By Don Smith
Call it a late Christmas present or a Valentine's Day gift for boxing fans. Middleweight Sergio Mora (23-3) has officially agreed to box Jesus "El Martillo" Gonzales (27-2) in Phoenix on April 19 at a venue to be determined. According to inside sources, the two middleweights will be fighting for a NABF Title sanctioned by the WBA or WBC. Mora was reportedly offered another fight in March, but chose Gonzales, instead. To make this fight happen, Gonzales will have to drop 8 lbs to make scale as a middleweight which makes sense for a boxer who lost some power when he fought as a super middleweight for several years.
US Airways Center has the inside track to host the event, but three other interesting locations are in the bidding mix. The contract Mora signed includes a camera clause that voids the agreement if no television broadcast is secured. Fan Base Promotions (Promoter) feels confident a telecast will happen and reportedly three networks have shown strong interest. The deadline is March 1 for the broadcast deal to be channeled in.
Canadian light welterweight Steve Claggett wont be on the card as previously suggested, but Eddie Brooks, Janks Trotter, Isiah McFadden, Paul "Ziggy" Romero and highly regarded newcomer Mario Esparza are expected to grace the card. Esparza, trained by Tom Garcia, took a shot at making the 2012 USA Olympic Team; close,but no cigar. He is expected to fight at 132 lbs.
Super Middleweight McFadden (5-2) fighting out of Phoenix is tentatively scheduled to take on Canadian Junior Moar (9-3) from Richmond, British Columbia. Moar knows about McFadden holding his own (and then some) against Gabriel "King" Rosado in a Phoenix held sparring session,a few months ago and he still says "bring him on."
Fan Base Promotions refused to confirm rumors that Gabriel Rosado, Kimbo Slice aka Kevin Ferguson (7-0 -6 knockouts) and Matt Kadian aka Matt Mychajliv (7-1-4 knockouts) are on their wish list for the card. And Jose Benavidez Jr. has also been rumored. as a possible opponent for Eddie Brooks. Doubt seriously if Top Rank will let him fight on any card unless it says Top Rank at the top of the marquee. Bob Arum might have a problem with that arrangement.
Slice is a former MMA Star with a strong fan base and Kadian is a past Canadian Olympian with a fistful of potential. The pairing of the two heavyweights could make for a popular Co-Main Event unless Fan Base can lure Rosado into fighting Trotter which would make the boxing menu a punch or two stronger. Both light middleweights are coming off knockout losses that stooped them from winning a title. In the words of the late Arte Johnson from Laugh In fame, " It might be very interesting".
Team Trotter has hired veteran trainer Gene David to work with the Irish Canadian (7-1-1 with 7 knockouts) either in California or Nevada. Mr. David will also serve as matchmaker for the April 19 event in Phoenix. In the past, Fan Base locked onto popular local matchmaker Mike Sanchez for that chore. No given reason for the switch. Rosado (21-6-13 knockouts) may look for bigger fish to fry or cook, but after his loss to Golovtkn; Trotter would make a logical choice.
Rosado visited Phoenix a few months ago before his fight with Charles Whitaker and fight fans who went to Gabriel's press conference and public workout were impressed with the way he conducted himself during his Phoenix stay.Then came his face book publicized squabble with Brandon "Bam Bam" Rios over using Bam Bam's "Signature" T Shirt logo on his own shirt. . You know which one; the Tee with the guts/glory theme. The bickering went back and forth with Rosado and his peeps eventually looking silly and sounding as if they ripped Rios off. Unfortunately, Brandon and his team didn't copyright or trade mark his creation,so he left himself open to what happened. There's no crying in boxing.
I don't think Gabriel is a bad guy; however, blind loyalty can sometimes defer and defy common sense. In this case. Rosado should have taken the high road and not sabotaged his boxing brother. Now, most of that good capital that he built in Phoenix is null and void.
It would nice if his people would apologize and move on. Don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen.
