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Arizona Boxing News & Notes with Don Smith: Ward/Kovalev Comment, Pacquiao/Horn News

Editor?s Note: Our delay in reporting on the ward/Kovalev fight came as a result of my serious battle with dehydration that resulted in my being hospitalized for several days. Thank you for your get well cards and letters and I particularly want to thank the well trained staff at Abrazo Hospital in Phoenix for treating me. It was touch and go for a few days; please, make sure you hydrate properly.

On with the column! Boxing Fans, More than a few fans responded negatively after veteran referee Tony Weeks decided to stop the Sergey Kovalev / Andre Ward light heavyweight PPV bout (HBO)at Las Vegas?s Mandalay Bay Center on June 17 in the 8th round (2:29 mark) of their scheduled 12 round rematch. One fan in attendance said he was done with boxing as a result of what he referred to as a ?hair trigger? decision to end the contest.

Personally, I thought Kovalev should have been given a 2-3 minute respite after Ward delivered a low blow (left groin area). I had Ward ahead at the time of the questionable stoppage and Kovalev took a couple of hard shots before he received the low jolt but, in my opinion, he was able to continue through the remaining seconds of the round. ESPN Boxing writer Dan Raphael thought Kovalev was ready to go down and he described the legs of the Russian as ?jelly like.? I disagree but Ward definitely had momentum at the time of the stoppage.

Katy Duva, Main Events CEO and Kovalev Promoter, used her post fight PC podium time to label Ward as a dirty fighter. There was a bit of wrestling at the start of the bout and referee Weeks stepped in and separated the two fighters. Duva?s comments were loudly booed by partisan Ward fans in a setting that was supposedly reserved exclusively for objective credentialed reporters armed with insightful questions.

One ?alleged? reporter used his time to praise Ward as the greatest of all time fighters (G.O.A.T) and proclaimed the Olympic Gold Medal winner as the best active pound for pound fighter. Mikey Garcia and a half a dozen other pugilists may quibble with that assessment. Personally, I think the pound for pound argument is a waste of time and meaningless.

Ward was very cool, calm and collected during his part in the post-fight presser and he dismissed the controversy about the stoppage saying it wasn?t his call. He lavished praise on Kovalev calling him a great fighter; but, he further stated that he saw no need for another fight with the Russian born former champion unless his defeated foe would win a couple of impressive fights and perhaps defeat Adonis Stevenson (29-1), the reigning WBC Light Heavyweight titlist. Ward said he didn?t see any valid reason to fight Stevenson; instead he admitted he was thinking about challenging for a cruiserweight title. His remark prompted trainer Virgil Hunter to tell reporters that he was thinking about pitting his fighter (Ward) against WBA & IBF heavyweight champion Antony Joshua. Hunter said he saw something in Joshua?s game that could be exploited by Ward who smiled after his trainer made the bold statement. Ward said the sentiment was just another example of how big his trainer was always thinking. Ward is a very articulate athlete and his communicative skills are appreciated by members of the media accustomed to struggling with subjects who lack communicative skills.

The room was crowded but I managed to speak to the champ briefly and I reminded him that one of his last defeats was at the hands of then Arizona amateur Jesus ?El Martillo? Gonzales who, as a professional compiled an impressive record of 27-2 and although he hasn?t officially announced his retirement, the Phoenix native hasn?t fought since 20212 when he was knocked out by Adonis Stevenson. It was a vicious knockout that left Gonzales lying on the canvas in an unconscious state for several minutes.

Ward listened to me and then responded: ?did you know his mother was a boxing judge?. He laughed and then extended his regards to Gonzales and wished him well and asked me to relay the message. The family reads the column, I believe; so the message has been delivered.

Kovalev took to the microphone briefly and said he was disappointed in the outcome but said he could have continued even though he admitted fatigue. Sergey told the press that Ward was better prepared in the rematch. To summarize, Kovalev threw and landed more punches; however, Ward?s power punches tipped the scales in favor of the American in my opinion.

The error in judgment by Weeks was a minor mistake compared to what happened in the Guillermo Rigondeaux/Moises Flores featherweight world featherweight title bout, the featured co-main. The initial decision ruled that Rigondeaux (17-0) legally knocked out Flores ((25-0) at the end of round 1 thus retaining his title. The verdict was made after a replay clearly showed the Cuban boxing star was holding the back of Flores head while punching Flores at will long after the bell sounded signaling the end of round 1. After less than a careful review, referee Vic Drakulich and ringside officials ruled it was a legal knockout and Drakulich raised Rigondeaux hand to signal victory.

Since that wrongful decision was rendered, an appeal was made and the Nevada Athletic Commission has overturned it and declared the bout as a ?No Contest.? Executive Director Bob Bennett released a statement confirming the change. In our opinion, Rigondeaux should have been disqualified; therefor making Flores the champion.

