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Arizona Boxing News & Notes With Don Smith: David Benavidez Wins Title, Santiago Out & More

Boxing Fans, Iron Boy XX is in the books and David Benavidez left the Celebrity Theater venue in Phoenix on April 25 as the newly crowned NABF Junior Light heavyweight youth titlist with his 2.59 1st round knockouts over veteran Rollin Williams. The outcome was never in doubt as the 18 year old Benavidez wasted no time in attacking Williams (who suffered 2 broken teeth in the battle) within seconds into the scheduled 8 round championship bout. Overall there was only one clinker on the card and Matchmaker Mike Sanchez can take a bow; matchmaking is like balancing a marble on a tightrope; very difficult!

Williams provided little defense after the first 45 seconds of action and in my opinion the bout could have been stopped earlier after a devastating right hand led to the downing of Williams for an 8 count. The mismatch ended with a bewildered Williams hanging on the ropes for dear life. He knew it was over and the classy Williams went on Facebook, later in the evening, to announce his retirement. In his statement, Rollin said he wished he was younger and faster, but he couldn?t do anything about father time. Rollin will continue to work with kids in Phoenix at his Top Level Gym facility.

His (Benavidez) performance drew praise from Five Time World Champion Michael Carbajal who was seated near ringside with his publicist Laura Hall. Personally, I think his potential to win more meaningful titles is abundantly clear to anyone with more than a thimble full of ring knowledge; his speed and power is impressive. My only complaint is about the size of entourage gathered around him before and after the fight. I?ve seen less people attend a Bar Mitzvah. David?s next fight is scheduled for May 15 at US Airways when older brother Jose Benavidez Jr. defends his world title against Jorge Paez Jr. in a scheduled for 12 round bout. Top Rank is producing the show with Iron Boy Promotions; more details in next column.

Some fans were highly skeptical of the 49 year old Williams fighting for a youth title and I shared their skepticism but the youthful Benavidez is a very talented young fighter and over the years, Williams has proved to be a challenger of merit. We bid him a fond farewell and wish him the best. As for Benavidez, his promising career should produce more than youth titles.

Co-Main Event: Joey ?The Boxer? Ruelas ((9-1-1) boxed and punched his way to an impressive Knockout victory over Raheem Gordon (4-5) with 1 second remaining in the 1st round. It was redemption time for Ruelas who made sweeping changes with his training regimen and management. In the past, I found his approach to boxing tentative without much passion. On Saturday he was a possessed man knowing that at 33 years of age, time waits for no one, especially boxers. He showed power and speed that wasn?t evident in past bouts. I talked him briefly after the crossroads and he gave praise to Busted Knuckle Boxing and his new management team for his apparent career lift. Ruelas is now healthy and promises to be more active in the ring.

The only lackluster fight of the evening pitted Phoenix?s Carlos Castro (8-0) vs. Raymond Chacon (5-15) fighting out of Los Angeles. How Chacon ever won five fights is a mystery to the boxing gods. His style reminds me of a performing mime with a cranky sacroiliac condition complicated by an incurable case of hemorrhoids. He bounced up and down and around like an out of control yoyo. Chacon landed very few punches which made me think he was a disciple and practitioner of air guitar. Castro couldn?t figure out what his adversary was doing and there was no way he was going to knockout Chacon who didn?t have a winning strategy and thought going the distance (6 rounds) was a victory in itself; by the way, Castro won!

The first bout became the fifth when Phoenix fighter Jesus Aguinaga (2-3) showed up late to combat slick boxing Yovanni Rodarte (California) in a 130 lb. contest. Aguinaga came into the contest with a 1-3 record and Rodarte entered his debut as much talked about prospects. Aguinaga may have been tardy in arriving but was on time with his punches hitting Rodarte at will and scoring a relatively easy UD 4 round decision. Rodarte (a bit nervous) left the ring (0-1) and the winning Aguinaga (2-3) earned some much needed respect from boxing fans: entertaining fight.

