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Arzona Boxing News & Notes with Don Smith: Benavidez Strong, El Saber es Poder & More

David Benavidez wins.

Breaking News: T Mobile Arena in Las Vegas to host rematch between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady “GGG” Golovkin on May 5. *Tickets go on sale Tuesday 2/27 and prices are as follows from top dollar to the lowest price: $5,000.00, $2,500.00, $1,500.00, $800.00, $700.00, $500.00 & finally $300.00 The listed prices not include applicable service charge and taxes. The two fighters will face off on Tuesday, 2/27 at Microsoft Square in Los Angeles. No word on when people can expect see the two fighters in LA on 2/27. A word of caution: if you have health problem it might be stay wise to stay at home and avid the crowd.

Boxing Fans, It took 8 rounds and 2:25 into the 9th stanza before Welterweight Danny “Swift” Garcia nailed Brandon “Bam-Bam Rios with a powerful straight right hand that ended his night in a 12 12 round elimination bout held at the Mandalay Center in Las Vegas Nevada on 2/17. Rios, a decided underdog, had the crowd in his corner but when he dropped his hands in the 9th and Garcia came in with his final punch, everyone but Rios knew there wouldn’t be a 10th round. The win means the Philadelphia fighter may get another title shot at Keith Thurman or Errol Spence.

The battle of former champions was interesting until the end when referee Kenny Bayless stopped the contest although a wobbly Rios wanted to continue even though his legs were telling him “no mas”. In the post-fight press conference, Garcia praised Rios for his courage in the ring. He took strong verbal swipes at boxer/spectator Shawn Porter who challenged the Philadelphia fighter after stepping in the ring. Porter finally left the ring area and hung around the media room until security gently escorted the charismatic fighter away from the press room m just minutes before the post-fight conference started. He smiled at me as he left as if he knew what he was doing.

With Porter gone, it turned into a normal post-fight press conference. Rios kept repeating the F word at the post fight press conference out of frustration over his performance. Garcia allegedly was paid 1.25 million for 9 & ¾ rounds of boxing; not bad for a nights work. Rios took home 425,000.00 according to one source.

During his turn at the mike, the fighter from the left coast returned the favor by dissing Porter who was now gone. I found the exchanges amusing and visiting guest fighter Jesse Vargas told me that was Porter’s style and he was just hustling up another payday. The talented welterweight was booed loudly which I thought was over the top but no harm no foul.

Earlier in the day, Porter gently harassed Keith Thurman and it is possible Porter might face the welterweight champion that doesn’t fight Garcia who won the title eliminator contest with Rios. It was a good night of theater. I thought Garcia showed a bit of rust and Rios was often high with his right but his uppercut was effective early.

During the press conference and weigh-in, WBC Champion David Benavidez (20-0) and Ronald Gavril (18-3) promised a knockout in their rematch. The first encounter was a bout that received consideration for bout of the year. Prior to the weigh-in on
Friday, I bumped into Gavril’s big brother and I mean big. I introduced myself and the big brother stated in no uncertainty that Ronald was stronger than he was in the last fight and his prediction was a knockout provided by his brother within four rounds.

The first round went to the young champion who was the aggressor and tagged the challenger with hard lefts and rights to the body. A fellow writer sitting next to me whispered “this is going to get ugly” and he held up four fingers to signify the contest would go 4 and no more. Round 4 was big for the Arizonian but the Romanian wouldn’t go down; his knees buckled and once and he turned his back to avoid punches but the taller Benavidez hovered over him throwing punches to the ribs and slapping him upset the head. Benavidez was on a roll, round after round he punished the 31 year old. I looked over to my left and watched a friend of his bury her head into her face. It stayed there until Gavril made a gallant last attempt to knock his superior opponent out. The stamina wasn’t there.

Benavidez was punching so hard that sometime in the 7-8 round , skin covering a knuckle on his right hand split and he began throwing the hand less and by the last round he looked as if he was fighting with one hand. In my opinion, he was so good on that particular evening that he could have tied one arm behind his back and beat his counterpart.

Benavidez missed the post-fight press but his father/trainer told me there was no structural damage according to the physician who examined him at a nearby hospital. Hard hitters have to be very careful with their hands. Benavidez won by scores of 120-108, 119-109 x 2.

