Photos and Story by: Herman Delgado
Another impressive Las Cruces professional boxing event by none other than Mr. Isidro Castillo and his School of Hard Knocks Promotions this past weekend (March 12th) at the NMSU Pan American Center. Young professional fighters trying to work their way up the ladder of the Sweet Science in hopes that their names will one day flash across in neon lights on the many billboards in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, or Madison Square Garden in New York City. It’s the hope and dreams of many fighters who are mastering their skills and craft to one day make the Mayweather type money and fulfill their goals.
A total of eight fights on the evening card and only three of them were decided by the three judges at ringside. If you came to witness some hard punching knockouts…this card delivered. In one of the earlier bouts of the evening featuring El Paso’s Victor Aranda (1-0), a former nationally ranked amateur fighter and an alternate on the 2020 U.S.A. Olympic Boxing Team, he made a successful pro debut against a rugged and chiseled Garrett Lopez (0-1) of Las Cruces, NM. Aranda had his hands full against the 34-year-old Lopez, who was also making his professional debut. These two fighters went toe-to-toe for almost four rounds, until the referee stopped the action at 2:21 of round four, earning Aranda a win by TKO. Non-stop punching from both fighters and Aranda tasted the canvas for the first time in his young pro career in round three. Not to be outdone, he came back strong in the fourth and final round and his non-stop punching left the referee no choice but to put a halt to the action. Lopez who trains under Mike Clark and twin brother Gabe Lopez at Cross Town Boxing had nothing but praise for Aranda. He last stepped in a boxing ring to compete as an amateur in 2010, so he’s very proud of his performance and very optimistic as to where his pro career will take him. Lopez is spoken and extremely humble; a complete opposite of the person he becomes when he steps through those ropes. “I’ve only had 12 amateur fights in my life…I started boxing as a young kid at the Boys and Girls Club in Anaheim, CA,” said Lopez. “I’m a janitor at Stay Fit Fitness her in Las Cruces, so I’m in the gym all day…if I’m not training, I’m cleaning the gym.”
Another crowd pleaser this evening was El Paso’s Armando Rodriguez (4-2) who faced off against Ricardo Reyes (3-3) of Hobbs, NM. Rodriguez tasted the canvas in the first round but displaying the traits of a seasoned veteran, he clinched to Reyes, got his head clear, and closed out the opening round on his feet. Went back to his corner, recuperated, and came out strong in the second round and stopped Reyes at 2:02 and earned himself a TKO victory. Rodriguez had last stepped in the ring back in March 2015 at the Don Haskins Center against Carlos Villa losing an eight-round decision. After a seven year lay-off the 29-year-old Rodriguez is back. He’s focused, eating right, dieting properly and training hard under the tutelage of trainer Jackie Hout. As a postal carrier, Rodriguez must balance out his work and training schedules. “I want to stay active…it’s a bit hard for me,” said Rodriguez. “I’m a mailman, I work at the post office…I work and then head to the gym.”
A dominant performance by Las Cruces’ Amy “La Picosita” Salinas as she improved her record to 4-1 by securing a unanimous decision over Indeya “Azucar” Rodriguez of Dallas, TX. In their first meeting back in October 2021, Rodriguez won a close decision over Salinas, but there was no doubt as to the decision in this much anticipated rematch. After six exciting rounds of non-stop action, Salinas’ hand was raised, and the home crowd voiced their support for their hometown 115-pound fireball.
In the evening’s main event, El Paso’s Jorge “El Jaguar” Tovar (3-0) scored his third consecutive first round knockout over Oregon’s Brad Grelck (0-2). Delivering some powerful hooks to the body and head, the referee stepped in and stopped the bombing at 1:22 of round one. Ruben Garcia, trainer for both Tovar and Aranda was very pleased with the performance and outcome of both his fighters. “We might be scheduling Jorge [Tovar] and Victor [Aranda] to fight next month in Ruidoso, NM…we’ll just have to wait and hear from the promoters,” said Garcia.
*Results from Saturday, March 12, 2022: JJ Medina 1-0 (Lubbock, TX) WTKO1 (1:45) over Daniel Arriaga 0-2 (Herford, TX); Martin Sollano 3-0 (Amarillo, TX) WTKO1 (2:31) over Anthony Jones 0-2 (Albq, NM); Victor Aranda 1-0 (El Paso, TX) WTKO4 (2:21) over Garret Lopez 0-1 (Las Cruces, NM); Armando Rodriguez 4-2 (El Paso, TX) WTKO2 (2:02) over Ricardo Reyes 3-3 (Hobbs, NM); Alec McGee 7-2 (Las Vegas, NV) WUD4 over Manuel Rubalcaba (Laredo, TX); Dewayne Bonds 12-3-1 (El Paso, TX) WUD4 over Ramon Chacon (CA); Amy Salinas 4-1 (Las Cruces, NM) WUD6 over Indeya Smith 2-4-1 (Dallas, TX); Jorge Tovar 3-0 (El Paso, TX) WTKO1 (1:22) over Brad Grelk 0-2 (Oregon).