No French Pastry
Holm wars with the ‘Toro de France’, outboxes but not outslugs for decision win
report & photos by Chris Cozzone
Holly Holm might’ve outboxed Myriam Lamare last night at the Isleta Resort & Casino, south of Albuquerque, N.M., but she certainly did not outslug what many consider her toughest opponent to date.
In her most exciting performance yet, Holm abandoned her customary role as matador to lock horns with the ‘Toro de France,’ throwing down to rev up the sold-out showroom.
The card, promoted by Fresquez Productions, kicked off the 2009 year for N.M., setting a high standard with a dramatic undercard and main event. It was Holm’s first local show in six months when she handed Mary Jo Sanders her for first pro loss.
Unlike Sanders, who was soundly outboxed that night, Lamare was—as promoter Fresquez put it—“no French pastry.”
That it was going to be a long, difficult night for Holm was apparent early on.
Though Holm picked up the first round, staying busier than her foe, who was able to catch her coming in with a loopy left hook and straight right. With superior footwork, Holm solidified the first with two straight right hands.
Momentum tilted Lamare’s way in the second. Unlike former foes, who followed Holm around the ring like lost puppies, Lamare cut the ring off, pressuring Holm and forcing the hometown favorite to duke it out in spots. Big right hands started to land for the four-to-one underdog, who was showing the crowd that she was tougher than the online sportsbooks had calculated.
Having won the second, Lamare could not repeat her success through the middle rounds—or Holm, backed by trainer Mike Winkeljohn, made all the right adjustments, at least through round six.
Holm introduced her jab in the third, but pocketed it for most of the fight. While Lamare concentrated her attacks loading up on single shots—those haymaker lefts, usually—precise straight rights from the hometown southpaw won the third. In the fourth, it was Holm’s ability to unleash blazing combinations in the pocket. While eating a couple rights in the fifth, Holm began to turn what began as a war into the usual boxing clinic. Waiting to long to unload, Lamare did, however, time her counter left hook swing.
Holm showed she could learn French—and quick. At least, until the seventh round.
In what was the best round yet—and a precursor for the remainder of the fight—Lamare landed the biggest shots yet seen—all right hands. Holm took the shots, then fired back, momentarily driving her foe back and revving up the crowd.
Holm might’ve edged the seventh—but Lamare took over in the last three rounds. With women’s boxing legend Lucia Rijker cornering her, Lamare came back, forcing Holm to slug it out, bell-to-bell.
A big right stunned Holm midway through the eighth, but the champ blinked away the cobwebs and fired right back at Lamare. Then, right before the bell, Lamare clobbered Holm with a big left hook, sealing the round.
In the ninth, Lamare continued to step on the pressure, winning her most decisive round yet. Holm took more shots in that round than she usually does in an entire fight—but she kept on fighting back, perhaps, landing more, but, without question, hurting less.
With no apparent answer to avoiding those monstrous left hooks and big rights Lamare kept on unleashing, Holm battled back, losing another round.
The big rights from Lamare only got bigger in the tenth and final round. Unwilling—or unable—to fight on the run, Holm gave the crowd what they wanted—a slugging match—but lost her third straight round.
Fortunately for Holm, her points lead in the first six rounds saved her from a draw or loss, though the judges varied from credible to silly. One judge had it 98-92, giving Lamare but two rounds. Another saw Lamare winning three, scoring it 97-92, while the third had it six rounds to four, 96-94.
NewMexicoBoxing.com had it 96-94 for Holm, with at least one of those Holm rounds close enough to go either way. Lamare was decisive in the last three rounds, edging the third, with the seventh, Holm’s by a shade.
“She hit me with a few ringers,” admitted Holm, now 23-1-3, 6 KOs, in what was a defense of her WIBA welter belt. “None of them had me going out. I didn’t see any stars, but they were pretty hard shots.
“It was definitely one of my toughest fights, but I felt I won. It was a chess match and there are a ton of things I could improve on, but I feel good about the fight.”
Both Lamare and trainer Rijker were gracious losers, but felt they did enough to win the fight.
“Boxing is about landing the hard punches,” said Lamare, falling to 16-3, 9 KOs. “I think I did that tonight.
“She’s a very good fighter, but I’d love to fighter her in another place, under better conditions.”
Lamare spent the last three weeks under the watchful eye of Rijker, who was satisfied with her fighter’s performance.
“We knew we had to knock her out to win in her hometown,” said Rijker. “But she did phenomenal for just three weeks of training with me. She was able to pressure and execute, and she landed the more powerful shots.”
Both Rijker and Lamare invited Holm to rematch in Marseilles, France.
“Show us the money,” Fresquez responded, while Holm said she was open to the idea.
What’s up next for Holm?
“There are still good fights out there,” said Holm. “I’m not going to say there’s no one to fight. There are a lot of Europeans, and new champions keep coming up.
“But it’s too bad Lucia isn’t fighting anymore.”
Rijker confirmed her retirement, saying, “I make more money doing things I love without hurting my body.”
Fresquez, however, remains somewhat hopeful.
“We’d like to get Lucia out of retirement,” he said. “It would be the superfight of woman’s boxing.”
‘Ironman’Gomez softens up soft Cruz
In the eight-round co-main, jr. middleweight Joe “Ironman” Gomez, of Bloomfield, N.M., took out perennial opponent Jose Luis Cruz, of Mexico/San Diego, with a body shot at 2:35 of round four.
It was Gomez’s first fight in six months—and it was Cruz’s tenth loss in 11 showings.