The second title eliminator featured “the New” Ray Robinson (24-3-12 knockouts) from Philly against Cuban Yordenis Ugas (20-3-9 knockouts) in a battle that was fast pace and both fighters sought to land a big punch. Ugas is a very good fighter who is both entertaining and slick. Robinson was the favorite but Ugas punches harder and his natural instincts are very intuitive. Ugas wore down Robinson nd took advantage of his better conditioning to win by TKO in the 7th stanza at the 1:09 mark. The writers sitting by me thought he is a Diamond in the rough and if he touches up his defense Ugas can challenge anyone n the division.

In the first 3 bouts of the evening, 4 young protégés picked up victories. Junior middleweight Joe Spencer (1-0) of Michigan disposed of Uriel Mexico’s Gonzalez (1-3-1) early in the second round while super featherweight Sulaiman Segawa upped his unblemished to (9-0) hard victory over Brian Gallego (6-1)s with scores of 58-56 x3 , Californian Jonathan ((7-0) Esquilel struck often in route to a 2nd round knockout out over Cameron Burroughs (4-3).

Credit Ladarius Miller (15-1) with the 3rd 2nd round knockout on the card when overpowered Carlos Padilla (16-7). Las Vegas protégé Andres Cortes (7-0) used speed and combinations n to defeat Fatuous Fission by scores of 60-54-3.

More News: When Sergey Kovalev lost to Andre Ward for the second time, I heard the Russian was going to retire. Instead he seems to have gained a second wind and fighting better than his has for three years. Kovalev, Badou Jack and Adonis Stevenson are the lead players in the light heavyweight division. Jack is thinking about moving up to Cruiserweight and Stevenson is 40 years and other light heavyweight hopefuls are less than grade A tenderloins and the lack of talent in the division tends to make me think the division is the weakest of all divisions.

As a boxing writer I have the opportunity to a number of fans and I rarely hear fans talking about the Light Heavyweight weight class. In the past, Virgil Hill and Bob Foster dominated the division. As far as I can see; Stevenson isn’t a champion of the people because he is rarely seen about of Montreal for whatever reason. Hopefully a new crp of Light heavies will arrive soon!

Boxing News: Arizona middleweight Andrew Hernandez (19-8-1-9 knockouts) has removed himself from the 2/24 Iron Boy 43 card at the Celebrity Theatre in in Phoenix due to a slow recovery from an ankle injury suffered his last fight, 11/18/17 in Tacoma, Washington. The 31 year old Arizona native was scheduled to face James McGirt (26-3-1-13 knockouts) but he will be replaced by Humberto Rubio on the Iron Boy show. Hernandez called ABNN to ask if we would send his apology to the boxing fans for his late withdrawal. He told us that remaining on the card would shortchange boxing fans.....According to info listed on BoxRec, Arizona lightweight Mario Esparza (4-0-1-1 knockout) will return to ring action after a 20 month absence brought on by personal issues that almost ended his pugilistic career. ABNN wished him well.

His new management team (unknown to this boxing writer) must believe his personal problems are now solved and the young man ready to upset unbeaten and highly regarded Victor Morales Jr. (8-0-4 knockouts) on 3/3/18 at the Jackson County Expo in Central Point Oregon. It is commendable that Mario aka “Super Mario” would take on such a challenge in his comeback fight; but, will it prove to be a wise decision? Mario and his management team will know after the judges deliver their decision on March 3rd....... The next monthly scheduled Arizona Boxing/MMA monthly meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 21 (10 a.m.) at 1110 W. Washington Street room 250 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Short Jabs: 2016 British Olympian Muhammad Ali (yes, Ali) has been banned (2 years) from amateur boxing after testing positive for Trenbolone; the same drug that cost Tyson Fury his heavyweight title.....Boxers Mike Garcia (37-0-30 knockouts), Rances Barthelemy (26-0-13 knockouts), Joseph Parker (24-0-18 knockouts), Badou Jack (22-1-3-13 knockouts), Keith Thurman (28-0-1 ND- 22 knockouts), Jemell Charlo (30-0-15 knockouts) Mikey Garcia and Shawn Porter (28-2-1-17 knockouts) were made available to the press on Saturday 2/17 inside the media room at the same time fighters on the under card of the Garcia vs. Rios Event was under way; so I skipped the session out of respect for the young fighters who were working in from of a near empty house. The crowd grew thanks to free and discounted tickets...... Boxing manager Andrew Zack attended the fight and paid full price for 10 tickets and he predicted his fighter, Sergey Lipinets would defend his IBF junior welterweight title successfully against Mikey Garcia (on ShowTime) in San Antonio Texas on March 10. The cocky but affable manager went on to add that he thought Garcia was overrated and hasn’t really fought a warrior like his guy. Lipinets has been fighting professionally for 4 years and his boxing resume reads: 13 wins-O defeats with 10 knockouts. It should be a fight worth watching. Garcia is a solid favorite.

