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Arizona Boxing News & Notes With Don Smith: Benavidez Jr. Retains, Ring Debate & Concussions

Boxing Fans, Jose Benavidez Jr. celebrated his 23rd birthday on Friday, May 15 with a 12th round (at the 21 second mark) stoppage of a game but outmanned Jorge Paez Jr to retain his Interim WBA Super Lightweight title. The key to his verbally guaranteed victory was the obvious fact that he threw harder and more punches than his shorter opponent who tired in the latter rounds and failed to maintain his inside attack the body strategy that was keeping him competitive early in the bout.

A declared victory is always a positive step in the right direction regardless of the imperfections in a performance. Benavidez raised his record to 23-0 w/ 16 knockouts. Paez returned to Mexico with a loss and a record of 38-6-2-1 w/23 knockouts. I was unable to reach Paez after fight and ask about his famous father amidst rumors that his Dad didn?t make the trip from Mexico due to poor health. We wish the former world champion a speedy recovery; if he is ill.

It is apparent to this pair of well doctored eyes that Benavidez has room to raise his game before he is able to lift the ?interim? status off his WBA Super Lightweight title. He sat on the ropes far too long and his defense was a wee porous at times; yet the immensely popular young lanky (5? 11?) fighter has natural speed in his hands and a mental toughness, two attributes that could lead him to a bigger ring prize.

The interim title bout was televised by TruTV and the attendance at US Airway Center in Phoenix, Arizona was estimated at 2,500 and in my opinion, scattered showers and an early scheduled start time (5 pm Mountain Time) may have deterred some members of his fan base from coming to the nationally televised event. I heard some fans wisecrack about the value of the interim title won by Benavidez and yes it isn?t as prestigious as a world title, but it is a better trophy to take home than a NABO or NABF sanctioned belt and winning the interim could be one signed contract away from a shot at a more lucrative world title.

It was thoughtful and wise of TruTV to ask five time world champion Michael Carbajal to put on his commentators hat and talk about a subject he knows well, boxing. . He looked great and Top Rank executive Bruce Trampler told med that seeing the champ look so good made his trip from Las Vegas worthwhile. Trampler brought two copies of collectible posters that he plans to donate to the Phoenix Madison Square Garden museum located in Downtown Phoenix. The facility is open by appointment only. Trampler and Carbajal, a former Top Rank Fighter, have known each other for years.

The Olympic Medalist (Silver) Carbajal had a full and memorable weekend. On Saturday the Champ was flown to Los Angeles (Forum) by his friend WBC President Mauricio Suleiman where he was reunited with Humberto ?Chiquita? Gonzalez, a three time foe in three classic bouts and the remarkable flyweights received recognition for their epic battles. Michael also watched undefeated middleweight sensation Gennady Golovkin score a 6th round TKO victory over Willie Monroe and the popular Arizona boxer, a member of the WBC Legends Hall of Fame, headed home after speaking at an awards luncheon on Sunday, May 17.

More US Airways Action: Before he left Phoenix on Friday, the champ told this set of listening ears that he was very impressed with 18 year old light heavyweight David Benavidez (9-0-8 knockouts) who hammered 39 year old Ricardo Campillo until the bout was stopped in the second stanza at the 1:21 mark. Some fans were overheard talking about an eventual Benavidez match -up with fellow Light Heavy Trevor McCumby (19-0-15 knockouts) who displayed King Kong like power in his second round (42 seconds) demolishment of Brazilian Fabiano Pena (11-2-1-8knockouts). McCumby?s power in either hand trumps any criticism I heard about his alleged lack of lateral movement. I think the kid is almost ready to knock on a championship door and so is David Benavidez who is ready for an opponent under 30 years of age.

