Born in 1949 in Houston, Texas, John Alvarado began his boxing journey as a young teen and was active as an amateur and professional boxing coach until his untimely death in 2006.
He started boxing as a young teen at The Red Shield Boxing Club in downtown Houston. The Red Shield Boxing Club was a precursor to The Salvation Army Boxing Club and the original Houston location that Alvarado trained at was also the first boxing home of 1972 bronze medal Olympic Champion Jesse Valdez. Although he never fought professionally, Valdez is still considered one of the best boxers ever to have been born and raised in Houston, Texas.
Alvarado boxed for The Red Shield Boxing Club but would later tell his sons that he didn’t have the discipline at the time to be consistent, so he boxed off and on until he joined the Army the late 60’s. It was while serving his country as a military policeman that Mr. Alvarado would develop the love for discipline that would later shape his life as a successful man, father, and boxing coach.
After honorably serving his country in The United States Army, John lived for a while in Alaska, where he was last stationed, then returned back home to Houston after also living in California briefly. His love for boxing never waned during his military service and once his sons John III and Steve became six and seven years old, he began training them in boxing and also enrolling them in martial arts classes. After a while the martial arts classes became to expensive and John decided his sons would focus on boxing.
He then decided to take his sons to the original Ray’s Boxing Club, which was in owner Ray Ontiveros’ garage. The “gym” was a spartan setup with a few heavy bags, a large mirror, a speed bag, sit-up bench, and a homemade ring. Although that gym was small and void of any fancy equipment, many amateur and professional contenders and champions were made there. This was undoubtedly a testament to the “old school” approach to boxing that coaches Alvarado and Ontiveros believed in and taught.
There at Ray’s Boxing Gym, Alvarado trained his sons and also worked with the many Northside boys that came in and out of the gym in the early 80’s, including this writer. Alvarado’s sons John and Steve then began training and competing as much as possible, sometimes every weekend, winning many local and state tournaments. While speaking to Steve Alvarado, he estimated that both he and older brother John had somewhere between 230 and 250 amateur fights before turning pro. While coaching at Ray’s Boxing Club, Mr. Alvarado also helped out with the day to day training of Frank Stambaugh, Gary Simons, and Joe Garcia, who would later challenge Termite Watkins, and Jermaine Taylor.
Later after moving his family near the Salvation Army Boxing Club on Aldine Westfield, he began coaching his sons and the boxers there alongside another great coach, Mr. James Carter. While coaching at The Salvation Army Boxing Club, Alvarado would also be instrumental in the training of Kenneth Walker and three-time World Champion Reggie Johnson. Alvarado would also later play an important role in helping Johnson win his second world title as a professional, training Johnson for that training camp and working his corner on fight night.
Alvarado worked with many boxers from the Houston area at different times in their career including Edward “Pee Wee” Parker and former Texas State and World Boxing Council (WBC) United States, Super-Welterweight Champion Chase Shields.
Alvarado was a strict boxing coach who taught his fighters that discipline and a systematic approach to boxing was vital for success. He believed that a boxer should develop his talents and style based on his individual physical and mental strengths and attributes, rather than a certain “style” of boxing. His favorite boxer was Salvador Sanchez, but he also spoke highly of Jesse Valdez, Sugar Ray Robinson, Roberto Duran, and Bernard Hopkins.
Agustin “Augie” Arellano, who was also known by fight fans as “Tiger Pelon” was a Houston, Texas based middleweight who fought in the professional boxing ranks from 1936 to 1947, compiling a record of 50 wins, 36 loses, and 11 draws.
Augie was also a distinguished combat veteran who served in the United States Army as a Paratrooper, making five combat jumps in three separate invasions, including the Invasion of Normandy in World War II. As accomplished in his military service as he was in the boxing ring, he received a Purple Heart and Silver Star for his efforts while serving his country.
Born in Sombrete, Zacatecas, Mexico, he was billed as a “Mexican fighter” while he competed in the professional ranks, but he actually was raised and lived in Houston, Texas for the majority of his life. It was in Houston that Augie first took an interest in boxing after being bullied as a child. He found a boxing program at a local ‘Boys Club’ and from there competed as an amateur and his early years as a professional. A crowd favorite in his hometown of Houston, Texas, he was nicknamed “Tiger Pelon” due to his ferocious demeanor in the ring.
After establishing himself as a contender in and around the Houston area, he was one of the first in the area to venture to New York, where continued his assault on the middleweight division, facing and holding his own against the best in his division there as well. From there he fought most of his bouts in the The State of New York, as well as the Houston and Gulf Coast areas.
He fought regularly from 1936 until 1942, when he began his military service as a full time soldier. After serving his country and being honorably discharged he returned to the ring in 1946 as a light-heavyweight, and fought until 1947.
He was rarely stopped in his career and most of his loses were by decision, against the better connected contenders in New York. A legitimate contender, he fought many of the best top ten contenders and champions of his time, including Willie McCoy, Sonny Horne, Fred Apostoli, Michele Palermo, Joey Greb, Georgie Abrams, Tami Mauriello, Coley Welch, Artie Levine, Ken Overlin, Jackie “Kid” Berg, Artie Dorell, and James Elder and Lou Schwartz.
