Q & A with Anthony Zaino, McCumby Response & More
By Don Smith: Boxing Fans, Recently, I reported fan criticism of a referee, missing calls while working a recent fight in Phoenix and it always hurts me to do so although I owe it to the referee, fans and most of all the sport. Writers have to be careful with their pen or they might pick up the reputation as mean spirited or unfair. That report or column piece came to me from a fan as did the idea to do a story on referee Anthony Zaino of Tucson via New Haven Connecticut where he was born and educated.
To my knowledge, I have never met referee/judge Zaino but most valley boxing fans know of his work and reputation as a man who loves and respects the sport.
Anthony is a highly experienced referee and he has mentored several referees who unabashedly praise him for his knowledge of and passion for the sport. A few years ago, he thought his career was over when a motorcycle he was riding was T boned and as a result; rehabbing was perhaps the toughest fight of his life. It was a long road back and self-doubt crept in according to friends.
He confided his fears to a friend who encouraged him to referee an amateur tournament in Mesa, Arizona (The annual Gene Lewis Invitational) and when he got thumbs up for his performance, he was officially back.
Anthony began his boxing career in n1993 with USA Boxing as a Judge. An avid fan of the sport as a kid, Anthony wanted to be more involved in the sport so he approached referee Bobby Ferrara in Tucson who advised him to start in amateur boxing and after attending a USA Boxing clinic held at Madison Square Garden Boxing Gym in Phoenix, he started judging amateur bouts.
His credits are impressive: Anthony has refereed Local, State, Regional, National and world competitions. His stint as an amateur Ref has totaled more than a thousand amateur bouts and the stellar cast of fighters including Diego Corrales, Brandon Rios, Austin Trout, Jesus “El Martillo” Gonzales Oscar Valdez, B. J. Flores, Jose Benavidez Jr to name a few.
He made the switch to the pros in 2004 (New Mexico) under the expert mentoring of Bobby Ferrara. In his updated resume he can take credit for 110 professional fights including 3 3 world title fights (IBA, WBA and WBC). He is currently licensed with the Arizona State Boxing and MMA Commission, New Mexico State Boxing Commission and the Pasqua Yaqui Boxing Community in Tucson. He has worked bouts with top pros such as Mikey Garcia, Austin Trout, Diego De La Hoya, Hanzel Martinez, Nito Brave, and Sadam Ali, Jarrel Miller and many more. Because of his schedule I didn’t have time to ask him a lot of questions so I limited the number to 9!
ABNN: Boxing is a rigorous sport, how do you keep in shape?
AZ: I work for the University of Arizona and do a lot of walking, stay active with skiing and bicycling.
ABNN: Where were you born and what schools did you attend?
AZ: I was born in New Haven CT-Graduated Eli Whitney Regional Vocational Tech as a Tool & Die Maker.
ABNN: Do you have particular criteria when you judge a fight?
AZ: Punch count, etc. – scoring criteria, effective aggressor, damaging blows, ring generalship
ABNN: How many times has a fighter thanked you as a judge or a referee?
AZ: Often times I get thanked, a few have thanked me for stopping their bouts.
ABNN: Any difference between MMA & Boxing fans?
AZ: Yes, younger crowds and more female fans for MMA.
ABNN: On your watch as a referee, when does a doctor enter the ring?
AZ: When I call him in.
ABNN: Has any outraged fan ever thrown anything at you after a bout?
ABNN: How many fights in a night without impairing your judgment or wearing out?
AZ: 4 bouts (4-8 rounds) or 2 (10-12 rounds).
ABNN: Thank you for your service as a referee and judge.
Boxing News: FITE, the authorized and official PPV Internet provider for boxing telecasts, is offering the GGG vs. Canelo 4 title affair for $79.99 and the undercard is free to FITE subscribers. I wish HBO would offer to show all 8 fights scheduled fights on 9/16 but paying patrons will only see 4 fights and if you watch the event at Twin Peaks or any other venue; make sure someone sets the channel on time before the bell sounds for the first fight; sometimes the remote master is a round late. Here is the under card for the GGG/Canelo and remember unless you do to the internet, your fight plate will be half empty: Most PPV fight fans will catch 3 other fights with the headline bout with their PPV subscription unless they turn to the internet or do a bit of pirating, eh; here is the full scheduled under-card: Joseph Diaz vs. Rafael Rivera – 12 rounds, WBC featherweight eliminator contest-Diego De La Hoya vs. Randy Caballero, 10 rounds, junior featherweights- Ryan Martin vs. Francisco Rojo, 10 rounds, lightweights-Vergil Ortiz vs. Cesar Valenzuela 6 rounds Junior Welterweights, Marlen Esparza vs. Arcely Palacios 6 rounds flyweight, Serhi Bohachuk vs. TBA 4 rounds, Junior Middleweights and Nicola Adams vs. Alexandra Vlajk 4 rounds Bantamweight.
