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Arizona Boxing News & Notes with Don Smith: Knockout Night at the D, 2 Bouts at the Celebrity & More

Boxing Fans, Filipino pugilist Aston ?Mighty? Palicte (22-2-18 knockouts) made his American debut successful by winning a split decision verdict (by scores of 98-92, 96-94, 92-98) over an elusive Oscar Cantu (14-1-0 knockouts)) at the Downtown Las Vegas Event Center on Saturday, December 17 in their action packed 10 round headline bout.

Palicte, a member of the Roy Jones Jr. boxing team, entered the arena promoted as the dominant puncher in the contest and he wobbled Cantu (a light hitting boxer) on at least three occasions; but the rough and tough Texan (Cantu) refused to go down and the gathered crowd had his back. The hardy and constant cheers for Cantu may have persuaded the one judge to favor Cantu; but, my scorecard sided with Palicte, without reservation, due to his throwing harder shots and connecting with more meaningful punches.

My qualm with Cantu, though entertaining, was his frequent leaning forward with his head down at times and taking a few cheap shots off the break and on several occasions, he delivered blows below the belt that eluded warnings. Cantu does deserve praise for his grit and heart. By the 6th round, both fighters had developed an intense dislike for each other and their obvious contempt added drama to a very spirited contest.

With the win, 25 year old Palicte earned the vacant WBO Inter-Continental super flyweight title and the vacant NABF super flyweight belt. In a post-fight interview with the Manila Times, the confident fighter took a verbal swipe at the 25 year old Texan by describing his style as ?amateur.? The victor went on to say he was ready for a world title fight and he hopes to get a shot next year. He doesn?t lack confidence and his performance should make his boxing fans in Cebu City, Philippines - where he resides - very happy.

Palicte has been described as the next Manny Pacquiao; that is a stretch but he does have talent and is fun to watch. Cantu entered the contest ranked #4 (WBC flyweight division) and NABO has him listed as #5. The victorious Palicte held an IBF #11 ranking and the WBO considered him the 15th best super flyweight in the world. Based on his performance, those numbers will undoubtedly change.

The ?Knockout Night at the D? series is a novel concept presented by the Las Vegas Downtown Events Center and promoted by Roy Jones Jr. (RJJ) Promotions. CBS Sports Network broadcasts the series pairing WWE announcing legend Jim ?JR? Ross with Joey Varner at ringside. And once again, the always energetic Jeff Huston handled the role of ring announcer and Master of Ceremonies. There is a mention of my brief conversation with Ross in the boxing news section in this column, please search for and read.

I talked to the tree men before the event started and informed them that junior middleweight fighter Nathaniel Gallimore (co-main) was wearing a patch on his boxing trunks that read RIP: Ed Brown, a tribute to his friend and fellow Chicago boxer who was shot on December 3 and died the following day at Mount Sinai Hospital. After the briefing, the broadcast team went into action quickly and produced an appropriate acknowledgement of Brown?s life and ring accomplishments. Most scribes thought Brown (20-0-16 knockouts) was on the brink of fighting for a world title. Once again, we send our condolences to his friends and family members and hope Chicago PD catches his murderer.

Gallimore (16-1-1-13 knockouts) was definitely pumped for his match with Chilean junior middleweight champion Angelo Baez who entered the ring with a record 15-0-1 with 11 knockouts. Nathaniel ?No Problem? Gallimore dedicated the bout to the memory of his friend and he pursued the backpedaling Champion (15-1-1) until a vicious liver shot delivered by a left hand ended the contest midway through the first round. After the fight, some arm chair quarterbacks thought Baez entered the match overrated, perhaps, but it was Gallimore?s night to shine. The bout was scheduled for 8 rounds.

