Arizona Boxing News & Notes With Don Smith
Q & A Introduction: “Jazzy” Jeff Mayweather’s boxing legacy is secure by virtue of winning the IBO super featherweight title from John Roby on April 21, 1994, a title which he defended two times. After a successful career in the ring, Jeff followed in the footsteps of his brothers and became a well respected boxing trainer. Sultan Ibragimov and Celestino Caballero became champions by following his training blueprint. Listening can be productive.
A member of the Ottawa Hills High School, in Grand Rapids Michigan, Class of 1981, It is rather ironic, Jeff isn’t mentioned in Wikipedia as a notable alumni of the school. This significant snub may entitle him to root for Ohio State or give him the right to picket and boycott The Grand Rapids Press Daily newspaper for not protesting the omission. Included on the long and prestigious list are R&B singers Chico and James DeBarge, Boxing Champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. and professional Football player David Harris. I asked and was granted permission to forward questions to the “Quiet Mayweather” and the champ (born on Independence Day, 1964) said yes. There were no prior stipulations. Here is the unedited result! I began the questioning by askinghim about his last professional fight with Eric Jakubowski.
ABN&N: Your last professional fight was in 1997 and you won the bout which took place in your home state of Michigan. How important was it for you to end your career on a winning note in your home state and did you plan to retire, win lose or draw?
JM: It was more important to me to be fighting in my place I was born more than winning or losing of course no one wants to lose but allowing my fans that have followed me my entire career and my family and friends could share in this moment for me was monumental and personal to me
ABN&N: What is the hardest part about making the transition from fighter to trainer and who did you consult( if anyone )before making the decision?
JM: It was a very easy transition I was approached by one of my really good friends I would always go to his fights and he would listen to what I’d say from ringside so he asked me would I train him I reluctantly said yes unsure of what I could really do as a trainer and also at the time handling Floyd Jr early part of his career but I gave in and created a few combinations and realized that the things I was teaching were working ,so I began to gain confidence in myself and eventually became consumed with that same fighter I took to a World Championship Fight his name was David Sample he fought Miguel Gonzalez for the W.B.C Lightweight Title
ABN&N: In addition to working with boxers, you also train MMA fighters. Do boxing purists chide you about making the crossover and do you think MMA is in danger of becoming too theatrical like WWE?
JM:Well I enjoy working with M.M.A fighters because they have a different respect for me than a typical fighter they come to like a untouched canvas allowing me to mold them and grasp exactly what is is I’m trying to convey to them I won a world title as a fighter and also trained multiple world champions so they know I know what I’m doing and trust in my ability to make them better , I don’t really care what boxing purist think if they are not paying me not to do it , I make my living this way be training fighters mostly by those whom respect me enough to seek me out , I think M.M.A is more of a Middle class sport a lot of the fighters in M.M.A are College Graduates that may have come from a collegiate background so I think it’s far from a sideshow when you have intelligent people involved in the sport as competitors
ABN&N: You have been around the boxing game for a long time. In your opinion who would you consider the 5 greatest trainers of all time and the best fight you ever saw live in person, pay per view live or on tape?
JM: I don’t judge trainers because I think anyone that can make a fighter fulfill their dream of becoming a Champion is a great trainer so their are so many great trainers to single out five history is still in progress so there will be many more to surpass those have already came before them, The best fight I think for me personally was Michael Dokes and Evander Holyfield great fight lots of give and take true warriors
ABN&N: You’re TKO loss to Oscar in 1993 was a shock to me and other journalists, was it a fluke or an off night in your opinion?
JM:Well it was a combination of more than one thing Oscar certainly was the better fighter that night I can accept a defeat without trying to sugarcoat it , The one intangible that no one took into consideration Oscar was the darling of the Olympics my name carried a little weight but I wasn’t a puncher so I was picked for Oscar to defeat because of that reason he was the better fighter that night but should the fight have been stopped no I wasn’t hurt at all I remember saying to Mitch Halpern I’m fine but I also understood the business of boxing that’s why the fight was stopped nothing against Oscar because he went on to be a great fighter so no shame in losing to him but I wasn’t hurt when the fight was stopped
ABN&N: Who gave you the nickname of “Jazzy Jeff” and what sports did you play in high school and college?
