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List of Articles by Don Smith

Arizona Boxing News & Notes with Don Smith: Benavidez Takes Title, GGG/Canelo Rumble & Much More

By Don Smith
13 Sep 2017

Boxing Fans, On Friday, September 8 at the Joint venue inside Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, 20 year old David Benavidez (19-0-17 knockouts) fulfilled his boyhood dream by winning a world boxing title, the vacant WBC Super Middleweight Crown. He wore a tribute to his late uncle on his trunks. In our last column we detailed the death of his friend and relative.

The young Arizonian overcame an 11th round knockdown to defeat Romanian Ronald Gavril in (18-2-14 knockouts) a contest some fans and boxing scribes are contending could be the fight of year. Keep in mind, there are 12 months every year and 2017 has more than 3 months left on the calendar and a half a dozen or so marquee fights to decide the winner of the annual award.

In winning, David becomes the youngest super middleweight to win a world title and the third native born Arizonian to win a world title; Arizona boxing legends Louie Espinoza and Michael Carbajal are the other two pugilists from the Grand Canyon state to do so. A bit of boxing trivia, Puerto boxing legend Wilfred Benitez is the youngest boxer to win a world title at age 17 years 3 months with his split decision victory over Antonio Cervantes in San Juan Puerto Rico on March 5, 1976.

Benavidez was a huge favorite to win and for the first three rounds it looked like a cake walk for the affable young fighter. He was backing up the 31 year old Romanian at will with thunderous body shots and it looked as if Benavidez would fulfill his prediction of winning the title by knockout. Remember the old Yogi Berra adage, “it ain’t over until it’s over”.

After the ring card girl announced the 4th round, Gavril bounced out of his corner as if he had found the fountain of youth and a formula to win. His ring demeanor was more aggressive and he replaced early nervousness with confidence & composure. Despite his rebirth, Benavidez was still ahead on my scorecard going into the 10th round; but, there was reason for concern. The Phoenician looked tired and his punches became slower and wider. What we didn’t know was DB became ill (flu like symptoms) several days before the fight and the effects were beginning to take a toll on the young man who turned professional at age 16 with his first fight in Mexico.

Photos by Miguel Salazar for Team Benavidez.

In round 11 the Benavidez edge narrowed when Gavril connected with a short left hook and down went a stunned Benavidez who fell to the canvas ; but quickly got up to receive a mandatory 8 count. His pride was hurt more than anything. The knockdown gave Gavril a 10-8 round and his fans began to smell and upset but Benavidez summoned enough energy to win the 12th and final round.

At the end of round 12, both fighters went to their corners anxiously awaiting the decision. One Benavides fan told me he was worried because Gavril was a Mayweather fighter and the bout was being held in Las Vegas where Floyd Mayweather was the “unofficial” mayor and a future hall of famer. It seemed like the judges were taking forever to decide; there was fidgeting in both corners. Finally Ring Announcer Ralph Velez Jr. approached the center of the ring to announce the scores. I didn’t catch the names of the scoring judges but when I heard Velez announce the first released score as 116-11 for Gavril, several Benavidez fans gasp for air. Those fearful sounding gasps were followed by celebratory shouts of joy when the announcer told the standing audience that the other two judges disagreed by the identical score of 116-111. Velez was very cool as he delivered the verdict. I believe he struggled to project the right tone because Ralph is from Phoenix and knows the Benavidez family well.

After the decision, Benavidez fans wanted to climb into the ring and congratulate the champ. Security had its hand full. I encouraged Daisy Benavides (wife of Jose Benavidez Sr.) to enter the ring and pose with David, family and friends; at least 15 cameramen were in the ring snapping pictures. Finally, after the pictures, interviews and physical exam, the family and an estimated 25 friends took time to eat, celebrate and then retire to their rooms.

Two days later I called to ask about the champ’s future plans and I was told by Jose SR. that David would take a week off for a little R&R and then it was back in the Gym. Before the vacation, David will attend the GGG/Canelo fight and he is expected to be called to the center of the ring to acknowledge his winning a championship. It will be a reunion of sorts; David sparred with GGG and says the undefeated champion is the hardest hitter he has ever faced. Young Benavidez was to spar with Canelo; however, their timetables didn’t mesh.

Under Card: An unusual end to the 10 round co-main feature between super middle weights J’Leon Love (23-1-1-13 knockouts) and Abraham Han (26-3-1-16 knockouts). I had Han slightly ahead going into the 8th when the heads of both fighters collided and Han started bleeding profusely and the ring doctor called a halt to the fight forcing the judges to go to the score cards and the result was announced as a technical draw. It was the most severe head butt I have ever seen. I hope Han recovers and can resume his career.

