A Legend at Legends

By Wrigley Brogan on March 2, 2019
A Legend at Legends
Lopez flung out combinations and Ximenez relied on single shots. (Photo: Wrigley Brogan)

What Legends needed was a boxing savior, someone who knows boxing and loves the sport. Enter one of the greatest pound-for-pound boxers in history…

Casino personal come and go faster than boxing titles. Legends Casino, in Toppenish, Washington, was once a premier boxing venue in the northwest. Promoter Patrick Ortiz staged some decent shows including Roberto Duran’s last title fight. Announcer Jeff Connor boomed out the fights from the center of the ring. The casino built a lovely venue for entertainment. Then—nothing. What they needed was a boxing savior, people who know boxing and love the sport. Enter one of the greatest pound-for-pound boxers in history, Roy Jones Jr. and his partner Keith Veltre, an entrepreneur recognized as one of the most intelligent and innovative businessmen in Las Vegas. Veltre is more than just one of the most inventive capitalists in Las Vegas, having recently acquired interests in NowRX, CannCo, and Cleveland Whiskey; he also knows his boxing—Roy Jones Jr. Boxing Promotions to be exact. They have formed a beautiful friendship.

Roy Jones Jr. Boxing advised Legends to get off the canvas. There was still time to beat the count. With his encouragement, the casino is determined to finish the bout. The exciting show on February 28th between Ray Ximenez and Louis Alberto Lopez for the WBO International Featherweight title is just the beginning.

The time for the main event at Legends casino had arrived and the sold-out crowd waited to see if the venture would be successful. No need to worry. The undercard was excellently matched by local boxing guru Keith Weir. The fighter’s records were not great, most being new at the game, but the boxing was well above average as John Peak lost to Juan Jackson by UD, Taylor Shirley beat Luis Iniguez by UD, Shae Green lost to Gerardo Esquivel by UD, Roman Avetisyan lost to Alex Cazac by UD, and Nicholas Jefferson beat Antonio Neal by UD in the best undercard fight of the night.

For the main event the music sounded, the spotlight shown, the crowd scratched in their seats as Ray Ximenez (18-1-0 4KO) and Luis Alberto Lopez (16-1-0 8KO) marched slowly like confident Foreign Legionnaires to the ring. Although few people knew either fighter, Ximenez was met with a broadside of boos. Hailing from Texas he made the poor choice of wearing a Dallas Cowboys jersey, not a good idea in Seattle Seahawks country. Neither fighter carried enough fat to fry an egg and muscles coiled in vines from their ankles to their chests. Choosing a winner, often an easy task in today’s boxing world, was not possible. Promoter Roy Jones Jr. and his partner Keith Veltre,do not allow such tactics. They understand that only well-matched and competitive fights will revive the slumping fortunes of boxing. A Native American woman sang the national anthem in the Yakama language and showed her vocal expertise by doing it in several keys, not an easy task for anyone. It added to the tension of the fight. As if the U.S. anthem is not long enough, the Mexican national anthem, written to compete with Shakespearean plays of three hours or more, had everyone snoozing before it’s finish. Fortunately everyone sprang to life at the bell.

Jones sat ringside, a smile sewn onto his face. For the entire event he left himself free to greet every interested patron with a firm handshake, a few kind words, and a pen eager to sign autographs. Former boxing champions Leo Randolph and Joe Hipp were in attendance as backup. Randolph was one of the most reluctant champions in history. Smiling Joe Hipp loves everyone and is always a crowd favorite.

In the first round, Lopez fired from his corner, his arms flailing as if he were drowning. His gloves attempted to make a statement as Ximenez, looking confused, backed away. He soon regained his senses and fired back. Through 8 rounds the pattern was consistent with Lopez flinging out combinations and Ximenez relying on single shots. Body shots were scarce from either fighter. The combination punches made the difference for Lopez.

Ximenez received a nasty accidental head butt and the referee, much to the anger of the crowd, stopped the fight between rounds because of the damage. Lopez bounced with joy from rope to rope like a banked 8 ball thinking he had won the fight. He did, but not as he expected. A fight stopped by an accidental head butt goes to the scorecards. He won by UD.

The crowd was so excited by his win they held him hostage after the fight and beat him unmercifully with praise. He did not seem to mind. Neither did Roy Jones Jr. He is scheduled to promote several more fights this year at the casino. Fans were already asking when.

Special congratulations should go the casino. They understand that boxing is a working person’s sport and have priced their tickets accordingly. Tickets for the show started at $15. How often does that happen?

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