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List of Articles by Don Smith

Arizona Boxing News & Notes with Don Smith: De Vaca in Demand, Box Fan Expo News, Iron Boy 44

By Don Smith
27 Apr 2018

De Vaca.

Boxing Fans, Francisco C. De Vaca (18-0-6 knockouts), a centerpiece of the Iron Boy boxing program in Phoenix, is being courted by Top Rank and Golden Boy according to two sources who called our office to share their inside knowledge.

ABNN called the personable fighter on 4/23 to verify what we heard and the 23 year old featherweight was out for the evening. A family member said she would inform Francisco of our attempted contact and we expect to have a chat with the popular pugilist on April 28 at the Iron Boy 44 show in Phoenix (Celebrity Theatre). You guessed it, he didn’t return our call.

Our relationship with the Phoenix resident (born in Mexico) has been cordial dating back to his amateur days. “Panchito”, a bit shy, has earned 17 of his total victories (18) in Phoenix at the Celebrity Theater.

It isn’t a surprise that the charismatic boxer is looking for bigger paydays and a chance to move up from his #15 USA ranking posted on BoxRec. His only professional title bout resulted in a 8th round TKO win over Mexican journeyman Gustavo Molina in 2016 to capture the NABF Junior Super Bantamweight title.

Molina’s record after his 2016 defeat to “Panchito” is 3-7; typical of the inferior talent he has faced during his 5 year career as a professional. We don’t blame De Vaca; the decision to pick a worthy opponent falls squarely on his trifecta of advisors.

Since his successful professional debut in 2013, De Vaca has built a strong fan base. At this point in his career, De Vaca knows he has to get busy and upgrade his boxing menu and face stiffer competition. He knows that and has told me so on several occasions at the Celebrity Theatre. In a word, it’s time to pull the trigger. As for my opinion, I root for him because he is class act with some natural abilities. He does have a short reach and I think he needs to go down one weight class based on his physical stature. ABNN wishes him the best!

Amateur Mess: Fuentes Gym boxer Aaron Garcia (154 lbs.) won gold (belt) with his defeat of Mexico’s #1 boxer in the 154 lb. weight division at the USA vs. Mexico tournament held in Mexacali, April 20-22. ABNN was unable to confirm the complete list of winning fighters from Arizona but we do know that Esteban Inzunza (95 lbs.) and Julian Rodriguez (75 lbs.) fighting out of F-1 boxing won gold (belts), also. Congratulation to everyone who participated and we apologize for our inability to ascertain a complete list of Arizona winners. We sympathize with the fighters who made the trek to Mexacali only to leave the event without a match.

It was the 6th year for the annual tournament and according to complaints forwarded to our desk; the event jeopardized the health and safety of some athletes. Spectator Angela Cruz was there for 3 days and she reports that at least 2 teenage boxers were carried out on stretchers. Other whistleblowers told ABNN that because of overscheduling; several fighters fought two fights in one day; definitely a rule violation. This is what happens when safety rules and regulations are disregarded.

Angela also thought officials were careless in matching some of the bouts. She said some of the fighters appeared much larger than their opponents and older. Her opinion was shared by several spectators who contacted our office. Our column is sent to USA Boxing; so, perhaps the complaints will be addressed before the 7th annual USA vs. Mexico tournament comes to fruition in 2019. Readers who want to weigh-in on the subject are welcome to send comments to:

The rivalry has a history of bizarre confrontations between the two North American countries. One source told me about a past tournament demand that the USA team use the same brand of hand wrap and head gear as the Mexican team did. Of course, the American team declined and the tournament proceeded. ABNN urges USA Boxing to look into the alleged South of the border violations; but, we don’t expect an immediate rush to resolve the issue although the allegations are serious and waiting isn’t an option.

Iron Boy 44: On Saturday April 28, Luis Espinoza (8-0-3 knockouts) and Adrian “Sharkey” Servin (5-0-1-2 knockouts) fight for the vacant ABO super flyweight title at the Celebrity Theater in Phoenix. The title tiff (6 rounds) pits two of Arizona’s most popular pugilists and the winner goes home with a title and bragging rights with fellow Arizona flyweight Elihu Soto (5-0-3 knockouts) waiting in the wings for a shot at the winner. Maximum weight for the Servin/Espinoza contest is 115 lbs. Interesting note: Team Servin has added a nutritionist and meal 4 round featherweight bout...Jesus Ibarra (3-0-2 knockouts) vs. TBA. preparer to their team in readying Servin for his April 28th battle at the Celebrity. Team Espinoza feels their man has an edge by working with renowned trainer Joel Diaz. It will boil down to execution!

