Sky City Slugfest
Almager & Ortegon Battle in Close Fight
by chris cozzone
month ago, Mary Ann Almager said her fight with Trina Ortegon was
going to be a war that would most likely go the distance. She said
she’d come prepared to fight.
all knew she would, Trina included. Last year, Almager suffered a
first round TKO to Ann Wolfe, and a 5th round stoppage
to Valerie Mahfood. To remain a force in the women’s
middleweight division, Almager had to win this fight.
But there was Trina Ortegon, who wasn’t going
to just give away one of her two belts. Trina has been hungry for
a shot at Valerie Mahfood, Ann Wolfe or Laila Ali for nearly a
year now . . . Hell, she’s been hungry for a fight for
nearly that long.
Trina hadn’t stepped into the ring since last
June at the State Fairgrounds, when she whacked away at Marsha
Valley for a unanimous win. Since then, she’s had several fights
lined up, and though no fault of her own, they were all
cancelled—or rescheduled, then cancelled—for one reason
Meanwhile . . .
Laila Ali has become the name in her division, if
not in all women’s boxing—despite the better fighters in her
class: Mahfood, Wolfe & Ortegon, to name a few.
Meanwhile . . . Valerie Mahfood has
become the woman to beat, having crushed Ann Wolfe in the
ring last November, and TKO’d Almager last August.
Meanwhile . . . on the night before
Trina’s fight with Almager, in Houston, Valerie Mahfood, despite
the aura of invincibility that has begun to surround her, was
KO’d in Round Two—by a woman Trina has beaten: Kendra Lenhart.
But, wins or losses, these other fighters have
managed to do what Trina has not been able to do: get fights, stay
active and keep their names out there in the public.
Hell, it’s not as if Trina’s been on
vacation for a year. She’s been actively training during this
entire period, sparring with the guys at San Jo and working under
Irene Garcia at A Woman’s Place. Trina might not have fought
since last June, but she was in awesome shape. Mary Ann Almager
wasn’t the only one who was preparing for a 10-round war.
Trina’s fight with Almager was that first step
back, and would, hopefully, get her a fight with Mahfood, Wolfe or
even Ali (should Ali decide to take on a real fighter.) But
first Ortegon had to get by Almager . . .
Here’s what I thought would happen in Ortegon
vs. Almager: Trina would win most rounds by outboxing and
outmoving her opponent. Almager would stay planted with a tight
defense and weather Trina’s storm, occasionally landing her own
shots, maybe even winning a few rounds. It would be a tough fight,
but Ortegon would prevail.
Things don’t always go as expected in boxing.
Almager was tough. Almager fought more like a
guy (that’s a compliment); she stood up to Trina and with her
feet set solid, threw the telling punches. Trina was the effective
aggressor; she also threw more punches, although they weren’t as
accurate as Almager’s shots.
Trina swarmed in during Round One, but Almager
came back in the 2nd with hard, telling punches. These
two rounds set the pace for the entire fight. Rounds 3 & 4
could’ve gone either way.
Round 5 had to be Trina’s. She had Almager in
the corner and was snapping her head back with non-stop uppercuts
before the bell broke the action.
Round 6 & 7 were close enough to go either
way. The bulk of Round 8 was spent going toe-to-toe in the corner.
Mary Ann’s shots were solidly grounded; Trina’s were more
numerous, albeit smothered. Rounds 9 & 10 were also too close
It all depended on how you score fights. Do you
give rounds to the effective aggressor? To the one who throws the
seemingly harder punches? Or to the one who throws more
punches—the busier fighter? If it’s that close, do you give it
to the champion? To the hometowner? It was a helluva fight to
I saw many rounds as close enough to go either way, my scorecard
had Ortegon winning 6 rounds to 4 (96-94). Only one judge saw it
my way: 97-93. The other two saw it for Almager, 96-94 and 97-94.
Most of the crowd must’ve seen it that way, too, for there was
only a smattering of boos.
the fight, Trina said she thought the fight would end in a
split-decision and she wasn’t surprised that Almager had won.
She also said that she hadn’t been hurt at any time during the
I felt I was hurting her in some of the rounds,” Ortegon
said. “Especially with those uppercuts in Round 5. Regardless,
there’s no way I see this fight going down as a deficit. I will
avenge my loss.”
Trina might not have won the fight, but she had the much nicer
outfit. Plus, she’s got cuter legs than Almager.
The new Women’s IBA Middleweight champion,
Mary Ann Almager, was elated after the fight. “I refused to
fight Trina’s fight,” she said. “I fought my fight and I
& Almager will most likely be fighting their rematch on ESPN2.
be either one of ‘em will be matched up against Mahfood, who was
actually there at the fights last night, sportin’ a stylish pink
Mohawk and lookin’ every bit as big and tough as a linebacker.
