March 27, 2009

TJ, Mayor Ramos happy to be hosting Tijuana Thunder

By Steve Galindo III

In the midst of the carnage that continues to plague the mean streets of Tijuana, the city’s Mayor Jorge Ramos, along with the Convention and Visitors Bureau have been working diligently on ways to lure U.S. tourists and their dollars back to the chaotic city.

Amongst their efforts is a promotion entitled “120 things to do in Tijuana.” The promotion is in conjunction with the city’s 120th birthday celebration and is designed to showcase what the Bureau refers to as, “some of Tijuana’s most scenic-tourism destinations.”

Listed number one on the list is taking a picture with the famous TJ “ Zebra donkey,” a celebrity in his own right. Among the other things listed are shopping for piñatas, playing bingo at the local Casino, and taking a picture with some sort of art piece called “Frida Cowlo” from TJ’s 2008 cow parade exhibition.

Although the promotion is catchy, I seriously doubt that San Diegans will risk their lives and disregard warnings from The U.S. Department Of State all for the sake of taking a picture with a spray painted donkey. What the Bureau failed to list is quite possibly one of the most significant sporting event’s in the city’s history, a boxing event that legendary promoter Bob Arum calls, “The greatest Mexican boxing event ever.”

From left: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Fernando ‘Cochulito’ Montiel, Mayor Jorge Ramos, and Humberto ‘Zorrita’ Soto. Photo/Chris Farina, Top Rank

In spite of its absence on the list, tomorrow night’s Latin Fury 8- ‘Tijuana Thunder’ card is expected to attract 22,000 people to the Plaza De Toros Monumental de Tijuana.

Latin Fury features three of Mexico’s premiere fighters: WBC super featherweight titlist Humberto ‘Zorrita’ Soto, Fer-nando ‘ Cochulito’ Montiel, and undefeated ‘son of a legend’- Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. All three men will engage in three separate battles that will have immeasurable effects on their careers and in their weight divisions.

For Chavez Jr., the pressure lies in keeping the respect, love, and “family” ties that citizens of Tijuana have with the Chavez family. Many hold a special place in their hearts for Chavez and his father. It is the city where his father, Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. waged many- a- battle, 16 to be exact en route to becoming one of the greatest pugilist of all-time.

Since the inception of the fight last month, Chavez Jr. has been eager to step into a boxing ring in a city in which he considers to be a second home.

“Tijuana is a major city for boxing and our family because my father did a lot of fights there. I trained there many times and also lived for a time in that city. It is a great honor to be part of a large card in Tijuana and fight in the main event,” stated Chavez.

Like Chavez, Mayor Ramos has been in great anticipation for the fights. In a teleconference held earlier this month, Ramos Stated “We are happy to be the host of a world wide boxing event. It is going to give us the opportunity to show the real face of our city.”

If things go off without a hitch tomorrow night, Ramos should be lauded for his efforts, he has served as one of the main catalyst in bringing the card to his ravaged city. “This whole event would not be possible without the cooperation, without the enthusiasm expressed by the honorable Jorge Ramos” stated Arum.

Will local fans be safe?

Both Ramos and Arum know that they face an uphill battle in convincing U.S. tourists to make the trek down south. With a record 843 homicides recorded last year, and 35 homicides recorded just last month you can’t blame tourist for being just a tad- bit skeptical.

Still, the Hall-of Fame promoter has no doubts that people attending tomorrow’s event will be safe. “The normal person who goes, wants to have a good time, wants to see boxing, and wants to eat well he is going to be completely undisturbed.”

In responding to the U.S. State Department issuing a travel advisory warning Americans about the violence along the border Arum stated “These are general warnings. In Tijuana there has been an absence of violence, and it’s wrong for the State Department to paint all of Mexico with a broad brush.”

Many local boxing enthusiasts, such as Saul Rios agree with Arum’s notion that tourist will be safe. The former Jr. Bantamweight, who fought out of National City, is just one of many local fight fans that will be making the trip. “It’s a great card. It’s not everyday in T.J. that there’s championship caliber fights, or fighters of that level. What’s happening in T.J. is within the criminals themselves, they do not mess with regular people, it’s definitely worth the trip-it’s a great card.”

For those who would rather watch the fight in the comfort of their own home, the fight will be available on Pay-Per-View starting at 6pm, and comes with a suggested retail value of $39.99.

Free Tickets

It was recently revealed by that the city of Tijuana is the sole promoter of tomorrow night’s card. From the selection of the venue, to the distribution of tickets, the city has had final say in all matters pertaining to the event.

With nearly half of Mexico’s population living at poverty level, it was imperative that the city of Tijuana allow its residents access to the fights for a reasonable price. Last week it was announced that general admission tickets for Tijuana Thunder would be free as long as there was a donation of either canned goods, or dried food.

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