A large crowd was there to watch fellow Phoenix native David Benavidez break down Caleb Plant and keep his WBC super middleweight title belt. Before that, Arizona fight fans were treated to another win for undefeated super welterweight Jesus Ramos, and a gritty performance from Abel Ramos, also from Casa Grande.
"Everyone was on their feet, everyone was cheering, you know? I was looking around. the atmosphere was crazy," the 19-year-old Garcia told The Republic. "And you know, I thought to myself 'I'm almost there.' My next fight I'm opening for the pay-per-view. And you know, it's inspiring."
Indeed Garcia is fast-tracking his way to serious contention in his weight class. He's 14-0, signed by Premier Boxing Champions (which also promotes Benavidez and Ramos fights) and after only a month and a half since his most recent bout, he's in the opening fight of the Gervonta Davis-Ryan Garcia card on April 22 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Garcia faces Mexico's Kevin Salgado.
"It's what I kind of expected, you know, wanting to fight for a world title by the time I'm 21 years old," Garcia said. "But just got to stick to the game plan and stay focused."
—Jose M. Romero
Cavinder twins forgo last college season
Former Gilbert High School basketball twins Haley and Hanna Cavinder announced they are forgoing their fifth year college basketball season and won't be back playing at Miami.
The 22-year-olds, who started their careers at Fresno State, paved the way in the NIL with mega deals. They have a massive following on TikTok.
Haley helped Miami reach the NCAA Women's Tournament before losing to eventual champion LSU in a regional final. She averaged 12.2 points and 4.9 rebounds this season. Hanna averaged 3.8 points in 16 minutes a game off the bench.
U.S. Soccer reveals roster for Mexico game in Glendale
The U.S. national men's soccer team roster for next Wednesday's Allstate Continental Clasico friendly against Mexico was revealed Wednesday, and there is, as expected, a large presence of Major League Soccer-based players called in.
The training camp roster features 10 players who represented the U.S. at the recent FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Nine players come into camp with fewer than five national team appearances, including four players age-eligible for next summer’s Olympic Games in Paris.
With the match falling outside of the designated international calendar, clubs are not required to release players for national team duty. But it's much easier for MLS clubs to allow a player since all of the teams are based in the U.S. and Canada. Twenty-one players are based in domestic competition and two are coming from abroad: AC Milan (Italy) defender Sergiño Dest and FC Juárez (Mexico, near Texas border) midfielder Alan Soñora.
The following players will report to Arizona April 16 with training sessions on April 17 and 18:
GOALKEEPERS: Drake Callender (Inter Miami), Roman Celentano (FC Cincinnati,, Sean Johnson (Toronto FC).
DEFENDERS: Sergiño Dest (AC Milan), Aaron Long (Los Angeles FC), Julian Gressel (Vancouver Whitecaps), Matt Miazga (FC Cincinnati), Shaq Moore (Nashville SC), Caleb Wiley (Atlanta United), Joshua Wynder (Louisville City), DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC).
MIDFIELDERS: Kellyn Acosta (LAFC), Aidan Morris (Columbus Crew), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), James Sands (New York City FC), Alan Soñora (FC Juárez), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes)
FORWARDS: Paul Arriola (FC Dallas), Cade Cowell (San Jose Earthquakes), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Brandon Vazquez (FC Cincinnati).
U.S. head coach Anthony Hudson and U.S. Soccer have a lot of work to do to form rosters for two big international tournaments following next week's game, and they will see a likely more talented Mexico roster in the Nations League semifinal in Las Vegas next month as well as potentially the Concacaf Gold Cup immediately after that.
"I don't think we see one more or less important than the other. These are two trophies we want to win again," Hudson said. "And we know we're going to be facing our biggest rivals along the way, which is great. We can't wait."
-Jose M. Romero
It's already been reported that the Arizona Cardinals are expected to unveil new uniforms prior to the NFL draft this month.
The Cardinals might have teased the impending arrival of the new look Wednesday with a video the team released via social media. It shows a box with a Nike logo, Nike being the NFL's uniform brand.
There was no indication of a new color scheme or design on the apparel head coach Jonathan Gannon and players Zach Ertz and Zaven Collins wore Tuesday on the first day of offseason strength and conditioning workouts.
