New York is not unlike Northern California when it comes to boxing. For big media markets, we don't seem to produce a ton of household names, at least not recently. You can name a few, maybe even ten, if you are a die-hard fan, but for how many boxers or people are involved with boxing in both regions, the number is very small.
When I first started covering boxing events, I covered Don Chargin Productions and Paco Presents Boxing shows. I wouldn't have had it any other day. These were the days when Mike Bazzel was the most famous person I knew because he was on HBO fight cards in the corner, Victor Conte would show up, and I'd be too nervous to talk to him because I grew up seeing him on television, fighters like Alfredo Angulo, Andre Berto, and many others came and watched guys they'd sparred with.
What Don Chargin and Paco Damian taught me were two things. 1) To put the fighters first, it is always about them and the trainers, and 2) don't judge a match-up by the record. You'd look at some of the fight cards from the mid-2010s and scratch your head, possibly as it looked like an undefeated fighter versus a guy with a 50-50 record, yet the duo knew how to find tough opponents who challenge a young prospect. In fact, on a few shows, young fighters would lose.
It was the battlegrounds of Northern California. It was my college education in boxing. Though I never knew Don Chargin deeply, I was able to be around him and witness his genius, as well as get to know Paco Damian, who I hold in high regard in the boxing industry up there with Bruce Trampler and Brad Goodman of Top Rank Inc., Robert Diaz of Golden Boy Promotions, and Ron Katz, all of whom I just sit and listen when they're talking boxing.
When Don Chargin and Paco Presents Boxing didn't have dates, Northern California boxing suffered as not just did they build fighters, but the fights they put on had so much history to them. Local boxing shows didn't get Raiders beat writer Vic Tafur to attend them, but Don Chargin shows did.
For those unaware, Chargin put on some of the best fights the world has ever seen, but none better than putting Bobby Chacon on against Rafael Limon for a fourth time at the Memorial Auditorium in Sacramento, California. Years later, he'd bring Jorge Linares to the Memorial Auditorium, putting him in tough against Hector Velasquez, a fighter with an assuming record.
The genius Chargin was making great fights with whatever hand he was dealt
Chargin's protege, Paco Damian, is promoting a show in Atlantic City, New Jersey, this week, and the card is on Showtime for the beloved series ShoBox: The Next Generation. Though if you were to look at the line-up, it looks more like Showtime Championship Boxing.
Damian has also formed a friendship with the famed promoter, Sampson Lewkowicz, a true legend in the sport of boxing, and the two have been putting together some of the most exciting cards to date in the ShoBox series. One could say they are creating new-age Don Chargin cards on the ShoBox. This card is no exception on Friday, as the main eventer is former Top Rank lightweight Joseph Adorno taking on undefeated Argentinan puncher Hugo Alberto Roldan in a ten-round main event. The two have deep amateur pedigrees, with Roldan being a boxer and Adorno being a puncher. The styles clash will be interesting.
The co-main will see Bernard Angelo Torres against once-beaten Dominican Frency Fortunato in a 10-round featherweight fight. The open might be the best of all, as the always entertaining welterweight Janelson Bocachica (17-0-1, 11 KOs) is taking on one of the biggest punchers you can face at this level, Roman Villa (24-1, 24 KOs) in an eight-round bout. Personally, the Bocachica vs. Villa fight screams must-see television and is something I am making sure I will be in the house to view, as both fighters can punch.
If you look deeper at all the match-ups, each one will be a step-up in competition for at least one or, in most instances, both fighters. These are fights that groom world champions but also set the trajectory of where these fighters' careers are heading. We talk so much about the boring business of boxing that when cards come along and treat boxing as a sport, it is a nice refreshing change for me, at least.
Next month, Damian will be bringing boxing back to Northern California as he has promoted shows at the Cache Creek Casino and Resort for nearly eight years now, but now brings a form of the WBA title bout between Alan Sanchez and Saul Bustos to the region, as the winner will be in the mix for a big fight at welterweight, on October 29th, looks to be the biggest event in Northern California boxing for the remainder of the year.
The card will also feature popular cruiserweight Blake “The Beast” McKernan, still setting his sights on Jake Paul, popular featherweight Kevin Montano, and super bantamweight Ivan Vergara. Honestly, how many regional shows have one of the major sanctioning bodies represented in the form of a title fight? Fairly rare – and beyond that, it is a compelling fight that I actually want to see, and even better, I can drive to.
Damian has gone from someone learning on the job to an international fight broker taking guys overseas to win, as he took Juan Carlos Abreu overseas to defeat heavily touted prospect Tursynbay Kulakhmet. Kulakhmet, who was a heavily touted prospect, has not fought since. In my ten-or-so years of knowing Paco Damian, he gradually got his fights on bigger and bigger stages.
Damian, though wants his long-time friend and mentor, Don Chargin, to get all the credit. If you ever talk to him, he is the first to give Chargin praise for all that he did for him. Damian has always had my respect for the fact he doesn't want to be in front of the cameras. He looks for opportunities for fighters and works behind the scenes. In fact, I thought when Don Chargin left this realm of existence, I honestly thought Paco Damian would stop promoting. I was wrong.
Damian is now back and bigger than ever, putting on one of the most exciting ShoBox cards this Friday and returning to his Northern California roots for a card two days before Halloween, on October 29th.
In a world of so much change, from COVID-19 lockdowns and so forth and so on, seeing Paco Presents Boxing put on shows once again makes me feel at peace. Not bad for a promoter who prides himself on staying off social media and bringing fans to the venue the old fashion way by making good fights and having fight fans wanting to return.