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Arizona Boxing News & Notes With Don Smith: Q & A with Derek Edwards & Boxing Noise

Boxing Fans,

Super middleweight Derek “The Black Lion” Edwards moved to Phoenix, Arizona from Winston North Carolina in October 2013 in hopes of rejuvenating his boxing career. One of the best tonics for a boxing makeover is an impressive win and better yet; an early round televised knockout victory over a name opponent.

Edwards accomplished both needs when the 34 year old pugilist (fighting out of Hard Knocks Gyms-Phoenix, Arizona) made short work of highly regarded Badou Jack ( ranked as high as # 3 in the world) who was done for the evening at 1:02 of the first stanza as a stunned Showtime audience on Friday 2/28 watched in disbelief. The “Black Lion” took the New York fight on three weeks’ notice, a decision worth second guessing. After all, Edwards took the Matt Korobov on short notice and he let the promoter change the length of the bout from 8 to ten round. The result was predictable; a seemingly fatigued Edwards fell victim to a 9th round TKO loss.

Edwards was billed as a tune up for the undefeated Jack who was rumored to be in line for a title shot, but Edward’s dominant performance put those plans on layaway. What a difference a day makes. The loss drops Jack (16-1) from the unbeaten ranks while Edwards’s record now stands at 27-3.

Derek is an enigmatic figure in boxing. He is considered a journeyman or club fighter by some skeptical boxing scribes even though his ring skills and boxing resume doesn’t support that label. What has been written about him could be stored in a plastic thimble. The father of two can be characterized as the Rodney Dangerfield in the super middleweight division; he gets little or no respect. The victory over Jack should raise his retail value and cause critics to stop, pause and rethink their evaluation of the man with the commanding right hand.

Clement Vierra, owner of Hard Knocks Gym, works with the boxer in an unspecified role. According to Vierra, the two men will sit down soon and discuss his role and the need for a strategy to re- introduce the fighter to unfamiliar boxing fans. Vierra knows the Jack win has opened a huge window of opportunity for Edwards and his advice is to market the momentum before it is lost.

I forwarded 10 emailed questions to Mr. Edwards through Clement Vierra and here is the response to my posed questions:

ABNN: Derek, you turned professional in 2002, 2 months before your 23rd birthday after a mere 6 amateur fights; upon whose advice?

DE: I didn’t take anyone’s advice. I stepped out and chose to fight professionally on my own.

ABNN: Including your victorious fight with Jack in New York, you have fought outside of the South only 5 times, losing 3 times (Canada, New Jersey and Illinois) while winning twice. Once in New York on 2/28 of this year and 2006 in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Do you prefer fighting in the south and did all of the fights in your home state of North Carolina limit your national appeal and recognition?

DE: I am sure the fights I had in the southern region and my home state may have delayed opportunities for national and international exposure. I am glad that I have gained the experience fighting in my home state, but like any other aspiring champion, I look forward to fighting worldwide.

ABNN: Why did you migrate to Arizona and did bad management deter your career and a path to a world title? Your record is 27-3 and yet some boxing fans are asking who are you, why?

DE: My wife and I stepped out on faith with our children to gain a better way of life for her career and mine. I do feel that my management, at the time, was not fully knowledgeable about transitioning me in a position to compete for a world title. I am sure that my new fans want to know more about me and they will soon be able to see.

ABNN: You took your last 2 fights on short notice, winning 1 and losing the other. Was money the motivating factor?

DE: I train 24/7. Why some might ask? Because I believe in myself. To answer your question, my family is my motivating factor.

ABNN: What do you want fight fans to know about you?

DE: I would like my fans to know that the sky is the limit and I will never give up. It is my deepest desire to own a world title.

ABNN: At 34, your road to a world championship appears to be steep. Do you have a blueprint that gets you there?

DE: I choose to keep the blueprints to myself. This is classified information.

ABBN: Did you run out of gas in the Matt Korobov fight and did he catch you at a vulnerable time…short notice and ring rust?

DE: Matt Korobov is a tough Russian fighter. I take nothing away from him. I am exploring all opportunities right now with this significant victory. Anything is possible.

ABNN: What did you learn about Adonis Stevenson other than he is tough to beat in Montreal and would you like to avenge your second round loss?

DE: I take my hat off to Adonis. He can crack! I look back at that chapter in my career as a motivator. He and I were coming off of our first career losses. I believe that his victory over me may have been a major motivator for him as well. Being as how he excelled with a knockout victory streak. All the way to become a world champion. By the way, it was third round. That would be an interesting possibility. However, he is now a light heavyweight champion. Looking at my options I am even considering fights at 160. So who knows if that possibility would come into fruition?

ABNN: What 4 people have had the most influence on your life and which boxer do you most admire, past or present?

DE: Jesus Christ, my grandmother, my mother and (my wife and children).

ABNN: Thank you for your time and honest answers. Good Luck!

DE: Thank you!

