The Cyber Boxing Zone Journal
A/K/A The America Online Boxing Newsletter (October 14, 1997)
Well, here we go again with a brand new issue of commentary from what we think are some of the best boxing writers on the web. This month, Thomas Gerbasi checks in with an interesting take on the Lewis-Golota lash up. Joe Bruno contributes a fascinating piece on the inside workings of the Boxing Writers Association. Dave Iamale has an interview with WBA Super Middleweight Champ, Frankie Liles and a review of a new book on George Foreman. Mike Moscone of the excellent 15th Round web site has generously contributed another piece. We have a new mystery European correspondent & Adrian Cusack checks in with his own excellent report from Europe. And we also have Phrank Da Slugger's ratings, not exactly the alphabet boys' ratings, but that's probably something to be thankful for.
Although we included DscribeDC's hysterical satire on the Lewis-Golota fight on our main page in the special report after the fight - It's so damn funny we had to include it in our regular issue also. Anyway, we hope you all enjoy the new issue & we'll be back at you next month!
By Thomas GerbasiFor me, the telling moment of Saturday night's heavyweight title clash between Lennox Lewis and Andrew Golota happened during the post-fight interview. As HBO's Larry Merchant reeled off questions, a stunned Golota tried his best not just to answer, but to remember the events of the just concluded fight. Gone was the pre-fight bravado and the Ivan Drago-esque bad guy persona. All that was left was a young husband and father who just experienced what was probably one of the worst moments of his life. And I've been there, so I know.
Back in February, this humble writer stepped into a Brooklyn ring to fight in the Super-Heavyweight Division of the New York Golden Gloves. Like Golota, I felt I was prepared. Like Golota, I was confident. And like Golota, I found myself on the wrong end of a first round kayo. And believe me, if it never happened to you (and I hope it hasn't), there is no preparation for it, and no way to compare it to anything else you've experienced.
This is not to be an apologist for Golota. While I think that he is a better fighter than he showed in Atlantic City, I do believe that his two blowouts against Riddick Bowe were more a case of Bowe being washed up than Golota being the next coming of Joe Louis. Neither am I a big Lewis fan, but I'd rather see him win than see someone with an obvious lack of discipline and sportsmanship holding the Heavyweight crown. Nowadays unfortunately, boxing is straying into wrestling territory, with good guys like Evander Holyfield taking on the bad guys like Golota and Tyson. Let’s give Lennox credit.He took control of the fight from the outset and completely dominated Golota, finishing the argument with two devastating knockdowns. Now we know why Tyson paid 4 million not to fight him, and why Bowe avoided him like the plague. We can only hope that this new found aggression is sustained as Lewis seeks to unify the heavyweight crown.
But let's get back to knockouts. I've seen some lousy fights in my time, and I've questioned the heart of many a fighter. But one of the gutsiest things a man (or woman) can do is to step between the ropes and into a boxing ring. Nothing compares to it, and this is what makes boxing the purest sport in the world. When you're in the ring, it's you and you alone against your opponent. You can't blame someone for missing a shot, for not hitting the cut-off man, or for not making a block. It's all on your shoulders. And boxing's not a street fight. In a street fight, anything or nothing can happen. You never know. In boxing, you know you are going to get hit and hard. Every boxer knows at least one tragic ring story, stories about fighters like Paret, Classen, Kim, Garcia, or more recently, Montanez. Stories about confident, well trained young men who gave their lives in the ring. But these are stored away far in the back of a fighter's memory. I don't think about them, and I'm sure Andrew Golota doesn’t either. But they are the reality. After arriving half an hour late to the arena, Golota walked into the ring Saturday night, looking ready for battle. I made that same walk in Brooklyn eight months earlier, and felt the same way. I had only been training for the Gloves since November of the previous year, but I had put my time in, and I felt sharp. Plus, being no Willie Pep, I had eaten my share of punches in the gym, so I knew that even if I didn't win, I'd at least hear the final bell. Well, the only bells I heard were in my head. According to my wife, my father, my trainer, and the videotape (I don't remember any of the fight), I came out jabbing at my opponent (appropriately named Disel "Truck" Means) and proceeded to walk into a right cross which staggered me. A few punches later I was given a standing eight count. I made a feeble attempt at getting away and clinching (we didn't get to that part in the gym), and a left hook / overhand right combo put me out on my face at the 63 second mark. The New York Daily News was so impressed that it voted Means the Fighter of the Night, and ol' Tom "In trouble from the opening bell" Gerbasi was relegated to "out for a good 30 to 40 seconds". As a trainer in my gym pointed out, "what's a bad 30 to 40 seconds"? The point is, I was in no way expecting this, it was sudden, and there was nothing I could do to avoid it (keep your hands up, dummy). Sometimes these things happen. Joe Louis was knocked out, as was Roberto Duran and other great fighters. So I guess I'm in good company. But I'm also not a professional fighter (though I did get $5, a patch, and a t-shirt which doesn't fit). I can walk away from this night with no regrets, and consider it a great experience with a less than stellar ending.
What about Andrew Golota? I was kayoed in front of maybe 2,000 people, not millions live in person and on television. This is Golota's livelihood. What about his psychological makeup both before and after this fight? Does he have the mentality to put this behind him and become a champion? Or will he be relegated to the Duane Bobick and Gerry Cooney School of Never Was? And does he even belong in the ring again? Only in the squared circle can a one round fight provoke dozens of unanswered questions. Till next time...
By Joe Bruno
In past columns, I've attacked everything from unscrupulous boxing promoters (Dung King-----Bullshit Bob Arum), to incompetent and biased boxing judges(take your pick), to haughty boxing honchos (Seth "Shrimp" Abraham of HBO). But now I'm going to give you boxing fans some insight into the inner workings of the Boxing Writers Association, an organisation almost seventy years old, who for years have done nothing for boxing but to give out questionable awards, sometimes to their own members.
The Boxing Writers Association (once more properly called The New York Boxing Writers Association) was formed in the middle 1920's, and some of it's illustrious early presidents were Nat Fleishcher of the "Bible of Boxing" Ring Magazine, and boxing writer Ed Sullivan, who later changed hats and gave black and white TV viewers a "Really big shew" every Sunday night at eight pm.
In the late 1970's, I was a wide-eyed neophyte boxing writer doing a full page of boxing every Monday for the News World in New York City. In fact, I was the only full- time boxing writer employed for any daily newspaper in the city of New York. So, I summoned the courage and applied for admittance into the hallowed Boxing Writers Association.
Unfortunately, I was not met with open arms.
The old fogies in the Boxing Writes Association probably thought if your name is Joe Bruno and you were born and raised in Mafia territory in Little Italy, I had to be somehow connected to "The Boys." They had already rid boxing of Frankie Carbo and Blinkie Palermo( two paisans who ran boxing with an iron fist and steel bullets for many years, and went to prison for their troubles), so accepting another vowel-ending member was not on the top of their list of important things to do. Yet, after careful consideration (and maybe the fear of having their knees broken), I was reluctantly issued my Boxing Writers Association membership card.
My heart fluttered, as I not sat down and broke bread with my early sports writing heroes---Red Smith and Dick Young. But I was soon shocked and dismayed to find out that the majority of the members of the Boxing Writers Association were not boxing writers at all, but in fact public relations people, most working for various boxing promoters throughout the country.
Sure, their were crack boxing scribes like Mike Katz, then of the New York Times, and Eddie Schuyler of Associated Press, but the men who carried most of the weight and made all of the decisions were the late Murray Goodman (PR person for Don King), Irving Rudd (Bob Arum), Boxing Writers recording secretary Tommy Kenville (Madison Square Garden) John Condon (Madison Square Garden), Trish McCormick (Madison Square Garden), and independent PR persons-for-hire Rich Rose, Irvin Rosey, Eddie Pitcher, Harold Conrad, Howie Dolgen and Patti Dryfus. There were more boxing press agents who were also voting members of the Boxing Writers Association, but their names and faces now escape me.
