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This Week In Boxing With Don Smith

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Boxing Fans,

  Contrary to published reports, former WBC world heavyweight champion Ken Norton didn't suffer a heart attack on September 29. He was admitted to a Las Vegas Hospital and treated for an infection related to the stroke he suffered on August 9, his birthday. Fans wanting to send best wishes to the Mr. Norton can dispatch an email to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . His hospital release date is unknown. Norton won his crown with a victory over Jimmy Young in 1977 after the WBC stripped Leon Spinks of his belt when he refused to fight Norton. He lost his belt to Larry Holmes (15 round split decision) in 1978. A Boxing Hall of Fame inductee, The former US Marine is perhaps best remembered for his trilogy of fights with Muhammad Ali. In their first encounter (1973) Norton broke Ali's jaw enroute to a split decision victory over "The Greatest"" in a NABF Heavyweight Title showdown. Years later, the Jacksonville. Illinois Native collaborated with 9 other Ali opponents in the making of "Facing Ali", a tribute film. It was released in 2009. As an actor, Ken has appeared in approximately 20-30 films and television shows including Drum, Mandingo, Knight Rider and A Team. Norton was offered the role of Apollo Creed in the Rocky Movie but declined.

  His boxing career (42-7-1) ended in 1981 with a TKO loss to Gerry Cooney; he knew it was time to say farewell to a sport that served him well. 5 years after his retirement, he was involved in a near fatal car crash resulting in a head injury that affected his speech and movement. Most accredited ring observers rate him as a member of the "Top Ten" all time greatest heavyweights club. Ironically, none of his 50 career fights were staged in Arizona but he has appeared at several autograph signing shows in the Grand Canyon State. Cousins' Aaron and Patrick Hill remember going to a Veterans Memorial Coliseum held autograph show in Phoenix featuring Ken Norton and Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini about 14-15 years ago. They were teenagers at the time and when the boys discovered a fee was required for an autograph; their hearts sunk. Fortunately, a veteran sports reporter ,covering the event, sensed their dilemma and he asked the champ if he could maybe pose with the young men,for a picture, after the show. Ken, wearing a white western styled hat, obliged and the boys must have thanked him at least six times before leaving with a neighbor who brought them to the event. Boxing devotees can find Ken Norton's autobiography...Believe: Journey From Jacksonville at select book stores or by ordering it online. Also, check your public library.

Irish Canadian Light Middleweight Janks Trotter ( seasonal resident of Arizona) took time off after his 1st round TKO loss to Adam Trupish in Calgary Alberta, Canada on January 13 of this year. He didn't want to continue his ring career unless he had the tools to become a champion. After months of soul searching, Trotter and his promoter (Robert Schmick) flew to Hollywood, California to gauge where the 28 year old was at in his career. After sparring several rounds (Wild Card Gym) with former middleweight Champion Peter Manfredo Jr. , celebrated trainer Freddie Roach gave him a thumbs up which led to the announcement that Trotter (7-1-1 w/7 knockouts) will fight on the Jesus "El Martillo" Gonzales (27-2) Vs. Albert Onolunose (20-1) card which will also feature American Paul "Ziggy" Romero, popular Canadian Light Welterweight Steve Claggett is a possibility and heavyweight newcomer Ed Jackson is a done deal. Gonzales will fight as a middleweight and a lighter "El Martillo" should display more firepower. The show is scheduled for 11/9 in Calgary, Alberta at Desperado's Night Club. For more details: Word is Trotter manhandled Manfredo Jr. during their intense session. No one outworks Janks Trotter. 

Short Jabs: Arizona's premier boxing announcer Ralph Velez was hanging out with former President Bill Clinto on 10/10 in Tempe , Arizona . The Prez was in town campaigning for Arizona US Senate Candidate Rich Carmona. Ralph . an aspiring cinematic actor, is ecstatic about his work in "Twenty Bucks" a 25 minute feature film and "The Journey" a behind the scene documentary that offers a glimpse into the world of a ring announcer. Both works are projected to be shown at prestigious Film Festivals in 2013. Velez, father of three, is currently talking to a film producer about a third project....stay tuned!... In a recent column, it was reported that Featherweight Paul "Ziggy" Romero would fight on the October 6 Iron Boy Card at the Celebrity Theatre and former IBF NABF Super Middleweight Champion Jesus "El Martillo" Gonzales was penciled in for a "Meet and Greet" appearance to help promote the show. Fan Base Promotions read the news and immediately reached their distinguished attorney (Augustine Jimenez) and directed him to file the necessary legal paper work against anyone who conspired to procure the services of their talent without Fan Base's written or oral consent. As a result of Fan Base's action, Gonzales withdrew from the "Meet and Greet" and Romero was allowed to fight o the card after a special contract was drawn up and signed. All of the accused "wrong doers" agreed to go through proper channels, next time.....Big pat on the back for boxers David Benavidez, Andrew "Hurricane" Hernandez and Jose Benavidez jr. for their volunteer work at Andre House, a local non profit organization that offers meals to people needing a helping hand. A Christmas show, featuring a visit from Santa, is tentatively scheduled on December 13 at the facility; sounds like fun..... Ladies Fight Night is on tap October 27 at the Stonehard Gym in Chandler Arizona. Event starts at 8 AM. It is an amateur show and veteran boxer Sharon Stone is one of the headliners. Call 480-503-2381 for further details..... The Annual Copper Gloves Tournament is scheduled for Wednesday-Thursday, October 24-25 at the Arizona State Fair. Admission ticket to the Fair is all you need to watch the show. The event is held in the Agriculture center. In Texas, it's called the cow an unscientific poll amongst Filipino fight fans in Phoenix, Arizona , Gabriel "Flash" Elorde was chosen as the greatest Filipino fighter ever. Manny Pacquaio came in second. 