The first two rounds was an easy-breezy sparring session for Gomez, who took his time, jabbing, moving around and lining up occasional power shots on Cruz, who did little more than sneak in a crafy counter now and then.
The wily ol’ veteran, who gave former local favorite Vernon Payne all he could handle in 2002, came alive in the third, not only winning the round with his sneaky spurts, but neutralized all of Gomez’s offense. Big lefts crashed into Gomez, whose left eyebrow was cut.
After a rough first couple minutes of the fourth, though, Gomez let loose with a perfect left hook to Cruz’s bread basket, sinking the thousand-year-old veteran to the canvas for the count.
Referee Rocky Burke counted to ten, then waved off the fight at 2:35.
Gomez, now 16-1-1, 8 KOs, said afterward that he injured his right hand at the end of the first round. Now a free agent, Gomez says he may be looking at a showdown against Elco Garcia, of Durango, sometime in March, at Sky Ute Casino in Ignacio, Colo.
Cruz continues to plummet, his record now 12-15, 4 KOs.
‘Pitbull’ shows bite
In a four-round welterweight bout, Albuquerque’s Josh “Pitbull” Torres (3-1, 2 KOs) showed the goods by giving Cornelius “Hard Times” Shuler (1-3) the equivalent of the El Pasoan’s nickname.
Though the smaller opponent, Torres took the fight to Shuler from the start, using smart pressure to work his way into the pocket. Though Shuler was able to land something on Torres coming in, the ‘Pitbull’ had his foe fighting defensively, pressuring him and while landing crisp combinations thrown in a composed manner.
The left hook was Torres’ bread-and-butter in the second, but in the third, Shuler had a better round when he stood his ground to duke it out with his man. Though not enough to win the round, Shuler was on the short end of the punches.
In the fourth, Torres, with improved defense and stamina than he’s shown in his first two bouts here, revved it up and, pinning Shuler on the ropes, let loose with enough lefts and rights for Referee Burke to step the one-sided affair at 1:11.
Sanchez outslugs Rodriguez in free-for-all
In a crowd-pleasing four-round jr. middleweight brawl between Duke City scrappers and former sparring partners, Carlos “El Gallo” Sanchez (2-0) won unanimously over debuting Mike Rodriguez (0-1).
For the first minute of the fight, it was all Rodriguez, giving up that long reach of his to outslug Sanchez in a phone booth battle. By the middle of the round, Sanchez, however, found his rhythm and he took the fight back, finding a home for his right hand.
Though the first was a toss-up, the rest of the battle went Sanchez’s way, though Rodriguez proved an equal crowd-pleaser showing guts and game.
Both went to the body in the second, but Sanchez’s workrate outdid Rodriguez, who began to tire by the third. A big right momentarily stunned Sanchez in the second, ‘El Gallo’ was relentless in his pressure.
In the third and fourth, Sanchez did not let up while Rodriguez, cut over his left eye, started to wilt. Nonstop punching from Sanchez sealed him the rounds, and the fight.
The judges ranged from 40-36 twice to 39-37. NMB/FN had it 40-36, Sanchez.
‘Hollywood’ goes to town on Arrellin
The most anticipated fight of the night—between locals—was a four-round super bantamweight showdown between debuters Raymond “Hollywood” Montes and Randy “Savage” Arrellin.
It was also the surprise of the night.
Montes, 22, was staging a return to the ring after four years, going pro after a solid amateur career while Arrellin, 18, was hanging up the headgear having fought almost all of his 80 amateur bouts in the time Montes had been M.I.A.
Most expected a close fight, with Arrellin pressuring a showboating, fancy-dancing Montes through four rounds—no one expected the quick ending, least of all, Montes.
Montes wasted no time, but jumped all over Arrellin from the opening bell. A stunning left hook Arrellin momentarily stunned Montes, nearly twisting his head off, but instead of discouraging ‘Hollywood,’ the punch unleashed a savagery no one expected.
Montes banged it out—and Arrellin never had a chance, from that moment on. All over his opponent, Montes pummeled Arrellin pillar to post, hurting him midway through the round.
Unable to recover, Arrellin let himself get pinned against the ropes at the two-minute mark where Montes so dominated him that Ref Burke had to step in and stop the fight at 2:09.
“They said I was gonna dance but I got him by banging,” said a grinning Montes. “I saw the opportunity and I couldn’t pass it up.
“I give him his props, but I told you I was gonna win. I was rusty as hell, but this is my ring. I’m heading down to 115 next.”
10 rds for the WIBA welterweight title: Holly Holm (23-1-3, 6 KOs), 145.5, of Albuquerque [UD-10] Myriam Lamare (16-3, 9 KOs), 144.5, of Marseille, France; 8 rds JrMW: Joe Gomez (16-1-1, 8 KOs), 155.75, of Bloomfield [TKO-4 (2:35)] Jose Luis Cruz (12-15, 4 KOs), 158.5, of Mexico/San Diego; 4 rds WW: Josh “Pittbull” Torres (3-1, 2 KOs), 146.5, of Albuquerque [TKO-4 (1:11)] Cornelius “Hard Times” Shuler (1-3), 146, of El Paso; 4 rds JrMW: Carlos Sanchez (2-0), 153.5, of Albuquerque [UD-4] Mike Rodriguez (0-1), 152, of Albuquerque; 4 rds SBW: Raymond “Hollywood” Montes (1-0, 1 KO), 119.25, of Albuquerque [TKO-1 (2:09)] Randy Arrellin (0-1), 122.5, of Albuquerque.
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