Thursday, June 08, 2023  |


Tijuana: Violence in the ring, too

Fighters Network

Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. (left) showed up to support his son, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., at a news conference in Tijuana to promote the latter's fight against Luciano Leonel Cuello on Saturday. Photo / Chris Farina-Top Rank

The boxing card Saturday in Tijuana, Mexico has generated more attention because of the drug-related violence along the U.S.-Mexico border than the featured bouts.

And it didn’t help when an injured Jose Luis Castillo pulled out of what would’ve been an entertaining fight against Antonio Diaz, although Diaz’s new opponent – Mexican prospect Javier Castro — also is a slugger.

Still, the pay-per-view card features three big-name fighters, one a legend’s son, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., and two proven commodities in Fernando Montiel and Humberto Soto.

Chavez Jr., fighting Luciano Leonel Cuello in the main event at a seaside bullring, says he’s tired of being perceived as more of a name than a fighter. He wants to face better competition to prove what he’s made of.

Chavez (38-0-1, 29 knockouts) mentioned Oscar De La Hoya, who twice beat his famous father, as his dream opponent but would settle for another big name. Vernon Forrest and John Duddy are among others on his wish list.

He must get past the unbeaten Cuello (23-0, 10 KOs) in their 10-round junior middleweight fight first, though.

The 24-year-old Argentine fought outside his native country for the first time in his last fight, outpointing someone with a 2-11-2 record in Spain in October. So his ability – or possibly lack thereof — remains a mystery.

All Chavez, 23, knows is that he must win.

“This fight will be key to my career as I must demonstrate to everyone that I’m ready for bigger challenges ahead,” he said.

Montiel (38-2-1, 28 KOs) fights Diego Oscar Silva (24-1-3, 12 KOs), another relative unknown Argentine who has fought solely in South America, in a 12-round bantamweight bout.

The former WBO super flyweight champion from Los Mochis, Mexico, who has moved up a weight class, has won six consecutive fights since losing a split decision to Jhonny Gonzalez for the WBO bantamweight title in 2006.

Montiel and his handlers believe he’s at the top of his game and want to face the biggest names in the near future. His promoter, Bob Arum, mentioned Eric Morel, Nonito Donaire and Vic Darchinyan as possibilities.

Darchinyan has beaten two prominent Mexican fighters in his last two fights, Cristian Mijares and Jorge Arce, so he’s particularly attractive for Montiel.

“We want a Mexican to beat him. And we think that Mexican is Fernando,” said his manager, Fernando Beltran.

Montiel seems to be pleased just to be a part of the Tijuana card.

“This is a great opportunity for all of us,” he said. “All these fights could very well be their own main event in another card.”

Silva seems to be confident.

“I have a lot of respect for Montiel,” he said, “but I know that I have the skills to defeat him. This is the kind of fight I always dreamed about.”

Soto (46-7-2, 29 KOs) rebounded from two losses in his previous four fights – one a controversial DQ against Francisco Lorenzo — by easily outpointing Lorenzo in a December rematch to win the vacant WBC junior lightweight title and establish himself as a top 130-pounder.

He has his eye on rising stars Jorge Linares and Robert Guerrero, but Davis (26-4, 13 KOs) is no pushover. The Atlanta fighter is skillful and tough. He lost decisions in two tries at world titles, against Guzman in 2006 and Steven Luevano the following year.

Diaz (45-5-1, 29 KOs) is continuing a comeback after a three-year hiatus in 2005-2008. He’s 3-0 and has looked good in his return

The 32-year-old from Coachella, Calif., was hoping to make a splash with a victory over Castillo but will have to settle for the relatively unknown Castro (19-1, 17 KOs) in a 10-round welterweight bout. Castro, 25, has an impressive knockout ratio but hasn’t been tested.

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]