JM: Well the nickname actually came from a school teacher of mine because I would always go to school dressed up in leisure suits at the time I wasn’t like the average kid I would like to dress up when I went to school not in clothes to play in so my teacher would say to me you look jazzy today and would say it often because of the way I dressed and the name stuck unfortunately I wasn’t the one whom made it famous even though I was called that before the fame of Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince
ABN&N: There isn’t enough time for you to train everybody,so what criteria do you use in selecting your pupils/clients and how much does character matter?
JM: Character plays a major part speaking of myself I must make training a fun experience not only for myself but for my fighter as well and that’s why I implement what I call the Doom Session and that is my own personal defensive drill in which I try my best to counter punch my fighters while we are doing mitts I have no problem smacking someone upside their head no matter whom is watching it’s for the benefit of my fighter to stay alert and maintain solid defense at all times pad-work is where a fighter actually learn their craft because I simulate pad-work as close to a actual fight as I can not just you hitting mitts for technique but to know how to protect yourself in the heat of the battle
ABN&N: What is your crowning achievement in boxing so far, is it your winning a world title or perhaps another accomplishment?
JM: Yes I would say winning a championship belt of any kind is a accomplishment to be proud of it’s like anything you participate in you want to know when your done with it , You have something sitting on your mantel that said you were someones Champion at one time in your life
ABN&N: When a fighter is found guilty of using performance enhancement substances; should the trainer of record be held accountable and punished also?
JM: That’s a good question because the fighter has to get it from someone unless the fighter is doing it to himself a fighter has to know what’s legal and not I think Freddie Roach said it best this wasn’t happening in boxing until a strength and conditioning coach became a fixture in the sport, I’m certainly not saying that it doesn’t have it’s upside or that all strength trainers employ the same method but until they became prevalent in the sport this was a very rare occurrence
ABN&N: According to Box Rec, you left the ring with five draws; how many of those draws do you think should have been victories for you?
JM: Four and even a few of my loses as well one of my draws had to be one of the worst decisions ever I fought in Hawaii the fight was over and I was announced the winner by unanimous decision during the course of actual fights taken place they made an announcement that the fight between me and the guy I had fought has been changed to a draw
ABN&N: Given what we know we know about the danger of concussions leading to possible brain damage; should boxing address the issue more vigorously and require an MRI & Cat Scan after every knockout and if a fighter doesn’t pass; should he or she be denied a license to fight or spar professionally anywhere in the world?
JM: Well that’s more of a medical question and don’t want to act as though I know the ramifications to make those types of decision but I certainly would like to think that the sport is evolving in the right direction and it’s better now than it was 10 years ago and hopes that it continues to get better with each passing year People like to use that clique saying that boxing has got another black eye boxing has long run-out of black eyes I’m all for the safety of the sport
ABN&N: You’re are a active member of what is commonly referred to as a boxing dynasty. How has that reference affected your life and do you think the so called dynasty ends after Floyd Jr. retires?
JM: I certainly don’t think the dynasty ends with Floyd because we as brothers have created our own dynasty and will continue to make more and more World Champions we are the only three brothers in the history of the sport to have these two distinctions number 1. Only brothers to train 3 different World Champions simultaneously myself (Sultan Ibragimov) W.B.O Heavyweight Champion Floyd Sr Chad Dawson Light Heavyweight Roger Floyd Mayweather Jr and also we all three fought Olympic Gold Medalist in our career Me (Oscar Dela Hoya) , Roger (Pernell Whittaker) , Floyd Sr (Sugar Ray Leonard)
ABN&N: You’re considered the “quiet” Mayweather; yet you defend your family when you decide the time is right to do so. What barometer do you use to gauge when is the right time to defend anyone in your family in print? How heavy to you weigh your words?
JM: When it’s a blatant attack solely because of jealousy or envy, I don’t really go after anyone at least not hard but when people just put things out there that are ridiculous and have not even the slightest merit of truth I will go hard at you and put you in your place with facts and not made up B.S I love my family with all my heart not just my nephew and my brothers but each and every single one of them
ABN&N: Thank you for taking time to answer my questions and may you enjoy good health and peace!