Doors at the venue open at 5 p.m. and 1st bout starts at 6 p.m. The public is invited to witness the mandatory weigh-in scheduled on Friday, April 27 at Club Downtown (5 p.m.) located at 702 North Central Avenue in Phoenix. Iron Boy has a relationship with the owner. Ticket prices range from $25.00-$55.00 + service fee on each ticket.

The bout sheet is still under construction; but, we do have 8 bouts confirmed and the names of 5 other fighters ready to fight if opponents can be found. Co-Main Event: 6 rounds-172 lb. contest: Fidel Hernandez 18-4-10 knockouts vs. Moises Alvizo 3-8-3 draws, Under-Card: 8 rounds 124 lb. contest...Rico Ramos (28-5-13 knockouts vs. Christian Esquivel 30-13-1-22 knockouts....4 rounds 168 lb. Contest...Lenny Correra (0-1) vs. Adolfo Ramos (debut)...4 round 118 lb. contest...Chris Sullivan (debut) vs. Markey Garcia (1-0) 1-5 in MMA...4 round 154 lb. contest....Zarifbek Nishanbaev (debut) vs. Cordell Powell (0-1)....4 rounds 140 lb. contest...Christopher Gonzalez (1-0) vs. Brandon Trujillo (0-1)....4 rounds 138 lb. contest....Trini Ochoa (debut) vs. David Courtney (1-6)... 4 round featherweight bout...Jesus Ibarra (3-0-2 knockouts) vs. TBD. The bouts on Iron Boy 44 card feature some newbies but anyone who follows the amateur circuit knows A Ramos, T Ochoa and C Sullivan can fight. I didn’t include Gonzalez on the list because of his name identify. I like the main event and I think fans will be surprised at the quality of the card despite 1-2 possible stinkers...See you there!

Corner News: Texas Native Adolfo “The Outlaw” Ramos (Hard Knocks Gym) makes his professional boxing debut April 28 on the Iron Boy 44 card (4 rounds) at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix. He will be escorted in the ring by his devoted grandfather; it should be an emotional night for the Ramos Family.

After the symbolic walk, the charismatic 23 year old Ramos will battle super middleweight Lenny Correra (0-1) a banger who lost to Eduardo Ayala (2-0) at the Celebrity in his debut. Lenny is a banger and will be a good first test for Ramos, a two time Golden Gloves Champion, Junior Olympic Champion, Texas State Champion and Gene Lewis Invitational winner. Adolfo is trained by Coach Arturo Ortega, a former news cameraman and ex Arizona middle and super middleweight champion. Arturo and his wife own and operate Hard Knocks Gym in Phoenix.

The ambitious Ramos currently works full time at Shamrock Dairy making cheese. Boxing is his life and on April 28, he hopes to make that statement abundantly clear with a victory over Correra.

Super Featherweight Cesar Alan Valenzuela, 14-6-1, has reportedly left Phoenix and now resides in Las Vegas. Valenzuela was knocked out by Golden Boy sensation Ryan Garcia (14-0-13 knockouts) last year and we don’t know if he has dropped the sport or if he wants to reinvent himself in Nevada.

Iron Boy Promotions requested approval for a private boxing show at the Camelback Inn in Phoenix on May 17 and the request was approved by the Arizona Boxing Commission on Wednesday April 25. Iron Boy matchmaker Mike Sanchez is booking the fights; so, Arizona fighters needing work should contact him ASAP! Heavyweight Adam Stewart is expected to headline the private show.

**Reaction to Francisco Meneses’ appointment to replace Juan Estrada at the Commission is getting mixed reactions. His colleagues at the ADG are elated while his critics say he received preferential treatment and they believe there wasn’t a fair vetting of other applicants. I don’t buy the theory that the fix was in.

In the beginning of the search for Juan’s replacement, I told friends the choice would be someone who has worked within a governmental structure and isn’t annoyed by adhering to conflicting processes. In my opinion, Mr. Meneses is a perfect fit for the job.

As for boxing/MMA experience, a press release announcing his appointment mentions he has experience with the AGD as an inspector for boxing & MMA; I don’t remember him. ABNN will try to find out who was Executive Director when Francisco joined the AGD as an Inspector. Perhaps that same person helped him secure his new job; doesn’t hurt to have friends.

