Posted by Don Smith on Oct 28, 2013
Urbina Billboard Up, Donaire/Esparza Spar & More

Urbina Billboard Up, Donaire/Esparza Spar & More

Arizona Boxing News & Notes With Don Smith

Boxing Fans, 

Phoenix Police officials are predictably tight lipped about discussing any new leads or clues into the murder of 17 year old National boxing champion Alexis Urbina. The best words to describe what the public is hearing about developments in the   case is complete utter  silence. According to Silent Witness, a plethora of  tips are  coming in after the erection of a billboard near the crime scene on Tuesday October 15 “early” in the morning and the passing out of flyers across the city. A spokesperson for the organization said he couldn’t comment on the actual number of new  tips or the quality of information generated from the community’s effort to find the killer(s). Phoenix Police SGT Crump is heading the Official investigation and he reports no suspects or established motive in a  homicide case that rocked the Phoenix boxing community and was reported by members of the fourth estate (press) from coast to coast in the USA and internationally.  The media is doing its’ job, now the South Phoenix community  must step up and deliver information vital to the capture of the  bottom feeder(s) responsible for the senseless killing of Alexis Urbina. The family is concerned about the lack of progress in the homicide case and

understandably so. There is a campaign to erect more Urbina Reward billboards. CBS Outdoor donated the first sign with the collaboration of 2 local journalists who are focused on finding “Justice for Alexis.”

I was   on hand for the 7th 7th Street and Broadway Road located billboard unveiling along with veteran boxing trainer Tom Garcia and Channel 12 News reporter Jaclyn Schultz who is a distant relative of Filipino boxing legend Gabriel “Flash” Elorde arguably the greatest fighter to ever represent the Philippines. Sorry, Manny!  Assigned reporter Schultz insisted we arrive at 5:20 a.m. so she could air her coverage of the  event at 5:30 a.m., but the Silent Witness reward poster wasn’t attached yet thus causing a delay which made the hard working former Sacramento, California newspaper reporter a bit nervous. In fact, the CBS Outdoor worker, assigned to the reward poster detail, didn’t arrive until around 6 a.m. due to liability insurance concerns. CBS Outdoor’s  decision to wait until the light of day to start work on the billboard was correct. A fall in the dark might boost Channel 12 ratings, but at whose expense. The thought did cross my mind, briefly.

Ms. Schultz was able to meet her assigned 5:30 a.m. time slot by directing her cameraman to pan a flyer depicting the billboard art work and talking to me about the billboard project. The second installment of the story was more effective , but both segments scored a bulls eye. Solid effort, Ms. Schultz.  Goggle Jaclyn Schultz: Alexis Urbina, Justice For Alexis billboard to read and view the video. The actual bill board image differed slightly from the hand held flyer example  shown at 5:30, but the message is the same.

Donaire spars with Esparza: In a move that caught me by surprise, boxing manager Cameron Dunkin hired Arizona southpaw Mario Esparza to spar with former world champion Nonito Donaire for two weeks in Nevada. Esparza jumped at the chance to gain boxing wisdom from the Filipino great. Once home, Mario told friends, Donaire was very quick and went all out in their sparring sessions. The development of a strong work ethic is very important for young fighters who want to become contenders. Donaire (31-2)  is headed for a 10 round  HBO televised rematch with rugged Vic Darchinyan (39-5-1) on November 9 in Corpus Cristi Texas while 19 year old Mario (1-0) heads back  to Phoenix to get ready for his bout on the Iron Boy 10 show in Phoenix at the Celebrity Theater, November 16.

I spoke to Mario’s stepfather (Paul Salinas) about his son’s entrance into professional boxing and his personal involvement in Mario’s career at a recent boxing tournament before Mario went off to Nevada to spar with Donaire. A very good decision in my opinion.

Some  critics wish Paul would step aside and let more professional  boxing people manage his kid’s career. I told him in no uncertain terms that he was a feared man in the Arizona boxing community. I also reminded him of our first meeting at United Central Gym in Phoenix. A boxing associate introduced us and he didn’t take time to shake my hand or ask to meet me at another time  and possibly interview his son who was contemplating turning pro at the time. As a matter of fact; if I wasn’t nimble, he would have knocked me down. What he did say was I will see you around in a tone that was less than hospitable. So, he doesn’t have people skills, neither does Kanye West and a million or so other people in the world. Our conversation lasted for about an hour while watching  an boxing tournament held at Hard Knocks Gym in Phoenix on October 13. We watched 8 fights together and were in harmony with our decision after each fight. Our only miss was the Jose Pena (Scrap Yard Gym) Vs. Enrique Duarte (Arizona Boxing & Fitness)  in a 146 lb. battle. When the referee raised Duarte’s hand; both of our jaws dropped.  I went over to Pena’s coach (Jesse) and told him I thought his kid deserved the nod. Pena and his coach left the facility visibly upset.

