BY EVAN HERTZOG
PHOTO CREDIT: AMANDA ARMSTRONG TRIHEX PHOTOGRAPHY/ THE FIGHT MAGAZINE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
The “Imperium Event Center”, was rocking Friday night in Westminster Colorado as Airtight Boxing put on one of the more competitive cards I can remember from 2017 in Colorado. Each match show cased both fighters involved with many back and forth fights taking place last night. In total, Airtight provided us with a 9-bout card including 1 amateur kickboxing bout, 6 amateur boxing bouts and 2 amazing pro boxing bouts in the co-main and main event.
The Imperium always provides an intense environment with its close quarters and fans seemingly breathing on top of the ring. When it is standing room only it only adds to the great boxing atmosphere. It gets loud in there and loud quickly. I have no better example other than when Chuy Alvarado stepped into the ring on Friday night to take on Sydney Haynes in the final amateur boxing match of the evening. Alvarado was the clear bread winner as far as ticket sales go for airtight’s latest event as what seemed like the entire venue rose to their feet and roared as “El Tanque” himself strolled to the ring. They never sat down either. With each overhand right and sweeping left hook that landed for Alvarado the crowd went into frenzy and although he didn’t score the knock out in front of his rabid fan base, he did put on a great show and won a unanimous decision against a very formidable opponent in Haynes and gave cause for an absolute party atmosphere as he made his way back to the locker room.
Alvarado’s energy carried over into the pro portion of the card as we made our way into the co-main event between Sevelle Hasan(1-1) and Tommy Roque(1-0). This proved to be such and even match as both fighters showed off their boxing skill and counter punching skill. Hasan seemed to have figured out the timing of the left hand to the body that Roque was determined to throw and started to move out the back door and land a stunning right cross repeatedly until he finally caught Roque square on the chin sending the Marine veteran crashing to the canvas in what looked like a devastating KO at first glance but Roque somehow made it to his feet and recovered almost instantly. Hasan allowed Roque back in it in the final minute and a half of the second round when he should have gone for the finish. This would prove to be costly for Hasan as the marine Roque stole the momentum going into the third round and picked up the pace even more so in the third.
Roque made an adjustment between rounds two and three and abandoned the left hand to the body and instead switched up his attack by throwing more right hooks to the body, eliminating the right cross power punch of Hasan that sent him to the canvas in the second round. The third saw multiple phonebooth like exchanges between the two warriors but the body work of Roque seemed to be taking affect as we moved into the last minute and a half of the round. The power of Hasan was clearly not the same now and the constant pressure from the once nearly knocked out Roque, looked to be somewhat shaking the confidence of Hasan. Roque was able to pressure Hasan to the ropes for the majority of the third round but Hasan was still answering with power shots of his own, landing an effective right uppercut. Roque would return fire, landing his best power punches of the fight to the body. Once the damage was done down stairs, Roque let Hasan come forward off the ropes. As Hasan was clearly protecting the body, a big overhand right rocked Hasan and sat him down on the middle ropes which would normally be called a knockdown but after two more strikes landed on Hasan, referee Tim Mills had seen enough and jumped in to stop the fight, giving Roque a KO victory in his pro debut and in epic comeback fashion showing the pure heart of a United States Marine. Congrats to both fighters for putting on the fight of the night in my opinion.
With one of the most highly anticipated fights of the year next up in the main event of the evening between Arturo Melo(4-2) and Mario Sierra(2-1) for the Rocky Mountain State Super Bantamweight title, I wasn’t sure if the energy in the building could be kept at such a high level after two loud, action-packed fights in the Alvarado fight and the co-main event.
It was kept.
From the opening bell the two super bantamweight warriors came to throw down and put on a show. The exchanges were the fastest and most impressive of the entire evening as both Melo and Sierra came out in the first round looking very sharp. Sierra was having success early on the inside but Melo started to control the distance and the pace of the fight early with a new found stiff jab the was keeping Sierra just out of reach with his power hooks that have been so successful early in his career. The jab continued to frustrate Sierra until he forced the action and walked through punches to close the distance, landing two or three good shots on Melo midway through the first round but the maturation of Melo and the willingness to instantly return fire was seeming to pay off for the 19-year-old Colorado Springs fighter. The power punching of Sierra wasn’t having the same effect on Melo as it has had against lesser opponents in the past and that proved to be true as Melo ate a shot from Sierra and sent back a glancing right hand that saw Sierra hit the canvas for the first time in his career. The corner of Sierra and the fighter himself argued that it was a slip and with the angle that I had I can’t really say for certain, so I always side with the third man the ring as he or she always has the best view of the fight.
The knockdown at the end of the first round gave some worry to the Sierra fan base as they hadn’t seen him in that position before in his pro boxing career, but the young man showed nothing but confidence as the second round started, showing his willingness to get back to the inside and exchange power punches with Melo. Melo wasn’t having any of that though and continued to control the fight with his new found snapping jab that once again kept Sierra away until he rushed forward which opened up the power punching of Melo, making Sierra an easier target to hit as he came towards him. The final minute of round two bounced back into phone booth mode as Melo abandoned the jab and decided to exchange with Sierra for the last portion of the round, with both fighters landing significant shots to each of their cheek bones it was becoming a close fight once again after the first-round knockdown for Melo.
The third round started and the Imperium event center was flooded with chants of Mario and rumbles of Melo as the two young boxing talents met again in the center of the ring and exchanged four punch combinations respectfully. Sierra seemed to have a mean streak in him in the third round as he came forward landing some of his best punches in the fight while eating some of Melos best power shots. His aggression would get the best of him in the final minute of round three as he threw caution the wind and unleashed everything he had but that left him exposed upstairs and Arturo Melo would take advantage of that. The beginning of the end started with a stinging jab from Melo that snapped the head of Sierra back and dazed him a bit. As he tried to recover and move forward in the following moments he left himself open for two hooks the face in a row the right hook stumbled Sierra and had him in deep trouble. As he stumbled forward from the right hook landed by Melo, Sierra couldn’t get his hands back up and Melo dropped a hammer of a left hook that sent Sierra crashing to the canvas. All credit to the heart and toughness of Sierra as it didn’t seem as though he would make it back to his feet but he somehow pulled himself up but he was still too dazed and was not able to walk forward to veteran referee Stephen Blea and stumbled into his corner and the ropes, forcing Blea to waive the fight off, ending the night in insanely entertaining fashion.
Charlie Ibarra (head boxing coach hustle hard boxing) rushed into the ring and lifted his fighter and new crowned rocky mountain super bantamweight champion Arturo Melo to the rafters as the Imperium event center went into a fever pitch.
Both fighters showed true class and respect to each other and to each’s fan base after their exciting main event. I’ve been saying it for a month now. These two fighters deserve all the credit in the world for taking the hard fights early and often in their careers. They could have waited three years and padded their records on their way to this inevitable fight but instead these two young gentleman decided to step into the proving grounds early and for that I salute the both of you.
Humble in victory and defeat, Melo and Sierra prove what type of role model’s boxers can be for our youth even when they are youthful still themselves.