It has been nearly 15 years since a live boxing card took place at the Reseda Country Club in the San Fernando Valley.
At its peak during the late 80s to early 90s, Dan Goossen’s promotional company used the country club as the proving grounds to a number of future world champions, namely Michael Nunn and the Ruelas brothers, Gabriel and Rafael.
Cards were often offered as a midweek special, with many Tuesday and Wednesday dates that you just don’t see in American boxing today.
Saturday, Goossen-Tutor Promotions is attempting to recreate the atmosphere from those Reseda club shows when they utilize Studio City’s Sportsmen’s Lodge as former 122-pound beltholder Rico Ramos (20-1, 11 KOs) meets fellow southern Californian Efrain Esquivias (16-0, 9 KOs) in a very intriguing Solo Boxeo headlining bout.
Though a bigger card will take place just a few miles down the road at the Staples Center in Los Angeles proper, with a maximum capacity of about 1,000 the Sportsmen’s Lodge will hopefully still meet the expectations set by the Sherman Oaks based promotional company when they announced a multi-date deal with the venue earlier this year.
Not only are they competing with another boxing event just minutes away, one of their own fights in the main event as long odds underdog Josesito Lopez fights Golden Boy Promotions welterweight Victor Ortiz. That a fight with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez is already on the table should Ortiz win is a sign that Golden Boy believes it’ll be a walkover. That Goossen-Tutor’s focus seems to be on the smaller club show also leaves one to wonder whether Lopez’ own promoter thinks he has a shot.
It could just be that the Goossens have a bit more invested with their Sportsmen’s Lodge card. The country club was one of the things they were known for in the 80s and 90s, and Dan Goossen has been very vocal in believing that they’ll be able to showcase a similar environment 20 years later. Boxing celebrities, Hollywood celebrities, Goossen promises.
We know Dan has a nice friendship with Rob Schneider and over the years this reporter has seen Rob at many of the bigger Goossen cards, and even a few at the Tachi Palace Casino in the middle of nowhere, Lemoore, Calif. It’ll be interesting to see who else they can get to attend given the shinier Staples Center will be utilized on a bigger platform, as their fights will be televised by Showtime. How many celebrities will be tweeting their followers to look out for them on TeleFutura?
They also have a bit more invested in the careers of those fighting in Studio City. Goossen has backed RRamos since he turned pro, and that he is following up a really bad loss to Guillermo Rigondeaux in January with a evenly-matched fight says it is sink or swim time for the 25-year old from Pico Rivera, Calif.
Ramos opponent Efrain Esquivias of Gardena, Calif. has yet to suffer a professional defeat but is taking a bit of a climb in class taking on the former beltholder. Backed by Ontario, Calif.-based Thompson Boxing, Esquivias has rarely found television exposure, and although his fight Saturday is overshadowed by a bigger one, a win in Studio City would go a long way in insuring his status as a legitimate contender. At 28 years old, it is anybody’s guess how many chances Esquivias will get if he is unsuccessful this weekend.
Taking a shake off the rust tuneup in preparation for his Sept. 8 lightweight title shot against Antonio DeMarco on the Andre Ward-Chad Dawson undercard on HBO, Covina, Calif.’s John Molina (23-1, 19 KOs) returns to the ring for the first time in 364 days as he meets veteran journeyman Miguel Angel Munguia (25-23-1, 21 KOs) of Mexico City. Molina was largely kept out of the ring due to a rumored dispute with the Goossens, but the snafu was handled and Molina is only a win away from a career opportunity. Not to be overlooked, California junior bantamweights Matthew Villanueva (7-0-1, 7 KOs) of Burbank and Bruno Escalante (5-0-1, 3 KOs), who trains in the Bay Area, meet in what could be the fight of the night, a six-rounder between undefeateds. Villanueva has shown a dentable chin against lesser competition and Escalante definitely packs a punch, but the height differential is nearly a foot as Escalante is 5’2” and Villanueva clocks in much closer to 6′.
While it is anyone’s guess if the atmosphere can duplicate what Goossen was able to do in Reseda all those years ago, the matchmaking has definitely taken a bit of a climb if this card is any indication of what we will see on future editions. Two of the fights are virtual pick ’ems, never a bad idea.
Though television guides a lot of decisions in today’s landscape, it would be interesting if TV tried showcasing boxing in the middle of the week like it used to. In fact, it might cater to the country club crowd a bit more anyways.
One thing is for sure, Ramos-Esquivias is one of the better matched Solo Boxeo main events this year, though that isn’t really saying much. Many felt Ramos needed to take a fight like this in order to find himself back on television after a dreadful showing against Rigondeaux, but rumors were swirling during the leadup to that fight that Ramos was basically training himself.
Now Ramos is working out of the South Los Angeles based Broadway Boxing Gym with Charles “Chilli” Wilson of Compton. Wilson was a former heavyweight pro who himself fought twice at the country club in Reseda in 1986 and 1991.
Esquivias is a tall order for anyone, not just a fighter coming off a loss. The Goossens have become notorious for throwing their young fighters in tough after a loss, such as stablemate Mike Dallas Jr. who fights Javier Castro Friday in the ESPN2 main event a few hours east in San Jacinto.
A good showing and Ramos could be right back in the mix at 122 where it is a bit thin at the moment, though that could entail crossing the Pacific in order to earn another opportunity.
A good showing by the Goossens, especially while running against a major fight card just a few miles away, could add just a little more spice to the southern California fight scene. As one of the more notable locations in the United States as it pertains to boxing, a little more flavor could never hurt.
Mark Ortega can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com and followed via Twitter at www.twitter.com/MarkEOrtega. Mark also contributes to renowned boxing publications RING Magazine and Boxing Monthly, and is a member of the Boxing Writer’s Association of America and RING Ratings Advisory Panel.