Mail Bag: We received an email from Cape Town, South Africa asking ABNN to mention a scheduled bout in Green Bay Wisconsin (Riverside Ballroom) on May 4, 2018. In the headline bout on the card, Welterweight Javontae Starks (13-2-1-7 knockouts) is fighting Andrew Hartley (2-28-1 – knockout). According to BoxRec, Hartley has been knocked out 27 times during his professional career. At stake is the vacant World Boxing Foundation International welterweight title.

The World Boxing Federation sent the email in an effort to make sure ABNN and our readers don’t confuse the World Boxing Federation with the World Boxing Foundation organization. After I saw the listed matchup, I sent an email to Program Director Adam Buckhalter, Wisconsin Athletic Commission . Update: Thank goodness, Hartley was removed from the card and ruled as an unsuitable opponent; Starks is still looking for a foe on May 4. I know 2-3 fighters in Arizona that would like to fight Hartley; just kidding.

Successor Named: On Wednesday, April 25, Francisco Meneses, Jr. was officially appointed Executive Director of Arizona Boxing & Mixed Martial Arts Commission. He replaces outgoing Executive Director Juan Estrada who will remain with the Arizona Gaming Department in a different capacity. The appointment was announced at the Commissions monthly meeting. His appointment was welcomed by Commission Chairman Scott Fletcher and fellow commission members, Joe Pennington and Scott Peters. Meneses, a veteran law enforcement officer, accepted the appointment and promised to do his best in his new position.

In other commission news, combatant Estevan Payan was granted a new license and David Conant’s application for a promoter’s license was also approved. David wants to produce and promote MMA shows; we wish him good luck.

During the meeting, Arizona Boxing News & Notes approached Rudy Casillas, Deputy Director of AGD and asked him how ABNN could obtain bio material on the 3 commission members and the Deputy Director said he was aware of the omission on the website and would have it corrected. ABNN began requesting the info, approximately 3 years ago. A special thanks to Mr. Casillas and we wish Francisco well! The next monthly Commission meeting is scheduled for Wednesday May 23 at 10 a.m.

Madison Boxing is hosting a smoker on May 12. Coach Ricky Ricardo is pleased to announce his air conditioner has been fixed. Some boxing patrons complained about the room temperature at his last event and the admission price of $15.00 per head was a bit steep for some fans who called ABNN to complain.

Ricky defends the higher entrance cost to his smokers as a necessity to keep up with escalating operating expenses. The veteran boxing manager and gym owner is disabled and presenting smokers is a way of life for him. He catches flak from other gym owners who question his motive for presenting 8-10 smokers a year. I think know Ricky and if he was to give up hosting smokers or working with fighters; it would be comparable to cutting off a limb or undergoing 8 hours of waterboarding.

His smokers aren’t perfect. Until he fixed the air conditioner, the venue on 9402 North Central Avenue in Phoenix was described as an inferno and his shows never start on time and yes, $15.00 is a little stiff. Also, I would like to see him a little more appreciative to USA Boxing Arizona officials that work amateur shows without compensation. 3 of the complaints are easy to remedy. He will nt budge on the admission price.

He took some heat when he presented yours truly with a birthday cake and trophy recently at his last show. He knows me well enough that regardless of any tribute given to me; I am always be fair with my show critiques. To the point, I think I know where his heart lies and he means well. Ricky can be reached at 602-434-7770 for more show details.

Short Jabs: Trainer Randy Robles thinks 18 year old Orthon Carrales (Broadway Boxing) at 138 lbs. is the best amateur fighter in Arizona. He was sick and missed the Kroc Center smoker but plans to box at the May 12 smoker at Madison Boxing. Orthon is planning to turn professional, next year.... Christopher Gonzales if you’re listening, call him up and ask him to be a sparring partner; no charge for the tip...... Arizona boxer Misael “Chico” Chacon (2-16) fights in Los Angeles on Saturday 4/ further word on 2 proposed shows in Tucson at Desert Diamond Casino and Tucson Arena...Calgary Canada is a good place for Arizona fighters to look for ring work....Tucson welterweight Alfonso Olvera (10-4-1) is fighting on June 13 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Box Fan Expo: The Box Fan Expo has been re-scheduled for Saturday, September 15 (Mexican Independence Day) at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Originally scheduled for May 5 (Cinco de Mayo weekend), organizers of the event decided to keep with tradition and compliment the Expo with a major fight; hopefully a rematch between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin. It is a gamble because the two fighters are barely on speaking terms after their first encounter was hijacked by 2 failed drug tests. Oh, the world of boxing!

