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Arizona Boxing News & Notes with Don Smith: Change of Plea, New Promoters Arrive & More

Boxing Fans,

In a stunning reversal of plea, 24 year old Joseph Jesse Corrales, one of two defendants charged in the brutal 2013 murder of 17 year old Olympic boxing hopeful Alexis Urbina-Ochoa, told Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Pamela Svoboda that he was entering a plea of Guilty to second degree murder. Corrales was in court on Monday January 5 and his next appearance is scheduled doe March 9, 2015 at a conference hearing (referred to as a status conference) that could determine sentence date and further details of the plea.. Punishment for second degree murder varies depending on mitigating circumstances. Members of the Urbina family were present to hear the change of plea.

23 year old Robert Chavez, the second defendant in the September, 2013 home burglary and fatal assault, is expected to appear at his status conference hearing on January 12 and the trial is tentatively set for January 27. What affect the change of plea by Corrales will have on Chavez’s fate could add even more drama to a case that has garnered national media attention.
The Phoenix, Arizona boxing community was very supportive of the family through their darkest hour; Money and prayers came from friends, family members and strangers. The tragedy will live in infamy and the memory and laurels of Alexis Urbina will remain a part of Arizona Boxing history. Our best wishes to his sister (Sulem) and other members of his grieving family. Hopefully, justice will be served and the family will heal from this terrible tragedy.

Scene Change: In 2014, Arizona boxing was pretty much controlled by Iron Boy & Top Rank who dominated the boxing landscape by blending National and local boxers onto cards that were reasonably successful and well attended. Not all of the shows were sellouts, but together, Top Rank and Iron Boy brought in television coverage and recognition for Arizona boxers. For the record, Iron Boy is Top Rank’s Arizona Promoter and Iron Boy is expected to add Golden Boy to its’ list of co-promoters in 2015.

Complete harmony is a hard commodity to find in boxing. Some local fighters were excluded from the Iron Boy team because they wouldn’t sign exclusive Arizona contracts with the local based company according to some of the discontented and they complained to anyone who would listen which is their righto do so.

At least one signed member of the Iron Boy contingent took advantage of a legal loophole that allowed a contracted fighter to fight out of state and he has continued to fight outside of the Arizona borders while continuing to live within the state. In truth, some of the malcontent is marginal talent who failed to meet the standards required by Iron Boy. There is crying and whining in boxing despite the rumors to the contrary; I hear it every day.

I would like to amend my earlier remark that Iron Boy was the sole 2014 player in Arizona boxing. Ben Miranda Boxing Promotions was issued a promoters license last year and produced one show at the Phoenix Convention Center It would be an understatement to proclaim their first show had problems and some people (Arizona Boxing Commission) called it an embarrassment to Arizona boxing. Ms. Saenz, to her credit, appeared before the Arizona Boxing and admitted mistakes and promised to do better the second time around. It takes a mature person to admit mistakes and she has done that; so hopefully she resurfaces with a better show under the direction of more responsible aides and advisors.

Not all is forgotten, but a new name (Bout Maker Boxing Promotions) and a single owner (Maritza Miranda Saenz) have given the old BMBP a boxing facelift and boxing critics hope the changes result in a better relationship with the media and boxing public. The Cardenas Group was handling PR for BMBP, but Ms. Saenz hasn’t confirmed if the PR firm is employed by Bout Maker Boxing Promotions which plans to produce 4-5 shows this year and unofficially the debut production is rumored to take place sometime in February, 2015 at the pressroom in downtown Phoenix, owned and managed by Jason Charles, son of Nick Charles, the late journalist who lost his battle with cancer.

Boxing enthusiasts may remember the facility under its’ former name: The Madison Event Center. Ms. Saenz has agreed to send me future press releases, but she has nixed, at least for now, a public press conference to announce her detailed plans for 2015; coincidentally, Iron Boy has canned future press conferences, also. I believe the main reason behind the drop from both entities is young fighter’s inability to articulate and a constant failure to be punctual; sign of the times.
Arizona and America likes comeback stories and if BMBP can make a triumphant return and square away past transgressions, the State of Arizona Boxing is better off.

So far, the early report card is good. She has hired a competent match maker: Edward Rodriquez and she has dismissed her controversial co-partner and advisors according to rumors. She says she hasn’t given much thought to selecting an announcer, but her former company used Ralph Velez at the PCC Show. Saenz hopefully will check and double check personal backgrounds of proposed fighters and make sure balanced matches are presented. The first card was filled with Tomatoes and Fishes according to scribes and fans; a lot can be learned from failure and she appears to be a quick learner.

More Competition: In addition to Iron Boy, Top Rank and BMBP, two more promotion companies are expected to set up shop this year. To date, Iron Boy is the only 2015 approved licensed promoter in the state of Arizona. BMBP, Hard Fight Promotions and Roy Jones Jr. Promotions will send representatives to the January 12, Boxing/MMA Commission in an effort to finalize seek approval of their 2015 application for a Arizona State Boxing Promoter’s License. Here is a thumb nail sketch of the other new applicants: Hard Fight Promotions and Roy Jones Jr. Boxing Promotions

Sonny Gutierrez, working Hard Promotions, is being hush about what he plans to do with his first show. He will attend the January 12 Arizona Boxing/MMA meeting and try to finalize his (Fight Hard Promotions) March show in Avondale. I talked to the veteran Arizona boxing figure (30 years) and he couldn’t tell me much including the name of the announcer allegedly hired to handle mike duties for the first show in Avondale, Arizona; sometime in March. As of now, Fight Hard is planning on presenting 4-5 Avondale based show; weigh-ins will probably be staged at Sonny’s Gym in Avondale. Sonny’s partner, Rigoberto Ledezma will handle the Public Relations end of the Fight Hard boxing operation. So far, he hasn’t contacted me since our first brief meeting at the Celebrity Theatre and his first phone call or email is yet to come and the matchmakers name is still a secret even fighters are being contacted as I complete this column. Yeah, I know, it’s boxing.

