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Arizona Boxing News & Notes with Don Smith: BMBP Boss Lady, Boxer Chris Lopez Passing, & Much More

Boxing Fans, I am very happy that Maritza Miranda Saenz consented to answering questions in a Q&A session that I thought would never happen because of her alleged perception of me and my column. I found out that she might have been hesitant to answer questions from me because her former boxing ring announcer Ralph Velez Jr. said some malicious things about me and unfortunately we can?t repeat his comments because we don?t print x rated material. Slowly but surely the proverbial ice melted and she began to see that I wasn?t a giant monster even though she did refer to me as ?Notorious? at our first face to face meeting at done of the monthly commission meeting. We don?t meet for tea, but we do speak to each other and the conversation is always feisty but manageable.

We both laughed (nervously) at the first introduction and eventually I asked her if she would consent to fielding some questions from Arizona Boxing News & Notes and she responded with what I interpreted as a nervous yes. Maritza is the CEO of Bout Maker Boxing formerly named Ben Miranda Boxing Promotions and she is a proud daughter of Ben Miranda, civil right attorney and notable Arizona political figure. It should also be noted that Mr. Miranda served in the Vietnam War and decorated for his heroism (Bronze Star). We began the questioning mentioning her father, Ben Miranda who passed in 2013.

ABNN: We know your father was a big boxing fan?can you recall the first fight you ever saw and did his interest in boxing motivate you to start BMBP?

MMS: Not only was my dad a boxing fan but also an active member of the community. He was part of contract negotiations with the big boys of boxing, such as Bob Arum and Don King. In addition to contract reviewing for known boxers, he also did his best to advise rising professional fighters on different areas of the law.

I really can?t remember the first fight I ever saw. I am sure it was one of Michael?s (Carbajal). I went with my dad to all of the major fights Michael had-Anaheim, Las Vegas, Mexico City and of course the Veteran?s Coliseum (Phoenix). While other boxing fans took pretty ladies in pretty dresses, my dad decided to take his nine year old daughter to watch firsthand the rise of these boxing legends.

ABNN: Do you frequent other promoter?s shows?

MMS: I will go to a promoter?s show if it works with my schedule. However, if I can?t go someone from my team goes-we always buy our tickets and are encouraging to the boxers and promoters. I will be going to the Fight Hard Promotions show this weekend (6/13) and also to the July Iron Boy Show (7/25) to watch Joey Ruelas fight. The last Arizona boxing event I went to was in February. I purchased tickets to watch Joey Ruelas fight. His fight was cancelled. Nonetheless it was a good show to attend.

ABNN: When you decided to start your boxing promotion company (BMBP) and present your first show on 9/26/2014 was it a decision you made on your own or was it a democratic conclusion after a lengthy open process. And did you know the Arizona Boxing market would eventually include 5 Arizona based promoters and 2 nationally known boxing entities?

MMS: Obviously everyone knows my fight in September of 2014 was a joint effort? I feel that once people could see that we still have boxing fans in Arizona there would be more promoters coming. The good thing is we all seem to have different goals for where we see our companies headed. So I don?t feel we are competing against one another.

ABNN: You took a critical beating after the first show; how did you weather the storm and bounce back with a boxing presentation that earned you substantial Praise? What did you do differently and what did you learn?

MMS: Everything was different-the only things the same were Cl?ment?s ring and Tim Riddell. As far as what I learned-I am only as good as my team that surrounds me. I have always been good at putting a team together. I don?t know everything but I know what I want. So I found the people that are experienced in a certain area of business that I need and they strive for the same goals.

ABNN: Is loyalty important to you and is it hard for you to say no to friends?

MMS: Loyalty isn?t important to me because it is hardly ever given. I don?t do things for people so I can get something from them. No one owes me anything. HOWEVER, when loyalty is received it is appreciated and I am always surprised by it. I have said it over and over again; I?ll take honesty in people over loyalty any day. The people I depend on for loyalty know it because they have mine. Although negotiations and compromise are favorable, I will give a definite no if needed.

