Armijo Grabs Center Stage With a Quick Knockout

Times Staff Writer

John Armijo became somewhat of a local hero Monday night at the Irvine Marriott.

Armijo, a 158-pound lifeguard from Huntington Beach, scored a second-round knockout over Charos Tembo that brought most of the 1,071 fans to their feet, cheering and chanting Armijo's name.

George Garcia later won the 126-pound main event over Jorge Rodriguez on a technical decision. Garcia suffered a head butt above his left eye, and the fight was stopped after eight rounds. Garcia, ahead on all three score cards, was awarded the victory.

But the star of the night was Armijo, 27, who improved to 9-0-1. Armijo, a lifeguard at Bolsa Chica State Beach in Huntington Beach, had plenty of initial support from about 25 friends from work.

Once in the ring, Armijo landed a series of powerful lefts in the first round and his supporters grew.

"He's maybe among the best home-grown attraction we've had here (in five years)," promoter Don Fraser said. "He really brings in a crowd, and excites them."

Most of the fans were standing as Armijo moved in with a sharp left hand to start the second round. A minute later, Armijo dropped Tembo (4-1) with another left. Tembo got up and tried to hang on but Armijo moved in for the knockout with yet another left at 1:43 of the second round.

"Those guys are always noisy," Armijo said. "Lifeguards are like that. I'm getting used to it. . . . I want to show everyone what I can do. I love it! I love it!"

In the main event, Garcia (27-4-2) of Westminster had trouble with the left jab of Rodriguez (18-13-4) early. But Garcia countered with a series of hooks and scored often in the middle rounds.

He was ahead, 77-76, 78-74, and 80-72, on the judges' cards when the fight was stopped.

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