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21 NOVEMBER 2018


Arizona Boxing News & Notes With Don Smith

Boxing Fans,


I promised readers an update on the Nonito Donaire/Guillermo Rigondeaux (5/13/13) post fight test results and what I have to report is straight from the New York Athletic Commission Office and in all honesty the "official" response is ambiguous and far more complicated than it should be.  


I expected a simple yes or no answer as to whether Donaire or Rigondeaux passed their mandatory post fight test to determine if either fighter used performance enhancement drugs. Most state athletic commissions make the report public within a certain amount of days and if a fighter fails the drug portion of the examination, he/she is

suspended from fighting until the suspension time is served.


A fighter can appeal the admonishment and the outcome of the appeal will be posted. In its’ entirety, without editing, here is the official New York Athletic Commission response solicited by me on behalf of boxing fans around the world.


The back and forth mildly amusing tit for tat confrontation with Mr. Benitez over sought information should give me a leg up for some consideration for the Nobel Peace Prize "Toleration" Award. It reminded me of the Clinton Impeachment Trial when the President was asked if he ever had sex with Monica Lewinsky and he (William Jefferson Clinton) responded  "It depends on what is, is."


I felt, Mr. Benitez (A fellow New York Yankee fan) could have answered my questions more directly and without what I would describe as political posturing. He kept referring to his statement as following the law. And when I referred to the state’s law as a position or stance, he took umbrage to my reference.


Other states, thank goodness, handle press requests for information with a little more finesse and diplomacy, but our dialogue, via email, was entertaining. Thanks to the experience, I have a better appreciation for "A New York State of Mind." 


To me the bottom line was “did the athlete cheat or did he or she compete fairly?” This information should be accessible to any credible journalist who makes a request.  Here is the released statement from the New York State Athletic Commission in its’ entirety. Enjoy the read! 

"Drug tests performed by NYSAC (New York State Athletic Commission) are privileged and confidential and therefore cannot be disclosed. The Commission’s medical staff reviews any tests performed by the Commission and abnormal results are then forwarded to legal staff for appropriate disciplinary proceedings. While we cannot comment on a particular result, we can generally state that, in relation to the event at Radio Music Hall (Donaire vs. Rigondeaux), the commission has not received any evidence of impropriety at the time." Laz Benitez -NYSAC.


For the late sleeper, Rigondeaux won the title bout and Donaire underwent shoulder surgery days after the fight. He is recovering nicely and I would suggest the 2012 Fighter of the Year recipient challenge someone other than the Cuban in his next bout.


The Donaire surgery was to take care of a prior injury not one incurred during his battle in New York with Rigondeaux.


Arizona Prospects:


One of my online readers in Maine wants to know who are the top professional boxing prospects in the state of Arizona. I hate making lists because someone is always ways left off and I hear from fans, loud and clear.


Arizona has several young professional boxers who fall under the category of boxing prospects. There are also a half a dozen amateur prospects almost ready to join the pro ranks. Alexis Zazueta (Phoenix) and Alfonso Olvera (Tucson) will decide after completion in the National Finals in Salt Lake City, Utah, next week. Daniel Garcia is thinking about his first payday in August or September. Since he isn’t close to becoming 18, a waiver and parental consent signing will come into play before he can take the leap. I hope he waits until his 18th birthday.


Alexis Urbina is another potential prospect, but his decision is pending. Due to space restrictions, 19 year old Phoenix Super Bantamweight Carlos Castro (4-0), 20 year old Glendale Light Welterweight Luis Olivares (3-0), 21 year old Casa Grande Welterweight Abel Ramos (6-0) and 20 year old Arizona lightweight Victor Castro(9-0) will be profiled in a future column.


Carlos Castro is fighting on the Iron Boy 7 card on May 17 at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona.


Jose Benavidez Jr:


A tall lanky welterweight with blazing hand speed with power and nimble footwork, Jose sports 17-0 record with 13 knockouts. He is currently recuperating from a hand injury that was diagnosed as a bone spur and talked about as a mystery ailment.


According to inside sources, Benavidez, who turns 21 on May 15 will heal 100 % and should return to a normal training schedule before the end of May. If true, he remains the #1 prospect in Arizona and he is a good role model for the Phoenix community.


Benavidez is signed with Top Rank INC., managed by Steve Feder and Freddie Roach is his head trainer. Jose struggled in the 8th and final round of his last fight, but he was fighting with one hand throughout the bout. A two handed Benavidez is very good!


Trevor McCumby: 


Born in Illinois, now fights out of Glendale Arizona where he attended high school and college. Initially signed by Golden Boy, Manager Cameron Dunkin negotiated a separation and signed his guy with Top Rank INC.


Trevor is 11-0 with 9 knockouts and in the minds of some ring observers is Arizona’s best prospect.  He doesn’t turn 21 until this fall and he has all the tools to become a contender.


Trevor trains at Busted Knuckle Gym in North Phoenix and he recently told me he was planning to fight as a super middleweight, which is very interesting. Some scribes predict McCumby will win a title before Benavidez does.


Francisco C. De Vaca: 


Perhaps the most heralded Arizona Amateur since "El Martillo" Gonzales, De Vaca is a smooth operator in the ring. He punches from an array of angles with blinding speed and rarely punches off the wrong foot.


Once trained by the legendary Mayweather Boxing Team, the 18 year old recently hitched his boxing wagon to famed trainer Roberto Alcazar who guided Oscar De La Hoya to Olympic Gold.


