It seems like only yesterday when Phoenix's own Michael Carbajal went out on top, scoring a come-from-behind TKO over Jorge Arce on July 31, 1999, in Tijuana, Mexico to win the WBO Light Flyweight title at age 31.â†µ
And it seemed like only a matter of time before my path would cross with his, being that we're in the same town, Phoenix, and Carbajal runs the Ninth Street Boxing Gym, which had some young fighters take part in the Arizona vs. California amateur boxing event Saturday.
The Victory Outreach Center in west Phoenix was packed with fighters ages 8 to 22, with some 30 fights that took the action into the evening. I went and didn't expect to see "Manitas de Piedra" there, but indeed he was.â†µ
Carbajal is in his mid-40s now, but his likeness is unmistakable. It's good to see him back in the community helping youngsters and inspiring them. We're talking about an Olympic silver medalist and a world champ.â†µ
Saturday's event was pretty amazing. Very professionally organized with an announcer, large screens, judges, referees and a lot of folks who are big in the fight game in this town. A very positive atmosphere for sure.â†µ
The future of boxing in Phoenix looks like it's in good hands.