The televised co-main event pitted Golden Boy prospect Antonio ?Relentless? Orozco (22-0-15 knockouts) from California Versus Emmanuel ?Tranzformer? Taylor ((18-4-12 knockouts) in a 10 round super lightweight contest that was very tough to score. Orozco threw more punches, some of them south of the border, while Taylor threw more stinging blows and if the Baltimore fighter had boxed more, he might have curried more favor with the judges who gave it to Orozco who was awarded an unanimous decision; my scorecard had it closer. Referee Wes Melton did warn the winner about holding and foul punches; entertaining fight. Taylor left the ring rejected, but both men were winners in my opinion.

Arizona City Boxer Abel Ramos (12-0-2-7 knockouts) lived up to his storied pedigree as he dominated Angel Martinez (12-6-1-8 knockouts) and ended his night early in the 3rd round of their scheduled 6 rounder. Abel is slated to scuffle on the June 13 card at the Renaissance Hotel in Glendale, Arizona. Ramos trains in Casa Grande, at the Ramos Gym.

Mexican fighter Victor Serrano (4-9-1) came into fight with Carlos Castro (8-0) as a decided underdog and held his own against the Phoenix residing Castro who won via UD, but he was pushed which made his winning margin closer. Castro will appear on the Saturday May 23 Card at the Celebrity Theater. Several fans approached me and proclaimed the contest as the fight of the night.

TruTV scaled back the bells& whistles used for the two televised bouts and left Super Featherweights Francisco C De Vaca and Angel Monrreal virtually fighting in shadows during their 6 round final ?Swing ?bout of the evening. The appropriate bout music could have been ?Dancing in the Dark?, a very popular 80?s hit made famous by Bruce Springsteen; how they managed to focus and perform well is a credit to their professional work ethic. De Vaca won (UD) but both men deserve a salute.

It was a fun evening of boxing and any public remark from me about being disappoint about the size of the crowd watching the fight was out of respect for the fighters and not a slam towards Top Rank or Iron Boy?it was more lamenting than lampooning.

Post Fight Jabs: Sorry I wasn?t able to do question & answer sessions with any of the performing fighters at the US Airways event, but I tried and found the mountain too high to climb?sometimes you win and sometimes you go home asking yourself what happened. I did talk to TruTV analysts Ray ?Boom- Boom? Mancini and Timothy Bradley who caught the eye of a fetching and very healthy (code word) looking young lady who sat next to me in a chair allocated for the La Voz, Spanish written newspaper.

Some gawking onlookers thought she was my date and I didn?t send out a press release denying it. I did, realize in a New York minute that she wasn?t a journalist and I told the young damsel about my instinctive deduction and she smiled and softly asked how I knew. Is the pope catholic, I replied! First of all, she was dressed as if she was a candidate on an episode of the television series Bachelorette and she wasn?t carrying a pen, paper or computer. More importantly, I know members of the staff at La Voz and everyone I know, representing the paper, is very plain looking; like me. As I suspected, she was an invited guest of Top Rank Boxing and her mission was to take a selfie with Mr. Timothy Bradley even though she is rooting for Jessie Vargas when the two pugilists square off on June 27 in California. To no one?s surprise, she got her selfie.

I didn?t tell Bradley about the ?Selfie Babe? and her plan, but he told me he was grateful to TruTV and Top Rank for giving him the opportunity to show his skills outside the ring. He knows a loss to Vargas in June could dictate the launching of a permanent career on the other side of the ropes. His acknowledgement triggered an obvious question; what is the main difference between boxing and announcing boxing aside from the hitting aspect. Bradley said the boxer is the show and although the announcer is important, he or she can never be the show. I wished him good luck and he bade me a goodnight and continues to pose for pictures with jubilant fans including the bold and beautiful ?Selfie Babe.? As she left, I told her that if she was going to continue sitting at press tables in the future, she should at least be on time and carry a pencil. I expect to see her again.