In the first of three televised fights, Californian Flavio Rodriguez (6-0-5 knockouts) ended Mexico?s Dilan ?El Terrible? Loza?s night with a liver shot in the third round of a bout scheduled for six. It was a bizarre contest that saw Loza get whacked by an ?accidental? shot to the base of his head in the third round. Referee Jay Nady halted action and walked the wounded warrior over to his corner for a respite and a quick exam from the ring doctor. According to two writers who had a better vantage point, Loza was throwing up. The doctor declared Loza ready to return to action although the Mexican pugilist didn?t look as if he was fully recovered. Within less than 30 seconds after action was resumed, Rodriguez popped Loza (5-1-3 knockouts) with a liver shot and a jubilant Rodriguez was declared the winner by TKO. If it were my call, I would have stopped the welterweight contest in the 3rd round and declared a no contest verdict and then suggested a future rematch. The contest was very competitive until the deliverance of that controversial blow.

Undercard: Four bouts were featured on the undercard and the most engaging tussle of the four was between San Diego?s Kevin ?KO? Ottley and Las Vegas hometown favorite Jeremy ?J-Flash? Nichols. They went after it like two alley cats for six rounds and settled for a draw. After the fight, Nichols wife saw I had a camera in my hand and she asked if I wanted to pose with her husband who was in a jovial mood despite the draw outcome.

I told her no and explained why which led her to vent about how she thought her husband was robbed. When I told her I preferred to exercise my ?diplomatic immunity? clause and not wage a verbal battle over the issue; she finally cooled down a bit which led me to reconsider the use of mace or call back-up to subdue her. She meant well and I think a rematch would be seconded by a lot of the fans in attendance. I had Ottley slightly ahead only because his punches had more pop in them. I talked to Ottley, before and after the Maryland born fighter posed with referee Tony Weeks and I chatted a bit with Jeremy Nichols and his defensive spouse after the fight. Both young men are fanning friendly and hopefully RJJ Promotions will see logic in negotiating a rematch.

Remaining Bouts: In a 4 round contest, bantamweight Max ?The Baby Faced Assassin? Ornelas (7-0) was very impressive in working over a game but outclassed Jorge Perez (6-5). Judges had no difficulty in a awarding the crowd favorite a unanimous decision. Ormelas has all the tools to becoming a boxing star and the 18 year old oozes with charisma.

Junior lightweight Randy ?El Matador? Moreno (8-0) proved too strong in scoring a TKO win over Mike Fowler in their scheduled 6 round bout. And Texas Junior featherweight Jessie Hernandez (8-1-6 knockouts) out boxed Sharone Carter in posting a 59-54, 58-55 and 57-56 victory over the fighter from Missouri. The weather was a bit chilly under the tented event; but fans didn?t allow the temperature to spoil the evening. No firm date on the next Knockout Night at the D Event in Las Vegas.

Iron Boy MMA 4: My sources tell me there is no truth to the rumor that Iron Boy Promotions will drop boxing and concentrate on MMA show only. After covering the RJJ boxing show in Vegas, I arrived back in Phoenix just in time to catch Iron Boy Promotions 12/18 MMA 4 pro/am show at the Celebrity. I am a boxing guy, but the show had some worthy highlights and although I consider MMA entertaining, boxing gets my vote because, in my opinion, boxing is a purer sport.

In the main event Nolan Hyland overcame a shaky 1st round to rally back and end the night for Texan Gabe Rodriguez with a Guillotine choke hold. It is amazing how many different holds there are listed in the MMA Glossary.

9 additional bouts were presented with popular Ray Robinson not performing because his scheduled foe backed out. His contract mandated that he be paid regardless and he graciously donated his purse to the Arizona Children?s Crisis Center, a nice Christmas touch.

Most of the bouts ended in the first or second round and the crowd loved every moment. We don?t have enough column space to dissect all the bouts; but, I was particularly impressed with Australia born Matt Frincu who wants to approach Iron Boy about boxing on an upcoming card. Frincu toyed with Freddy Contreras until the contest was stopped in the second round. The 175 pound Aussie from Down Under can punch. Johnny Nguyen, bout 7, got caught in a Triangular Choke hold applied by Daniel Flores and that maneuver was the answer: match over. Word of caution: Nguyen, despite the loss, is a name to remember.