Growing up in Houston, Texas and spending lots of time in it’s boxing gyms, you hear certain names mentioned with reverence when it comes to boxing and all that it entails. Within and between the long hours of time spent in the gym boxers and coaches talk boxing and as young minds often do, the question of “Who’s the best ?” will inevitably come up.
We wanted to know who the best fighters were, the best coaches, the best managers, matchmakers, cut-men, etc and many names were tossed around during those days. One name that always came up when coaches were mentioned was Creed Fountain. Whenever guys had an important professional fight coming up, they usually wanted one of several iconic coaches in town in their corner. Creed Fountain has been one of those guys for the last 45 years and he is still going strong!
I was fortunate enough to be granted a few minutes of Mr. Fountain’s time today at The Plex Performance Center in Stafford, Texas, after he got finished working with former World Champion Erislandy Lara. Mr Fountain was kind and gracious with his time and even suggested we hold our interview in the lobby of the building, so that we would be able to talk without all the background noise of the gym area.
The video of our interview will be below and the transcript of our interview is below the video.
Clutch City Boxing: Sir can you tell us a little about your background and start in boxing?
Creed Fountain: I started a long time ago, back in the 60’s I guess you could say. I was training to be a boxer myself, here in Houston, then I had a car accident and that was the end of that. Then a young boxer at that time named Johnny Baldwin came in. Johnny Baldwin was a bronze medalist and roommate of George Foreman’s in 1968 (Olympics) in Mexico City.
When Johnny came into the city we used to all box and spar with him. After the car wreck I told him, “Man I’m done with boxing” and Johnny said, “No, no, no, no, I want you to train me”. I said, “Man I don’t now nothing about training no fighters”, and he said, “Well we’re gonna learn together”. I said, “Well if that’s what you want, I mean I’m a gym fighter and you are an Olympic fighter, but if you want me to train you, I will”.
So he (Johnny) told his manager Eddie Yates, and Eddie didn’t want me to train him, but Johnny told Eddie, “Look you’re the manager and Creed’s the trainer and that’s the way it’s gonna be”. That’s what got me started in the training business.
Clutch City Boxing: You said you were training to be a boxer yourself before you started training people, who did you train with, or who trained you?
Creed Fountain: Well me and Johnny were working together so Eddie was gonna be my trainer.
Clutch City Boxing: What gym did you guys train at?
Creed Fountain: Oh gosh it was soo long ago, I think it was called Roxy’s Gym, in downtown Houston. It was on the corner of Louisiana and Texas Street, upstairs.
Clutch City Boxing: Who are some of the boxers and clubs that you’ve worked with and around throughout the years?
Creed Fountain: Probably most everybody that came through Houston. I used to work with my boss, Ronnie Shields, I used to be one of his trainers. So I guess all our guys, Reggie Johnson, Bigfoot Martin, Derwin Richards. I’m also a cut-man, you know what my saying was? If your fighter bleeds, call Creed.
So I’ve had the opportunity to work with Juan Diaz, as his cut-man, four time Heavyweight Champion of the World Evander Holyfield, Dominick Guinn, and man it just goes on and on. I’ve practically worked with all the guys from and that came through Houston, most of them.
Clutch City Boxing: I see you’re working with Erislandy Lara now, how about the Charlo twins?
Creed Fountain: Yes I’m working with Lara now, I’m helping out with him, and I’ve also helped worked with the Charlo twins yes. We got a bunch of guys in the gym now that I’m working with.
Clutch City Boxing: In your opinion, what makes a good boxing coach/corner-man?
Creed Fountain: That’s a good question. I would say, just be honest with your fighters, tell them the truth, and make sure they are doing the right thing. I mean a lot of guys go along with a fighter and let him do what he wants to do, you now? You know, if you ain’t doing it right you ain’t doing it right. If you need to do this, you need to do this, to get it right you know? I’m on your side.
Clutch City Boxing: Okay going along those those lines, what difference do you see between boxers today and boxers in your day?
Creed Fountain: There’s a big difference. Boxers of today don’t want to train unless they got a date, most of them. The majority of them, they want to know they have a fight coming up before they do any serious training. Back in my day we went to the gym every day whether we had a fight or not, we just enjoyed going to the gym.
Clutch City Boxing: What do you think makes a good boxer?
Creed Fountain: One that listens. If he listens to the people that are working with him, he should turn out to be a good fighter. And they can’t be lazy, it’s hard work being a boxer.
Clutch City Boxing: What are some of the things a boxer has to have to be successful?
Creed Fountain: A good jab! That’s the most basic thing in boxing, your jab. If you have a good jab, you work behind your jab, you set up everything behind your jab, and everything else will fall in place.
Clutch City Boxing: Who are some of the coaches you’ve worked with throughout the years? Some guys that maybe you’ve learned from and can respect or have respect for what they do, here in town?
Creed Fountain: Well most of them are deceased. There was Al “Potato Pie” Boulden, Tim Goodall, there were a bunch of guys around town. Those guys and also when guys came into town, other coaches like Yank Durham and all them guys, I would learn a lot by listening and watching them. Houston was a fairly decent fight town back in the 60’s and 70’s, a lot of guys came through. A lot of good fighters and coaches. Guys like Dave Zyglewicz, Joe Brown, Mark Tessman, Cleveland “Big Cat” Williams. We had a lot of big fights in town back then and I learned a lot.
