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Boxing News & Notes With Don Smith: Benavidez Jr.Ready for Return, Ditto Hernandez & Much More

Promising Phoenix, Arizona boxer Jose Benavidez Jr. (17-0- 13 knockouts) will resume his notable ring career on the Top Rank/WFC co- produced 11/16 "Solo Boxeo Tecate" show in Laughlin, Nevada at the Avi Resort & Casino. His last ring action was on October 13, 2012 with Pavel Miranda who took Benavidez the distance (8 rounds) and wobbled the prized prospect in the final stanza. Benavidez critics saw the late effective charge by Miranda as evidence that Jose Jr. wasn't ready for prime time. In reality,JBJ fought with one hand after re-injuring his right hand early in the bout. Despite the handicap, Benavidez was awarded a unanimous decision in gaining his 17th victory without a blemish.

The hand injury issue could have been handled better by Team Benavidez. Too many differing stories found their way to tabloid like press accounts.. Before I looked into the matter, I heard that Junior suffered a compound break of his right hand. One story on the internet reported a tendon had to be repaired. Then another report described the problem as an arthritic condition capable of ending the boxer's career. There were other stories circulating, but I didn't want to believe any of them until I met with Jose Benavidez Sr., father and confidant to Jose Benavidez Jr. His account, I would accept as official and attribute him as the source.

We saw each other at Central Boxing Gym in Phoenix a few months ago and more recently(last week). I brought up the subject of Jose Jr.'s right hand and his fitness for the 11/16 Laughlin bout. I knew he was tired of addressing the question, but after a short sigh; he went over his understanding of the injury by first prefacing his remarks with: "I am not a doctor, but this is what I have been told."

Mr. Benavidez Sr. and I have known each other for years and we don't double speak or talk gibberish to each other. I started covering Jose Jr's boxing exploits as an amateur when he was 9-10 years old. According to Mr. Benavidez Sr., his son developed bone spurs on the right hand and they were bothersome and painful. An operation was performed in January, 2012 to correct and alleviate any problem with the troublesome hand. In the Miranda fight, he didn't seem to have much confidence in the surgically "repaired" had and relied on the good hand in waging a courageous battle with the upset minded Miranda.

Team Benavidez shut the 21 year old down for almost a year and told him to heal, relax and have fun. Jose Sr. told me his son's health was the most important thing and I have no reason to question his sincerity because both of his fighting sons ( Jose Jr. & David) are independent enough to object and rebel against any decision they felt was detrimental to their well being. The hand is fine, according to dad, and the only real news to report is the fact that Jose Jr. will be fighting at 145 lbs instead of his usual 141. Promoters of the show are still working on finding an opponent for the California born fighter, but remain confident of finding a worthy foe. I suspect his corner hopes whomever is chosen is competitive, but not a world beater. That sentiment or wishful thinking is understandable given the layoff time from the ring. Recently, Junior sparred with local light welterweight light welterweight contender Juan Garcia and looked good according to all reports. Garcia is fighting for the vacant WBC USNBC light welterweight title on 11/16 in Phoenix at the Celebrity Theater. An event that can be watched on a live stream feed.

A majority of boxers face hand issues. For example, Floyd Mayweather Jr. had problems with his hands until he contacted boxing sage Rafael Garcia who taught Team Mayweather how to wrap and tape properly. Also, old school trainers used to soak their fighter's hands in brine or salt water. Jose Sr. told me changes have been made Junior to include more tape, more gauze, occasional soaking in ocean water and usage of a lotion prescribed by a reputable doctor and dispensed by an authorized pharmacy. Valuable hands deserve special VIP care. First test is 11/16 in Laughlin. Passing grade could lead to minor title fight next year.

27 year old Light Heavyweight Andrew "Hurricane " Hernandez (5-0-1) is scheduled to fight on the Top Rank/WFC card vs. Jose Alvarez of California with a record of 3-2 in a 6 round contest. Hernandez, fighting out of Phoenix, is coming off a Nevada State Athletic Commission enforced suspension for using a banned substance. He has apologized publicly and hopefully he can stay straight and provide for his family. According to reliable sources, Mr. Hernandez is reunited with trainer Jerry "Schoolboy" Cheatham which surprises me after being told that he was parting waves with the veteran trainer; it's his decision to make.

Aside from his obvious talent, Andrew is charismatic and knows how to self promote. He works a crowd well and most people like him. Every time I see him, he teases me about not using profanity in my vocabulary. Trust me, he makes up for my lack of naughty verbal conduct. I question him fighting as a light heavy after he promised to drop to middleweight or super middleweight. He might have made the decision based on competition. At 6 ft tall,he is taller than most middleweights. I wish him the best and thank him for his volunteer work in the Phoenix community.Everyone deserves a second chance. On 11/16 ,
Andrew will have his.