ABNN: In the beginning of your boxing promotional journey; much was said about you being a woman in a male dominated business. Your public relations team thought the subject was relevant enough to bring up the issue in a press release or two; so after producing three shows, have you been treated equally by your male counterparts-and we ask because it is very relevant if you haven?t been.

MMS: Absolutely, I have been treated fair as a woman in boxing by the ones who matter most-boxers. I think that it?s been an advantage, as far as my approach to it. I have so much respect for the family approach of boxing. I am a hard mother myself, who only wants the best for her family. So when I speak to these boxers and their families, I want them to know I want the best for them. And if that?s not me, so be it. Anyone else who has something disrespectful to say about me being a woman in boxing, should go first talk to the wives, moms, daughters, girlfriends, nanas who are also women in boxing. Not to mention the tough female boxers I have had the pleasure of seeing first hand.

ABNN: Can you give boxing fans a tentative look at your August 29th show and will local tlk show host JR Cardenas continue to be your official ring announcer? He was an interesting choice to replace Ralph Velez Jr. in what was considered a very bold move. He has been a solid performer in the role; are you surprised?

MMS: JR Cardenas is our announcer from now on. I?m not surprised at all by his performance. He?s a professional and has worked on national and local campaigns. He knows what e is doing and sticks to his job. We are finalizing the card now. Although I don?t like to state who is on the card before contracts are signed I will say that we have spoken about Cesar Valenzuela, Elihu Soto, Francisco Chavez, David Demore, Tim Riddell and of course Walter Santibanes.

ABNN: You changed the name of your company from Ben Miranda Boxing Promotions to Bout Maker Boxing Promotions, any regrets?

MMS: I really wish I could eventually see my dad?s name on a ring. But every opportunity I?m given, I get to talk about him all the great things he achieved.

ABNN: Your father had a long and successful political career; do you have any political aspirations?

MMS: Politics is in my blood. As far back as kindergarten I can remember aspiring towards political office. While my dad was alive I always told him I was not running, so he looked for dan alternative choice. I really don?t like politics but if the need came up to represent my community I would think about it.
ABNN: As customary, our interviewed guest has the last word. How would you like to end this conversation?

MMS: I would just like to add that we?re just starting. Bout Maker Boxing Promotions is working on its 4th fight and we are already making waves. I am extremely excited to see how far our company will go.

Boxing News: Still waiting for National JO boxing results from Charleston West Virginia and we never received a confirmed number on how many kids from Arizona actually went. Xavier Godin didn?t go because he had to stay home and Diana Avalos was injured, so she stayed home to mend. USA Boxing Arizona qualified 15-16 boxers to make the trip, but money was an issue. USA Boxing Arizona only pays for airline ticket of 15-16 year old qualifiers; the rest of the money is raised donated or provided by family and friends. Arizona Boxing News & Notes tried to help; but found cooperation lacking. And who suffers, the kids of course. Hopefully, the USA Boxing Arizona Organization will sit down and think the problem through.

Bonus Note: Jair Quintero, 2-3-1, has been added to the June 13 Fight Hard Card (Wild Card: ?All In?) at the Renaissance Hotel in Glendale. Quintero faces fellow super featherweight Paul Romero (3-0-1) in a four round contest that has local fans excited. Both men were to face different opponents, but things happen in boxing. Jair is better than his record would indicate. The event will not present da press conference, but the official weigh-in will take place at 6:00 PM sharp at Calico Jack?s in the West Gate Plaza near the home of the Arizona Coyotes, hockey team. Good seats are still available for the Saturday, June 13 boxing show. Calico Jack?s will also host the after fight party, and fans who hang on to their ticket stubs can enter free by showing them at the door.