Tourney Results: On Saturday, 2/17, Madison Boxing Gym hosed a smoker on North Central near Dunlap Avenue and the event presented 16 bouts. The best bout trophies went to Alfred Rochin (12th Avenue Boxing) and Nicholas Panousopoulos (Sonny’s Boxing) for their efforts in bout 9. Here are the complete lists of 1st place finishers: Manuel Gonzales (Unattached), Kevin Santana’s (Martillos), Isaac Bojorquez (Walt Hoskins Boxing), Jaquoin Camberos (12th Avenue Boxing), Johnny Garcia (Phoenix Fire Gym), Aaron Williams (Walt Hoskins Boxing), Gavin Lopez (12th Avenue Boxing), Adan Lopez ((Mendoza Boxing), Alfredo Rochin (12th Avenue Boxing), Jeremiah Teren (Broadway Boxing), Samuel Ortiz (12th Avenue Boxing), Jacob Cirerol (Phoenix Fire), Christopher Gutierrez (Walt Hoskins Boxing), Mabel Armenta (Tucson Southwest Boxing), Edgar Garcia (Phoenix Fire) and Manuel Vasquez (Walt Hoskins Boxing). Congratulations t everyone who made the event possible. You know who you are; please take a bow. ABNN would like to send a special special salute to event host, boxing Coach Ricky Ricardo (Madison Boxing) for his dedication to amateur boxing in the state of Arizona.

More Boxing News: The 2018 Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame induction Ceremony will be held at Caesars Palace on August 18. This year’s class will include 5 new members who will be inducted posthumously: Alexis Arguello, Henry Armstrong, Jack “Doc” Kearns, Bill Miller and Aaron Pryor.

Inductees expected to attend include Laila Ali, Former Senator Harry Reid, Chris Byrd, and Todd duBoef, Kevin Kelly, Don Minor, Shane Mosley, Jerry Roth and Earnie Shavers. ABNN will continue to update news of the event as we approach the anointed date of August 18. It is a great event for fans and we encourage all avid fans to buy a ticket to the August 18th event in Las Vegas at Caesars Palace. ...The Annual Arizona State Golden Glove Tournament will be held at Sonny’s Boxing Gym in Goodyear, Arizona 2/24-25. For more info, call Sonny at 623-806-2421...WBO featherweight world champion Oscar Valdez (23-0-19 knockouts) defends his title against #2 contenders Scott Quigg (34-1-2-25 knockouts) at the Stub Hub Center in Carson, California. If the trek to California isn’t possible; watch the bout on ESPN or ESPN Deportes at 10 p.m. EST...Tucson’s Christopher (1-0) is still looking for his second fight which is hard to find. Iron Boy continues to fight on but Golden Boy Promotions, Top Rank and Roy Jones Jr. Promotions has apparently put the skids on shows to Arizona. Christopher keeps training but he was counting to Golden Boy and Showdown Promotions to bring another show to Casino del Sol Casino in Tucson; however the ship is slow to dock for whatever reason.

El Saber es Poder: Retired Mia “The Knockout” St. John, a positive role model for young boxers, spoke at the WBC noon lunch event held at the Border Grill on Saturday 2/17 inside the posh Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino. During her career, Mia compiled a winning record of 49 wins -14 losses-2 draws with 19 knockouts; an envious feat for anyone wanting to become a professional boxer. Her critics slam her for posing for a 1999 Playboy pectoral layout and point to several bouts they claim she took to pad her record. Boxing is a tough business and Mia is smart enough to roll with the punches.

The native Californian entered professional boxing at age 30 without the benefit of amateur experience but she was a student of Martial Arts (Taekwondo) and her biography mentions she took up the self-defense practice at age 6. Ms. St. John retired last year admitting it was time to move away from her addiction to boxing.

Mia is a 5 – time World and International boxing champion and despite her accomplishments in the sport, some critics dismiss her success as the result of savvy marketing enhanced by her beauty and time hasn’t diminished that attribute but she loves boxing and has served the sport well as a fighter and good will ambassador.

I was impressed with the way she articulated her thoughts at the WBC luncheon even though her speech was brief; it was evident that the first generation Mexican born in America born came prepared to speak. And if all boxers were as articulate, my job would be easier.

