Subj: The BAWLI Papers No. 39
Date: 99-01-18 12:30:12 EST
The BAWLI Papers
(Boxing As We Liked It)
Edited by J Michael Kenyon
Issue Number 39
Thursday, January 21, 1999
New York City, New York, US of A
IN THIS ISSUE: STEPHEN BRUNT IS ONE OF OUR FAVORITES, SO WE FEATURE HIS
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QUARRY DEATH HAS COLUMNIST THINKING
(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sunday, Jan. 17, 1999)
By Bruce Keidan
He was a fighter by inclination and by trade, a heavyweight contender who went
to war with all the biggest, toughest guys of his day and defeated most of
He was, depending on the ring announcer, Irish Jerry Quarry, Gentleman Jerry
Quarry or "the flower of Bellflower," Calif. All of them could turn out your
lights with one punch.
His style was about as subtle as an earthquake. He tried with every punch he
threw to hurt you. He rarely took a backward step.
If the first round of his first fight with Muhammad Ali was not the best
opening round in boxing history, it was the most remarkable I ever saw. It was
Gotterdammerung in gloves. For most of its duration, the combatants stood
flat-footed in center ring and traded bazooka shots. The crowd at ringside in
Atlanta was on its feet and in a frenzy at round's end.
Quarry lost that fight, but in the process became a greater attraction than
ever before. Thick-necked and lantern-jawed, he was willing, sometimes
seemingly eager to take your best punch to land one of his own.
He was 47 and punch drunk when he fought for the last time. He was 53 when he
died. His brain was long gone by that time. He suffered from a condition
called pugilistic dementia, brought on by a thousand concussions.
Sugar Ray Robinson suffered from puglilistic dementia late in life. So did
Billy Conn. And so did hundreds of lesser fighters, pugs who never fought for
a championship or a six-figure purse.
Quarry's death will likely result in renewed demands from outraged Americans
to outlaw prize-fighting. It is a corrupt and contemptible sport, the
reformers will note. It is one step removed from bear-baiting. To license it
is to condone it, and no civilized nation ought to do that. Boxing ought to be
I agree with the critics: Boxing is vulgar, dangerous, uncivilized - not to
mention corrupt. In a better world, it would not exist.
And if two grown men did resort to fisticuffs, bystanders, horrified, would
avert their gaze. Any resemblance between that world and this one is,
unfortunately, remote. And Congress is not going to stamp out boxing. Not in
this millennium or the next. Because it can't.
True, Congress could pass a law prohibiting prize-fighting as an activity --
in the United States. Just as we once passed a law that prohibited the
manufacture and consumption of alcoholic beverages. And when it proved
unenforceable, we could repeal it, just as we did in that case.
But let's suppose for a moment that we could control boxing within our
borders. Let's suppose it would not flourish on riverboat barges and on Indian
reservations and in private social clubs. Even though we suspect that it
Have we stamped out boxing? Not even close.
Prize-fighting is an international sport. When Ali was banished here, he
fought an exhibition in Canada -- despite U.S. government pressure to scuttle
the fight. During the 18 months in which Mike Tyson's license was suspended,
he could have fought in Asia or Africa. Promoters in Japan and South Africa
would have welcomed him with open arms and an open checkbook.
You could have watched it on pay-per-view, just as some of you did when he
fought Pierre Botha in Las Vegas last night.
Tyson did not do that because flouting the Nevada boxing commission would have
resulted in his permanent banishment from fights on American soil. But if
there were no fights in the USA, Tyson would be on the next flight to Tokyo or
Capetown, or London, perhaps.
(The Brits talk incessantly about banning boxing, but somehow never get around
to doing it.)
And he would not be alone.
Hundreds of other American fighters would simply relocate in countries where
they could ply their trade. And we would turn on our TV sets and watch the
Does it make a difference whether Roy Jones Jr. knocks out his next victim in
Pensacola, Fla., or Paris, France? Not to you; not to him.
A NEW YORK 'BILL OF RIGHTS'?
(New York Post, Monday, January 18, 1999)
By Gregg Birnbaum
ALBANY -- State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer is climbing into the ring to
launch his campaign to clean up the fight game, by putting into law a "boxers'
bill of rights."
Spitzer, who has represented fighters in the courtroom, is holding an unusual
three-day sweet-science summit that kicks off on tomorrow at the Downtown
As head of a national task force of attorneys general who are investigating
boxing, Spitzer will bring together more than 50 fighters, ex-fighters,
promoters, medical officials, state regulators, TV and cable execs, and many
Spitzer will be probing the often inexplicable methods by which sanctioning
organizations rank boxers; the power of promoters and problems with their
exclusive contracts; brain damage suffered by fighters; the possibility of
creating a labor union for fighters; and setting up a pension plan for retired
"One of the missions here is to create a 'boxers' bill of rights' that will
touch on not only the relationship with promoters, [but] touch on finances,
touch on health," Spitzer told The Post.
Ex-heavyweight contender "Jerry Quarry just died. Punch drunk and penniless.
