Two titles on line at Caesars Tahoe
David Kamau and Cosme Rivera haven’t owned their North American Boxing Organization crowns for long, but both are confident they’ll have them after Saturday night.
The two recently crowned welterweight champions put their belts on the line at Caesars Tahoe in a championship doubleheader of two 12-round welterweight bouts. Kamau will meet veteran Mexican champ Marco Antonio Lizarraga in the main event, and Rivera will take on Ricky Quiles in the evening’s other main attraction.
Kamau hasn’t seen his opponent fight, but wasn’t very concerned about the challenge to his NABO Welterweight Championship belt.
“I don’t care,” Kamau said. “I’m here to take him out. It belongs to me. Nobody’s going to take it from me.”
Kamau (29-3, 22 knockouts), a native Kenyan who fights out of Los Angeles, won his belt July 24 when he scored a ninth-round TKO over Edgar Ruiz. Kamau played to his strength in the title bout, rallying from a second-round knockdown with accurate punches that opened a gash over Ruiz’s left eye.
“I’ve got all the tools,” Kamau said.
Kamau, who competed for Kenya in the 1998 Olympic Games in Seoul, is a quick, counterpunching boxer. He was taking over the round from Ruiz when the referee stopped the fight, ending Kamau’s two-bout losing streak. He lost in a decision to Danny Perez in February, 20 months after Oscar De La Hoya knocked Kamau out in the second round. His only other defeat was to Julio Cesar Chavez in 1995.
Kamau’s experience may pay off against Lizarraga, who has a similar style: speed, counterpunching and a willingness to exchange. Lizarraga is a veteran with a 49-8-1 record and 27 knockouts, but is 0-5 north of the Mexican border and 0-1 in Nevada. The southpaw – nicknamed “Chino” for his curly hair – is a streaky fighter who won his first 22 fights as a professional before losing to Sulio Sanchez in 1987. He launched another 15-fight unbeaten streak before losing five in a row between 1991 and 1993. He has lost just once in the last 10 games.
The other headline bout of the week pits another fighter nicknamed “Chino,” NABO junior welterweight champ Cosme Rivera (18-4-1 with 15 knockouts) in another title bout. Rivera takes on new challenger Ricky Quiles (28-4-1 with eight knockouts), who replaces original challenger Bolillo Gonzales, who suffered hand and shoulder injuries in training.
“I’m going to get in the ring and do it,” Rivera said through a translator. “I’m in shape and I’m ready.”
The junior welterweight bout will test just how in shape both Quiles and Rivera really are. Both are quick, and like to move around. Quickness, in fact, is Rivera’s biggest weapon, and the quickness of his combinations has brought him the bulk of his knockouts. Quiles, who is coming off two losses, to Ahmed Santos and Goyo Vargas, can surprise opponents with his power, but depends on speed and accuracy. Quiles, a former Golden Gloves champion in his home state of Ohio, once had songwriter Bernie Taupin as his co-handler.
Samuel Lopez and Alfonso Billy Morales kick off the evening of boxing at 7:15 in a four-round bantamweight bout. Lopez, a 25-year-old from Mexico City, brings a 1-0 record into the bout. Morales, a 29-year-old from Los Angeles, has compiled a 2-1-1 record without a knockout.
The highlight of the undercard, though, may come when Jo Wyman takes on Lelani “Lani” Salazar in a four-round junior featherweight bout. Wyman has started her pro career 3-0 after losing the only bout of her amateur career. She is an athletic boxer who lands solid punches, putting pressure on her opponent. Salazar, a native of Tucson, Ariz., is 2-1 with two knockouts. Her only loss came at the hands of Susanne Riccio-Major on June 6.
Also on the undercard is a six-round junior bantamweight matchup of Joey “The Bazooka” Garcia (7-1 record, one knockout) of Modesto, Calif., against Jose Antonio Mulgado (5-4 with four knockouts) of Mexico. A bout featuring Jesse Lee Brinkley of Yerington has been canceled and replaced by a junior welterweight bout between Alvaro Padilla (6-0, three knockouts) and Daniel Reynoso (12-6, 11 knockouts), both from Mexico.
Tickets for Saturday’s championship doubleheader at Caesars Tahoe still are available. Patrons should contact Caesars at (775) 588-3515, call Caesars ticket center at (775) 586-2044, or visit any Ticketmaster outlet. Tickets cost $76 for ringside, or $51 or $26 for seats farther away.
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