Today, she champions an alarming need to empower individuals suffering from mental illness, homelessness, addiction and poverty. She was inspired to accelerate the fight after her son Julian was diagnosed with schizophrenia & addiction. Julian passed away on November 23, 2014 at the age of 24. He was a talented artist whose work was displayed at the Laguna Galley of Contemporary Art and Air Laguna in Laguna Beach California. After his death, his mother turned his art studio (“Stone Art” into a free center for young adults suffering from mental illness, homelessness and drug addiction. Classes at the facility include art, boxing, yoga and meditation and she has a paid staff to help her run the foundation.

In one of her printed bio’s she says of her son, “He was the light of my life and I will continue to fight for mental health until I take my last breath”, a serious oath from a warrior who means it.

Her commitment to fighting a worldwide problem has earned Mia respect, admiration and numerous accolades. In March of 2010, El Saber Es Poder

As founder and CEO of the Mia St. John Foundation (registered as El Saber es Poder) she has earned universal praise for her work including the “WBC Goodwill Award” from the World Boxing Council organization. The WBC is celebrating its 55th Anniversary in the boxing industry and is a major sponsor of the Mia St. John Foundation. According to Victor Silva, spokesperson for the WBC, the difference between the WBC and other boxing organizations is passion and the amount of compassion given to people and situations around the world; Mia shares that opinion.

A tireless worker and an independent thinker and doer, Ms. St. John started “El Saber es Poder”, Spanish for knowledge is power, in Mexico in 2002. One of her proudest moments came when she teamed with Micron Technology to donate 30 computers, electricity and internet service to Barrio de La Cantera in Zacatecas, Mexico. Her work in Mexico earned the athlete/humanitarian praise and an award from Governor Amalia Garcia for her role in sports and humanitarianism.

After rereading this segment of my column, I decided to call the office of El Saber es Poder and leave a message thinking a volunteer or paid employee would call back and answer the 2-3 questions, left for Mia’s response.

At the lunch, I reminded her that we first met at a boxing event at Cliff Casino in Camp Verde, Arizona when I was there to cover Tommy Morrison’s fight with 340 lb. MMA fighter John Silver and she was a guest. I remember asking her if she would pose with veteran boxing writer Norm Frauenheim formerly with the Arizona Republic. Norm is currently writing for Ring Magazine and 15 For the record, Morrison knocked out Silver with a vicious right hand; breaking Silver’s Nose. At the sight of his own blood, the big fellow began yelling; “you broke my nose” several times. Morrison left went to his room where he and others partied. Tommy was asked to leave after hotel security smelled pot smoke from his room and eventually he was asked to exit leaving the promoter with a bill to pay. The year was 2007.

Mia didn’t remember our meeting. She did remember Morrison who dated her best friend. Boxing fans remember Tommy “The Duke” Morrison who was memorable in one of the Rocky Series films in the role of Tommy Gunn, his character Rocky (Sylvester Stallone). We had little opportunity to talk at the luncheon. I tried to start a conversation; but she was escorted off a couple of times then there was lunch catered by the Border Grill and ordered by Bill Caplan, publicist for Golden Boy and the World Boxing Council.

Lunch was about to be served and I was still trying to get a question or two directed to Mia or light heavyweight champion Badou Jack who t0ld me he might move up to cruiser weight. Jack has an upcoming fight in Montreal with Adonis Stevenson.

My next contact with Mia was a call from her and we talked about the foundation and I discussed what I would do with the story. I told her that I could have easily asked her a hundred more questions but because of our schedules we said goodbye and I promised to send her a copy of this column and if she is so inclined to respond, I will pass on her comment t our readers. Thank you, Mia St. John for your time and good luck with your foundation.

Iron Boy 43: The official weigh-in for Iron Boy 43 will be held at Mariscos El Dorado Sin, a Mexican Seafood Restaurant located at 5630 South Central in Phoenix, Arizona. The scale time begins at 5 p.m. And more than few fans are wondering what kind of stare down will happen between headliners Carlos Castro (19-0) and Alexis Santiago (21-5-1). The two Phoenix fighters are good friends outside of the ring; but they meet on Saturday night (2/24) in a battle for the WBC USNBC Super Bantamweight title; their relationship will be put on hold for 10 rounds or less.