The Solo Boxeo Tecate show has a strong lineup and should sell tickets and draw viewers for the UNI MAS Television Network. In addition to the Benavidez and Hernandez under card bouts, Top Rank and WFC will present a Main and Co-Main that will impact the future of all four fighters involved.Undefeated Jose Felix (25-0-1 w/20 knockouts) hopes to enhance his title hopes with a victory over tough Sergio Valenzuela (25-3-2 w/13 knockouts) in a scheduled for 10 rounds contest. Don't set your beer own for this one if you go or watch the event in front of your home television set. Co-Main features 10 round contest between rising bantamweights Rally Lunas (35-6-20 knockouts) vs. Chris Avalos (22-2-16 knockouts). Go to the Top Rank website for full card details.

Boxing Noise: Busted Knuckle Head Coach Alan Viers is working with former NFL Offensive lineman (Chargers & Giants) Shane Olivea who retired in 2008 after suffering a back injury. Shane stands 6' 4" and weighs two or three lunches over 300 lbs. He hopes to make the transition to boxing and so far, Alan is very impressed with Olivea's athletic ability and attitude. Shane is 32, so time is of the essence. Olivea played college ball at Ohio State where he made second team All Big Ten, 2 consecutive years. Viers dhopes to get the big fellow's weight down to 275 lbs....... 16 year old David Benavidez (1-0- 1 knockout) has scaled down to 165 lbs in preparation for his second professional fight on December 14 in Mexacali, Mexico. David told me he will continue fighting in Mexico until he reaches 18, the required age in the United States unless a special provision is granted. David has shed 20 lbs, thanks to a special diet and conditioning program No word on who the kid is fighting. Hope he doesn't forget his passport on the way back...... Illinois Native Trevor McCumby, now resides in Glendale Arizona, hopes to fight in Oklahoma on December 7, still tentative....132 lb. prospect Luis Oliveras takes another bout in the "Big Apple" on December 20. The show is produced by SMS.... United Central Gym protege Cesar Valenzuela (5-2-1) turned down an offer to meet fellow featherweight Pete Duran (2-0-2 knockouts) in a four round bout on the "Solo Boxeo Tecate" Show in Laughlin. He would rather stay home and fight on the Iron Boy 10 11/16 show at the Celebrity Theater din Phoenix which isn't a done deal for the Phoenix boxer. He may wind up with egg on his face if his dance card isn't punched. Duran was favored by all the pundits I talked to.....Speaking of the Iron Boy Show, tough guy Joe Martell is taking on Wilbert Lopez in a 4 round contest. Joe isn't pretty in the ring,but he does have heart and never quits...Cameron Dunkin proteges Alexis Zazueta& Eros Correa are penciled in for the 11/16 Iron Boy card at the Celebrity in Phoenix, but Matchmaker Mike Sanchez is still scouring the universe to find foes for the two talented lads.

Making Up for Lost Time: Ray Lampkin 3rd (4-0) continues to work out at the United Central Gym in Phoenix where I had the chance to chat with the 5' 5" light welterweight. Ray, from Portland, Oregon, wants everyone to know that his father Ray "Lightning" Lampin Jr. is very much alive. RLJ suffered a heart attack earlier this year at the Interstate Bowling Alley Bowling Alley in Northern Portland. Two fellow bowlers (Ryan and Nikkoli McFallo) heard the sound of Mr. Lampkin's body hitting the floor and raced over to administer CPR. Their action saved Mr. Lampkin's life and the two families have become very close as a result. I wouldn't be surprised if the McFallo family couldn't borrow a log or lump of coal on any wintry night in Portland. Devout boxing fans might remember Ray Jr. fought Hall of Fame boxing champion Roberto Duran in the 70's. Duran won by knockout in the 14th round, but Lampkin gave him something to think about. Ray Jr. is a member of Oregon's Sports Hall of Fame.

Ray won several national titles as an amateur, but declined to follow in his father's big footsteps and turn professional until almost a a decade later. I asked why the wait and he replied, " my last four amateur fights were tough, and I wasn't sure boxing was for me." At age 30, he is sure the ring is where he belongs and the father of two daughters knows father time wont cut him any slack. All he wants is a chance.

Because of his pedigree , work ethic and obvious talent, Ray "Lightning Jr." Lampkin is still waiting for an opponent. There was some talk about matching him up with undefeated lightweight Victor "El Nino" Castor (10-0) on the Iron Boy 10 11/16 card, but that conversation has dissipated. Ray was willing to drop pounds for a shot at Castro. Instead, he may fight in California next month. Nothing definite, but his workouts at Central has ring insiders talking and his energy and determination is definitely good for the sport of boxing. Hopefully, the boxing gods will put politics aside and let Lightning Jr. hone his craft and earn a living.

