Boxing: joe smith

Bracero-Salita tops packed Aviator card

November, 8, 2013
Gabriel Bracero and Dmitriy Salita both made weight on Friday for their Saturday clash at the Aviator Complex in Brooklyn, a welterweight faceoff, which will have Brooklyn bragging rights up for grabs. Bracero, the Sunset Park, Brooklyn native who fell in with the wrong crowd, then became the wrong crowd, but righted himself after a jail stint, was 145 pounds.

The Flatbush resident Salita, who had a disappointing early night against in his debut on the megastage, against Amir Khan (TKO1 loss), in 2009, and has struggled to clamber back for another crack, was 147 pounds.

Lou DiBella will promote the card topped by the 22-1 Bracero and the 35-1-1 Salita. I expect to see a high volume scrap in this ten rounder, a distance fight, which I see as up for grabs. Salita has had good work in camp, heading to Detroit to get some Kronk nurturing from "Sugar" Hill, Emanuel Steward's nephew. Bracero has stuck local, with trainer Tommy Gallagher. But the way he's been talking has me wondering if his eye of the tiger isn't a shade fiercer.

"Woods, I'm not the fighter I was a year, or even six months ago," he's said. "I WANT this."

He said he gets it that the promoters and the networks reward heavy-duty aggression, and he knows a mere win isn't enough. He is seeking to put a stamp on it, a violent one, one that will leave a buzz bubbling among watchers and on Twitter days after. That is the way, he realizes, that he can scramble up some notches in the rankings, and get the sort of opportunity Salita had against Khan.

I expect the Aviator to enjoy one of the biggest and most electric crowds for boxing it has seen. Heather Hardy, formerly of Gerritsen Beach, now living in Williamsburg, puts her 6-0 record on the line against 4-3 Mexican Laura Gomez. Also, Charlie Ota, who makes Japan his home-base, puts his 23-1-1 mark up against 17-7 Mike Ruiz of Freeport, N.Y. Another local, a kid who puts butts in seats, Joe Smith (12-1), gloves up against Lamont Williams. of Cali. Phenom Junior Younan has his pro debut, against Ken Schmitz of St. Louis, as well.

I think so much of the card I'm DVRing HBO's triple-header tomorrow, for the record.

First NYC casino card was a success

September, 26, 2012
You had the feeling the first boxing card at an NYC casino would go pretty well if you saw promoter Felipe Gomez before the card kicked off on Saturday night at Resorts World Casino in Jamaica, Queens. He flashed a grin every now and again as customers strolled in, and during the course of the night, which featured solid bouts, he did indeed smile between bouts, as the event unfolded smoothly.

NYFightBlog reached out to Gomez a couple days after the show and asked for his impression of the night, which saw Joe Smith of Shirley, Long Island, score a TKO3 win over Yasin Rashid of Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn.

"Overall, I thought it was a great show," Gomez said. "I'm excited, it worked out well."

More than 1,600 fight fans paid to get in, a pretty darned impressive number, considering that there were no "stars" on the show. Gomez served up local guys, prospects, hungry guys who want to climb the ladder, and just about across the board, was rewarded with ebb-and-flow action.

The scrap between Frank Galarza and Alantez Fox stole the show. Red Hook's Galarza ate a boatload of left hooks from the 6-5 Marylander Fox, but refused to stop attacking. The judges called the eight-rounder a draw, and Gomez wants to stage a rematch on a high profile platform, like ESPN or ShoBox.

"Hats off to both of them. They took the biggest risk of their careers," Gomez said. Both men entered the ring Saturday with a 7-0 mark.

"I would've loved to see Frank win -- he's under our promotional banner -- but I credit the other kid coming to Frank's hometown," Gomez said. "But I tip my cap to the New York Commission, the judges, because out-of-town guys know they can come here and get a fair shake."

You have to root for a guy like Gomez, who is giving neighborhood guys a chance to compete.

He didn't lose his shirt, did he?

"We definitely didn't lose money," he told me.

Such a show can cost more than $75,000 to stage, with the cost of the venue, the ring, the purses, the security and insurance. So it's good to hear that he held his own financially, if you root for there to be ample stages for boxers to work on.

He didn't want to delve into specifics of the deal, but knowing what I know of the business, I do believe Gomez should have some leverage with the Resorts crew. If he doesn't get a share of concessions, that is something that he could ask to share in moving forward, for example. That was a brew-drinking crew at Resorts, and I spied a steady stream of patrons heading down for a chance at the slot machines all night.

Gomez said that was the first of four shows he'll do at Resorts; the next one, likely to be headlined by Vinny Maddalone, will unfold Dec. 8. He will check with the Resorts people to see if the fourth Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez fight can be screened at the venue after the live action.

First boxing at NYC casino is Saturday

September, 20, 2012
You either get boxing or you don't. If you don't, there's a possibility that you shake your head when you come across a bout on TV, wondering why two people are engaged in such a brutal exercise.

But what doesn't get stated often enough is the opportunity the sport offers people for whom opportunities are scarce, for youths who without the sweet science would be destined for addiction, jail or an early death.

On Saturday night at the Resorts World Casino in Jamaica, Queens, there will be multiple examples of situations where boxing has emerged as a savior in a person's life. The head promoter of the event is Felipe Gomez, who started boxing at age 12; he told me at a news conference to hype the first card at the casino that "boxing saved my life. One hundred percent."

"Without boxing, I wouldn't be standing here," said Gomez, who was born and raised in East New York. "I'd be dead, in jail or on drugs."

He grew up surrounded by people who succumbed to the negative temptations on the streets, thugs, drug dealers and the like. His father left the family when Gomez was 12, and as the oldest of four kids, Felipe stepped up. He got into the sport and excelled, winning the Golden Gloves. The streets still sought Gomez, and he hung with delinquents some, but at 18 he decided to spurn the street lures. He entered the police academy, so he didn't turn pro. But Gomez kept his love of the game, and started promoting three years ago.

His New Legend company is doing the first of four shows at Resorts on Saturday, and will follow that with a show on Dec. 8, and then March and June of 2013. The casino, run by the Genting Group, a Malaysian outfit, opened in October 2011.

"Saturday will be a historic night," Gomez said. "It'll be the first boxing in a New York City Casino. I'm a local promoter focusing on local guys, guys who were successful amateurs, but didn't have an opportunity with other promoters."

Gomez is talking about boxers like Joe Smith, a 23-year-old Irishman living on Long Island, sporting a 10-1 record, with 10 KOs. The light heavyweight meets 7-2 Yasin "The Assassin" Rashid, from Brooklyn, in the night's feature bout.

Gomez is talking about guys like 7-0 Brooklyner Frank Galarza, a middleweight who takes on 7-0 Alantez Fox, from Maryland, in a clash for the vacant N.Y. junior middleweight crown. Galarza grew up in Red Hook, and in short order, his mom died from an OD and his dad died from a lingering bullet wound in his leg. He lived with his aunt and uncle, and as a teen, the streets tried to take him. He resisted, took up boxing at 17, and now, at 27, aims to keep on climbing the ladder.

"This is what I love doing," he told NYFightBlog. "Boxing teaches discipline, self-control."

Yeah, boxing is a popular punching bag, but every year, it gives hope and a purpose to I dare say hundreds of at-risk youth. Chew on that and feel free to share with anyone who watches a match, and only sees something brutal.