There is clearly inadequate supervision of the sport."
Among the boxing "Who's Who" set to testify this week are ex-heavyweight
bruiser Gerry Cooney; one-time light heavyweight champ Jose Torres; WBC boss
Jose Sulaiman; New York Athletic Commission Chairman Mel Southard; promoter
Bob Arum; and referee Richard Steele.
Spitzer said his findings will result in a raft of proposals he plans to make
this spring to the state Legislature and Athletic Commission for changes in
state laws and regulations.
Spitzer also will be sending his recommendations to U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-
Arizona), who is crafting federal legislation to better police the sport.
As a Manhattan lawyer in private practice, Spitzer said he's seen some of the
problems firsthand, and he jokes that he may be the one of the only people who
has ever won a legal case against megapromoter Don King, who was invited to
the hearing but won't be attending.
Spitzer represented William "Kid Chocolate" Guthrie, a promising light
heavyweight from St. Louis in the early 1990s.
"'Kid Chocolate' had sought to get out of a contract with Don King," Spitzer
"His career was being substantially impaired by the way that his promotional
relationship was being run. He left to another outfit. As a result of his
departure from Don King, the sanctioning bodies - even though he was the No. 1
contender - would not give him a title fight."
Spitzer filed lawsuits in state and federal courts in New York and New Jersey.
"Ultimately, we prevailed and got him his title fight. He won it," Spitzer
said. "In the post-fight interview, he said, 'I want to thank God, my trainer
and my lawyer, Eliot Spitzer.' I almost fell off my couch. Clients never say
thank you, let alone a boxer."
(ED. NOTE -- Stephen Brunt of the Globe & Mail in Toronto has long been
recognized as one of the better boxing writers around. We add to that: He is
one of the best general sports columnists, period, at work in North America
today. Over the weekend, he was -- like any self-respecting fight writer -- at
ringside of the Tyson-Botha spectacle. While we generally don't make too much
fuss about current events in The BAWLI Papers -- today's edition to the
contrary -- it might be informative to inspect Mr. Brunt's considered views.
And, for purposes of gauging today's top talents, we also offer his latest
TYSON TAKES ADVANTAGE OF BOTHA ERROR
(Globe & Mail, Monday, January 18, 1999)
By Stephen Brunt
LAS VEGAS -- The punch that prolonged Mike Tyson's career was something to
behold. Like most of the great ones, it was short and straight and to the
point. His opponent, Francois Botha, cocky and overconfident, had made a whole
series of mistakes: Standing with his feet in a line, his shoulders square,
throwing a lazy right lead and following with his head. Tyson fired a right as
well. It landed flush on Botha's chin.
"I don't remember throwing it," Tyson said. "I didn't see it," Botha said.
So it is with most one-punch knockouts. Down Botha went, crumpling to the
canvas. He struggled to rise, but couldn't, and the fight was waved off by
referee Richard Steele with one second left in the fifth round. Tyson rushed
to Botha and embraced him, keeping him from falling through the ropes, a
civilized, sporting gesture from someone who rarely seems either of the above.
And if that was all there was to talk about, the notion that Iron Mike Is Back
would have legs this morning. Unfortunately for Tyson, every moment of the
fight before his Hail Mary landed suggested something very different indeed.
He had nothing. He looked like a hollow man, who didn't want to be there, who
didn't believe in himself. He won one round on one judge's card, and lost
everything else. Botha, who was brave and smart (at least until he got dumb)
was utterly dominant until the moment he was knocked out, and seemed set to
cruise to a decision victory.
Asked later if he thought he blew it, he smiled; "Ya," he said. "Big time. Big
During the long march to the ring before the fight, Botha, wearing a white
buffalo robe that unfortunately made him look like a giant sheep, certainly
didn't seem ready for Tyson. He looked nervous in the moments before the
opening bell, waiting while Tyson, with a much smaller group of hangers-on
than in previous days, made his way to the ring.
The arena at the MGM Grand was nearly full by fight time, but that seems to
have been the result of a last-minute fire sale: One fan reported buying two
seats with a face value of $400 each for a total of $50 on Saturday afternoon.
All around, appearances were deceiving.
From the beginning of round one, it was clear that it was Tyson, not Botha,
who was at a psychological disadvantage. He began the fight trying to work
behind his jab, which must have been encouraging to his new trainer, Tommy
Brooks. After that, though, Tyson reverted to the one-dimensional fighter he's
been for some time now, loading up on single power shots, not putting his
punches together, obviously unsure of his own abilities.
Even in that context, what was startling was his apparent loss of hand speed.
Botha is no slicky, but still he easily avoided Tyson's big looping punches
with ease -- most of them by a foot. Thirty seconds into the fight, Botha
realized there was nothing much to fear.
And so he started to work on his own game plan, which was simple and
brilliant: Jab and follow with the right, which Tyson walked into again and
again; hold when Tyson got into punching range; keep throwing punches on the
inside until the referee broke the clinch; do everything possible to get
inside Tyson's head. To that end, Botha talked and talked and talked.
