Strategy for the fight is just to stay focused and take it where ever I want it to go. 

This time next year we want to have a couple titles and just keep progressing in the sport.


Destiny McCubbin, (below training on top) a Top of native who now lives in Las Vegas, is fighting for a Tuff N Uff amateur title in Las Vegas on June 30. Destiny is a popular fighter here who recently won on a Fitcon card. She fights Nadine Mandiau. We asked Destiny the same questions as the others.


McCubbin: I started my MMA Journey in 2014. I fought a lot growing up and once I turned 18 I got mixed up with the wrong crowd and was just going down a really ugly path. Once I hit rock bottom I woke up and realized I was not here to live this life I was living and decided to step into a MMA gym. That was summer of 2014 and since that day fighting has been my life. My dad and I would watch a lot of Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture when I was younger. Fighters I admire would be Rose Namajunas, Lomachenko, Triple GGG, Connor McGregor(for his work ethic) All of the fighters I train with are amazing. I admire anybody who works their ass off for a dream nobody can see but them.

I am training in Las Vegas at Xtreme Couture. My Head coach is Dennis Davis. He runs all of my practices and he as amazing fight IQ he can break down any opponent I face. Danny Davis is my strength and conditioning coach as well as my overall coach he is very good at his craft and always coaching me in every aspect of camp. I've been working with Max Rohskopf on my wrestling, He's a very high level wrestler/grappler, also a professional fighter. We just started working together but I plan keeping it going in and out of camp. My main partners for this camp have been a little bit of everybody honestly! Our team is always there for whatever I need. Cheyanne Vlismas is always there for sparring and drilling. Tai Emery has been working a lot of wrestling with me , she's been a huge help. She also is really great at sports massage so she keeps my body healthy! Josh Morales holds pads for me as well. mostly at night for the late night sweats after road work, we also work a lot of hand/eye coordination drills.

My strengths have grown a lot over the last few months. I am a striker but that isn’t all the tricks I have up my sleeve! I am confident wherever this fight goes, My teammates make sure I see every situation in the gym so nothing is unfamiliar in the cage. Nadine is a gritty striker with a purple belt in Jiu Jitsu so I expect a tough fight. The strategy is to just go out there and fight my fight. It can be a first round finish or a 3 round war. Either way I'm ready to play.

A year from now I'd like us to be ready to start taking things to the next level and preparing for the pros.Going to keep grinding In and Out of camp, the future is bright!

We wish all three of these fighters the best of luck, as well as to their opponents and all competitors on the SLC and Las Vegas cards.  ... A COUPLE OF NOTES: It's Pat Reeves Fight Night with Mountain Force MMA in Logan Saturday night. If you can't make it the card will be streamed on the FITE APP. It will cost $14.99 but the App is available free for download. I've used it on my Android often. ... Also, a couple of MMA pros with Utah ties are fighting tonight on national TV as part of a Professional Fighters League tournament. Sean Connell and Ramsey Nijam meet opponents on the card, with is aired on NBCSports (Xfinity 34) starting at 7 p.m.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

MMA fighters prepare for Pat Reeves Fight Night

Before we get to the main story, a couple of notes:

Trifon Petrov, of boxing’s Imperial Boxing promotions, told us that it looks like Imperial’s next card, scheduled for July, will have nine bouts with 56 rounds;

And we reported on Northern Utah MMA fighter Steven Siler’s win in New York City in the first round of the PFL featherweight tournament (here).

This week’s focus is on Mountain Force MMA’s June 23Pat Reeves Night card in Logan at the Eccles Ice Arena. Part of the proceeds will be donated to the family of the late Reeves. Several of the bouts feature fighters who trained with Reeves’ MMA group, The Pack, at Foley's gym in Ogden. We’ve interviewed a few of the fighters who benefited from Reeves’ training skills below. Thanks for reading. (My thoughts on Pat, published a few months ago, are here.)

