The CBZ Newswire

‘King’ David Estrada Overcomes Rust, Halts Gray in Chicago

by on Aug.22, 2009, under Boxing News, CBZ Columnists, Juan Ayllon

Report and photos by Juan C. Ayllon at ringside
Estrada (right) bounces a glancing right off the head of Gray as referee John O'Brien looks on.

Estrada (right) bounces a glancing right off the head of Gray as referee John O'Brien looks on.

CHICAGO, Ill., August 21, 2009 – Tonight at the UIC Pavilion, welterweight contender “King” David Estrada (152 lbs., 22-6, 13 KO’s) looked every bit the fighter who hadn’t fought in eight months. 

His timing was off, and capitalizing on that fault was Vero Beach, Florida’s Christopher Gray (12-9, 1 KO), who squirmed, dodged and ran for several rounds before taking an ill-fated stand.

Being a brawler style fighter and not a true knockout artist, Estrada’s strength comes from his toughness and from bruising punches in bunches.  But tonight, even as he rallied behind stinging blows to head and body, many were blocked, rolled with (to soften the impact), or simply caught air.  Yet, as the rounds progressed, his punches thudded – and did damage – with increasing regularity, helping him get a stoppage win against an elusive foe.   

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The aggressor throughout, Estrada pressed the action, but found Gray – who was a touch faster and ran, ducked and held a lot – difficult to hit flush.   

“He’s looking to counter you,” shouted Estrada’s trainer, “Fearless” Fernando Hernandez, in the second.  That, and hold.  Estrada often caught shoulders arms and air as he teed-off with looping lefts and overhand rights.  After jolting his prey, follow-up blows often missed their mark or were smothered with frequent clinches.

“Hey, you, quit your holding!” referee John O’Brien chastised Gray.  The crowd, some 1,500 strong, had been raucous earlier in the evening, but was now fidgety and silent as rusty gladiator stalked reluctant foe.  “Boring!” someone shouted.  

Estrada drew cheers when he buckled Gray’s knees in the third with a sharp left hook to the jaw, but, as with the rest of the round, Gray proved too slippery to nail down. 

Gray (right) bounces a right off the top of Estrada's head.

Gray (right) bounces a right off the top of Estrada's head.

A collective “OHHH” rose from the crowd when Gray threw a wild looping left that Estrada ducked, and passionate cries of joy erupted when hometown hero Estrada rocked him with several rights in a more competitive fourth round.  Shouts of encouragement and cheers marked the fifth, as Estrada stepped up his aggression, battering the body and – occasionally – the head.  And, at times, Gray stood his ground, firing back quick rights and lefts.  To the crowd’s delight, they had a fight on their hands.

Then in the sixth, Gray wilted.  More precisely, he slipped to the ground twice as Estrada savaged his sides with thumping lefts and rights.  The second time, he stayed down.  Referee John O’Brien waved it off at 1:42 into the sixth round.  The official cause of the stoppage, ring announcer Thomas Treiber proclaimed, was “a twisted knee.”   Illinois Boxing Supervisor Joel Campuzano later confirmed that this indeed was the correct ruling.  Estrada had won by technical knockout.

David Estrada (center) with trainer, "Fearless" Fernando Hernandez (right) and others.

David Estrada (center) with trainer, "Fearless" Fernando Hernandez (right) and others.

Asked if he felt the twisted knee was legitimate, referee O’Brien said, “I don’t know, but it looked a bit wobbly.”

Afterwards, a smiling Estrada conceded over the house system, “It’s been eight months (since my last fight).  I was very rusty, but I’m happy that I got the win.” 

A dejected Chris Gray has his gloves removed by a cornerman.

A dejected Chris Gray has his gloves removed by a cornerman.

En route to the locker room, he visited and took photos with doting fans.  One grizzled man shouted, “Hey, I told you I would show up!”  Turning to this writer, Estrada said, “Yeah, I’ve got a lot of rust to get out still.  But, I’m happy with the win and we’ve got to get back in the gym and sharpen up.” When asked if he’s planning on fighting next month, he said, “Hopefully, get that rust out, you know what I’m saying?”  

David Estrada poses for a cell phone camera picture with a delighted fan.

David Estrada poses for a cell phone camera picture with a delighted fan.

Like a sports car that’s wintered in a garage and needs to be put through its paces to blow out the carbon and get it primed for racing, Estrada needs activity if he’s to regain the form that won him a stoppage win over Chris Smith in an eliminator in 2005 and garnered him subsequent fights against the likes of championship fighters like Kermit Cintron, Shane Mosley, and Andre Berto.  Yet, with losses to the latter three (two by stoppage), a stoppage loss to Jesus Soto Karass in July 2008 and a controversial decision loss to Luis Carlos Abregu in December, one has to wonder how many more laps around the track he has left.    Time will tell.

The Undercard

Referee Celestino Ruiz -- as the rest of us -- looks on with surprise as Latoria quickly flattens Bradley

Referee Celestino Ruiz -- as the rest of us -- looks on with surprise as Latoria quickly flattens Bradley

Chicago’s David “Diesel” Latoria (220 lbs., 1-0, 1 KO) blew out overweight and outmatched Ricardo Rey Bradley (215 lbs., 0-1) with the fourth and fifth punches he threw, a searing right followed by a left hook to the head.  Referee Celestino counted Bradley out at 17 seconds into the first round. 

Referee Celestino Ruiz raises the hand of David Latoria, who at the request of his friend, Don George, smiles for my camera.

Referee Celestino Ruiz raises the hand of David Latoria, who at the request of his friend, Don George, smiles for my camera.

