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List of Articles by Don Smith

Arizona Boxing News & Notes with Don Smith: Suspension Raises Eyebrows, “Money” in Arizona

By Don Smith
29 Mar 2018

Boxing Fans, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (49-1-2-34 knockouts)has been “temporarily suspended” from boxing by the Nevada State Athletic Commission until he receives a hearing before the commission on April 10 to addresses his two recently failed drug tests.

Alvarez claims his testing positive for Clenbuterol, a banned substance, is a result of eating contaminated meat in Mexico. Alvarez is scheduled to meet Gennady Golovkin in a highly publicized rematch on May 5 at T Mobile Arena in Las Vegas during Cinco de Mayo weekend. The fate of the contest is in limbo until April 10.

The temporary suspension has fans, merchants and anyone directly or indirectly involved with the commercial aspect of the show; in a quandary. It’s boxing, so anything can happen.

ABNN believes the Nevada Commission will resolve the issue and allow the show to proceed on May 5. However, giving Canelo a blanket pass on the 2 violations would raise eyebrows and be seen as a bias based decision by boxing purists who don’t trust the system.

It has become an annual tradition for the city of Las Vegas to host a championship fight during Cinco de Mayo weekend and the event is accompanied with other activities including Box Fan Expo scheduled on the same day at the Las Vegas Convention Center (10 a.m.-5 p.m.).

I talked to Jose Benavidez Sr., father of current WBC super-middleweight champion David Benavidez and former WBA lightweight champion Jose Benavidez Jr. and he confirmed his 2 fighting sons plan to attend the expo, sign autographs, pose for pictures and sell Team Benavidez merchandise.

Mr. Benavidez Sr is excited about attending the 4th edition of the Expo but told me he will wait to rent a booth until the Nevada State Athletic Commission meets and renders a decision on April 10. He wants fans to know that his sons will not charge for their autograph; Jose and David are very receptive to fans.
Alonzo B (Director of Box Fan Expo) sent a press release to our assignment desk stating the addition of Zab Judah, Shannon Briggs, Badou Jack, Kelly Pavlik, Jesse Vargas, Winky Wright and Erik Morales to a growing list of former champions planning to attend the event. We mentioned the confirmation of Fernando Vargas in a previous column. Last year more than 3,000 fans attended the event.

More information on Box Fan Expo is available by emailing It promises to be an interesting day for boxing fans; admission is $30.00 (early bird special) or $ 40.00 for adults depending on when the ticket is purchased.

ABNN doesn’t want to be a stick in the mud; but we do have concerns about the legality of continuing to sell tickets while one fighter (Alvarez) in the contest has been suspended temporarily. On the record; the Mexican superstar tested positive twice with Clenbuterol on February 17 and February 20 according to published reports. The matter could have been handled quickly and more judiciously; it wasn’t.

The contaminated meat plea doesn’t sit well with Golovkin who has called out Alvarez as a cheat and claims the Mexican fighter was dirty when they met on September 16, 2017. The contest ended in a controversial draw and now GGG is telling boxing fans and members of the press that he saw injection marks on Canelo’s arms during the first go around. I find it hard to believe that Golovkin wouldn’t report the alleged knowledge to officials.

I reached out to Bob Bennett, Executive Director of the Nevada Athletic Commission and asked him about selling tickets while the temporary suspension is in effect and re replied: “Good Morning. I have no comment. You may want to check with the MGM (host hotel for the event)”...Bob Bennett!

The show is scheduled for T Mobile Arena; so, I called the T Mobile Box-Office and was referred to AXS Tickets. T mobile sells tickets on the day of the show (if available) while AXS has a contract to sell ducats from day one.

I talked to AXS; but the box-office employee sounded intimidated when I identified myself as a journalist; so, I contacted Elizabeth at T Mobile Arena and she told me the cheaper seats, under $1,500.00, are gone! There are seats priced at $1,500.00, $2, 000.00, $2,500.00 and $5,000.00 for ringside were available at the time of the call.

What a difference a suspension makes. The first show sold out in 2 days. Scalpers are a bit nervous and they may have to adjust their request of $20,000.00 for ringside seats even if the event is moved to another date. And any delay will also affect press coverage and some reporters have told me they will stay at home and watch the event; therefore, saving almost a thousand dollars for a three day stay.

Regardless of the decision made on April 10, the situation was handled poorly. When the failed test results were revealed, an immediate suspension should have been administered and within days, a hearing should have been held and a decision rendered. In the meantime, a moratorium on ticket sales should be been introduced.