Co-Main: Phoenix, Arizona: Fidel Hernandez 17-4 vs. Cesar Barraza (3-0-1) 6 rounds-light heavyweights...Special Bout: Casa Grande, Arizona: Abel Ramos (18-2-2) vs. Phoenix, Arizona: Eddie Broos (9-4) 8 rounds-welterweight... Chicago: Joseph Greer Jr. (15-1-1) vs. ESDR: Yasmaly Basilo (10-5) 8 rounds-Bantamweights....MX:Christian Esquivel (30-12-1) vs. PHX: Francisco C De Vaca (17-0) – 10 rounds –super bantamweight...MX: Gilberto Rubio Norzagara (8-6) vs. FLA: James McGirt Jr.((26-3-1) -8 rounds-middleweight....AZ: Dante Stone (debut) vs. DR: Waldo Cortez Acosta (1-1)-4 rounds- heavyweight. Phx: Eduardo Ayala (1-0))vs. PX: Lenny Correra (debut) –super middleweight- 4 rounds. OIHX::Mark Garcia (1-0) vs. AZ: Chris Sullivan (debut) - 4 rounds bantamweight. The fight is Saturday night with doors opening at 5 p.m. and first bout starts at 6 p.m. 100 more tickets are being released on Friday and as always, the early bird gets the worm.

Left Coast Action: Peltz/Bam Boxing and Joe Hand Promotions will present “XCITE FIGHT NIGHT” on March 9 at the Parx Casino in Bensalem Pennsylvania; 20 miles north of center Philadelphia. The headliner is world-rated junior lightweight Avery Sparrow. 8 fights are planned with first bout commencing at 7:30 p.m. ET. Doors will open 1 hour prior to 1st bell and tickets are priced at $50.00, $75.00 and $100.00. To purchase tickets, call 215-364-9000 or visit . The venue will seat 1,500 fans.

I spoke to a marketing spokesperson affiliated with Joe Hand Boxing and she (Margaret) agreed to send me information dealing with some of the causes championed by their non-profit Organization. I inquired out of curiosity; because a number of gyms in Arizona are registered as 501 (c) (3) Non-Profit Tax exempts Corporations and in Arizona.

In Arizona, there is wide speculation that the nonprofit 501 © (3) tax exempt status held by many organizations within the state is poorly monitored by the Arizona Corporation Commission and the Internal Revenue Service; the two agencies responsible for approving applicants and regulating usage of the granted privilege.

If you’re asking what is a 501 © (3) organization, let me explain. It is the recognition of any organization as a 501 © (3) tax exempt entity by the Internal Revenue Service and all applicants must register with your state corporation commission. It can be a tedious ordeal to complete for some people and that is why some applicants hire a professional to expedite the process.

Once approved, the nonprofit entity can seek donations, become grant funding eligible, lower postage rates, receive tax exempt and increase credibility in the community.

If used properly, becoming a nonprofit boxing gym can become a tool for covering tournament travel expenses, and gym equipment plus a myriad of uses permitted within the guidelines of a 501 © (3). And for those interested in going the nonprofit route, first go online and research the steps, cost and benefits before leaping into a situation potential applicants aren’t prepared for.

Mail Bag: ABNN received a reply to two questions we sent to former WBC Continental American Light Heavyweight titlist Rico Hoye (24-4-16 knockouts), now a boxing trainer and Gym Owner (H.O.Y.E Boxing Club). Rico is familiar with boxing fans for his participation in the original “Contender” Television Series that aired on NBC, ESPN for 4 years according to an online source.

After hearing that Epix Television is planning a revival for the reality series, we reached out to him to get his reaction to the return of series that was originally hosted by Sugar Ray Leonard and Sylvester Stallone. ABNN also asked the affable Hoye about Mario Esparza, one of his boxing pupils. Here is his response to the 2 questions.

Mr. Smith, Well, Mario and I split ways some time ago. He felt thing weren’t working and chose to go a different direction. I am now working with Derek “Black Lion” Edwards who will fight Avni Yildin for the WBC International super middleweight championship in Cologne Germany on March 3.

As for the return of the Contender, I’m very excited to see the series return at a time boxing is going through a changing of the guard of sorts. Boxing is looking for replacements in the sport since the departure of big names like Floyd Mayweather and Miguel Cotto.

So, I am looking forward excited to see the contender return and look forward to see what direction the director and producer take in the revived version. As for my gym, things are going well and my facility, Old School Boxing is located at 3602 N. 27th Avenue in Phoenix, Arizona 85017. You and all of your readers are welcome to visit the Gym....Rico Hoye....Until Next Time!

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

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