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Warne: BOXABALL, Benavidez vs. Gavril & More

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By Don Smith: Boxing Fans, Jordan Warne, lives in the UK and he has a passion for all sports especially boxing. We met at Madison Square Garden just outside of Chase Square; I was there to cover the Lomachenko-Rigondeaux event and Jordan was on hand to introduce and possibly take orders for his pet project “BOXABALL” a training aid he designed for boxers and fitness buffs.

Jordan didn’t have an access credential; so he was standing outside the Chase Square area where the press conference and weigh-in was held on consecutive days. Security was tight; so civilians (folks not working the event) had a difficult time approaching the athletes with the exception of heavyweight Bryant Jennings (21-2-12 knockouts) and Lightweight Teofimo Lopez (7-0-6 knockouts). Jennings was on the card and Lopez was originally on the card; but was scratched when his scheduled opponent backed out at the last minute. Both men mingled with the crowd while conducting interviews 30-45 feet outside of the restricted space.

When I exited Chase Square, I immediately spotted Bryant Jennings being interviewed and filmed by one of his sponsors, Spearmint Rhino, an adult entertainment provider with lovely branches across the United States including New York, Las Vegas and Connecticut.

Bryant and I had already finished our interview session inside Chase Square; so, I was chilling, it was cold, waiting for Bob Arum’s self-described home boy Teofimo Lopez, both men were born in New York.

I noticed Lopez was wearing a head band with a ping pong sized ball attached with a rubber band like string and he was attacking the ball as if he was fighting off a gang of ferocious Ninja’s. The young man doesn’t do anything halfhearted.

After a couple of minutes of watching Lopez workout, Jordan Warne approached me and asked who I was and I told him. The young man, in his early twenties, then proceeded to inform me that he was from the UK and had traveled a great distance to gain exposure and generate sales for his training tool: BOXABALL.

Jordan was very open in discussing his mission. He was on a shoestring budget and was staying at an (B&B lodging) outside of Manhattan. He was commuting by subway and although time consuming, he didn’t seem to mind. It was a serious commitment for him; he admitted to living off his bank overdraft just to make the business work.

So, far the dreamer has sold an estimated 4,100 BOXABALLS at $35.00 each. The product also comes with gloves at a slightly higher price and can be ordered through Amazon.com.

Jordan did say he modified the originals product a bit by substituting the tennis ball for a much smaller ball similar in size to a ping pong ball only harder.

According to Jordan, BOXABALL is great for training to improve eye co-ordination, hand speed and reflexes. It is a simple device that is easy to carry and consists of three components: head band, ball and elastic string that is attached to the head band.

Warne coaxed Lopez into trying his product and the 20 year old boxer gave it a polite thumbs up. A jubilant Jordan told me the affable lightweight could be the face of the product; I think it was wishful thinking on his part. He wanted to approach Lomachenko and Rigondeaux with his product; but, I doubt if he ever got past security personnel; who were a bit too abrasive for my taste, not all but the majority.

Lopez hung around for a few minutes and spoke about his qualifying for the 2016 USA Olympic team and then having the decision circumvented by the IABA who ordered another tournament which produced Carlos Balderas as America’s Lightweight representative in Rio. Carlos was ousted in the quarter finals, signed with Ringstar Sports boxing division and changed his first name to Karlos. The California fighter won his first two bouts before injuring a hand in a sparring session. He returned to the ring recently and upped his record to 3-0. It will be interesting to see if the meet in the future.

Lopez didn’t sit out the 2016 Olympics; instead he represented Honduras, his father’s homeland. After losing 3-0 in his lone Olympic bout, he moved on and signed with Top Rank and CEO Bob Arum who likes to sign former Olympians, thinks he has a future champion in the making.

Lopez, born in Brooklyn now resides in Florida. He is a very savvy young man who has turned his Olympic misfortune into a PR advantage and after 7 impressive wins; he is already thinking he can win a world title and to paraphrase a Texas adage; don’t mess with Brooklyn.

As for the Olympic snub, Lopez felt vindicated when the IABA fired a bunch of officials after an investigation ruled that the IABA was guilty of violating protocol and standing procedures.

As for winning a gold medal, Lopez told ABNN the medal isn’t made of gold and wouldn’t bring much at a local pawn shop. Don’t kid yourself; he would have worn it around his neck if he had won gold in Rio.

