By Richard E. Baker on January 31, 2020

Jade Bornea took the split decision and the NABF super flyweight belt. (Richard E. Baker)

The headliner at the Legends Casino on January 30th featured two unbeaten, hard-hitting, super flyweights: Jade Bornea (14-0) and Ernesto Delgadillo (11-0-2). Bornea, from the Philippines, has been inspired by Manny Pacquiao. Pacquiao has brought new life to the islands. Hundreds of young men have risen from the villages and towns to enter the ring looking for an easier life and fast cash. Several are up to the task, including Bornea. Half of his wins have come against opponents with winning records which shows he is not a paper tiger.


Delgadillo has also fought mostly winning opponents, the bouts staged in Texas where tough boxers abound. This bout promised to be all action. One thing about little guys—they never slow down.


Promises are often disappointing. The fight did not keep anyone on the edge of his seat and started off extremely slowly. Throughout the fight neither fighter seemed to risk anything for the win. Delgadillo did most of the punching in the first few rounds and managed to put down Bornea in the 6th. The knockdown was mostly caused by balance rather than a punch. Bornea’s left cheek started to swell early but gave him no trouble. Both fighters seemed to come alive as the rounds continued. Neither was ever a ball of fire but there were occasional signs of embers. In the end, Bornea took the split decision and the NABF super flyweight belt.


I mentioned to the photographer next to me that both fighters were managed by the same man. He seemed outraged and said, “That’s a conflict of interest!” I did not want to correct him. Thus is the state of boxing today, or of our educational system.


A bit of the Emerald Isle was present in the form of rising star Connor Doyle. Roy Jones Jr. saw his potential and offered him a promotional contract last April. Boxing has been in the family for over 100 years and both his father and grandfather held British Commonwealth titles.


He was the whitest boxer on the card due to the lack of sun and fit in with Washington’s dim winter months. He has attempted to offset that by training half the time in Florida. He is a man of varied and big appetites. His girlfriend is expecting a baby soon and he already has a girl by a former girlfriend. The name of his daughter, Clodagh Rose, is tattooed across his stomach, an area he hopes to protect.


Doyle credits much of his success to trainer Jim McLoughlin and the rest of his team in the U.S. and to Cahir Duffy in Ireland. For every fight he splits his training between the two countries. Through hard work and continued activity he feels he will break into the top 10 this year.


The fight only lasted a round, not much to learn anything. Coyle is a straight up boxer in the European tradition. He moves well and hits hard, hard enough for Dumas to quit early. Dumas may have thrown out his shoulder. In his corner his shoulder resembled Mount Rainier.


I was looking forward to the Richard Van Siclen vs. Abraham Martin bout, two undefeated boxers attempting to make the next step up, rather than down. I covered Van Siclen’s debut fight several years ago. He had been pitted against a bit of tumbleweed that blew into town disguised as a boxer, and blew out just as quickly. Telling much about Van Siclin’s ability was difficult. He appeared to be a long-time athlete, in great shape, quick, well balanced, and a real boxing oddity: good-looking, has a university education, is articulate, and can read and write, something of which some boxing writers are incapable. One can almost imagine he and Gene Tunney discussing Shakespeare over a glass of wine or Richard Burton’s quest for the source of the Nile.


It was clear he had skill. He was always athletic and got involved with boxing at the University of Washington. He was not tall enough for basketball, not big enough for football, so he joined the University boxing team. One of the best teams in the nation, the team allowed him to travel across the country and improve his skills. He says he owes his success to the team.


I was anxious to see how much he had improved over the years. His opponent was unbeaten Abraham Martin.


Martin (5-0) started boxing for exercise. He quickly realized he had a knack for the game. He liked the skill involved and the physical exertion. He has only had 20 amateur fights. He admitted that beating Van Siclen would be tough, but he felt he is up to the task. He trains at the Sparta Gym and works in the landscaping business.


This fight also went only one round. Van Siclen came out like a lawn mower throwing nonstop punches. There was not much skill involved. Martin spent his time attempting to save his life. Van Siclen motioned several times for referee Jack Reiss to stop the fight, but he let it continue. Martin did emerge from his corner for the next round.


One of the fights I was hoping to see was welterweight Santiago Dominguez (20-0) against Vitor Jones Freitas (16-5) in what should have been an interesting bout. Dominguez, the favorite, planed to showcase his considerable skills while Freitas wanted to prove he is a tougher boxer than his record indicates. Unfortunately Dominguez fell ill at the last minute. His next bout is scheduled for May in Reno.

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