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Boxing returned to Sacramento Saturday night with Battle of the Badges VII, an annual charity boxing event featuring correctional officers, police officers and firefighters from the Northern California area.
Fifteen bouts of three two-minute rounds took place in front of an estimated 2,000-3,000 boxing fans at Memorial Auditorium, benefiting such charities as the Firefighters Burn Institute, Sac Fallen Officers Resource Fund, The Sacramento Sheriff’s Toy Project and Sacramento SPCA.
Some agencies represented in the matches included the Sacramento and Vallejo fire departments; the Sacramento, Davis and Woodland police departments; the California Highway Patrol and California State Prison, Sacramento.
There were 14 male bouts and one female bout. The majority of the fighters had never boxed before, but have been training for several months at places like Grimz Gym and LA Boxing.
After weigh-ins and a pre-party at Blue Cue, the prematch action began at Memorial Auditorium Saturday afternoon. Fighters were in many different states of mind as fight time drew closer. Some listened to music through headphones to calm the nerves, and others prepared their muscles by shadowboxing in front of a mirror.
After all fighters had their hands wrapped for support, a meeting backstage was held for the corners and fighters to go over the ground rules of the matches: Don’t hit boxers when they’re down, no hitting below the belt, no “rabbit punches” (hits to the back of the head), and others.
After the singing of the national anthem by Roxanne Devera and a prefright ceremony performed by the California State Prison, Sacramento, and California State University, Sacramento, Army ROTC Honor Guard, the bouts were under way.
Fighters chose the music they walked out to, and the songs were played by DJ A-1 accompanied by Justin Barnes on live drums. For those who are curious, “Gonna Fly Now,” also known as “Theme from Rocky,” was indeed chosen by one fighter, however, "Eye of the Tiger" was not.
The ready-for-action crowd erupted each time a fighter let loose a flurry of punches, as well as when fists connected hard with their intended targets – mainly faces.
The bouts were engaging for the fans, and the crowd was enticed to stay involved between rounds with the help of the Corona Ring Girls.
The event featured its share of blood, sweat and knockdowns. No one was knocked out, but there were TKOs (technical knockouts), and many fights went the distance, and the winner was decided by decision.
One of the most intense moments of the night occurred during the match between Ryan Dodd (Department of Child Support Services) and Raymond “Sugar Ray” Cancel (CSP, Sacramento).
During boxing matches, an indication is made that there are 10 seconds remaining in each round by knocking loudly on a table with a hammer or similar instrument. Saturday night, the 10-second warning was created by slapping the floor of the ring several times with a large, flat instrument.
When the 10-second warning was sounded before the end of the first round for this particular bout, a disoriented Cancel mistook this for the bell signaling the end of the round, dropped his hands and turned to walk to his corner.
His opponent, Dodd, took the opportunity to cock his right fist back and unleash a devastating, unchallenged right punch to the side of Cancel’s now-undefended head, knocking him to the floor and ending the bout with a TKO. A fair punch within the rules, it still elicited a deafening amount of boos from the crowd. Dodd was awarded the Knockout of the Night belt later in the evening.
Battle of the Badges was created in 2003 by correctional officers Israel Montes Jr. and Yvonne Vasquez of California State Prison, Sacramento, to raise money for related charities. Montes said he hopes in 2011 he can bring firefighters and policemen from New York to compete on the 10-year anniversary of 9/11.
Corona Girls model the Championship Belt at the Pre-Party event at Blue Cue.
Shawn “The Rock” Correa (California State Prison-Sacramento) receives a physical before the fights.
Ilya Bezuglov (Davis PD) stares down his opponent after their weigh-in.
Julie “The J-Cat” Williams (San Quentin)
The Championship Belt on display whets the appetites of the boxers the night before the fights.
A fighter gets his hands wrapped before his bout.
Referees go over the rules with fighters backstage at a pre-fight meeting.
Tyrome Johnson (CSP-Sacramento) listens to music in his dressing room before his fight.
Katie “Pacwoman” Hartwig (Sacramento Sheriff ‘s Dept)
Matt Jameson (Woodland PD), left, appears to dodge a blow from Noel Montes (California Correctional Peace Officers Association).
Corona Ring Girl
One of the judges waits to hand in a decision to the referee.
Cain "The Brawler" Bramasco (Deuel Vocational Institute-Tracy) is victorious over Craig "Ramblin" Hamblin (CSP-Sacramento).
Shawn “The Rock” Correa (CSP-Sacramento), foreground, gets a ten count from the referee after being knocked down by Rich De Los Cientos (Sacramento Sheriff’s Dept).
Before intermission a $10,000 check was presented to the Firefighters Burn Institute.
Tyrome Johnson (CSP-Sacramento), left, takes a blow from James Smith (CHP).
A fighter rests in his corner before the next round begins.
Ralph “Big Nasty” Heredia (CSP-Sacramento), left, cocks a right hook for Ilya Bezuglov (Davis PD).
Julie “The J-Cat" Williams’ (San Quentin) left hook connects with her opponent, Katie “Pacwoman” Hartwig (Sacramento Sheriff’s Dept).
Hartwig gets a pep talk from her trainer between rounds.
A warm reception for Javier Banuelos (CSP-Sacramento) as he enters for his fight.
Banuelos, left, connects with his opponent Gomez’s jaw.
Master of Ceremonies Lance Corcoran
Javier Banuelos (CSP-Sacramento)
A dazed Raymond “Sugar Ray” Cancel (CSP-Sacramento) slowly gets to his feet after being knocked down by his opponent, Ryan Dodd (California Dept of Child Support Services).
A bloodied Cancel is checked by ringside physician Dr. Gary Furness after being knocked down by Ryan Dodd.
A left hook from Carlos Cabrera (Sacramento Sheriff’s Dept), foreground, glances the face of Larry “Pitbull” Fernandez (CSP-Solano) during the Main Event fight.
Cabrera, right, throws a hard right punch at Fernandez.
Cabrera, center, victor of the Main Event.
Photos: Steven Chea