I like Lopez because he doesn’t pull punches with his answers. He didn’t hesitate to tell me he screwed up in in high school and turned to home school tutoring to earn his HS diploma. He cited hanging out with the wrong people as the determining factor in changing course. Teofimo’s next fight will take place in Corpus Christi Texas on the Ramirez/ Ahmed WBO super middleweight title fight. The 2/3 card is very intriguing. In addition to the headline match, Jerwin Ancajas will defend his IBF Junior Bantamweight title against the formidable Israel Gonzalez in a 12 round co-main event contest.

Heavyweight Andy Ruiz makes his boxing return on the card and we are awaiting the announcement of at least 2 more bouts to be added; one of them is a very welcome surprise.

As for BOXABALL, I see the product doing well as a novelty; I think kids of all ages will love it and success couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

In Memory: Arizona Boxing News & Notes is shocked to hear that on December 20, 2017, Dominguez April Dominguez passed away unexpectedly; she was 29 years of age. Dominique was a supportive member of the boxing community and stepmother of Arizona amateur boxer, Zeus Pinder.

In addition to Zeus, she is survived by her parents, Carlos Dominguez and Sandra Acevedo-fiancé Michael Pinder –children Destiny & Gabriel-3 other stepchildren: Lexi, Ariel and Conan-three siblings: Leslie, Carlos & Jesus-Grandmother Amada-two nephews: Robert & Anthony. She will be missed and our deepest sympathy and prayers goes out to the family and her many friends.

Benavidez-Gavril 2: Last year, it was easy to find stories heralding Super Middleweight David Benavidez as the boxing’s next superstar. Since a those early and multiple declarations of praise, the 21 year old pugilist won the WBC Super Middleweight Title with a split decision victory over Ronald Gavril from Romania.

After his hard fought victory, writers with sharp and poisonous pens began attacking the young warrior as perhaps not ready for prime time. Some scribes questioned his conditioning and power even though the strength of his punch is comparable to the bat smacks of the Yankees “Bash brothers”; Aaron Judge & Giancarlo Stanton.

It is possible that this about face look at the Arizona fighter is due to the castigating of his challenger, Ronald Gavril (18-2) who was described as a journeyman unworthy of a title shot. He fit the description in the early round but rallied to make the match close although I had Benavidez winning by a wider decision than the judges ruled.

When I was a journalism student in Texas, my professor told me to watch the audience when critiquing a theatrical or sports presentation. At the end of their skirmish, fight fans stood and cheered both men, a reward they deserved.

I understand the negative comments directed at Benavidez. In handicapping the fight, most writers predicting a knockout victory for Benavidez and when he couldn’t fulfill their prophecy they turned on him.

The two meet again on 2/17 at Mandalay Bay Center in Las Vegas and fans should see a different David Benavidez. He became ill 2-3 days before the fight and hindered his condition and stamina. To his credit, he rallied in the last 2 rounds to answer any questions about his heart to fight back after being thoroughly tested in the late rounds.

The rematch is ticketed as the Co-Main Event preceding the Main Event bout featuring former 2 time champion Danny Garcia (33-1) versus rugged Brandon Rios (34-3). Showtime will air the event and Mayweather Promotions in collaboration with PBC will promote the show. We hear that a top notch Arizona fighter may be added to the bill but we are waiting confirmation.

I talked to a spokesperson for Team Benavidez and David is well and ready to defend his title on 2/17. ABNN forwarded 15 questions to the Champ on Christmas Eve and hopefully the answers will appear in our next column; we thank his management for promising a reply. Members of his team predict a knockout and that might silence his critics.

Boxing News: USA Boxing Arizona Official Richard Soto and his lovely wife will celebrate their 44th Wedding Anniversary on Thursday, 12/28; ABNN wishes them many more years together…..Boxing coach Tom Garcia returns to his Central Boxing Gym duties next week after a few weeks off to recuperate from surgery….Arizona Boxer Ryan Riddell (6-0) is considering accepting an offer to fight for a youth title in late 2018. Obviously he has to keep winning and he has 2 tentative fights in the works…. Chris Sullivan (Ramos Boxing) is expected to make his professional debut 2/24 on the Iron Boy 43 card at the Celebrity Theatre. …ABNN is off to Vegas and we plan to visit a couple of boxing gyms with a story in mind….welterweight Eben Vargas has a tentative January fight date in Mexico, next moth….No info on the next Golden Boy card at Casino Del Sol; our guess is March….A local VFW may host a future amateur smoker or Muay Thai event; we need more boxing venues…. 2018 promises to be a great year for boxing; Canelo vs. GGG, Ortiz vs. Wilder, Groves vs. Eubanks, Ramirez vs. Ahmed and many more….. Happy New Year….Until Next Time.


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