Clutch City Boxing: What’s your thoughts on conditioning for a fighter? Do you think he should run every day, 3 or 4 times a week, do you go by feel or? What’s your opinion on that?
Creed Fountain: I ask fighters, I tell them, there are three things in boxing, do you know what they are? Most of them tell me no, they ask what are they? I tell them, Run, Run, and Run. A lot of times you might not have the skill the other guy has, but if you have the condition you can compete with him. That’s our philosophy here, if we can’t beat them in skill, we beat them with conditioning.
Clutch City Boxing: So lots of running, what do you think, like 5 or 6 times a week?
Creed Fountain: Well you pace yourself, you get your pace you wanna run and you do three miles, four miles, however you wanna run. I like outdoor running, a lot of guys they like running on treadmills, but I don’t like that. I like real running, like the old times, out on the road, or on the track, that’s what I like.
Clutch City Boxing: How much gym work do you like your guys to do for a fight? Let’s say a guy is getting ready for a ten round fight, how much sparring should he do?
Creed Fountain: Well it depends, we spar three days a week. We probably start off sparring four rounds, later add to it, go to six, and just kinda keep going up from there. And you take him a full ten rounds of sparring before he gets to fight night. Most guys they do it that way, now an old veteran they aren’t gonna do that. They already know their body and what they can and can’t do, they might spar six or eight rounds. An old veteran that goes twelve rounds, he might spar six or eight rounds. Now these young guys we got, we will take them the full amount of rounds they are going to fight, at least one time in sparring. If they are gonna fight twelve rounds, they are gonna spar twelve rounds, at least once before their fight. With two or three different guys, that way they get a different look throughout that twelve rounds.
Clutch City Boxing: What do you think has made you soo successful throughout the years?
Creed Fountain: Just hard work, coming to the gym, being dependable, being there every day.
Clutch City Boxing: What are some of the things you stress to your boxers? Let’s say you get a guy that is just starting out, or maybe a guy going from amateur boxing to the pros, what would you stress to him?
Creed Fountain: The key to boxing is the jab. If you work behind your jab, everything else will fall into place. I heard Larry Holmes talking one day, saying that coaches don’t teach guys to jab anymore, well we teach our guys to jab.
Clutch City Boxing: Okay one last question. As far as sparring goes, do you believe guys should go easy and work with each other, or kinds go after it? What’s your philosophy on sparring?
Creed Fountain: Well my philosophy is guys need to get in there and work, not to try to kill each other, but work. Now on the other hand sometimes you have a couple of guys get in there and they spar like if they are in a real fight. I will stop them and call them over and tell them, hey guys look, ya’ll are not in a real fight, work with one another, you now?
Clutch City Boxing: So work hard but just working?
Creed Fountain: Yeah work. I mean let him feel it but don’t try to knock him out. Because you know that if you get knocked out in the gym, you won’t be able to fight.
*I then ask him several more questions after I had already told him the last question would be the last* I was just very excited to speak to him and got a little carried away.
Clutch City Boxing: When you are looking at a fighter, what are some of the things you see that let you now you are looking at a good fighter?
Creed Fountain: Well there’s a lot of different things you can look at, the way he keeps his hands up, the way he jabs, the way he moves, his balance, a lot of different things. Also does he listen to his corner when he goes back to his corner? I look at all that.
Clutch City Boxing: Who are some of the guys from back in the days that didn’t maybe make it big in the pros but were really good fighters?
Creed Fountain: Oh gosh there were a lot of guys, Anthony “Wildcat” Wiley, Kent Kneeley, Earl Winbush, Freddie Jackson, Ron Collins, Bigfoot Martin. I mean there’s been a lot of guys that were really good, but just didn’t make it as big for whatever reason.
Creed Fountain: Also when you asked me earlier about guys I’ve worked with, I forgot to mention Frank and Thomas Tate, I can’t leave those guys out. Both were champions, Frank was a gold medalist and a world champion.
Clutch City Boxing: You mentioned Bigfoot Martin, who fought more world and former world champions than most people. How was he able to do that without getting hurt?
Creed Fountain: Well Bigfoot knew how to fight without getting hurt, and he was just a really tough guy in the ring, he could take a good shot. But he fought them all, Larry Holmes, Tim Witherspoon, Bonecrusher Smith, George Foreman, he fought them all!
Clutch City Boxing: Well thank you for your time sir and I appreciate you being so forthcoming with all this information.
Creed Fountain: Thank you, you thought enough of me to come give me a shout out.
Clutch City Boxing: Oh man, your name is heard in gyms all over this town. Maybe not as much now because these young kids don’t know much, but when I was coming up, man I heard you name in gyms all over town. If you came up when I did, and you didn’t know who Creed Fountain was/is, you didn’t do anything in boxing.
I spoke briefly with Kathy Duva at the Alvarez vs Kovalev 2, final press conference and she said The Krusher is well prepared and ready to take back his title. She also welcomed a challenge from Texas Champ, Alfonso “El Tigre” Lopez and said “The Krusher” never turns down a challenge.
