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Arizona Boxing News & Notes With Don Smith: Focused Vargas Wins Arizona Box-Off, Benavidez Signs

Boxing Fans, 141 lb. Eben Vargas easily defeated Christopher Gonzalez in a special box-off held at the Greenfield Elementary School in Phoenix, Arizona on Saturday October 10. The win earned Vargas a trip to the USA boxing team Olympic Qualifier III in Memphis, Tennessee, October 26-31 at the Memphis Cook Convention Center.

His victory was sweetened with a $500.00 stipend from USA Boxing Arizona given to the young fighter to help defray his traveling and lodging expenses. Gonzalez can travel and compete in the Memphis held Qualifier III, but he isn?t eligible for a stipend from USA Boxing Arizona. Gonzalez is trained by Neutral Corner boxing coach Brad Carlton and the winner of the 2015 Arizona Trainer of Year award, indicated his fighter would make the Qualifier III trip to Tennessee.

Gonzalez beat Vargas when they met in My, but the quick hitting Vargas was more focused on 10/10 according to one of his coaches (lightweight contender Ray Beltran) and better conditioned in the opinion of the fighter who often tired in the final stanza of previous fights. It was a terrific performance for Vargas and he leaves for Memphis with a fistful of confidence. Team Vargas also includes Alan Viers, Wayne Viers and Tony Vargas. Ray Beltran won?t travel with the team to Memphis due to personal commitment.

In addition to the box-off, the smoker portion of the program produced 11 additional winners: Fabian Montes (Phoenix Boys Center), Chris Bojorquez (Maricopa Sheriff Department), Thomas Valerio ( Maricopa Sheriff Department) * Bojorquez & Valerio are the reigning 2015 National P.A.L. Champions. Here is the rest of the best: Daniel Teran (Broadway Boxing), Oscar Jacobo (Madison), Anthony Clark (Unattached), Eduardo Gamez (Broadway Boxing), Andres Perez (Unattached), Jesus Garcia (Madison Boxing), Lenny Correa (Central Boxing) and Danny Gamez (Broadway Boxing). Next boxing event at Greenfield Elementary is tentatively scheduled for December 12, 2015.

Benavidez Signs: 18 Year old Phoenix Super Middleweight David Benavidez (10-0-9 knockouts) has signed a national promotional contract with Sampson Boxing. The announcement was made public on 10/16 and David?s father (Jose Benavidez Sr.) will manage his son while David Garcia (Danny?s brother) is the designated co-manager. It is a three year deal culminating after Sampson Boxing watched David workout with fellow Sampson Boxing client Julian Jackson for two weeks in the Virgin Islands. Benavidez recently signed a 1 year contract with Fight Hard Promotions in Arizona, but the FH deal is limited to David fighting in Arizona. According to his manager, David will make his Sampson Boxing Debut on November 14 at the Hard Rock Caf? Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

David is the younger brother of WBA interim Super Lightweight Champion Jose Benavidez Jr. (23-0-16 knockouts). Promoter Sampson Lewkowics, Sampson Boxing, has nicknamed his young prot?g? ?El Bandera Roja?, or Red flag in English; very clever!

Earlier this year, David won the vacant Junior NABF Light Heavyweight title and now he wants to climb into the boxing circle with the big boys and begin his attempt to claim a world championship; signing with Sampson Boxing is a first step.

Celebrity Theatre 10/23: Iron Boy Promotions and RJJ Promotions are collaborating again on 10/23 with a show at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona. RJJ promotions matchmaker Guy Taylor emailed an update and here is the lineup for the boxing card; another fight may be added, but it isn?t etched in stone.

In the main event, Louis Rose (13-2-1) and Rob Brant (17-0) meet head on for the vacant WBC Continental Americas Middleweight Championship. The bout is scheduled for 10 rounds and their boxing resumes indicate neither warrior is a slacker; expect non-stop action. In addition to the title bout; 5 other contests are on the Friday, 10/23 boxing menu at the Celebrity.

Undefeated Harmonito De La Torre (16-0) hopes to keep his perfect record in-tact when he takes on fellow Super-Featherweight Angel Luna (12-1) in a scheduled 8 round battle that may hold future title implications.

Light Heavyweights Lavarn Harwell (15-1) squares off with Samuel Clarkson (16-3) in a scheduled 8 rounder; both men can punch.