Paul asked that most of our conversation be considered off the record, a condition I agreed to with some regret.   I told him I was well aware that his son was a highly sought prospect before he signed a two year two fight per year contract with Fan Base Promotions out of Calgary, Alberta Canada. The Arizona boxing community is well aware that  Team Esparza made more than a few enemies during various negotiations with several aggressive

suitors. What he has learned, I couldn’t tell from our conversation. His defense was very simple, he was protecting his son and Mario has only one father. Mr. Salinas reiterated several times that he wouldn’t do anything contrary to Mario’s wishes; although he admitted that it was his decision to sign a contract with Fan Base. Before he left, I told him  boxing is a tough business and few father and son teams last. Paul and Mario might be an exception. Time will tell.

Mourning Leal : Boxing fans worldwide are mourning the passing of  of Mexican  Jr.featherweight Francisco “Frankie” Leal aka Little Soldier on Tuesday, October 22 in Mexico after suffering an 8th round knockout loss to fellow countryman Raul Hirales in a  scheduled for 10 rounds bout held in Cabo San Lucas Mexico. His death was attributed to a brain injury as a result from the knockout. Boxing student Nick Murphy (Gent’s Gym in Glendale Arizona) called to express criticism of the fight. He watched the bout on television and thought the referee was slack in admonishing Hirales for throwing illegal and dangerous rabbit punches to the back of Leal’s neck and head.  Officially, the bout was stopped 2:58 into the 8th round. Leal’s career ended with a record of 20-8-3. Our prayers go out to the family. Nick and other boxing fans hope Mexican authorities will review the fight and take

appropriate action. Rest In Peace!

Boxing Show Wrap: Hard Knocks Gym hosted Showdown of Future Champions which showcased 14 well contested show. Hard Knocks walked away with “Best Team Trophy” While Cristian Curiel Vs. Edgar Ortiz was recognized as the fight of the tournament. Curiel (Strong Enough Gym) won the decision but Ortiz (Hard Knocks Gym) was quite the warrior in defeat. Cristian is trained by Andrew Mendes Jr. Good job guys. Special thanks to former NBA hoops star for supporting USA Boxing Arizona with a pair of Air Jordan autographed shoes that raised a few dollars through an event raffle. Amateur shows struggle to break even, so please  support USA Boxing Arizona sanctioned boxing events. The Hard Knocks facility is very nice. Kudos to Clement & Martin Vierra.

Boxing & Fight Chatter: Super middleweight Andrew “Hurricane” Hernandez is scheduled to fight on Top Rank’s Jose Felix Vs. Sergio Valenzuela card, 11/16 show at the AVI Resort in Laughlin, Nevada.  He has served his suspension time, but the penalty fine remains unpaid as of 11/24/13.. A spokesperson for the Nevada Athletic Commission said the remaining amount is due now; however, it could be taken from his 11/16 purse. Two sources called to inform me that Andrew has reunited with trainer Jerry “Schoolboy” Cheathamm. Good to see Andrew get a second chance and we wish him the best…….Junior welterweight Ray Lampkin Jr. (4-0) left his Portland  Oregon Digs to settle in Phoenix. The 30 year old  4 time National Champion is raising some eyebrows with his workouts at the United Central Gym in Phoenix.  One ringside observer left the gym with the impression that  Ray gave highly touted prospect Luis Olivares (6-0) all he could handle and then some. Lampkin, a family man, finds time to train before and after his day job.   He may find a place on 11/16 Iron Boy 10 card at the Celebrity Theatre. Iron Boy Promotions will continue produce shows in Arizona and expand into Texas, perhaps early as late November, ambitious and wise. ….Luis Olivares hopes to fight 2 more times before 2014 arrives. Might be on the Iron Boy 10 card…..Super Middleweight Derek Edwards (Hard Knocks Gym) didn’t attend the ” Showdown Of Future Champions” boxing show hosted by Hard Knocks Gym on Sunday, October 13. Derek took the time off to spend some quality time with his family. I was looking forward to meeting him. Edwards has used the past month to situate his family in Phoenix and find a job. Head coach Clement Vierra says his conditioning is good and Team Edwards is ready for sparring. No word on who will go toe to toe with the 26-2 veteran. Expect Edwards to fight within the next two months…… Middleweight Joey Ruelas is staying fit while waiting out a 45 day suspension as a result of a  cut eye suffered in his Iron Boy 9 bout….According to reliable sources, light weight contender has decided to meet WBO Lightweight Champion in Glasgow,Scotland again with one obvious stipulation: different judges. I don’t need to rehash what happened in their last meeting. Ray was robbed. Second opportunity for Ray may come in February or March, 2014….  Arizona Cruiser weight Eddie Martinez Jr. is hoping to make his professional debut before Christmas, but nothing definite…..Bounded Fists next show is set for December 14 at the Arizona Events Center in Mesa….Dark Sky Promotions will host Flagstaff Arizona’s first ever Muay Thai event on November 23….One legged 3 time All American Champion wrestler  Anthony Robles (Arizona State University) will be at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe,Arizona to sign his memoir “Unstoppable” on Monday October 28 at 7 p.m. Quite the story. Mr. Robles was born without a right leg.Call 480-730-0205…..Fan Base Promotions is thinking about bringing a boxing show to Phoenix in February 2014. Some talk about teaming with another promoter. No word on who will headline…..Local boxer Noel Mendoza still thinking about retirement…… Notable boxing manager Cameron Dunkin  has signed 114 lb Arizona prospect Alexis Zazueta to a multiple year managerial contract; no bonus attached. Alexis graduated from Alhambra High School in Phoenix. When asked about his grades, the teenage boxer smiled and said “I passed.” Dunkin is going through the process of acquiring a work permit for the popular pugilist  which will allow Alexis to start his career ASAP! Alexis has the work ethic and athletic skills to be a very good fighter; it’s up to him.