In a special bout, # 12 ranked super middleweight Caleb Plant (16-0-10 knockouts) had a relatively easy time with Andrew Hernandez (19-7-1-9 knockouts) in their 10 round match. In fairness to Hernandez, from Arizona, he took the fight on short notice and Plant was in tip top shape. I asked the Tennessee born fighter if he could learn anything from a relatively easy fight and he said experience. Despite his reputation of being cocky and arrogant, Plant was courteous and open when we spoke on two separate occasions. The 25 year ld fighter works out at the City Boxing Club in Las Vegas where some very gifted fighters spar including the Barthelme Brothers, Jorge Linares, Diego & Marco Magdaleno, Nonito Donaire and Yordenis Ugas. Boxing fans visiting Vegas may want to put the gym on their to do list; call 702-375-9107 for additional information. It is a very respectful and community serving facility.

Andrew suffered a deep and nasty cut early in the fight under the left eye and the cut required some serious medical attention at the end of the night. I hope he is okay and makes the right decision on whether to continue his boxing career or call it quits. Hernandez has always been good for boxing in Arizona and we wish him the best. Plant won with scores of 100-90 x 3. I had Hernandez winning one round with one even. It wasn’t pretty to watch.

In the second best fight of the night, Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin beat underrated Dashon Johnson in a n 8 round slugfest that was closer than the sores (78-73 & 79-73 x2) indicate. Johnson (22-22-3-7 knockouts) had Quillen in trouble in the middle rounds and couldn’t finish the New York fighter. Good fight, I would like to see a rematch with different judges.

The 3 other under card fights ended in stops by prospects that were facing opponent with less skill: Middleweight Jeison Rosario (13-1-11) ended Frenchman Salim Larbi’s night with a liver shot followed by another body shot at the end of round 5. Larbi’s corner called a halt to the contest. Larbi’s record now stands at 18-8-1-5 knockouts after the loss. In a 6 round super lightweight match, Josue Vargas (9-1-5 knockouts) notched a TKO victory over Alexander Charneco (4-4-4 knockouts). Charneco is a one dimensional wild swinger who leaves himself wide open; Vargas is a good prospect.

Next Knockout: Xavier Martinez (9-0-5 knockouts) is managed by “Repo Rick” and trained by Ray Woods. Martinez, from Sacramento California, signed with Mayweather Promotions after Top Rank scouted him; but, too long to pull the trigger….so they lost him to Floyd “Money” Mayweather according to Martinez and his manager. Xavier is a well-schooled fighter with all the tools to become a champion. Martinez faced Arizona’s Jesus Aguinaga (5-6-2) in a 8 rounder and showed too much power for the counter punching Arizonian who exited after 5 as a result of a barrage of punches from the power punches of Martinez who received his HS diploma after finishing high school online. He went online to complete his studies after realizing that he was hanging out with the wrong people; good kid, ABNN wishes him the best! He lists Diego Corrales and Floyd Mayweather as his two favorite fighters.

Golovkin vs. Alvarez: Hard core died in the wool boxing fans would have to in a deep coma not to know that the GGG versus Canelo fight for supremacy will be settled once and for all on Saturday September 16th at T Mobile Arena in Las Vegas Nevada. The sports book favors Gennady Golovkin (37-0-33 knockouts) but Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (49-1-1-34 knockouts) has his supporters and at the end of the night, the winner will own 4 world middleweight titles and bragging rights. I can’t even count the money they will make.

What does the tale of the tape tell us! First up, Gennady Golovkin: Aka GGG, Golovkin was born in Kazakhstan on 4/8/82 making him 35 years old. His height is 5’10” or 5 10&1/2 depending on which reference you accept and his reach is listed at 70”. Record stands at 37 wins, 0 losses and 33 of those wins are via knockout. His last opponent was Daniel Jacobs whom he beat by decision and critics thought he struggled and the showing, according to some, was a sign that GGG’s skills are detonating. His weight on fight night averages 165-170 pounds.

Santos Saul Alvarez Barragan Aka “Canelo: Alvarez was born in Mexico on 7/18/1990 making him 27 years old. His height if 5’ 9” and his reach measures 70 & ½ “. His last fight was with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. whom he easily defeated by a unanimous decision. His fight night weight has reached 174 pounds upon occasion. Analysis: Canelo is 8 years younger but GGG is stronger. Canelo has improved a great deal since his loss to Mayweather and his jab is greatly improved. GGG is a very smart fighter and cool as a cucumber in the ring. Canelo sometimes sits on his right hand too much and I don’t believe that he can hurt GGG or knock him out with one punch. Prediction: I like GGG because of his power, ring IQ and focus. Canelo, with his win over Chavez, didn’t prove to me that he can fight a big strong guy, GGG is a big strong guy. If Canelo wins, it will be an early round knockout or the younger fighter will wear the veteran down. In a word: GGG by knockout 8-10 rounds.

Fight Night: Where are you going to watch the fight? Fans have several options. Personally, I will be at Twin Peaks on Camelback and 22nd Street in Phoenix, Arizona. There is a second location in Scottsdale and plans to open two more in the near future.