ERIC MUNOZ (Eric is fighting Max Riddle for a promotional amateur belt):
Tell me a little about yourself. What got you interested in MMA, who are the people most key to your training success?

Munoz: I've always had an interest in fighting and until a few years ago never thought I would be doing it. I was considered too old for the sport in most people’s eyes. I have a career my kids are grown, etc. My son wanted to get into fighting and so we started training at Foley's. They needed wrestling coaches so I volunteered to help. I have twenty years of wrestling and coaching. My son decided he has other passions and I stuck around and got the itch to fight. Dave Foley set me up for my first fight with Jeremy Horns Elite at the Weber County Fair. That was more than three years ago and now I'm going into my 15th fight. After training for that fight is when Pat Reeves brought a few of us stragglers together and formed The Pack and trained us the way we should have been training all along and made us all better fighters.

Can you share an anecdote about Pat Reeves, or tell us how he inspired you to be a better fighter?

Munoz: Pat was a perfectionist and he never let us just slack to get by. He always critiqued our footwork and our movements and our punches, wrestling and ground game. If we had a fight he would go over the fight with everyone and show us how we could of done things different.

What are your strengths, what are your opponent’s strengths and what’s your strategy to come out on top?

Munoz:  I'm a wrestler through and through and though I have gotten better all-around in MMA my go-to will always be wrestling. My opponent is undefeated and had a few wins by submission so my assumption is that he has a background in wrestling or Jiu-Jitsu. The plan is always the same; go out and fight like we train and get the win whatever way possible.

Where do you hope to be in your career a year from now?

Munoz: I plan to keep going until I can no longer keep up and right now I'm in the best shape of my life and have no plans on stopping anytime soon.

JOE FLORES. Joe fights Caden Phelps for a promotional amateur title.

Tell me a little about yourself. What got you interested in MMA, who are the people most key to your training success?

Flores: I grew up in Willard. I have wrestled since I was in kindergarten. My dad actually told me his friend’s son trains at foleys (Miles Welk) and I should go over to check it out. It was during the summer, before I went to go wrestle at Western Wyoming Community College  my freshman year. I instantly fell in love, I always say wrestling was my passion but MMA is my purpose. My training partners are from The Pack and One Hit MMA in Layton. My coaches are Aldo Oreggia, Jarret Kelton, and my coaches before them, PAT REEVES and Sean Powers. It's so cool because you take a little bit from each coach to add to your repertoire.

Can you share an anecdote about Pat Reeves, or tell us how he inspired you to be a better fighter?

Flores: Pat Reeves affected my life in so many ways. He was always pushing me to become the best person I could be, not just as fighter but the best me. My second fight I ended up winning in a unanimous decision fight, but with losing two points for kicks to the groin and after that fight I was just so disappointed in the way I performed;  I just broke down crying. Pat came up to me to rub my back and he said, “It's alright man, why are you crying? You won to fight." I told him I just wasn't happy with the way I performed and he looked at me and said "You won but we just need to work on your inside kicks that's all don't beat yourself off over it just learn from it, don't dwell just move on. I know you did perform the way you wanted to but when we get back to practice on Monday we will work on your kicks.” My next fight I ended kicking the guy so hard he tapped 30 seconds into the 1st round. One thing that I loved about Pat is no matter what happened he always told me to learn and move on and that's something that's stuck with me ever since and that's something that will probably stick with me for the rest of my life. He wasn't just a Coach, he was a big brother, a friend, and a mentor.

What are your strengths, what are your opponent’s strengths and what’s your strategy to come out on top?

Flores: My strengths are my wrestling, and my ground game, I've competed with the best of the best. From what I heard my opponent's strengths are probably his stand-up and he's a strong dude. I'm just going to go out there and do what I know best, read the situation and adapt to the situation that's it. Fighting is all about adapting; you have a game plan until they get punched in the face. At this point I'm prepared for whatever is going to unfold in those 15 minutes.

Where do you hope to be in your career a year from now?