Boxing Business: The monthly Arizona Boxing/MMA Commission meeting scheduled for Monday, June 8 was canceled and few people outside of the insiders (Commission Personnel) seemed to know about the dropping of the meeting. I talked to someone who bumped into a state official who informed him of the change. I then got on the horn and left a message on a weekday afternoon to state boxing commission employee Norma Rivero and she called back and left a message (2-3 days later) informing me the commission was moving and two employees were placed on work furloughs and overtime hours were cut. She said nothing about the website being down and emails weren?t being accepted. She assured me via voice mail that PIO Greg Stiles was still working with the boxing/ MMA commission and she told him about my inquiry. Ray Roman left the Commission in February and his position remains vacant. He wasn?t fired and he now works outside of government.

Mr. Stiles and I chatted on the phone and he assured me that the commission would able fulfill its? boxing/MMA event commitments without fail. Mr. Stiles informed me that the number of inspectors within the department would remain the same. Mr. Stiles sent me an email that I would like to share with my readers.

?Not sure if you (Editor, ABNN) are aware that with the signing of the 2015-2016 budget by Gov. Ducey, part of the budget called for a consolidation of the Arizona Department of Racing with the Arizona Department of Gaming. So as of July 1, 2015, those two departments will have completed this exciting merger.?

?This part of the Governor?s overall initiative to review every agency?s business models to see where it makes sense to consolidate departments, so that Arizona Taxpayers can be assured that ?their? state government is running in the most efficient, yet effective, manner.

So what does that mean for the Arizona Boxing and MMA Commission, which for years has been under the auspices of the Arizona Department of Racing?

Very little. Everything stays the same. Matthew Valenzuela is still the executive director of the AZBMMA, the commission is still attending to matters that concern the boxing and MMA industry, and Norma Rivero is still working tirelessly to keep up with the needs for both entities.

The AZBMMA?s office is still at 1110 W. Washington, Suite 260 and the contact numbers are the same as always and our email addresses remain the same.??Greg Stiles, PIO.

Response: When I hear that two workers from the Commission are furloughed, I don?t see that as progress. When I hear that overtime pay has been stopped, I see a red flag. When I hear the term ?Exciting Merger? I sense budget cuts and downgrading of priorities. When I attend meetings and hear certain relevant issues (Concussions) tabled meeting after meeting, I hear a reluctance to do the right thing. Also, when I hear that members of the media and promoters and relevant members of the boxing community aren?t properly notified of canceled meeting or given access to the new Gaming Director, I think the open door policy doesn?t exist.

I hope I am wrong because I genuinely like Mr. Stiles and think he is dedicated to his job; However, I would prefer a strong independent commission and a strong independent commission headed by a single minded commissioner that haste backing of the boxing community. What I see from the commission is too much process and not enough action. My opinion may not make me popular with the governing body, but I have thought long and hard and hopefully my comments will open up a dialogue?. Don Smith/Journalist and supporter of the 1st amendment.

Court Case Update: Former Arizona boxing gym owner Damien Stone?s court dates have been updated. The 41 year old married was charged with soliciting an undercover Police Officer in the early part of s2014 and he lawyered up with a public defender to defend himself. His case went before da judge on June 2 and he was given a settlement conference date on June 25 and he has a pending pretrial conference set for July 13. My well respected source at the Maricopa County Court tells me there is no trial setting as of yet.

Mr. Stone was ousted from the USA Boxing Arizona Organization after his arrest caused moral turmoil within the Arizona boxing community; subsequently, his gym (Stonehard Boxing) was boycotted and eventually closed and padlocked. Mr. Stone tried to put the facility in someone else?s name and that person called and reported the attempt to boxing authorities who were shocked when they read about the end around maneuver attempt in a local boxing column. We will follow the case to its conclusion.

From The Heart: On Saturday, June 6. Friends, family members and strangers attended a comedy show held at Fuego, a popular night spot and eatery in Tolleson, Arizona to aid 4 year old Esperanza Blanco in her recovery from a tragic automobile accident that took the lives of her parents, Crystal McDonald and Isaiah Blanco. We understand the benefit raised thousands of dollars and the owners of the host establishment also contributed. As a result of the crash, Miss Blanco is paralyzed. The family has created a Well Fargo Account under the name of Cora Willis. BMBP ring announcer and local talk show host JR Cardenas emceed the event and we would like to thank everyone who donated and participated. Hopefully Miss Blanco recover fully!

