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Arizona Boxing News & Notes with Don Smith - 17 Nov 2014

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The Meeting, Latest on Urbina Case, Stick a Fork

Boxing Fans,

I counted twenty two people in the audience (including myself) when I stepped into the monthly meeting hosted by the Arizona Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts Commission on November 10, 2014 in the Commission’s designated  conference room at 1110 West Washing, Phoenix, Arizona  The only physically absent commissioner was Joe Pennington who decided to join the conference via phone. I was surprised to see the commission’s legal mouthpiece (Mary Williams) there as well.The average attendance at the usually droll meetings number 6-10 depending on the number of items on the agenda which are normally confined to approving event dates, licenses, etc.

I can only imagine the catalyst for such a healthy turnout was persistent rumors that Michael Carbajal and his girlfriend publicist (Laura Hall) would make an appearance at the open meeting to voice complaints about Ben Miranda Boxing Promotions and the organization’s alleged less than ethical business conduct in presenting a boxing promotion. I was told a personal matter prevented the couple from attending the meeting. After the conference was over I was informed by a spokesperson for the commission that BMBP was dissolved.

Maritza Saenz, one of the founding members of Ben Miranda Boxing Promotions, spoke before I arrived. She asked the commission if she could address the commission and her request was granted. According to a communiqué I received she acknowledged the first BMBP card (at Phoenix Convention Center) was a disappointment; and it would get better in the future. Once I heard about her decision, I fired off an email to Greg Stiles, PIO and Legislative Liaison to the Arizona Department of Racing, who was gracious enough to respond to the following two sentence questionnaire: “Did the Ben Miranda Boxing Group decide to dissolve or did the commission tell the group it was hopeless to apply for a promoter’s license in Arizona at this time?  (Second question) Was the decision made behind closed doors due to pressure”?

Unfortunately, Mr. Stiles described my second question as an accusation (via email) and I beg to disagree; it was a question. I have no way of knowing if a meeting between the two entities ever took place and I certainly have no knowledge of what was said if a verbal exchange ever took place. I hold the gentleman (Mr. Stiles) in high esteem and thank him for responding to my question. Furthermore; I always think at least half a dozen times before making an accusation and I hope our difference of opinion on this simple matter will not alter the positive nature of our professional relationship. On the record, Mr. Stiles categorically denied any knowledge of any “behind-the door” pressure by the commission nor its’ Executive Director, Matthew Valenzuela. I believe him!

Maritza Saenz went on add that the corporate structure of Ben Miranda Promotions would be changing, and thus a name change was coming. The date of the next card wasn’t set.

Also, Ms. Saenz asked the commission since the name of the company was changing, should she apply for a new promoter’s license? The commission suggested that probably would be the best way. They also suggested to Ms. Saenz as well as to other promoters in the room, that the Arizona Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts Commission is a valuable resource to any promoter in Arizona, and to utilize this resource in the future. Ms. Saenz did not give a time frame as to when all of this was to occur. It is mandatory to renew all licenses annually.  Ms. Saenz was granted an opportunity to speak just prior to the start of the meeting. Her appearance was not mentioned in the agenda handed to me and other guests attending the event.

Boxing Trainer Danny Carbajal, Tamara Vasquez and Josephine Carbajal spoke during the public forum segment of the meeting and they blamed their negative image on a misinformation and a smear effort. Their performances weren’t very convincing and did nothing to erase negative perceptions of the trio. It wasn’t a trial but each one looked and acted defensive.   I thought I was watching an episode of the Soprano’s and once or twice I looked around to see if security personnel were on standby alert.

Ms. Vasquez spoke first. She is the controversial girlfriend of boxer Keenan Carbajal who was the star attraction for Ben Miranda Boxing Promotions until their recent decision to dissolve the corporation and reorganize. It isn’t clear if Carbajal (5-1-1) will be a part of the new team.