Every fighter on the Mungia vs Inoue, World Championship Boxing card, made weight yesterday at Houston’s Pitch 25 Bar and Restaurant, and all parties are ready to rumble. The event will be held at The Toyota Center with doors opening at 4 PM and first fight to begin at 4:30. The DAZN portion of the show begins at 8 PM. Here are a few pictures from yesterday’s weigh-ins, don’t miss the show tonight! If you can’t make it to The Toyota Center, make sure you tune in on the DAZN app!
Saturday, November 17, 2018 - saw the return of The El Tigre Boxing Promotions group to Humble, Texas with it’s Texas Title Night 2 professional boxing card. The event was held at The Humble Civic Center, and featured nine evenly matched bouts. The exciting night of professional boxing featured some of the finest local talent in the area as well as some tough, out of town talent from around the nation and as far away as Mexico City, Mexico. There were several upsets and three title matches that kept the crowd on it’s feet throughout the night. The results were as follows:
John Vanmeter (Uvalde,Texas) TKO 2 over Christian Morris (Lake Charles, Louisiana) at super-featherweight
Manuel Guerra (Reynosa,Tamaulipas, Mexico) UD 4 over Marc Perales (Galveston, Texas) at flyweight
Michael Klekotta (Houston, Texas) UD 4 over Adam Ealoms (College Station, Texas) at junior-middleweight
Roger Ibarra (Houston, Texas) KO 1 over Jaren Jones (Port Arthur, Texas) at super-middleweight
Juan Antonio Velazquez (Houston,Texas) KO 1 over Jamie Chester (Lafayette, Louisiana) at lightweight
Ivan Vasquez (Houston, Texas) TKO 2 over Jabrandon Harris (Bryan,Texas) at middleweight
The first title bout of the night(Texas State Cruiserweight Title), featured Eric Abraham (Schenectady, New York) vs Roberto Silva Jr. (Houston, Texas).
Both fighters threw and landed hard punches in the first round but it immediately appeared apparent that Abraham was the more fundamentally sound boxer, with his superior movement , solid defense, and straight punches. Silva brought an exciting style to the first round but his wide hooks and lunging punches seemed to mostly have been blocked or avoided by Abraham.
Silva started the second round doing exactly the same thing he did in the first round, lunging in with his punches and throwing wide hooks, but now it seemed that Abraham was more prepared, dodging Silva’s lunges and landing crisp, straight left hands from the southpaw stance. Around the halfway mark of the round Abraham landed a strong, straight left, which seemed to have buckled Silva a bit but Silva kept moving forward. Abraham took a half step back, allowed Silva to close the distance with his lunging style, and landed a devastating right hook that knocked Silva down and out. Referee Sam Garza immediately knew Silva was out and didn’t even bother a with a ten count, making Abraham the winner by second round knockout, and new Texas State Cruiserweight Champion. [Winner Abraham by 2nd round knockout for The Texas State Cruiserweight Title].
In the co-main event Jonathan Lecona Ramos and Armando Frausto went to war in a six round bout that was definitely the fight of the night. Both fighters fought well and both fighters took turns taking over the bout at different points in the fight. Frausto had the more aggressive style and Ramos had the more calculated style and both were effective with their chosen style.
After six rounds of action the judges felt Ramos did the better work, giving him a split decision over Frausto and making him the new A.B.O. Regional Bantamweight Champion. [Winner Jonathan Lecona Ramos (Mexico City, Mexico) SD 6 over Armando Frausto (La Marque, Texas) for The A.B.O. Regional Bantamweight Title].
The main event featured A.B.O. Intercontinental Light-Heavyweight Champion Alfonso “El Tigre” Lopez (Huntsville,Texas) defending his title against Milton Nunez (Miami,Florida).
The bout began with both boxers taking a round or two to feel each other out, while boxing measured and cautiously. Lopez with sharp, straight punches, and Nunez with unorthodox, overhand rights.
In the third round Lopez seemed to have found his comfort zone and began landing hard body shots and uppercuts to go along with the straight lefts and rights he had already been landing from the start of the bout.
Nunez did try to answer back with his own shots but it was all Lopez from this point on, and it seemed only a mater of time before Nunez was stopped or the contest would be stopped.
Lopez continued giving a lesson in boxing to Nunez throughout the fourth and fifth rounds and also landed a left hook to the body of Nunez in the fifth that knocked Nunez to the canvas. Nunez was able to beat the referee’s ten count and continue but barely managed to get through the round. Although Nunez is a hard punching veteran that has been in with the likes of Daniel Jacobs, Sergio Mora, and Gennady Golovkin, his skills were no match for those of the well schooled Lopez.
In between the fifth and sixth rounds Nunez’s corner signaled to referee Sam Garza that their boxer was unable to continue, putting an end to the bout.
Lopez looked sharp in making the first defense of his A.B.O. Title and appears to be getting closer to his goal of contending for a world title in the near future. [Winner Lopez by 5th round TKO for The A.B.O. Intercontinental Light-heavyweight Title].