Flores: In a year from now I hope to at least have 6 more amateur fights and maybe be on to my pro debut. But I just want to be more evolved as an artist in a year from now. I want to be cleaner crisper and have a new arsenal in my repertoire while sharpening and evolving my tools I already have.

AJ GARCIA, in the main bout, AJ, a pro, is fighting Paul Crawford. (Above, Garcia, (on top) is shown in a previous bout.)

Tell me a little about yourself. What got you interested in MMA, who are the people most key to your training success?

Garcia: I got into fighting to turn my life around. I spent years of my life struggling with addiction but finally was able to get clean and used fighting as a way to stay busy and not go back. I also had a son around the time I got clean and was given custody of him so I turned my life around for him and used training and fighting to get there. My son Jaiden is a big key to my success. Also Anthony Lobato was the first real coach I’ve had and worked with and was a huge part of who I am today. Now I have Aldo Oreggia and Jarret Kelton.

Can you share an anecdote about Pat Reeves, or tell us how he inspired you to be a better fighter?

Garcia: Pat Reeves was an amazing inspiration to me. He brought me in when I left one gym and had nowhere else to train; he brought me in with his team and from day one always treated me like I was with him from the beginning. It’s hard not to give your all with a guy that lives and breathes fighting the way he does.

What are your strengths, what are your opponent’s strengths and what’s your strategy to come out on top?

Garcia: I’m not great at any one skill but I’m good everywhere and I’m great at mixing things up and keeping people guessing. I don’t know much about Paul but I’m just gonna go out and do what I always do. That’s got my hand raised over 10 times in my career.

Where do you hope to be in your career a year from now?

Garcia: I’ve lost two fights in a row for the first time in my career and it really hurts. I’ve worked so hard to turn that streak around and hopefully will be on a win streak this time next year. I’d love to win a pro title in front of my family before retiring.

DOM GERO, he fights Justin Van Horn in a pro bout. (Above, Dom, at right, is shown with Pat.)

Tell me a little about yourself. What got you interested in MMA, who are the people most key to your training success?

GERO: I grew up watching a lot of MMA and was always interested in it. When I realized that they had amateur shows I decided I wanted to try it out. I started training with my father in law, Ray Burton, and one of my best friends, Brayden Percival. After my first couple fights Dave Foley invited us over to train at his gym. I met a lot awesome individuals. Dave Foley, Justin Roberts, Francisco Alcantara, Joe Flores, Eric Munoz, Geovanni Gavilanez. , Pat Reeves, Ben Guymon, Nate Owens. All these guys have helped shape me as a fighter and the person I am today.

Can you share an anecdote about Pat Reeves, or tell us how he inspired you to be a better fighter?

Gero: Pat Reeves' favorite quote was “Passion is Everything.” That’s exactly how Pat lived his life. He kept us honest and would text me every day to make sure I was showing up to practice and keeping up on my diet. He was one of the hardest working people I’ve met. He loved watching the team progress and learn together. The memories and things he taught will live on forever.

What are your strengths, what are your opponent’s strengths and what’s your strategy to come out on top?

Gero: I feel my strength is my toughness and my ability to grapple and take the fight to the ground. I’m physically strong and athletic. My opponent is also a great athlete and tough opponent. I plan to go out and show the best version of myself. Give the fans what they deserve, which is a great fight.

Where do you hope to be in your career a year from now?

Gero: A year from now I hope to be training other athletes in their sport of choice, as well as helping people reach their fitness goals. I plan on continuing to train martial arts and enjoy life with my friends and family.

We are very grateful for these fighters taking the time to chat with us. Here is Mountain Force MMA’s Facebook page. We hear tickets are selling well. Other local fighters competing include Geovanni Gavilanez (A Pack fighter), Hector Lopez, and Nathan Owens.

Next week we’ll talk to a couple of MMA fighters competing at The SteelFist card on June 30.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Siler scores win at PFL MMA tourney

Ogden's Steven Siler, who now fights out of Provo, (seen in a file photo above) scored his first win in a major competition in a while with an exciting, comeback first-round submission of young contender Magomed Idrisov.

