How the careers of Arizona’s top pro boxers are getting ready for Vegas
Whatever happens Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas, Arizona’s top boxers will have their moment in the spotlight.
And as it happens, Showtime’s “Benavidez vs. Plant” pay-per-view event brings together two prominent boxing families with deep Arizona roots: The Benavidez family of Phoenix, David Benavidez vs. Caleb Plant in the main event and in training. by his father José; and the Ramos family of Casa Grande, with two fighters on the main card trained by the father of one of them, Jesus Ramos.
David Benavidez is happy to share the night with his good friends down south, and a win for all three could change the course of their careers.
Jesús Alejandro “Mono” Ramos is in the main event, and his uncle, Abel, a veteran fighter, is in his first fight in over a year. The two have fought in the big arenas of Vegas before.
“It’s going to be awesome. There’s going to be a lot of Arizona fans, a lot of them. Imagine. Three fights, my son, my brother and David,” said elder Jesús Ramos, speaking in Spanish and English. Outside the Central Boxing Gym in Phoenix, where David, his father and José Benavidez Jr. The older brother was brought up and trained as a young man.
“It’s going to be a great night of boxing,” Ramos said, smiling proudly when asked about his son and brother. “I’m so proud of how their careers have gone and the level they’ve achieved with all their hard work.”
The Benavidez family
David Benavidez grew up around boxing, watching his older brother rise in the sport. About eight years ago at what is now the Footprint Center, José Jr. fought in the main event, winning a defense of his WBA interim world super lightweight title against the son of a Mexican legend, Jorge Paez Jr.
The cable-televised event became a showcase for Arizona fighters who would go on to succeed in boxing. David Benavidez, then only 18 years old, won his fight by technical knockout; the other winners were junior Carlos Castro and Abel Ramos of Phoenix.
David Benavidez improved to 9-0 that night. But he was already training for a professional career, at the age of 15 and 16 he played with the champions and at the age of 16 in Mexico.
Now, with two WBC World Middleweight titles and both stripped due to positive drug tests and weight gain, Benavidez is climbing back to the top. If he defeats Plant, a fight with one of the sport’s all-time greats, Canelo Alvarez, could come next year.
Soon to headline his first pay-per-view event, Benavidez — undefeated 26-0, a husband and father and now living in the Seattle area — is at a point in life and financial security where his family can turn the sport around. . And he plans to stay in boxing for a long time.
“My dad has always trained fighters on the side. And, you know, that’s the way my dad gives it,” Benavidez said. “We’ve brought in a lot of fighters that don’t have the ability to pay for training or pay for spots, and we kind of like bringing them in. I feel like everything you do is good karma that comes back to you.”
He has never asked anyone to pay for his help, remembering the days when he, his father and his brother were struggling.
“In boxing, these trainings cost a lot of money. And sometimes you see a very talented fighter, but he doesn’t have the right team behind him and that’s what we do here,” said Benavidez. “We give them the resources, we give them everything they need to be the best they can be, and I feel like it’s all come back to me, you know, that good karma has come back to me, so. and it makes me really happy.”
Related:Why the Phoenix-born champion boxer now calls Seattle home
José Jr. also has a lot to be thankful for. He was 24 years old and seemingly on his way to big things in boxing when, one night in August 2016, he was shot in the leg by an unknown gunman while walking his pets in the dark near his home in Phoenix.
Doctors told him he would never fight again.
But that injury forced José Jr. out of boxing for a year and a half, and some would say he hasn’t been the same fighter since. Benavidez won twice in 2018 against his best opponent ever, Terence Crawford, before stepping into the ring, and Crawford’s 12th round loss to retain the WBO welterweight belt was the first loss of Benavidez’s career.
Thanks to COVID and a desire to spend more time with the family he raised, it was more than three years before Benavidez stepped back into the ring. It was a disappointing draw as a main eventer, with David main eventing in November 2021, but José Jr. proved he could come back from a long layoff.
On July 30 of last year, José Jr. lost to 34-year-old former two-division champion Danny Garcia in Brooklyn. But there is no clear indication, at least publicly, that he plans to quit boxing altogether.
Instead, José Jr. found a very interesting new gig. He had a significant supporting role with plenty of spoken lines in this year’s “Creed 3,” the latest film in the iconic “Rocky” series, playing a fighter named Felix Chavez.
It was the perfect role for José Jr., who has a swagger and can steal the show at press conferences. He didn’t have to change his boxing persona to act as an actor.
Read more:Recent live events, David Benavidez’s show-boxing boom is growing in Arizona
The Ramos family
Anyone who has seen Jesús Ramos fight can see that the 22-year-old has a lot of potential at super welterweight. He is 19-0 with 15 knockouts and until his last fight last May, his opponents were dominant most of the time.
Ramos still won by unanimous decision in that fight over 10 rounds against Luke Santa Maria. He’s become a top contender in the flyweight division, and Saturday’s win over another young up-and-comer in the sport, Joey Spencer, moves him closer to a title shot.
If David Benavidez is the biggest name in boxing in Arizona right now, Ramos could be the state’s next star if he keeps winning and eventually wins one or more major belts. David Benavidez was a world champion at 22, the same age as Ramos is now, but Ramos is taking his time and getting title shots through impressive wins over quality opponents.
“Jesus is very close to that top level. He has good skills, he is very strong and he loves boxing. I really think he is very close to the title,” said his father.
Abel Ramos, 31, is a welterweight whose career seems to have reached a crossroads. He took on undefeated Cody Crowley on Saturday, continuing to not forget the best fighters in his class.
Ramos has lost two of his last three fights, the last of which came with a controversial decision in favor of Santa Maria, who Abel fought in Las Vegas in February 2022.
Abel’s training with his nephew at Casa Grande — the family has trained elsewhere but has always used the Pinal County town as a base — has been motivation for both. And Ramos has a younger relative who is heading towards a professional boxing career.
“We give each other advice, but Jesus is a hard-working kid. It doesn’t take much to get the better of him,” said Abel. “The key to this fight is going to be using all the experience I have and all the tricks I know. I expect an exciting fight.
“I’ve fought everybody from the start. I’ve got a lot of rounds inside the ring and I’ve got to make sure I use everything I know in this fight.”
The family has a lot of hometown pride. Jesus said he and his uncle want to “put Casa Grande on the map” and help other fighters build their careers.
“Abel is training very hard and is very motivated. It’s a great match for him, but it’s also a temporary battle,” said his coach and older brother. “I think it’s a perfect clash of styles for Abel. He has to win.”