Promoter: Felix Ramirez - El Tigre Promotions
Commission: Texas Combative Sports Program
Judges: Immer Guzman, Barry Yeats, and Kellie Isaac
Referees: Gary Simons and Sam Garza
ABO Supervisor: Francisco “Paco” Leal
*all photos used courtesy of VEH Video Productions*
Saturday, October 6, 2021 saw the return of the G.O.A.T (Greatest Of All Time) Boxing Promotions group to Houston, Texas, with it’s “High Stakes 2” professional boxing card. The outdoor event was held in the parking area of The Mancuso Harley Davidson (Crossroads) location in Jersey Village. The card featured five bouts between local and out of town prospects that kept the crowd entertained throughout the afternoon. The co-main and main event were title bouts, (Texas Title and A.B.F. Title) and the card even produced a couple of upsets. The results were as follows:
The opening bout saw featherweights Chaise Nelson (Mansfield, Ohio) and Jahaziel Vasquez (Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico) battle for four rounds with Nelson emerging as the unanimous decision winner. [Winner Nelson]
In the second bout, heavyweights Juan Torres (Houston, Texas) and Allen Melson (Houston, Texas) fought each other in a four rounder that was competitive until Melson seemed to run out of steam in the fourth round. In that fourth round Torres began landing hard, unanswered punches, forcing the referee to stop the bout. [Winner Torres] by TKO.
The third bout featured the United States debut of highly touted Gagan “Pitbull” Sharma of India versus Nathaniel Tadd (Puerto Rico) in a four rounder fought at super-middleweight. The bout began with Tadd employing his unorthodox movement and footwork while Sharma went right to work throwing hard punches and applying suffocating pressure. Both boxers landed solid punches in the first round but Sharma was able to win the round and take the momentum by landing several solid body punches to end the round. The second and third went much like the first with Tadd still trying to find an answer for Sharma’s pressure while struggling to get his own punches off. Midway through the third round Tadd got caught trying to switch from the orthodox to southpaw stance while throwing a combination, and was knocked down by a short, right hook from Sharma. Tadd was able to beat the count but from there the bout was all Sharma, as he kept Tadd pinned on the ropes for the remainder of the third and throughout the whole fourth round, while he landed hard punches to the head and body. The scores were unanimous with all three judges giving every round to Sharma, giving him an impressive win in his first bout in the United States. [Winner Sharma] by decision.
The fourth bout and co-main event was a six round contest that matched Joe Sombrano (Pleasanton, Texas) against Noe “Skinny Boy” Lopez of Houston, Texas. The bout was for The Texas Super-Lightweight Title and did not disappoint. Both men started the first round fighting at a torrid pace and both landed hard punches. Sombrano moved forward throwing sometimes straight and sometimes wide punches, while Lopez controlled the round and pace with his superior footwork, ring generalship, and the crisper punches landed. The second round continued in the same manner as the first but early in the round Lopez seemed to have stopped and grimaced after landing a combination on Sombrano and finished the round throwing almost exclusively left jabs and hooks. Even with the sudden change in strategy Clutch City Boxing saw Lopez winning the second round. The third round picked up where the second ended and continued in much the same way, except now Lopez was relying solely on his left hand, only throwing the right to the body a few times when the fighters got tied up in clinches. Clutch City Boxing gave the round to Lopez on superior ring generalship and the sharper punches landed, mainly the left hook, but Sombrano was now landing his overhand right much more frequently and although we saw him losing the round, he had his best round of the bout up until that point. Sombrano brought his momentum from the third round to the fourth and was landing combinations to the head and body of Lopez when Lopez took a knee near the ropes. Lopez wisely took an eight count and gathered himself, being able to finish the round strongly, but the fourth was still a two point round for Sombrano. The fifth and sixth rounds saw both fighters fighting hard and with determination, Sombrano moving forward and fighting aggressively, ending many combinations with the overhand right, while Lopez moved well and counter-punched effectively, but still mostly only with left hands. Clutch City Boxing saw Sombrano edging the fifth round and Lopez taking the sixth giving the bout to Lopez by one point on our card. The official ringside judges Ray Zaragoza, Kellie Issac, and Barry Yeats saw the bout differently, scoring the bout 56-57, 55-58, and 55-58 all in favor of Sombrano.
The unanimous decision win earned Sombrano the Texas Super-Lightweight Title and in the opinion of Clutch City Boxing the fight of the night against the game Lopez. Although Lopez made no excuses, Clutch City Boxing would later find that Lopez did indeed injure his right shoulder sometime in the early rounds. A solid win for Sombrano, who came to fight and never wavered, but credit also goes to Lopez for making the bout a close and entertaining one, using only his left hand for the majority of the bout.
The main event brought together two outstanding prospects in former local amateur standout D’Angelo “King” Keyes (Houston, Texas) and Johnny Arellano (Austin, Texas) in an eight round bout fought at super-lightweight, for the American Boxing Federation (ABF) USA Super-Lightweight Title. Keyes came into the bout with an excellent record of 7 wins and 0 loses while Arellano came into the ring with a record of 8 wins and 1 loss. Arellano, who had a significant height and reach advantage was also making his ring return after being inactive for approximately four years.