Well worth remembering: Eddie Martinez, Kamula Kirk and Ronnie Dizon turned in 4 star winning performances. Other winners included: Brandon Olivas, Brandon Trujillo, Vince Arredondo and Steve Coard. Iron Boy MMA 5 is scheduled for March 10 at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix.

Wishful Thinking: Arizona Boxing News & Notes is soliciting help from a guide and translator who may be able to secure permission for ABNN to visit Cuba and tour boxing facilities in the Communist controlled Republic. We are taking cautionary steps now; understanding that the incoming Trump administration may try to renew the Cuban travel ban lifted by the Obama Administration. Attorney General Designate Jeff Sessions, conservative US Senator from Alabama, is known to publicly favor travel sanctions to the Raul Castro led Communist Island, 90 miles, from the coast of Florida so Arizona Boxing News & Notes hopes to gain official access while a ?somewhat? open door policy exists. We told our contact, March or April in 2017 would be an ideal time for ABNN to make the trip. He has already told us to expect additional fees and some red tape issues that could force us to abandon our attempt to visit the island. It will be a challenge; but, worth taking.

Cuba has produced some remarkable boxers, for example: amateur heavyweights Teofilo Stevenson and Felix Savon won 3 Olympic Gold medals each while representing Cuba and Cuban bantamweight Guillermo Rigondeaux won 2 in a different era. In 2009, Rigondeaux defected and turned professional and quickly became a world championship. Other Cuban fighters who left the repressive island of Cuba and found success include: Luis Ortiz, Kid Gavilan, Kid Chocolate, Jose Naples, Luis Manuel Rodriguez, Joel Casamayor, Sugar Ramos, Jose Legra and Florentino Fernandez. A complete list of successful Cuban amateur and professional fighters would include hundreds of men and women who excelled in the sport. Arizona Boxing Trainer Georgie Garcia (Hammer Boxing) thinks Cuba produces the best boxers the world and he may be right.

Boxing Notes: 51 year old light heavyweight Bernard Hopkins wanted to leave the sport a winner; instead he was literally knocked out of the ring by Joe Smith Jr. in their battle on December 17th at the Forum in Los Angeles. When he landed, the ageless one struck his head on the concrete surface and suffered a head gash that prevented him from reentering the ring in the mandated allotment time of 30 seconds. His fall resulted in a TKO loss.

Hopkins claimed he was pushed but replay showed it was a punch that knocked him out of the ring. Former world Champion Hopkins will turn 52 years young in January and finally admits that he is done as a boxer??thank goodness the wait is over?.I ran across local lightweight David Courtney (1-5) at the Iron Boy MMA 4 show at the Celebrity and we discussed his future and he agrees, he needs to think before he steps into the ring with just anybody. David understands?..Phoenix lightweight Mario Esparza (4-0-1) last fought in July of 2015. Mario has put on at least 20-30 lbs. since his last fight; but, he has been seen working out at Central Gym and our boxing birdie believes the 22 year old will attempt a return to the sport??Also considering a return to the sport is 22 year old featherweight Vincente Cano (2-0) who last fought in 2015. Fight Hard Promotions is championing his ring return?.Veteran boxer Danny Batchelder (31-11-1- 15 knockouts) wants to end his career with one last fight in Phoenix; but, so far he can?t find any takers.

Mail Bag: Anthony Garcia wants to know what happened to Phoenix boxers Alexis Santiago and Alexis Zazueta. Santiago (21-4-1) is with Mayweather boxing and he last fought in September losing a bid to win a NABF super bantamweight title at the Cosmopolitan in Vegas. Zazueta (9-0) is signed with Cameron Dunkin and he has been inactive since he won in March?? Candice Alvarez, proud mother of Native American boxer Albert Alvarez (2-0) tells us her son won his last bout by unanimous decision; but, the young fighter suffered a head butt resulting in a cut and will be out of action until next year. No word on name of foe from Mrs. Alvarez or the official BoxRec listing?. Arizona light heavyweight finally read the email I sent him asking him if he has the hand speed to face Stevenson, Ward or Kovalev. Trevor thanked me for my email and replied: ?I?ll just continue to prove myself, thanks.? Since the Illinois born pugilist began his career, critics have been unfairly harsh in their critique of the light heavyweight; he could have the last laugh?. ?? ABNN was asked recently, by a reader, why we didn?t focus solely on Arizona boxing. Answer: It would stenotype our boxing coverage and cheat our consumer/readers who need information to make pocket book choices.

