There will be a couple of new twists when the annual Yerington "Back Alley Fights" are held Labor Day weekend.
First, the six-bout professional card on Sunday, Sept. 3 has a new promoter. Top Rank Inc., of Las Vegas is now promoting the show, and for the first time ever, the Back Alley main event and some preliminary fights will be shown live on Univision around the world. The action starts at noon.
Action starts at noon in the Casino West parking lot. Univision will open the telecast with the main event and will show some - or all - of the undercard bouts depending on how long the main event goes. This past Sunday, for example, the main event ended in round two and Univision then showed three prelim bouts on its telecast to fill the remaining time.
The Back Alley main event and prelim fights are still "being worked on" as we speak, so to speak.
The original plans were to have Yerington's Jesse Brinkley fight in the main event. That's still possible, although Brinkley came out of his Aug. 13 fight in Reno with some minor problems and may not be ready in time for the Back Alley card.
We'll have all the details and fighters for you next week ... Tickets for the card are on sale at Casino West.
- Some strange stuff took place during some of the weekend fights on TV including the fight between Prince Naseem Hamed (35-0, 31 KOs) and Augie "Kid Vegas" Sanchez (now 26-2, 23 KOs).
As you know, Hamed stopped Sanchez at the 2:34 mark of round four to retain his featherweight (126-pound limit) title in a fight shown live on HBO. But that's not the whole story ... Sanchez came into the ring first and he entered to the music of Elvis singing "Viva Las Vegas" while four Elvis impersonators danced around the ring. Then Augie had to wait as The Prince made another of his elaborate ring entrances to music, fireworks, laser lights and that kind of stuff and while Augie cooled his heels in the ring, The Prince took about five minutes before he did his famous backflip over the ropes and into the ring at the Foxwoods Resort in Mashantucket, Conn.
Once the fight started, things settled down. After a slow, feeling-out type of first round, Sanchez surprised everyone in round two by knocking Hamed down with a straight right to the jaw. It was a clean knockdown as the replays later showed, but referee Mike Ortega ruled it a slip and didn't count it as a knockdown.
Anyway, that changed things as Sanchez didn't get a 10-8 round like he should have and also because it was ruled a slip, the fight immediately continued and Hamed lasted the round.
This is not to say that would have changed things. But if it had been ruled a knockdown, while Hamed was getting the mandatory 8-count, Sanchez might have had time to realize the situation and might have fought differently. That's something we'll never know, though.
Do know the knockdown seemed to wake Hamed up and he dominated round three and knocked Sanchez - a 9-1 underdog - out at the 2:34 mark of round four. Sanchez was down on the canvas a long time while the doctors looked him over and was carried out of the ring on a stretcher and taken to the hospital where he later was released. Reports are Sanchez suffered a concussion, but that isn't final yet, and at age 22, Augie can rebound and still be a top-caliber fighter. Let's hope that's what happens and he suffers no permanent damage from the loss.
As for the Prince, at age 26, he's at the top of his game and is probably the best of the many featherweight champions out there. And I do want to give a tip of my cap to The Prince for being honest and candid in the interview afterwards when he admitted he was knocked down in round two.
"That was a knockdown," Hamed told TV interviewer Larry Merchant. "He shoulda got that one."
Also on the telecast was a fight between Mickey Ward (35-9) and Antonio Diaz (34-2) for the minor IBA junior welterweight (140-limit) title and in a dandy little fight, Diaz won a close 10-round decision to grab the title.
- It was quick and easy in the main event of the ESPN2 live fights Friday from the Lucky Star Casino in Concha, Okla., when veteran Freddie Pendelton (46-25-2) faced Ben Tackie (22-1). Tackie surprised everyone when he knocked Pendelton cold with a perfect right to the jaw at the 2:29 mark of round one. It didn't last long, but it was fun to watch!
This Friday (6 p.m.) the ESPN2 main event has J. C. Candelo (20-3-3, 16 KOs) taking on Michael Lerma (23-3-1, 17 KOs) in what should be a good fight.
- Sunday FOX Sports Net showed the card from the Casino Queen in East St. Louis, Ill. The main event was heavyweights Ross Puritty (26-14-2, 23 KOs), a late sub for Pea Wolfgram, fighting Elicer Castillo (19-1-1, 10 KOs) over 10 rounds.
Puritty, a journeyman whose biggest claim to fame is his 11th round TKO win over Russian boxer Wladimir Kletscho - Kletchos's only loss in 30 fights - in December of 1998. Puritty, an up-and-down type of fighter, was down Sunday night as far as winning was concerned. He fought in spurts and while he tried, Puritty lost by unanimous decision to Castillo, a Cuban refugee who came over with the "Team Freedom" defectors a few years ago.
By the way, Castillo's only loss came against Chris Byrd, who holds one of the minor heavyweight titles. Fox Sunday night fights start at 8 p.m.
- This coming Saturday HBO has Fernando Vargas (19-0, 17 KOs) defending his IBF junior middleweight (154-limit) title against Ross Thompson (22-3-1) in what is nothing more than a tuneup fight for Vargas until he and Felix Trinidad get it on for the undisputed title.
A better fight on the telecast figures to be between Vernon Forrest (31-0) and Raul Frank (24-3-1) for the vacant IBF welterweight (147-limit) title. The telecast starts at 10:30 p.m.
- A live pro fight card at Harrah's Reno Friday night has former three-time world champion Simon Brown (47-12, 34 KOs) fighting Max Heyman (11-2-2, 6 KOs) in the main event. Five fights are set for the card, which begins at 7 p.m. Tickets, starting at $20, are available at the gate.
Alan Rogers is the Nevada Appeal boxing writer.