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Arizona Boxing News & Notes with Don Smith: Flores & Hernandez win Titles, RJJ Show Update

BJ Flores.

Boxing Fans, On Saturday 2/25, a sold out crowd at the Celebrity Theater in Phoenix watched two-time cruiserweight challenger B J Flores (33-3-1-21 knockouts) reintroduce himself as a heavyweight and thoroughly hammer an out of shape Jeremy Bates (26-19-2-22 knockouts) into submission to win the vacant WBA-NABA heavyweight title. The mismatch was wisely stopped by referee Wes Melton at the 2:51 mark of the first stanza.

Bates, aka “The Beast” was quite a feast for the 38 year old Flores who tipped the scales at 223, 30 pounds lighter than his counterpart. The champ told reporters, after the contested ended, that he hoped Bates (fighting out of West Virginia) would have lasted at least two rounds; but, that was wishful thinking. Flores gave him food for thought with a wicked liver shot that may have him seeking other job opportunities.

In his defense, Bates was a last minute substitute for Justin Jones (19-0-2) who decided to take another fight instead of facing Flores. BJ told reporters that almost a dozen fighters rejected an opportunity to face him before Bates accepted the challenge. After watching the fight, fans had the right to ask for a rebate from rotund heavyweight. I don’t have criticism for Flores who was in shape and well prepared for the contest. Flores fights out of Scottsdale, Arizona and with his permission we emailed him 15 questions and ABNN will do a follow-up Q & A piece when his answers arrive. Flores will continue his career and his performance on 2/25 was commendable. In addition to boxing, BJ works outside of the ring for the NBC Network as a boxing commentator.

In the Co-Main Event, Andrew “The Pride of Phoenix, Hernandez had little trouble winning the vacant WBA-NABA USA middleweight title against Siju Ade Shabazz aka “The Juice in their 10 round skirmish.” Hernandez (18-5-`1-8 knockouts) started strong and won the first round 10-8 courtesy of a knockdown that caught Shabazz (9-7-6 knockouts) by surprise. Hernandez, by my count, hurt Shabazz on 4 occasions; but, his punches lacked the oomph to put his foe away.

It was a disappointing performance by Shabazz who, according to a few independent observers, had a poor camp and apparently hasn’t recovered from a shoulder injury he suffered almost 2 years ago. His once highly regarded power punches were non-existent during the bout and his timing was way off.

A friend of Hernandez told me the 31 year old Phoenician is being considered a contender in an upcoming mandated middleweight elimination box-off with the winner of the box-off getting a world title shot; but, when it was mentioned to the fighter, he replied “I don’t know, could be.” According to an inside source, Hernandez will probably be on the April 22 Iron Boy #38 at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix along with Daron “Sweet Tay” Williams and others to be mentioned in a future column.

The first three bouts on the card resulted in 1st round knockouts. Ukrainian Super bantamweight Viktor Slavinsky (1-0) used powerful body shots to end the night for Mexico’s Oscar Quezada at the midway point of the 1st round. His friend and boxing colleague from Ukraine, Yulian Tembotov (2-0-2 knockouts) scored his 1st round knockout over Brandon Davis (1-6) from Ohio. Slavinsky may return to Phoenix on the Iron Boy 38 card, slated for April 22. Both Ukrainian fighters are talented - especially Tembotov.

Super Welterweight Jaime Bojado (1-0) postponed his professional boxing career until he completed his four year stint in the United States Marine Corps including 7 months in Kuwait. He was honorably discharged in October of 2016 and decided to make his debut on the Iron Boy 37 card and in retrospect he might have waited and removed the rust in his game and nervous anxiety attached to his debut by fighting in a couple of amateur bouts before taking on Shem Prieto on 2/25 at the Celebrity. Prieto came out like a gangster and kept Jaime off stride until the former soldier hit Prieto (a former MMA fighter) with a couple of big punches that ended the night for Prieto seconds before the end of round 1. Bojado is a better boxer than he displayed in his debut and I think he will prove it in his second outing. A knockout is a knockout; he was just a bit nervous!

