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Arizona Boxing News & Notes with Don Smith: Benavidez Closer to Title, Castro Challenges De La Hoya

Boxing Fans, 20 year old Arizona native David Benavidez is a well-mannered baby faced young man who is one win away from capturing the WBC world super middleweight title. His 8th round knockout victory over wily veteran Rogelio ?Porky? Medina in Laredo Texas on May 20 was a title eliminator bout and his KO win earned the hard punching pugilist (18-0-17 knockouts) the mandated right to fight the winner of the Cullum Smith (22-0-17 knockouts) vs. Anthony Dirrell (30-1-1-24 knockouts) WBC title bout on 9/9 in Los Angeles. The bout was stopped after a barrage of 8 punches from Benavidez sent the bewildered Medina sprawling between the ropes. Referee John Schorle wisely stopped the contest at the 1:08 mark. Some critics are suggesting the battle will be a contender for fight of the year; it?s too early in 2017 to predict a winner for that honor; but, Medina /Benavidez bout was very entertaining.

The title became vacant when WBC title holder Badou Jack announced he was moving up to fight in the light heavyweight division. The opportunity was a blessing for Benavidez who, at age 20, was willing to wait until his father trainer/manager Jose Benavidez Sr. gave his son the green light. It was thought that young Benavidez was at least a year or two away from a major title consideration. Team Benavidez, comprised of Benavidez Sr.-Carlos Alvarez and Jaime Moreno, won?t quibble with the accelerated plan and they will put the Medina victory in their rear view mirror and focus on the winner of the 9/9 title bout in Los Angeles.

After the fight, I talked to the proud father via phone and asked the manager/trainer how the team celebrated the huge victory over Medina and he told me they didn?t celebrate because David hasn?t won anything yet. He went on to say that David is on his way to New York in a few days to visit his aunt after a short stay with his mother. David?s parents are divorced and Jose Sr. has since remarried.
David has handled the split well and when his brother Jose Jr. was the victim of a shooting while visiting his girlfriend in Phoenix on August 21, 2016, the younger brother comforted his older sibling in a local hospital. There was never a plan for him to personally hide from a possible threat on his own safety or abandon his dream to become a world champion.

It was the second attack on Jose who had his car torched in California several months prior to the shooting incident. According to police authorities, both cases are still under investigation. As a result of the wound(s) suffered from the shooting, Benavidez Junior has stepped away from his promising boxing career (25-0-16 knockouts) to take time to heal. The prognosis for his return is unknown.

David received his first pair of boxing gloves at age 3. His amateur career was brief because he was much bigger and more skilled than kids his age. His amateur record was 12-0 with 2 amateur titles. At age 15, he was sparring with the likes of Gennady ?GGG? Golovkin, Kelly Pavlik, Peter ?Kid Chocolate? Quillin, Lateef ?Power? Kayode and other world ranked fighters. In retrospect, a champion was being assembled step by step. His progress was met by some skepticism and jealousy. The player haters didn?t know or care about the sacrifices he made to accelerate his progress. While other kids were socializing, he was mobilizing his strategy to become a champion.

At age 16 David and his father made the decision for the teenager to turn professional and fight in Mexico where it was legal to box professionally under the age of 18.

Two years after his successful 2013 debut in Mexico, young Benavidez signed with Sampson Boxing and now he has a 50/50 chance of becoming the third Native born Arizona boxer to win a world title possibly before he reaches 21 on December 17. The first was 2 time world champion Louie Espinoza followed by six time world champion Michael Carbajal. Mr. Carbajal has challenged Arizona?s young fighters to dedicate themselves to become a world champion and now his call may finally be answered.

Castro Challenge: When I attended the Iron Boy MMA 6 weigh-in recently, I was urged to take note that Phoenix super bantamweight Carlos Castro (18-0-7 knockouts) has challenged Diego De La Hoya (18-0-9 knockouts) to fight anywhere and anytime. Before we come down with an opinion on whether or not a meeting in the center of the ring would be advantageous for both fighters; let?s look at the tale of the tape.

Castro is 1 year older at age 23. Castro is 1 inch taller at 5? 7? and has a 2 inch reach advantage. De LA Hoya?s opponents entered the ring with a combined 229 wins-90 losses-21 draws when they fought Diego. Castro?s ring foes entered the ring against him with a combined record of 178 wins-127 losses & 14 draws. In the power category, De LA Hoya has a knockout ratio of 50% while Castro puts away 39 % of his foes. Another statistic with value is the fact that according to BoxRec, De LA Hoya is ranked # 19 and Castro is ranked #78 in the world. There are other ranking that may boost Castro?s recognition; but, De LA Hoya has greater name value.