Beltran Response: A day or so after Terrence Crawford won his WBO lightweight crown from Ricky Burns , I called contender Ray Beltran to ask the popular fighter if he felt like Crawford was wearing his belt. The affable boxer laughed and said “yeah, he has my belt.” Ray fought Burns in Scotland, Burn’ native s country, and did more than enough to win, (in my opinion) but had to settle for a controversial draw. On April 12, Beltran fights Roman Martinez (27-2-2) on the Timothy Bradley vs. Manny Pacquiao 2 Card in Vegas and a win could put him in line for a world title shot. His scuffle with Martinez is scheduled for 12 rounds and the winner leaves town with the vacated WBO NABO lightweight title. I see Ray winning a split decision, but it won’t come easy. Expect a war. I favor Manny in the Main Event for Bradley’s WBO welterweight title even though his once vaunted power has lost some pop. Broadcast available on HBO PPV.

Boxing Noise: Arizona Heavyweight Danny Batchelder scored his 30th career victory when he defeated unheralded Jonte Willis (9-9) in Louisiana to inch closer to signing with Mike Tyson Promotions. The 37 year old was “promised” a contract with the Tyson group when he put a bow on # 30….. Phoenix lightweight Cesar Valenzuela traveled to Redwood City California and scored a 1st round knockout over hometown favorite Jesus Sandoval . The victory upped his record to 5-3-1… 140 lb. Casa Grande Arizona prospect Abel Ramos is scheduled to fight on the March 21 Homeward Bound card but the 8-0-1 fighter still doesn’t have an opponent…. Keith Kizer has resigned as Executive Director of the Nevada Athletic Commission after 7 years at the helm. 350 applicants, and still counting, have applied for the position which pays up to $97, 901.00. Mr. Kizer was always cooperative when approached for information by this column. He will be sorely missed….Good to know that former 5 time boxing champion Michael Carbajal has returned to his normal work routine at his gym in Phoenix after feeling a bit under the weather. Michael has meant so much to Arizona Boxing. During a recent chat the champ indicated he would put his money on super featherweight Mikey Garcia as the best fighter in the world; good choice!.. ….Golden Gloves CEO Kelly Fenn has extended an open invitation to the annual Golden Gloves Show on March 7, 8, 9 at the Arizona Event Center in Mesa. In addition to competitive amateur boxing, the event will offer multiple raffles with suggested donation going toward paying for Golden Glove expenses….. Rumors about a summer boxing show at the University of Phoenix Stadium are just that… Albert Alvarez heads a contingent of 6 boxers from the Red Nation Warriors Boxing Club competing in the afore mentioned GG Tournament in Mesa. At least 15 gyms from around the state of Arizona are expected to participate. Results in next column…..Remember, Arizona State Junior Olympic Championships will be held April 5,6 at Sonny’s Gym in Goodyear Arizona. Call 623-806-2421 for info.

Conundrum continues: The mystery surrounding light heavyweight boxer Jovan Clark continues. We know he was knocked out by Andrew “Hurricane” Hernandez in the first round of their Iron Boy X1 fight on 2/22 at the Celebrity Theater in Phoenix and we also know the fighter lay motionless on the canvas for some time until medical personnel arrived to take the helpless knockout victim to a nearby hospital for observation and treatment.

Clark, also known as Joe Van Clark, has since been extradited to the State of Georgia for unspecified felony charges. One of his trainers told me, Clark was booked on a weapons charge. This allegation couldn’t be substantiated by the Us Marshal Service of Arizona who preferred to remain silent on the subject.
He was arrested at the boxing venue and held in custody by the US Marshal Service of Arizona who was summoned by the Phoenix Police Department. It was a covert operation kept secret until the arrest plan was implemented at the venue for everyone to witness. A few juiced fans reacted with predictable flair, prejudice and sprinkled the air with a few X rated expletives; too nasty to print.

A spokesperson for the Arizona State MMA & Boxing Commission issued the following statement: “We had no prior knowledge of Mr. Clark’s pending arrest and to the best of our knowledge; the arrest was not coordinated between local authorities and our office.”

I contacted the US Marshal’s office in Phoenix and talked to a Deputy Marshal who took my email address and promised to pass on my request for information. Two call backs didn’t receive a reply.

Before his arrival in Phoenix to fight Hernandez, Clark was living in Nevada after leaving Georgia approximately seven months ago. His trainers said they met up with Clark four months ago and began to prepare him for his professional boxing debut against Hernandez, a veteran fighter with almost 100 bouts under his belt including 90 or so amateur. Including the win over Clark, Hernandez’s record is 6-0-1. Simply put, Clark was overmatched and it could have cost him his life. The trip to Georgia will give him time to think about his future in the ring and out.

At this junction, my concern is did Clark receive his pay and who tipped off authorities and why and how was this obvious mismatch ever consummated. . We may never find out the name of the tipster never know, but let’s hope the Arizona MMA & Boxing Commission scrutinize proposed bouts to the max.

In light of his incarceration it probably doesn’t matter, but Clark is suspended from boxing until he is cleared by a neurologist. Until Next Time!

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

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