The secretary-treasurer of the Boxing Writers for as many years as any one could remember was the intensely disliked Marvin Kohn, who's claim to fame was that he was Sophie Tucker's press agent sometime in the Roaring Twenties. Kohn was also an influential long-time commissioner at the New York State Athletic Commission, and he used his power there as a lead weight to beat into submission anyone who dared to challenge his clout in the Boxing Writers Association. (As treasurer, Kohn hoarded the Boxing Writers monies accumulated throughout the years, and at every meeting Dick Young demanded an accounting of the funds, and was never given one. Young died in 1987, and Kohn died a few years later, and as far as I know, the mystery of the Boxing Writers riches died with him)
The private interests of the powerful press agents became evident when we held our yearly luncheon to nominate people for our prestigious awards presented at our yearly bigwig Boxing Writer's Dinner held in some hallowed hotel in New York City. Nominations were taken for Fighter of the Year, Manager/Trainer of the Year, TV media person of the year, Boxing Writer of the Year, and other illustrious awards such as the James J. Walker Award for "long and meritorious service to the sport of boxing." (Why such an important award was given in the name of a New York Mayor who was so disgraced he resigned from office and fled the country before he was arrested was never explained to little old me)
The procedure for accepting nominations were thus: You raised your hand and named anyone you damn well pleased. Such name was immediately accepted into nomination, and when five or six names were compiled, the nomination was closed. Secret ballots were sent out weeks later, and votes were counted, but since some of the press agents did the actual counting, the ballots were hardly secret at all.
I got my first whiff of a possible conflict of interest when Murray Goodman nominated his boss Dung King for the James J. Walker Award in 1981. King's "long and meritorious service to boxing" at that time was a whole five years, but when you were as old as Murray was, I guess you lose track of time.
The following month during the winter holiday season, King threw a holiday extravaganza at a famous New York City nightclub. Invited were certain boxers, trainers and managers, but the main recipients of King's largess were the fifty or so member of the Boxing Writers Association who would vote for the awards right after the first of the year. The dinner was more lavish than most weddings I've attended in New York City. There was an open bar from six pm to midnight, and the dinner consisted of Prime Ribs and Lobster tails. But the biggest hint that King wanted bang for his buck was when after the dinner Murray Goodman went around to each member of the Boxing Writers Association and handed us a gift, saying, "When you vote next month for the James J. Walker Award, don't forget to vote with your conscience."
I tugged open the holiday wrappings and came face to face with a huge silver platter with the King's name and logo stuck smack in the middle. This platter had to cost close to five hundred dollar in 1981 money. I was so shocked by the offering and the innuendo, and I couldn't figure out what to do with the damn thing anyway, I almost handed the platter back to Murray. But more on that later.
Then, Murray and Dung made the rounds of all the boxing writers, and Dung offered each one of us his personal holiday greetings. By the time Dung caught up with me, I was wobbling at the bar near midnight banging down my second dozen scotch and sodas with TV sports maven Bill Mazer and New York Post boxing writer Mike Marley, who is now Dung King's right hand man at Don King Enterprises. The "King and I" had our personal problems in the past, so I saw he was somewhat reluctant to shake my hand. But good old Murray, whom I actually loved dearly, basically prodded King into extending me his hand. King towered over me and said something like "Happy Holiday, and thanks for coming."
I shook hands with the big lug, and after our hands disengaged, I looked up and timidly said, "Don, thanks for inviting me. This is one of the best parties I've ever been invited to. And next month when I vote for the James J. Walker Award, I WILL vote with my conscience. I'm voting for Eddie Futch!"
I next saw the same look King must have given poor Samuel Garret before King stomped Garret to death on a sidewalk in Cleveland in 1966. King grimaced, he growled, he gurgled, then he spat out, "You guinea bastard!"
Murray jumped between us before The King and I went at it, and since I'm pretty good with my hands, and King obviously only with his feet, I had felt real good about my chances.
The next month, Eddie Futch won the James J. Walker Award in a runaway, and that was the last holiday party, not to mention silver platter, that to my knowledge, Dung King has ever given for the members of the Boxing Writers Association.
But back to the silver platter. I immediately presented the platter to my Aunt Frances, who was given a little puppy for Christmas by her son, my cousin Johnny. Aunt Frances used the silver platter as a feeding dish for her new dog, whom she fondly named "King." You can't make up stuff like this.
News bite (no pun intended) from Louisville:
Mike Tyson missed his chance at extending the olive branch to his former maiming victim Evander Holyfield on September 21, in Louisville, Kentucky. At a festive night entitled "Muhammad Ali's Tribute to Amateur Boxing", Ali had planned to stand between the two foes as they shook hands indicating that they would let byte-gones be byte-gones, while possibly paving the way for a third "ear-splitting" fight. Holyfield and Ali showed, but Tyson didn't, claiming mechanical problems with the plane he had chartered in New York City.
Instead, Tyson sent a telegram saying: "As you know, I planned for weeks to be in Louisville. I wanted to shake hands with Evander Holyfield so that everyone could see for themselves how badly I feel about what happened in our last fight in Las Vegas."
The truth is Mike Tyson lied about his reason for not attending Ali's tribute in Louisville. Lyin' Mike was seen that same day at a benefit in New York City for the United Negro College Fund. PR flack Flo Anthony co-chaired the event and she told the New York Post. "It's my fault Mike didn't attend the Ali tribute. I begged Mike to attend my benefit in New York instead."
It's a sad state of affairs when a public relations airhead like Flo Anthony has more pull than the great Muhammad Ali. The again, maybe Tyson just doesn't have the guts to apologise in person to the man he so horribly disfigured that fateful night in Las Vegas. -----------------------------------------------------------------------
THE ROSE OF BRITAIN & THE LIP OF LOUISVILLE
by GorDoomHang in there boys, & bear with the Ol' Spit Bucket ... There's a point to all this seemingly sentimental slop - & it does relate to the squared circle - as well as the core of humanity that hopefully dwells in all of us ...
They say only the good die young ... Yeah, well ... this last week proved how full of bull droppings that hoary cliche is loaded with.
The juxtaposition was as eerie as it was unique ... Diana & hard on her crushed heels ... Mother Teresa.
In my lifetime, there have been a few figures & events that have one way or another impacted on my own bad self ... Everybody has known moments that are frozen in time & hang out there on the precipice of your consciousness ...
The events that have unfolded in the last week have become another one of those crossroad's in one's lifetime.
The Bucket has always considered Britain's Royal Family too probably be in the upper echelon of the most useless twits that reside on our pitiful orb ....
Princess Di was not a personage that I had ever really thought about or made a judgment on one way or another ... but after learning way more than I probably wanted to know about her - I came to realize that she was one of those people like JFK, Malcom, Martin, Bobby, Elvis & Lennon, that through their untimely deaths ended up being so much larger than life, that they mutated into seemingly eternal icons ...
Though he's still alive, Muhammad Ali has already reached those lofty echelons ...
One thing that Muhammad, Mother Teresa, Diana, Malcom, Martin & RFK have shared is the same world wide constituency ...
The constituency of the rejected, the impoverished, the hungry of the most basic simple human needs ... warmth, shelter, food & love.
Okay, alright, already ... The Ol' Spit Bucket is back, jez a little rustier from a few bitter tears shed.
Red Smith, the stirring & vivid Pulitzer Prize winning sports writer, put it best: "Boxing is the red light district of sports."
There have been no saints that the Bucket is aware of, who have ever entered the arena of the squared circle. When it comes to great & good men, boxing, even more so than other sports, is sadly lacking in morally exalted proponents ...
Basically, out of the untold thousands who have tasted leather for a living there are only two incorruptible figures: Joe Louis & Muhammad Ali.
They answered the call of voices trapped in yearning, brutality & hopelessness.
Muhammad Ali, like Joe Louis, Jackie Robinson & Arthur Ashe, struck a blow for the dignity of his people that still resonates deeply, as we're mired deep into the end of the 20th Century blues ...
Change is rarely cataclysmic, it comes in small increments, that are in large part instigated by people like Martin, Muhammad, Lennon & Diana ... they turn the lens back on ourselves & in the unrelenting glare of the purity of their cause ... they force social change - but it usually takes a sudden, violent death to rip through the fabric of our innate social guilt to jolt us into action.
Let's get yet another take on Muhammad Ali: Boxing's version of Jackie Robinson, Arthur Ashe, Curt Flood & Martin Luther King via Malcom X & Colin Powell wrapped up into an easily acceptable (f'r white folks) package.
Ali, for my own bad self, is right up there with John Wayne, Dylan, the Stones, Robert Kennedy, Hunter Thompson, George Carlin, John Lennon & the Fan Man (jez kidding, wanted t' make sure y'r all awake), as an imposing influence on my youth ...
Muhammad Ali. The name says it all ...
He has more than earned every credit & kudo that comes his way. But ...Seeing him twitch & bumble the last decade or so is very painful. When I was 10 years old, way back in 1960, I watched the Rome Olympiads avidly. Muhammad, or as we knew him way back then, Cassius Marcellus Clay (what a great moniker!), was a precursor of the winds of change that would sweep the world in the '60's.
He was brash, beautiful, black & he was proud. & he knew he was beautiful & made no bones about it.
