Arizona Boxing News & Notes with Don Smith
My story about Fan Base Promotions dropping Arizona boxer Jesus Gonzales from their roster of fighters drew the ire of a unidentified Gonzales ally who called me on Sunday afternoon (3/17/13) at my home to vent. He was loud, abusive, threatening and also entertaining. In the background I heard a woman screaming “he passed the test 4 times, what do you want”. I want what every dedicated journalist searches for , the truth.
The unidentified male caller (I don’t have caller ID) asked me to stop circulating the story immediately or face legal action. How can I, in good conscience, stop or even pull a well researched factual story that has already been examined and read by Internet readers from at least five different countries. And even if I had the magical power to squash the story , how could I get up every morning and feel good about myself. I stand by my accurate story and the printed truth will exonerate me from any false or malicious attack lobbed at me by a fanatical fan or protective relative.
On Tuesday (3/19/13) I called former Gonzales trainer Kenny Weldon in Houston to get his take on whether or not I had done the right thing by releasing a story that detailed the rationale on why his former boxing pupil was dropped by Fan Base Promotions. We were complete strangers before the call, but there is a common thread between us. Kenny lives in Houston where he trains fighters and I attended college in Mesquite, Texas, a stones’ throw from
Dallas. Weldon is one of the most respected voices in boxing and if anyone ,other than his parents, knows Gonzales the man and the boxer, Weldon would be a logical choice. Gonzales Sr. and Weldon met years ago and developed a close friendship that remains today.
Weldon trained the Arizona fighter for 6 bouts during a 3 year period and he developed a genuine affection for Jesus and his family. Weldon said Jesus , in his opinion, was the second most dominant boxer in the history of amateur competition. He gives the # 1 honor to Texas born Jesse Valdez who won a Bronze Medal in the 1972 Olympics held in Munich, Germany. Valdez never turned professional, despite offers, and would continue to box as an amateur during his military service career. Valdez recorded more than 500 wins before retiring from amateur competition.
Kenny was in Gonzales’ corner when his former protege won a NABF belt and the renowned trainer is well aware of El Martillo’s controversial MRI’s and he advises Jesus to tell the truth; “the truth will set you free” stated Weldon in a calm but unequivocal voice. Furthermore, the Texas based trainer knows that quitting would be gut wrenching for Gonzales or any other fighter who believes they’re just a fight or two from becoming a contender for a world championship. Gonzales has been chasing the dream since he first donned boxing gloves at 4 years of age. His fatter was a boxer who he makes his daily rounds as a trainer in Phoenix, Arizona. Gonzales Sr. used to train his son, but Jesus thought the arrangement was causing a strain in their relationship;so he began working with other trainers including Kenny Weldon. Gonzales is on record saying family and business don’t mix.
Weldon retired from throwing punches at age 32 in 1978 after two consecutive ring losses. He said he knew it was time for him to quit fighting when he lost his fluidity in the ring. Yet, he still loved boxing; so, he became a trainer/ coach and sometime promoter. His training card credits include working with champions: Evander Holyfield, Vinny “The Pazmanian Devil” Pazienza and many more. Weldon continues to teach boxing and produce highly acclaimed DVD’s depicting the Kenny Weldon method of boxing.
Kenny’s tenure with Gonzales ended when the former NABF Champ was scratched from a scheduled Florida bout after medical officials notified Team Gonzales that his cat scan (MRI) didn’t meet requirements for the young pugilist to fight in the State of Florida. Weldon knew the trainer/fighter relationship had come to an end. No trainer or manager worth his or her salt will encourage a fighter to disregard what is commonly referred to as a medical pink slip. It was a somber adios. At the time , Kenny was hoping his former pupil would vacate his dream of becoming a world boxing champion and focus on another aspect of boxing. Becoming a trainer was a possibility He had to do something to support his wife and children.
