By Norm Frauenheim
PHOENIX – It’s a line as old as a jab. It’s about going home. It says that you can’t. But Jose Benavidez, Jr., can look around and know that he can.
Benavidez was there a few days ago, surrounded by bags that Mike Tyson, Julio Cesar Chavez, Kostya Tszyu and Floyd Mayweather Jr. used to hit. Central Boxing’s rebuilt walls are covered by aging posters that recall fights involving Tyson, Chavez, Tszyu, Mayweather and others.
They’ve passed through, moved on. Tyson, Chavez and Tszyu will be inducted Sunday to the Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, N.Y. The old gym near Arizona’s state capitol has always been a good training stop. But never home, at least not until Benavidez (11-0, 10 KOs).
Benavidez grew up there, learned how to throw a long, quick jab there. One day, he might become its identity. A clue at his chances should begin to unfold Saturday night when he finally makes his home-state as a pro at Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino in Chandler, a Phoenix suburb, Saturday night, against well-traveled Corey Alarcon (14-17-1 4 KOs), a 33-year-old veteran from Denver who expects to be licensed Friday by the Arizona State Boxing Commission at a formal weigh-in.
“It’s been something like three years since I’ve even fought in my hometown and that’s when I was an amateur,’’ said Benavidez, who will appear in his first main event on a seven-fight card scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. (PST). “I’ve been wanting to do this for such a long time.’’
There was lot of attention on Benavidez after he first joined Top Rank as a 17-year-old junior-welterweight prospect. YouTube video of him sparring with Amir Kahn at famed trainer Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles got a lot of people talking. Then, there were quick and efficient stoppages in his first few fights. For a young talent, nothing goes awry in the early days.
But Benavidez has been at a plateau lately. First, he left the Wild Card amid internet speculation about problems between Benavidez trainer-and-dad, Jose Sr., and Roach, who is already busy with Manny Pacquiao, Khan and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr.
“No, that was just people talking, making stuff up,’’ Benavidez said. “I still talk to Freddie Roach. We’re friendly. The last time I talked to him he told me to use more lateral movement and throw more punches from angles.’’
Whatever happened at Roach’s Wild Card Gym, Benavidez and his dad came home, confronted by adjustments. There was some disappointment in February with Benavidez’ first fight that didn’t end with him winning by stoppage. Instead, he scored a six-round, unanimous decision over Fernando Rodriquez on Jan. 22.
In that frustration, however, there was renewed commitment. Benavidez, still only 19, changed his diet. No more soda pop.
“No more trouble making weight either,’’ said Benavidez, a junior-welterweight who has agreed to fight the 33-year-old Alarcon at 143-144 pounds in a bout scheduled for six rounds.
No more doubts about where he belongs either.
First, there is the task of establishing his Phoenix identity. His pro debut in his hometown was delayed by controversy over Arizona’s immigration legislation, SB 1070. A Phoenix card featuring Benavidez a year ago was canceled when TV-Azteca, a Mexican network, and beer sponsor Tecate told Top Rank that they didn’t want to do business in the state.
But Benavidez knew that eventually business would bring him home. In California, Nevada and Texas, Phoenix was always there in red stitching on the waistband of his trunks
“During the next couple of years, I see us fighting six, seven times a year with maybe two a year in Phoenix,’’ said Jose Sr., who foresees his son reaching his prime as a junior middleweight. “Coming home to fight is kind of a new stage in his career.’’
By Norm Frauenheim
PHOENIX – Phoenix junior-welterweight prospect Jose Benavidez Jr. learned Wednesday that he is scheduled to fight well-traveled Corey Alarcon Saturday night at Chandler’s Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino in Benavidez’ home-state debut as a pro.
“He’s the most experienced guy I’ve been in against, no doubt,’’ said the unbeaten Benavidez (11-0, 10 KOs), who turned 19 a few weeks ago.
The 33-year-old Alarcon (14-17-1, 4 KOs) still has to be licensed by the Arizona State Boxing Commission. The official weigh-in is scheduled for Friday at 5 p.m. (PST) at Native New Yorker in Westgate Center in Glendale.