Mancini is a real boxing treasure. Born in Youngstown Ohio, his nickname was inherited from his father, Lenny ?Boom-Boom? Mancini also a fighter. Both parents are deceased and Ray told me he is moving back to his birthplace, Youngstown, Ohio after living in Los Angeles for more than 30 years. I asked if Youngstown had changed and he said it was still a poor community and old looking. Ray doesn?t sugar coat anything and he made it clear that Boxing needs to do some policing in the area of health and welfare for boxers in and out of the ring. What may surprise some fans is the fact that the former world lightweight champion has made several films and is generally considered an astute businessman.

I should have meet Boom-Boom in 1979 when he fought at the Dallas Convention Center on the undercard. He was 3-0 and the show headliner Ed ?Too Tall? Jones the Dallas Cowboy defensive star who left the NFL team over a salary dispute and used his detour to boxing as a successful lobbying tactic to negotiate a new and more lucrative salary increase.

I was at the Convention Center at the pre-fight press conference and my assignment was to get a quote from Jones at the presser and file my story; however, my name wasn?t at the credentials table so I returned to my news desk and starting working on my next story. Before I left the presser area, Mancini?s manager (Dave Wolf) approached a group of reported and told us he managed a young fighter (Mancini) who, in his opinion, was going to become a world champion. Most of the gathered journalists looked at him as if he was born under a rock and of course, boxing fans know the rest of the story. Mancini is a class act who mingled (Photos & Autographs) with the fans and was very generous with his time and the same can be said about Timothy Bradley.

Man in Charge: Three weeks ago a boxing fan wanted to know if a doctor can enter the ring without a referee?s permission if the physician feels a fighter is in danger. A member of the Arizona Boxing commission he actually got on told me it would best if the referee and doctor have a working agreement on when a doctor can and should enter to check out the condition of a boxer. Most referees feel that the phrase ?Man in Charge? applies to the referee and he or she is capable of makes all decisions inside the ring. I talked to fighters who want a doctor to be free to enter whenever he or she deems it necessary to protect the fighter. Keep in mind that a commissioner can step in the ring in case of an emergency. It might be a good idea if the commission takes up the issue and came to a consensus; after all, everyone is on the same team. Former NFL player Scott Peters, newly appointed member of Arizona Boxing Commission will make his first appearance at the monthly meeting in June.

A Day to Salute: As Memorial Day nears, Arizona Boxing News proudly salutes all the men and women who have served or are currently serving in the United States Military. In this group of patriotic Americans is a long list of gifted athletes who were drafted or enlisted to defend America?s adopted principles and freedoms. Here is an interesting diverse sample, but not the complete list of all athletes who served in the US Military.

From the ranks of Major League Baseball came: Ted Williams, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Joe DiMaggio, Bob Feller, Willie Mays, Pee Wee Reese, Phil Rizzuto, Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby, Ty Cobb, Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Roberto Clemente and Christy Mathewson, Enos Slaughter, Hank Bauer, Don Larsen, Warren Spahn, Jerry Coleman, Dizzy Dean, Monte Irvin, Whitey Herzog, Hoyt Wilhelm, Curt Simmons , Al Bumbry and Hank Greenburg.

The gridiron has produced a few players who changed uniforms and served in the military. Included in that list are Roger Staubach, Chad Hennings, Art Donovan, Rocky Blier, Pat Tillman, Tm Landry, Mike Anderson and Joe Bellini.

I found a list of players from the NBA archives who donned a military uniform; led by David ?the Admiral? Robinson and other hoopsters included Elgin Baylor, Bill Bradley, Bernard Jones, Tim James, Coniel Norman, Mike Silliman and George Yardley.

A number of distinguished boxers also swore allegiance and wore the uniform Military U.S.A. Joe Louis, Leon Spinks, Jack Dempsey, Gene Tunney, Rocky Marciano, Ken Norton Sr. and from Arizona, Al Fenn and Wee Willie Toy, aka William Kwan Toy.

Mr. Fenn serve as a Marine in World War II where he distinguished himself as a soldier and a boxer. After the war ended, the boot tough Marine returned to his beloved Arizona where he was instrumental in starting the Arizona Golden Gloves and promoting boxing, and wrestling and the virtues of Arizona living.. His life is remembered annually at each and every Golden Gloves Tournament and will be again on June 7-8 at the JGG Tourney held at the Arizona Event Center in Mesa.