Amateur Featherweight Franciso "Panchito" C DeVaca scored two wins on October 6 at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona . One will be added to his boxing resume while the other win will be forever etched in the hearts of those fortunate to witness his moving tribute to family members and friends who won and lost their battles with Breast Cancer. October is Breast Cancer awareness month and Panchito and his promoter, Iron Boy Promotions CEO Roberto Vargas, will participate in the "Race for the Cure" run on 10/14 commencing at 17th Avenue & Adams near the Arizona State Capitol Building. Other Iron Boy Fighters are expected to join Francisco and Panchito in the race. His boxing victory came at the expense of a younger and taller opponent ,Jose Herrera. DeVaca , wearing black, Green and Pink trunks, is a flashy fighter with explosive speed. His power is questionable but that component can be added with coaching and maturity. Herrera is a very explosive fighter and his talent level is very impressive. DeVaca turns pro next year and Jose isn't far behind. Both young men are excellent role models.
Two other 123 lb amateur bouts. on the Celebrity Card, didn't fare as well. Edgar Brito, spelled Baito on the bout sheet, met up with Andrew Duran and Brito didn't seem as crisp as in the past. He seemed confused by Duran who played a wait and seek approach until the final bell. Brito won the contest;but, it wasn't pretty. Edgar is expected to turn pro next year where he will meet more active opponents. He has the skills to be a solid pro. Aaron Amada and Efrain Morales gave a tour de force exhibition of counter punching in their bout. After awhile, it looked like a slow motion version of table tennis. Good kids but not very aggressive. Amada won the decision.

After watching 3 consecutive featherweight bouts , it was a relief to watch cruiser weights Keith Bush ,Chandler, Arizona, and Douglas Jackson, Mesa, Arizona, meet at center ring and fight in an imaginary 6 foot circle. Jackson fell out of the circe and down to the canvas at 59 seconds into the second round. At the weigh-In, Jackson, an MMA fighter, told reporters he was making his pro boxing debut so he could work on his striking power A word to Mr. Jackson:. practice, practice and practice. Bush's record stands at 1-0 while Jackson drops to 0-1. 

Phoenix Fan favorite Paul "Ziggy" Romero made his boxing debut on 9/2/2011 with a victory and then he was set for a fight in Canada;but, he waited too long to acquire a passport so he was bumped from the card. After the bump, he was ready to roll again until he was attacked by bees who were defending their hive. Ziggy was working with his father when the incident happened. He required medical attention and was out of commission for several weeks. Romeo was added to the Celebrity Card when undefeated Emilio "Milo Time" Garcia (6-01) allegedly tore his ALCS. Since the injury report, at least two people reportedly saw Garcia running which would rule out a ALCS tear...ask Mariano Rivera. Whatever the reason, Romero was on the card against fellow junior featherweight Jensen Ramirez from Tucson, Arizona. Romero came out smoking after the bell sounded and easily won the first two rounds with a stronger work ethic. In the third round Ramirez sensed he was behind and started throwing hooks and uppercuts that missed more times than they landed. Members of the press had Romeo handily ahead after three rounds. In the fourth and final round, Ramirez ramped up his game a bit but didn't have the hand or foot speed to catch the elusive Paul Romeo enough to be a game changer.. When Ring Announcer Ralph Velez stepped to the mike to announce the victor, It was a forgone conclusion that Romeo was the winner and his friends and fans were already screaming "Ziggy, Ziggy"! The judges disagreed and rendered a decision of Majority Draw. The scores were 39-37 for Romero and 38-38 and 38-38. Romeo (1-1) wants a rematch with Ramirez (2-1-2) and Iron Boy Promotions would be wise to oblige.

Carlos Castro, another talented Phoenix junior featherweight, took on Angel Gonzales in a bout that never developed any noticeable rhythm or tempo and after awhile, Castro seemed to lose interest and just did what was necessary to win. . Castro now sports a record of 2-0 and Gonzales remains winless at 0-3-1. 

The oddest pairing of the evening pitted Undefeated Phoenician Victor Castro (6-0) against Cory Muldrew (0-1) fighting out of Chandler, Arizona. Junior Middleweight Muldrew looked more like a track and field gymnast than a boxer. He bounced around the ring, squatting, bending and sometimes swooping under punches; reminiscent of Mildred Taylor and Pernell Whitaker. The fan picked up on his breakaway style and began to chant: "Hit him with your purse" in Spanish". ...very entertaining air boxing performance by Muldrew.. Castro remains undefeated at 7-0 and Muldrew record drops to 0-2.

In the 4 round co-main event Phoenix , newcomer Jesus Aguinaga (debut) upset fellow lightweight Thomas Valdez in a spirited contest . Jesus brought a small army of supporters with him to the venue and that number grew as he dominated Valdez with a relentless attack that never stopped.The judges scored it 39-37 in favor of Aguinaga (1-0) and the defeat dropped Valdez to 3-1. There was some talk about a rematch. If so, Valdez better bring his A game.

Super Featherweights Diamond Baier and Chris Lopez fought in the 4 round main event and Lopez won with a loudly booed Unanimous Decision. Baier knocked Lopez down in the second round and that big round should have earned him a draw at least;but, the judges didn't see it that way. Baier deserves a rematch. The win raised Lopez's record to 6-0 while Baier's record drops to 2-3-1.

In summation, it was a Value Meal for boxing fans but Iron Boy might consider dropping the exclusive 4 round format and adding a 6 round bout or two to the menu. Another suggestion: bring in out of state fighters and start a interstate rivalry. UNTIL NEXT TIME