Alarcon, who suffered stoppages in his last two bouts, isn’t new to Phoenix. He lost a second-round TKO to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in 2005 on a night when Chavez’ legendary dad saw his career end in a loss to Nebraska car salesman Grover Wiley at U.S. Airways Center.
Alarcon’s experience also includes a 2001 loss to Rocky Juarez and a 2005 victory by disqualification over Victor Ortiz, who was declared the loser after he knocked down Alarcon for a second time while the referee was trying to separate them.
Benavidez, considered the best Arizona prospect since Hall of Famer Michael Carbajal and super-middleweight Jesus Gonzales, has been anxious to fight at home since Top Rank signed him as a 17-year-old. His professional debut in Arizona was canceled a year ago because of controversy over the state’s immigration legislation, SB1070.
Benavidez and Alarcon have agreed to fight at 143-144 pounds in a six-round main event on a seven-fight card scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. (PST), according to Gerry Truax of Showdown Promotions.
Photo by Chris Farina / Top Rank
Benavidez scheduled for another hometown debut a year after Arizona’s immigration controversy forced him to stay away
By Norm Frauenheim
PHOENIX –About a year after controversy over immigration legislation forced the cancellation of Jose Benavidez Jr.’s hometown debut as a pro, the Arizona prospect has another chance to fight in his home state for the first time on June 11 at Wild Horse Pass at Gila River in suburban Chandler.
Gerry Truax of Showdown Promotions requested approval of the date Monday at a meeting of the Arizona State Boxing Commission for a card scheduled to feature Benavidez (10-0, 9 KOs), a Top Rank fighter who also is scheduled for a bout on the Manny Pacquiao-Shane Mosley undercard on May 7 at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand.
Top Rank matchmaker Bruce Trampler said a couple of months ago that he had the go-ahead to seek a site and date for Benavidez to fight in Arizona. Before the immigration controversy forced him to stay on the road, Benavidez’ homecoming was scheduled for last July 17, also at Wild Horse and also on a card promoted by Showdown, which represents Antonio Margarito.
“We’ve been waiting for a long, long time to fight,’’ said father-and-trainer Jose Benavidez, Sr., whose 18-year-old son is considered Arizona’s best prospect since Jesus Gonzales and Hall of Famer Michael Carbajal. “I can’t tell you how happy we are at this opportunity. It’s really important, I think, to build a hometown identity.
“My son has been fighting in Las Vegas and Texas and just about everywhere but here at home.
Everywhere we go, everybody knows him, more than they know him here. It’s time to come home.’’
Showdown’s request for Commission approval of the June 11 date coincided with a federal appeal court’s refusal to lift a stay on the toughest parts of the controversial Arizona law, SB1070. The 9th U.S. Court in San Francisco on Monday rejected Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s appeal. Among other things, SB1070 would require police to check on an immigrant’s legal status during routine traffic stops.
Benavidez’ homecoming last July was canceled when Top Rank’s Bob Arum said he was told by TV Azteca and beer sponsor Tecate that they did not want to do business in Arizona. At the height of the controversy, World Boxing Council chief Jose Sulaiman issued a directive from his Mexico City office in which he banned Mexican fighters from bouts in Arizona. When two Mexicans fought on a Don Chargin-promoted card in Tucson last August, Sulaiman threatened to suspend both in their home country.
While watching Benavidez spar in February, Trampler said he was given clearance to schedule a hometown fight for the Phoenix prospect because the controversy had begun to subside.
Benavidez, who has been fighting as a junior-welterweight, has been training in Phoenix for the last several months after leaving trainer Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles. He signed as a 17-year-old, whose potential for stardom began to spread far and fast through YouTube clips of his sparring sessions with Amir Khan.
In other business heard by the Arizona commission Monday, Fanbase Promotions requested approval of a Phoenix card at Celebrity Theatre, featuring Gonzales (26-1, 14 KOs) against Henry Buchanan (20-2, 13 KOs) of Capitol Heights, Md., in a super-middleweight bout at Celebrity Theatre. Gonzales (24-20-7, 4 KOs) made his hometown comeback on March 18 with a unanimous decision over Dhafir Smith (24-20-7, 4 KOs) of Philadelphia, also at Celebrity.