Mr. Toy, known in Arizona boxing circles as Wee Willie Toy, won the Arizona Amateur Boxing title as a featherweight and instead of continuing his promising boxing career, Mr. Toy joined the US Army just prior to the outbreak of World War II, he was 17.

He rose to the rank of Lt. Colonel before his retirement in 1960. His military mission included serving in China, Burma, India as a WW II interpreter and liaison officer reporting to General Stillwell whom she had the utmost respect. His brother, who lives Phoenix, told me his brother wanted to be buried in Arlington Cemetery next to General Stillwell, but his second wife nixed the plan because she didn?t want to travel to Virgina to visit his grave.

Inside Stuff: Super Middleweight Andrew ?Hurricane? Hernandez is expected to fight on the June 13 Wild Card: ?All In? boxing affair at the Renaissance Hotel in Glendale, Arizona and there have been serious discussions with Arizona City, Arizona welterweight Abel Ramos (11-0-2) to appear on the card. Details of the card are a bit sketchy and the almost non-existent public relations department of Fight Hard Promotions is responsible for filling seats, but promoters often hire friends and fans instead of professionals to handle the artful task of advertising a show or communicating with the media; what a concept and the loser is the boxing fan! Fight Hard Website is listing 602-481-8451 as a resource number, but in reality it is a non-working telephone listing. For ticket purchase, try the following outlets: 602-272-2282, 602-424-4877 or 623-806-2421. I tested the numbers and they are solid as a rock.

Fight Hard Promotions is promoting the show and here are a few additional names rumored to be on the card: Emanuel Nieves, Vicente Cano (1-0) Mario Esparza (3-0-1), Heavyweight Carlos Barnett (11-2) and Alexis Santiago (18-3-1) is expected to headline and defend his WBO NABO Bantamweight title at the June 13 show. All bouts are subject to change.

Despite his personal transgressions (failed a drug test and lost much his fan base) members of the boxing community would like to see Hernandez get his act together and live up to his former potential; he is at a crossroad in his career and if he duplicates his last performance (1st round Ko loss) he may wind up selling cheap sunglasses at a local flea market: good guy, headed in the wrong direction. Let?s hope he can turn his career around.

News Scare: If you heard that Michael Carbajal of Phoenix died this week, it wasn?t the 5 time world champion; several people called to check it out and were told it wasn?t the same Michael Carbajal. Our prayers go out to the family of the other Michael Carbajal. The champ also heard the report and he assures his fans, he is alive, well and still working with kids.

Personal Note: Sorry to hear legendary blues artist BB King passed away recently. Years ago, I had the privilege of interviewing the musical giant in the late 1970?s at the Green Parrot Restaurant in Dallas Texas where superstars such as Tina Turner, Martin Luther King, Sammy Davis Jr. and Ray Charles would eat there when they traveled to the city. The landmark restaurant remains open today under a different name.

As I recall the musician was in town to perform at Dewey Groom?s Longhorn ballroom in Dallas and after his performance, the famous singer and guitarist headed to the restaurant for some nourishment. I followed in hopes of complimenting my review with a chat.

Upon my arrival, I was told to wait until he and his two female friends finished their meals and I would be allowed to chat with the ?Thrill is Gone? hit recording artist whom I had never met previously and didn?t know whether or not he was friendly to members of the press. I really didn?t care, I was young and in search of a story.

During the show, Mr. King was in the middle of performing his classic hit (Thrill Is Gone) when a technical glitch (reverb switch) left him singing A Capella without instrumentation and the legend kept singing and didn?t miss a note. The problem was solved in a few seconds, but his remarkable composure during the unfortunate interruption is a moment I will never forget. Back to my waiting for BB to finish his well portioned 3-4 course meal with his two well-nourished female companions.

