This past August, Kaua’i’s own, Meha Balmores of Koloa turned professional boxer in the Mecca of Boxing, Las Vegas. He accepted $500 more to fight a South African named Blaine Jacobs who at 35, 5’11” and around 155 pounds, was considerably bigger than the 29 year old Balmores, who stands 5’7″ and 140 pounds soaking wet.
Actually Balmores is one of Kaua’i’s elite athletes. He was a professional surfer who traveled to Europe and South Africa. While being a surfer he always had an interest in boxing and would drop in at Oki Boxing Club to spar with the likes of Mark Ozaki from time to time. He finally dislocated his shoulder badly in surfing and turned to a possibly easier challenge, boxing.
He fought once for Oki Boxing and whipped the hometown star on the Big Island. He fought successfully a couple more times on O’ahu -and went off to Vegas to train under a hall of fame trainer who trained Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s uncle, Roger Mayweather. He compiled an amateur record of 10 wins and only one loss and one draw with several knockouts.
His trainer in Vegas wanted about 15 more amateur fights for Balmores but decided to turn him pro before Balmores got much older. The bout was held a little ways off the strip at the Golden Nugget.
Balmores, with a style that pleases both judges and fans, would probably have won a state title along with Ozaki (USA Boxing, 6 times), Edwin Yasai (Golden Gloves) and Albert Bactad (Golden Gloves). Upon turning pro he joins a select few from Kaua’i who did that: Willie Castillo who battled World Champ, Paul Fuji, Yasu Yasutake who held a consecutive knockout record, Paul Fujiyama who actually made a bigger splash in “Tough Man” contests, and Ken Oki (actually from old Damon Tract who won 5 state amateur heavyweight championships).
Balmores started his first pro fight by connecting with good straight rights to the head. Encouraged by his early success he then went ballistic. He caught the bigger South African with a barrage of punches that would have brought the Casino down if it was filled with Kaua’i guys.
Jacobs, to his credit stayed cool, blocked some punches then lashed out with a terrible right hand to Balmores’ left temple area. From that moment on with 30 seconds left in the round Balmores felt like a Kolohe from Koloa and doesn’t remember a single thing. From viewing video footage of the fight it was difficult to tell if Balmores was really hurt, but he stumbled and fell to his knees once and everything the other guy threw landed pretty solidly. As Balmores started a big left hook Jacobs got in first with an awesome left to the jaw to end the fight with two seconds left in the first round.
Either Balmores has the heart of a lion or that first right to the temple which knocked him senseless but still standing prevented him from feeling any pain or remorse. He was scheduled to fight again in two months last October. However, he was cut over the left eye in sparring and the bout was canceled. Balmores is now home for the holidays but before boarding the Hawaiian Airlines jet home, Kaua’i’s own, Ballistic Balmores told them in downtown and on the strip, “I’ll be back!”
- Duane Shimogawa Jr., sports editor, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 257) or firstname.lastname@example.org.