More Stuff: British super middleweight Callum Smith (22-0-17 knockouts) has challenged David Benavidez (19-0-17 knockouts) for his Super middleweight crown but the Englishman will have to wait. David has signed with Showtime for a return match with Ronald Gavril and all indications are that the bout will be held in Glendale, Arizona possibly in December; the date isn’t fixed.
Smith, no relation, chose to enter the world super series of boxing event and the 27 year old highly regarded contender is scheduled to fight 26 year old Erick Skoglund in Liverpool and the bout is shown on Sky Sports. Smith may regret his decision, but he chose his poison, so bottoms up..……9/16 is a big night for boxing; slick boxing Willie Monroe Jr will try to dethrone WBO world heavyweight champion Billy Joe Saunders in London on Saturday 9/16 and several of my colleagues think Monroe will leave the UK with the title. I disagree, Saunders punches harder and he is fighting at home……A word of advice to boxing fans who plan to watch Copper Gloves Boxing on Wednesday October 11 at the Arizona State Fair Grounds; free admission for anyone donating 5 cans of food at the entrance gate before 6 PM. Kids under 5 are free and C&W singer Billy Currington performs at the Coliseum; general admission seating for the concert is free…..Name from the past: Phoenix middleweight Fidel Hernandez is making a comeback after a ring absence of 15 years and 10 months. The 40 year old warrior is scheduled to fight a 6 rounder on the Iron Boy 42 card, Saturday October 14 at the Celebrity Theatre…..We suggest all boxers and their peeps check out the high risk vitamin supplements listed on the US Anti-Doping Agency’s web site; it can’t hurt but it might if you don’t!
Trevor McCumby Defense: When the Nevada Boxing Commission determined that Arizona Light Heavyweight Trevor McCumby (23-0-18 knockouts) had failed their mandatory drug test taken in 2016, he was fined and suspended and is forbidden to fight until May of 2018. Upon receiving the news from Bob Bennett, Executive Director of the Nevada Boxing Commission, I reached out to McCumby who turns 25 on September 22; no response.
When I was in Vegas covering the Benavidez title fight, I bumped into a member of McCumby’s team and he said his fighter was getting the shaft and I asked why and he told me he would get back to me about the incident. I told the man I would print a statement from McCumby if he would email me his response to the lengthy and costly suspension. Within minutes, he called Trevor and the hard punching pugilist agreed share his story.
I left Vegas, returned home and no email from Trevor, I did find a baby lizard in the bathroom sink. I trapped it and freed it outside. After waiting a day or two, I emailed Trevor and asked why I didn’t receive an email from him. He said his response was on social media and I asked him to send me a copy of his statement because I don’t have access to Facebook or anything remotely connected to social media.
He finally did and as promised here is his response in its entirety addressed to boxing fans: “First, I want to express my love and respect for the sport of boxing. I have never used performance enhancing drugs. I am a man of integrity and I absolutely do not condone the using illegal drugs of any kind. I have reason to believe that the legal supplement (Anavite Multivitamin) was the cause of my positive test result, 6 months after my fight, (Editor’s Note: Trevor is referring to his fight last November with Donovan George that was eventually declared a “no contest” after the test result was revealed) USAD had issued an advisory regarding contamination of the proposed supplement with anabolic agents.
I want to move forward and acknowledge the positive test result; however, I want to construe to the Nevada Athletic Commission and to the world that I did not have knowledge of a contaminated multivitamin, made by Gaspari Nutrition, containing anabolic agents. Moving forward I want to embrace this unfortunate circumstance and use it as a platform for our present and future athletes. Supplement awareness, as well as lab testing, should be much more extensive. This life experience will not be in vein and I want to change society views the consumption and all constituents associated with all supplements. I love the sport and would never want to disrespect it. I will come back even stronger”. Trevor McCumby.
Before McCumby’s official statement reached me, I was tipped off about the fighter’s claim that he was affected by a bad batch of vitamins, so I mentioned the defense to Nevada Athletic Director Bob Bennett, while I was in Vegas, who told me he was aware of the boxer’s assertion. The Director went on to state that McCumby wasn’t able to produce a receipt or lot # for the “alleged” contaminated vitamin product.
The issue appears to be settled. I forwarded Trevor’s statement to Bennett and I emailed Bennett’s comments to McCumby and neither party has responded to my request for comment.