There are at least three valley residents vying for new boxing announcing positions with the new and aspiring promotion companies and I encourage all aspiring and experienced announcers to sound off and apply. To my knowledge, Arizona isn’t home for a plethora of experienced mike specialists, so please contact your prospective employers. Sonny Franco is well entrenched as the Iron Boy announcer and Top Rank has their own well-rehearsed mouth piece; so, sending a selfie or resume to them might be a waste of time.

On Monday, January 12, Sonny and two of his prospective competitors (Roy Jones Jr. Promotions and Bout Makers Boxing Promotions) will stand before Executive Director Matthew Valenzuela and the Arizona Boxing/MMA Commissioners and hope for licenses to promote their product. It is a significant date and none of the applying promoters are 100% sure their proposals will be accepted.

For the sake of boxing, I hope al new applicants l will be accepted into the promoter’s brotherhood of Arizona boxing especially if their intentions are honorable; otherwise a divorce is inevitable. The meeting at the Commission’s facility is open to the public and starts at 10 AM.

Also, hope all prospective promoters will meet with members of the boxing media at the 1/12 meeting or shortly after and discuss their future plans in an honest and forthright manner. Both parties (Promoters & Press) need each other and without media attention, events normally crash and burn. Peace, harmony and mutual upstanding is the sensible goal to strive for.
Iron Boy Promotions has already been approved to promote 8 shows in Arizona and the Grand Canyon State based company has submitted dates and a single venue (Celebrity Theater in Phoenix) for the shows. In addition, Iron Boy has a stable of young fighters and a working gym to prepare in.

Iron Boy is well known in Arizona and their ties with Top, Golden Boy and their charitable time and energy donated to community needs has made them the odds on betting favorite to continue holding a lion’s share of the Arizona boxing market.

Roy Jones Jr. Promotions is based in Florida and Las Vegas, Nevada. I have either met or talked to a Jones representative on several amicable occasions. On January 9, a representative will arrive and prepare for his meeting with Arizona State Boxing/MMA commission for approval of their license approval. RJP has been talking to a local casino and the Pressroom about 5 shows in Arizona, 2015. The company is lining up television coverage and sponsors. Their spokesperson said they have been talking to local fighters and they feel very upbeat about where they are in negotiations and the schedule is to present te first show in March. Roy Jones Promotions has some highly regarded young fighters signed and they are ready for action. Local fighter Alexis Santiago has been approached by Roy Jones people (according to sources) but Alexis has been linked to BMBP and Fight Hard Promotions; so nothing definite can be reported. Other names being circulated include Janks Trotter, Mario Esparza (Fight Hard), Walter Santibanes and Eddie Martinez Jr. and Keenan Carbajal despite a word of caution of tag on Carbajal over a police report filed against him in December, 2013. Phoenix Police Department should move on the case or dismiss it.
I am very impressed with Jones’ people and how they quickly answer my questions and make sure I stay in their loop. There is a lot to be learned from their style and approach to marketing their entry into the Arizona Market, so far.

Boxing Banter: Joey “The Boxer” Ruelas is working out in California and wash wishing and hoping to fight on the 2/28 Iron Boy XVIIII card at the Celebrity Theater, but his ring return may have to be postponed until the next card at the Celebrity in Phoenix.

Joey is on the disabled shelf with an elbow injury, but hopes the problem is behind him. Joey is signed with Iron Boy Promotions for three years and the 32 year old knows his boxing window won’t stay open forever; the time to drop the hammer is now. Joey is one tough bird and a successful comeback would be a fitting tribute for a fighter who learned from personal and painful mistakes.

Damien Stone, charged with propositioning an undercover officer has entered a not guilty plea and will face Maricopa County Superior Court Daniel Kiley on January 22 in a status hearing conference. The female police officer, according to official police report, told Mr. Stone she was 16 and asked if he had a problem with that and the former boxing mentor replied, no. Mr. Stone is represented by Court appointed attorney Nathan Carr III.

Jose from Azteca Boxing (Phoenix) was gracious enough to forward Monday January 5 results from the Junior Open and Youth National Championships held in Reno, Nevada. Three Arizona fighters fought and here are their official results and recorded scores. Fernando Martinez (Fuentes Boxing)in Phoenix) over Timothy Longoria (Pasadena Texas) 2-1 in the 114 lb. division, Alfredo Escarcega (Avondale, Arizona) defeated Freudis Rojas from Fallon, Nevada, 3-0, Jacob Ponce (knockout Boxing in Phoenix) lost to Kevin Garcia (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania)3-0, Eben Vargas (Mesa, Arizona) over Jonathan Rodriguez (McKinney Texas) 3-0, Alejandro Campa (Phoenix, Arizona) lost to Antonio Williams (Florida) 3-0. Good luck, Arizona and thank you Jose Lopez!

Iron Boy Boxing Show on 2/28 at the Celebrity Theater lists the following boxers as probable performers on their next card: Victor Castro, Carlos Castro, Daniel Garcia, Francisco C. De Vaca, Mark or Marc Waugh, Jose Herrera, Edgar Brito and Emilio Garcia. I was told, Jose Marrufo and Fernando Alvarez may find their way on the card if the opportunity arises. Top Rank may not co-produce this event; nothing definite. Waugh is a veteran MMA performer and his 40th birthday is near. His boxing experience appears limited more inside dope on the show, next column. Before I hit the send button, HAPPY NEW YEAR….. Until Next Time!

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Don Smith.

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