In our opinion, the Nevada Athletic Commission punted when they should have called time out and faced the problem. To their credit, they’re addressing the seriousness of the situation by placing a temporary suspension on Mr. Alvarez. Most fans still want to watch the fight; so, cross your fingers and hope the mess is resolved. An indefinite postponement could conceivably cost the city an estimated 50-100 million dollars in revenue and the potential bankruptcy of Golden Boy Promotions; not a good scenario.

Smoker Result: The Madison Boxing Gym hosted a smoker on Saturday March 24 at their gym on North Central Avenue in Phoenix. The 18 bouts were competitive; but, the lack of air conditioning made it uncomfortable for some and one lady (Diabetic) was told by the ring doctor that she (USA Boxing volunteer) should go home and lay down after she felt faint.

The admission at the door was $15.00, a little steep for some families. The normal rate is $10.00 with a discount for kids. As a working journalist, I entered free of charge and was shocked yet gratified to be given a trophy commemorating my years of covering boxing in the Valley of the Sun and places beyond.

My presentation was held during intermission and accompanied with a birthday cake. Event host Ricky Ricardo was very complimentary with his introductory speech and I thank him. There were a few boos and the familiar sound was very soothing to my ears. Thank you boo birds for your humbling non-support.

On a serious note, the event paid tribute to Arizona boxer Jose Miguel “JoJo” Valera IV who died on March 10th as a result of a vehicular accident in Phoenix. As a professional, he compiled a record of 10 wins, 7 losses and 1 draw. Among his notable bouts included fights with Donovan George, Arturo Ortega and Anthony Bartinelli.

The 41 year old Valera retired from the ring in 2006 although someone who knew him told me JoJo talked comeback several days before his death. Although retired, he did volunteer to help his brother with the staging of smokers at the Victory Outreach facility.

The former United States Army Reservist is survived by his beloved mother Irene Salazar, father Jose Miguel Valera III, brothers Jesse, Juan, Jimmy, Julian, and sister Ana.

Also, JoJo is survived by his four children; Manuel, Briana, Nadia and Adam which he loved and prayed for every day. The family held services at the Victory Outreach Church in Phoenix on Friday March 23 and Saturday March 24. Both services drew an overflow crowds and he was laid to rest at Greenwood/Memory Cemetery on Van Buren Street in Phoenix. Chief USA Boxing Arizona Official Richard Soto skipped the smoker to pay his respects to the deceased and his family.

Fight Results: Alejandro Gomez (Rodriguez Boxing) was named outstanding boxer with his performance against Samuel Ortiz (12th Avenue Boxing) in the novice division. The Team Trophy was awarded to Rodriguez Boxing. Here is the remaining list of winning boxers: Xavier Ortiz (Aztec Boxing), Diego Cruz (Aztec Boxing), Juan Ramirez (Rodriguez Boxing), Angel Urieta (Rodriguez Boxing), Melvin Hernandez (Guadalupe Boxing), Gamaliel Torres (Central Boxing) in his first fight, Miguel Castro (Phoenix Fire), Kristy Perez (Rodriguez Boxing), Joaquin Garcia (12th Avenue (Boxing), Joel Marquez (Rodriguez Boxing), George McMillian (IronGloves Boxing), Paul Flores (Mendoza Boxing), Joel Contreras (unattached), Andrew Mendoza (Guadalupe Boxing), Xavier Epstein (AZ Top Team), Ivan Castaneda (Madison Boxing Gym), and 24 year old Dyllon Cervantes(Hammer Boxing) in his first fight.

Boxing fan Felix Nazario won $105.00 in the 50-50 raffle and donated it to the host gym; Madison Boxing. His name and benevolent gesture was announced to the crowd who cheered as the winner acknowledged the crowd’s appreciation.

Amateur News: Coach Froy, Phoenix Fire Boxing, was named treasurer of USA Boxing Arizona in February. I talked to the amicable Coach recently and he wants Arizona Boxing News & Notes and the Arizona Boxing Community to know that he accepted the position to help kids. The position has been vacant since the death of Walt Hoskins, a beloved contributor to amateur boxing in Arizona. While I covered a recent smoker, I was surprised very few boxing coaches knew about the choice of Coach Froy who seems very eager to take over the position.

ABNN is pleased to hear the belated announcement but sad that USA Boxing Arizona didn’t directly notify ABNN and other press entities on the selection. Instead, we found out when a routine call was made to PFB inquiring about another matter.

This roundabout way of discovering information is typical in Arizona boxing circles and we hope USA Boxing Arizona fixes the problem. The art of communicating has come a long way since the advent of the telephone or has it?