I think the Nevada Athletic Commission was surprised when Golovkin (37-0-1-33 knockouts) decided to fight Vanes “The Nightmare” Martirosyan (36-3-1-21 knockouts) at the Stub Hub Center in Carson California on May 5 (Cinco de Mayo weekend). Boxing fans were sure, he would please them with a promise to fight in Vegas on 5/5; instead he took his action to California.

The middleweight title fight is produced by GGG Promotions in association with Don King Promotions in association with Don King Promotions, and sponsored by Tecate, Chivas Regal, Jordan and Hublot. ABNN has decided to stay in Phoenix and watch title tiff on HBO at the Twin Peaks Bar & Grill on Camelback Road & 22nd Street. Twin Peaks has two locations (Phoenix & Scottsdale) and plans are underway to open another one in Glendale, Arizona at Westgate. Special thanks to Caroline and Andy Bayless for the invite. I prefer watching mega fights with a crowd.

Despite the hasty move to California, tickets for the GGG/ Martirosyan match are selling like IHOP Pancakes on National Pancake Day. According to a Stub Hub spokesperson, the $50.00-$500.00 priced tickets are sold out. If fans can afford $750.00 per ticket they have 3 options; buy online, at StubHub box-office or call 888-9AXS-TIX.Canelo fans are rooting for GGG with a potential mega match up with Canelo on September 15.

I spoke recently to Alonzo B, Spokesperson for Box Fan Expo, and I was impressed with his confidence that the 2018 Box Fan Expo on September 15 will surpass previous Expo Events and he added he was going to add a surprise wrinkle to the upcoming festivities. Alonzo wants fans to hold on to their May 5 tickets and show them at the entry gate to receive free admission and a collectible gift. It is a very generous offer and one that fans will surely take advantage of. Check the Box Fan Expo website for updates including the announcement of invited guests and date.

Kroc Center Smoker: On Saturday April 21, I spent an enjoyable afternoon watching amateur boxing at the Kroc Center on Broadway in Phoenix. One of the main reasons I went was to watch Victoria Gaytan (Mendoza Gym) box but she didn’t match; so I sat down and watches 20 bouts. Good stuff, Hammer boxing won Team Trophy and deservedly so. Keith boxing went o-2 but his boxers deserve special mention because they never turn down a fight regardless of size and record of their opponents. Prime example: Elijah Smith with less than a half a dozen bouts under his belt took of highly touted Xavier Gordin (Guadalupe Boxing) and put on a show. Coach Keith has a winner in Smith (from Surprise Arizona) and with more experience; watch out!

Gordin won but the kid from Mesa entered the ring with a boxing resume of more than 50 fights. I talked to the soft spoken Gordin after his UD win and he told me ring rust hampered his performance and so did pressure from Elijah.

The Mesa, Arizona high school graduate (good grades) is set on trying out for the 2020 USA Olympic team. Other Arizona kids aiming for the same goal (winning Gold) include Victoria Gaytan (Mendoza boxing), Fernando Martinez and Lillian Keating (Busted Knuckle). Here is a complete list of winners from the Ray Kroc Smoker: Simeon Duckey (Duckey Boxing) Jaime Cuesta (Boxing Inc.), Jacob Olivera (Scrapyard Boxing), Brandon Gutiérrez (Kroc Boxing), Roger Curry (IronGloves), Manuel Vasquez (Walt Hoskins Boxing), Jesus Ramirez (Madison Boxing), Marques Silva (Mendoza Boxing), Jose Escarcega (Martillo’s Boxing), Elexus Garcia (Garcia Boxing), Adam Lopez (Mendoza Boxing), Melvin Hernandez (Guadalupe Boxing), Dyllon Alvarado (Hammer Boxing), Kevin Santana (Martillo’s Boxing), Edriech Rosa (Broadway), Favian Rojo (Pereida Boxing), Xavier Gordin (Guadalupe Boxing), Kyle Lawrence (Guadalupe Boxing), Roberto Romero (Hammer Boxing) and Myshelle Allen (1 on 1 Boxing). If Allen works on her jab; she could be very special. Amateur boxing fans, don’t forget J.O. Arizona State Tournament on 5/5-6 at Sony’s Boxing in Goodyear; call 623-806-2421 for more answers...If Sonny answers, stay on the line....Until Next Time!

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