Some boxing aficionados are describing the scheduled 8 round Heavyweight skirmish between Jarrell Miller (14-0) and Akhror Muralimov (16-1) as a headliner caliber fight; the winner grabs the headline and the loser has some explaining.

Two Arizona kids are on the card: Keenan Carbajal (8-2-1) challenges Angel Monrreal (5-6) in a scheduled 6 round Super-Featherweight match-up; both men will rely on their boxing skills to win. Super Flyweight Alexis Zazueta (7-0) was lacking an opponent at press time, but the kid has natural talent and when he focuses, good things happen. Tickets are available at the Celebrity Box-office and online-doors open for Iron Boy 29 at 5 PM.

Commission Meeting: The Arizona Boxing and MMA Commission held a meeting open to the general Public and members of the media on Tuesday October 13, 2015 pursuant to Arizona State Statues. The meeting began at 10 AM in interview Room 4000-B at 110 W. Washington, Phoenix, Arizona.

I was 7 minutes late due to caring for a very ill friend. The commission is well aware that 10 AM is a difficult time for me to make because of my Good Samaritan work and the fact that it takes 2 buses and a trip on the light rail to reach the meeting site; I don?t drive.

Upon arrival, I signed in at the Security Desk downstairs and then proceeded to the Gaming Department. The entrance door was locked; so, I buzzed the receptionist (Kathy) who asked me to identify myself and state the nature of my business. My response was acceptable and she allowed me inside where she virtually asked me the same questions. Once her questions were fully answered again, she sent me outside to wait in the hallway where I was joined by a representative of the World Fighting Federation. The gentleman was there to request approval for two upcoming scheduled MMA Events in Arizona.

After a 7-10 minute wait we were told to come inside and both of us signed in and secured a visitors badge. Commission Executive Director Matthew Valenzuela led us into the meeting room where we took a seat ready to hear the second item on the agenda. The first item was a license application for 36 year old former world boxing champion Fernando Montiel; Arizona state law requires boxers 36 years of age or older to face a hearing when seeking a license. Mr. Montiel was granted a license; therefore he was legally able to fight IBF Featherweight Champion Lee Selby at the Gila River Arena on October 14 in Glendale Arizona; unfortunately, he lost by decision in a very close and tough fight.

In addition to the WFF representative, the director and I; we were joined via telephone by the three appointed Arizona Boxing/MMA commissioners. The WFF representative left after his business was concluded. Commissioner Scott Fletcher bade farewell at 10:30 AM to attend other business.

The other two routine items on the agenda were approved and a call to the public was announced and Director Valenzuela told the two remaining (on Phone) commissioners that I was present and I was afforded the opportunity to ask questions; I did but the commissioners declined to answer my questions suggesting that they better suited for the Director to handle.

The meeting was adjourned and I requested a copy of the meeting agenda from Director Valenzuela and he told me to sign out, hand in my badge and wait in the hallway until he retrieved a copy for me. I followed his instructions and made my way to the hallway where I waited 5-8 minutes for him to return with a copy of the two page notification and Agenda document.

Mr. Valenzuela joined me in the hallway with the agenda copy and we began talking about changes within the commission and something I said set him off and his mood changed. He said one of my remarks was ?smart-alecky and his caustic pronouncement was followed by a series of questions aimed to discredit me. I tried to answer some of them, but he kept interrupting and at one point he asked me how I liked answering questions. I didn?t respond because I didn?t think he was listening and his inability to handle his anger issue was disturbing.

Unfortunately, there were no witnesses to back up my assertions.
It was a very bizarre encounter and when I saw him at the ESPN boxing show in Glendale on Wednesday, 10/14 I told him I thought he was wrong in verbally attacking me and then I asked him for a bout sheet and that was the extent of our dialogue at the event. In retrospect, maybe he was having a bad hair day; everyone deserves the benefit of doubt. He did give me the official bout sheet.

ESPN Show: On Wednesday October 14, ESPN, Premier Boxing, Ring Pros and Tom Brown Promotions presented 7 fights at the Gila River Arena. The first fight started at 3:05 PM with more concession workers in attendance than boxing fans; however there was an estimated 11,000 fans on hand to watch the Main Event (Devon Alexander vs. Aron Martinez) thanks to the passing out of thousands of free vouchers redeemable at the Arena box-office for up to 4 tickets at a surcharge of $6.50 for each ticket requested.