My old man, whose concept of a good Negro was Joe Louis, was appalled by Ali's antics. Me ... I thought he was the coolest thang to come down the pike in my short (at the time) lifetime ...
Ali (& Dylan & the Stones) turned me on to an alternative (not in the slacker sense), way of living your life. & for that I will always be grateful ...
Ali taught me that its hard to make a stand. The grief the Feds layed on him was obscene. Back then, the American Muslim movement was viewed as the Anti-Christ ...
It was so freakish & off the wall to mainstream America that She reacted in the only way she knew how ... by lashing out viciously & trying to crush those uppity niggers that dared to challenge the status quo ...
It's painful for us white Americans, but let's face it, the thang America does best is oppressing, beating & bombing the bejesus out of helpless brown people ...
In the last few months, one of the news items that has come to the forefront is James Earl Ray & the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King. Today, Rev. King is a righteously so, American icon ... But for all you kids that are reading this & weren't even born yet - the Ol' Spit Bucket gotsta tell ya that life was very different way back then ...
Dr. King, as unbelievable as it seems today, was viewed by the Feds - in essence, the American government - as a radical subversive ... Y' can j'z imagine what they thought of Malcom & Muhammad ...
Right. It was an ugly thang. ... But that's the way it worked way back then.
This was before the eternal unblinking eye of the media focused & disseminated information in the omnipresent way it does these days ... In the mid t' late 60's there were far fewer touch points you could access for information. You had your local newspaper, the three networks & if you were lucky, a snow blinded UHF station & maybe, iffen y' lived near a Big City, a PBS station.
In those days, the sports culture was delivered by your local newspaper scribes & whatever time was left over during the half hour evening network news ...
These days, it seems so quaint & pathetic, that peeps could somehow survive & flourish back then despite their severe lack of informational overload ...
We live in a Political World - where mercy is for fools & peace is an unprofitable venture ... Yeah, boy howdy, the Bucket's got the "End Of The Century Blues" ... & I ain't quite & very ready t' leave my container, but I still have a weary wayward gimlet eye that looks back to the past & appreciates some of the dues that were paid by predecessors that laid their artistic & in some cases physical lives on the damn down & dirty line ...
Yeah, well ... I'd like to lighten up but I can't.
Which brings me back to Ali:
The 1996 Olympiad in Atlanta was a made for TV event. Let's get real here, nobody who is sane, believes that the Olympics are about furthering amateur sports ... It is one of the ultimate media hypes designed to bring about a quadrennial surge of national chest beating.
Unfortunately, the pride has more to do with selling boxes of Wheaties than fulfilling any kind of idealized American wet dream ... But that's a fact, Jack.
We're living in America ... & America these day's appears t' only exists for Corporate Gains ... Aw, jeez ... The Bucket be way digressin' again ...
Ali... If you were young when he was young ... The Bucket don't mean t' go sappy on y'all - but the 60's (& although no one seems t' admit it, the 70's) were a time of huge upheavals & new realities. Back then it seemed as if every day had the potential of bringing a new mind set - & we were all riding on this train, riding on this train - & in the 80's we were evacuated onto the station. & the platform was cold, hard & deadly - riding on this train ...
Naw, the Bucket ain't gettin' mystical on y'all - but when I think about Muhammad Ali, I do tend to get misty ... But I'm not the only one suffering from that particular affliction. The '96 Olympiads & the '97 Oscar's brought that painfully home ...
When I watched my youth's beautiful Muhammad Ali, twitch, shake & shiver as he lit the Olympic Torch I felt physically ill ... The Ol' Spit Bucket felt that he'd finally been excoriated by the scathing cynicism of the 20th Century's Ultimate Super Duper Bowl Of Raw Corporate Greed .... & as I watched Muhammad do his shaky dance, as ridiculous as it might sound, I felt that I live in a world were nothing can grow or feel hope again ... & at the same time it struck me -hard - why I felt so bad ... He is the ultimate dead man walking ...
Muhammad, like Martin, John, Bobby, Lennon & Diana tried to forge a different path ... & they all paid a hard toll. Back then, dues were paid, & lives were put on the line in a way that's incomprehensible for today's athlete or fan.
Jordan's cool, but he wouldn't have the opportunity to even exist if it wasn't for principled peeps that put their asses on the line before him ... I don't care how many Asian made Nike kicks he can sell, I don't give a damn that today, how many shoes, cologne, golf clubs, B Balls, really ugly golf slacks, & incredibly unhealthy fast food you can foist on the public is more important than you're actual athletic ability's ...
I'm veering way off from boxing, but the recent passing of Curt Flood, the baseball player who's personal integrity & deep commitment too what we all know (but don't acknowledge) is right - should serve along with Muhammad, as a beacon for what is right & true about sports ... But of course, sports, like love, is ultimately blind.
Young baseball players today have no cognisanse of who Curt Flood was or what he meant to their lives & bank accounts.
Young boxers aren't much better ... Of course they all mouth platitudes about the great Muhammad Ali, but only regarding his career as a boxer, sadly none of them understand the struggle ... or the sacrifice.
Can you imagine Michael Jordan, Bret Farve, Tiger Woods, Pete Sampras or Lennox Lewis, giving up the prime of their careers & millions of dead presidents for an ideal??? ... I don't thinks so either, hell, I don't know for sure if I would do it my own bad self ...
What Ali did in giving up the prime of his career was a statement for the ages ... Say he hadn't refused induction into the Army. There's no way they would have sent him to Viet Nam. Like Joe Louis during Word War ll, he would have done USO tours & boxed exhibitions.
But instead of taking the easy way out, he took a stand. & folks, for even more than his tremendous boxing abilitys & his unique style - that's why he's The Greatest.
RINSING OFF THE MOUTH PIECE
The Ol' Spit Bucket is starting to wonder if boxing is cursed. It seems like almost every "super fight" of the last two years, with the exception of the first Tyson-Holyfield fight has been seriously flawed ...
In the lighter weights, De La Hoya vs. Chavez & Whitaker were both duds. Tapia-Romero, while it was an entertaining fight wasn't really competitive. Zaragosa-McCullough ,Tszyu-Phillips & Gatti-Ruelas were all excellent fights but they were hardly considered mega fights ...
The most anticipated lower weight match up: Norris vs. Trinidad never happened.
The heavyweight division, except for Evander, is an almost total disaster! Golota vs. Bowe (twice) & Lewis were at the very least highly unsatisfying fights. Lewis hasn't been in a real fight since he fought Ray Mercer a year & a half ago ... McCall, Akinwande & Golota can hardly be called competitive fights. & then of course there was the biggest disaster of them all: Holyfield-Tyson ll.
So what do we have to look forward too? Unfortunately, nothing that's definitely on the books.
Holyfield-Moorer is not a fight anybody is looking forward too with a lot of excitement & anticipation. Ditto Big George vs. Shannon Briggs. Maybe Lewis will face Holyfield, but I'll believe it when I see it ...
The point of this diatribe is the last two years have been a real down time for boxing. There really are only four fighters that really intrigue the fans: Evander Holyfield, Roy Jones Jr., Oscar De La Hoya & Naseem Hamed.
Of course there are many other excellent fighters out there, Tapia, Norris, Trinidad & Quartey too name a few ... but none of the have captured the public's imagination & their fan base remains only the hard core boxing fan.
Boxing needs stars. & the only way it's going to get them is by having competitive matches that bring out the best in the fighters engaging them. It's up to the promoters. If they can somehow put politics & hubris aside, then we might have a viable, thriving sport.
Don't hold your breath ... --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
SHOOTING FROM THE HIP
A Monthly Column By Max Nonsense
SIMPLY THE WORST
"It will sound bad and callous, but years after the fact - and I came to this understanding after I let Steve Collins get away after I knocked him down and I didn't go after him - I didn't want to kill him. But after the fact I should have killed him. Or let me use different words, his life is not more important than my career. In boxing a man's life is not more important than (another) man's career."
These are the words of Chris Eubank. He made the above statement when appearing on a recent British TV chat show. At a time when all the boxing loonies are suddenly rising from the woodwork to damage the sport loved by many, we need this kind of bile like an Andrew Golota "body shot."
To put the quote into perspective, Eubank lost his WBO super middleweight crown to Collins in Cork, Ireland in March 1995. Collins used admittedly shameful tactics in claiming to be hypnotised for the fight (he wasn't), which was an attempt to weaken Eubank mentally. Eubank was involved in an epic battle with Michael Watson in September 1991 which ended in a 12th round stoppage victory for Eubank. Watson fell into a coma after the fight and is wheelchair - bound to this day. Collins knew this was the skeleton in Eubank's closet, and that Eubank would be less likely to inflict damage on a "hypnotised" man whose pain barrier was artificially expanded.