I may be wrong, but I don?t think the calling out by Castro is strong enough to rattle De La Hoya who is considered a real prospect. I don?t blame Castro for trying to spark interest.

Muay Thai & Boxing Event: Puma Entertainment is introducing an evening of Muay Thai & boxing action at the Legends Event Center, 4240 W. Camelback Road in Phoenix, on Tuesday June 6. Doors open at 5pm with 1st bout commencing at 7:30 pm. 12 bouts are promised and Puma Entertainment is dropping off general admission tickets select local gyms to be given away to the general public. The general admission tickets (official coupons) are complimentary; but, there is a $10.00 facility fee collected at the door. In addition to general admission coupons, reserved and VIP seating can be purchased at the door for $25.00 and $50.00 respectively. ABNN will be there and follow up with a review. For more ticket info email to: . It is our understanding that 9 of the 12-13 bouts are boxing matches featuring highly skilled amateurs. Sponsors include Ringside Promotions, Prensa Hispana, Lavoz, World Muay Thai Alliance and Midway Nissan.

MMA 6: Iron Boy Promotions presented 6 bouts at their MMA 6 show on May 2o at the Celebrity Theatre. More were planned but one performer was involved in a car accident and another was a no show. The crowd was very lively and upbeat and that element made the show the more entertaining than memorable for execution.

I sat adjacent to Arizona Opera President and General Direct Joseph Specter who is a combat sports fan and was there to watch the show and possibly develop a script for a singing opera with a combat sports theme It was a good night for theatrics. Combatant Tyrel Wisdom (bout 4) jumped on the back of crowd favorite Nathan Hyland and rode his foe while applying a choke hold that forced Hyland to tap out before the end of round one.
The best bout of the evening featured Austin Solari vs. Paul Looper. Both men tore it up big time until Solari won by submission late in the final 3rd round of their amateur bout. The runner up winner came in the last bout of the evening when professionals Brandon Trujillo and Paris Stanford put on an intense battle until Stanford pinned his rival to the canvas and began pounding him with fierce strikes. The bout was stopped 15 seconds before the end of the first round 1. It was a very entertaining match that deserves an encore.

The weak bout of the evening was difficult to watch. A one armed man past the age of 36 was approved to fight a strong and vibrant Mario Batista and Jesus Orta left the case after multiple strikes by Batista who was declared the winner by TKO in the first round.

In bout #2 a tall and athletic Eric Fimbres threw more punches and kicks in defeating Dawson O?Keefe by a score of 30-27 x 3.

Bout #4 featured Crowd favorite Nathan Hyland and Tyrel Wisdom did battle with Wisdom jumping on the back of Hyland and applying a choke hold while dropping his opponent to the canvas. Wisdom was declared the winner late in the first round.
Overall it was a fun night and the crowd was spontaneous and entertaining.

Memorial Day: On Monday May 29, Americans will honor military veterans who militarily served this country by protecting the people of America and the democratic principles we cherish and defend. The two Twin Peaks Restaurants located in Phoenix and Scottsdale sent a recent flier over the internet telling veterans (active & retired) that Twin Peaks staff and management remembers the brave who served our nation and the grateful establishment will offer a free meal to all veterans on Monday, May 29. It is a much appreciated effort and we thank Andy and Carolyn Bayless for making the gesture. And we hope that everyone who has lost a loved one will visit his or her grave and thank them for their life and love while here on earth. Twin Peaks will make the same gesture on Veterans Day, November as well as other fine eating establishments throughout the valley.

Boxing News: 19 year old Phoenix super lightweight Alfredo Escarcega Jr. (2-0) scored a unanimous decision over Rolando Padilla (0-1) in a battle staged in Santa Monica California at a charity benefit hosted by the Sugar Ray Leonard Foundation and produced by Golden Boy Promotions on 5/24/2017. Alfredo knocked his opponent twice and the hard punching teenager (Escarcega) suffered a head butt; however the Arizona fighter is expected to be ready to fight on the Golden Boy Card at Casino Del Sol in Tucson on July 29. ABNN hears that Native American Alberto Alvarez (2-0) from Tucson will also fight on the card. Congratulations to Alfredo and Alfredo Sr. must be very proud of his son?s success, so far??don?t expect to see Phoenix super bantamweight Paul ?Ziggy? Romero (7-0-1) fighting in Arizona anytime soon unless the thickness of the pay envelope increases. The 27 year old Maryvale High School graduate has a family to support; so, his management is hunting for bouts with more money and better career opportunities. Romero was set to fight in DC, but the deal fell through??? Phoenix Featherweight Keenan Carbajal turns 26 on June 4; happy birthday and many more ?..Super welterweight Eben Vargas (5-0-3 knockouts) is expected to fight on the Golden Boy July 29 card at Casino Del Sol in Tucson, Arizona. Privately promoters tell me they think Tucson is a better boxing town than Phoenix?. Scott Maling has been approved for a 2017 promoter?s license. The confident Arizona resident told the commission he was thinking about promoting a show in Glendale with ESPN or PBC. He didn?t give details, typical Scott Maling.