Gonzales went back to Arizona and pinned on a security guard badge and was unofficially retired,as a boxer; until Fan Base Promotions came knocking and invited the Arizona Native to sign with them for another round. Fan Base told me they knew nothing about his hidden and documented medical concerns when they signed him. When the allegations did surface; they confronted the fighter. According to Fan Base, Jesus told them the venomous rumors came from two major player haters, Top Rank and Star Boxing. He was being smeared by his co-conspirators who were out to get him because they wanted him to fail. That was his story and he was sticking to it.
Fan Base dusted him off and put him back in the ring. He scored a quick and sensational knockout in Canada followed by two impressive victories in Phoenix and a IBF/NABF Super Middleweight Title. He was El Martillo once again and his most ardent fans began to think a world title was within his grasp until his annihilation by Adonis Stevenson at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
Just before Fan Base dropped the hammer on him, Gonzales agreed to travel to Vegas and join the Floyd Mayweather team as a sparring partner. Jesus has worked with Jeff Mayweather; so, when the loquacious Champion signed to fight Roberto “The Ghost” Guerrero on May 4, Gonzales got the call and the decision to bring in the Arizona fighter was announced by Ralph Velez who coincidentally works for Fan Base as their Southwest Regional Boxing Affairs Coordinator. It is my understanding that he wasn’t he wasn’t aware of the the impending announcement to “out” Gonzales. I certainly hope he wasn’t standing next to the boxer when the news reached him.
Gonzales, according to social media informants, is actively telling his side of the story and his version of the split is different. He says Fan Base breached his contract by not finding him a fight within a year. Fan Base counters by saying it was virtually impossible to find him a fight because of questions surrounding his medical history. In reality, Gonzales can continue to fight in Arizona, Mexico, Canada and other states and countries where Cat Scans and MRI’s aren’t mandatory after a knockout. So, the saga continues and only Gonzales knows what’s next.
The Gonzales departure has left Fan Base without a star attraction;but, a spoke person for the company says the organization is looking into the possibilityof presenting a show in May or June. Light Middleweight Janks Trotter and newcomer Mario Esparza are expected to be on the card. Several location sites are being bandied about and Phoenix isn’t the only city in consideration. As for headliners? A handful of names are being whispered;but, not loud enough to take serious.
Boxer Update: In January of this year, I reported a tragic car rollover accident involving Arizona amateur boxer Humberto Avila and his lovely wife, Nicolette. Their harrowing experience happened on Christmas Eve of 2012. The couple were on HWY 85 headed east to Ajo, Arizona where they planned to spend Christmas with their in-laws. Unfortunately, Mr. Avila fell asleep at the wheel and as a result; their vehicle drifted off the road and rolled several times before coming to a stop. Nicolette,miraculously, escaped the wrecked car with non-life threatening injures; but, Humberto suffered life altering injuries and according to doctors and family members, will probably be confined to a wheel chair for the rest of his life.Humberto is now home where his undergoing intense rehabilitation. His father-in-law called to thank everyone in the boxing community who sent prayers, flowers, love and money. Humberto, you’re not alone….good luck and our prayers are with you and your family.
Ghost Busted: On Wednesday 3/28, 4 time world boxing champ Roberto Guerrero was arrested at JFK International Airport in New York for attempting to board a plane with a hand gun in his suitcase. In fairness, the gun wasn’t loaded and he did provide proper registration and proof of ownership. Guerrero resides in Gilroy, California faces a hearing over the matter after his highly anticipated bout with Floyd Mayweather on May 4 in Las Vegas. Perhaps he needs a nanny (with a law degree) to travel with him and oversee his packing. I can just hear her now: no,no Roberto, I said gum not gun. The weapon was in a lock box. If the 30 year old Californian makes the same mistake again; he might be placed in a lock box with Bubba.