Eubank was trailing on points when he floored Collins in the tenth round of the fight. Collins was clearly there for the taking, but Eubank backed off, showboated and went on to lose a decision. Collins' highly unsportsmanlike tactics had won him the title and Eubank suffered his first ever professional defeat.
Following a more conclusive points loss in a rematch with Collins, Eubank retired. He has since made a comeback and won two fights at light heavyweight - against moderate opposition - in the Far East. Perhaps increasing frustration that a world title opportunity hasn't presented itself fuelled this outburst. Mabye he has become bitter that Collins since became widely recognised as the world's top super middleweight. The Irishman also achieved what Eubank couldn't in beating Nigel Benn twice. Mabye Eubank feels that he can earn another shot at Collins by whooping up enough controversy and hype.
His subsequent backtracking words offer no real signs of remorse or wisdom in hindsight: "I shouldn't think one would kill Steve Collins if he were hit with a high - powered ballistic missile! He has immense strength and resilience." Meanwhile, Collins displayed his increasing class outside the ring by delivering a subtle hook to Eubank's ribcage without losing his cool: "Mabye he could be successful in other fields but he's got to leave the past behind."
Eubank is a man who always made a point of emphasising that he hates the sport of boxing. He is too sensitive, he tells us, to like such a brutal sport. He is only in it for the money. Now his artificially - generated image as an intellectual, sensitive soul has crumbled thanks to his own stupidity and callous words.
What makes his outburst worse is the fact that it came from a man who was Michael Watson's last opponent. It would appear that he would rather see poor Michael - who, as a fighter, always had too much heart for his own good - in his present condition than to have lost the fight to Watson. If Tyson suffers a $3m. fine and a one - year suspension for his crime against boxing, Eubank should be denied the opportunity to ever benefit from this sport again. While Tyson's ( unjustified) adrenaline - fuelled actions came in the heat of battle, Eubank's were committed in a cosy, calm TV studio.
"Chris Eubank is a lovely fellow.....when he's asleep" - Barry Mc Guigan, 1996
EASTWOOD GYM GOES WEST
Barney Eastwood’s Belfast gym closed it’s doors for the last time on August 13 this year. Many respected trainers came out to say what a sad day it was for Irish boxing. The gym ring was 100 years old, and had been graced by many champions like Steve Collins, Ken Buchanan and Dave Mc Auley. This writer failed to shed any tears at the closure of Eastwood’s gym however.
Barney Eastwood is a Belfast bookmaker who moved into boxing in the early eighties. His first major protege was Barry Mc Guigan, who rose to world champion status while in the Eastwood stable. Eastwood has also managed other world champions including Sambu Kalambay and Paul Hodkinson along with excellent contenders like Herol Graham.
Let me tell you about Mr. Eastwood, starting at the beginning. He opened a bookmaker’s office in Belfast many years ago, directly across from the head office of his well - established competitor. Shortly after Eastwood opened his office, the other bookmaker’s head office was mysteriously blown up.
Eastwood moved into other areas when he established dominance in the Belfast bookmaking trade. First horse racing and then boxing. There is a unanimous trend running through the careers of the above - listed fighters: Mc Guigan, Kalambay, Hodkinson and Graham (among others) all parted company with Eastwood at different stages in their careers - just as deer might run from a huntsman upon spotting his gun. None of their departures were harmonious, and some proved very difficult indeed.
Mc Guigan is probably the best - known of Eastwood’s fighters, and the story of his relationship with the Belfast bullshit man is probably the most telling. Barry’s opponent for his third title defence pulled out at the eleventh hour. As Barry wasn’t happy with the amount of time he had to prepare for replacement Steve Cruz, he told Eastwood that he wished to pull out. Eastwood was set to lose a lot of cash if the 1986 fight didn’t go ahead, so he pleaded with Mc Guigan to go ahead with the fight and eventually offered him a $1m. bonus to fight Cruz.
The rest is history: Mc Guigan lost a decision and his title in the searing desert heat of Las Vegas following a heroic display. Eastwood failed to pay the promised bonus, and the two separated acrimoniously. Some time later, Mc Guigan made a joke at Eastwood’s expense in a fitness video and Eastwood sued for defamation of character. Eastwood won the case, took damages of over $1m. from Mc Guigan, and held a celebration party that night which was attended by members of the jury.
Last year there was a minor case in the Belfast business courts in which Mc Guigan was found guilty of breaching the business code and banned from being a company director in Belfast. The business had facilitated Mc Guigan and his wife’s management of his personal appearances and bookings. His offence was so small however that the court decided not to interfere with his current similar business in Kent, England. This case should have made a paragraph at most in the national newspapers.
Not in "The Mirror" however. Eastwood used his well - established financial influence in the tabloid newspapers to twist the knife he had stuck into Mc Guigan when he dishonestly won the slander case. "The Mirror" published a two - page spread which on the surface appeared to be a feature on the business case, but was in fact a disgusting personal attack on Mc Guigan. The writer (who in effect was nothing more than a journalistic front for Eastwood) trawled tastelessly through Mc Guigan’s personal life and family history like a rat through a sewer. He brought up tragedies from Mc Guigan’s past in fully degrading fashion.
My only regret concerning the closure of Eastwood’s gym is the news that it does not necessarily mean the end of Eastwood’s involvement in boxing. There are rumours that a new gym may be opened in a different part of Belfast. However, Eastwood will thankfully never reach the dizzy heights to which he was carried by talents like Mc Guigan in the eighties. His stinking modus operandi and the sheer volume of fighters he has abused and betrayed will see to that.
A CHEAT AND A CRIMINAL
Roger Levitt promoted a show featuring Larry Holmes in Madison Square Garden on July 29. Levitt is an Englishman who has been convicted on 62 counts of fraud and embezzled millions of pounds.
In December 1990, the Levitt Group collapsed with debts of £34m and in 1993 Levitt faced Serious Fraud Office charges of stealing £20m from clients. He was sentenced to 180 hours of community service after pleading guilty to lesser charges.
He is currently wanted yet again by British police for questioning as a result of further inquiries into his shady dealings. Levitt now operates out of an office in Manhattan with his son James, who is registered as the promoter. The Harris fight was the first in a three - fight deal which Holmes has signed with the crooked promoter. Levitt was last seen as a member of Keith Mullings’ party in Las Vegas when the New Yorker challenged Raul Marquez for the IBF light middleweight title in September.
Levitt promoted a fight in London a couple of years back which made history of sorts. It was a 1995 defence by then WBO bantamweight champion Alfred Kotey, and the Ghanaian "professional boxer" was paid absolutely nothing for the fight. Kotey fights on without Levitt these days, and most recently lost a 10 round decision to Guty Espadas in Ontario on August 13.
Levitt was also involved in a fracas with British promoter Frank Warren in January of this year when Levitt’s "friend" and Warren’s fighter, Kevin Leushing, was in Tennessee to fight Felix Trinidad. Levitt allegedly insisted that Warren should sign Leushing’s purse over to Levitt before the fight. Warren, who was familiar with Levitt’s twisted ways, responded by landing an uppercut onto the chin of Levitt. Don King was in the room during these ‘negotiations’ and said he’d be happy to promote a rematch. Warren repented after the event. He said he regretted not having hit Levitt harder.
Leushing picked up the farcical IBO welterweight crown by stopping non - entity Cirilo Nino in New York in July of last year. He took this fight under the guidance of Levitt, and was predictably fobbed off with a minuscule pay packet. Leushing recently lost his British title and has no apparent plans to defend the IBO crown or to hook up with Levitt in the future.
It appears that Levitt did not himself provide the capital to back the recent huge Madison Square Garden show. If he has enough resources, which is unlikely, he was wise enough not to invest them in this promotion - given the fact that his businesses in the UK fell apart owing huge debts. It is rumoured that Levitt met a wealthy US businesswoman in London, completely by accident, and that she was charmed sufficiently by ‘Lord’ Roger and his big business ideas to loosen her substantial purse - strings.
How can a convicted felon who is wanted in another country promote such a big show - the first of it’s kind in Madison Square Garden since the Bowe - Golota disgrace? And how can he work his way into the career of an apparently intelligent man like Holmes? I think Don King could provide the most fitting answer to those questions: "Only In America."
DON KING IS A TRUE GENTLEMAN
Note: This title does not reflect the views of the AOL Journal or the author of this piece. It is merely a cheap shot at grabbing the readers attention. Worked too, didn’t it?