“That’s an easy day at the office,” said Don “Da Bomb” George, laughing and looking in at his friend from the other side of the ropes.  “Smile for the camera, why don’t you?” he says.  Latoria obliges.  An undefeated super middleweight contender with a record of 17-0-1 and 15 knockouts, George says he’s fighting for the NABO title in October.  No doubt, Latoria hopes to do the same down the line.  

Avila (right) savages Cogshell along the ropes.

Avila (right) savages Cogshell along the ropes.

If his opponent’s failure to look him into the eye during introductions gave Pine Bluff, Arkansas’ Lamont Cogshell (133 lbs., 0-1) a sense of security, that impression was upended moments after the bell rang.  Antonio Avila – a short mesomorph who looks and fights like welterweight slugger Luciano Perez’s “Mini Me” – raged after him, ripping thudding blows to both sides.  At one point, referee John O’Brien halted the bout for a minute, warning Avila to “keep the punches up” and giving Cogshell time to recover from an apparent low blow.  However, the reprieve was only temporary.

Avila stands over his fallen opponent.

Avila stands over his fallen opponent.

Avila dropped him with an accumulation of body blows in the first and, in the second, leveled him for good with a right hook to the ribcage.  Referee John O’Brien waved it off at 42 seconds into the second round.

Tony Maldonado corners and batters Reynolds.

Tony Maldonado corners and batters Reynolds.

Chicago’s fighting high school teacher, Antonio “El Maestro” Maldonado (147 lbs., 1-0, 1 KO) – who teaches at De La Salle High School – battered hapless Pine Bluff, Arkansas’ Timothy Reynolds (146 lbs., 0-1) and finished him inside two rounds.

Reynolds swarmed him in the opening moments, backing him up with a flourish.  However, it was for naught, as Maldonado quickly established dominance, repeatedly hurting him with lefts and rights later in the round.

A large contingency of Maldonado’s fans in the stands shouted, “Drop that bum!  Drop that bum!” The battery continued in the second.  Maldonado dropped him with what appeared to be a right punctuating a swarm of blows.  Rising, Reynolds struggled to avoid the inevitable.  However, his meager resources quickly failed him.  Rocked and battered at every turn, he turned away from the onslaught.  Referee Celestino Ruiz waved it off at 1:26 into the second, just as one of Reynold’s cornermen stepped onto the ring’s apron and waived a towel in surrender.

Referee Celestino Ruiz stops the battery as Reynolds cringes from the onslaught.

Referee Celestino Ruiz stops the battery as Reynolds cringes from the onslaught.

Thanking his fans, Maldonado said afterwards, “I think I should have ended it a little quicker, but eventually I accomplished what I came to do, and that was to win.” 

Nkodo (right) bounces a right off the head of a buzzed Florentino from the side.

Nkodo (right) bounces a right off the head of a buzzed Florentino from the side.

Chicago’s Foster Nkodo (156 lbs., 3-0, 1 KO) battered and dominated Indianapolis, Indiana’s Jose Roberto Florentino (4-5, 3 KO’s) en route to a six round decision win.

Nkodo nearly dropped Florentino in the first with a left hook to the jaw, with the ropes preventing a knockdown.  However, Florentino survived not only the round, but the rest of the fight with guile, movement and occasional sharp counters.  Nkodo repeatedly hurt him, and appeared to have him on the cusp of a knockout on a handful of occasions. 

Nkodo rocks Florentino again.

Nkodo rocks Florentino again.

Judges Steve Corbo and Matt Podgorski scored it 60-54, and Bulmaro Campuzano scored it 59-55 for the winner by unanimous decision, Foster Nkodo. 

Carrillo (right) punishes Hampton with a left as Referee Celestino Ruiz watches closely.

Carrillo (right) punishes Hampton with a left as Referee Celestino Ruiz watches closely.

A hurt Hampton falls back into the corner.

A hurt Hampton falls back into the corner.

In a tepid and testy affair, Chicago’s Ramiro Carrillo (142 lbs., 1-0, 1 KO) was catching some blows but battering and dominating when, in the third round, he found himself on his haunches, courtesy of his opponent, St. Louis, Missouri’s Jamar Cortez Hampton (140 lbs., 1-1, 1 KO).  He rose, held, and retreated until his head cleared, even jarring Hampton towards rounds end.  Carrillo had a habit of dropping his hands, and Hampton was only too happy to take advantage.  The two took turns rattling each other in the fourth, with Carrillo administering the more damage.  

It wasn't an entirely one-sided affair, nose bloodied, Carrillo had to rise from the canvas and take some punishment en route to his win.

It wasn't an entirely one-sided affair, nose bloodied, Carrillo had to rise from the canvas and take some punishment en route to his win.

Judges Podgorski and Bulmaro Campuzano both scored it 38-37 and Ted Gimza scored it 38-36 for Ramiro Carrillo, who won by unanimous decision.

PROMOTER:  8 Count Productions.

Don -- or Donovan -- George (left) with a friend of his mug for the camera in the stands prior to Latoria's fight.

Don -- or Donovan -- George (left) with a friend of his mug for the camera in the stands prior to Latoria's fight.

Chicago heavyweight knockout artist Carl Davis (right), who's served as an educator in Evanston, Illinois (and may return to the field after his boxing career ends) and looks forward to another fight, courtesy of Don King, poses with a friend near ringside.

Chicago heavyweight knockout artist Carl Davis (right), who's served as an educator in Evanston, Illinois (and may return to the field after his boxing career ends) and looks forward to another fight, courtesy of Don King, poses with a friend near ringside.

PROMOTER:  8 Count Productions.
Note:  A special thanks to Matt Podgorski, John O’Brien, Celestino Ruiz, Joel Campuzano, Pete Podgorski, Gerald Scott, Geno Rodriguez, Dave Morrow and other members of the Illinois Boxing Commission, whose input and friendship are invaluable to me!
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