Ms. Vasquez was barely audible and quite nervous at the microphone. She touched on the December 13 incident that became a police report with her listed as the victim and Keenan as the bad guy. Since the incident she has recanted her story and has refused to testify against Mr. Keenan Carbajal. She told the assembled that she was drunk and the incident was blown out of proportion even though the crime report contradicts that assertion.She blamed her mother’s dislike of Keenan as part of the problem and after taking several pauses to compose herself, she returned to her seat next to Keenan’s mother (Josephine).

Ms. Vasquez’s comments were followed by a brief speech by Josephine Carbajal (Keenan’s mother) who told the audience she loved her son and scolded naysayers who questioned her son’s ability to fight and questioned the critic’s lack of patience with the 23 year old fighter. Some of his detractors have described his batch of past foes as “fish”. She, as any mother would, defended her son and walked back to her seat with her head held high. I don’t think any right minded public relations firm would have advised her to speak. In doing so, I think she gave ammunition to her critics.

Danny Carbajal was the last of the trio to speak, beauty before age. He looked like a tired old man in a grumpy mood. The veteran boxing trainer denied being the matchmaker for Ben Miranda Promotions. Under Arizona law, a convicted felon can train a fighter, but shall not undertake the duties of promoter or match maker. Several people told me that Mr. Carbajal served as more than a trainer for the organization which contradicts Danny’s description of his role.

Basically, Danny said he wasn’t a bad guy and his only role was to help Keenan Carbajal (grandson) become the best fighter he could be. He blamed his brother Michael Carbajal (5 times world champion) for his bad press and said everything between them was settled in court (Civil Lawsuit) and it was time to move on. He sounded very bitter and his tone and choice of language did nothing to elevate hisperceived “sinister” image. After he spoke, Carbajal walked towards the exit, paused to shake a hand or two and left with his 3 person entourage ahead of him. No one stopped him asked for an autograph.

Also taken up at the meeting was the issue of head trauma and how to protect fighters. Doctors Steven Erickson, Dr. Ken Ota and Dr. Ara Feinstein introduced a method of testing for potential head trauma before and after a fight at a cost of $25.00 for each test. The commission was interested in hearing more details and asked the Doctors to come back for the 8 meeting. In the meantime the commission will contact promoters and inquire about the feasibility and cost of such a plan. It may be a step in the right direction to prevent severe head trauma. All three doctors are against mandating mandatory MRI testing after every knockout loss. All meetings are open to the public.

Boxing&MMA News:  former boxer Artur Petrosyan, aka King Artur, has opened a boxing training gym (Camelback Boxing Gym) near 7th Street on Camelback Road in Phoenix. Artur (correct spelling) was 10-5-1 as a professional prize fighter before retiring in 2003. After talking-to him, Artur told me the gym uses boxing as a tool for fitness. The gym motto is: “Body under construction.”…..Iron Boy Promotions show date of December 20 at the Celebrity Theater has been approved by the Arizona Boxing Commission. Erick De Leon, Andy Ruiz and Trevor McCumby are on the show which is co-produced by Top Rank Boxing. Trevor is expected to fight Milton Nunez on the 12/20 card.….Rage In The Cage President & CEO Nathan Hyland will move his planned December 20 MMA show at the Prescott Valley Center to sometime in late January 2015. A lack of staff, Boxing/MMA commission, was cited as chief reason for moving request; same venue since Crank It Up and Iron Boy have shows planned for the December 20th date; so R.I.T.C. was odd man out…..Mr. Hyland was disappointed at the change of date, but he took like a true promoter and began the process of securing a new date. His motion to discuss medical and fee costs at the recent Boxing/MMA commission meeting was tabled to the next commission meeting on December 8th. …...Former World Boxing Champions Roy Jones Jr.  and Shane Mosley Sr.  are contemplating two separate shows during Super Bowl week in2015.  Mosley is expected to visit the Arizona Boxing / MMA office on November 17-18 to discuss venue and possible date. If all goes well, it could be a big boost for Arizonaboxing…no word on when Jones will make the trip? Boxing fans in the Valley should cross their fingers and hope the two possible events will happen….Phoenix resident and genuine nice guy Raymundo Beltran (29-6-1) takes on defending Champ Terence Crawford (24-0) in Omaha on November 29 for the WBO Lightweight Championship. A win by the Ray Man means a big party when he returns to Phoenix…. Top flight amateur Edward Ceballos (Fuentes Gym) is scheduled to fight on the pro/am Iron XVII card (11/15) at the Celebrity in Phoenix against a to be determined opponent. The kid may turn professional next year…Busted Knuckle Gym has moved in with Gents Boxing Club in Phoenix…big turnout at the Gene Lewis  Boxing Tournament; sorry organizers didn’t forward results…Phoenix heavyweight Chad Davis is working out at Central Boxing Gym in Phoenix…Joey “The Boxer” Ruelas hopes to fight in the spring…. Phoenix fighter Mario Esparza is looking for a fight, but no takers so far.