The draft is about two weeks away and the team is hosting a public draft viewing party outside State Farm Stadium, so the big reveal could indeed be here soon.
-Jose M. Romero
Coyotes to play first NHL games ever in Southern Hemisphere
The Coyotes and Los Angeles Kings will be the first NHL teams to play in the Southern Hemisphere when they meet for two preseason games on Sept. 23 and 24 in Australia.
The teams will play in Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, the site of the annual Australian Open and host city of the 1956 Summer Olympics.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for the Coyotes and Kings to introduce our great game to the incredibly passionate sports fans of Melbourne," Coyotes president & CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez said in a statement. "The Coyotes are committed to growing our game and we look forward to interacting with all the tremendous people, partners, and fans-in-waiting in Australia.”
Both franchises have experience with playing internationally. The Kings played two 2017 preseason games in China and also has played preseason games in Austria (2007) and Germany (2011), as well as regular-season games in England (2007), Germany (2011) and Sweden (2011). In 2010, Arizona played one preseason game in Latvia and opened the regular season with two games against the Boston Bruins in Prague.
State Farm Stadium to host Concacaf Gold Cup matches
State Farm Stadium has been named one of 15 stadiums in the U.S. and Canada that will host Concacaf Gold Cup matches this summer, the North American soccer federation announced Monday. It's the sixth time in the Glendale facility's history that matches for the national team championship of the region will take place at the home of the NFL's Arizona Cardinals.
The Gold Cup, played every two years, will take place between June 16 and July 16 this year. State Farm Stadium first hosted it in 2009 with a pair of group stage matches, and in 2017 and 2021 hosted quarterfinal games.
In 2019, a Gold Cup semifinal won by Mexico over Haiti, 1-0, was held at the stadium. Mexico's national team has played on every Gold Cup game date played in Glendale, and that isn't expected to change.
The Gold Cup draw is Friday at SoFi Stadium near Los Angeles, and a match schedule with ticket information is expected in the days after the draw.
—Jose M. Romero
Coyotes' Keller nominee for Masterson award
Arizona Coyotes forward Clayton Keller was selected as the team’s nominee for the Bill Masterton Trophy, which is awarded annually to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication.
Keller came back this season after suffering a fractured femur during a game versus the San Jose Sharks on March 30, 2022. After undergoing surgery and six months of rehab, Keller has reached a career-high 85 points (37 goals, 48 assists) in all 80 games.
With only two games remaining this season, Keller is one point shy of tying Keith Tkachuk’s franchise record set in 1996-97 for the most points in a season. Keller’s 37 goals are the third-most since the team relocated to Arizona in 1996.
When the season wraps up on Thursday, he will finish among the team leaders in goals, assists, points, game-winning goals, power-play goals, and shots, which are all new career-highs.
Cardinals sign OL Elijah Wilkinson
Since being named to his third All-Star Game, Keller has been scoring at a torrid pace at 44 points (19 goals, 25 assists) for the fourth-most tally in the NHL in that span. Recently, Keller set a new Coyotes record with a 14-game point streak where he recorded 23 points (11 g, 12 a).
The Cardinals have signed free agent offensive lineman Elijah Wilkinson, according to the NFL transaction wire. Contract terms were not available.
The 6-foot-6, 329-pound Wilkinson, 28, is the third outside offensive lineman to join the team this offseason and the 11th new player added via free agency under new general manager Monti Ossenfort.
Wilkson entered the NFL with the Broncos in 2017 as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Massachusetts. He has appeared in 67 games with Denver, Chicago and Atlanta and has made 36 starts at tackle and guard.
Wilkinson worked out with the Cardinals this week and also recently visited the Cowboys. He is a possible candidate to start at left guard and can provide backup depth there and at tackle.
Cardinals sign former Cowboys DL Watkins, Chiefs CB Fenton to 1-year deals
The Cardinals on Thursday night announced that the team agreed to terms with free agent defensive lineman Carlos Watkins on a one-year contract, hours after they added their first cornerback from outside the organization this offseason in Rashad Fenton.