It didn't come easy, through. In the Professional Fighters League featherweight bout, Siler (30-17) was losing the striking battle to Idrisov (8-2). A couple of minutes into the round, Siler was floored by a hard shot by his opponent. The Utah fighter, who has competed in Showdown, the UFC, Titan and PFL, probably came within a punch or two of the referee stopping the bout.

But he survived, and got off the ground, shakily resuming action. In the final minute, Siler's 47-bout experience paid when, with Isidrov getting a takedown, Siler skillfully maneuvered his opponent into a triangle choke and expertly tightened it. At that point, Isidrov was finished, with the submission tallied at 4.19 of round one.

Despite dominating most of the first round, Isidrov seemed wary, perhaps with reason given the ending, of engaging his veteran opponent on the ground. On more than one occasion he allowed Siler to get to his feet.

The card, at New York City's Madison Square Garden Hulu Theater, had its early portion (including Siler's win) streamed via PFL's Facebook page. Later bouts were televised on NBCSports cable TV network.

Two recent opponents Siler lost decisions to, Lance Palmer and Andre Harrison, also scored wins on the card. Siler is part of a featherweight PFL competition/tournament that could net the winner $1 million.

You can watch the entire card, including Siler's fight (roughly 45 minutes in), at PFL's Facebook page. Here's a recap from mmafighting webpage.

This was a good win for Steven, and we hope that some of Utah's "legacy media" will note his well-deserved win.


Last Saturday there were several pro bouts at The Complex in Salt Lake City. The card results are at the bottom of this boxrec webpage. Winners included Gabriel Chairez, Eric Wahlen and Jerhed Fenderson.


Later this month there will be MMA in Logan on June 23, (Mountain Force MMA) in Salt Lake City on June 29 (SteelFist), and  an amateur boxing card on June 30 in Clearfield (from Lights Out gym). Starting next week, we will begin interviews with participants on these cards. To see a future schedule of state MMA, boxing, kickboxing events, go here.

Also, amateur MMA fighter Destiny McCubbin, who recently won the Utah state flyweight title, will be fighting for a Tuff N Uff belt on June 30 in Nevada. We hope to speak with her prior to the fight, as well.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Boxing at The Complex; Michelle Maya, GG champ

There's boxing tonight at The Complex In Salt Lake City. One of the pros fighting is undefeated prospect Gabriel Chairez (seen above in his amateur days). He will fight Felipe Medina Jr., of Oregon, at 130 pounds. Also, Bladimir Estrada,  a super-middleweight who just lost a tough, narrow decision to Christian Aguirre, fights Jerhed Fenderson of Las Vegas.

Gabriel's brother, Ignacio Chairez, also undefeated, was scheduled to fight but his opponent fell out late. That's a tough break; we hope to see Ignacio back soon. The Complex is at 536 W 100 South in SLC. Doors open at 7, fights start at 8 p.m.


A big shout out for Northern Utah amateur boxer Michelle Maya, who captured the National open Golden Gloves championship recently. She's the 119 pound champ. In fact, three women boxers from the Rocky Mountain region made it to the finals. Idaho's Kendra Reeves won the 152-pound title. Maryguenn Vellinga took runner up at 112 pounds. The Deseret News' Amy Donaldson covered the recent Golden Gloves well. Here's a story on Maya and others. Top of Utah men at the nationals included Lights Out's Jon Bryant, who lost a split decision in the opening bout, and Los Gallitos' Diego Alvarez, who won in the first round but was decisioned in bout two. Utahns Matt Searle and Milo Gomez also lost decisions.



Later this month, we will preview a SteelFist MMA card and a Mountain Force MMA card. The latter card is dedicated to the late pro fighter Pat Reeves, with a portion of proceeds being donated to his family. Recently, Matt Oyler's Undefeated by Choice video podcast sat with several of Reeves' The Pack fighters, who will be on the card, and they talked about Pat and MMA. It's a great watch.