Tucson?s Alfonso Olivera (8-2-1) hasn?t fought in a while, it would be nice to see him on the upcoming Iron Boy or RJJ card; just a thought?...MMA fans can watch the last big MMA Clash for retiring Rhonda Rousey when she takes on Amanda Nunes for a World Bantamweight title. Best place to watch what promises to be a royal battle between the two premier female stars of the sport is Twin Peaks Sports Bar & Grill on Camelback Road in Phoenix. Action on the big screen starts at 10 PM ET & 7 PM PT.

Benavidez Update: An attempt to locate Jose Benavidez Jr. has failed and we can only hope his wounded has healed and his boxing career will resume soon. We can tell readers, his brother David (16-0-15 knockouts) is fighting on the Frampton/ Santa Cruz 1/28 Card at the MGM in Vegas and the event will be televised on Showtime. Jose Sr. will work his son?s corner and the corner of WBC lightweight champion Dejan Ziaticanin (22-0-15 knockouts as the champ defends his title against Mike Garcia (35-0-29 knockouts) in the co-main feature. It will be an exciting night for the Benavidez family; or prayers are with Jose Jr!

I cornered CBS Sports Network announcer Jim ?JR? Ross at the Knockout Night at the D Event and the WWE legend said some flattering things about former WWE co-founder Linda McMahon who has been chosen by President Elect Donald J. Trump to oversee the Small Business Administration, a cabinet level position. Ross said she is very smart and quite capable. I asked him to compare boxing to wrestling and he told me: ?boxing is a sport and wrestling is entertainment.??.Sorry to hear Heavyweight Anetelea Opetaia aka T was shot 3 times (neck, mouth and hip) in Anchorage Alaska on his birthday, December 11. On 12/19, his daughter tweeted that her dad is recovering and we wish him the best. His career mark is 2-1 and all of his fights were held in Arizona. He left the Grand Canyon State several months ago to continue his boxing career in Alaska; but, he never found a bout. We will pass on updates if and when received?24 year old Arizona welterweight Luis Olivares (12-0) may have to hold a sign that reads Will fight for food before he gains attention from a promoter. Luis is too good of a fighter not to be fighting on a regular basis?.we hear that popular Arizona welterweight Abel Ramos might return to ring action in February outside of Arizona. Abel trained with Ed Brown and the news of Ed?s death hit Ramos hard?..Madison Boxing coach Ricky Ricardo Rodriguez has postponed his planned 2/25 smoker at O. C. Greenfield Elementary School, 7009 S. 10th Street . When Iron Boy moved their Celebrity Theatre show to the same date, Coach Rodriguez decided to pull the plug on his event. A new date will be announced soon?..Top drawer Arizona amateur Myron Bridges (Surprise, Arizona) is expected to turn professional next year. He was seen sparring with 14 year old boxing sensation Moises Rosales at Fuentes Boxing Gym in Phoenix recently and the action was intense.

Two Fights at the Celebrity: Roy Jones Jr. Promotions returns to Phoenix with a boxing show on Friday January 27th at the Celebrity Theatre. The bout sheet is incomplete; but we can drop a few names and as usual all bouts are subject to change. It is a good omen that RJJ is returning to produce and promote boxing in a state that is underappreciated by some promoters.

In recent weeks, our sources suggest that 2017 might be a big year for Arizona boxing fans. We hear that in addition to RJJ, at least 3 major promoters are rumored to be contemplating promoting shows in Arizona during the year and that is good news, indeed. And we have Iron Boy Promotions ready to present their37th show at the Celebrity on 2/28. No official word from Fight Hard Promotions; but there are hints FH will announce a show within the next three months. In the meantime, FH will play an undefined role in the upcoming RJJ show. At least one fighter, Cesar Alan Valenzuela will represent Fight Hard on the Card.