Watkins, a six-year veteran who spent the past two seasons with the Dallas Cowboys and 2017 to 2020 with the Houston Texans, has 36 starts in 69 career games. The 29-year-old has 69 solo tackles, five sacks, 11 tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries and an interception in his career.
The 6-foot-3, 305 pound Watkins started 14 games with Dallas in 2021. He's the third defensive lineman the Cardinals have signed in free agency this offseason, joining Kevin Strong (Tennessee) and L.J. Collier (Seattle).
Fenton also signed for one year.
The 5-foot-11, 193-pound Fenton entered the league with the Chiefs in 2019 as a sixth-round pick out of South Carolina. He spent his first three plus seasons with Kansas City, appearing in 47 games with 16 starts and has 127 career tackles with two interceptions and 20 passes defensed.
Fenton, 26, appeared in six postseason games with the Chiefs, including Super Bowls LIV and LV. After appearing in five games for Kansas City last season, he was traded to the Falcons in November and appeared in two games.
Fenton is the ninth outside free agent signed by the Cardinals under new General Manager Monti Ossenfort. He joins linebacker Kyzir White, Josh Woods and Krys Barnes, guard Hjalte Froholdt, tackle Dennis Daley, wide receiver Zach Pascal, Strong and Collier.
— Bob McManaman and Jose M. Romero
Cardinals' Marquise Brown fined $473 in speeding case
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown was fined $473 and given credit for time served in jail on Wednesday for a criminal speeding arrest on Loop 101 last August, according to reports by AZFamily.com and TMZ Sports.
Brown, 25, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of excessive speeding last month. According to TMZ, the judge in the case waived the $473 fine.
Brown was arrested on Aug. 3 after being clocked driving 126 mph, nearly twice the posted speed limit of 65 mph. He was on his way to Cardinals’ training camp practice at State Farm Stadium.
Brown apologized for the incident upon talking with reporters a few weeks later, saying he would “learn from it.”
“I’m not a guy to get in trouble so I just put it in my past and make sure I’m always doing the right things at all times,” he said.
The Cardinals acquired Browns from the Ravens in a draft-day trade last year, sending a first-round pick to Baltimore. In 12 games with Arizona, he had 67 receptions for 709 yards and three touchdowns.
Former Horizon star Dalton Sneed leads Panthers over Rattlers
Former Phoenix Horizon High School quarterback Dalton Sneed, making his Indoor Football League season debut, led the Bay Area Panthers to a 47-46 win over the Arizona Rattlers on Sunday in San Jose.
Sneed's 12-yard scoring run with 4:45 left and the subsequent point-after by Kevin Goessling ended up being the difference.
After the Panthers, playing their season opener under new coaches and a revamped roster, took the 47-40 lead, the Rattlers scored on quarterback Drew Powell's 17-yard touchdown run with 23 seconds left that cut it to 47-46.
Coach Kevin Guy elected to go for the lead instead of the tie and Powell was smothered on a fake sneak as he was trying to throw a jump pass into the end zone.
On the ensuing kickoff, Craig Peterson missed his attempt at the deuce and Sneed was able to go into victory formation to use up the remaining time. If Peterson had split the uprights, it would have given the Rattlers two points and the ball would have been placed on the Panthers' 5-yard line.
Sneed, who set Horizon school passing records during his stellar four-year career, threw three touchdown passes, including hitting Arthur Jackson III on a fourth-and-six with 9:22 to play to tie the score at 40-40.
Powell, trying to squeeze a pass into Jamal Miles, was intercepted, leading to Sneed's winning touchdown run.
The Rattlers (1-1) are off this week, before playing their home opener on April 8 at 6:05 p.m., at Footprint Center against the Tucson Sugar Skulls.
Coyotes minority owner arrested, suspended from NHL
Arizona Coyotes minority owner Andrew Barroway was arrested Thursday morning and has been suspended indefinitely.
While in Aspen, Colo., police records stated that Barroway had an altercation with his wife.
He was booked on a second-degree assault charge related to strangulation, a Class 4 felony. He also faces a third-degree assault charge, a Class 1 misdemeanor.