Iron Boy 6: 2012 U.S.A. Olympian Michael Hunter had more problems with the scale than he did with journeyman Chad Davis in their abbreviated bout at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona on 3/9/13. Hunter, at his own written request, stated he would fight at 212, but, hit the scales at 214 while his older foe did make the 212 mark. Hunter made the request because he didn’t want to face a huge heavyweight in his professional debut. There isn’t a max weight required in the division; but since he wrote his own prescription, he reluctantly complied with his personal request. At one time, Davis weighed over 240. Mr. Hunter had a sheepish grin on his face after making a weight he didn’t have to make….strange! No word on whether or not the fighter from Nevada will appear on the Iron Boy 7 May 17 Card at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix. Bet he wont add a weight clause next time.For the record, he has sparred with the world champion Klitschko Brothers who are ring giants in both stature and size.
According to publicist Emily Pandelakis, 2,500 boxing fans,a near sellout, turned out for the show. Some were disappointed after finding out that popular
Franciso C De Vaca wouldn’t be making his professional debut because his scheduled opponent weighed five pounds over the limit and he didn’t want to make the required limit. The young man was asked;but no cigar. Vaca and his promoter Roberto Vargss were genuinely upset. For the record, the weigh-in was held at Senor Sushi’s in Phoenix. Amateur sensation Sulem Urbina Soto was awarded a “walkover” when Iann Vazquez ,her scheduled opponent, failed to show. Amateurs America Valdez and Ariel Arismendez faced off with America winning a decision over her younger opponent.
In action that did go down, Chris Lopez won a unanimous decision over Rocco Espinosa in a 6 rounder. Undefeated Victor Castro (9-0) scored a 5th round TKO victory over Jason Thompson who was making his professional debut. Castro is expected to fight on the Iron Boy 7 card on May 17 at the Celebrity Theatre. I asked a member of his management team if Victor would be taking on stiffer competition and more specifically, Javier Loya (7-2). Loya has called out Victor on several occasions. The answer was maybe if Loya would come down to 133 lbs. Loya reads this column, so the answer is on its’ way. A more probable opponent is Arlo “Encino Man” Arguetta who sports a 6-0 record. Castro and his peeps have been criticized for taking on “mediocre” foes. In his defense, Castro is only 20 and still searching for a boxing identity. If offered, I think both Arguetta and Loya would agree to meet Castro; not at the same time, of course. Loya has lost his last two fights.
Juan Garcia pleased his fans with a 4th round TKO victory over Raul Duhart, a last minute replacement. Undefeated Carlos Castro scored a unanimous decision over Jazzma Hogue. Castro and his trainer Andrew Soto have known each other for almost a dozen years and the union is a winning combination, so far. Castro is expected to return for the May 17 Iron Boy 7 Card. Raul Carrillo lost a unanimous decision to undefeated Fernando Samaniego and highly touted amateur Edgar Brito scored a win over Jose Herrera. Brito told me he wasn’t satisfied with his perform ace despite a win; so, back to the gym for more practice. He plans to turn professional this year. Expect him to be on the May 17 card.
In a six round contest, Alexis Santiago won over John Herrera. Sergio Lopez and Jesus Guerrero fought to a majority draw after four rounds.
The lineup for the May 17 is still tenative; however, super middleweight David Benavidez is penciled in for the card. The 15 year old is considering turning professional at 16. The legal age in the U.S.A. is 18; but David could go to Mexico after his 16th Birthday and become a pro and then continue fighting in the America with written permission from his father, Jose Benavidez Sr. Other fighters expected to join David on the card are Franciso C De Vaca, Victor Castro, Carlos Castro, Sulem Urbina Soto and Michael Hunter. Keep in mind, nothing in boxing is official until it happens. Tickets available at the Celebrity.