The majority of fans I talked to came in by way of voucher and they had a good time even though the main event drew catcalls and chants of ?pussy? in Spanish. I asked one Spanish speaking fan which fighter was the target of the less than flattering salutation and he told me, both. Referee Wes Melton displayed the patience of Job with both boxers. . Despite a gimpy knee, Mr. Melton toughed it out and was scheduled to work the Iron Boy 29 show on 10/17 at the Celebrity Theatre; review of the event will be featured in next week?s column.

Aron Martinez was reportedly a 50-1 underdog going into the fight and one drunken patron worked his fanny into one of the press seats where he told everyone within earshot that he bet $100.00 on Martinez, but after Aron Martinez was announced the winner I heard the boisterous loudmouth say he had actually won a beer; the concession prices were expensive, but not $100.00 per beer. Incidentally, he claimed he was covering the fight for ESPN. And if you believe his tale or tail-would you believe that I was best man at Pope Francis?s wedding?

While the evening was entertaining, the matches for the most part where less than memorable. Some of my peers thought the 8 round Super-Bantamweight scrap between Phoenix favorite Alexis Santiago (UD winner) and Mexico?s Gustavo Molina (10-9) offered the most exciting moments. Molina (Tijuana, Mexico) fought his heart out, but Santiago (20-3-1) picked up the pace in the latter rounds and stunned the tough fighter in the 7th round. I had the scores closer than the judges did, but Santiago (Mayweather Promotions) deserved the nod while Molina (Fight Hard Promotions) wants a rematch.

I gave the contest high marks and rated it a draw with the IBF Featherweight 12 round Title bout between defending champion Lee Selby (Barry, Wales) and former three time world champion Fernando Montiel. The former champion pounded Selby?s right eye with some vicious left hooks and the damage was very noticeable, but the charismatic champion threw and landed far more punches and that fact influenced the judges to award a unanimous decision to Selby who was making his USA debut.

My media colleague Felipe Corral (Univision Television Anchor) went to Montel?s dressing room after the fight where the 36 year old warrior told Arizona Journalist Corral that he (Montiel) won the fight. I had Selby ahead; however, Montiel fans have the right to lobby for a rematch.

I missed the last fight of the evening; the 6-8 round Flyweight swing bout between Damien Vasquez (8-0) vs. Francisco Lapizco; so I called a boxing coach who attended the event and he told me that Vasquez won via unanimous decision in one of the better fights on the card.

In fairness to the balance of the card, Kevin Newman (4-0-1) outworked Jay Williams (3-8) to earn a UD in their 6 round middleweight bout. Newman was the better conditioned fighter of the two and it paid dividends.

New Yorker Lionel Thompson (16-3) took two rounds to end the night for Thomas ?Hillbilly) Hanshaw (6-7) from Kentucky. Based on his performance; Hillbilly may be looking for another profession-Thompson has some pop in either hand.

On paper the scheduled 10 round bout between lightweights Ivan Redkach (Shostka, Ukraine) and Erik Martinez (Tijuana, Mexico) looked like a winner, but Redkach 19-1-15 knockouts) beat Martinez (11-2-1 5 knockouts) like a collapsible drum in a mismatch that was stopped in the 3rd round; Ivan is a beast.
On behalf of the Arizona boxing Community, I would like to thank PBC, Ring Pros, ESPN and Tom Brown Promotions for passing out the inexpensive vouchers which allowed true boxing fans a chance to watch live boxing on the cheap. I talked to several people who were watching boxing for the first time in Arizona and the vibe was good.

Amateur Notes: Two columns back, I reported the Annual Copper Gloves tournament will be held on the Arizona State Fairgrounds on October 27-28 which is incorrect. The true dates are October 28-29 which falls on Wednesday and Thursday inside one of the Agricultural dwellings near 17th Avenue off McDowell Road in Phoenix. I take the blame for the error because I received the tip from a phone call and I didn?t double check the information; furthermore, I sent that column to the Arizona State Fair public Relations Department and they didn?t catch the mistake. The purchase of a general admission ticket at the fair entitles fair goers free entrance to the Copper Gloves and free general seating at all concerts held at the coliseum during the Copper Glove dates. As far as concerts on those dates: Jackson Browne on the 28th and Jane?s Addiction on the 29th.
Victory Outreach, 4655 W. McDowell and South Mountain Boxing Club will host a ?up to 25 fight? smoker and 1st bout starts at 2 PM on Saturday, October 24.

