Gut check: A Canadian Prospect at the Maywood Gym!
By Ace Freeman (12-Jun-2010)
In the third and final chapter of my visit to Southern California / Nevada with unbeaten lightweight Steve Claggett (8-0-1, 4 KOs) and his trainer Eric de Guzman, we stopped in at the famous Maywood Boxing Club to find some intense sparring for the young Candian fighter!
It was the final day of my trip down to Los Angeles and Las Vegas with Canadian lightweight Steve Claggett and his trainer Eric de Guzman who were attempting to gain some experience and get in some seasoned sparring. The young undefeated Canadian had fared quite well at the Wild Card Boxing Club and in Vegas in the previous two days but I had a feeling the last day would prove a daunting challenge. The Maywood Boxing Club is notorious for it’s rough and tumble ring wars. From Juan Manuel and Rafael Marquez getting in some storied sparring at the East Los Angeles stronghold to Alfredo Angulo who currently calls the gym his home, the place has a reputation for quickly making men of young fighters.
Maywood sparring footage:
It was the final day of my trip down to Los Angeles and Las Vegas with Canadian lightweight Steve Claggett and his trainer Eric de Guzman who were attempting to gain some experience and get in some seasoned sparring. The young undefeated Canadian had fared quite well at the Wild Card Boxing Club and in Vegas in the previous two days but I had a feeling the last day would prove a daunting challenge.
The Maywood Boxing Club is notorious for it’s rough and tumble ring wars. From Juan Manuel and Rafael Marquez getting in some storied sparring at the East Los Angeles stronghold to Alfredo Angulo who currently calls the gym his home, the place has a reputation for quickly making men of young fighters.
We arrived very early that particular morning to find the gym locked. I had been to a show in Maywood, California a year prior with my good friend and prominent SoCal Boxing Photographer Big Joe Miranda at a nearby gymnasium and the atmosphere was electric. A hard working Mexican-American community, the fans were passionate and the fighters went to war in the ring. By all accounts, the sparring at the Maywood was no different.
After a short while a car pulled up and a group of men made their way toward the front door to open up. They turned and glared at us with an inquisitive yet slightly menacing look as our car sitting idle in their empty parking lot.
de Guzman got out and approached them. Their stern looks quickly turned to smiles as he stood and spoke with them and they soon motioned for all of us to come over.
Claggett grabbed his bag and we shook hands with Clemente Medina, trainer of top light middleweight contender Alfredo ‘El Perro’ Angulo. He was a warm and welcoming figure who was pleased to meet a group of young visitors from Canada.
Medina was very adamant that Claggett spar some rounds with Angulo but unfortunately Perro would not arrive until the afternoon that day and we had to fly back to Canada at noon.
After sizing Claggett up, Medina called over to a tall young looking Mexican American fighter warming up in the corner.
His name was Reberto Reyes, an undefeated 19 year old junior middleweight (1-0, 1 KOs) from Lancaster, California.
While Claggett had eight more fights as a pro and was a year older, he would give up several inches in height and a good ten pounds to the aggressive Southern California native.
Reyes had recently won his pro debut on a televised Golden Boy “Fight Night Club” card in late April when he put Azamat Umarzoda to sleep with a single and vicious left hook to the chin.
Claggett geared up and began working up a sweat on the heavy bag. The gym was quite large and had two full sized rings in the centre. Both stained with faded blood drippings, the one Claggett and Reyes were set to spar in had ‘El Perro’ mad dog logos in two of it’s corners.
After a brief warm up period both fighters were in the ring ready to spar.
From the opening bell it went down just as you’d expect. Reyes came smoking in on Claggett, forcing him to the ropes where he unloaded blistering hooks to Claggett’s head and mid section.
It was a perfect contrast of styles to make for some exciting sparring to the spectators (who were now arriving in numbers).
Reyes looked to push Claggett to the ropes and the quicker more mobile Canadian would dart off them and get the better of the action when the two were in the centre of the ring.
Reyes put a tremendous amount of constant pressure on Claggett but the Canadian fighter would not yield.
He used angles and good movement to get off the ropes and fought well in the pocket when on them.
Reyes was unrelenting with his hooks upstairs and down but this left many openings which Claggett took full advantage of with his quick uppercuts.
All of the onlookers enjoyed round after round of these two young fighters going to war and both Medina and de Guzman were pleased with the work their fighters were getting and putting in that morning in the ring.
After many rounds of toe-to-toe action the fighters touched gloves and both sported some blood on their faces for their efforts. They embraced in the centre of the ring and then exited the well travelled ring.
Medina was pleased with the work Claggett gave his fighter, noting his style was one that they didn’t see around those parts very often.
He invited us back and again mentioned that Angulo would be happy to get some rounds in with Claggett should we return.
We left the Maywood gym and headed straight for LAX to return home to Canada.
It had been a brief visit but there was no shortage of action with three hard days of training at three different gyms in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
I had some questions about Claggett going into the trip and while there are still many to be answered in his pro career in the ring I found him to stand up well to pressure and adversity with his speed and power very apparent against some bigger and seasoned American pros during our visit.
de Guzman and Claggett were right back to work the following day upon returning to Canada, both with an abundance of notes they took while working with the trainers and fighters they met in their travels.
Claggett will look to return to the ring in early August in Calgary, Canada, hopefully against another top Canadian lightweight.
A return trip to Los Angeles is in the works and the young Canadian fighter hopes to be fighting in Los Angeles or Las Vegas later this year.