On Friday, the NHL issued a statement after the 3 p.m. Friday hearing: "The [NHL] is aware of the arrest of Arizona Coyotes' minority owner Andrew Barroway. Pending further information, he has been suspended indefinitely."
Phoenix-based Position Sports new owner of Hall of Fame basketball series
Position Sports and the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame announced on Tuesday a new 10-year college basketball partnership in which Position Sports will own and operate the Hall of Fame Series, a collection of multi-game, singular events that feature some of the game's top college teams in non-conference matchups.
Phoenix and Charlotte are among the cities the inaugural 2023 Hall of Fame Series. Additional locations, along with participating universities, game times and ticket information will be released later.
Since 2009, Position Sports has worked with the Hall of Fame on a variety of high-profile events, including the annual enshrinement ceremony in Springfield, Mass., the London Showcase at The O2 Arena in December featuring Kentucky and Michigan, numerous college basketball events and the Hoophall series, which culminates in the annual Hoophall Classic, the nation’s premier high school event that showcases the country’s elite high school basketball teams.
"We are thrilled to partner with the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame to continue the tradition of recognizing excellence in the sport and inspiring future generations of basketball players and fans," Carolyn and Todd Delano, co-founders of Delano Media Group, parent company of Position Sports, said in a statement. "We look forward to collaborating with the Hall of Fame on this new series of games and bringing elite college programs to various basketball communities.”
Ruffels holds strong to win Carlisle Arizona Classic in Mesa
Gabriela Ruffels held onto her third-round lead and secured her first Epson Tour victory by winning the Carlisle Arizona Women's Golf Classic on Sunday by two strokes over Kathleen Scavo at Longbow Golf Club in Mesa.
“It feels so good (to win). I’ve wanted this all week, especially after the first round when I kind of got into the tournament,” said Ruffels, 22, from Australia, who shot a 4-under 68 on Sunday and finished with an 18-under 270. “I just had to stay patient all day, and I can finally relax knowing that I won. It’s a really cool feeling.”
Ruffels carded only one bogey throughout the week, scoring par or better on 71 of the 72 holes.
Missing out on her 2023 LPGA Tour card by five spots, Ruffels was eager to get back on the course and prove herself. The University of Southern California grad looks forward to developing her game on the Epson Tour, the LPGA's official qualifying circuit, and giving herself a good shot at moving up in 2024.
“I came in 15th on the Epson Tour last year and still felt like I had a lot to improve on,” said Ruffels. “I feel like this year, if I can prove myself out here, then hopefully next year, if I get onto the LPGA Tour, I’ll be super ready. Definitely having this win, any win but especially this one, is going to boost my confidence for the rest of the year.”
Phoenix Rising FC still winless after loss in San Diego
Phoenix Rising FC dropped to 0-1-1 on the new season after losing 3-0 at San Diego Loyal SC on Sunday.
The first half nearly ended scoreless until a turnover in the back allowed San Diego to take a 1-0 lead just before halftime. Loyal SC’s Charlie Adams collected the errant pass and quickly got the ball to striker Evan Conway, who dodged a tackle at the top of the area and beat Phoenix keeper Rocco Rios Novo low to the near post in the 44th minute.
In the first two minutes of the second half, Rising FC had a corner kick opportunity but that was lost on an ensuing foul. Phoenix followed up with several scoring chances about 20 minutes later but was denied, and then San Diego put the match away with goals by Ronaldo Damus (74th minute) and Blake Bodliy (90rh).
Phoenix is off until its home opener April 1, when the same two teams will meet in the debut USL match of Rising FC's new stadium on 38th and Washington Streets.
Rattlers win IFL season opener at Quad City 60-53
With the "deuce" on all kickoffs and the ball live off the goal posts as new rules this year in the Indoor Football League, the Arizona Rattlers took advantage of them during a 17-0 run and held off the host Quad City Steamwheelers 60-53 Friday night in the season opener in Moline, Ill.
The deuce can be used any time during the regular season now. It helped the Rattlers after they failed to score on a two-point conversion after a touchdown in the final quarter. With a 51-46 lead with 7:23 to play, Rattlers kicker Craig Peterson split the uprights on the kickoff, which gives the kickoff team two points.