ABNN would like to thank Golden Boy Promotions and Berk Communications for the invite and my working stay was made very comfortable. We were fed and I was told the excess food was taken to a hog farm. Sorry to hear it wasn?t taken to a homeless shelter.

Boxing purists may fault me for leaving the press box (30 feet from the ceiling of the facility) after 5 bouts and move to the media room where I watched the four HBO televised bouts. The move was granted by a member of the public relations staff after I told the staffer that I didn?t think pigeons flew as high as we were. He said yes they did. I made the right decision in vacating my perch since the option of sitting ringside wasn?t available and buying a ticket wasn?t in my financial interest.

The first fight began at 2:30 PM with me in attendance while most journalists didn?t arrive at the venue until much later. I was impressed with the skills displayed by Bakhran Murtazaliev (9-0-7 knockouts). Enriko Gogokhia is a very good prospect and Luis Arias (18-0) successfully defended his title against a very slow Arif Magomedov; in very impressive fashion. The Junior Younan/Zolta Sera bout was blacked out in the media room; so, I missed his first round knockout victory. Insiders say he is the real deal. In my opinion, the card showcased some bright prospects. It would be nice to seem winners face stronger opponents, next time they step in the ring.

Boxing News: Arizona middleweight Andrew ?Hurricane? Hernandez told ABNN recently that he has agreed to fight Undefeated Rob Bryant in Minnesota for the WBA Interim middleweight title; more details forthcoming??Tickets for the Alvarez/Golovkin September 16 Middleweight title bout at T Mobile Arena in Las Vegas went on sale June 22, 2017 and fans planning to go can call AXS-TIX at 1-888-929-7849). Tickets for the event are priced at $5,000.00, $2,500.00, $2,000.00, $1,500.00, $800.00, $700.00, $500.00 and $300.00, not including applicable service charges & taxes; ouch!

Independent ticket brokers are asking as much as $20,000.00 for high end seats (pun intended) at the arena; please purchase tickets from the box office or authorized vendors; counterfeiting sports ducats is big business and illegal. The Golden Boy promoted show (HBO PPV) could break records and the contest is highly anticipated and ABNN will view it in person or at the Twin Peaks Bar & Grill on Camelback Road in Phoenix, money for accommodations is a consideration.

After viewing the Canelo/Chavez fight, watching re-runs of a three stooges staged food fight would be an upgrade. Fight fans deserve better and September 16 should be a memorable night for boxing enthusiasts.

More Stuff: Arizona super middleweight David Benavidez (18-0-17 knockouts) and his management team are expected to make a major announcement this week. He was scheduled to fight on October 14 but that plan has been scrapped in favor of a bigger and better opportunity that is the works. ABNN agreed to be silent until the news is confirmed by higher powers. Oh by the way, one of our readers asked if David was afraid to fight in Arizona after his brother Jose Jr was attacked in Phoenix last year and the answer is an emphatic ?no? from Team Benavidez!

It is good for local boxing fans to hear that Francisco C de Vaca (17-0), Carlos Castro (18-0) and Luis Espinoza (7-0) will return to ring action on the Iron Boy 41 card at the Celebrity Theatre. September 9??? 2 sources report that Phoenix featherweight Keenan Carbajal won a recent bout in Mexico upping his record to 14-2-2. No word on name of promoter, opponent or date of the ?declared? fight has been fund on Box-Rec. There is a trend for Arizona fighters to fight in Mexico for less money and often-weaker opponents! Kennan?s previous fight in Mexico ended in a draw; but, it hasn?t been recorded by Box-Rec. ?Neutral Corner Gym owner Brad Carlton called us on the carpet over a mistake in our coverage of a Muay Thai show held at the Legends Event Center on June 6. Bryce McDaniel (Sexy Muay Thai) won the WMTA Arizona State MT-2 Featherweight title. We reported Bryce lost and we are very sorry for the error. Coach Carlton is the inventor of Versamitt, an innovative boxing mitt used in training boxers and MMA warriors. He hopes to have his product ready to be introduced in the Ringside/Combat sports fall Catalog?.WBO world heavyweight boxing champion Joseph Parker will defend his title against Hughie Fury at Manchester Arena in the UK on September 23; should be a great match-up!

Amateur Boxing Schedule: On 7/8, the Kroc Center (Salvation Army) will host a smoker at their facility located at 1375 East Broadway in Phoenix. Contact Richard Soto at 602- 702-7053 for more details. Central Boxing Gym has a show scheduled for 10/07; start time is 12:30 PM. Central is located at 1755 W. Van Buren in Phoenix.

Iron Boy 40: Despite last minute wholesale changes made on the Iron Boy 40 June 24th card at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix, the event drew a sizeable crowd and provided one major upset; Vladimir Hernandez, from Mexico, scored a unanimous decision over previously undefeated super welterweight Danny Valdivia (14-1). Hernandez record is now 9-2 and his impressive performance may earn the 28 year old fighter more fights in the USA.
In the headline bout, Arizona heavyweight B J Flores (34-3-1) methodically wore down Nick Guivas (13-6-2) on his way to a 6 round unanimous decision. Guivas, from Topeka Kansas, took the bout on short notice and the Midwest fighter appeared to tire after the third round. He deserves an E for his effort.