JM:Thank you for such a candid interview
Iron Boy 7 : The parents of the late and great world champion Diego Corrales attended the Iron Boy 7 weigh-in on May 16 in Phoenix, Arizona at the Los Armandos Restaurant on McDowell Road just West of 58th Avenue. Diego passed in 2007 as a result of a 3 vehicle accident in Las Vegas near the home of Mr. Corrales who was remembered by Gary Shaw (Diego’s Promoter) as a true warrior.
Meeting his parents in a restaurant and knowing Diego was a culinary major in College almost prompted me to mention the two coincidences to his parents,but I thought better. He was 29 at the time of his passing and will be remembered as a great champion. I was introduced to them by a member of Guy Robb’s boxing team, a friend of the Corrales family.
Robb is a young featherweight from Sacramento, California where he played high school football (RB) and had aspirations of playing professional ball,but size does matter, so he began to focus on boxing. A good choice. His ring record after defeating durable John Herrera at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix on the May 17 Iron Boy 7 card stands at 11-1 and his lone defeat came at the hands of highly touted Joe Diaz Jr. last year by virtue of a 2012 controversial late 7th round TKO loss in a scheduled 8 rounder. Robb and his team are bitter at the call because the stop in action came within a few seconds of the end of the round and Robb’s team insists the fighter was able to continue. Ironically, Robb signed with 360 boxing (a few days after the loss) and now the two boxers are stable mates. . Robb doesn’t mince words, he wants to see Diaz again and it’s not on a double date. Since their battle, Diaz has moved up to super featherweight while Mr. Robb is listed as a featherweight. One way to keep the peace…maybe! All three judges had Robb defeating John Herrera with identical 60-54 scores. 360 boxing is hoping to have Robb fighting for a minor title by some time next year.
Robb’s presence on the Iron Boy card came to fruition when Joe Diaz Jr. opted out to fight on an ESPN Card. Robb had a wry smile on his face when the subject came up.The Diaz for Robb switch was just one of several last minute changes on the Iron Boy 7 card. Super bantamweight Alexis Santiago (15-3) backed out for personal reasons. Olympic hopeful Sulem Urbina Soto didn’t fight on the card because her opponent missed a flight. Arizona prospect Carlos Castro injured his right hand, so his bout was terminated and Cruiser weight Eddie Martinez Jr. was summoned and put on the card, but he suffered a freakish injury to an ankle. Trainer Tom Garcia was very sad at the turn of events. He believes he has a prospect in the 24 year old Martinez who was pumped and ready to make his pro debut. Now he will have to wait. Welcome to boxing.
Iron Boy didn’t hit the panic button and they didn’t need to because Francisco C De De Vaca was scheduled to make his pro debut on the Iron Boy 7 card and light heavyweight David Benavidez, brother of Jose Benavidez Jr., was performing in his final amateur bout before turning professional in August or September.
18 year old De Vaca (118 lbs) is a high profiled young man who has received near rock star status since he took up the sport almost a dozen years ago. After scoring nearly 200 amateur against a handful of losses. The prized protege was more than ready to continue his dream of becoming a world champion. To enhance his chances, Iron Boy went shopping for a new trainer and wound up with Olympic Gold Trainer Roberto Alcazar who guided Oscar De La Hoya to a gold medal in the 1992 Summer Olympics held in Barcelona, Spain. I talked to the boxing mentor and he said his goal was to help De Vaca use his reach more and stay away from being a one dimensional
inside fighter. De Vaca listened to the master and took his advice to heart en route to a second round knockout victory over Martin Mendez. Jesse Vargas was in his corner shouting encouragement. De Vaca, aka Panchito, is expected to perform on the Iron Boy 8 card at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix on Saturday, July 20. Alcazar says he needs time to transform the boxer affectionately known as “Panchito” into a contender. Iron Boy seems to have confidence in the master mentor. Time will tell.
Co-Main: Juan Garcia, 18-3) scored a second round TKO over journeyman Jeremiah Torres (8-21). Garcia is hoping the victory and performance will earn him a contract with Iron Boy Promotions. This is Garcia’s 2nd victorious fight after an extended layoff following 3 consecutive losses. Juan ranks with Sugar Ray Beltran as one of the genuine guys in boxing, but his conditioning isn’t quite there yet. Understand his scale reading was two pounds over the 142 lb limit. He could be back for Iron Boy 8.