So far the Gonzales/Mora card looks promising and boxing fans and the City of Phoenix should be proud and ecstatic over the prospect of hosting a championship fight. It's too early to say the glory days of Arizona boxing are back,but the Gonzales/Mora fight is a step in the right direction. Sometimes, the term crossroads fight is over used ,but in this case, it is very apt. Mora is 2-3-1 over his last 6 bouts while Gonzales was humiliated by Adonis Stevenson in their bout that ended in the first round. Both men have a lot to prove. Pray for television coverage, it should be a good fight.
Iron Boy 6: Apologies to Heavyweight Michael Hunter for short changing the young boxer in my column last wee. I failed to mention that he wants to fight 10 bouts a year;so, he could accelerate his path to a world title. And he wants to start off with 8-10 rounders not 4 round bouts. Michael, former USA Olympian, makes his debut on the Iron Boy 6 card at the Celebrity Theatre, March 9. There are 14 scheduled fights on the Iron Boy Card. Doors at the Celebrity open at 4:30 p.m. and 1st bell chimes at 5:30 p.m. Sonny Franco is scheduled to embrace the microphone at center ring.
During our amicable chat, Hunter said 7 time Grammy winner Adele is welcome to sing at his fight debut,but if she can't make it ; Adele could take a rain check and wait until he fights for a championship. Sounds like a confident young man.
Hunter will meet veteran Phoenix Heavyweight Chad Davis (4-10) in his debut on a pro/am a card with some interesting story lines. 118 lb Francisco C De Vaca makes his highly anticipated professional debut after a spectacular amateur career. He will take on Sergio Lopez in a 118 lb contest. 16 year old Ariel Arizmendez (AAEC High School in Litchfield) is undefeated as an amateur (11-0) and she was featured on Phoenix NBC Television affiliate (Channel 12) because she spars with boys and her stated goal is to represent the USA in the 2016 Olympics. She also excels in academics and her height and long reach give her a physical advantage over most of her opponents. Ariel will face America Valdez in a 135 lb contest. Edgar Brito returns to the ring after taking time off time for a hand to heal. This might be his last amateur fight. Jose Herrera hopes to spoil his going out party in a 123 lb contest. Alexis Santiago is scheduled to fight John Herrera in a 122 lb clash. Santiago was the headliner on the Iron Boy 5 card. Herrera enters the contest with a 4-4-1 boxing resume while Santiago brings a 12-3-1 record to the 6 round battle.
Rest of the Iron Boy 6 Card: Handi Hernandez (5-5) returns to the ring after several lopsided losses and a long hiatus. It will be interesting to see what she still has in the tank when she takes on Allison Cole in a 125 lb bout. Olympic hopeful (Mexico) Sulem Urbina Soto hopes to continue winning when she takes on Ianna Vasquez in a 114 lb bout. Popular Juan Garcia (16-3) takes on lightly regarded David Castillo (3-5) in a 135 lb bout. Chris Lopez returns to the Iron Boy lineup and takes on Rico Espinoza in a 130 lb bout. Carlos Castro (trained by Andy Soto) hopes to remain undefeated when he takes on Jazzma Hogue in a 123 lb contest. Amateurs Alexis Sazueta and Edgar Ortiz tangle in a 112 lb bout. Undefeated Fernando Samaniego hopes to extend his ring record to 5-0 with a win over Paul Carrillo in a 122 lb bout. All action is subject to change; therefore, go to the Iron Boy Website at www.ironboypromotions.com for updates Tickets are on sale at the Celebrity Theatre. 14 fights, (3 Female Bouts) translate into a good bang for the buck. Drive safely.
Golden Gloves: The 66th Arizona Annual Golden Gloves Tournament will be held March 1-3 at the Arizona Events Center in Mesa. In addition to 3 sessions of competitive amateur boxing, the event will offer charity raffles and a chance to meet boxing superstars like 5 Time World Champion Michael Carbajal, Former IBF/NABF Super Middleweight Champion Jesus "El Martillo" Gonzales, "Sugar" Ray Beltran and a host of local boxers including: Jose and David Benavidez, Frankie Hernandez, Arlo, Encino Man" Arguetta, Edgar Brito, Isiah McFadden, Paul "Ziggy" Romero, Diamond Baier and Mario Esparza. Appearances are subject to change and boxers not listed may show up to pay homage to the grand daddy of all Arizona Amateur boxing events,The Arizona Golden Gloves. It was 25 years ago when Michael Carbajal won his Silver Medal in the Olympics.