Iron Boy 39: Heavyweight B.J. Flores (33-3-1-21 K?s) returns to the Celebrity Theatre on June 24 in an 8-10 round bout vs. TBA opponent. He will be joined on the Iron Boy 39 card by popular Arizona welterweight Abel Ramos (17-2-2-12 K?s) and featherweight Carlos Castro (18-0-7 knockouts), another Arizona fan favorite. The under-card cast includes: super flyweight Luis Espinoza (7-0-2 K?s), flyweight Adrian Servin (4-0-2 K?s), featherweight Edward Ceballos (5-1-1-2 K?s), super welterweight Eben Vargas (5-0-3 K?s) Edgar Ortiz (4-1-2 K?s), super welterweight Jaime Bojado (2-0-2 K?s), Eduardo Ayala debut) and Markey Garcia (debut). Tickets are on sale and venue doors will open day of the fight at 5 pm.

Iron Boy Promotions is promoting a private show at the Camelback Inn in Phoenix on June 1. It was a show that was to be promoted and produced by Insurance Broker Steve Ayala; but, he had a falling out with the Camel Inn and Iron Boy picked up the contract. The card is incomplete; but here is what we know days before the event. Lightweight David Courtney 1-5 is set to battle Manuel Lopez 2-2-1. In a heavyweight battle, Adam Stewart (2-0-1) vs. Waldo Cortez (debut). Cameron Dunkin managed fighter Brandon Lee (147 lbs.) is on the card and waiting for an opponent to be decided. Esteven Dayan & Daniel Segura (2-2) pair of middleweights are tentatively set to do battle on the card.

Televised Fights: ABNN glanced through some of the upcoming televised fights scheduled and here a few bouts worth, in our opinion, watching: 6/3 Rodriguez vs. Cantu (CBSN)-6/3 Stevenson vs. Fonfara (Showtime) -6/9 Diaz vs. Prograis (Showtime) - 6/17 Ward vs. Kovalev (HBO PPV) - 6/11 Rios vs. Herrera (FS1)-6/27 PBC Boxing (FS1)-7/2 Horn vs. Pacquiao (TV pending)9/16 Golovkin vs. Alvarez (HBO PPV). ** ABNN conducted a recent survey at the Phoenix Suns Draft Lottery Party and we also asked baseball fans at an Arizona Diamondback game the same question: Canelo or GGG? We asked 50 sports fans and 25 favored GGG while 23 sided with Alvarez?2 fans didn?t have an opinion.

In Memory: Our condolences to the family of John Richard (Ricky) Buchanan who passed away on May 10. Mr. Buchanan was an outstanding boxer in his youth and in 1969, he became an Arizona Lightweight Golden Gloves Champion. He went on to represent Phoenix, Arizona and compete against future world champion Danny ?Little Red? Lopez at the Nationals in Salt Lake City, Utah. He spent his entire life in Phoenix and worked for the City of Phoenix Street Transportation Department and remained a good friend of the Arizona boxing community; may he rest in peace!

RJJ Show: ABNN doesn?t dabble in social media; however, the creative and innovative minds at Roy Jones Promotions are offering ?Fight Night Live? on Facebook and the event is set for July 15 at Wild Horse Pass Casino and Hotel-Resort in Chandler Arizona.

Promoted by Roy Jones Jr. and Keith Veltre of Roy Jones Jr. Promotions, the event?s main attraction will pit NABA Super Welterweight Champion John Vera (16-0-10 knockouts) against former WBO Latino Champion Daniel Rosario (11-2-10 knockouts) in a 10 round contest. A second championship bout will present former WBA world Super Bantamweight title holder Rico Ramos (25-5-13 knockouts) against a TBA opponent. For the twitter set: find more info at Twitter:@FIGHTNIGHTLIVE@Royjonesjrfa? Choice is always god???.Until Next Time

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

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