When Arizona boxing impresario Al Fenn opened The Phoenix Boys Center, aka Phoenix Boys & Girls Center, in 1965, it was to give kids a venue where they could go, free of charge, to vent their youthful frustrations and acquire life skills. Over the years , thousands of neighborhood children have taken advantage of the Center’s services. Most of the boys and girls who choose to workout at the Center go on to be productive members of the community; few became professional boxers.
One exception is Rafael Valenzuela (started boxing at age 8) who began using the Center regularly when he was roughly 13 years old. Rafael, under the supervision of his father Rafael Sr., worked out long and hard everyday. Soon, it became evident that the sport of boxing was more than a “stay in shape” hobby for the budding amateur who became a fan favorite because of his ring conquests and personal civility.
After graduating from Carl Hayden High School in Phoenix Arizona, Rafael turned professional in 2004 and his successful debut was followed by 7 more consecutive and impressive victories. He was on a roll and his instant success prompted some rabid boxing fans to mention his name in the same pugilistic stratosphere with Michael Carbajal and Louie Espinoza, two former World Boxing Champions from Arizona.
In 2006, the young featherweight fell from the ranks of the undefeated when Alejandro Lopez beat the Phoenician soundly 40-36, 40-36 and 39-37 in a four round contest . His fans thought the loss wan an aberration and they were ecstatic when Valenzuela won his next 5 fights to up his record to 13-1 after a 2009 victory over Jose Garcia Bernal in Houston, Texas. Rafael has fought twice since his Houston victory and both bouts were painful to watch. He was disqualified for delivering low blows in his 6 round encounter with Luis Angel Paneto , a verdict he vehemently takes issue with. In 2011, he was “outworked” by journeyman Robert Guillen who left the ring victorious by way of a Majority Decision. Boxing fans began to exit US Airways after the third round of the scheduled for six rounds bout…it wasn’t pretty by no stretch of the imagination.
Behind every personal crash is an explanation! According to friends, Rafael was simply exhausted from being a father, husband, boxer and he he wasn’t allowed to properly grieve after the passing of two beloved friends and mentors; Al Fenn and Art Aragon in 2009. He admits to being out of alignment for awhile ;but, says the downward spiral is over thanks to self respect and love from his family. It’s quite possible, the spirits of Al Fenn and Art Aragon intervened.
Today, he is back at the Phoenix Boys Center working out and hoping to resume his boxing career. The 126 lb featherweight looks fit for the first time in three years and he is happy to report that the feud with his production company (Fan Base) is over. According to Fan Base, Valenzuela refused several fight offers including one to headline an ESPN Card. Valenzuela says he was called and asked to fight at 140 lbs and he was given less than a week to prepare. Fan Base denies Rafael’s allegations. No definite word on when the soon to be 27 year old Rafael (B Day in Octore) will return to action but rumors indicate it could be in October or November.
Short Jabs: The pro/am boxing card scheduled for September 14 at Desert Diamond in Sahuarita Arizona (just outside of Tucson) has been cancelled. Promoter ( Sonoran Group) hopes to reschedule before Christmas 2012 . Date and location to be determined. Super Middleweight Adonis “Superman” Stevenson hopes to beat Don George this fall and fight for a world title but his checkered past is stopping some fans from buying tickets and supporting the Haitian born “Bad Boy.” Stevenson was convicted of pimping underage girls in Montreal Quebec, Canada 15 years ago and when the story of his past resurfaces last year, some fans decided to skip his fights. Adonis and his promoter tried to dismiss his bad behaviour on youth indiscretion ;but, the fact that he has never apologized publicly rubs women’s group the wrong way…..plus the fact that he routinely hangs out with some unsavory looking characters….image is important. At 35, it’s time to grow up. Special thanks to the reporters who broke the story last year.
Arizona Fight Schedule: MMA Show, Saturday , September 15, 2012. Promoter: Coalition of Combat , 7 PM, Phoenix Convention Center….MMA Show, September 29, 2012: “Rage in the Cage”, 8 PM, Gila River, Wild Horse Pass Casino.
Pro Boxing, Saturday, October 6, 2012 (Iron Boy Promotions) at Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona. 1st bell at 8 PM….MMA Show, Saturday October 20, 2012: “Rage in the Cage”, 8 PM , Gila River, Wildhorse Pass….MMA Show, October 27, 2012, Promoter Adrian Romo, 7 PM, Blue Water Resort/Casino, Parker Arizona….UNTIL NEXT TIME!
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