There has been much written on these pages and others about the life and career of Don King. I agree with some of these views and agree to differ with others. For example, some cite the quality of Tyson - Holyfield II and Lewis - Akinwande as testament to King’s worthlessness as a promoter. This is obviously ridiculous, as King couldn’t possibly - just as us ‘experts’ could not - have expected Tyson and Akinwande to turn in such embarrassing performances. That both fights were so eagerly anticipated by fight fans is testament to the quality of both matches.
King has a tried and tested record as a quality promoter dating back to that wonderfully risky venture in Zaire. Were there not such a self - assured character in boxing as King back then, the momentous Rumble would never have taken place. And where would Norman Mailer be now? The most impressive words I have heard spoken about King were that if he has an opportunity to promote a quality fight he signs on the dotted line spontaneously and then begins his promotional work in the knowledge that he will sell the fight.
Another exciting match that went askew through no fault of Don’s was the Trinidad - Norris fight. As has been well documented, Norris pulled out of the Trinidad fight and instead decided to take on King in a legal capacity. While the real background of this relationship is undoubtedly known only by King and Norris, this move appears less justifiable with the passing of time.
Norris remained active by fighting Andreas Arellano over ten rounds on September 10th. Compared to fighting Trinidad this was a farcical exercise. Norris fought for King sixteen times between December 1992 and January 1997, and all but two fights were for world titles. His defence against unheralded Nick Rupa in January reaped Norris his biggest pay-day ever. How can Norris expect us to believe that a meaningless fight against Mexican Arellano is a change for the better?
Don’t get me wrong, I am not on the King payroll and although I respect his promotional ability I hold no regard for the man. What he has achieved he worked hard for, but if and when the Feds knock Don out of action I will shed no tears. The other side of him is his complete disregard for and mistreatment of his fighters. Boxing needn’t be at a loss without King. The ongoing emergence of jocose sanctioning bodies and the silly antics of the existing ones are pushing me reluctantly towards being in favour of the same Feds running our sport.
However if this does not come about, all it will take to replace King is an individual with a desire to promote boxing matches, the required financial clout, reasonable self - esteem and an eye for quality match - ups. Applicants welcome.
KIELBASA KILLER EXPOSED AS POLKA PALOOKA (Lennox Lewis vs. Andrew Golota, Atlantic City Convention Center, Atlantic City, NJ, October 4, 1997)
[Swirl of bubbles flies by, as the kindly old maestro DscribeDC taps on the lectern with his baton] Vell, denk you, boys. Wunnerful, wunnerful...Anda now, wit da help uf my good friends anda colleagues GorraDoom on de accordion, and da goldena tones uf Mike DeLisa, we now present a little champagne music, a number we calla "Bye, Bye Golota." Take it awaya, boys:
I don't want him
You can have him
He's too flat for me -- hey!
He's too flat for me -- hey!
He's too flat for me -- hey!
Wow. First Rowdy Roddy Piper pearl harbors Ivan Putski on "Tuesday Night Titans" and now, this...Saturday night was the worst night for Poland since Det. Sipowicz mooned America on "NYPD Blue." Andrew Golota, widely hyped throughout the boxing world as an "assassin," a cold-blooded Ivan Drago with reptile's eyes and a jackhammer punch, a man who was touted, even by certain Cyerboxing Zone supremos -- ahem, ahem -- as "the best white heavyweight since Marciano" (which is, granted, a little bit like being called "the best Native American rock band since Redbone"), was completely and utterly undressed (unlike Sipowicz, metaphorically) by a champion regarded as a slacker, an underachiever, a pretty boy.
The only thing that took a tougher beating than Golota's stubbly noggin was the conventional wisdom that the down-and-dirty tough guy always mugs the more stylish and refined boxer. Funny how that old saw always seems to leave the experts holding the short money. Just ask Mike Tyson.
There ain't a whole lot to write about this particular brawl. (I'll leave the far more compelling fight, Arturo Gatti-Gabriel Ruelas, for the legitimate boxing experts.) After turning up at the Convention Center late, generating through his mere presence spontaneous kickboxing demonstrations in the stands and forcing the champion (!!) to take an alternate route to the ring while ducking a fusillade of Polish flags, Andrew Golota squared up into an uncomfortably-European Rock-'Em-Sock-'Em Robots stance, plodded around Lewis for a second or two, got hit with what looked like a less-than-thundering right hand (he seemed to be turning his head away from the punch) and froze like a stag in headlights, allowing the blood-sniffing Lewis to pounce all over him and pepper him with lefts and the patented Lewis right.
The favorite son of Gdansk went down like a block of granite and, when he rolled over he had that same pop-eyed look that black comedians in the old Hollywood used to get whenever they'd seen a ghostie, the same kind of "what time zone is this" glare that Michael Spinks had at the end of the Minute-and-a-Half Massacre against Tyson, or that Thomas Hearns wore after Iran Barkley dropped that bomb on him from left field in their first encounter.
Upon rising, Golota was listing and wobbling so badly security had to evacuate the first three rows at ringside. Barely holding himself steady enough to continue, Golota managed to find the end of a dozen more unanswered punches before slumping in the corner. Referee Joe Cortez made it to three before realizing the futility of a full count. At 1:35 of Stanza One, it was over.
Lewis, who, for so much of his career has been the dandy, the boring, uninspired dilletante with the too-nice accent, the art collection and the puny killer instinct, had recaptured the sizzle he had for that brief span around the Razor Ruddock fight, when he was the Giant Killer, the shining star in a Division full of white dwarfs and black holes.
As for Golota, well, at least he's learned not to hit low. In fact, he's learned not to hit at all. They spared us the hilarity of a "punchstat" count, but my guess is that Golota scored fewer punches than Fritz Mondale scored electoral votes. How best to explain Golota's sad performance? Personally, I like the explanation that Golota was really just another slow white heavyweight all along, that his rep was secured by brutalizing a lazy, overweight, poorly-trained and terminally-uninterested Riddickulous Bowe. Some might point to the added pressure of fighting in front of a noisy "hometown" crowd in Warsaw-on-the-Boardwalk, New Jersey, a throng of fiercely-nationalistic admirers who seemed to be placing the fate of a whole nation on his extra-wide shoulders. Boxing insiders are liable to say he "just got caught cold," that he "was never able to get untracked." Which brings us to an interesting question: how does a guy show up an hour late for his biggest/last chance in his chosen sport? The Letterman people have some theories:
TOP TEN REASONS WHY GOLOTA WAS LATE FOR THE LEWIS FIGHT
10. Stumped himself trying to convert $1.25 million into zlotys.
9. Nice little Polish lady on the Boardwalk insisted on showing him pictures of all ten of her daughters.
8. Trapped in another publicity photo shoot with that damned Bobby Vinton.
7. Mentally, still on Warsaw time.
6. A drunken Dolph Lundgren kept chasing him and yelling "I must break you..."
5. That cab driver looked awfully like Rock Newman...
4. Trying to find a barber who could shave "Lech Rules" into his crew cut.
3. Distracted by sounds of Myron Floren Orchestra from Claridge cocktail lounge.
2. Couldn't find cash to pay for two dozen pizzas sent to room by Lewis camp.
1. Lost track of time sharing Dannell Nicholson dental war stories with Tyson and Marv Albert in Bally's bar.
Well, whatever...Lou Duva was said to be so upset by Golota's irresponsible behavior on fight night that he didn't gain a single pound. The big winner here is Lennox Lewis, who seems to feast on those mythical Monsters boxing wags love to create, guys who have made their bones by beating up on the husks of washed up used-to-bes. Remember Razor Ruddock, who was branded the future of the division after putting
Michael Dokes to sleep? Now that Lewis has vanquished another butt-naked emperor, he can move to the forefront of contenders in line to challenge the Holyfield-Moorer winner. If the alphabet suits can do the impossible and refrain from pulling any political bullshit for 12 months or so, fans may finally get that rarest of gifts, a unified champion, sometime next year. Hell, at least they got a heavyweight fight with a legitimate winner, with no Arthur Murray waltzes, no encounter-group nervous breakdowns and no frantic rulebook-skimming. Thank heaven for (very) small favors.
As for the Polka Palooka, I don't want to say his career is dead, but, let me put it this way: Elton John just rewrote a song for him. And, ever the vigilant newsmen, your CyberBoxingZone has obtained a copy.
ANDY AND THE BETS
Hey kids, especially you bettors
Got a lead-pipe cinch that's assured to change the weather
We kill the Polish Bear tonight, so stick around
You're gonna make a mint when the Polish Puncher hits the ground
Oh, Andy and Lenny have you seen them yet?