Julian Rodarte had much better in luck dispensing a game but less talented Jorge Montes Michel in one round. It was a mismatch but Rodarte (1-0) in winning his debut gave fighters a glimpse of what he may unleash on more talented pugilists. He has fast hands and power. One round only gives fans a taste of what the future may harbor. Michel was very nervous and gun sky in losing his debut (0-1).

Californian Bernardo Marquez upped his record to 2-0 against Samoan Anetelea Opetaia (0-1) in a very entertaining heavyweight contest that went the 4 round distances. Opetai won the first round but the final three stanzas became a war of attrition and Marquez was in better shape and his skill set and depth of ring experience was more apparent; very entertaining contest and it set the tone for a fast paced night of boxing. Everyone was out of the building by 10 am. If baseball can be sped up; so can boxing.

31 year old Danny Montoya made his long awaited debut and he was technically very sound in scoring a 4 round UD decision over John Gonzales whose record dropped to 0-2. Montoya is a native of Eloy, Arizona and his amateur background is strong, but family and personal issues stopped him starting a boxing career. After his sound win, Montoya (1-0) has earned the right to continue. It was a good solid performance and the fans gave their approval.

Rising welterweight Star and former Junior Olympic Gold winner Saul ?Avatar? Bustos, 3-0, ended Jesse Lopez?s night quickly with a 1st round knockout. Bustos, out of Steve Rodarte?s Elite Pro Boxing, showed flashes of a young Oscar De La Hoya, one of his childhood idols. Bustos has all the tools to be a future contender. Lopez?s loss dropped his record to 0-2.

Daron Williams, a featherweight prospect from Washington DC won his debut (1-0) over Texan Christian Juneau who threw in the towel after the first round to square his record at 1-1. Williams can motor.

In what some fans characterized as the fight of the night, 113 lb. Alexis Zazueta (5-0) won two judges over (38-37 x 2) while the third judge scored it 38-37 for Mexico?s Saul Hernandez. Zazueta, signed by Cameron Dunkin and Empire Boxing, won the first round by throwing more punches than Hernandez (6-7) but Zazueta?slack of firepower seemed to motivate Hernandez who won the second stanza and knocked Zazueta down in the third. It was a big round for Hernandez who threw bigger and more precise blows. The scare in the third round motivated Zazueta in the final fourth and I had him slightly ahead to take the last round, but it was very close.

A slight majority of the crowd booed and disapproved of the Zazueta win and I would like to see a rematch and the near capacity crowd would second that motion. I talked to Zazueta after the contest and his only comment was good fight. One of his supporters told me Zazueta had an off night in his opinion; the majority of the assembled thought he had a lucky night.

Boxing Notes: USA Boxing Arizona sent me a bout sheet for their Cinco de Mayo boxing event held adjacent to the downtown Sheraton Hotel on May 2-3 and I was surprised to see that 8th Lilly Keating (Stetson Hills Grade School) wasn?t included on the bout sheet after I was told she would participate in the tournament. The 14 year old has very faint hopes of getting on the Cinco de Mayo card, but no guarantee. Lilly was very impressive in her two knockdown UD victory over Alicia Martinez who trains at Knockout Boxing. Ms. Keating trains at Busted Knuckle where top notch professional prot?g?s Trevor McCumby (5/15 US Airways, Phoenix) and Luis Oliveras (5/15 in Connecticut) work out. Lilly has won her two amateur fights and the109 lb. dynamo hopes to make the U.S.A. 2016 Olympic boxing team; good luck!