At the restaurant, one of the patrons decided a white reporter didn?t belong in the Green Parrot, so he harassed me until a waitress walked over to him and told him his attitude wouldn?t be tolerated and thankfully he left me alone. Eventually I conducted my interview and we talked about politics, race and music. He answered my questions and it was the last time I entered the Green Parrot. I am not a devoutly religious man, but I would like to think the blues great is somewhere enjoying a great buffet lunch?may he rest in peace!

Back to Boxing: Heavyweight Daniel Acuna injured an elbow in a freak training action that will put him on the DL for 8 weeks of healing time before he can resume full workouts. Acuna was set to make his professional debut at the Phoenician Hotel on June 4?..Glendale boxer Luis Olivares (Busted Knuckle & SMS) was forced to cancel his May 15 Connecticut fight due to a rib cartilage injury?.. 104 lb. amateur Lily Keating (8th grader from Scottsdale) is having difficulty finding opponents; she is one fiery competitor?.Light Welterweight Olympic hopeful Ariel Arismendez (Tolleson, Arizona) jabbed her way to victory in a UD victory over Thailand?s Rewadee Phonok in an international exhibition bout held in Ne Taipei City Taiwan on Wednesday, 5/20/15?..

More Boxing Gospel: The MMA USA Expo 15 event previously scheduled for June 13-14 at the Phoenix Convention Center has been reduced to a one day (7/25) event at the same venue. The mission remains the same: ? To create an exciting, entertaining, and educational event to promote competitive combat sports, athletic training, physical fitness and well-being, and to celebrate the American warrior spirit. Tickets are now on sale at Ticket to report that co-coordinators of the Battle at Broadway Boxing Tournament weren?t unable to send me the results of their event before we hit the send button. We can tell our readers that the event hosted 9 fights over the two day event and popular boxer Jesus Ramos Jr. (Ramos Boxing) was unable to fight due to an injury; we wish him a speedy recovery! Mario Ruiz Jr. has replaced him on the Junior Olympic squad headed for Utah. Christopher Gonzalez (141 lbs.) upset local favorite Eban Vargas and Gonzalez since his transfer to Neutral boxing in Tucson has begun to make noise in the amateur boxing community; he will try to make the USA 2016 Olympic Team according to my sources. Also 9 year old Nate Fowler (Hook City Boxing) was also victorious as was 9 year old Jacob Girado Sorry (Top Level Gym). Girado is headed for Utah and Rollin Williams is moving his Top Level down the street frm its current location.?..The name Knockout Boxing was trademarked several years ago and it is currently used by at least two different entities in Maricopa County; no word on trademark infringement action?.Arizona boxing legend Louie Espinosa visited the Battle at Broadway Tourney and posed for pictures with some of the fans?.8th grader & boxing superstar Lilly Keating needs three more fights to try out for the Olympics and Tournament officials seem reluctant to let her fight and that unofficial boycott may cost he shot at the Olympics. She will fight in Tucson at the Clarion Hotel on May 30; take the trip and cheer her on. Miss Keating trains at Busted Knuckle Boxing and she can flat out fight.

Matter of Concussions: The Arizona State Boxing/MMA commission is grappling with how to address head injuries in the sport of boxing, so I sent an email to Jacquie Richardson, Executive Director, and Retired Boxers Foundation asking her to give serious insight into an issue she has researched thoroughly and knows like the back of her head. At their last meeting, the Arizona Boxing Commission asked new member and former NFL player Scott Peters to look into the matter and be prepared to present his findings at the upcoming June meeting. Here is the complete text of Ms. Richardson?s email and I thank her for lending her time and expertise in addressing the complex problem with her opinion. Public Information Officer Greg Stiles and Commissioner Scott Fletcher read my column and I hope they will pass Ms. Richardson?s recommendations on to Chairman Joseph Pennington and his colleagues for review. Members of the Arizona State Legislature are responsible for funding any new initiative and the current Governor has suggested a moratorium on spending; unfortunately there isn?t dqa moratorium on concussions.