All proceeds from the tournament will benefit Golden Glove Athletes and the Phoenix Boys Center, a boxing gym dedicated to building the character of local boys and girls. Center Founder Al Fenn said it best when he coined the insightful slogan: "Keep a boy and girl in sports and out of the courts". The mission continues in memory of the venerable trainer, boxer, soldier, parent, writer, historian, teacher and humanitarian. Admission, to the center, is free to every youth who enters the facility to workout. Mr. Fenn wanted it that way.
Start times for the event vary. On Friday March 1, action begins at 7 p.m. while the drama unfolds at 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. General Admission is $15.00 per head and ringside seating is available at $25.00 per person. Children 5 and under are admitted free. Parking space is plentiful; but it might be wise to arrive early and park safely.
Say you didn't mean it: Recently, a European boxing promoter called me and asked if Chase Field was available for boxing events when the Arizona Diamond Backs weren't using it. As a favor I called the D'backs and was given the name of Tom Tygett to contact. Mr.Tygett is employed by Select Artists, a booking agency that was awarded a 20 year contract (1997-2017) to rent out the stadium to non baseball entities. Over the years Bank One Ballpark, renamed Chase Field, has hosted Championship Boxing (Shannon Briggs 2006) Motor Cross, Monster Truck Jams, track and field events, religious gatherings and various commercial and non-profit ventures. The ballpark is owned by Maricopa County, not the baseball team. Tygett's official title is "Booker" and in his job description there is no mention of being rude, crude and obnoxious when talking to someone who calls to inquire about using the stadium for legitimate reasons. Apparently, T.T. follows a different set of rules.
When I called Mr. Tygett, on his cell phone to find out general information about renting the stadium, he exploded. "How, did you get my cell number", he screamed. I told him I called the Diamond Backs and they were gracious enough to give me his name and cell number. "I want the person's name" he demanded. I disregarded his demand and quickly asked him about the availability of Chase Field for a Boxing Event. His reply: "Boxing, the Diamondbacks don't want boxing on their field" and then he hung up as I was thanking him for his time.
Two days later, I relayed Mr. Tygett's remarks to Ken Kendrick, owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks. He told me that he was a boxing fan and a good friend of Muhammad Ali. In fact, the champ is a frequent guest at home games. I showed him Mr. Tygett's name and he denied knowing the man and a gentleman standing next to the owner butted in and said "it's probably somebody who is connected"
to Maricopa County in some capacity".
I then called the offices of two Maricopa County Supervisors and relayed my unfortunate experience with Mr. Tygett to their assistants. I also mentioned my chat with Mr. Kendrick. Within hours, the official "Booker" telephoned and left me an upbeat message and Mr. Tygett , also sent a courteous email asking me to contact him about renting Chase Field. He didn't reference boxing in either communique and he signed off with the following inscription: Thank you for considering Chase Field...Tom Tygett/Select Artists.
Boxing News Bits: Phoenix wwelterweight Eddie Brooks (Fan Base fighter) is on his way to New York to face tough Thomas Dulorme (16-1) on Thursday 2/21 at Roseland Ballroom in New York, New York. There is nothing like fighting in the Big Apple. Eddie celebrated his 28th Birthday on 2/1,but he hopes the real party kicks in after his fight with Dulorme whose only loss came at the hands of welterweight contender Luis Carlos Adrega (33-1). If he leaves New York without too much wear and tear, Brooks has an iron clad promise to fight on the under card of the Sergio Mora/Jesus Gonzales fight in Phoenix on April 19. He still wants a piece of Canadian Steve Claggett; who he thinks is a big chicken masquerading as a fighter.Tell us dhow you really feel, Eddie! The two were scheduled to meet in Calgary, Alberta on March 2, but Claggett changed his mind and opted for a fight in Edmonton, Alberta on the same date. Fan Base would like to put him on a spit and baste him.