USA Boxing AZ News: The 2014 USA Boxing national events schedule is as follows: Junior/Youth National Team Open in Reno Nevada, January 5-12,USA Boxing Championships, January 18-26 in Spokane Washington. for more information, email USA Boxing Arizona President Jacob agallanez:[email protected] ….The 43rd Annual Copper Gloves Tournament was held at the Arizona State Fair on October 16-17 at the Fairgrounds in Phoenix. The event featured 6 fights first night and 4 for the finale; unfortunately I wasn’t able to stay long enough to cover the first night, but I was there when Fox 10 Television reporter Ty Brennan  arrived to do a segment on the continuing search for the murderer(s) of aspiring Olympic hopeful Alexis Urbina, Ty interviewed me as I was passing out reward flyers while asking boxing fans to help solve the mystery by spreading the word. Readers can watch the interview and read an accompanying story by goggling:  Ty Brennan, Fox 10 News: Still no leads in talented boxer’s brutal murder . It is a very emotional piece that shows one woman openly cried after  telling me her son is a boxer and he thinks of Alexis as a role model. A special thanks to Ty and Fox 10 for not over editing the story…Copper Gloves CEO Kelly Fenn was unable to forward results, but the following Phoenix based gyms participated in the tournament: Fuentes, Hard Knocks, Broadway, Britos,  South Mountain United Central & Phoenix Boys Center. Richard Soto, Chief of Officials, informed me that Fuentes Gym won Team Trophy. More details, next column…the 10/19 show (Elite Boxing Club) in Tucson was cancelled due to lack of  participation….10/26 Smoker Boxing Tournament  at the Kroc Center,1375 E. Broadway Road in Phoenix, 1st bout 2 p.m…..38th Annual Gene Lewis Invitational Tournament in Mesa, Arizona, 11/7-9.  for complete information. Hard Knocks boxing pupil Isiah Flores (120-125 lbs) is scheduled for the Fightkingsglovestournament and his famous uncle, former NBA hoops star Mike Bibby, is expected to attend….George Garcia,Hammer Gym, is currently training a 14 year old, but  refuses to divulge his name until he sees how serious the kid is. George thinks the teenager has a lot of potential….Until Next Time

About Don Smith

Don Smith has written 79 post in this blog.

Don Smith became interest in boxing from age 8 when his Dad gave him a pair of gloves, he eventually wore them out. During his Don Smith served in the US Army as a Military Police Desk SGT. The skills he learned while writing reports laid the foundation for him becoming a journalist. According to Don “I didn’t really flip the switch to journalism until I was detained in Belfast Ireland for taking pictures during my vacation in Ireland. I made the questionable mistake of trying to albii my way out of the situation by claiming to be a journalist, wrong move. No diplomatic immunity, ha ha. II returned to college in Texas, wrote for my college paper as a paid staffer”. He grew up during the Friday Night Era, and In his role as a sports writer, he has rubbed elbos with Leonard, Norton, Ali, Mancini, Cokes, Paez and other champion boxers. His his works have been high lighted and published by Community Newspapers in Texas, Sports Stringer, Dallas Morning News, WRR Radio Critic Dallas Texas, KCHU Radio Talk Show Host Dallas, Texas, Talk Shoow host, Plano Texas, Interviewer for OPUS & STARSHINE Networks, Interviewed more than 1,000 celebrities including 7 US Presidents, Athletes, Movie Stars, etc.

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