Tuesday, May 21, 2024  |


Boxeo Telemundo Continues in the shadow of Felix Zabala’s death

Fighters Network

Even in a somber time, the show must go on.

The spring season of the “Boxeo Telemundo” series begins tonight as junior lightweight prospects George Acosta and Gadwin Rosa square off in a 10-round bout at the Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Florida (Telemundo, 12 a.m. ET/ 9 p.m. PT).

At Thursday’s weigh-in, Acosta weighed in at 129 pounds. Rosa weighed 130 pounds.

Later Thursday, All Star Boxing announced the passing of promoter Felix “Tuto” Zabala. He was 84.

Zabala was born on October 18, 1937, in Pinar del Rio, Cuba. After playing collegiate basketball at the University of Havana, Zabala left Cuba for Jamaica, when Fidel Castro came into power on the island nation in 1959. After migrating to Puerto Rico, where he would manage fighters and promote club shows, Zabala finally settled in the Miami area in 1980.

The boxing scene flourished in South Florida during the 1980s, where Zabala promoted cards regularly. He was also involved in significant fight cards that took place in that time period, including the world featherweight title fight between Daniel Zaragoza and Miguel “Happy” Lora in August 1985.

Zabala also guided the career of Wilfredo Vazquez during the 1990s, where Vazquez won world title belts in three different weight classes.

Sadly, Zabala had to step down from the day-to-day operations of the company after suffering a debilitating stroke in January 2001. His son, Felix Zabala, Jr., quit a lucrative job with the National Football League (NFL) to run All Star Boxing. Grandson Felix Zabala III also works for the company.

Over the next 20 years, Zabala followed the sport, watching as many telecasts as possible, including “Boxeo Telemundo,” which has aired fight cards on the Spanish-language network for over 30 years.

In 2009, Zabala was inducted into the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame. He is survived by Felix Zabala, Jr., daughters Betty and Susana, and nine grandchildren, including Felix Zabala III.

A resident of the Los Angeles suburb of Whittier and trained and managed by Danny Zamora, Acosta (11-1, 1 knockout) defeated journeyman Edgar Ramirez by unanimous decision in his last bout on April 18. The 24-year-old has won his last four bouts since suffering his only defeat at the hands of lightweight prospect Ruben Torres.

Originally from Puerto Rico and now resides in nearby Ocala, Rosa (11-1, 9 KOs) has not fought since October 2019, stopping Danny Flores in Round 2. The fight came almost six months after losing by unanimous decision to Sulaiman Segawa.

In the co-feature bout, hard-hitting junior middleweight prospect Elvin Gambarov will square off against Mexico City’s Diego Cruz in a 10-round bout.

Originally from Azerbaijan and now residing in Miami, Gambarov (14-0, 13 KOs) has split his time between Colombia and the United States, fighting seven times in a span of three months, with his last fight coming on February 13.

Cruz (21-9-2, 17 KOs) has lost six of his last nine bouts.

Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing.