Boxing thrives in Phoenix

4 04 2012

I feel confident I can say that boxing is kind of a big deal in Phoenix.

The two nights of pro fights I’ve attended have had good crowds. I’ve been to gyms and seen so many young kids in the ring or hitting the speed bag or working out. Local promoters work hard and those fighters who are barely beginning their pro careers already have followings.

There hasn’t been a real big name in the ring from here since Michael Carbajal, but Jose Benavidez Jr. looks to be on his way to stardom and there are plenty of young pros coming up.

But what really convinced me that boxing is in good standing here is when I humbly accepted  an invitation to attend an afternoon of amateur fights at the Victory Outreach Center in west Phoenix this past Saturday. I didn’t know what to expect going in, but the place was completely packed and people were being turned away at the door. Seriously. Every seat.

It was Arizona fighters vs. California fighters, for the most part. Some thirty or more fights featuring young punchers from ages 8 to 22.

Michael Carbajal was introduced before the first fight.

My friend Juan introduces Michael Carbajal to the crowd.

The first fight was between two girls, 11-year-olds, in the 90-pound weight class.

If you didn’t think they took boxing seriously, then you didn’t see Alexis, the kid from Phoenix, began sobbing when she reached her family in the seats. The judges ruled that her opponent had won the fight and she stood tall and left the ring, but the tears just flowed and her family wrapped her in warm embraces.

It almost made me tear up, too.

Two 8-year-old boys were next, and a guy who must have been related to the smaller one kept yelling “Go Pacquiao!” The smaller boy was clearly the fan favorite and fought hard, but the judges awarded the decision to the bigger kid, and there were a few boos.

I thought to myself that the future of boxing looks pretty bright here. So many clubs and young fighters.

The best fight I saw before having to duck out to go to work was the one between 110-pounders Edgar Ortiz and Abraham Zamora (below). There was a standing-eight count, a furious rally of punches in the third and final round and ultimately a stoppage of the fight. People were really into that one.

All in all, I was glad to be there. And impressed by the turnout and devotion to the sweet science.




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