Quad City took a 40-36 lead to end the third quarter, but Rattlers defensive back Dillon Winfrey returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown for Arizona. Then, the Steamwheelers regained the lead on a 20-yard scoring pass from EJ Hilliard Jr. to Jarrod Harrington, but the Rattlers’ Chris Terrell blocked and returned the PAT attempt, trimming the deficit to just 46-45.
The Rattlers regained the lead for good on an 11-yard scoring run from quarterback Drew Powell, followed by a two-point rouge by Peterson that made it 53-46.
Powell could have run out the clock but he got into the end zone on a 19-yard run with 50 seconds to play to extend the Rattlers' lead to 60-46.
A late score by the Steamwheelers was followed by Powell launching a pass out of the end zone to eat up the final three seconds.
"It was a good team win," coach Kevin Guy said. "We had 11 new Rattlers in the lineup last night. The game is very fast for someone who has never played it.
"A lot of areas we need to improve on and we have to have a sense of urgency to do it. We beat a good football team but we can play a lot better. With the new rule and nuances this year, I'm sure it was exciting for fans to watch. Our team had to overcome adversity with some injuries with a small roster. That is a good sign of mental toughness."
Winfrey was explosive in the return game. He brought one back in traffic out of his end zone to inside the QC 10-yard line. He brought another back for a score, as the Rattlers overcame a one-point halftime deficit.
Powell completed 13 of 23 passes for 139 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. He also carried the ball eight times for 89 yards and two scores.
The Rattlers are back on the road on March 26 to play at the Bay Area Panthers in San Jose. Their home opener is set for April 8 at Footprint Center against the Tucson Sugar Skulls.
OUAZ falls one point short in NAIA basketball final
Ottawa University Arizona’s run through the NAIA Men’s basketball tournament in Kansas City, Mo., ended on Friday with a 73-72 loss to overall top seed College of Idaho in the championship game.
OUAZ, which trailed 50-27 with 12:43 to play, rallied to within three points in the final seconds, but senior Josiah De’laCerda’s three-point shot attempt was partly blocked. He recovered the ball and hit a two-point jumper at the buzzer. He finished as the game’s high scorer with 28 points to go along with 10 rebounds.
“This is extremely tough,” OUAZ head coach Matt Keeley said. “While we dug ourselves into a hole, coming back from 23 down with 12 minutes against that team shows the fight we have. I couldn’t be more proud of our players and what we accomplished, especially in the postseason.”
The Spirit finished with a 25-10 record, giving the school that has only been in existence for six years back-to-back 25-win seasons.
Pro women's hockey final set for Mullett Arena on March 26
The 2023 Isobel Cup Championship, which caps the Premier Hockey Federation season, will take place at Mullett Arena on March 26 as part of a doubleheader with the Arizona Coyotes.
The PHF is a women’s professional league that has been in existence since 2016 and rebranded from National Women’s Hockey League in 2021. There are no franchises west of Minnesota, but the league is bringing the Isobel Cup to Tempe because, as commissioner Reagan Carey said in a statement, “As we continue building momentum for our sport in the new PHF era, it’s important to strengthen relationships in different markets and grow the game by showcasing professional women’s hockey to more fans throughout North America.”
Four teams remain in contention for the cup: Boston Pride, Toronto Six, Connecticut Whale and Minnesota Whitecaps. The Pride are the two-time defending champions and were also crowned the league’s inaugural winner in 2016.
The Isobel Cup game will be played at 6 p.m., following the Coyotes-Colorado Avalanche game at noon. This will be the first time the championship will be played on NHL ice. Tickets are on sale at the Mullett Arena website. More information about the PHF playoffs can be found on the league website.
Pro women's volleyball season coming to Mesa this fall
The third season of Athletes Unlimited, the only professional women’s volleyball league in the U.S., will take place this fall at Bell Bank Park in Mesa.
The league, which consists of 44 of the world’s top players, will play 30 matches in October and November, and be shown on various ESPN platforms. The draft for the upcoming season takes place March 20 in Dallas, and the league will undertake an exhibition tour of college campuses from March 23-April 21.
The schedule will be announced later, but season-ticket information is available at the Athletes Unlimited website.