Background: Since the great majority of concussions occur in sparring, reporting the concussion could result in financial loss, not just for the boxer, but the promoters, managers, sponsors and broadcast providers, it is unlikely the commission will ever get wind of it. Knowing that a fighter has been concussed, and keeping it a secret could result in second impact syndrome that could be fatal for an athlete. My (Jacquie Richardson) recommendations are as follows:

Dear Commission:

Make concussion awareness a requirement for licensing, not only for the boxer, but the trainer, the manager, the cut man, etc.

Require every boxing gym to post concussion symptoms and the risk of severe injury or even death if they fight with a concussion that occurs within two weeks of the fight.

Require a criminal investigation of any person who knowingly conceals knowledge of a concussion within two weeks of the bout, and severe penalties if the fighter is further injured because of the concealed prior concussion. Manslaughter charges if a boxer dies due to second impact syndrome.

Implement simple concussion testing a week before the fight and again at weigh-in. The Mayo Clinic, who rarely endorses third party testing, has thrown its weight behind the King-Devick concussion test which is a series of three cards, viewed by the athlete , analyzing eye movement. Mayo Clinic says that over 55 % of the brain?s pathways are related to eyes and eye movement. The King-Devick concussion test is simple, yet accurate and can actually be completed in a couple of minutes. No need to have 27 medical professionals on the sideline like the NFL does, or doing extensive or expensive test for concussion. If the Mayo Clinic says that the King-Devick concussion test is a tool that they endorse, it?s good enough for me?Jacquie Richardson, Executive Director, Retired Boxers Foundation, PH. 805-551-3449. RBF was created by retired boxer Alex Ramos with help from friends.

Iron Boy XX11: Alfonso Olvera has signed with Iron Boy and the Tucson boxer will appear on the Iron Boy XX11 card at the Celebrity Theater on Saturday May 23. Ticket prices start at $30.00 and are available online or at the Celebrity box-office. The card is filled with what I describe as blue collar pugilists who aren?t afraid to mix it up with anyone and the majority of players on the card have fans that would drive through a raging monsoon rainstorm to see their warrior fight. Let?s hope the storm doesn?t happen in reality. Olvera is on that list of hardworking gladiators and he is joined by rough and tough Jose Marrufo 5-2-1) will go toe to toe with Tucson?s Rashawn McCain ((2-3), Edgar Brito vs. TBA, Junior Rodriguez, Danny Montoya and the very explosive Jose Herrera who will be entering his second fight. Popular Carlos Castro will battle Angel Monrreal and Edgar Nava, Eddie De La Huerta have been bumped from the card for scheduling reasons. Iron Boy favorites Victor Castro and Joey Ruelas are still on the mend. Flashy Super Bantamweight Emilio Garcia (9-1-1) will also fight on the card. The event will be carried on live stream and tickets are available through ticket master and the Celebrity Theater Box-Office. There are at least two amateur fights preceding the professional package and one of the promising amateurs on the card is Edward Ceballos, a product of Fuentes Gym in Phoenix, Arizona. Edward plans to turn Professional later this year. Doors open at 4 pm and first fight commences at 6 pm. The live stream feed starts at 7 pm. Tickets are priced at $30, $50. & $65.00.

I watched Olivera fight as an amateur while his head coach at neutral corner told me the married father of three children would wait until he won a National or possible trip to the 2016 Olympics qualifying trials. He is currently training at Scrap Iron Boxing in Boxing and his 3-1 record is blemished a bit by his questionable decision to fight a true prospect before Olivera was ready for such a stern test; live and learn.

It?s a Wrap: My column is late this week because I didn?t want to upstage the finale of the David Letterman show and celebration of Red Nose Day. Actually my computer crashed and I lost capacity to retrieve my emails for 2 ? days; no one in their right mind will ever think of me as computer literate?. Until Next Time!

Photo by Chris Farina / Top Rank.

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

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