3 scheduled bouts were canceled. Welterweight Contender Abel Ramos ((17-2-2) was out after his tentative opponent Oscar Mora hit the scales at 17 pounds overweight at the official weigh-in. No joke!

Popular Arizona flyweight Adrian Servin (4-0) was ready to fight; but, his opponent Joel Cano (2-6) was turned back at the Mexican border when officials discovered he (Cano) didn?t have a work visa. Hmm, a paid work permit fee would have helped pay for the proposed wall between Mexico and the United States; another lame joke!

The third cancelled but occurred when Gabriel Rodriguez (debut) failed his physical leaving Jason Pearson (debut) without an opponent.

Under-Card Results: Journeyman Promotions prospect Vernon Brown (4-0) scored a 2nd round TKO victory over MMA fighter Brandon Trujillo (0-1) and Brown, from Chicago, is someone to watch in the future. Arizona?s Edgar Ortiz (5-1) disposed of former MMA fighter Steve Lantry (2-0) with a 2nd round TKO. Don?t expect to see Lantry on future Iron Boy cards. Ryan Riddell upped his record to 5-0 with a second round stoppage (TKO) of Patrick Gutierrez (0-5). Don?t expect to see Gutierrez on future Iron Boy Cards. Massive heavyweight Adam Stewart (4-0-1) overpowered Michael Smith (0-1) in a contest that was stopped in the second round. In a taunt 4 round battle, Esteven Payson)-1-1) settled for a draw with Daniel Segura (0-1-1).

Next Show: Iron Boy 41 is scheduled for September 9th at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix and ABBN was given a tentative list of local fighters who are expected to perform on the upcoming card: Super Bantamweight Carlos Castro (18-0), Featherweight Francisco C. De Vaca (16-0), Super Welterweight Eben Vargas (5-0), Heavyweight Adam Stewart (4-0-1), Super Flyweight Luis Espinosa (7-0) and newcomers Jesus Ibarra & Eduardo Ayala. Fans can expect a total of 10-11 bouts and there is a possibility that Heavyweight B J Flores will appear on the card. ABNN will update info on Iron Boy 41 as it comes our way.

Hail to Cesar: Boxing Mentor and gym owner Cesar Peraza (Peraza Boxing/MMA Gym) passed away on Saturday June 24 in Glendale Arizona. Mr. Peraza was an intense coach who always supported his fighters. In 2016, at a local smoker, he became enraged with a decision that went against one of his boxers and the respected boxing coach vowed to never return to that venue and he kept his promise.

Coach Peraza is survived by his mother, wife and siblings who loved him and are now faced with the daunting task of laying him to ret. The family has started a Go Fund Me account and we urge the boxing community to help with whatever monetary contribution they can. It is a tragic loss and our heart is with the family in their time of grief; may Cesar rest in peace! Sorry, we don?t have details of memorial and funeral arrangements.

Pacquiao/Horn News: Arizona Boxing News & Notes boarded a Virgin Australian Airline plane on Tuesday, June 27 headed to Brisbane Australia after layover stops in Los Angeles, California and Melbourne, Australia. We will arrive in Brisbane, Australia for coverage of the Manny Pacquiao/Jeff Horn WBO Welterweight title fight at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Thursday, June 29. The entire card will be televised on ESPN 1 and its? sister ESPN affiliates , July 1, with a listed time of 9 PM EST. Australian time is 17 hours ahead of Phoenix, so we the press will be watching the event on July 2 in the AM hours. We suggest that ardent boxing fans leave the channel on ESPN early and click over to the other ESPN channels to catch all of the fight card action.

Some writers have chided Promoters Duco Events and Top Rank Inc. for putting the event on ESPN and its Spanish affiliate (Deportes), but fans will love the decision and the number of viewers for the bout should exceed previous record highs for sporting events shown on the network.

According to published reports, the last time a Pacquiao fight wasn?t a PPV spectacle was 2005. Top Rank CEO Bob Arum released the statement saying the decision to air the event on ESPN was made because the Australian was generous enough to foot the bill and so he thought it would be appropriate to show it freely on the #1 sports network. Actually fans can watch it if they subscribe to ESPN, a much cheaper option than the PPV route.

We will arrive in time to catch ?City Centre training session (open to the public) on Thursday June 29 between the hours of noon-2PM. On Friday is the VIP lunch with the main event fighters and very special guests, present. It is a very impressive list that will be disclosed in our next column. On Saturday, Sunday in Australia, the first bout (Jonel Dapidran vs. Brent Dames) is scheduled for a 9:00 AM start in Australia. We remind our readers around the world to check the TV guide and click on accordingly?Until Next Time!

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

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