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Combat sports: Sanchez vs. Leo is a possibility

Jason Sanchez and Angelo Leo find themselves in virtual lockstep.

Will their burgeoning professional boxing careers ever bring the two Albuquerque fighters into the ring against each other?

Last Saturday in Frisco, Texas, Sanchez improved his professional record to 14-0 (seven knockouts) with a second-round stoppage of Daniel Olea. The impressive TKO victory came in Sanchez’s debut as a Top Rank, Inc., contract fighter.

Tonight in Carson, Calif., Leo (15-0, eight KOs) is scheduled to face Alfredo Torres (11-1-3, four KOs) in an eight-round bout. Leo, who lives and trains in Las Vegas, Nev., has been under contract to Mayweather Promotions since the fall of 2017.

Sanchez fights at the featherweight limit of 126 pounds. Leo has campaigned at super bantamweight (122), but he’s fighting tonight at featherweight. Both fighters are 24 years old.

Essentially, Leo and Sanchez grew up together in the New Mexico amateur ranks. In a phone interview, Leo said he and Sanchez fought each other seven times as amateurs.

Who had the upper hand? Leo declined to say what his record was against Sanchez, but did say the series was extremely competitive.

There is, however, no ill will.

“I know (Sanchez) really well,” Leo said. “When I lived there in Albuquerque, we’d do sparring.”

Regarding the possibility of a Leo-Sanchez bout, there’s a major barrier. Top Rank and Mayweather Promotions rarely if ever do business together. Mayweather is closely associated with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Championships, an organization Top Rank sued for $100 million in 2015. The suit was settled out of court, but the acrimony remains.

In any case, a fight between the two Albuquerque natives should not happen unless and until there’s a lot of money involved for both parties. Either a world title, or a clear path to a world title shot, should be at stake.

Of that possibility, however distant, Leo said, “You know, business is business. … Down the line, if the money’s right, we can make it happen.”

Friday, Leo weighed in for tonight’s fight at 125.6 pounds. Torres weighed 124.8.

ALL QUIET ON THE HOLM FRONT: After last week’s flurry of Holly Holm news — the cancellation of her scheduled March 2 fight against Aspen Ladd, reports of a possible UFC bantamweight title fight against champion Amanda Nunes — nothing has happened this week.

Albuquerque’s Lenny Fresquez, Holm’s manager/agent, confirmed last week that he was negotiating with the UFC regarding Holm-Nunes. Asked via text on Thursday if there had been any movement, he replied, “Exact same spot.”

UFC 234: Albuquerque lightweight Lando Vannata (9-3-2) weighed on Friday in at 156 pounds, an allowable one pound over the lightweight limit, for his fight today against Brazil’s Marcos Rosa Mariano on UFC 234 in Melbourne, Australia. Mariano (6-4) weighed 155.

Vannata-Mariano, originally scheduled to take place on the card’s early prelim UFC Fight Pass portion, has been elevated to the main card (8 p.m., pay-per-view). The switch was made because of a shakeup caused by the withdrawal of Robert Whittaker from the main event due to a hernia.

BARE KNUCKLE BRIGADE: Last Saturday in Cancún, Mexico, longtime Jackson-Wink MMA fighter Leonard Garcia made his bare-knuckles fighting debut with a victory by second-round knockout over Julian Lane.

Garcia, who now trains at Donald Cerrone’s BMF Ranch, follows Albuquerque boxer Mike Alderete and Garcia’s former J-W teammate Isaac Vallie-Flagg as having fought in the bare-knuckle ranks. Vallie-Flagg won his bare-knuckle debut; Alderete lost his.

The bad news: Neither Alderete nor Vallie-Flagg has been paid for fights on a card staged in Casper, Wyo., on Nov. 9 by an organization called the WBKFF.

Not only did Alderete not get paid, he told the Journal via social media, he was stuck with medical bills for facial damage he sustained in his fight against Josh Neer.

Garcia’s fight was for an apparently more solid entity called BKFC, which has staged four shows with no reported problems.

Alderete said he and Vallie-Flagg, despite the bad experience with WBKFF, are in talks to fight on a future BKFC card.

BRAWL ON THE BOSQUE: The annual benefit boxing tournament pitting law enforcement vs. firefighters is scheduled for tonight at Isleta Resort & Casino. Action starts at 7 p.m.

Tickets ($25) are available at isleta.com or the casino box office.

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