by Pedro Fernandez

The crimson was flowing like the Mississippi last night in the main event at the San Jose Arena when Manuel Medina upset 4-1 odds and took away the IBF 126 lb. crown from Hector Lizarraga by way of a unanimous decision.

Hector was coming off a stoppage of ex-champ Welcome Nicita, and was highly regarded in this corner. But Medina, now 55-10, never let Lizarraga get set. When you combine the frenetic movement of Medina with the fact that he was throwing nearly 100 punches a round, it was clear from the outset that if Lizarraga was to remain champion, the flow of the fight would have to change. It never did.

Things got worse in the third round when Hector began to bleed around both optics. And the cut worsened in the fifth and at times it looked like the fight might be stopped. Looking down at my scorecard entering the seventh frame, Lizarraga had won one round.

Later in the fight Medina would began to gush blood from above his right eye. But at that point, Hector was so far behind that all Medina had to do was last the 12 round route.

With the exception of a few occasions when Lizarraga would land a telling blow, it was all Medina. And when it was all said and done, I had it 118-110, or ten to two in rounds for the Tijuana resident Medina.

Bear in mind, I may have been giving a bit to Lizarraga in saying he won two frames. One judge disagreed with me tabbing Median a 116-112 winner, while the other two and I saw it the same 118-110.

The fight was shown domestically on USSB and internationally on the Cedric Kushner Sports Network. From his home in Sheffield, England, Prince Naseem Hamed had to be amused with the IBF title fight. You see, Ham-head would of knocked both of these guys out on the same night.

And this is the title the cocky little Brit gave up the IBF diadem instead of facing the then #1 rated Lizarraga. Ham-head has already devoured Medina with an inside the distance win a couple of years ago.


Carlos Navarro was considered the best amateur pound for pound going into the 1996 Olympic trials. But in a stunner, Carlos would lose to eventual Olympian Eric Morel. And with the loss, came the end of of his dream for Olympic Gold.

As a professional, Carlos Navarro has not blossomed into the paid pugilist some expected. I called his last fight for the the Cedric Kushner Sports Network in February when he fought Mexican Nicky Bentz. Although he would drop Bentz five times in 12 heats, Navarro was himself dropped with a straight right that was said to have broken his nose.

Last night, Carlos faced Tijuana journeyman Roberto Lopez. In the first couple of rounds, the now 15-8-1, 6 KO's Lopez fought like a tiger against the left handed Navarro. Roberto not only hurt Navarro several times, he put him on his but with a picture perfect right hand fired in one-two fashion after a jab.

If Carlos was a swimmer and not a fighter, last night was a near drowning. Lopez would miss his opportunity and the former amateur star came back and began to batter Lopez, who incredibly came back time and again. In some instances, hurting Navarro.

Lopez's legs were gone and he was taking punches without an answer. He was done and the referee stopped the fight. Navarro is now 15-0, 12 KO's.

Having watched Navarro grow from the Junior Olympics to now, I feel he has been rushed as a professional. Before he had fought 25-1, Bentz in a WBU sanctioned event in February (Fight Fax could not document 13 of Bentz' wins) Carlos had beaten strictly non entities in mainly eight rounders.

I think the error made here was the preconceived notion that Carlos would bust out as a pro, say like a Fernando Vargas. It hasn't happened. Not because Carlos doesn't have great ability, it's just that he's just not on Vargas' level yet. Simply put, Carlos never had the real "gut check" fights he should of had.

I'm not talking about fighting killers or bums. The opposition I'm talking about can take a good wallop and still be there. Lopez was the kind of foe Carlos should of faced four or five times in 10 rounders. He didn't have the experience of fighting tough Mexicans for 10 heats, and now he's paying a toll.

There were times in the fight where it looked like Carlos was not interested in boxing. Lopez would miss with a wild hay maker and Navarro didn't even throw punches at the out of position Lopez who was wide open.

It's as if the former amateur phenom had been hit a pugilistic iceberg of late. Only question is, will he be able to shore up the leaks?


South African Cassius Baloyi had his hands full for 12 rounds with Argentine Sergio Liendo, before winning on scores of 118-110 twice, and 115-113. Liendo pressed the attack throughout and Baloyi responded in kind each time the Argentine got aggressive.

The former South African amateur champ Baloyi was caught with clean shots a number of times. But his ability to box and move, rarely made him take more than one at a time. It was an action packed fight that had the people on there feet more than once in the 36 minutes of battle.


Joe Gagliardi co-promoted the "Arena Assault" with Cedric Kushner. The current President of the California Baseball League and Insurance magnate, has long been the man whose kept Northern California boxing alive.

Last night's crowd was around 6,000 paid. At first it might seem low. But if Gagliardi's J & J Sports had not been restrained by the 6:15 starting time instead of 8:00, he could of brought in 10,000.

Gagliardi was mute on future promotions. But keep in mind. He still does employ a matchmaker full time in Ernie Sanchez. That and the mere fact that the "Godfather" is promoting again is a good sign for boxing in the Silicon Valley region of the nation.

Pedro Fernandez

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

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