USA Boxing Arizona News In Arizona amateur boxing news, 101 lb Fernando Martinez (Fuentes Gym) won "Best Fight Trophy" at the Arizona State Fair held 43rd Annual Copper Gloves Tournament. The Phoenix gym also celebrated victories by team members Jaciel Carbajal (95 lbs) and Robert Meriweather (55 lbs). Aaron Garcia (80 lbs) represent his club well, but lost. The three victories earned Fuentes Boxing Club a standing ovation and the coveted Team Trophy Special thanks to the Fuentes family reading my column and forwarding me info. ...Smoker Tournament planned for United Central Gym on 11/2 was cancelled
... ... Congratulations to Rodriguez Gym the Team Trophy at the Salvation Army Tournament.

More News: Red Nation Warrior boxing star Albert Alvarez over powered his heavyweight counterpart Derek Osborn (Lee Boxing Club) in scoring a 1st round knockout over the game, but less talented Lee Gym battler at the Salvation Army boxing tournament on October 26 in Phoenix. . Alvarez , short in stature, is a relentless power puncher who swarms his opponents much like a young Mike Tyson. He has talent and heart. Before he turns professional, Alvarez needs to work on head movement and keeping his hands up. He got tagged once or twice when he shouldn't have. His work ethic is good and his parents raised a gentleman, so it is easy to root for him. Albert didn't win a trophy, but he threw the "power punch" of the tournament.....A television crew from Channel 50.5 in Phoenix was on hand to film the tournament action. According to a spokesperson for the station (Mr. Estrada), the event was scheduled to air on 11/2. Check your local listings for repeat showings and future tournament viewings. The station s committed to following USA Boxing AZ events. 3 cheers for the station.... In my last column, I identified boxing trainer Andrew Mendez Jr. (Strong Enough Boxing Club) as Andrew Mendes Jr. Sorry, must have been bad cognac that caused the spelling bumble. . Andrew trains highly touted 125 lb. pro prospect Cristian Curiel who went 1-1 in his last two tournaments. Cristian dropped a tough one to Christian Sullivan (Ramos Boxing) at the Salvation Army Tournament. In simple terms, he was outworked....latest talented import from Strong Enough Gym is 90 lb. Fernando Meza, a real battler according to one of his coaches. He may debut at the 38th Annual Gene Lewis Invitational in Mesa on 11/7/8/9. Check out the USA Boxing Arizona Website for further details and pass the word that Richard Soto, chief of USA Boxing Arizona officials, is always looking for volunteers, so please call the phone number listed on the website.

Iron Boy 10 Updates: Former WBO Heavyweight Champion Siarhei "White Wolf" Liakhovich (25-6-16 knockouts) isn't on the Iron Boy 10 card as previously announced. Iron Boy Promotions was unable to find an acceptable opponent. The champ fought Shannon Briggs at Chase Field in Phoenix a few years and lost a tough one. Poorly attended, the Chase Field event was promoted by the unique Don King. The 37 year old has a home in Scottsdale ,Arizona; perhaps a future appearance onan Iron Boy card!....Popular Juan Garcia (18-3-7 knockouts) headlines the show in his quest to win the vacant WBC USNBC light welterweight title....Iron Boy favorites Francisco "Panchito" De Vaca , Carlos "The Chosen One" Castro & Victor "El Nino" Castro are scheduled to fight and the promising trio hope to remain undefeated. "The Chosen One" is penciled in to take on veteran Rodrigo Aranda (8-18-2 ). According to Box Rec, Aranda has lost 11 of his last 12 fights. Perhaps fighting in dry heat climate will revive his career... De Vaca and Victor Castro are still looking for opponents. As reported, Cameron Dunkin proteges Alexis Zazueta (Phoenix) and Eros Correa make their debut on the card and local favorites Edgar Brito & Beto Carbajal are booked for a night of fighting, also....The show will enjoy a live stream podcast and everyone is invited to attend the official Iron Boy Press Conference 11/14 (5 p.m.) at the comfortable Marisco Vuelva Vida Restaurant located at 1602 East Roosevelt in Phoenix. The official weigh-in will be held the following night (11/15) at the same location and time slot. Tickets for the 11/16 Celebrity Theater Show in Phoenix run $25.-$35.& $45.00 for ring side seating. Better hurry or settle live stream venue. The After Party starts immediately after the last thrown punch of the evening is history. Same venue reserved for the Press Conference and weigh-in. Try to reach the parking lot by 11 p.m. Please don't drink and drive. Enjoy, Until Next Time!

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

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