Short Jabs: Phoenix boxer Edward Ceballos (Fuentes Gym) will make his pro debut on a Journeyman Promotions card on June 26 at an unnamed venue. His opponent is from Texas, but that is all the info we have?. Thundering heavyweight Anetelea Opetaia squared his record at 1-1 with a second round knockout of Larry Knight at the Camelback Resort in Scottsdale. Knight literally fell to 0-1, sorry for the pun?.The rumored tension between boxing contributor Ralph Velez Jr. and Roy Jones Jr. Boxing Promotions is officially over. Mr. Velez took to the internet and announced his short relationship with Roy Jones Jr. Promotions is over. He will remain co-host of Outside the Ring, a television show he shares with good friend and boxing trainer Jose Benavidez Jr. The program airs on channel 44 on Fridays & Saturdays on Channel 44 in Phoenix. Check your TV Guide for exact times. We have heard nothing from the Jones Camp about Velez leaving the RJJ boxing team. We do understand smooth talking Jeff Huston will replace Velez as ring announcer in any future Arizona based sow. There is chatter about Jones wanting to fight in Arizona on July4 and produce another one in August, but we are waiting for confirmation.

More Boxing Bits: Victor Castro is headlining the Iron Boy XXIII card at the Celebrity Theater on July 25, but the contest won?t be a title bout as reported in an earlier column. Joey Ruelas, Carlos Castro and Francisco C. De Vaca are slated to perform; more details, next column?.Wild West Boxing Promotions is kicking off their debut show on Friday, June 26 at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center in Tucson, Arizona with first bout commencing at 7 PM. Wild West Boxing will hold its 1st official event press conference on Thursday just before the weigh-in at 6 PM on the same day. The card will include Rashawn ?Two Gun? McCain, Jose ?Raging Bull? Pena and Francisco ?The Destroyer? Muro; if they can fight like their nicknames suggest, fans are in for qa real boxing treat. McCain is the headliner. The Clarion Hotel is located at 4550 S. Palo Verde Road in Tucson; call 520-406-7561 for further details. Welcome, Wild West Boxing Promotions.

Lopez Passing: Onetime Arizona boxer Christopher Lopez was found dead on the morning of June 10 at the age of 27. He was born in Deltonia Florida made his mark as an amateur boxer and migrated to Avondale, Arizona where he fought professionally and had a brief and successful career that ended after he received a concussion during a fight in New York in 2014 and he was declared unfit to continue his once promising career; thus ending his boxing resume with a mark of 7-3 professional mark.
I was informed of his death by Boxing Photographer Rhonda Costa (via phone) who fought back tears as she talked about the tragic passing of her dear friend. As she wept, she mentioned he was such a good person and how sad she was as her voice trailed off, but she wanted to make sure his death was mentioned, so his Arizona friends would know.
It is believed he was living with his younger brother in Deltonia, Florida at the time of his death which is under investigation. I knew of Chris and he was always polite to me when I covered his fights. I was shocked when he was arrested in November, 2014 and charged with stabbing his step farther inside the family home in Florida. It is my understanding that Mr. Lopez suffered from head trauma and this columnist doesn?t know the outcome of is legal troubles. It seems moot after his tragic death.

A special tribute in Christopher?s memory will be held at the Saturday, June 13 Wild Card; ?All In? boxing show at the Renaissance Hotel in Glendale, Arizona. Show Promoters Sonny Gutierrez and Rigoberto Ledezma knew the young fighter well and thought it only fitting to remember him as an aspiring boxer and a good and decent young man who left this earth; far too soon. If you choose to pay your respects with your presence, please arrive early! Our condolences to his family and friends; May he rest in peace?. Until Next Time!

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

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