Zavala Tries to Start Over Tonight in Irvine


Rosemead's Rudy Zavala, the No. 1-ranked junior featherweight in the world two years ago, is featured in tonight's main event at the Irvine Marriott against journeyman John Roby of Des Moines, Iowa.

Since being ranked No. 1 by the International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Council, Zavala (22-4-2) has lost four of his last nine fights and fallen out of the top 10. Still only 25, Zavala is trying to work his way back up the rankings and into the featherweight title picture.

"He has to get back to knocking people out," said Herb Stone, who has been Zavala's manager since he turned pro four years ago. "When he was hot property, he was knocking people out."

Since Zavala suffered one-sided losses to San Diego's Jesus Salud (eighth-round stoppage on cuts) and then-IBF champion Kennedy McKinney (third-round knockout), he hasn't been the same fighter.

Stone is hoping a change of trainers, from Zavala's father to Freddie Roach, will help resurrect the fighter's once-promising career. So far, Roach hasn't been much help. Zavala has lost two of his three fights with Roach in his corner, though Stone contends Zavala was robbed of both decisions.

"Rudy has the capability of going back all the way," Stone said. "We're hoping to get an opportunity to fight for a world title. Rudy wants that more than anything."

Zavala, who fought many of his early fights at Irvine, hasn't fought at the Marriott since February, 1993, when he knocked out Hector Diaz in the third round. Roby (14-10), who last fought Jeff Mayweather for the WBC intercontinental lightweight title, will drop a few pounds and fight Zavala at 128.

Junior featherweight Oscar Saenza (5-1) of Los Angeles is featured on the five-bout undercard against Frances Vivish (11-3) of San Gabriel in a five-rounder. Tickets priced at $25, $30 and $35 go on sale at 9 a.m. today at the Marriott Ballroom. The fights start at 7:30 p.m..

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