There was a recent SteelFist MMA card. In the main bout, Eric Iman, heavyweight, defeated Samuel Sprauer via unanimous decision. All results are here at Jeffrey "Dutch" Dutcher's Fighting Out of Utah MMA News Facebook page.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Gomez wins ABO title but fails to stop resilient Aguirre

(All photos by Joseph Gibson) ABOVE, Larry Gomez (in front) and Christian Aguirre embrace after their boxing match in Layton, Utah on May 26, 2018. Gomez captured the regional American Boxing Organization middleweight title via unanimous decision.

Recap by Doug Gibson

Larry Gomez, 7-0, used strong body- and counter-punching skills to take a unanimous six-round decision over Christian Aguirre, 7-1, to earn the American Boxing Organization's regional Middleweight Championship Saturday, May 26, 2018, at the Davis County Conference Center in Layton, Utah.

However, the resilient Aguirre denied Gomez a knockout win, becoming the first opponent to last the distance against the former amateur star and current Utah junior-middleweight champion. Aguirre, who has three KOs, is the state super-middleweight champion. Both fighters are based in Salt Lake City.

The fight between two of the state's top prospects almost ended early. In round one Gomez hurt the aggressive Aguirre with a body shot and then dropped him late in the round with a counter punch.

(Late in round one, Gomez dropped Aguirre to the canvas.)

Aguirre survived more pressure from Gomez in round two and then rallied in rounds three and four, occasionally driving Gomez backwards with his aggression. However, Gomez seized back control of the fight in round five, hurting Aguirre twice during the round and moving the usually-forward-moving fighter backwards.

The less-experienced Aguirre, who only had one amateur fight, showed tremendous heart in the bout, never going down after the first round knockdown despite taking heavy punishment from Gomez. In the sixth round Aguirre survived a final assault from Gomez, who clearly wanted a knockout.

There has been squabbling between both camps as the bout neared but the fighters embraced after the final bell. Although they are unlikely to ever become friends, Gomez did acknowledge Aguirre's heart in the post-fight interview. The judges scorecards were 59-54 twice and 60-53. The blog scored the bout 59-55 for Gomez.

The future looks bright for both these boxers. Gomez appears ready to seek opportunities on the West or East coasts, or Las Vegas or other major fight venues. This blog hopes he gets the chance. Aguirre fought aggressively and rallied several times during the fight. As his career matures, he'll certainly receive other opportunities.

Here are a few more photos from the bout, Aguirre in white trunks:


In the co-main bout, Imperial-managed 147-pound pro prospect Justin Morales scored a quick KO over badly outclassed Anthony Ayala. The fight lasted less than 90 seconds and ended with Ayala, of Pocatello, Idaho, who was making his pro debut, prone on the canvas, where he stayed for a few minutes before rising. At one point Morales went over to check on his opponent.

(Above Top) The ring doctor works over Anthony Ayala after he was stopped in the first round by undefeated Justin Morales. ... Morales, (right) lands a right hand punch against Ayala.)

Morales, who lives in Las Vegas by way of Clinton, Utah, is now 2-0, both KOs. It was announced on Saturday night that he will meet MMA professional-turned boxer James Francis in an Imperial card scheduled for July. Both Morales and Francis met in the ring after Morales' bout.


In a pro preliminary bout over four rounds, 122-pounder Julio Martinez, of Salt Lake City, won via unanimous decision his pro debut over Ogden's Jair Nava, 0-2. Martinez appeared tight the first round, allowing Nava to dictate the pace. But Martinez swept the final three rounds, using his hand speed and well-placed hooks to stun Nava a few times. The judges scored the bout 40-36 twice and 39-37. The blog had it for Martinez 39-37. In the post-fight interview, Martinez said that "next time will be a knockout."