Green Part II:Mr. Michael Preston Green, Chairman of the Arizona Boxing / Mixed Martial Arts Commission underwent major heart surgery on Veterans Day (10/12) and his office told me the chairman is doing well and expects to return home in a day or two. As promised, Arizona Boxing News & Notes will print excerpts from a recent interview with the commissioner when space permits. . Here are two more questions with his responses. Once again, we wish him well in his recovery from heart surgery. Green’s term as a member of the Arizona Boxing/MMA Commission ends in January 2015 unless he is re-appointed by his good friend and newly elected Arizona Governor Doug Duce who defeated Democrat candidate Fred DuVal in the recent November election. Ducey becomes Governor of Arizona in January of 2015 

ABNN:What knowledge of the sport of boxing did you have when you were appointed by then Governor Fife Symington to the Arizona Boxing Commission in 1995?

MPG: As a youngster I boxed in the California Boys Clubs fights so I had a firm grounding in the “sweet Science.” Since my family members were avid fight fans, I was fortunate to watch nearly every bout on T.V. and attend innumerable professional and amateur bouts with them. You may not recall, but long  ago boxing was a big sport in colleges and I attended many of those  events. Thus, in 1995 I was very knowledgeable about boxing and could do a good job of judging fights and analyzing the matchmaking.  My weakness was MMA which I tried to rectify by watching every match I could on T.V. and attending live sparringand matches. Basically, my knowledge of the sport grew as the sport grew and evolved over the years. I feel equally competent now regulating boxing or MMA.

ABNN:What is the mandated code of conduct for a boxer? For example, if a boxer is arrested for assault and battery; does this alleged offense trigger an automatic suspension or does the current system allow the fighter to compete while he/she awaits judgment through the legal process?

MPG:One thing is very clear. For instance if someone provides false information, or withholds information on a license application, we can refuse a license or we can suspend or revoke a license if at the time he or she applied, we learn that information  was false or withheld. But even then, the boxer has the right to appeal the decision. The commission is not a substitute for a criminal court so there can be no blanket rule on an “alleged offense”. However, we do take very “objective” view of a situation as it arises, and when presented with the unbiased facts, make an informed decision based on those facts.

Latest on Urbina Case: 17 Year old American Olympic Boxing hopeful Alexis Urbina was robbed, beaten and murdered in his modest family home in South Phoenix (in September 0f  2013) and in November of 2013, Robert Chavez and Joseph Corrales were arrested and booked for murder, robbery and possession of stolen property. Next court date for both men is a pretrial conference hearing scheduled on 12/15 and a tentative trial date is set for end of January. More will be known after the hearing on 12/15 is concluded.  Both entered a plea of innocence. Keep reading this column for news on the case and trial.

Stick A Fork:Bernard Hopkins (55-7-2) is a legend and a boxing icon. Shortly after his lopsided loss to Sergey Kovalev (26-1 w/23 knockouts) 18 years his junior, I received several calls asking me if Hopkins aka “The Executioner” should continue fighting. The decision is up to him, of course, but I thought he should have hung up his gloves and gone fishing after his loss to Chad Dawson. If you read the headline, you know my opinion: stick a fork inhim, he is done; thank you Mr. Hopkins for all the good memories.Until Next Time!