by Pedro Fernandez

Instead of the NHL San Jose Sharks banging people around the ice, boxers will be doing the fighting tonight at the San Jose Arena. On top, the under appreciated IBF 126 lb. champion Hector Lizarraga defends against two time champ Manuel Medina.

Lizarraga won the IBF vacant tile when he stopped Welcome Nicita after Naseem Hamed refused to meet the longtime #1 IBF contender. While Ham-head claims Hector wasn't worthy of his royal presence, the reality is that Naseem has reason to fear Hector. You see, Lizarraga has lost only once in the 1990's, and that being on a head butt in a fight he was winning with ease.

Lizarraga avenged that blot on his record via KO and has been on a roll since. His 35-8-3, with 20 KO's, record is deceiving to say the least. But again take note, he was 2-6 at one point. Those were the days when Hector, then a field worker in the Fresno area, would take fights at the last minute.

There were times when Lizarraga was taken off a ladder in the fields to the arena to fight. Then he got involved with longtime manager Miguel Jara. At first, Jara was a great guy to be around. But his troubles within the boxing community and his personal problems turned him against a lot of things, one of which was boxing.

Without Jara and the problems that went along with being managed by him, Hector ascended to the the status of #1 contender. One of boxing's best kept secrets, Lizarraga will look to bust up the always ready former two time champ Medina, 54-10, 25 KO's, in a match that will be shown domestically on USSB, that satellite dish company that nobody knows about.

The main support will come from two 12 round matches featuring former amateur stars from differently parts of the globe. Carlos Navarro, will be looking for win #15 as a pro. The Southern Californian was considered the only "cinch" to make the Olympic Team after having been "Pound for Pound" the nation's best amateur for five years. But he got hurt and lost in the Olympic trials.

All the way from South Africa comes 18-0, 8 KO's, Cassius Baloyi. The former national amateur champ from Transvyl, meets Argentine Sergio Liendo in a 12 round WBU scrap.

Baloyi was supposed to fight in February in Indio, CA. But his pre-fight physical indicated Baloyi had tested positive for Hepatitis and was scratched at the last minute from the card. Because of the language barrier between Team Baloyi and the California Athletic Commission, the doctors were unaware that the boxer had just taken the Hepatitis vaccine, and that anybody who had recently taken the shot will come up as a false positive.

The aforementioned Sergio Leindo is 51-11-3, 23 KO's. Former three time world champ Alexis Arquello has seen Liendo perform before. Alexis says Liendo can really fight and that Baloyi is in deep waters.

The San Jose card marks a return to the promotional front for longtime Northern California "Godfather" Joe Gagliardi's J & J Sports. While appearing last Saturday on Ring Talk, Gagliardi explained why there have relatively few Northern California boxing cards.

"There's no real talent out there. We're looking to do things. But to put on good fights, you need quality fighters. Maybe Hector can start something again. I'm willing to go. I just need the fighters" said the president of the California Baseball League.

First bout will be 6:15 PM PT and tickets will be available at the San Jose Arena at fight time seeing the Arena holds almost 20,000. Gagliardi and company are hoping for a turnout of at least 4-5,000.

Those of you that have the USSB dish can see this fight card beginning at 7:00 PM PT on the United States Satellite Broadcasting Network. The international TV will be aired on CKSN (Cedric Kushner Sports Network).

Pedro Fernandez

The writer has his own site at and can be reached at

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