Boxing Notes: Jose Benavidez Jr. (17-0-13 Knockouts) continues to take time off to mend his injured hand while rumors swirl that he is timid about returning to the ring after getting tagged hard in the 8th round of his last fight. Team Benavidez categorically denies the suggestion and a spokesperson for the young fighter told me, Jose is getting ready to start working out soon at the Power MMA Gym in Gilbert. In the meantime, his schedule includes an appearance at the Night of Miracles Concert on Saturday May 4, 2013 and the Comerica Theatre in Downtown Phoenix. Proceeds will benefit Breast Cancer patients and Jose will join more than 30 active and retired athletes who are lending their celebrity to help find a cure for a disease that impacts so many lives including victims and their family members. Claudette Robinson, co-founder of the Miracles, and Sydney Justin, a member of the Miracles, will reprise classic hits that continue to get airplay around the world. It promises to be a night of nostalgia and great fun. Comerica Theatre is located at 400 West Street in Phoenix. Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster or at the Comerica Box Office Monday -Friday. You save a dollar or two if you buy at the theatre in advance. If you go and singalong, I second that emotion.
Arizona boxing coach Juan Varela sends an email invite to all amateur boxing fans to watch the Arizona vs. California 2 show at the Victory Outreach facility located at 4655 West McDowell Road in Phoenix, Arizona. General admission tickets are $10.00 and fans can grab a ringside seat for the affordable price of $25.00. The event will feature 20-25 bouts and all winners will receive a belt. Juan will take calls at 602-327-6901 or email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org Sounds like fun.
More Boxing Notes: Top Rank and Golden Boy didn’t snag him even though they scouted him at various tournaments. 50 Cent and his company (SMS Promotions) signed him and the move has proven to be golden, so far. The fighter is Luis Olivares, who hails from Glendale , Arizona, best known for being the home of the Phoenix Coyotes. Luis may changer that. Since turning professional , the 20 year old has fought twice and won both bouts by knockouts. And both victories were road wins in New York and Connecticut. His next bout is set for April 4 in New York.
Luis, a light welterweight, is getting good advice. First, he took his show on the road instead of staying home and kissing up to the hometown folk. Nothing wrong with community support; however, most trainers prefer the road first because the road experience matures the fighter quicker. After a few wins on the road, then book the fighter in his or her hometown. It doesn’t take brain surgery to groom a fighter the right way.
Hurricane Sighting: Super Middleweight boxer Andrew Hernandez was at the Iron Boy 6 weigh-in (Senor Sushi’s) chilling with his vivacious girl friend. His drug suspension is over in August and the “Hurricane” man is scheduled to fight on the September Iron Boy Card at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix. Andrew didn’t say a whole lot to me, she is very pretty. It is my understanding that he has parted ways with his long time Jerry Cheatham who told me recently, he was steeping away from boxing. Hopefully the experience was a teachable moment…lesson learned.
Parole Request: Michigan Boxing Writer Brian Fogg, leave It In The Ring Contributor, is doing research on the possible parole of imprisoned boxer Ike “The President” Ibeabuchi who faces a May parole hearing in Nevada. Ike is representing himself and we all know what the consensus is about an inmate who doesn’t have experienced representation: Good luck and see you at next year’s Parole hearing.
Ike was a top ranked heavyweight contender (20-0 w/16 knockouts) until he was arrested for sexual assault and battery at a posh hotel on the strip in Las Vegas where the alleged crime took place in 1999. A jury in Nevada found him guilty of sexually assaulting a Escort Service employee who testified against him. Ibeabuchi is expected to tell the board tat he is a changed person, thanks in part to mental health care administered at the institution where he has spent the last 13 years. If he is granted a parole, Curtis Cokes, his former manager, thinks he will be deported to Nigeria, his birthplace. Curtis said he hasn’t spoken or heard from Ike in over two years. The former world boxing champion talked to me for a few minutes. I called him back to wish him an early birthday. The happy day falls on June 15. Many more Champ! He keeps busy training fighters and working with disadvantaged youth in Texas.
Good Job: Arizolna boxer Alexis Zazueta beat the best in his division at the Golden Gloves Regionals in Nevada. Savor the Moment! Until Next Time!