In amateur bouts, Mateo Holt, 117 pounds, from Louie's Gym in Salt Lake City, used ring generalship to take a decision over Utah's Sergio Ramirez. Tre McCoy, 138 pounds, of Midvale decisioned Utah's Elbert Paul; Elvis Castello, 190 pounds, outboxed Carter Christensen, Louie's Gym, to get the decision; and in a heavyweight, 220 pounds, match, Bishop Lee, West Valley, scored a third-round knockdown en route to winning a decision over West Jordan's Jared Manning.


In a no-decision exhibition amateur boxing bout of three two-minute rounds, Jon Bryant, of Lights Out Gym in Clearfield, met Nate Owens of Ogden. Bryant recently won the Rocky Mountain open Golden Gloves titles. Owens is a regional amateur MMA champion, although he has boxing experience. The pair's three rounds were entertaining with both acquitting themselves well. Bryant, who controlled the majority of the action with boxing skills and a longer reach, received a "win" after fans' opinions were solicited by ring announcer Brad Davidson.

... West Jordan's Jose Haro, the United States Boxing Association professional featherweight champion, told fans that there's a good chance he'll defend his title in New Orleans on an ESPN card. We certainly hope that occurs. No one merits a big fight more than Jose. Haro also told the fans he hopes to eventually fight on another Imperial card.

... Boxer Francisco Alcantara was scheduled to fight on Saturday. But his opponent fell through. It was announced on Saturday that Alcantara will box on the Imperial card in July against Top of Utah's Sean Powers. It will be Powers first boxing match. Both he and Alcantara are well known as MMA pros.

Several hundred fans filled a ballroom at the conference center. More details on the planned July Imperial card will likely be revealed in June.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Chats with Larry Gomez, Christian Aguirre, Francisco Alcantara

On Saturday, May 26, Imperial Boxing Promotions, headed by Trifon Petrov, of California,  returns to the Davis Conference Center, 1651 N, 700 West, in Layton, for a night of boxing. The main event matches undefeated Utahns Larry Gomez and Christian Aguirre for state middleweight rights. The pair will also be fighting for another title, the AmericanBoxing Organization’s regional middleweight title, according to Juan Curiel of the ABO.

A bout between Aguirre (winning a bout, at left, below) and Gomez (scoring a KO above) has been long anticipated and has gyms across the state buzzing with talk of who will prevail. Aguirre, in a recent state super-middleweight title fight, took a close nod over previously undefeated Bladimir Estrada. Gomez, who had an impressive amateur career, won a state title recently, stopping a previously undefeated opponent, Donald Griffin.

Utah Fight Game blog will be ringside for the card, which starts at 6 p.m. I’ll be reporting on the bouts, and Charles Presnell will be taking pictures. At the end of this article we have comments from both Gomez and Aguirre, as well as comments from local boxer and MMA pro, Francisco Alcantara, who also fights on the card.

According to Josh Morales, of Imperial, here is an update of the card 9 days before fight night. Amateurs: Jonathen Montalogo vs Rena Mendoza is one bout. Mateo Holt and Jay Wright are scheduled to meet opponents. Rocky Mountain Golden Gloves champs  Michelle Maya and Jon Bryant are scheduled to meet opponents.
Here’s the pro show: 122 pounds, Julio Martinez vs Jair Nava; 170 pounds, Enrique Ojeda vs Francisco Alacantara; 147lbs Anthony Ayala vs Justin Morales; and the main title belt between Gomez and Aguirre.

STEELFIST MMA FRIDAY NIGHT: Before we get to the interviews with Aguirre, Gomez and Alcantara, SteelFist MMA has a good pro/am card on Friday, May 18, in Salt Lake City. The doors open at 6 p.m. at the Union Event Center with heavyweights Eric Iman and Samuel Sprauer in the main event. A very intriguing co-main matches flyweights Miles Welk and Nicholas Clem for the professional promotional belt. A pro lightweight bout matches Nathan Kearsley against Idaho’s Kerry Lattimer (fighting for the third time in three weeks). There’s a whole night’s worth of bouts. It’s at 235 N. 500 West. The card, without Lattimer as replacement noted, is here.