Oh, but they're really cool
They got the funky dreads
And the flat-top heads
Ya know, I seen it on the Pay-Per-Vyoooooo-ooo-ooo-ooo
A-a-a-Andy and the Bets
Andy! Andy! Andy and the Beeeeets
Hey, kids, do ya really reckon
Golota will beat Spinks and stay up for ninety seconds?
The inside money's saying that Golota falls
He's lost when he can't uppercut another fighter's balls
Oh, but he's weird and he's wonderful
But Andy he's a little slow
He landed with a thud
Now his name is mud
And he'll be gonad-punching Gas-ti-neau-whoa-whoa-whoa
Andy and the Bets....
Word from the label is that it will be coming out as a CD-5 backed with re-recorded versions of "Saturday Night's a Blight on Fighting" and "Get Back [to Warsaw], Honky Cat." Release date: October 7. Limit five per customer. And, like Golota, no returns.
Lennox Lewis, Respect with an *
by Mike MosconeIn the days and weeks leading up to his heavyweight title fight with Andrew Golota, Lennox Lewis spoke of gaining respect by beating a fighter the boxing world "deemed to be the best". " Who else is out there?", he asked, no doubt trying to justify, to both himself and the public, that a fighter with his abilities and a 31-1 record needed to take a fight with an unproved upstart like Golota to gain acceptance.
The 15th Round
Not entirely without fault for his public perception as an unwilling participant, Lewis looked to step up and away from his past. He successfully defended his title five times, during two separate reigns, by knockout and lost stature in the process. How? A desperation left hook caught Frank Bruno unawares and saved Lewis in a fight in which he was being bullied and out jabbed by the statue- like challenger. After taking eight rounds to put away Phil Jackson, Lewis was stiffed by Oliver McCall in the second round. He did grit out ten tough rounds and was awarded a decision over Ray Mercer, in a fight many thought he lost.
No one could have foretold the bizarre result of his rematch with McCall. Lewis regained the title, mistakenly ruled a KO- 5 when McCall had some type of breakdown and refused to fight. Ditto for Henry Akinwande- this time Dq5.
There seems to be a pattern or at the very least some kind of balanced chaos where Lennox Lewis is concerned. Just when it seems he's found the answer and ready to fulfill promise everyone agrees is there up steps an Oliver McCall or a Henry Akinwande and all we are left with is a whole new set of questions. Is it Lewis' fault that no one wants to fight him? Riddick Bowe threw a title belt away rather than meet Lewis in the ring. Tyson, while he was champ, wouldn't even talk about it. What's a guy to do? I mean everyone has a right to earn a living. Right?
So now Lewis has the misfortune of having to take on a real challenge just to get to the real money and the respect that goes with it. In today's boxing world that's exactly backwards. Andrew Golota would be salvation for Lewis. A "real" challenger who had beaten on former champ Riddick Bowe two times! Surely beating this guy would catapult Lewis to the top of the world. Who could doubt his desire after toughing it out with this Polish hammer, a man nearly equal to Lewis in size. For Lewis this would be the answer.
Unfortunately for Lewis, and again this is not his fault he carried his end, beating Golota proved nothing about Lewis and everything about Golota. He had me fooled. But I was not alone. Though many writers and "experts" picked Lewis to win, none that I saw had it figured the way it went down. Vegas odds-makers had the fight almost even money. This was not the challenge even Lewis thought it would be and he was predicting an early KO.
No, as it turns out you don't have to much of a fighter to beat on the shadow of Riddick Bowe. I know I've heard all the excuses. Golota is hanging out with all the wrong people. Stage fright. Painkillers. Well I'm not buying it this time.
The truth is, Andrew Golota is just not that good, and that's too bad. Too bad for boxing and too bad for Andrew. But most of all it's too bad for Lennox Lewis. He needed this fight to be a fight so we could all see once and for all that he is worthy of our adulation. But it don't come easy. You see once again Lewis did his part but thanks to guys like McCall, Akinwande, and now Golota I don't give it up so easy.
So now I'll give Lewis respect, he tried and he won. But until he "really" beats the best out there, maybe Holyfield (he'll be old by then, or his heart will be bad), I'll spell respect with an *.
REPORTS FROM EUROPE
(By Adrian Cusack)------
Sheffield, England: 11th October
Naseem Hamed - Jose Badillo (WBO featherweight title)
Prince Naseem Hamed seems to be getting better and better, and he truly looked one of the top pound - for - pound fighters in the world tonight as he destroyed world - class challenger Jose Badillo.
Badillo floored Tom Johnson twice in December 1995 when he challenged the former IBF champion. The Johnson defeat was the sole blemish on his 21 fight record prior to this Sheffield engagement.
Hamed clearly respected Badillo’s power and utilised his boxing skills more than usual, working behind his solid, seldom exhibited jab. Naz always makes a prediction before his fights and on this occasion he prophesised that Badillo wouldn’t hear the bell to start round four. He was wrong, though the Puerto Rican was forced to absorb some meaty uppercuts in the third. His chin was made from corrugated iron and he absorbed more heavy Hamed barrages in the fourth.
Naz spent the fifth round - which was actually halted accidentally after two minutes - in showboating mode and performed the “Ali shuffle” so many times that the soles on his boots must have worn to paper. He was clearly revelling in this opportunity to “party” before his hometown community.
Badillo tried hard to make an impact in the sixth but this was vintage Naz and even when Jose did land, Hamed failed to flinch. By the seventh Hamed was landing at will and when he hurt Badillo badly at the end of the round the challenger’s corner compassionately pulled their man out.
Badillo deserves every praise for staying on his feet throughout this contest and finishing without being floored. He soaked up shots that would have finished many top fighters at higher weights. Naz also proved he can shrug off a solid shot to the chin, which to me makes him the completed article. He will now probably go on to face Kevin Kelley on December 19 at Madison Square Garden, but on this form Hamed is absolutely unstoppable.
Joe Calzaghe - Chris Eubank (WBO super middleweight title)
In the fight of the night unbeaten Welsh southpaw Joe Calzaghe proved he can back up his substantial boasting through a fantastic performance. He outpointed former champion Chris Eubank in a brawl for the WBO super middleweight title (vacated by Steve Collins upon his recent retirement).
It turned out to be an epic battle despite an almost conclusive first round which saw Eubank go down heavily from a beautiful left hook. It was a nightmare start for Eubank, but his chin and fighting heart have never been in question and he demonstrated both in adundance here.
Rounds two to six were absolutely breathtaking as both men stood toe - to - toe and slugged it out. Tellingly, Calzaghe always looked the more dangerous and crashed home punches that would have knocked out lesser men.
Eubank had successes of his own but was always behind and when he touched down from a left hook in the tenth it was clear that he needed a knockout to win. He searched frantically for that crucial shot in the final round and hurt Calzaghe just seconds before the bell, but it was too little and far too late for the man who suffered only his third defeat in 50 fights.
The judges favoured Calzaghe by 118-109, 116-111 and 118-111. This was the Welshman’s first real test and some - myself included - thought Eubank would make his experience tell. Calzaghe however looked like a star in the making and he has now proven himself to be one of the best super middleweights on the planet.
Johnny Nelson - Dirk Wallyn (European cruiserweight title)
Johnny Nelson retained his European cruiserweight title with a one round victory over inept Belgian Dirk Wallyn. An overhand right flattened Wallyn early on and Nelson never let him recover. Johnny was in the process of introducing Wallyn to “cloud cuckoo land” when the towel from the Belgian corner introduced itself into the square circle. Nelson’s next fight could be a WBO title fight against newly crowned Manchester champ Carl Thompson.
Ryan Rhodes - Yuri Epifantsev (middleweights)
Sheffield’s “Spice Boy” Ryan Rhodes collected his predictable victory over Russian import Yuri Epifantsev but hardly excited in doing so.
Rhodes was outboxed in the opening round and his defense was slack considering the fact that he is being touted as a future world champ. Ryan picked up his pace in the second, but was still having difficulty with Epifantsev’s awkward style. Suddenly he landed a brilliantly quick and powerful right hand. The Russian’s knees buckled but he stayed on his feet somehow and it came as a surprise when referee Dave Parris stepped in.
Despite a result which looks emphatic on paper, Rhodes proved he has more to learn. A vacant WBO middleweight title fight against Canadian Otis Grant had been set for this bill and will hopefully be Rhodes’ next fight. On tonight’s evidence I feel Grant will be too slick for the undefeated Sheffield 20 - year - old. Only time will tell... -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"The International Boxing Hall of Fame and WBA Super Middleweight champ, Frankie Liles: a fabulous combination"
by Dave IameleOn the first weekend in September, WBA Super middleweight champion, "Fabulous" Frankie Liles was honored by his hometown of Syracuse, NY and the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF). The champ arrived on Friday and spent time visiting family and friends before resting up for the weekend's festivities.
