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Ramirez/Ahmed, USA Boxing Plans & Mail Bag

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By Don Smith: Boxing Fans, 2017 has been a busy and profitable year for Top Rank Boxing. Their decision to join ranks with ESPN & Deportes has scored well with boxing fans and CEO Bob Arum and Top Rank have 2 more ESPN/Deportes televised championship bouts before the year ends. On December 9, live from New York’s Madison Square Garden, Vasyl Lomachenko tangles with Guillermo Rigondeaux in a 12 round battle for Lomachenko’s WBO Junior Lightweight title. The last 2017 ESPN televised Top Rank show is set for December 13 when WBO world welterweight champion Jeff “The Hornet” Horn will defend his title against top ten contender Gary “Hell raiser” Corcoran in Brisbane, Australia.

Top Rank will continue their association with ESPN and boxing fans will be thrilled to read and her that Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez (36-0-24 knockouts) will defend his world title against Ghana’s Habib “Wild Hurricane” Ahmed (22-017 knockouts). The fight will take place on Saturday 2/3, 2018 at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi Texas. Top Rank hasn’t officially disclosed the co-main event, but several sources have indicated that Ray Beltran is the designated co-main versus a yet to be named opponent.

Ramirez is on the verge of becoming a superstar after his hard victory over Jesse Hart. Ahmed, known for his power, has never fought out of Ghana; but, he is ranked in the top 5 of super middleweight fighters. Associate promoter is Zapari Boxing Promotions and tickets are priced at $27.00, 42.00, 62.00, 102.00 and 152.00. Tickets are available online at and at the venue box-office.

In our opinion, the Super Middleweight division is the best division in boxing and the winner will be in line for a big payday against the tantalizing likes of Benavidez, Groves, Andre Dirrell, Chris Eubanks Jr., Tyron Zeuge or the winner of the James Degale /Caleb Truax 12/9 battle. Ramirez vs. Ahmed is a good boxing start for 2018.

USA Boxing: John Brown, USA Boxing President, attended the 42nd Gene Lewis Invitational Tournament in Mesa, Arizona and the legendary boxing coach and official brought 8 amateur boxers with him from the Turner Boxing Academy (Kansas City. Kansas). Two members of his team, Marcus Davidson and Izak Carlos bowed out of the event due to injury and did not compete. Overall, Turner Boxing Academy won the team championship and Jose Macias was selected as outstanding boxer after 3 impressive wins. Other TBA boxers joining Jose in the winner’s circle were Jorge Carlos, Marcell Davidson, Marco Romero and Eddie Robles.

Mr. Brown is a very knowledgeable and distinguished boxing figure. He coached former WBO World Heavyweight Champion Tommy Morrison and has played a role in the successful amateur career of heavyweight Cam F. Awesome, a multi-time national champion and USA Boxing National Team veteran. Cam is in Poland and getting paid for sparring while getting in shape to defend his USA Boxing heavyweight # 1 position at the National Championships held in Salt Lake City, Utah during the first week of December.

I asked the straight talking official to share his experience in Arizona and he filed the following report to ABNN: Mr. Smith, nice talking to you earlier this evening and thank you for writing about amateur boxing. This was a reunion of sorts for me as my company; Ringside, Inc. was the original sponsor of this tournament thirty years ago. I sold the company 5 years ago to concentrate on coaching.
The tournament drew more boxers (estimated 400)) than usual causing some administrative complications that can be fixed next year with the assistance of USA Boxing. We are dedicated to giving our members better customer service and making this tournament more efficient and more enjoyable for all. Gene Lewis Invitational is a great traditional tournament with large enthusiastic crowds, dedicated officials and warrior participants.

I talked to several coaches (names withheld) who attended and they were very critical of the event citing long lines, mismatches and late arrival of the working physicians as 3 of the more serious problems with the event. I also talked to tournament director Joshua Benjamin who admitted that mistakes were made and said he would work to correct registration flaws and provide better customer service.

Josh lives and loves boxing and I believe he will study the complaints and find a solution. Josh does plan to implement a computer program that will alleviate some of the problems. Sometimes when you try to accommodate everybody, you shortchange others and chaos becomes the end result. We learn from our mistakes.