The first round saw Arellano immediately begin to establish his jab and straight right hand, sometimes as the aggressor and other times countering Keyes as he came in throwing combinations with both hands. Although Keyes did land combinations on the inside at times and occasionally with an overhand right as he was coming in, Arellano had the better ring generalship and sharper punches landed, especially the one-two. Clutch City Boxing scored the first round for Arellano. The second through fourth rounds were similar to the first with Keyes trying to employ an aggressive, mauling style with limited success, while Arellano stood his ground and landed his straight punches from long range almost at will, and also punishing Keyes with uppercuts and hooks when Keyes was able to close the distance. The only difference between rounds two through four was that Arellano was having more success each round while Keyes had fewer positive moments. Clutch City Boxing scored rounds two through four for Arellano.
By the fifth round Arellano was in complete control of the bout and although Keyes was still trying and giving a remarkable effort, he just didn’t seem to be able to make the proper adjustments to turn the fight around. Rounds six and seven saw Arellano battering Keyes around the ring, while landing almost every punch he threw while Keyes resorted to lunging in while throwing wide hooks, with little success. Clutch City Boxing had every round in the bout scored for Arellano at this point. As the eighth and final round began the ringside doctor signaled to the referee that he wanted to take a look at the cuts and swelling on the face of Keyes and a halt to the action was called so the doctor could do so. After taking a hard look at the injuries on Keyes’ face the doctor advised the referee to stop the bout, despite Keyes asking the doctor to let him continue.
Arellano showed little to no ring rust and put on a dominating performance, which earned him the ABF (USA) Super-Lightweight Title. D’Angelo Keyes took a tough loss but all credit to him for taking on a tough challenge and displaying indomitable spirit.
Commission: Texas Combative Sports Program
Promoter: Goat Boxing Promotions-Antoine Williams
Judges: Ray Zaragoza, Barry Yeats, and Kellie Isaac
Referees: James Green and Danny De Alejandro
ABF Supervisor: Clare Burke
Manuel “Manny” Gonzalez left an undeniable impression on The City of Houston, Texas and it’s boxing fraternity. Manny started his professional career in 1957 and by 1958-59 he was already training with trainer Billy Defoe, in Houston, Texas. Soon, after proving himself to be a hot prospect with plenty of potential he was taking in by the trainer/manager combination of Bill Gore and Lou Viscusi, who had set up their Texas Boxing Enterprises operations in downtown Houston.
Being born into a poor family of laborers, life started out rough for Manny in Charco, Texas. To make things worse he was stricken with tuberculosis as an infant and was sickly and weak as a child. The tuberculosis affected him so much so that he didn’t even start school when he should have, due to his weak condition. This undoubtedly affected his ability to gain and build physical strength in his early years and would eventually play a part in his boxing style later in life.
When Manny was 12 years old his family moved to Odessa, Texas and he was forced to quit school in order to take on a full-time job picking cotton, so that he could contribute to his family’s income. This alone would have been difficult for any child of twelve years old, but it was even more difficult for Manny because he wasn’t even a strong boy due to his early battle with tuberculosis. Quitting school and working full-time wasn’t something he really had a choice in due to his family being very poor, but it also had the added effect of ensuring that Manny’s prospects for employment would be limited in his future adulthood. About the only positive thing that came out of the whole thing was that with the long hours of difficult, physical work, out in the elements, Manny’s health began to improve and he was finally able to begin building his strength, stamina, and endurance.
Soon Manny was able to build his strength and endurance enough to where he was able to begin practicing boxing after his hard days of work as a cotton picker, and he began his amateur career. Although Manny’s health had improved enough to where he was able to begin practicing and learning one of the hardest sports in the world, he was still somewhat behind in the development of his physical strength in comparison to other kids his age. Due to this fact, Manny improvised and made up for his initial deficit in strength by focusing on the finer points of boxing, and developed a smooth, counter-punching style, based upon the most important principle of boxing, to HIT AND NOT GET HIT IN RETURN.
As time went on he was able to build his strength, along with his skill, stamina, and endurance, enough to become one of the best welterweight boxers in the world, but Manny was never known as a heavy puncher. He instead relied upon speed, quickness, footwork, boxing fundamentals and technique to win most of his bouts by decision. Also luck may not have been on Manny’s side in his childhood, but he seemed to have been favored by luck as an adult, when he was able to connect with and become a student of Bill Gore in the late fifties. Gore, by this time, was known as one of the most astute and capable boxing teachers in the world, and had received his boxing education at the famed Stillman’s Gym in New York City. While Gore was still a young man, learning his trade by watching some of the most knowledgeable boxing trainers in the world, he was noticed by then lightweight champion Benny Leonard and taken under Leonard’s wing. Leonard is now known as one of the greatest lightweight boxers to have ever stepped into the ring and used outstanding footwork, technical skill, along with what famed trainer Ray Arcel called “mental energy” to dominate his division in his prime. Leonard would pass these lessons in boxing on to Gore, who in turn taught these same concepts to his students, including his most famous product, Willie Pep. Gore was also one of the best in the world at not only having the knowledge, but being able to articulate the knowledge to his students in a way which they were able to understand and learn. Gore’s approach to being a boxing “trainer/coach and corner man” was as a teacher and mentor, more than the stereotypical coach with a towel draped over his shoulder, barking out boxing “catch-phrases” and teaching worthless, fancy punch-mitt routines, of today. Gore was the boxing teaching and his partner Lou Viscusi was the boxing manager. Together they were a very successful combination.