In the 4th bout of the night, Jesus Ibarra (1-0) used his experience and superior skills to defeat Joel Moran (Pro Edge Boxing) in a fight that was a rough and tumble affair. I expect more from Ibarra in his next bout, he has tools.

Arguably the best bout of the night, Phoenix flyweight Adrian “Sharkey” Servin (3-0-1 knockout) battled Jesus Godinez (0-1) in a wild swinging contest won by Servin with a unanimous verdict. Servin tried to box his foe; but, Godinez wouldn’t oblige so it turned into a slugging match immensely enjoyed by Servin fans who bought more than $5,000.00 worth of tickets to support the former Olympic hopeful who plans to fight in Sonora, Mexico in March and back to the Celebrity on April 22. Although he lost, hats off to Godinez for his toughness; he can really take a punch.

Defense went out the window in the Luis Espinoza (6-0-2 knockouts) vs. Christian Bartolini (1-3-1 knockout) in a 4 round contest. Neither used their jab effectively and it wasn’t pretty; but, Espinoza mustered enough power to end the night for Bartolini. Espinoza is a good prospect; but, he needs to develop more patience and work off the jab and keep his hands up. Despite the mild criticism, it was an entertaining bout and some fans thought it was the fight of the night.

It was an entertaining evening of boxing and the next Iron Boy boxing show is scheduled for April 22 at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona. We would be remiss if we don’t extend a special salute to ring announcer Sonny Franco for surviving the ill effects of a bad cold and doing an admirable job.

Boxing News: Fight Hard boxing promoter Rigoberto Ledezma is battling what appears to be an infection of some sorts to his right eye and we wish him well. His problem was noticeable while he was attending the Iron Boy after party at the Sushi Sonora 2 Restaurant, 1400 North 32nd Street in Phoenix – Saturday night, 2/25. Fight Hard Promoter Ledezma has a show scheduled for Friday March 31 at the Legends Event Center in Phoenix and here is a list of boxers being pursued for the card: featherweight Jesus Serrano (14-4-1-11 knockouts), featherweight Keenan Carbajal (13-2-1-7 knockouts), lightweight Victor Castro (17-0-7 knockouts), super lightweight Cesar Alan Valenzuela (14-4-1- 5 knockouts), featherweight Edgar Brito (3-2-1-2 (knockouts), featherweight Edward Ceballos (4-1-1-2 knockouts) and super lightweight Luis Olivares (13-0-9 knockouts) ...….Boxing photographer Rhonda Costa caught a plane to Missouri to be with her ailing father after covering the Iron Boy #37 show and we wish her the best and hope her father get well soon, …….Boxing announcer Ralph Velez Jr. told ABNN that he has been fired by Iron Boy Promotions and will no longer announce at their MMA or boxing events. According to Ralph, Iron Boy is upset with him over his refusal to agree to work the mike for Iron Boy exclusively. The official full time Iron Boy announcer is Sonny Franco and Ralph was his associate for boxing and MMA shows according to an Iron Boy spokesperson.

Mr. Velez is currently hired to work shows for Fight Hard Promotions, RJJ Promotions (Phoenix Shows) and Mayweather Promotions. Ralph told me the firing gives him the freedom and time to build on his career. He was seated at the Iron Boy 37 show when he received a call from a local sports reporter (Phoenix Channel 12) who was parked outside the theatre and Ralph left his seat and returned with her and the two of them taped an interview a few feet away from ringside. The segment is to be aired on the NBC Network affiliate on an upcoming date. We wish Ralph the best in all of his endeavors. As far as our alleged ongoing feud, I am too civilized to feud with anyone. Yes, we are cut from a different cloth; but, that is what makes our relationship intriguing and unique….Iron Boy Promotions denies giving away boat loads of tickets every show. I hear the rumor repeatedly and I believe the story is fake news planted by player haters.

More News: The Mirror and Sun publications are reporting that WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao will fight Amir Khan on April 23 in the United Arab Emirates. Which city in the Emirates is still unknown; but, the favorite is Dubai is favored.