Due to administrative problems, I wasn’t able to gain access to a winners list for publication. However a handful of gyms called and reported the outcome of their fighters; so here is a list of their champions: F-1 Boxing, Sebastian Mitry 75 lbs. 9-10 year old category winner and named “Outstanding boxer” in his division, Esteban Inzunza 95 lbs. 13-14 years old category winner, Toby Wooten Jr. 132 lbs. 13-14 years old category winner; congratulations to the 3 winners from F-1 Boxing. Mendoza Boxing produced 5 winners: Marcos Silva, Oscar Lopez, Melissa Ramos, Paul Flores and Avilena (last name unknown). Other Arizona winning boxers included: Jose Vargas-Hammer Boxing-Jesus Ramos-Ramos Boxing-Sebastian Diaz-Fuentes Boxing –Jesus Omedo & Degan Minks- Sonny’s Gym and second place winner Eliaz Garcia 2nd place from Sonny’s, Adolfo Ramos-Central Boxing. Our email address is

I asked Mr. Brown if USA Boxing had any special plans for 2018 and he said he could go on and on and I asked him to send a list and he did. (1) start a new USAB Alumni Association (2) Start USA Boxing equipment company (3)All tournaments directed at top flight customer service for our members (4) New female recruitment program (5)Recruitment of 1,000 new officials (6) More camps for our younger boxers (7) More international competition starting with USA vs. Ireland St. Patty’s weekend in Boston.

Boxing News: Arizona super bantamweight Paul Romero is taking time off from boxing to take care of his father who is spending time in an undisclosed hospital for a serious medical condition. Members of the Arizona boxing community and friends of the family staged a fund raising dinner in Avondale, Arizona recently to aid the family in their attempt to cover medical and personal expenses incurred as a result of the hospitalization. We extend our best wishes to Paul, his family and especially his father…….Muay Thai Matchmaker Peter McKinn will serve as site co-coordinator for promoter Sterling McPherson’s next boxing show at the Westgate Hotel in Las Vegas on December 29 (subject to change). McKinn is also working on his 3rd Muay Thai show and he tells ABNN it will be held at the Legends Event Center in Phoenix on Camelback; stay tuned for updates. The fiery boxing/Muay Thai figure is battling the Arizona Boxing/MMA Commission over what he fears is the commission’s attempt to take over jurisdiction of Muay Thai and Kick Boxing without the authorization to do so. Peter thinks there are existing commissions governing the two amateur sports and he wants the commission to butt out. There could be fireworks at the November 29th scheduled monthly meeting in what may or may not be a civil assembly. The IKF and World Muay Thai Alliance have expressed opposition to anything resembling a takeover by the Arizona Boxing/MMA Commission. I hope both sides keep it cool and beneficial……..Central Boxing Gym manager Tom Garcia spent time in a Phoenix hospital after working three exhausting days at the 42nd Annual Gene Lewis Invitational Boxing Tournament held in Mesa, Arizona over the weekend. We wish him a speedy recovery. I know tournament director Joshua Benjamin appreciates the immeasurable efforts contributed by Tom and hundreds of committed volunteers who made the event happen. Tom was seen hobbling at the tournament but never complained. He underwent surgery two days later at a Phoenix hospital and we wish him the best; he is a boxing treasure and greatly respected in the Arizona Boxing Community.

More News: WBC super-middleweight champion David Benavidez (19-0-17 knockouts) is still waiting for his much anticipated rematch with Romanian Ronald Gavril (18-2-14 knockouts). An inside source tells ABNN that the event could happen in California or Nevada on January 27. Undefeated brother Jose “Merciless” Benavidez (25-0-16 knockouts) is scheduled to make his return to the ring on December 13 on the undercard of the Horn/Corcoran WBO World Welterweight title fight in Australia. I talked to father/ trainer Jose Sr and reminded him that outside travelers to the Down Under Country require a passport and a Visa before they set foot in the world’s 6th largest country by area. Remember sports fans, I took the trip to watch Manny Pacquiao & Jeff Horn do battle earlier this year and I scrambled to get a last minute Visa. ABNN will miss both fights, unfortunately, due to previous commitments in the Big Apple (New York City) (12/6-10) and the Windy City (Chicago) 1/24-1/27)….Phoenix featherweight mentions on social media that he has an upcoming title fight; but, we can’t confirm details. The 26 year old posts a record of 13-2-1 and he was knocked out once by Wilberth Lopez (20-8) of Tucson in his debut fight. If he does fight for a title, we suspect it will be for a minor belt possibly in Mexico or Phoenix at a medium sized venue. Scuttle butt suggests it might happen in December…..most scribes are picking Joshua over Wilder if the two heavyweight champs decide to meet; I pick the American over the Brit-more power! Joshua was mediocre his last bout; Wilder made the highlight reel in his last performance…..Any conversation about who was the best fighter in 2017 should include Errol Spence Jr., Mikey Garcia and the winner of the Lomachenko/Rigondeaux 12/9 fight at Madison Square Garden; fans may disagree!