During the course of my own independent investigation, I discovered that Gaspari Nutrition currently advertises at least two vitamin supplements on their website that are listed as high risk ( contain high levels of anabolic agents) by the USADA agency. One of the supplements is Anavite and it was place on the list in 2017 months after Mr. McCumby tested positive. I tried to contact Gaspari Nutrition through their website and the mechanism was down and I don’t want to read anything into the malfunction. I was told, by a credible source, that the company appealed the warning and that action bought them time until they were forced to accept the warning.
I did contact Danielle Eurich, a bright young woman assigned to the media relations department with the US Anti-Doping Agency and she forwarded two links containing information that might be a tool for Mr. Bennett to determine the outcome for cases subject to drug testing. The director is a very fair minded person. Thank you Danielle and glad to hear you’re a graduate of Arizona State University. I was aware of the two links; but, I will share with others. ABNN has contacted the FDA and we are waiting for answers to several submitted questions. As to do I believe Trevor’s story, it isn’t my job to believe or disbelieve. It does sound somewhat plausible, stay tuned.
Jose Benavidez Jr Update: If we are to believe rumors, WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn will make his first title defense in November against Englishman Gary Corcoran, Australian Bradley Skeete or American Jesse Vargas. The date bandied about is November 25th in Melbourne of Brisbane Australian. Duco Events will promote the event. It was thought that Horn would meet Manny Pacquiao in a promised return match but the proposed time was inconvenient for Senator Pacquiao who prefers to return to the ring, next year according to published reports.
We hear that former WBO interim super lightweight champion Jose Benavidez Jr (25-0-16 knockouts) will fight on the Horn card and that news ends speculation of retirement for the 25 year old Top Rank Protégé who was seriously wounded last year in a bizarre shooting incident, near the home of his girlfriend in Phoenix. We spoke while I was in Las Vegas to cover Brother David’s title fight.
People make a big mistake in comparing the two brothers. David talks less and rarely shares his opinions while Jose possesses a murky sense of humor and doesn’t hesitate to engage in conversation and he doesn’t sugar coat anything although I do think he is beginning to mellow, just a little.
Jose greeted me at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino with a hello and do you think I am David remark. I said no, because his younger brother doesn’t have his left arm covered with Tattoos and Jose is shorter. We didn’t discuss the shooting but he knew the subject was on my mind.
I asked him if he still had the Saber Cat that he was walking at the time of the shooting. Jose smiled and said the cat ran away. Witnessing a shooting isn’t a joy for a cat even if the feline is of the exotic breed. I went on tell him that people were talking about the company he kept and rumors that he liked to party and chase skirts. He bristled at the comment about his choice of lifestyle and told me point blank there was nothing wrong with his friends. As for the idea that he was a womanizer, he pulled out his phone and pulled up a picture of his girlfriend of several years. People talk he replied with a sneer and then he said none of the crap being spread was true.
We headed to a nearby gym (City Boxing Club) where he sparred for 4 rounds. I won’t sugar coat his performance, he was rusty and out of shape. However he was focused and his desire to return to ring prominence was obvious to me. The next day, I asked him how he felt and he said he was sore.
A friend of his confided in me that Jose will suffer pain all of his life and the injured knee will never regain the mobility he once had; but, his dad thinks his eldest son can becoming a winning fighter again with time. ABNN wishes the young man, the best. I have known Jose since he was 9-10 years old and the kid seems ready to make the greatest comeback in his life; it will take time!
Iron Boy 42: On October 14, Iron Boy Promotions is expected to present 10-12 fights at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix. Doors open at 5p.m. and first fight commences at 6 p.m. The show (Iron Boy #42) marks the return of undefeated super bantamweight Carlos Castro (18-0-7 knockouts). An impressive win might put Castro in a position to challenge the winner of the Diego De La Hoya vs. Randy Caballero NABF title fight on 9/16 at T Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Arizona fans are clamoring for Carlos to get a title shot and facing the winner would give the Arizona fight a chance to prove he belongs with the big boys.
Here is a list of other boxers on the card, matchups will be completed next week: Middleweight Fidel Hernandez (16-4-9 knockouts), super welterweight Eben Vargas (6-0-4 knockouts), Flyweight Adrian “Sharkey” Servin” Servin (5-0-2 knockouts), Heavyweight Ruben Rivera (6-3-1-4 knockouts), Super Bantamweight Edgar Ortiz (5-1-1-3 knockouts), Featherweight Jesus Ibarra (2-0-1 knockout) and local newcomers Jesus Garcia and Chris Scala will be making their professional debuts. Tickets are available on line and at the Celebrity Box-Office, enjoy; unfortunately I will be in Calgary, Alberta Canada….Until Next Time!