DOWNEY - The boxing saga of Shawn Estrada, who lists his first job as "hustling in the streets" and whose brief resume includes a pivotal stop in Downey, continues its glory run.Friday night at the Nokia Theater, the 6-ft. 1-inch Estrada delivered a three-knockdown KO over Oakland's Ray Craig (5-4, 2 KOs) in 1 minute 40 seconds of the first round in their scheduled 4-round super middleweight fight. This was 23-year-old Estrada's third win in a row, all by KO, after turning pro. All his knockouts, the first in his debut fight with Lawrence Jones in Ontario in November 2008, and the second on Dec. 13 in Cabazon against Shaun Spaid, have come in the first round. Estrada's bout was the second undercard fight in a special edition of ESPN's "Friday Night Fights." The 6-card program marked the first time ever a boxing event has been held at the sparkling 7,100-seat Nokia facility. The main event featured the heavily-publicized non-title heavyweight tussle between lumbering Samuel Peter of Nigeria, ranked 5th in the world and the former WBC champion, and 3rd-ranked Eddie Chambers of Pittsburgh. The favored, and speedier, Chambers won on a majority decision. It was a night when the first three bouts (including Estrada's) didn't go beyond the third round, all ending in knockouts. The rest of the bouts, ending in decisions, didn't thrill as much and proved to be anticlimactic. The fourth match, won by Estrada's young Olympic teammate Javier Molina, who hails from Commerce, nevertheless was absorbing in its own right as it was Molina's pro debut fight. Molina just turned 19. Estrada was born and raised in East L.A., where he could easily have fallen through the cracks had it not been for the timely intervention by his father. Juan Leon Estrada was a former boxing Olympian himself, competing for the Mexican Olympic team in 1968. It was he who introduced Shawn, then age 12, to boxing. Fearing that Shawn was getting too enamored of the gang culture in the 'hood, Juan Leon arranged for his son to live with his aunt in Downey. As fate would have it, while at Warren High School Shawn joined the 10-20 Club, a flourishing arm of Gangs Out of Downey (GOOD). He acknowledges his joining the club, and the influence of the likes of Stan Hanstad and Darrell Jackson, as primary factors in turning his life around. He had earlier lost an older brother to gang violence. The plan was for Juan Leon to watch Shawn fight in the flesh in Beijing last year, but it was not to be: he was too ill to go. Indeed, by the time Shawn returned home to L.A., his father had already died of kidney and liver failure. He turned pro soon after. Last Friday's boxing extravaganza, attended by boxing aficionados of all stripes including whole families, was underwritten by Goossen Tutor Promotions which has agreed to promote Estrada's and Molina's fights. Both are represented by Bravo Management's Arnulfo Bravo. When Estrada sat down in the press area after his fight, I greeted and congratulated him on behalf of Hanstad and Jackson. His face brightened up and broke out in a big smile and said, "Oh, yeah? Say 'hello' to the guys." Asked if he expected his bout against Craig, whose record fell to 5-5, to end as quickly as it did, Estrada said, "No. I knew he was an experienced fighter." Next fight up for Estrada: he'll be part of another Goossen Tutor Promotions boxing program April 11 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, headlined by Paul Williams-Winky Wright, and including a match featuring the heralded up-and-coming Cristobal Arreola of Riverside against heavyweight contender Jameel McCline of New York. Estrada has been quoted as saying, "My life continues to flourish through my 2-year-old daughter Alyssa and now my professional career. I'm looking forward to making 2009 memorable for my family, my fans and me. It's all about moving ahead and growing from my life's experiences…. I know to be a world champion I need to dedicate myself to achieving that goal. I will do the work it takes to make it there no matter how difficult the task." A Goossen Tutor Promotions press release announcing its signing of Estrada and Molina meanwhile had this to say about their prospects: "It should be very interesting to watch the development of Shawn Estrada and Javier Molina as their careers move forward in the professional ranks over the next several years to see if their names can be added to the list of former Olympians who became World Champions." Desire, meet Opportunity. It should be interesting, indeed.
********** Published: April 3, 2009 - Volume 7 - Issue 50