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A Battle To End All Doubt

ADOLPHE PIERRE-LOUIS/JOURNAL Donald Sanchez gets in some work at FIT-NHB in preparation for Friday’s 145-pound title bout against Angelo Sanchez. KOTC bantamweight title FINALLY to be decided Friday night


In the game of musical chairs that is the King of the Cage bantamweight
title, only one chair remains.

Friday at the Inn of the Mountain Gods, Donald Sanchez will be ready to pounce when the music stops.

“This,” he says of his scheduled MMA fight on Friday in Mescalero, “will settle it.”

Settle what? OK, pay attention.

Sanchez, an Albuquerque mixed martial arts fighter, is scheduled to face Santa Fe’s Angelo Sanchez (no relation) at the Inn of the Mountain Gods for the King of the Cage 145-pound title belt. The bout will be telecast nationally on HDNet. It’s a rematch of a May 2009 fight won by Angelo Sanchez via split decision, retaining his KOTC title.

of the Cage:
Donald Sanchez vs. Angelo Sanchez, Abel Cullum vs.
Josh Montoya, several other bouts, Inn of the Mountain Gods, Mescalero. First
7 p.m.

The two Sanchezes, though, differ on exactly what title we’re talking about — the real title, or the interim title.   

For these purposes, “interim” does not mean “provisional” or “temporary.” Essentially, the interim champ is the No. 1 contender.

“Basically,” Donald Sanchez explains, “there’s the interim champion and the champion, and they haven’t gotten to fight yet.”

In June 2008, Chicagoan Lazar Stojadinovic won the KOTC bantamweight title. He later was to have defended against Angelo Sanchez, but the bout fell through.

Later, Donald Sanchez defeated Stojadinovic.

“I fought, I won, and I thought I was the champion,” he said.

Not so fast, Donald. Angelo Sanchez says Stojadinovic had been stripped of the title, making him the champion. When Angelo defeated Donald last May 30, the Santa Fean says, “it was for the actual title.”

According to the KOTC Web site, Angelo Sanchez (8-2) enters Friday’s fight as the champion, Donald Sanchez as the interim champ.

“It just got all messed up,” Donald Sanchez said. “Now we get to unify (the title).”

Angelo Sanchez says the title doesn’t need unifying — that it’s his. Still, he agrees that Friday’s fight will settle matters.

“It’s been a roller-coaster ride for about two years now that I’ve been dealing with,” he says of the title controversy. “This is not only going to settle things between me and Donald, but it’s gonna settle everything that I’ve been working for the past two years.”

Donald Sanchez, 25, became a cagefighter five years ago because he loved athletics and hated construction.

“I was friends with some of the guys that were fighting at the time (in 2005), like Diego Sanchez and good buddy of mine, Mike Valdez,” he says. “I was doing construction at the time, and I said, ‘You know what, this is hard, doing concrete every day and busting my butt.’

“I’d always been a good athlete. … That day, I started training.”

Sanchez turned pro without intending to do so, because MMA was poorly regulated at the time. Amateurs often fought pros, and vice versa, without realizing it.

He has a 19-10 record and no regrets.

“I just kind of jumped onto the scene, jumped onto the bandwagon,” he said. “Now, I’ve had a lot of fights, I’ve got (the interim title) belt and I’m doing good, fighting on national television.

“It’s my life and I wouldn’t change it.”

Sanchez trains at FIT-NHB in Albuquerque under the tutelage of Tom Vaughn and Arlene Sanchez-Vaughn. Though Angelo Sanchez and the KOTC title are the obvious priorities this week, he has other ambitions.

“I want to fight the best guys in the world,” he says. “I’ve had a lot of fights,  but I’m a baby in this sport right now, just a baby.

“I’ve got lots of time.”

Tucumcari’s Abel Cullum, the KOTC flyweight champion, is scheduled to defend his 135-pound title Friday against Santa Fe’s Josh Montoya.