The selection of Coach Froy as Treasurer means USA Boxing Arizona is still looking for person(s) to fill the Secretary and Registration Chairman positions vacant since the death of Walt Hoskins and his wife Lydia. Remarkable as it seems, Mr. Hoskins held all three positions after his wife (Secretary) passed until his own passing.

News & Notes: Iron Boy Promotions was talking to heavyweight B J Flores about a spot on their April 28 show at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix; but that won’t happen after a bit of rethinking. Rumors had Flores facing a Don King protégé (no name) in a title elimination bout. Based on Flore’s last 2 performances, abandoning the idea was smart and economical.

Welterweight Eben Vargas (8-0) has been added to the Iron Boy lineup and he will face 32 year old Randy Steinke who will make his boxing debut on the card. Before you raise your eyebrows, Steinke’s resume includes 23 MMA fights and several months of sparring as a boxer. His martial arts record stands at 12-10-1 and we hear he is ready for the transition. Vargas is a good fighter but I think he should be fighting aat super lightweight; what do I know?

Phoenix middleweight Andrew “Hurricane” Hernandez” headed to Las Vegas on March 26 to start training with former world champion Joel Casamayor at the renowned City Athletic Boxing Gym in Las Vegas Nevada. Before he headed west, the charismatic Hernandez issued a challenge to WBO - NABO Middleweight Champion Albert Onolunose; saying he wanted his tile and would gladly travel to Calgary, Alberta Canada to fight the Nigerian who now makes Canada his home.

Dekada Promotions, based in Calgary, is Albert’s promoter and after reading of Andrew’s challenge may reply. On paper, it shapes up to be a good proposed match; both pugilists are quality boxers.

The American’s plan is to beat Onolunose, then challenge David Lemieux and if he prevails; fight for a world title.... sounds rather lofty for a fighter who has lost 3 consecutive bouts and at age 31 needs to get busy.

Arizona Flyweight Fernando Meza (Strong Enough Boxing) is ready to make his professional debut but has been unable to find a match. The kid can fight and here’s hoping a promoter will offer him a bout, soon. Andrew Mendez is his trainer and a real good guy despite the fact he supports the Dallas Cowboys; just kidding!

After a 9 month layoff, Arizona welterweight Abel Ramos (18-2-2) returns to action at the Armory in Minneapolis on Friday April 13 against Jamal James (22-1). A win for the likeable Arizona fighter could win him a title shot, NABF type at least.

There are discussions about a possible upcoming show in Tucson; but the conversation is early and very speculative at this point. Fans ask me what it would take to stimulate Arizona Boxing and a big show with a major headline bout and local talent to fill the under-card.

A reminder, sexual abuse is a crime and any unwanted and inappropriate touching can be interpreted as sexual abuse. If anyone witnesses such behavior, they should report it to authorities and if it involves a boxer, trainer or anyone associated with boxing, report it to the Arizona Boxing Commission or USA Boxing Arizona authorities depending on their affiliation in boxing.

Canadian based Dekada Promotions has signed Team Pacquiao’s Michael Farenas (42-5-4) to battle Mexico’s Guadalupe Rosales (34-14) for the Canadian Professional Boxing Council (C.P.B.C.) International lightweight title. Dekada is quickly becoming a major promotional company and Arizona boxers might be wise to copy the following contact info: or PH: 403-804-5277. Michael Short and partner Dennis Herrman own Dekada Promotions, 2 stand-up guys.

Wild Speculation: The incomparable GGG has mentioned he may skip the May 5 encounter with Canelo even if the suspension is lifted according to a boxing insider.
On a positive note, Canelo has tested negative twice since the positive results in February. If the middleweight champion opts out, rumors have Alvarez facing Daniel Jacobs which is out of the question because Jacobs has a fight date in New York on 4/28. The logical choice, based on that scenario, is former WBA super middleweight Demetrius Andrade (25-0-16 knockouts) who has vacated his title to become a middleweight. He is a southpaw and stands 6’ 1” in height and described as boring by fans who have watched his ring work. Assuming the Mexican superstar would win, he would then be open to fighting GGG in August or September...just a rumor, folks!

Money In Town: Retired undefeated boxing icon Floyd Mayweather (50-0) traveled to Arizona and checked out the posh and trendy International Boutique Nightclub in Scottsdale on Sunday March 25. Curious fans can go to the club website and view pictures of the Mayweather appearance. In the video’s “Money” wearing a dress Tee with an expensive looking piece of bling around his neck.