Wedding Bells: are in the works for Phoenix boxing fan fave Arturo Brambila and his trainer/beau Tammy Evans. No date set for the blessed event. Arturo's next fight is scheduled for March 8 in Redwood City California at the Fox Theatre against Johnathan Chicas in a scheduled 6 rounder. Arturo quit the sport for awhile; but Tammy and his love of boxing brought him back.
Return of Emily: Boxing Publicist Emily Pandelakis is handling the PR chores for the March 9 Iron Boy 6 show at the Celebrity Theatre. The proud mother of three, didn't work Iron Boy 5,but she is back and plans to stay with the Boxing Promotion Company.
Emily has a long list of boxer clients including Sugar Ray Beltran and Jose Benavidez Jr. At last count her total was near 15.
On The Mend: Susan Wheeler Hernandez is still recovering from surgery she underwent several weeks ago, She is a big boxing fan well known for her thoughtful volunteer work in the Phoenix boxing community. Susan is also the mother of young amateur fighter, Frankie Hernandez; yes, that Susan Wheeler Hernandez. Get well soon!
Boxing Respite: Arizona Boxing Legend Jerry "Schoolboy" Cheatham is taking a break from boxing after nearly 45 years in the sport. According to Cheatham, who compiled a professional record of 39-12-2 during his illustrious career, he is tired and needs to catch his second wind. In recent years, the colorful boxer/trainer has worked with Tommy Morrison, Diamond Baier and Andrew Hernandez.
Gym Talk: Phoenix wwelterweight Juan Garcia is sparring with Diamond Baier at the Central United Gym in preparation of his upcoming fight at the Celebrity Theatre on March 9. Baier was hoping to get on the card; but no such luck. He might land on the Gonzales,Mora card. Highly regarded light heavyweight prospect Trevor McCumby is wrapping up training at Busted Knuckle Gym in North Phoenix. 16 year old David Benavidez was one of his sparring partners. Trevor, Glendale Arizona resident, is fighting in California on 2/23. Going into the contest, his record was 9-0-w/8 knockouts. Good kid, good luck.
Celtic Exhibit: Iron Boy Boxing Promoter Roberto Vargas showed up for the opening of the Fighting Irishmen Exhibit on January 31 at the McCelland Library in Phoenix. Mr. Vargas is a sponsor and a contributor to the event. Kelly Fenn, the daughter of Arizona boxing Icon Al Fenn was a major contributor to the exhibit . The items she brought are rich treasures that reflect more than 50 years of Arizona Boxing History. It is unfortunate that Mr. Fenn isn't able bear witness to a tribute to the history of Arizona Boxing. He was a remarkable and integral part of it. His daughter wept at te sight of the Arizona Display. 5 Time World Boxing Champion Michael Carbajal was unable to attend, but he was acknowledged. Boxer Janks Trotter(7-1-1) , Irish/Canadian with Arizona ties was visiting family in Calgary, Alberta , but Sulem Urbina Soto and Carlos Castro (Phoenix boxers) were present.
The facility cost an approximate $5,000,000.00 to build and the exhibit items on display are valued at an estimated $500,000.00. Muhammad Ali was hoping to make an appearance with his wife,but spokes person Jimmy Walker (Fight Night Foundation) said the champ was too tired and would attend another day. Ali's Great, Great Grandfather was born in Ireland and he fought Jerry Quarry in Dublin, Ireland during the 70's. This rich exhibition of Irish Boxing Legends represents Celtic Prize Fighters from 1820 to present day. Coincidentally, Ireland won four 2012 Olympic boxing medals including a Gold for Katie Taylor.
The exhibit will remain at the McCelland Library on display until the end of May. The Library is located on the grounds of the Irish Cultural Center in Phoenix, Arizona at 1106 N. Central Avenue, 1 1/2 blocks north of Roosevelt. Admission is $10.00 worth every penny. Please go! Until Next Time!