Frankie Baltazar vs. Chango Cruz
On Monday, October 25, 1976, Frankie and I were working at a Ford dealership (paint shop) in Alhambra, Ca. That morning I told Frankie that on our lunch hour I was going to go see Don Chargin at the Olympic Auditorium to see if I could set up a six-round fight for him for that coming Thursday night.
I left Alhambra about 11:30 AM. and got to the Olympic about 25 minutes later. As I parked the car I was thinking about how hard it had become to get Frankie fights. His record stood at 4-1 with 2 knockouts. The one decision loss was an out-of-town (Stockton, Ca.) fight against Reynaldo Zaragoza, a fight that just about everybody in the house thought Frankie had won.
As I entered the Olympic I was hoping that I wasn’t again wasting my time as I had been doing lately in talking to Chargin. I climbed the stairs to his office and as I got to the door I could hear Harry Kabakoff saying, “What are we going to do Don? Castillo won’t fight Cruz.”
“We’ll find somebody for him to fight, so don’t worry Harry,” I heard Don say. As I walked in I could see that Harry looked like he was about to start crying, but he smiled a big smile when he saw me walk in.
“Is your boy ready to fight?” Harry asked me.
“Yes, that’s why I’m here, to see if I can get Frankie a six-round fight,” I answered.
“How about Thursday night in the main event?” Harry asked.
“Against who?” I countered.
“C’mon Harry. Cruz has had 12 fights with 8 KO’s, Frankie only has five fights. By the way, what happened to Castillo?”
“Castillo got sick, so they say. I think they are afraid to fight my new champ,” said Harry.
I turned to Chargin and asked him about getting a six-round fight, and he said that none of the local fighters wanted to fight Frankie and that it was too expensive to bring in out-of-town fighters for a six-round fight. At that point Harry jumped in and told me to forget about a six rounder and to take the Cruz fight. Chargin then said, “Frank, we’ll pay you XXX dollars.”
“I don’t know, Don. Like I said, Frankie has only had five fights, and he has never gone more than seven rounds. This would be a ten-round fight against a guy with 12 wins, 8 by knockout. I don’t want to put Frankie in over his head,” I said to Chargin. Harry again jumped in and said they would pay us more than they first offered. After going around for about an hour and seeing the offer go up a few more times and being told not to worry about the weight, I accepted the fight.
I got back to the shop and told Frankie to go home, that he was fighting the main on Thursday. “Who am I fighting Pops?” he asked.
“You are fighting Chango Cruz, mijo,” I said.
“But Pops! Cruz has 12 wins and 8 by knockout. I only have five fights. What happened to Castillo?”
“Castillo got sick, mijo. Now go home, I’ll see you at the gym,” I told him.
I wasn’t sure that Frankie would beat Cruz, but I was sure that he wouldn’t get hurt. After all, Frankie had been boxing since he was six years old.
Frankie won by ninth-round knockout, and Harry didn’t talk to me for about six months after that. . . .
Frank “kiki” Baltazar is a retired boxing manager and trainer and a member of the California Boxing Hall of Fame. More of his writing can be found at From Bricks and Rosin: Stories by Frank “kiki'”Baltazar.