He has been groomed very carefully and after almost 200 amateur wins, the socially conscious  "Panchito" is ready to make his professional debut on May 17 at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix.


Esparza In Waiting: 


18 year old Arizona southpaw Mario Esparza is still waiting to make his professional debut after signing with Fan Base Promotions a few months ago.  


Two tentative bouts fell through and now the young man is hoping  

Iron Boy will welcome him on their Iron Boy 8 show later this year.


A supportive father encouraged Mario to take up boxing at age 10 in a Salvation Army boxing program in Phoenix, Arizona. Now, the former amateur boxing champion compares his style to Pernell Whitaker and he counts Floyd Mayweather and Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. as heroes.


Esparza decided to turn professional following a solid amateur career of 64 bouts, including 21 wins and 7 knockouts, which also resulted in 26 amateur titles. Trainer Tom Garcia thinks Mario will become a very good professional. Several boxing promotion entities had their eye on him before he signed with Fan Base.  Now, he wants that 1st pro fight. Good luck!

Carbajal Steps Up:  


Five Time World Boxing Champion Michael Carbajal attended the "Night of Miracles" concert benefiting those valiant souls who are fighting breast cancer and its’ effect on the family.


If only the public understood the challenging plight of most breast cancer patients. None of the options are pretty.


The event was held at Comerica Theatre in Phoenix on Saturday May 4 and the concert/silent auction raised $37,000.00 for a very noble cause.


Michael signed a pair of boxing gloves and presented them to cancer survivor Tammi Metzger and was one of approximately 30 former and current athletes who lent their celebrity to the gala.


Former 3 time NFL Pro Bowler Lincoln Kennedy, who now sells insurance, participated in the auction and placed the highest bid on a piece titled "The Greatest", an interesting collectible featuring Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali together, for $325.00.


Kennedy played for the Atlanta Falcons and Oakland Raiders during his distinguished NFL Career. He is still very large ,so, you may want to buy your insurance from him. Thank you Mr. Kennedy for your much needed contribution.


 Boxers Jose Benavidez Jr. and Francisco C. De Vaca were hoping to attend the event, but a last minute scheduling change prevented them from attending the charitable affair. Both men are ardent supporters of the fight against Breast Cancer. De Vaca will donate his purse from his May 17 (Celebrity Theatre) Iron Boy and Iron Boy 7 Professional debut fight and Iron Boy Promotions will match the boxer’s contribution.


Members of the Cancer Society were on hand for the Iron Boy 7 Press Conference, Saturday May 11, at Gus Pizza at 2755 N. 91st Avenue In Phoenix, Arizona. The event was open to the public and well attended. Boxing fans approached Francisco and thanked him for his generosity and the same affection was forwarded to Iron Boy and their Publicist Emily Pandelakis who challenges fighters to give back to the community.


De Vaca will be wearing his signature and symbolic Pink trimmed boxing shorts during his May 17 debut. A third pat on the back goes to the Benavidez brothers (David & Jose Jr.) who donate a lot of time to various charities including to the fight to find a cure.


ABC Channel 15 in Phoenix will do a feature on De Vaca and their promise to do so is welcomed because their sports director told me, in February, the station doesn’t air anything boxing related because their viewership is driven by women who can’t tolerate boxing. Nice to see the station change its’ indefensible position. 




Short Hooks: 


Cruiserweight Eddie Martinez Jr., trained by Tom Garcia, has been added to the Iron Boy Card 7 against Keith Bush (1-0) on May 17 at Celebrity Theatre.


It will mark the pro debut for Martinez and Bush, a banger, should give the 24 year old Martinez a stiff battle. Eddie went through some tough times as a teenager, dropped out of school, etc. He wised up and got his his G.E.D. through Phoenix Job Corps and Trainer Tom Garcia says the young man is new and improved as a person and boxer so Garcia predicts good things.


Tough amateur Lupita Nevarez has been added to the May 17 show, as has undefeated welterweight Jose Benavidez Jr. who celebrates his 21 Birthday on May 15; have fun!


Tucson High Sophomore Monica Suazo (Tucson Wolfpack Boxing) lost to Melissa Ramos in non-tournament action and Wolfpack boxer Kentay Thomas was a walkover victor over his no show opponent.


Local boxing coach Chris Alvarado wants to thank everyone who donated money to help cover the funeral of his beloved 3 1/2 year old granddaughter Aniya Zamora.


At the time the story was reported, I assumed her death was an accident; however, I spoke to a member of Aniya’s family and she said Salem Oregon Police are investigating her death as if it were a homicide.


The girl had bruises all over her body and she was found submerged under water in the family bathtub. The mother’s boyfriend is a person of interest.


Coach Alvarado is devastated.


Boxing Trainer and former world champion Jeff Mayweather couldn’t confirm or deny the rumoured signing of former IBF Super Middle Weight NABF Champion Jesus"El Martillo" Gonzales by Mayweather Promotions, but the trainer said it is possible.


Gonzales trained with Floyd for his bout with Guerrero on May 4. Team Mayweather was pleased with Gonzales even though the former champ was heavy when he reported for sparring duty. Jeff has agreed to answer a few questions for a column in the near future. One reader has dared me to ask if Floyd Mayweather charges three million dollars for every interview. The answer is no. I should be talking to Jeff next week, stay tuned.


Until Next Time


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