So we did a Facebook FightNight Live, powered by Everlast, on Friday night from 2300 Arena in Philly, with a main event pitting Tyrone Brunson against Jamaal Davis, two friends who’ve known each other for 20 years battling to stay relevant professionally.
One of the bouts that unfolded pitted Texan Joseph George on the A-side, at 8-0, versus Oscar Riojas, from Monterrey, Mexico, who entered the building with an 18-11-1 record — and some mental baggage, which I found out about after he did battle.
Before I found out about that, I got some basics from the fighter.
”I love fighting,” Riojas told me. “I currently live in Monterrey, Mexico, I used to live in L.A. I fought several undefeated guys in these past few past years. I’m not here just to collect a check, I’m ready to fight!”
That sounded promising, right? More from Riojas the man, outside the ring.
”I’m a real estate agent, I also take fighters to fight in different venues, and I also work at a bank. I support my family since they are already old, they looked out for me when I was a kid, now it’s my turn to help them out. I’m a respectful guy, holy enough to pray for you, hood enough to swing on you!”
Well, that would be the line of the night coming in or going out.
Now, to the fight.
”Little soft around the mid-section is George,” I noted, from the blow-by-blow chair before round one kicked off.
Riojas started out cautious and kept in that mode, it turns out. “Get it right, or it’s gonna be goodnight,” said analyst Xavier Porter as round one ticked down, regarding Joe George’s power pack and Oscar’s defense.
Maybe Riojas needed to get warmed up? He wasn’t throwing much in round two, or three. “Still a lack of body work from George,” I noted as the third finished.
To the fourth. “He’s looking for a place to fall, help him out,” someone yelled from the stands, causing me and Porter to crack up.
But, in fact, Riojas was not looking for a place to fall — he was looking to finish.
”Riojas is the evader, he’s just trying to survive, just make it to the final bell,” I said to end the fourth.
In the fifth, I noted that Riojas’ message that he wasn’t there to just get that check wasn’t looking as good, because offense was lacking. With 20 seconds left, a George left hook to the body landed, and hard. Six, seven more of the same. Riojas slides, mostly to his right, punches sparingly, all the better to concentrate on fending off the other man’s aggression.
A right to the body by George in round seven smarted on the Mexican, who told me after that he knows he has a good poker face. He used it a few times in this fight, when buzzed, not betraying with a wince, or an involuntary step backward. Survivor’s adaptation techniques.
George’s too polite aggression, his lack of urgency and stealth in cutting off the ring helped Riojas make it to the eighth. A right hand sent Riojas sprawling, did a glove touch? The ref wiped it, less than a minute remaining, but didn’t call it a knockdown. Seconds ticked down. Riojas made it to the final bell — a win, of sorts.
The judges spoke then: 80-72, times three. Not even close. He had the look of a man who looked to open a mailing from the IRS, expecting a refund, and they’re asking for mo’ money.
So, yeah, me and Porter picked up on the trend, the survivor instinct, no miracle of intuition, as it was obvious to even the cataract-scarred.
And afterwards, while leaving the building, I ran into Riojas.
He told me he was “disgusted” with his performance. I asked why and for more context.
”They told me in Mexico, the commission, if I have another fight stopped that I wouldn’t be able to fight anymore. That shit got in my head,” Riojas said, when I followed up on messenger the next day. (He’d been stopped three times in his twelve losses, for the record.)
“I just seen the fight on FightNight Live. Lame ass, from my end. Boring. Just taking care of not getting kayoed. I’m disgusted, to be honest.”
And I care about being fair, and credible — was my call OK?
”Yes, for sure, no worries,” Riojas answered. “You guys did a great job. It was not you or your guy, it was me not throwing them hands. He was big and strong, good fighter. Also, the knockout I had to get out of my head against Steve Nelson (Oct. 2018).”
And so George hurt him to the body?
“Fuck yes, two or three straights to the body got me really good. I was really hurt, I believe in the fourth or fifth.”
So, Riojas moves on, he earned his check, he had to avoid punches from a strong boxer. But he’s a proud man, he wants to win, not “win” by surviving. That Mexican commission, feel free to reach out and clarify the message to Riojas he told us about.
And so he will feel some lingering shame from that L. What can we expect from Oscar Riojas next time out? “Fuck it, you’re going to see me way stronger. It was boring, even I told you guys, so don’t trip, you’re going to see something way better next time!”