The Main Event on 1/27 will feature undefeated John ?The Phenom? Vera (15-0-10 knockouts). The southpaw super welterweight from Ft. Worth Texas is defending his WBA-NABA Championship title against Salim Larbi, Cambrai (20-6-2-7 knockouts) from Cambrai Nord France, by way of New York. Cambrai will have to bring his A game to the ring when he takes on the ranked Vera (WBA # 14).
The rest of the card is still under construction; but an issued media alert has given us an indication of who some of the players on the card will be. There was a rumor that flyweight Adrian Servin (2-0) would be on the card; but, he would need a waiver from his promoter (Iron Boy) and we have been told the answer to the request was an emphatic nyet.

Middleweight Andrew ?The fighting pride of Phoenix, is on the card as the co-main feature and the veteran battler is anxious to get back on the winning track after his recent KO loss to Jessie Hart in Vegas. Hernandez (16-5-1-7 knockouts) will be fighting for an interim WBA-NABO-USA middleweight title. His opponent is yet to be named.

The RJJ released media alert lists featherweight Keenan Carbajal (12-2-1-6 knockouts) as a combatant on the card against a TBA foe. Mexican featherweight titlist Jesus Serrano (13-4-2) reportedly issued a challenge to fight Carbajal on the card; a challenge not accepted according to a spokesperson tor Team Serrano. Carbajal has fought on previous RJJ cards and the press alert describes the 25 year old as a ?hometown fan favorite?.

RJJ matchmaker Guy Tucker has also added lightweight Cesar Alan Valenzuela (13-4-1), featherweight Edward Ceballos (4-1-1) and bantamweight Ryan Riddell (2-0) to the Celebrity Theatre show under card. All three fighters live and train in the Phoenix area.

I talked to Ceballos recently at Fuentes Gym in Phoenix and 19 year old told me he was scheduled to fight in California but nixed the deal with All Star Promotions because the contracted weight was wrong for him. He doesn?t know his foe. Valenzuela hopes a victory on 1/27 will cement a tentative IBF title bout in March. Cesar trains at Fuentes and his very popular in the Phoenix boxing community. I bumped into 21 year old Riddell and his father in Vegas on 12/17/16 and he told ABNN that he wants to be very active in 2017.

The RJJP show is scheduled for 1/27 at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix with a listed time at 6 PM. Tickets are priced $75.00 ringside, $50.00 reserved and $20.00 for general admission. There is an additional handling fee and tickets may be purchased online or at the Celebrity Theatre box-office.

Iron Boy Show: I spoke to Iron Boy Matchmaker Mike Sanchez about their Iron Boy 37 show on Saturday 2/25 (confirmed) show at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix and he told me that it could be the best Iron Boy show ever with a major announcement coming after the beginning of the New Year. . Previously mentioned show dates (2/17 and 2/18) were scraped by Iron Boy due to the 2017 MLB Cactus League schedule and the demand for hotel space by the incoming teams. Major League Baseball players begin reporting in Arizona on 2/16 and the Arizona Diamondbacks will present their fan fest celebration at Chase Field in Phoenix on 2/18. It is a great event for kids who get to meet players and collect player autographs.

We hear that Iron Boy is planning 3 championship bouts on the card and we think local fighters Carlos Castro, Paul ?Ziggy? Romero and Francisco C. De Vaca will contend for the three titles at stake. And there are reports that at least 2 highly regarded European prospects, possibly 4, will fight on the card. That is great news because too much familiarity breeds contempt. Mr. Sanchez said he is preparing 15 tentative bouts, hoping that 10 quality bouts will come to fruition. Arizona boxing Fans can expect additional Arizona fighters added to the card and ticket info and other relevant information in future ABNN columns. In covering boxing, beat writers have to prepare for constant copy changes. The weigh-in location and time will announced at a later date. We thank Iron Boy publicist Emily Pandelakis for keeping our desk in the loop with updates?. Merry Christmas and we wish actress Carrie Fisher a speedy recovery?.. Until Next Time!

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

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