Last Thursday night, fledgling boxing promoter Oscar De La Hoya (Golden
Boy Promotions) put on the first card of the year in New York City. The
event, televised on HBO Latino, was held in a stately Greek Revival
building in midtown, Gotham Hall. It was formerly a bank, which
was fitting since fans and media alike were robbed of the chance to see
Venezuelan lightweight Edwin Valero (12-0, 12 KOs), the main reason we
were all there to begin with.
Valero, who has KO’d all of his opponents in
the 1st round, failed a MRI. He will now undergo a battery of
neurological tests to determine whether he is fit to continue boxing—his
pro career may have ended as quickly as it began. Had the New York
State Athletic Commission cleared him to fight, he would’ve faced his
most stern test in Francisco Lorenzo, a safe bet to give the 23-year-old
Everyone from the rapper Fat Joe to the
mustachioed painter LeRoy Neiman had a discontented air about him.
(Though this might have been due to the endless Steely Dan that played
over the speakers before the card officially began.) Yet, as
resolute New Yorkers, folks held out the hope that some kid might seize
the moment and shine.
In place of the cancelled bout, junior lightweights Ivan Valle (19-5-1,
16 KOs) of Los Mochis, Mexico, and Shamir Reyes (14-2-2, 6 KOs) of
Brooklyn, were bumped up to the main event. Reyes is short and
stocky with a baby face. He has smooth muscles, looking like he
could easily trim down to junior featherweight. He entered the
ring first to the sounds of Middle Eastern music and wore a kufi under
the hood of his gown. He also pays tribute to his Puerto Rican
heritage with a tattoo of the flag on his right bicep. Watching
Reyes pray before doing battle in his white shorts, one worried for his
safety. In the opposite corner, the black-clad Valle was
considerably taller and leaner, possessing a welterweight’s frame.
He has a menacing quality, even when he smiles. As the pro-Reyes
crowd booed him, Valle appeared to grow bigger and scarier as he threw
uppercuts at the air that blurred like a propeller. The Golden
Boy-promoted Mexican may have been far from home, but it was clear the
hometown kid was the “opponent” this night.
The southpaw Reyes came out in the 1st round moving laterally in either
direction, as Valle stalked the smaller man and tried to cut off the
ring. When Valle had Reyes cornered, he hesitated to let his
punches go . . . as if waiting for the perfect KO shot that refused to
present itself. When Valle did throw something, usually a lazy jab
followed by a straight right, the Brooklynite would slip under it,
counter with effective overhand rights, and spin out of the way.
Valle would smile and mock his foe to suggest these shots had nothing on
them. I guess he thought scoring points this way round after round
lacked machismo? For this is the form the following 9 rounds took:
Reyes boxing successfully and Valle mocking his effort, but doing little
After he got off, Reyes would often lunge headfirst and then
hold. Valle complained to the ref about the billy-goating from the
2nd round on, but it looked accidental, and no point was taken.
The innocent-looking Reyes used his head, figuratively and literally,
much like Evander Holyfield. Where does one draw the line between
dirty and crafty? I’ll call it craft this time. The
slickster even threw the occasional rabbit punch and a low blow in the
3rd round that was somewhere south of Chile—a point was taken for this
When the fight wasn’t fought in the corners, Reyes worked the perimeter
of the ring with well-timed jabs and just enough lefts, right hooks and
body shots to keep the forward-moving Valle honest. Neither
fighter was ever hurt or in trouble. But Reyes employed a
stick-and-move blueprint borrowed from Cory Spinks’ triumph over Ricardo
Mayorga last December: Something genuine boxing fans admire, but is lost
on the kind of Philistines who watch stock car racing solely for the
The scorecards read 94-94, 96-92, and 97-91 for Reyes. Looks
aren’t everything. Reyes, 22, turned pro at 16 and learned to box
when he was just out of diapers. He’s trained by Victor Machado,
who has worked with world champions such as Wilfred Benitez and Greg
Haugen. Reyes may never become a bona fide champion but he could
develop into a solid contender.
In the co-feature, light heavyweight prospect Aneudi Santos (10-1, 7
KOs) from Freeport, New York suffered the first loss of his professional
career, dropping an eight round majority decision to journeyman Sam
Reese (11-10-4, 4 KOs). Santos has the unusual distinction of
going to college full-time (Hofstra) while being promoted by Lou
Reese, 33, a southpaw out of Newport News, VA, kept a busy jab
throughout the fight, outworking Santos in the judges’ estimation.
The majority of boxing writers in attendance felt that Santos did enough
to win, as he landed the harder blows. In round 3 Reese was nearly
out on his feet as he lay against the ropes, but an over-anxious Santos
was unable to finish him. The 21-year-old needs to develop
physically; he looks closer to a big middleweight than a light
heavyweight. He also needs to buckle down and learn the value of
an educated jab to set-up those power shots he so fancies. A
disappointed Lou DiBella commented after the decision, “[Santos] was
headhunting, no body shots, no combinations!" Scores were
76-76, 75-74, and 77-75 for Reese.
The most entertaining fight of the night was the opener between Guyanan
Rodney Tappin (4-2, 3 KOs) and Allen Conyers (5-0, 3 KOs) of the
Bronx. These local welterweights engaged in a 6-round
slugfest. Conyers was awarded a majority decision, though no one
would have protested a verdict going the other way.
Brooklyn light heavyweight Shaun George (8-0-1, 5 KOs) thoroughly
outclassed Deandre McCole (2-3-1) over six forgettable rounds.
Pasqual Rouse (15-8-3, 9 KOs) of the Yonkers dominated Antonio Oliveros
(3-4-1) who, despite a 1st round knockdown, ended the 4 round fight on