Admission cost to the Cinco de Mayo Festival is a thrifty $5.00 before 5 pm each day and after 5:00, the price increases to $15.00. Promoters of the event have assured me that boxing fans wishing to catch Cinco de Mayo boxing action and the Mayweather/Pacquiao PPV fight on May 2 can do so with relative ease. 21-23 fights are scheduled; but subject to change ??Phoenix?s Victor ?El Nino? Castro ran his undefeated record to 15-o0 with a 4/25 win over Alberto Borquez In Tijuana , Baja California, Mexico; try saying that real fast after eating a kosher dill pickle?.Francisco C. de Vaca was off the Iron Boy XX due to an opponent no show?.Emilio Garcia missed same show due to lack of opponent?.Abel Ramos, Erik Morales and Jose Benavidez Jr. were guests at the Iron Boy Show. Former Champ Morales, in town on behalf of Tecate Beer, signed autographs for almost an hour in the downstairs lounge of the Celebrity Theater; good guy!

Reality Show: Ralph Velez Jr. is no longer associated with ?Celebrity Making of a Champion?(Phoenix) Boxing Reality Show. According to inside sources, Mr. Velez said ?uncharacteristic? things about Miss Gwen Ran?cher, point person for the event, and Miss Gwen dismissed him after discussing the matter with her husband.

Ralph was at the Iron Boy XX show and admitted, so I could hear, that he was no longer affiliated with the promotion of the event which is scheduled for May 12. Ralph speaks loud enough for people within a 50 foot radius to hear. He said some people were spreading the word that the show presentation might be a hoax and furthermore he didn?t want people to think he was a con-artist or part of a con-job. Mister Velez went on infer that perhaps it was Arizona Boxing News & Notes that questioned the credibility of the proposed ?reality show? and his involvement. Honestly, I wasn?t aware of any role he played in the controversial unsold pilot until he volunteered, without any undue pressure, information that suggested otherwise. Anybody suggesting I orchestrated a move to ax the project must be smoking bluebonnets or sniffing catnip or butterfly seats.

As it stands or sits, the event is expected to cover span 8 hours and filming will take place at Knockout Gym and Karla?s Sports Bar & Restaurant; both establishments are located in Phoenix. My last correspondence with Miss Gwen was before her decision to move the event from Central Boxing to Andy Soto?s Knockout Gym. I also confirmed that Jose Benavidez Sr. and his family aren?t involved in the project. I talked to several ?invited? guests who told me they wouldn?t attend. Personally, I hope the project is successful and spawns other projects beneficial to boxing in Arizona. Tickets are expected to be available this week; try calling Knockout Gym and Karla?s.

Boxing Notes:/b> Super Bantamweight Champion Leo Santa Cruz (29-0-17) won?t be fighting local favorite Alexis Santiago (18-3-1 with 8 knockouts) on the May 2 Mayweather-Pacquiao fight. Alexis was one of a reported 4 pugilists who were offered contract and Team Cruz decided on Jose Cayetano from Mexico, 17-3-8 knockouts. ?..The local professional boxing calendar reads as follows: May 15- US Airways, (ticket prices at $20.00 & up), May 23 at Celebrity Theater, Fight Hard Promotions on June 13 (Title Fight) in Glendale Arizona at the Renaissance Hotel and on June 13-14 there is an expo show featuring wrestling, MMA, Amateur and professional boxing plus a very combative surprises. This show supports all military servicemen, past and present. On August 29, Bout Maker Boxing Promotions will bring its? brand of boxing to one of the area?s La Princesa banquet hall?.. I almost forgot a private show at the Phoenician Hotel on June 4?..Arizona newcomer Jafar Mohammad (8-1 w/ 8 knockouts) fights in his home town of Detroit on May 22?.I was very impressed by the performance of 22 year old Roscoe Holifield (Keith Boxing) even though he lost his amateur contest with a much more experienced Sergio Rodriguez (Knockout Boxing) at a recent tournament sponsored by the Salvation Army and held at the comfortable Kroc Center off Broadway Road in Phoenix. Mr. Holifield is tall lean and very athletic with quick hands. You can?t teach height or length. He needs a bit of polish and experience, but if he is serious about dedicating himself to boxing, he can become a winner; keep your eye out for Mr. Holifield. Keith Boxing (operated by a veteran) is located in Surprise Arizona and the contact # is 480-737-9074?..Until Next Time!

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

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