While operating in the northeast part of the country, mainly New York and Connecticut, the Gore/Viscusi combination had already achieved much success in amateur and professional boxing guiding Melio Bettina, Mike McTigue, and Willie Pep to championships. When the pair came to Houston, Texas in the mid 1950’s they brought opportunity for local boxers that may have not gotten the opportunities otherwise, and continued being very successful. During this era Gore and Viscusi were known to be involved with many of the Houston, and Texas area contenders and champions, along with contenders and champions from around the country including, Roy Harris, Bob Foster, Cleveland Williams, Joe “Old Bones” Brown, Tony Licata, and many others.
The connection with Gore was a fortunate one for Manny not only because of the connections in boxing the Gore/Viscusi pair brought him, but also because Gore’s preferred method of boxing instruction and outlook on boxing was perfectly aligned with the technical/fundamentally sound style and outlook Manny already practiced and believed in. This definitely would play a big part in Manny’s ability to become one of the best welterweight boxers in the world as the still upcoming boxer seemed to have found the perfect teacher/ mentor in the sweet science.
The Benny Leonard, Bill Gore, Willie Pep, influence on Manny became evident from that point on throughout the rest of his career, as he became known and respected for his technical skill, footwork, educated defense, and cerebral approach to boxing.
Also after signing with Viscusi as his manager and taking on Gore as his trainer, Gonzalez made Houston, Texas his home and fought in and around Houston frequently, many times at The Sam Houston Coliseum. From 1960 through 1965 Gonzalez tore through some of the best talent in the welterweight division, beating and becoming the Texas State Champion, as well as beating the Louisiana State Champion and Canadian Champion.
Manny’s prime as a boxer may have been in 1965 when he easily outpointed then welterweight champion of the world Emile Griffith, in a non-title bout staged at The Sam Houston Coliseum. Griffith supporters may have tried to belittle Manny’s win over Griffith by claiming a hometown decision, but it should be noted that other than the judges and referee’s opinion that he won, a poll of boxing writers at ringside, many from Griffith’s hometown of New York, also favored Gonzalez as the winner. When describing Manny’s win over Emile Griffith Ring Magazine contributing writer Chet Warner said this of him: “Gonzalez is a smooth working boxer, who is adept at slipping and ducking, while countering with darting jabs and hooks. He tattooed his jab on Griffith’s jaw for virtually the entire ten rounds”.
Manny Gonzalez was known as one of the best welterweights in the world throughout the 60’s and he didn’t start to slow down until 1970, after he had already been in the professional ranks for thirteen years. Thirteen years in which he fought the best competition in the division, many times on more than one occasion. The list of names he faced in the division reads like a who’s who in boxing at the time including: Dario Hidalgo, Rip Randall, Denny Moyer, James Shelton, Peter Schmidt, Emile Griffith, Marshall Wells, Kenny Lane, Ernie Lopez, Bunny Grant, Jose Napoles, Chucho Garcia, Charley Shipes, Gaspar Ortega, Rocky Randell, Curtis Cokes, Alvin Boudreaux, Nolan Duplessis, Bunny Grant, Billy Backus, and Joe “Old Bones” Brown.
He was able to secure wins over Alvin Boudreaux, Nolan Duplessis, Curtis Cokes, Rocky Randell, Rip Randall, James Shelton (for the Texas State Welterweight Title), Denny Moyer, Peter Schmidt, Gaspar Ortega, Charley Shipes, Dario Hildago, Chucho Garcia, Marshall Wells, Emile Griffith, and Joe “Old Bones” Brown, and many of his losses were hometown decision losses or politically influenced.
Trainer Bill Gore had this to say about Manny’s loss in a return bout held in New York for Griffith’s title: “Manny didn’t lose. He gave the champion a boxing lesson but they don’t appreciate the art of self-defense in this town. If Griffith is a champion, I’m a watchmaker”.
As mentioned before Gore and Viscusi operated out of downtown Houston, having their offices and The Texas Boxing Gym there. While signed with Viscusi and trained by Gore, Manny worked with many boxers who were also associated with Gore and Viscusi, or who came to The Texas Boxing Gym for sparring. While interviewing several of the Houston boxing legends of yesteryear, Manny’s name has come up frequently. Here are some of the statements I’ve gotten in reference to Manny Gonzalez:
Jesse Valdez, Former Olympic Champion and possibly greatest boxer ever to have been born and raised in Houston, Texas: “Other than my trainer Charlie Court, the one who helped me out a lot was Manny Gonzalez. Manny had great movement and footwork and I learned a lot from him and by sparring with him.”
The late Kenny Weldon, a former amateur and professional champion, who became an all-time great boxing coach after his competition years, was quoted by his son Chance as saying: “Manny Gonzalez had the best ring awareness of any fighter I’ve ever saw.”
Melvin Dennis, a former amateur national champion, Texas State Welterweight Champion and world contender: “Manny Gonzalez was a bad dude in every sense of the word. After I won the National Title as an amateur and decided to turn pro, I was brought to The Texas Boxing Enterprises Gym to prepare. Manny Gonzalez was the first person who I sparred there. I was a little hesitant at first because Manny was known as one of the best welterweights in the world at the time, but Manny assured me he would work with me, and he was a man of his word.