MMA fighter Benson Henderson announces retirement
Phoenix area-based mixed martial arts veteran Benson Henderson did the traditional placement of his fighting gloves in the center of the octagon Friday night in San Jose, Calif., announcing his retirement after losing by submission to Usman Nurmagomedov for the Bellator MMA lightweight title.
Henderson, 39, finishes his career at 30-12 and appears headed for the MMA Hall of Fame. The Seattle-area native won UFC and WEC titles during his 17-year MMA career and defeated some of the greats of the sport, including two wins over Frankie Edgar and Donald Cerrone, and single victories over Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal.
Though he lost four of his last six fights, Henderson was able to get a win in Arizona in the final fight of his career in his adopted hometown. Henderson earned a split decision win over Islam Mamedov at Footprint Center at Bellator 273 on Jan. 29, 2022.
“I always told myself these last four fights I signed with Bellator, I told myself that if I lose at all any of these last four fights, then it’s about that time,” Henderson said in the middle of the octagon in his post-fight interview.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Henderson was in the corner of prospect Jose Delgado at the United Fight League event in Mesa. That could be an indication that he will turn to working more with young fighters going forward.
— José Romero
Registration for 19th annual Pat's Run under way
Registration is now open for the 19th annual Pat's Run. The 4.2 mile run benefitting the Pat Tillman Foundation's Tillman Scholars Program is set for Tempe on April 15. People can also sign up to participate in a virtual run.
Children 12 and under can sign up for the 0.42 mile Kids Run.
Funds from Pat's Run help the foundation unite and empower our community of more than 800 Tillman Scholars, remarkable veterans and military spouses who carry on Pat's commitment to service beyond self and embody his values of service, scholarship, humble leadership and impact.
The course will finish at the 42-yard line at Sun Devil Stadium.
Participants in the 4.2 mile run, which begins at 7 a.m., April 15, will receive a limited edition Sport-Tek race shirt and the first in a three-medal series.
Cost for the 4.2 mile run is $45 through Jan. 31. The Kids Run is $15 through Jan. 31.
Visit pattillmanfoundation.org/pats-run/ for more information and to register.
Mercury open 2023 season May 19 at LA
Coming off a league-best 10th consecutive playoff appearance, the three-time WNBA champion Mercury will begin the 2023 season at Los Angeles on May 19 to tip off a 40-game schedule that’s the longest in WNBA history, up from 36 games.
The Mercury will open their home schedule at 1 p.m. on May 21 against Chicago to start a three-game homestand, before heading back on the road for five of their next six. The WNBA will play a more balanced schedule that has Phoenix playing seven teams four times (Dallas, Indiana, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Seattle and Washington) and four teams three times (Atlanta, Chicago, Connecticut and New York). Like last season, the Mercury's 2023 schedule is backloaded with home games, with 9 of the final 15 set for Phoenix.
Tickets to the May 21 opener at Footprint Center are on sale at mercury.wnba.com/2023schedule to purchase opening day tickets and view the full 2023 schedule. (Tickets to other games will be made available at a later date).
LPGA returning to Greater Phoenix in 2023
The LPGA's first full-field event of the 2023 season will be the LPGA Drive On Championship, March 23-26 at Superstition Mountain Golf Club in Gold Canyon, marking the tour's return to the Phoenix area since the 2019 Founders Cup.
The LPGA season will begin Jan. 19-22 at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions at Lake Nona in Orlando, Florida. The tour then moves to Asia for three events in Thailand, Singapore and China. The LPGA hasn't competed in China in three years due to ongoing travel restrictions.
Superstition Mountain hosted the Safeway International from 2004-08 and is home to a number of LPGA players.
The LPGA last played in event in Arizona in 2019 when Jin Young Ko won the Bank Of Hope Founders Cup at Wildfire at JW Marriott Desert Ridge in Phoenix. The 2020 Founders Cup never happened in March of 2020 as COVID-19 shut down golf tours for several months.
The LPGA introduced tour-backed Drive On events during the pandemic after several tournaments were cancelled. "Drive On" is the LPGA slogan.
—Beth Ann Nichols, Golfweek
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona Digest: Boxer Elijah Garcia has big opportunity coming up