Saturday evening, Frankie was honored by the mayors of Canastota and Syracuse and presented with the key to the city (of Syracuse) and the day was proclaimed "Frankie Liles Day". Syracuse has good reason to be proud of its latest champion. Frankie has made six title defenses since winning the title in 1994 and has only been defeated once as a professional (a 1992 loss he avenged in 1996 by KOing Tim Littles in two furious rounds).
On Sunday, the champ was on hand to sign autographs and pose for pictures with the fight fans at the IBHOF. Frankie was very friendly and relaxed and tirelessly signed autographs and posed for numerous photos with everyone from toddlers to senior citizens. He graciously took time to answer a few questions for me as he greeted his fans.
DI: "First of all, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to come to Canastota and greet all your fans."
FL: "It's great to be home."
DI: "Did I hear you say you're moving back to Syracuse?"
FL: "Yes. I'm going to have a house out here as well as one in California."
DI: "Why did you decides to move back to the area? Because of your family being located here?"
FL: "I'm really attached here. This is where I was brought up. A lot of my family and friends are here. I went to high school and college here."
DI: "When you fought in the ammeters was it in this area?"
FL: "Yes. The Syracuse Friends of Boxing. This is where I started. The first guy to put some gloves on me is named Phil Monte."
DI: "Then you moved to the Detroit area and became part of Emanuel Steward's Kronk team?"
FL: "Yeah, that's where I turned pro, with the likes of Michael Moorer, Gerald McClellan, Donald Stokes, Michael Bentt, etc."
DI: "What made you leave Kronk?"
FL: "Emanuel was working with so many guys that I felt he couldn't give me the proper attention that I needed, especially to move up through the ranks to a championship."
DI: "Who are you working with now?"
FL: "My brother, Raymond Johnson, a cousin of mine, Keith Johnson, who's like my road manager and personal assistant. A guy named Ruben Gomez is one of my trainers. Kenny Adams is my head trainer, he's the guy you always see in my corner during the fights. He was the head coach of the Olympic boxing team in 1988. The other guy is Luis Spata he's my cut man, he's one of the big guys behind the WBA, he lives in Panama."
DI: "Didn't you work with Freddy Roach at one time?"
FL: "Yeah. Freddy worked with me from the time I won the title but there was like a conflict of interest. He was working with myself and Stevie Collins, and I didn't have a problem with that but Stevie said he wanted Roach to work exclusively with him and he told Roach that what ever I was paying him, he'd pay double. So I told Roach he had to do what he had to do. There was no ill feelings or anything like that. I didn't get mad when he went to work exclusively with Collins."
DI: "You've been WBA champ for a while now and made six defenses of your title. What do you feel you want to accomplish now as a fighter or have you already accomplished what you set out to do?"
FL: "I'd like to unify the titles. I'd like to meet the demand of fighting against all the other champions out there in my weight class. Also, to defend my title against all of the best guys, which I'm doing now. The things I've set out to do, I'm accomplishing them."
DI: "Do you find it's hard with all the politics and different promoters and the mixed up jumble of the fight game to try and unify the title?"
FL: "Well, you know, the way I feel about boxing right now, I'm pretty much content with things. It wouldn't be fair for me to say I'm upset. When you're involved in any type of a business where there's a lot of money involved, the politics increase, so I except that, and I understand that. To be honest with you, I don't really care for all the politics, but they're there and there's nothing I can do about it. My job is to just get in the ring and defend against whoever they name for me to fight against."
DI: "Do you have a dream fight? Someone you would really like to take on?"
FL: "I think my signature fight would be a bout with Roy Jones. More than likely, it's not going to happen, not unless he moves up and fights against one of the top heavyweight contenders and gets knocked out. That would bring him back down and get him to face an adversary like myself."
DI: "Would you move up in weight to fight Roy?"
FL: "I don't have a problem with that, I'm up in weight now." (laughs)
DI: "You're fighting on the Moorer/Holyfield card on November 8th. Who are you taking on?"
FL: "I'm fighting a Russian by the name of Andrei Shkalikov, he's my #1 contender. So I'll get that out of the way and then I'll fight Stevie Collins in February and then hopefully, do it again in April."
DI: "The Collins fight is a fight you've been after for a while isn't it?"
FL: "Yes. Only because he's a marquee name, he's really big over in Europe and it's going to be a good money fight for me. It's something I look forward to. I'm up for the challenge as well."
DI: "You already signed to fight two fights with Stevie."
FL: "Well, one is in stone for February as far as the other one, I'm just figuring that the crowds going to want a rematch 'cause they're going to figure the first one was a fluke."
DI: "How would you describe your style in the ring?"
FL: "I see myself as a boxer/puncher. My object is to hit and not to be hit - I feel I do pretty good at that. I never sit inside and bang with somebody, that's not my fight. I was never brought up that way. The way I fight and the rate I'm going I feel I won't sustain much damage and get out of the game with all my faculties."
DI: "Do you have any set date to retire or some kind of plan or is it a fight-by-fight type of thing?"
FL: "I want to do this for another couple of years . . . $50 million dollars (laughs) however soon that may come. If I felt my skills were deteriorating, I would get out much sooner than that."
DI: "What are your plans for after you're done with fighting? Do you plan on staying in the boxing business in some other way?"
FL: "Ask me in a couple years."
DI: "Fair enough. Any chance of your having any bouts in Syracuse? Syracuse just started to get back into the fight game. They had a card last month with Tracy Harris Patterson and David Reid."
FL: "I just recently started talking about this. I'm going to mention this to Don King, and I'm sure he's gonna do everything in his power to put a fight on here. It's something that I'm really gonna bring to his attention. I'm gonna try to work it out ASAP. I'll talk to him about it as soon as the next time I speak with him."
DI: "I think Don would put on one hell of a card here, especially with you, a local guy. I'm sure he would have a capacity crowd on hand."
FL: "Exactly. Right."
DI: "Do you see yourself as an example for the youngsters who look up to professional athletes? I've read you've never had a drink before?"
FL: "Right. This is true. Do I set an example? You know I don't think of myself as a role model but that's something that comes along with the territory when you're in the limelight in any type of way on fashion that's the role you take on. I guess it doesn't bother me to be a role model and there's a lot I could say to the youth. I'm a prime example that if you set your sights high, aim high, then you can accomplish anything that you want."
DI: "What are your thoughts on the Tyson/Holyfield fight?"
FL: "For the most part, I think that Holyfield physically was hurt, and I think, ultimately, the fans were hurt because everyone paid all that money to see a fight and they were cheated out of a fight. I guess the reason Mike did it only Mike knows that. He's trying to get treatment for himself so hopefully it'll never happen again while he's in the ring, you know. It was unfortunate for everybody - for Evander, for the fans, for Mike Tyson as well, because he sustained a punishment and he's living with that and he's accepted it."
DI: "Any prediction on the Moorer/Holyfield bout?"
FL: "No prediction. When you make a prediction like that, it's a contradiction."
DI: "You sound like you've been hanging around Don King too much!"
FL: "Only in America!" (laughs)
DI: "What are your thoughts on visiting the Hall of Fame? I know this isn't your first trip out here . . ."
FL: "I guess it's all together different this time because I'm being honored. I've said for a while, I've won the title, I've defended the title, when do I get to the good part? For me, this is the good part, being able to come back and be with my family and friends and for me to be honored in some kind of way, shape, or form the city. It's a great honor for me."
DI: "Do you think that now that there are so many champions, with the proliferation of belts that being in the Hall of Fame means a little bit more than just being champion of the I.O.U. or B.L.T.?"
FL: "No, because I think that all the guys who have those belts ultimately want to fight for a major title (WBA, WBC, IBF) so it doesn't matter anyway, those other titles are pretty obscure."
DI: "What would you like to say to all the Frankie Liles supporters who are reading this?"
FL: "You know . . . There's not too much I can say. I've never been one of those people who try to sell themselves. I respect the sport, and I respect my position, and I'm happy, and I'm not a fluke. I've proven myself over and over again. I'm very appreciative of all the love that everyone gives me so thanks a lot."
DI: "One final question that just occurred to me, how did a kid from Syracuse hook up with Don King?"
FL: "Mike Tyson. Mike brought me to Don."
DI: "All right Frankie. I'll wrap it up there, that sounds like another story for next time. Thank you for your time."
FL: "My pleasure."