"I don't want to tell you what I was saying," he said. "They were some very
bad things." By the end of the first round, Tyson was getting hit, he was
complaining to Steele, he was nicked over the right eye. At the bell, the
fighters were locked together, with Steele unable to pry them apart. Desperate
and frustrated, Tyson locked up Botha's right arm -- a move borrowed from that
maestro of dirty-fighting, Two Ton Tony Galento -- and started bending his
elbow in a direction the elbow is not supposed to bend.
"I thought he was trying to break my arm," Botha said. "He's correct," Tyson
All hell seemed set to break loose. A cadre of police officers surrounded the
perimeter of the ring, fearing a repeat of the riot that followed the second
Tyson-Evander Holyfield fight. Steele conferred with Mark Ratner, the director
of the Nevada State Athletic Commission -- the same body that had suspended
Tyson's licence after he bit Holyfield's ear. For several minutes it was
unclear whether the fight would continue.
After an extended break between rounds, it did, following the established
pattern. Botha had everything his way. Tyson held passively every time the
action moved inside. He held and he held and he held so much that at the end
of the round, Steele docked him a point. By the third round, Botha was
dropping his hands at his sides, mocking Tyson, daring him to hit him. Tyson
rarely came close. Meanwhile, Botha continued to land his jab and the
occasional clubbing right. Had he a little more power, he would have knocked
"If I was fighting Mike Tyson and he was fighting like that," Tyson said, in a
rare flash of candour, "he would have been out. He would have been through."
More of the same through the fourth round. Botha led the fight by five points
on two cards with six rounds to go. "I really believe that I was handling him
easy tonight," Botha said. "I expected more. I know that I was in control and
that I was slowly but surely getting to the end of the fight. Then I walked
into a right."
The replays of the final punch drew oohs and aahs from a crowd that had seemed
divided in its loyalties in the beginning, and distinctly pro-Botha just
before the end. Still, it was hard to believe the finish -- the first time in
his career that Tyson has come from behind to win a fight -- had won many
converts to the possibility of a return to greatness, especially following
what were arguably the four worst rounds of his professional career.
Tyson's new braintrust -- manager Shelley Finkel, financial adviser Jeff Wald,
trainer Brooks -- did their best to sound upbeat during the postfight news
conference, talking about ring rust, about work to do in the gym, and about
the fact that their fighter still has his power. But quietly, they were also
asking trusted friends among the boxing press if there was an even safer
opponent out there for Tyson's next fight in April (the likely candidate is
German Axel Schulz, with a possible George Foreman fight looming in the
It was left to Botha, who seemed relatively content despite blowing his big
chance, to put matters into perspective.
"We're happy to have him back in the heavyweight division," Botha said of the
victory. "He's helping a lot of heavyweights to make a living."
Heavyweights and promoters and managers and trainers and lawyers and casinos
and television networks. But that won't last for very long.
STEPHEN BRUNT'S TEN BEST
(Globe & Mail, Monday, January 18, 1999)
Stephen Brunt is a member of the International Boxing Digest ratings panel,
and a voting member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame. This is the
second in an occasional rating of boxing's best, regardless of weight class.
The previous ranking is in parentheses:
1. (1) Roy Jones Jr. (WBC/WBA light-heavyweight champion): Someone please
find him a challenge, fast. Richard Frazier, the policeman who fought like one
of the Village People, certainly wasn't up to it.
2. (3) Oscar De La Hoya (WBC middleweight champion): The Golden Boy's
toughest test to date comes against Ike Quartey next month. Should be a
thriller while it lasts.
3. (2) Ricardo Lopez (WBC strawweight champion): Tested severely by
Nicaraguan tough guy Rosendo Alvarez. Still, the best technician in the
4. (4) Shane Mosely (IBF lightweight champion): This should be the year he
moves into the superstar ranks.
5. (-) Rosendo Alvarez (strawweight): The only two blemishes on his record
are a draw and close decision loss to Lopez.
6. (5) Evander Holyfield (WBA/IBF heavyweight champion): Lennox Lewis will be
another big mountain to climb in March. Should he prevail, a third Tyson fight
looms in the fall -- if Tyson lasts that long.
7. (7) Felix Trinidad (IBF welterweight champion): Coming showdown with
Pernell Whittaker will be fascinating classic puncher-against-boxer matchup.
If he wins, on to De La Hoya.
8. (8) Johnny Tapia (IBF junior bantamweight champion): Needs a big box
9. (6) Naseem Hamed (WBA featherweight champion): Didn't help himself with
mediocre performance against Wayne McCullough. Then fired his trainer, made
his brother his manager. Not good signs.
10. (-) Floyd Mayweather Jr. (WBC junior-lightweight champ): Consecutive wins
over Genaro Hernandez and Angel Manfredy vault him into this company. A
surprise from the Olympic class of 1996 -- though of course he does come from
a great boxing family.
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