Khan and Pac-Man were sparring partners when both fighters trained under Freddie Roach at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles. The news, if true, won’t sit well with Australian Jeff Horn; thought to be the next in line to face the boxing icon and elected Senator from the Philippines. Horn has a right to be mad.

ABNN is waiting for a response from Top Rank (Pacquiao’s promoter) and Horn’s Promoter (Duco Events) to confirm or deny the story that is being tweeted around the world.

In the tale of the tape, Khan is 8 years younger, 3 inches taller; 4 inch reach advantage has fought 35 times compared to Pacquiao’s 67. According to published surveys, fans preferred a Khan/Pacquiao matchup over a Horn/Pacquiao contest. And fighting Khan in the United Arab Emirates is far more lucrative that staging the event in Australia with the virtually unknown Horn. Our best wishes go out to Horn and his team……..Phoenix lightweight Raymundo Beltran is fighting on the Terrence Crawford Card in New Jersey on May 20. Ray is currently training at Gent’s boxing Gym on Bell Road in Phoenix….Phoenix Middleweight Jesus Ernesto Gonzales aka “El Martillo” was in attendance at the Iron Boy 37 show with his manager Joel Lopez (Ringside Promotions). Gonzales (27-2-14 knockouts) hasn’t fought since his universally known knockout loss to Adonis Stevenson in 2012 at the Bell Centre in Montreal; but, he may return to boxing soon. Lopez said the decision is up to the former IBF Inter -Continental Super middleweight champion. Lopez thinks Gonzales remains a draw in the state; but, there is no timetable for the recently divorced boxer to declare his decision.

Mail Bag: Several readers wanted updates on local boxers-Juanito Garcia, Francisco De Vaca and Alfredo Escarcega Jr. At age 30, Garcia (19-3-7 knockouts)is contemplating a comeback and the lightweight was hoping to be on the March 31 Fight Hard card but he has postponed his return until he feels 100% ready. De Vaca was with his father at the Iron Boy 37 and he expects to return to action in April. He wasn’t specific on venue or location of his next fight; he has been idle for 6 months. Alfredo (140 lbs.) was ready to fight on the Iron Boy 37 show; however, he couldn’t find an opponent so he will make his professional debut on the Iron Boy 38 card, April 22nd at the Celebrity Theatre. Alfredo was an outstanding amateur.

RJJ Show: We are sad to report that 21 year old Phoenix bantamweight Ryan Riddell (2-0) is off the Roy Jones Jr. produced “Knockout at the D” show at the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center on March 11. RJJ and Team Riddell couldn’t agree on a suitable opponent; so, the young fighter remains frustrated after suffering several bout cancellations in his career. Boxing is a tough business.

There is talk he may find a spot on the next Iron Boy Card on April 22 at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix. Joining Riddell on the “off” list is exciting Missouri bantamweight Stephon Young (16-0-3-6 knockouts). Despite the absence of the two fighters, the March 11 card under the direction of matchmaker Guy Taylor should be completed soon and printed in our next column.

Our readers know, I am a big fan of the Knockout at the D shows and I think Roy Jones Jr. Promotions does a bang up job on producing these shows; here is the latest update on their March 11 show at the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center: Main Event: …… super bantamweight Eric Ruiz 16-5-1-6 knockouts vs. Rico Ramos 26-5-13 knockouts Under Card: 3 young rising undefeated prospects are scheduled and ABNN thinks highly of all three: super featherweight Randy Moreno 8-0-7 knockouts vs. TBA plus bantamweight Max Ornelas 7-0-6 knockouts vs. Felipe Rivas 12-18-4-11 knockouts and welterweight Flavio Rodriguez 6-0-5 knockouts vs. David Thomas 6-1-2 knockouts. In total, RJJ Promotions plans on presenting 6-8 bouts and tickets (moderately priced) are available online or at the DLVEC box office.Drive safely and enjoy the show. Until Next Time!

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

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