By Andy Rivera
For Enchantment Sports
2018 was a good year for boxing in the New Mexico region. While fans are still clamoring for the next Johnny Tapia or Danny Romero, many boxers made large strides in the right direction by taking chances to showcase their skills. As these boxers continue to do so, in time one will shine.
Speaking of shinning, it is that time of the year to name the recipients of our 2018 Regional boxing awards as we look back to 2018 and forward 2019.
BOB FOSTER CO-FIGHTERS OF THE YEAR – ANGELO LEO AND JASON SANCHEZ
Two years ago Angelo Leo moved to Las Vegas, Nevada to see if he could catch the eye of someone in the boxing capital of the world and progress his career. Leo may have hit the jackpot when he started showing up and training at the Floyd Mayweather Gym. Mayweather saw potential in Leo and since training their, Leo he has gone 5-0 and signed a promotional contract with Mayweather Promotions.
In each of his 2018 bouts Leo stepped up competition each time going 4-0 (1ko) against opponents with a combined record of 76-22. This is an unheard of plan in this day and age of fighting cream puffs in order to pad a record, only to not be prepared for the next level. Leo has been doing it right in raising his overall record to 15-0 (8kos). In doing so, we are naming Leo as one of our co-fighter of the year. Great job in taking chances to show he has the goods or not. Will it work? So far it has.
Other media outlets picked Jason Sanchez as fighter of the year, having traveled to Panama in October and winning the WBO “Youth” Title, capturing a 10 round decision over former unbeaten Jean Carlos Rivera. Sanchez 13-0 (6kos). Like Leo, Sanchez took a chance to step up his career and went in as the opponent against Rivera. His gamble paid off as he left with a minor title and a 4 year contract with Top Rank.
Both Leo and Sanchez deserve the award, so why not share the honor.
JOHNNY TAPIA FIGHT OF THE YEAR AWARD- JOSH TORRES VS CRISTIAN CABRAL
The Torres/Cabral fight wasn’t a toe to toe war as most fights that win the fight of year aware are, but for sheer crosstown rivalry and crowd pleasure it was New Mexico’s top fight.
Cabral 8-2-1 (4kos) had his moments early against Torres, but it was Torres 19-6 (11kos), who was the superior fighter period in halting Cabral in the seventh round of their June of 2018 fight.
HECTOR MUNOZ I’LL FIGHT ANYONE AWARD- DEREK PEREZ
Derek Perez 3-9-1 (3kos) will fight anyone, anytime. He fought in 3 different arenas of combat sports in 2018. MMA, bare knuckle fighting and boxing, Perez went 2-1 in boxing in 2018.
Derek joins brother Gene who had previously wont this award proving that the fighting Perez brothers continue to take on all comers.
LENNY FRESQUEZ FIGHTER PROMOTER OF THE YEAR AWARD-LEGACY PROMOTIONS
For the second time in three years Legacy Promotions headed by brothers Jordan and Aaron Perez have been New Mexico’s top promoters. They continue to put excellent fight cards on and keep New Mexico fighters busy. In 2018 Legacy put on four fight cards showcasing the likes of Josh Torres, Jason Sanchez and Aaron Perez to name a few.
Legacy’s fights are more competitive than other promoters in New Mexico and deserve recognition for that, they have done a tremendous job in always being organized. The only drawback I can say is Secondsout/Maxboxing don’t receive much media attention as they need to step up with releases for fight cards. They are getting better and I would hope they want major worldwide coverage from two of the top boxing websites in the world for their fighters.
DAN CISNEROS COMEBACK FIGHTER OF THE YEAR –WILLIE VILLANUEVA
Villanueva returned to the ring after 6 years away from the squared circle. He dropped 45 pounds and got in tremendous shape leading to a victory over Ricardo Fernandez this past October. With the win Villanueva 11-5-1 (2kos) put himself in line to battle unbeaten welterweight Matthew Esquibel in 2019.
SANDY PINO SERVICE TO BOXING AWARD-STEVE GARCIA
Having been a pro/amateur coach for 24 years, Garcia has served as USA President for New Mexico the last 4 years. What stands out for us regarding Garcia is that he doesn’t have any of his on children in the amateur ranks anymore. Yet he continues to volunteer his time as President of USA Boxing while running the Power and Glory Boxing Team. Garcia is also establishing the next generation of boxers by paying out of his own pocket for less fortunate children who can’t pay for the gym they train out of.
In a time when some trainers do it only for money and never giving back to the kids, Garcia exemplifies what the late Sandy Pino stood for, giving back.
Andrew Rivera is a contributor for Enchantment Sports. He is a former state Golden Gloves champion who has covered some of the biggest fights in the state and the world for decades. Email enchantmentsportsNM@gmail.com to provide tip or story ideas for Andrew.