The nightclub concept, according to online publicity, was conceived after years of travel around the world. It features unbelievable visual effects and a sound system next to none. I tried to call for further information such as hours of operation, drink prices and cover charge but no one answered the number listed.

The servers are attractive and scantily clad in high dollar lingerie and the crowd tends to be generally under 40, rich and loose t according our source, a onetime visitor.

It was an advertised visit and earlier in the day, he had lunch at Applebee’s located on Camelback Road & Central Avenue with his entourage of 13 people. Aaron and Ricci served him and his bill came to $428.00 and he left a tip of $400.00.

I was told he was accompanied by a security team of 2 large men. When someone (customer) in the restaurant approached Mayweather’s table to take a picture, a member of the security team pulled out a lit flash light, after covering Mayweather, and pointed it in the face of the customer preventing him from taking a photo.

The only memorable moment at the restaurant was when when one of the servers attempted to open a bottle of water for the champ and the superstar freaked out. He didn’t want anyone touching his water. In his defense, he should have been left alone while dining but it hard for some fans to let a celebrity eat in peace.

RJJ Boxing Invitational: sponsored by Ringside Promotions, the Roy Jones JR Invitational aka Future Stars of Boxing 2 will be held June 7th-9th with registration on Wednesday June 6th, 10 AM-6PM. Based on reports from last year, it is a very important amateur boxing event. Last year several Arizona amateurs attended the event and came back with hardware and good experiences.

This year the event will be held at Cox Pavilion on the UNLV campus in Las Vegas Nevada. Spectators wishing to attend can buy tickets can go online at Tickets are priced at an affordable $15.00 per day or $40.00 for all three days. The Invitational showcases boxers from coast to coast. Once again, the host is Las Vegas Elite Boxing Team.

Boxers wanting to participate should email and ask for link to event information or call Coach Gil Martinez at 702-378-8364. ABNN will try to secure the names of Arizona winners in the Invitational and relay them to our readers. We endorse the event and wish all participants, good luck. More Amateur News: 4 Upcoming amateur shows have been announced; 4/21 at Kroc Center (Salvation Army) located at 1375 E. Broadway in Phoenix, call 602-425-5000 for further details. 5/5-6, J.O. Arizona State Championship scheduled to be held at Sonny Boxing Gym in Goodyear Arizona. 1st bout starts at 1 pm. call sonny at 623-806-2421. Venue is located at 108 East Western in the city of Goodyear. 11/-02-03: 3rd annual Masters Tournament held at 108 E. Western Avenue in Goodyear, Arizona. Call Sonny at 623-806-2421 for further information. 11/09-10-11: 43rd Annual Gene Lewis Invitational Tournament at Gene Lewis Boxing Club, 59 E. Broadway Road, Mesa Arizona85210. Contact Josh Benjamin at 480-834-1216 for more information.

Commission Meeting: A short Arizona Boxing/MMA meeting was held on Wednesday March 21. Commissioners Scott Peters (Chairman) and Joe Pennington attended via telephone while Scott Fletcher was physically at the meeting. I talked to Executive Director Juan Estrada and we exchanged pleasantries before the meeting commenced. Norma Rivero (Boxing/MMA Commission Assistant) was present but we didn’t speak to each other. Both employees have accepted other positions in the Arizona Gaming Department but will remain in their current positions until competent and screened replacements are found. An unusually large number of applicants have applied for the Estrada & Rivero positions.

The meeting was over in 30-35 minutes. The biggest news was the announcement that Boxing & MMA activities will continue for 8 more years under the auspices of the Arizona Department of Gaming. Caroline Oppleman, Department PIO) greeted the announcement with a joyful yell accompanied simultaneously by a fist in the air.

After the meeting, she (Ms. Oppleman) addressed my emailed question that asked if anyone with a license to work a boxing or MMA event could lose their work permit if he/she was convicted of a DUI. Although she didn’t verbally answer the hypothetical question directly, she did hand me information (statue 5-235.0) that addressed disciplinary powers available to the Commission at their discretion; the key word “may” was highlighted. Thank goodness for highlighters. The next scheduled meeting is marked on the commission calendar for Wednesday.

Days later, she would send a press release that warned the dangers in turning social gambling into a business. This warning is timely due to the ongoing final 4 tournament and the popularity of final four office pools and so forth.

I must confess that every year I pick 4-6 NCAA Basketball teams that I feel are capable of reaching the finals in the tournament. This year 2 of my teams (Kansas & Villanova) reached the final 4. I don’t gamble and I am law abiding; so I have nothing to worry about and if the lord is willing and the creek doesn’t try, I will return with my next column without borrowing bail money....Until Next Time!

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