Benavidez vs. Gavril at Hard Rock, Hernandez vs. Plant & More
By Don Smith: Boxing Fans, in a dramatic turn of events, Alan Campa (16-3) is off the 9/8 Showtime Benavidez/Gavril card at Hard Rock Resort and Casino in Las Vegas and he will be replaced by Arizona middleweight Andrew Hernandez (19-6-1-7 knockouts) who will bulk up a bit to take on cocky Caleb Plant (15-0-10 knockouts) in a super middleweight bout that could find the winner laying claim to a future title shot at the winner of the David Benavidez/ Ronald Gavril WBC Super Middleweight title tiff in the Main Event on the HR show or maybe qualifying to meet the winner of the Ramirez/Hart WBO Super Middleweight Championship match scheduled for the Tucson Convention Center on September 22.
Hernandez was battered in his bout with Hart at Treasure Island Hotel & Casino last year in their short 3 round Vegas encounters ended by an overpowering right hand from Hart. Andrew was scheduled to fight Chicago born Peter Quillin (32-1-1-23 knockouts) on another card before a change of mind.
The sordid history of this show would make most promoters run to the nearest bar and get plastered and not wake up until another total eclipse comes around. It is an understatement to say that the show has been plagued by bad timing, poor marketing and a nonchalant approach and at the end of the day; no one will shoulder the blame. Instead, someone will mutter, that’s boxing.
Here is the sad chronology surrounding the search for a successor to the WBC Super Middleweight crown that was vacated by Badou Jack who had a serious weight issue so he moved up to the light heavyweight division and captured the WBA Light Heavyweight world championship by stopping an out gunned Nathan Cleverly on the McGregor/Mayweather card, 8/26 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. If Jack could lay off the cheesecake, he might have been able to own two division belts; cheesecake is good.
After Jack left the super middleweight division- a title eliminator process was ordered and in the end, Anthony Dirrell was aligned to meet Callum Smith and the winner would be the WBC Super Middleweight Champion of the world. Nothing is easy in boxing and it didn’t cause tremors in the boxing world when it was announced that Dirrell was allegedly injured while sparring and Smith decided his fate would be better suited by joining the 2017/2018 World Boxing Super Series; self-preservation is good.
Chaos was present and prevalent; so, the boxing Gods got together and decided to have Arizonan David Benavidez (18-0-17 knockouts) face Romanian Ronald Gavril for the privilege of filling the title vacancy. After the contracts were signed, there were more questions than answers: for example, should the 9/8 date be moved in light of the excitement over the McGregor /Mayweather fight and the upcoming Canelo/GGG PPV mega event; what would these two mega fights do to the appetite of ordinary fight fans who have only so much money. And Benavidez is a great young fighter but at 20 years of age does he have the name recognition to draw a big crowd and Gavril is a Mayweather contracted fighter barely known to avid fight fans. Questions and more questions, consumers have a right to ask what they are buying.
ABNN has been on top of the Benavidez /Gavril fight since it became a fact. Journalists, such as me, were surprised that PBC and Mayweather Promotions (Co-promoters) didn’t plan the event better. I kept asking for updated press releases and there were none. The location was settled on recently and it was first announced that the event would be televised on the Bounce Network and now we know it will be on Showtime. And the blunders continued.
I called the venue (The Joint) at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino several times and they knew nada about the show and the Casino representative I was talking to thought I was pulling a prank on her, she was unaware of the show as of August 24, two weeks before the scheduled weigh-in. I filed for press credentials and never received a reply. David was born in Arizona, so if Arizona Boxing News & notes doesn’t cover the event, we may never stop hearing from our readers who would curse at us and perhaps treat us as bearers of irrelevant news; a bit of a twist on the fake news term.
I feel sorry for David Benavidez who deserves better from the promoters of the show. This was supposed to be a shining moment for him. He stands on the threshold of history in becoming the third native born Arizonian to win a title and at the tender age of 20 and it would be a shame if he reaches that plateau before a near empty house.
Hopefully, Arizona boxing fans will support both of their homegrown fighters. Hernandez, at 31, is nearing the twilight of his career. He knows his contest with Plant could be his last hurrah and Andrew told me before we went to press, he is ready to face the test. If only Mayweather Promotions and PBC realized the telling of these two stories could have been marketed to sell tickets, the hand wringing wouldn’t be happening. Seating for the event is priced at: $30.00, $55.00 and $105.00 for ringside. Fans can go online or call the Joint box-office to purchase tickets. The venue capacity is estimated at 4,000.
Short Jabs: The second annual David Lara SR. Boxing Classic is set to roll on Saturday September 23. Admission for the USA Boxing sanctioned show is $5.00 for everyone beyond the age of 5 except for USA Boxing Arizona and journalists, I hope. Doors for the event open at noon and the first punch is thrown at 1 PM or shortly after. The venue used is the San Luis Gym, located at 965 N. Park Avenue in San Luis Arizona. The classic is a quality event that provides the fighters and officials with meals, respect and a safe environment for everyone. Fighters and their families from Arizona and Mexico are expected to attend the annual event. For direction and more details, direct calls to 928-919-3990 or 928-341-8535. The Arizona Boxing Commission will meet on September 13th at 1110 West Washington in Phoenix (602-364-1721). Boxing fans are still waiting for the official announcement of boxing and MMA rule changes under consideration. Please be patient with the process. Paul Romero will fight on the Iron Boy 42 card on October 14 at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix. Joey “The Boxer” Ruelas of Phoenix was planning a return to boxing in Mexico on September 9, but he has scrapped the idea; however, other American boxers including Ryan Riddell will cross the border and fight under the Fight Hard Banner on 9/9. Phoenix super welterweight Eben Vargas (5-0) is still rehabbing an injury, we wish him the best. Friendly advice to out of state boxing promoters, start employing more local boxers for in state boxing shows. It is the right thing to do. Boxing/MMA announcer Ralph Velez JR is staying busy working Roy Jones JR promotions boxing shows and handling other endeavors.