Mail Bag: On Wednesday, November 29 at 10:00 a.m. the Arizona Boxing/MMA commission will hold its regular monthly meeting at 1110 W. Washington Street, Phoenix, Arizona. On the agenda is the special issue of proposed rule changes and the public is encouraged to participate in the discussion. ABNN sent Caroline Oppleman, Gaming Department PIO, a query to determine the capacity of the scheduled meeting room and if there was wiggle room in extending the time allotted in discussing the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking if the members of the public desired more time to discuss changes applicable to their livelihood in boxing. Here is her response: ABNN, “Based on our experience, we expect the two hour meeting time frame planned for the Arizona Boxing & MMA Commission meeting scheduled for November 29, 2017, from 10:a.m. to noon, to be sufficient to cover all agenda items, including receiving verbal comments regarding the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. As you know, the meeting is planned to occur at 1110 W. Washington Street, Phoenix, Arizona 85007, in Suite 250. This meeting room accommodates 64 people. If determined necessary, the meeting duration may be extended. I hope this answers your questions”…..Caroline Oppleman (PIO) Arizona Gaming Department. The close of record is 5:00 p.m. on November 29, 2017, for written comments and the end of the oral proceeding for verbal comments. Written comments should be directed to Aiden Fleming,

My take on her statement is why the rush. Ms. Oppleman, new to her position, isn’t aware of the poor relationship between the Arizona Boxing/MMA commission and members of working press. Local journalists gave up communicating the Commission during the Montano regime and the agency has never tried, in my opinion, to establish an equal working relationship with those few writers who cover boxing inside and outside of the ring. Forgetting past performance isn’t easy, phone calls unanswered, monthly meetings cancelled without notice, poor customer service and a “don’t care” attitude that rubs most members of Arizona Boxing Industry and out of state promoters the wrong way. I don’t blame Caroline but she is the 5th person to serve as PIO in the last 2 years. I share this knowledge because change is overdue and a dialogue needs to be opened. I can’t count the times, commission members have sprinted out of a meeting to avoid questions or so it seemed.

The latest spat with the commission is over their decision to take almost a year to tinker with the rules governing boxing and MMA and then give the boxing community a mere 30 days to read and respond to a 39 page document that lacks input from local boxing people who feel they were ignored. I feel as if they (commission members) exercise some sort of diplomatic immunity when approached with questions. Now that I have said it, I can’t take it back!

As for the conference room setting and 2 hour midday meeting on 11/29.a lot of people will be working and won’t be able to attend. PTA meetings are scheduled during evening hours so working parents can attend. And the room size appears to be too small when you consider the number of commission representatives normally present and people who were scheduled to appear at the meeting before the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking came to fruition. When I do the math, I see a maximum of 40-44 people, from the Arizona Boxing community, able to gain access to a meeting of great importance. Don’t blame me, I didn’t have a hand or finger in the decision making process…. Ryan Riddell will fight in Rocky Point on December 2 as a member of the Fight Hard Team….Journalistic pal Fernando Paramo sent word that bantamweight sensation Joseph Landeros (11-0-11 knockouts) is fighting in Mexico on 12/8. The bout can be seen in the USA on LATV on a delayed basis, check your cable carrier for time and channel. Fernando also wantsall boxers to know that Tijuana boxing is in crisis; results are not posted on BoxRec and all foreign boxers take a risk of fighting someone with 2-3 names and a false win and loss record. Mexico is investigating and we are posting this alert for the safety of all fighters.

More Mail: ABNN was waiting for details on Sonny’s 2nd Annual Master’s tournament until tournament co-coordinator Geoff Ronning forwarded the following information: so far, the event has 72 competing registrants. Weigh-In at 7am-9am (Friday, 11/17) and 1st bout begins at 5pm. On Saturday (11/18) fight action begins at noon. Ticket price is $15.00 per person; we don’t know if there is a reduced price for children, senior citizens or military veterans. The venue is located at Sonny’s Boxing Gym, 108 East Western Avenue in Goodyear, Arizona 85338. We have no idea of the capacity of the venue; therefore, contact Sonny at 623-806-2421 for further information.

Melvin Thompson, Goodyear, Arizona, wants to know if the Arizona Boxing/MMA Commission is making headway in developing a baseline concussion program and policy. Members of the commission have been wrestling with the issue but slow to announce anything meaningful. In the meantime, Bob Ferguson has introduced Skull Tec Gel Cap designed to absorb punches to the head and reduce the impact of the blows to the head. He had his invention on display at the Casino Del Sol recently and the product is endorsed by boxing legend Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions. The retail price is $49.95 and Mr. Ferguson told me he is giving schools and gyms a discount when a certain quantity if bought. He can be reached at 520-840-1961 and make sure you test the product before purchase…..Chris Sullivan (Ramos Boxing) loss at the Gene Lewis Invitational may deter his decision to turn professional….. Until Next Time!

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