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Arizona Boxing News & Notes With Don Smith: Chris Arreola, Josesito Lopez, Rico Hoye & Much More

Boxing Fans,

Chris Arreola and Josecito Lopez rented a home in Scottsdale, Arizona at the end of July to accommodate them while they prepared for their respective bouts on the September 7 Showtime Televised Boxing Card. Due to an unfortunate twist of fate Chris can look for a new house mate. Lopez sprained a chest muscle and his crossroad bout with Aaron Martinez is off indefinitely. The 29 year old welterweight has returned to Riverside, California for treatment. A huge blow to Lopez who is hoping to erase the lingering memory of two consecutive TKO losses. No word on a reschedule date for the postponed fight. Chris (35-3-30 knockouts) remains in Arizona where is preparing for the Showtime main event bout with Seth Mitchell (26-1-19 knockouts).

While in Arizona, Arreola will workout at United Central Gym in Phoenix on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for two hours, 10 a.m.-noon each day and on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the 32 year old heavyweight plans to train at Power MMA Fitness Center in Gilbert, Arizona. Before Lopez left Arizona, the two friends attended a USA Boxing AZ. sanctioned boxing tournament on August 3rd at the fitness center where they posed for pictures and signed autographs. Red Nation Warrior Boxing team coach John Colmenero and Warrior boxers Douglas and Alberto Alvarez participated in the event. Alberto won the heavyweight division. Chris has strong support in Arizona and his fans hope he will defeat Mitchell and go on to become the first world heavyweight champion of Mexican descent. John Ruiz tried, but no cigar.

I went to United Central for a chat with Arreola. He wasn't there but I was told to come back at the end of August for a press conference at the United Central Gym for a press conference with Chris. The event is open to the public. Specific details of the event forthcoming.

As I prepared to leave the facility, I noticed the arrival of Rico Hoye who compiled a record of 23-3 as a cruiser weight and light heavyweight during a eight year career that resulted in winning several titles and ended on 2/25/09 with a decision over Akinyemi Laleye.. Rumors of a return to the ring for the Detroit, Michigan Native have been circulating for the last two or three years. Rico admits to talks about potential fights in Phoenix and Chicago that never materialized. So where has he been?

He moved to Phoenix, earned an Associate Degree and began a career as a personal trainer. He hasn't given up the thought of returning to boxing even though he doesn't feel the sport has been fair to him. Boxing writer and promoter Jackie Kallen wrote that the soon to be 39 year old (In November) felt frozen out of the sport. He is currently engaged as sparring partner for Arreola. Rico is now a heavyweight, but the body looks solid and informants tell me Hoye aka "Suave" is looking sharp. I wish him the best with his possible return to professional boxing. Boxing is a tough business, as he well knows from personal experience.

Arrreola got whipped good in his last bout, a bruising 12 round affair with Bermane Stiverme in Ontario, California. His nose was broken and he was thoroughly outworked. To beat Seth "Mayhem" Mitchell, Chris will have to be in tip top condition. Working with Hoye should help and getting away from family and friends in California could be a plus for the big fellow who has been characterized as "Nonchalant" during past training camps.

Madison Gym Construction Under Investigation : The City of Phoenix filed a non-traffic citation in March against "Church For Nations" for 3 building code violations that can be punishable by fines ranging from $500.00 to $2,500.00 for each violation. The property in question is the Castle Sports club located on 19th Avenue in North Phoenix. In May a Municipal Judge granted church officials 90 days to comply. Here are the specific allegations: (1)The City of Phoenix alleges the property owner converted a storage unit into a boxing gym without filing for a building permit. (2) The citation goes on to state that the gym lacks a permit and the "New" construction might present unsafe conditions for its' inhabitants. (3) The facility lacks a certificate of occupancy.

A hearing was held on 8/14 with all parties present including building code investigator Bob Gwary (City of Phoenix) who detailed the nature of the violations before Judge Rose Gavin who then upheld the the veteran Inspector's findings. Mr. Gawry said the most severe safety issue in question is faulty wiring. His report also mentioned mechanical, Plumbing, fire and structural problems that needed to be resolved before venue could be posted as safe for occupancy. On behalf of the Church For Nations, Pastor Bob Putnam plead responsible. A sentencing date is set for November 14 at which time, Judge Gavin will examine the procured permits and study the proposed plan to correct the violations cited. Judge Gavin can add up the costs of the permits and subtract the permit expenditures from the total amount of the assessed fines. Pastor Putnam thought the decision was fair, but he wanted her honor to know that the Church For Nations was a relatively new owner of the property and the violations were committed more than a decade ago under a previous owner. There is no so called grandfather clause that would make the previous owner responsible even though the city battled the former owner on several occasions.

I spoke to Ricky Rodriguez, manager of the Madison Gym aka Madison Knights Boxing Club, about the case before the Magistrate and he didn't know anything concerning the investigation into possible gym safety violations and he said the gym was open for business while the city was told by a Church spokesperson that the facility was closed. In reality, the facility was never closed. The responsible plead means the gym is closed until brought up to code. I asked Mr. Gawrty if a Do Not Enter sign would be posted at the entrance of the gym as a safety precaution, he said no, but if activity in the gym is noticed, authorities could post an "Unsafe Sign" which could mean additional legal and protective action. Gawry said he wont rely on the honor system.