BACK TO INTERVIEWS: Both Aguirre and Gomez were presented with the same questions. Gomez chose to be more brief in his responses. They are both good fighters and great individuals and we wish them the best.


The most important reason why this fight means everything to me is because I get to show of my Heavenly Fathers name (CRISTO) in front of a big crowd. What motivates me most about this fight is that the odds are against me because my opponent hits super hard so it motivates me to wake up and run up the mountains. I just want to shock everyone once again because I know I work harder than he does. He may hit harder but I know I work harder.  (Photo below shows Aguirre, at right, sparring at the gym)

My fighting style is more old school like great legends such as Gene Fullmer, Roberto Duran. Marvin Hagler, Julio C├ęsar Chavez Sr, Jake LaMotta, and Rocky Marciano. My opponent’s strengths are his speed and power but … I know I have more heart than him to make him quit ... I only had one amateur bout but he’s had a little bit over 60 amateur fights. I used to spar him and he’s the real deal but I know that I won’t be alone in the ring that night. 

My training consists of waking up early in the morning and running up at the state capital and up the Ensign Peak. I do a lot of sprints to mimic the intensity of the bout and countless workouts later in the day. I’m also sparring with a few people for this bout such as Shilo Platts, Francisco Lopez, Julian Ruiz, and Nate Kearsley. I’m literally putting everything I have into this and I know the results will be good this May 26th. Huge shoutout to gyms such as BFit, Lights Out Boxing, Fullmer’s Boxing, UFC Gym, UCTC, Hidden Valley, KO Reyes Boxing, and Louie’s Boxing for molding me into the fighter I am today. 

Being a fighter has improved my life by keeping me disciplined and away from trouble. I used to street fight a lot growing up in Jalisco, Mexico. I used to fight for money and beat kids up in order to buy chips or soda. I also got my first knockout as a 4-year-old against a bigger kid than me when we would fight in the broken-down bricked houses. 

I grew up very poor and hungry but also angry because my biological father left me when I was just two years old. I would fight in elementary school all the way through high school until I ended up at the hospital once because my own friends jumped me but I made sure they ended up at the hospital also. After all that drama happened I decided to go into boxing and I don’t regret a single minute of it. I know I was born for this and I’m not afraid of any man with two arms and a chin.

After winning this fight against Larry Gomez 6-0-0 (6KOs) I will show off my Heavenly Father’s name to the world because I know my purpose is greater than money and fame. I used to be the weakest one in the gym. They used to drop me and bully me in that ring but it only made me stronger. I’m just ready to show the lake that Goliath is just a man. I’m just ready to become a world champion after this Great War with Larry. I give my God all the glory and I thank my family and everyone who is supporting me or has helped me in the past. This one’s for the underdogs! 

... Tony Fulilangi and Rick Manzanares are training me. Tony fought Big George Foreman.


I don’t really want to give out my information  but … I’m training harder than ever and I’m 100 percent ready. I’ve never wanted to knock someone out more in my life after all the crap he talks. He’s finally gonna’ get what he’s got coming. Team Gomez is finally back and I always go for the knockout; that’s my style -- knockout punching. (photo below shows Gomez with handlers after winning state title)


I’m stepping back in the ring because I want to try and make something happen; … I love fighting and I’ve been a striker in my MMA fights. My style will be the same, an aggressive approach and everything will be thrown with bad intentions.

I’m training with Danny Garcia and getting my sparring sessions in with The Pack members at Foley’s gym as well as Justin Roberts, my longtime friend. ... I don’t know much about my opponent but I just see him like any other opponent I’m coming to put him out.

I've enjoyed watching Cisco Alcantara fight for a long time. The best of luck to him and all the boxers that night. It’ll be great to see professional boxing back north of Salt Lake City. There’s another pro/am boxing card in SLC on June 1 from Flash Academy at The Complex. Bladimir Estrada will be on the card.