Before the main event, she had a few words with the ring announcer
but I couldn’t hear what was being said: the crowd was booing
too loud—it was something about wanting to fight Trina and that
she thought Mary Ann would win. I gave up trying to hear what was
being said, and in my crafty, professional manner, yelled, “What
happened last night?” into the ring at her.
must not have heard, for she didn’t answer back.
night also marked the return of Frankie Archuleta. It was his
first fight in more than a year—since his first defeat at the
hands of 3-time champ Kevin Kelley.
fight was an obvious welcome-back, warm-up fight for him. His
opponent, Russell Mosley had been called the night before after
Martin Llamas had cancelled for one reason or another.
Dog” Mosley claims to be a cousin to Sugar Shane Mosley . . .
must be a distant cousin, then, for this Mosley’s fight
record shows him play the role of a punching bag for others.
night was Frankie’s turn to beat a win from Russell Mosley.
his un-ironed, wrinkled trunks and seen-better-times appearance,
Mosley didn’t do too bad in the 2:23 he lasted with Archuleta.
He actually looked like he had skills, and he was able to pop
Frankie a couple times . . . .
then the two tied up in the last minute. The ref called
“Break!” but it was too late. Frankie’s glove was airborn.
It landed smack dab on Russell’s chin, downing him for the
recovering and walking back to his corner, Russell Mosley muttered
to his second, “Goddamn! He hit
. . .!”
“Amazing” Adriano’s Amazing Win
opponent was Mexican veterano Juan “El Chocalate”
Barreto. With a record of 7-22-3, and 4 KO’s, you knew he
probably wasn’t going to knock out Adriano Sanchez. At worst, he
would go the distance and do just enough to lose.
he did. But, actually, I thought he did just enough to win
. . . or, at least, score a draw.
fought intelligently, comin’ in low and scoring body shots and
occasional looping overhand punches that connected. Against the
taller Sanchez, he also led with his head, giving Sanchez the
extra worries of a damaging head butt. Sanchez threw more punches
and played the aggressor, although Barreto blocked most of his
punches with his tighter defense.
judges scored it 58-57; 58-56; and 58-57, all for Adriano Sanchez.
I had it 58-57 for Barreto. The crowd saw it that way, too, for
they booed a good five or six minutes.
Vicious Vern Victorious
was wondering which Marcos Rodriguez would show up to fight Vernon
Payne. Would it be the Marcos who occasionally blows a fight? Or
the Marcos who comes to fight?
the first round, we all knew the “good” Marco was fighting.
he was up against Vernon Payne, and last night, Vern took Marcos
went right to work. Immediately after touching gloves in Round
One, Payne rocked Marcos back with an unsuspecting right. Marcos
spent the round weathering the storm and occasionally letting his
punches go, but not enough to steal the round.
came back in Round Two. Payne spent too much time against the
ropes to win the round. But that was the only round I had
spent the rest of the fight in control. Marcos began to tire but
he showed a lot of heart taking the fight to Payne and pursuing
his faster opponent around the ring. Vernon, though, had the edge
with his speed and skills. When Marcos threw his shots, Vernon was
not there. As the fight wore on, Payne started to smile in between
flurries. It was his fight.
the end of six rounds, all three judges had Vern victorious:
60-55; 60-54 and 60-54.
Aragon Rebounds with Win
Aragon had a similar time with Phoenix fighter Juan Cortes. Cortes,
too, came to fight, but he was no match for Aragon. The fighter
from Ceboyeta was hungrier, and he fought with more intensity than
Cortes fought defensively and tried to pick his shots, Steve
opened up and using his jab to get in, kept his opponent backing
up while he landed the harder shots.
the end of four rounds, it was a no-brainer; I gave Steve all four
rounds. Judges scored it 40-35, 39-37 and 40-36, all for Aragon.
one questionable decision (Sanchez-Barreto) and the usual terrible
lighting, the card last night at Sky City was among Fresquez’s
best productions. If only we can get him to move his operations to
Albuquerque . . .
only disappointment of the night was the cancellation of the fight
between Shawn Gallegos and Tommy Aragon. It’s been the second
time Aragon has pulled out of a fight for health reasons. The
first time was last month when he was going up against Steve
Aragon on the Tapia-Gomez undercard. He’d hurt his hand and had
to cancel out.
also been the second time Shawn Gallegos showed up for a fight
with no opponent. Last November, his opponent pulled a no-show.
Shawn and Frankie Archuleta, though, are sure to be on the next
Fresquez card: it’ll be in their hometown of Las Vegas, NM next
tuned . . . .
Mary Ann Almager
(12-4, 8 KO's) W 10 Trina Ortegon (9-3, 2 KO's)
Frankie Archuleta (19-1-1, 13 KO's) KO 1 Russell Mosley (10-22, 4
Adriano Sanchez (11-2-1, 8 KO's) W 6 Juan Barreto (7-23-3, 1 KO)
Vernon Payne (5-0, 3 KO's) W 6 Marcos Rodriguez (7-4, 6 KO's)
Steve Aragon (3-1, 2 KO's) W 4 Juan Cortes (0-2)