Main Event: Boxing Fans cheered Chris Lopez and Pablo Batres throughout their 8 round bout. Lopez won with scores of 58-56, 60-54 and 59-55. The victory raised Lopez’s record to 7-1 while the scrappy Batres left town with a 4-5-1 record. Most fans agreed the hook up was the best match of the evening. Lopez is a local favorite.
Benavidez Farewell: David Benavidez said farewell to amateur boxing after toying with fellow light heavy weight Gustavo Esparza. The referee stopped the contest late in the first round. Esparza was given 3 standing 8 counts. One was premature, but the other two were perfectly justified. Benavidez needs better competition and the best way to find it is in the professional ranks. In a few months, he turns 16 and Mexico allows fighters to fight for pay at 16. Then he can return to the United States and with permission of a parent, the American born teenager can continue to fight in his native country. An announcement will be forthcoming when he reaches 16 years old.
Rest of the Action: La pita Navarez bested Rosa Orozco in a 3 round amateur bout. Luis Espinoza outworked Alejandro Dominguez in coasting to a 3 round victory in their amateur bout. High school sensation Ariel Arismendez outpointed Alejandra Cardoza in a busy 3 round amateur bout. Wilber Lopez dropped the first two rounds to Bedo Carbajal before finding the power to score a TKO victory over Carbajal in the 3rd round of their scheduled 4 round bout. It was debut bout for both young men. Undefeated Fernando Samaniego remained undefeated with a unanimous victory over Jesse Adame. Eduardo Valenzuela majority decision over Alejandro Solorio.
Xavier Montelongo stopped Miguel Armendariz in round 3. The crowd was estimated at 2350, a near sellout for Iron Boy 7. Iron Boy 8 is scheduled for July 20 at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix.
Ring News: Former IBF/NABF Super Middleweight Champion Jesus “El Martillo” Gonzales is reportedly on his way to Vegas to help Chad Dawson prepare for his WBC light heavyweight title bout with Adonis “Superman” Stevenson on June 8 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada at the Bell Centre. Montreal is the Haitian born fighter’s hometown. End result could be a hanging chad. Sorry for the predictable pun. Bad decision to for Dawson to fight in Montreal. Stevenson rarely fights outside of Canada. He spent time in Prison for committing a serious crime years ago in Montreal and his freedom to travel was restricted by international authorities. Don’t know if the travel ban still applies…..Arizona amateur Alexis Urbina is heading to Ukraine for an elite international tournament. The announcement was made at the Iron Boy 7 Show and the prized protege of trainer Andy Soto thanked the crowd for their support. ….”Sugar Ray” Beltran, Jesse Vargas, Jose Benavidez Jr. and Orlando Salido were also introduced at the event. Beltran, hoping to fight for a world title at the end of summer, talked to a Breast Cancer Society official about starting a non profit organization to help kids. Lianna Lopez told the contender, she would direct him to the right people. If there is a better person in boxing than Beltran, please call me with a name….Vargas is fighting on the Marquez/Bradley Card in September….Orlando trains at the Iron Boy Gym in Phoenix. According to sources, he would like to move to Phoenix permanently…. Welterweight Jose Benavidez Jr. (17-0 w/13 knockouts) is ready to resume training after taking a short much needed respite. No word on his next fight. His injured hand is reportedly 100 % healed….Mario Esparza is still looking to land pro debut bout. Rumors have Mario possibly earning that 1st paycheck towards the end of June somewhere in the Valley of the Sun. Fan Base Executive Ralph Velez could be making an announcement soon…..Nevada Boxing Commission is reporting J’ Leon Love and Matt Garretson , May 4 Mayweather Card, tested positive for Diuretics and will face a hearing sometime near mid June. If found guilty, Love will relinquish his NABF Title Belt he won after defeating Gabriel Rosado. The verdict will then be declared a “No Contest.” Garretson tested positive for Furosemide which is a medication used primarily to treat high blood pressure, heart ailments or a liver condition. Landell Bellows knocked out Garretson in their May 4 battle. Love tested positive for Hydrochlorothiazide which is used to treat high blood pressure, heart condition and kidney problems. Hopefully both men will address the issue, honestly. Until Next Time