While I was still getting accustomed to the additional rounds of sparring along with the advanced, professional level techniques of the pro game, Manny always looked out for me, and never tried to hurt me. Later when I was able to spar on a level in which Manny and I could spar hard, the sparring was always great work, done in a professional way. I learned most of what I know about professional boxing from Manny and considered him one of my best friends at the time.
He was one of the best welterweight boxers in the world for years before he ever got a shot at the world title and in my opinion he should have been world champion. His opponent in his world title bid didn’t really bet him, boxing politics beat him. Manny was a defensive wizard, who was fast and slick as hell. The only thing about him was that he didn’t really punch hard, but it didn’t really matter because he hit you so many times from so many angles, you wouldn’t know where you were or what hit you. The thing I liked the most about Manny though, was that he was a straightforward person. It didn’t matter if you were black, white, or brown, if Manny liked you he liked you, and if he didn’t he told you to your face and wouldn’t talk behind your back. If Manny was your friend he showed that at all times no matter who was around and he never acted different around certain people like a lot of people did in those days. Like I told you before Lou, Manny was a bad dude in every sense of the word.”
According to Melvin Dennis, Manny Gonzalez remained in Houston after his boxing career ended and stayed until approximately twenty years ago when he told Dennis he was moving to care for his aged father, who lived out of town.
Manuel “Manny” Gonzalez died on June 11, 2021 in Greely, Colorado.
Although he wasn’t a Houston native his legacy in Houston, Texas is felt to this day as he is mentioned frequently by some of the most accomplished and respected contenders and champions in Houston boxing history.
I recently was able to interview All India Bronze Medalist and Captain of The Super Boxing Leauge’s Dehli Gladiators, Gagan “Pitbull” Sharma. A humble and friendly young man but at the same time, highly ambitious, this young man is sure to bring excitement when he steps into the ring.
The “Pitbull” has signed a contract with Martinez Boxing International and has come to Houston to advance his professional boxing career under Coach David Martinez. Coach Martinez has been busy building, training, and managing a growing stable of elite, professional boxers and has brought in Sharma with hopes of a World Championship in the near future. Intrigued by the enthusiasm and excitement of Coach Martinez concerning his newest prospect, I decided to learn more about him and conducted an interview with Sharma, prior to a recent workout at Martinez Boxing Gym.
Clutch City Boxing: Sharma, how did you get started in boxing and where did you begin your boxing journey?
Pitbull Sharma: I began my boxing journey at home in Chandigarth, India, being trained by my father and brother. My father was a boxer in his youth but had to stop in order to support his family, and I began boxing because I loved it and I want to keep the family boxing tradition going. My father and my brother have supported me 100% throughout my boxing career and they are the main persons responsible for guiding me through the amateurs and up to this point in professional boxing.
CCB: Sharma, what are some of your accomplishments in boxing thus far?
PS: As an amateur I won a bronze medal in an All India Boxing Tournament and as a professional I am the Team Captain for The Super Boxing League’s, Dehli Gladiators.
CCB: I’m not familiar with The Super Boxing League, can you tell me a little more about that?
PS: The Super Boxing League is a professional, tournament styled boxing league, started by Amir Khan. The league features eight weight classes and the best boxers from India and Asia compete against each other in four round bouts. In my last bout, which was a Super Boxing League bout, I knocked out an opponent from Thailand, in the fourth round.
CCB: What is your boxing philosophy and how would you describe your boxing style?
PS: My approach, philosophy, and style is based on my boxing idol and favorite boxer Mike Tyson, which is seek and destroy, behind a peek-a-boo, defensive guard.
CCB: Sharma, I noticed your first professional bout resulted in the only professional loss on your record, how did that come about and what gave you the determination to continue after starting off with a loss?
PS: I have no excuses I fought a tough opponent, who is still undefeated to this day, and I lost by a split decision on points. From the very beginning of my amateur and especially professional career, I have always wanted to fight the best competition available. I chose to fight an undefeated boxer in my pro debut, rather than build my record fighting mediocre opponents who would offer little resistance, just to build my record. It was a great way to start my professional career, and a learning experience, and I have since made the necessary adjustments to win my last five bouts.
CCB: You seem to have a fearless approach and that’s very commendable, especially in today’s boxing culture. From what you are telling me, it seems like you are ready and willing to fight anyone
PS: Yes sir, I came to Houston, Texas because I wanted the best training possible, so that I can win a world title. It makes no difference to me who I fight, I just want to fight, and I want to fight the best competition available.
CCB: So if Coach Martinez told you today that he lined up a world title bout for you, you would not hesitate to take that bout this early in your career?
PS: Like I said before sir, I came here to win a world championship and fight the best competition available. Nothing would make me happier than to fight for a world title, and I will accept any challenge at any time.
CCB: One last question Sharma, when will we get an opportunity to see you in the ring?
PS: We don’t have any contracts signed for any bouts as of this moment, but we are working on something for late September or early October. I’m ready right now though, I’ve been training hard and sparring the best sparring partners in town. I can’t wait to get back in the ring and show Houston, and the world what Pitbull Sharma is capable of!