Mac/May Wrap: ABNN didn’t receive a credential to cover the McGregor/ Mayweather PPV event; so, I stayed in Phoenix and watched it on one of the Twin Peaks screens at Camelback Road & 22nd Street in Phoenix. Co-owner Andy Bayless gave me a special invite and sat me with TP architect EVO and his friends Bill, Chad and Alfonso who was the only Mayweather fan in the group. The affable EVO knew I was a journalist so he kept telling me that everything he said or did was off the record. Yes, the brew was flowing. On the record, my arm bands were used to lift glasses of Ice Tea and take notes.
It was an overflow crowd and the venue capacity limit was exceeded by an undisclosed number (on the record). I was told that a number of arrivals were turned away at the door and one local celebrity held off coming due to security concerns.
I arrived at the popular bar/grill before 4 PM although the first fight didn’t start until 6 PM. The crowd was pro McGregor and that sentiment didn’t change throughout the night. Very few people paid attention to the undercard and I was forced to politely ask some rowdy club celebrants to move so I could catch the action and record my reaction.
Fight Action: Badou Jack stopped defending WBA world light heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly to capture his title in a mismatch. Jack was too strong and too fast for a game but overpowered champ in a contest stopped in the 5th round.
In what was billed as a title bout, IBF junior lightweight champion Gervonta Davis missed weight (2 pound over) and was stripped of his title before he fought challenger Francisco Fonseca. He then hydrated and ballooned up to 160 and preceded in fat fashion to knockout his opponent 39 seconds into the 8th round. It gets better! Davis scored his KO with punches to the back of the head and to make sure his man would stay down, he gave Fonseca a hard push on the back of his head. It wasn’t pretty or fair, but Davis got the win. The verdict should be overturned but on the record, it’s boxing so anything can happen.
Finally, the main event, my cologne was still working. Connor McGregor started the round as if he were a Jack Rabbit on steroids, very quickly. I thought he owned the first three rounds and the 4th was fairly even. In the fifth, he started to wear down and allow Mayweather to start taking over the contest. By the 8 the writing was on the wall, it was a matter of time before the end would come; Mayweather’s right hand was beginning to take its toll and the crowd sensed it. The 9th and 10th rounds were painful to watch as a fatigued McGregor was unable to avoid strikes from a stalking Mayweather. Finally, Referee Robert Byrd saw enough and stopped the contest in the 10th round. McGregor was very gracious in defeat and gave Floyd Mayweather high praise for his composure. Personally, I would like to see an asterisk attached to Floyd’s 50th victory because the bout was won against a 1st time boxer.
The crowd loved the event and writers should never be too high brow not to acknowledge fan reaction. It was a fun evening and a onetime experience that would be a hard sell the second time around. Special thanks to Carolyn & Andy Bayless for their hospitality and on the record: thank you EVO!
Twin Peaks will show the September 16 PPV fight featuring GGG vs. Saul Alvarez from T Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and their confrontation should produce a boxing war. Twin Peaks plans a sizable extension to accommodate a huge crowd and patrons will be asked to pay a $10.00 cover and adhere to a $25.00 minimum spend. One thing for certain, it will be a night of boxing and fans won’t be debating the legitimacy of the contest before the bell sounds.
Iron Boy 41: The weigh-in for Iron Boy 41 will be held on Friday 9/1 at Spoke & Wheel, a bike themed Gastropub, at 4 PM. The general public is invited to watch the event at the pub located at 8525 North Central Avenue in Phoenix. Once again the Iron Boy Promoted show will be held at the Celebrity Theatre on the following night, Saturday (9/2) with first bout commencing at 6 PM. Doors will open at 5 PM and the club downstairs will open at 4 PM. Tickets prices range from $30.00-$55.00 and can be purchased online or at the box-office. There is a service charge on all tickets.
Here is the latest bout sheet lineup and all bouts are subject to change: Main Event: Francisco C. De Vaca vs. Victor Proa 10 rounds/126 lbs. Co-Main Event: Carlos Castro vs. Chris Esquivel 8 rounds 122 lbs. Under Card: Adrian Servin vs. Edson Eduardo Neri 4 rounds/112 lbs. Edgar Ortiz vs. Manuel Manzo 4 rounds/118 lbs. Eduardo Anaya vs. Estevan Payan 4 rounds/170 lbs. Edward Ceballos vs. Raymond Chacon 4 rounds/122 lbs. Jesus Ibarra vs. Erick Jiminez Maldonado 4 rounds/ 130 lbs. Ruben Rivera vs. Keith Busch 4 rounds/ no weight listed, Vernon Brown vs. Jesus Zazueta 6 rounds/147 lbs. Hector Lopez vs. Luis Geraldo Avila 6 rounds/133 lbs. Robert Garcia vs. William Northan 4 rounds/175 lbs. Manuel Monterio vs. Jose Daniel Veloz 4 rounds/143 lbs.
Comment: It is good to see the return of Vaca & Castro. Servin is a true prospect and Brown can really bang. Robert Garcia (on the card) is a nephew of Central Boxing Gym manager Tom Garcia and he meets Northan who had an impressive debut and then didn’t fight for a while. Manuel Monterio is being touted by local boxing figure Peter McKinn who claims to have an eye for boxing talent; Peter will be at the Friday weigh-in with his protégé. Iron # 41 appears to be a good card but the final verdict is up to the fans. Until Next Time!