According to Rodriguez, the fitness center and boxing gym offers a clean environment for kids who sometimes fall prey to street gangs, pimps and drug pushers. He said it would be a travesty if the venue were to be shut down. Mr. Rodriguez, according to him, is undergoing cancer treatment and the stress of moving would be devastating for him and his youthful constituents. He asked me what to do and I told him to have a conversation with his superiors before doing anything rash or irresponsible and comply with the rule of law. I will let everyone the latest chapter on November 14.

Cancelled: Fight fans planning on attending the pro/am boxing event on Saturday, August 17 at the Celebrity Theater will be disappointed to know the event was cancelled on Wednesday, 8/14. I spoke to Marc Rivas (On The Marc Media) and he confirmed the decision to cancel the show citing a lack of ticket sales as the primary reason. The ultimate victims are the boxers who had their hearts set on performing for their friends, family members and Arizona boxing fans. Cesser Valenzuela and Pablo Batres were scheduled to do battle in the main event. In total, 4 amateur fights and 7 professional bouts were announced for the card including the pro debut of Brandon Riddell who trains out of Hook City Gym. Boxing is a tough business. I attended the official press conference last week and would like to thank Mike Esparza (Crescent Crown Distributing) for his warm welcome and two cool ones. The presser was held at the Arizona Latino Arts & Cultural Center located at 147 E. Adams Street in downtown Phoenix. According to a spokesperson, the show will be rescheduled. Stay tuned for new date and time!

Boxing Notes: Light Heavyweight David Benavidez makes his pro debut in Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point) on August 17. He hopes to eventually fight as super Jose Jr. (17-0)is raring to get back in the ring after taking time for injury to heal. According to sources, the hand is 100% and the undefeated light welterweight is in rounding into shape quickly at Power MMA fitness Center in Gilbert, Arizona....determined pugilist Joey Ruelas is working out at United Central in Phoenix. He fought at 175 on the Iron Boy 8 card and won via knockout. Look for him to slim down and make some noise in Arizona boxing. After coping with some troublesome personal issues, the 31 year old is ready to get busy. He has a lot of people in his corner....27 year old light welterweight Jorge Marquez is a fighter whose career hasn't matched his talent. He now manages himself after being lied to a few times by people who made promises they couldn't keep. He is one of Arizona's most intriguing ring warriors, yet he has to beg for fights. The father of five told me he has a bout coming up soon, stay tuned for details!.....Former ring announcer Ralph Velez had some interest in managing boxer Mario Esparza until his offer was refused. Mario beat Wilbert Lopez in his debut, but no word on his next bout.....Light Middleweight boxer Janks Trotter, seasonal Arizona resident, will not be fighting his despised nemesis Adam Trupish as hoped. Trupish peeps turned down a $10,000.00 winner take all offer to meet Trotter in Edmonton, Alberta Canada on September 13. The official response was "Not at this time." I don't think Adam wants any part of Trotter, today, tomorrow or next year. Adam knocked out Janks in the first round when the met last year. Few experts think he can best the Irish Canadian a second time. We may never know....several boxing fans called to inquire about the whereabouts of former IBF/NABF super middleweight champion Jesus Gonzales. As far as I know, the popular boxer is still living in Phoenix. .....Trainer Tom Garcia is working with local heavyweight Chad Davis who is scheduled to fight on the Iron Boy 9 card, September 21 at the Celebrity Theater in Phoenix, Arizona. Tom was hoping to send Chad over to United Central Gym to have him spar with visiting heavyweight Chris Arreola, but no deal so far. Apparently, he lost that gig to Rico Hoye who, according to observers, is looking sharp against the bigger Arreola. ......Members of the Strong Enough Boxing Club shaved their heads in support of head coach Andrew Mendes who is battling leukemia.....Popular Phoenix boxer Diamond Baier is now working with Trainer George Garcia, Hammer Gym in North Phoenix. He hopes the change will get him back on a winning track....Arizona based publicist Emily Pandelakis has signed on to work Golden Boy Promotion Executive Joel De La Hoya in the promotion of boxers, Francisco Vargas, Hugh Centeno and Diego De La Hoya. Her star gets brighter every day.... Red Nation Warrior boxers Douglas and Alberto Alvarez are members of the O'odham Tribe. Heavyweight Alberto has only lost twice as an amateur, impressive! Sorry for the spelling error in my last column... NABF Lightweight Champion "Sugar" Ray Beltran will be available to take questions over the the social networking site Reddit on Sunday August 18 at 12:00 p.m. PST. You can ask him anything. Please don't waste your time asking him his shoe .....Andrew "Hurricane" Hernandez could make his return to boxing on the Iron Boy 9 card, 9/21/13 at the Celebrity Theater.....Eben Vargas (Strong Enough Boxing Club) continues to win... Special shout out to Abel Cortes, Santiago and Olivia Castaneda (United Central Gym) for their help in meeting and talking to fighters working out at their gym. Until Next Time!

Photo: Chris Arreola poses with Red Nation Warriors boxers Douglas & Alberto Alvarez at the Power MMA Fitness Center in Gilbert.

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

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