I watch sports events at Twin Peaks for several reasons and the #1 reason is service. I hate waiting half an hour for food or drink and then when the order is delivered you have to call 911 to get a refill or second drink. Also I like the fact that the servers at Twin Peaks ask about the quality of your meal and the staff is always courteous. And Management is mindful of the community and reaches out and helps various causes; that is important to me.

The party atmosphere at TP is complimented by more than 85 television screens and fans can either sit in a booth or at a table or if they choose the bar. It is a diverse crowd and I have never witnessed an altercation.

(/16 will be treated as special event and patrons will be asked to pay a $20.00 cover charge and adhere to a $20.00 minimum spend. TP owners Andy & Carolyn Bayless ask fans to start arriving no later than 3:30 PM on Saturday to make sure you can be accommodated. There was standing room only for the McGregor/Mayweather event after 5 pm and this “real” boxing event is expected to draw an even greater crowd. It is nice to come early and select a delicious entrée from a diverse menu and sip a cool one before the fight starts; see you there and good luck with your prediction.

Fighting News: 6 time world Champion Michael Carbajal celebrates his 51 Birthday on Sunday September 17…James Nakashima (Hammer Gym) fights on 9/23 at the 23 LFA Championships. A win motivates him to join the UFC…..Hard to believe the great Roman “Chocolatito”” Gonzalez (46-2-38 knockouts) was knocked out by Wisaksil Wangek (44-4-40 knockouts) from Thailand; oh well, Ali lost his last two fights….Former WBA Interim Super Lightweight Champion Jose Benavidez Jr. (25-0-16 knockouts) is back in the ring working out and has signaled to Top Rank that he wants to continue fighting after the shooting incident last year. Jose will fight at 147 in his next fight. ABNN will disclose part of our conversation with him in our next issues…..Arizona Light Heavyweight Trevor McCumby has signaled a desire to talk about his drug suspension and if he sends a statement, ABNN will share it with our readers. He comes off suspension next year if his fines are aid and his people tell us, Trevor wants to return as a super middleweight, we wish him the best f luck..….Iron Boy #42 is scheduled for October 14 at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix and rumors have Paul Romero, Carlos Castro, Adrian Servin and Luis Espinoza on tap to fight on the October 14 card. ABNN will be in Calgary Alberta Canada on that date but we will update our readers of any card changes before we say Au Revoir…. Chicas Cabaret on 35th Avenue in Phoenix is showing the Canelo fight, there is a 2 drink minimum but no limit on the number of table dances….. Golden Boy Promotions is offering fans a chance to attend the GG/Canelo weigh-in with the purchase of a ticket to their ESPN card on Friday September 15 at the MGM in Vegas and with proof of purchase, fans can attend the GGG/Canelo weigh-in scheduled for Friday 10 am at the MGM Garden Arena, floor level, North end. If you’re able to be there; it would be quite a memory. Claudio Marrero vs. Jesus Rojas headlines the ESPN show at the MGM on Friday….students of boxing can get a better understanding of the sport by attending the officials clinic on 10/7 at the Broadway boxing gym, located at 59 S MacDonald in Mesa. Officials need to be there at 9 am and the event is open to the public. For more information, call 602-702-7053….Remember the Arizona State Fair is coming to Phoenix and that means Copper Gloves boxing on October 11-12. An admission ticket allows fair goers access to all of the events including the Copper Gloves and a general admission to concert feature at the coliseum on the fair grounds. On the 11th the featured performer is country artist Billy Currington and on the 12th Halestorm (hard rock) will perform; enjoy!

More Stuff: The monthly Arizona Boxing/MMA Commission meeting for September has been cancelled. Next Commission meeting is scheduled for Wednesday at 10 a.m. on October 25; go to the website for updates and directions.…. I thought our readers would find it amusing that I was approached by two working girls at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino while I was in Vegas to watch the Benavidez fight. I wasn’t interested but I did point out two lonely guys to them; check is in the mail…..Joey Ruelas hasn’t announced his retirement yet, but “The Boxer” appears ready to make the move; good family man…..Arizona referee Wes Melton is packing his bags and headed to the Cebu City in the Philippines to referee the IBF Jr. Flyweight World Title bout on September 16 between Champion Milan Melinda vs. Hekkie Budler and he will work the WBO Featherweight World Title Oscar Valdez vs. Genesis Servania; televised on ESPN/ESPN Deportes - Friday, September 22 at the Tucson Convention Center. Personally, I think the best fight on that card is Jesse Hart (22-0-18 knockouts) vs. Gilberto Ramirez (35-0-24 knockouts) for the WBO World Super Middleweight Belt currently held by Ramirez….Hammer Boxing will participate in the 2nd annual David Lara SR. Boxing Classic in San Luis, Arizona (928-919-3990 0r 928-341-8535)on Saturday September 23, I will be there so don’t be scared…..Hammer Boxing and other gyms in Arizona will participate at the National PAL event on October 3 in Oxnard California, check the USA Boxing website for more info. …..I hope you paused on 9/11 to remember the tragedy of 2001…..Good night and good luck Robert Mueller……Until Next Time!

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