Circle 11/6 for the Silver Gloves Tournament; host is East Valley Boxing Club; more info in next clumn.

Boxing News: Phoenix fighter Clifford Jordan (Hammer Gym) suffered a fractured hand in September on the Iron Boy Celebrity card, but will be ready for action in December. Jordan was very impressive despite a loss to Ernest Muhammad, a prospect from Chicago?. Super Middleweight David Benavidez has a tentative date on November 14 is Las Vegas; stay tuned??Phoenix Super Featherweight Cesar Alan Valenzuela (10-4-1) is listed to appear on the Bout Maker Boxing Promotion Card at the Arizona Event Center on 11/7 in Mesa?..Arizona boxer Adrian Servin is on his way to the USA Olympic Box-offs in Reno, Nevada in December and needs a financial boost to help defray expenses; call 602-826-9616 to offer assistance?15 year old Ruben ?Hurricane ?Gonzales was at the ESPN media workout at the Central Boxing Gym on Monday October 12. The youngster will box in the Copper Gloves October 28-29 at the Arizona State Fair Grounds and the Gene Lewis Tournament in Mesa, November 12, 13, 14 in Mesa. He won his division at the tournament last year; good kid, good prospect?.David Selby, Lee Selby?s brother, is making his pro debut in wales on October 30. The young fighter represented UK in the 2012 Olympics and won his first 2 fights before losing to the eventual Gold Medal winner in his weight division.

More Boxing News: Fernando Martinez (Fuentes Gym) won the online fan survey Arizona fighter of the year trophy and Neutral Corner Gym trainer Brad Carlton secured the most votes in the trainer of the year category. Jennifer Cliff, Boxing Arizona, presented the trophies at the Greenfield Elementary smoker on 10/10. Ms. Cliff also handed out Arizona Boxing T shirts during the event.

Local photographers working the 10/14 Gila River Arena ESPN fight in Glendale Arizona were relegated to shooting their photos of the fight action from behind the upstairs cheap seats per order of Premier Boxing Champions according to a source I talked to. In the meantime, a shapely blonde female fan wearing cutoff jeans (with an expensive camera) left her seat and shot numerous pictures approximately 20-30 feet from ringside. As far as I could see the photographer/fan wasn?t wearing a press credential. PBC did allow ESPN and a PBC photographer to shoot from the ringside apron. I hope the local photographers didn?t get a nose bleed.

Wild West Promotions: Desert Heat III is scheduled for November 13 at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center in Tucson. No word on card names, but Wild West Promotions is offering a special 20 % ticket discount and a chance to meet and greet some of the fighters in Tucson. Call Coach Ray at 520-520-406-7561 or go online for further details.

Arizona Event Center: Bout Maker Boxing Promotions match maker Eddie Rodriquez forwarded the bout sheet for BMBP?s Saturday November 7 show at the Arizona Event Center in Mesa and here are the ring matchups to date: Main Event: Super Featherweights-Cesar Alan Valenzuela (10-4-1) vs. TBA! Under-Card: Lightweights-Kandyce Williams 2-1 vs. Lena Taylor 3-0, Super Flyweights-Elihu Soto 2-0 vs. Gabriel Guerrero 0-1, Super Flyweights Francisco Chavez 1-0 vs. Gabriel Rodriguez (debut), Super Middleweights-Cesar Barrazza 2-0-1 vs. Freddy Contreras 1-0, Light Heavyweights-Darr Stalling (debut) vs. Billy Schmidt 1-2-2, Bantamweights- Joshua Greer Jr. 2-0 vs. TBA, Super Lightweights-Ernest Muhammad Jr. 3-0 vs. Moses Alvizo 3-8-2; for tickets and additional info, call 602-252-0553. It looks like an interesting card with Valenzuela, Soto, Greer, Muhammad and Taylor on the boxing menu; Billy ?The Kid ?Schmidt can be entertaining?. Until Next Time!

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

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