Humble, down-to-earth, polite, family man, role model, good guy. These aren't words that are used to describe too many sports figures never mind boxers. But Frankie Liles is all of these things and more. It was a real pleasure talking with him and if more boxers were like him instead of surly hoodlums surrounded by gangstas, there would be a lot more boxing fans and maybe boxing would began to be compared favorably with "respectable" sports like a baseball and football instead of pro wrestling.
If you are a fight fan who has not had the opportunity to visit the International Boxing Hall of Fame, I urge you to take the time to see it. Ed Brophy and the entire staff are all knowledgeable fight fans and not just employees. The hall is located in beautiful Canastota, NY a few miles east of Syracuse located directly off the NYS thruway exit 34. The admission is a very reasonable $4.00 for adults, $3.00 for youths 9 - 15 years and senior citizens and free for youths 8 and under. Visit it, you'll be glad you did.
"To Live & Dream: The Incredible Story of George Foreman"
by David IameleThis short (81 pages of text with 14 black & white photos) capsule summary of Big George's ring career is a good, quick read for the casual fan of boxing and/or Forman and would be an excellent book for any young (ages 8 - teens) fan of the sweet-science. Love him or hate him, the George Foreman story is an amazing tale of a young punk from the streets of Texas who rises to become heavyweight champion of the world -- not once, but twice -- with an incredible gap of 21 years between the winning efforts! This well written story includes Big George's professional record from 1969-1996.
So, if you're in the mood for a short, inspirational story, Ed McCoyd's book will certainly fill the bill. To order your copy of "To Live & Dream: The Incredible Story of George Foreman", send check or money order for $6.99 plus $3.00 shipping and handling to:
New Street Publishing
P.O. Box 9N
Times Square Post Office
New York, NY 10108
Sep Ratings (as of 30 Sep)
by Phrank Da Slugger
There are 3 criteria I use to rate fighters: Quality of Opposition, Performance and Activity. I am ranking the best from 1 to 10; this is to see who deserves a title shot. I rate all 18 divisions, a time-consuming activity to say the least. Therefore, commentary only appears every 3rd mth.
Champion: Evander Holyfield (WBA)
1. Lennox Lewis (WBC)
2. Andrew Golota
3. Michael Moorer (IBF)
4. Ray Mercer
5. George Foreman (IBA)
6. Brian Nielsen (IBO)
7. Tim Witherspoon
8. Ike Ibeabuchi
9. Larry Donald
10. David Tua
Active this mth: Nielsen, Donald (twice)
Champion: Nate Miller (WBA)
1. Marcelo Dominguez (WBC)
2. James Toney (IBO)
3. Ralf Rocchigiani (WBO)
4. Robert Daniels (IBC)
5. Juan Carlos Gomez
6. Johnny Nelson
7. Fabrice Tiozzo
8. Uriah Grant (IBF)
9. Akim Tafer
10. Adolfo Washington
Active this mth: none
Champion: Dariusz Michalczewski (WBO)
1. Roy Jones (WBC)
2. Lou Del Valle (WBA)
3. Graciano Rocchigiani
4. Virgil Hill
5. Merqui Sosa
6. Michael Nunn
7. Montell Griffin
8. Ole Klemetsen
9. William Guthrie (IBF)
10. Ricky Frazier
Active this mth: Del Valle, Sosa
Champion: TITLE VACANT
1. Steve Collins
2. Robin Reid (WBC)
3. Frank Liles (WBA)
4. Joseph Kiwanuka
5. Charles Brewer (IBF)
6. Roberto Duran
7. Jorge Castro
8. Henry Wharton
9. Joe Calzaghe
10. Herol Graham
Active this mth: Reid
Champion: TITLE VACANT
1. Bernard Hopkins (IBF)
2. Lonnie Bradley (WBO)
3. Otis Grant
4. William Joppy
5. Keith Holmes (WBC)
6. Aaron Davis
7. Simon Brown
8. Peter Venancio
9. Brian Barbosa
10. Silvio Branco
Active this mth: Joppy, Brown, Davis, Branco
Champion: Terry Norris (WBC)
1. Laurent Boudouani (WBA)
2. Felix Trinidad
3. Raul Marquez (IBF)
4. Winky Wright (WBO)
5. Bronco McKart
6. Verno Phillips (WBU)
7. Anthony Stephens
8. Shibata Flores
9. Emmett Linton (IBA)
10. Keith Mullings
Active this mth: Trinidad, Norris, Phillips, Marquez, Mullings
Champion: Oscar de la Hoya (WBC)
1. Ike Quartey (WBA)
2. Felix Trinidad (IBF)
3. Pernell Whitaker
4. Jose Luis Lopez
5. Oba Carr
6. Shannon Taylor
7. Vernon Forrest
8. Derrell Coley
9. Peter Malinga (WBU)
10. Michael Lowe (WBO)
Active this mth: de la Hoya, Carr, Lowe
Champion: TITLE VACANT
1. Vince Phillips (IBF)
2. Khalid Rahilou (WBA)
3. Kostya Tszyu
4. Reggie Green
5. Julio Cesar Chavez
6. Agapito Sanchez
7. Ray Oliveira
8. Rafael Ruelas
9. Miguel Angel Gonzalez
10. Frankie Randall
Active this mth: Sanchez
Champion: TITLE VACANT
1. Orzubek Nazarov (WBA)
2. Stevie Johnston (WBC)
3. Shane Mosley (IBF)
4. Israel Cardona
5. Phillip Holiday
6. George Scott
7. Cesar Bazan
8. John-John Molina
9. Jean-Baptiste Mendy
10. David Tetteh
Active this mth: Johnston, Scott
Champion: Genaro Hernandez (WBC)
1. Azumah Nelson
2. Arturo Gatti (IBF)
3. Angel Manfredy (WBU)
4. Yongsoo Choi (WBA)
5. Tracy Harris Patterson
6. Derrick Gainer
7. Anatoly Alexandrov
8. Jesus Chavez
9. Justin Juuko
10. Robert Garcia
Active this mth: Patterson, Gainer, Garcia, Alexandrov
Champion: Luisito Espinosa (WBC)
1. Naseem Hamed (WBO & IBF)
2. Wilfredo Vazquez (WBA)
3. Kevin Kelley (WBU)
4. Cesar Soto
5. Angel Vazquez
6. Juan Marquez
7. Jose Badillo
8. Orlando Canizales (IBA)
9. Hector Velasquez
10. Fred Norwood
Active this mth: Soto, WVazquez, Velasquez, Marquez
Champion: Junior Jones (WBO)
1. Marco Antonio Barrera
2. Vuyani Bungu (IBF)
3. Erik Morales (WBC)
4. Antonio Cermeno (WBA)
5. Kennedy McKinney
6. Hector Acero-Sanchez
7. Wayne McCullough
8. Enrique Sanchez
9. Cassius Baloyi (WBU)
10. Marius Frias
Active this mth: Morales, Bungu, Acero-Sanchez, Cermeno, Sanchez
Champion: TITLE VACANT
1. Nana Konadu (WBA)
2. Johnny Bredahl (IBO)
3. Tim Austin (IBF)
4. Jorge Julio (WBO)
5. Mbubelo Botile
6. Daorung Siriwat (Chuvatana)
7. Sirimongkol Singmanassuk (WBC)
8. Paulie Ayala
9. Cuahtemoc Gomez
10. Oscar Maldonado
Active this mth: Ayala, Gomez
Champion: Gerry Penalosa (WBC)
1. Johnny Tapia (WBO & IBF)
2. Samson Dutch Boy Gym (WBF)
3. Danny Romero
4. Yokthai Sit Oar (WBA)
5. Satoshi Iida
6. Oscar Arcinega
7. Joel Luna-Zarate
8. Luis Bolanos
9. Takato Toguchi
10. Julio Gamboa
Active this mth: Dutch Boy Gym, Luna-Zarate, Toguchi (twice), Gamboa
Champion: Yuri Arbachakov (WBC)
1. Mark Johnson (IBF)
2. Jose Bonilla (WBA)
3. Arthur Johnson
4. Carlos Salazar (WBO)
5. Chartchai Sasakul
6. Ysaias Zamudio
7. Raul Juarez
8. Saen Sow Ploenchit
9. Adi Lewis
10. Alejandro Montiel
Active this mth: MJohnson, Bonilla, Lewis
Champion: Saman Sorjaturong (WBC)
1. Jake Matlala (IBA)
2. Melchor Cob-Castro (WBO)
3. Pichit Chor Siriwat (WBA)
4. Mauricio Pastrana
5. Jesus Chong
6. Joma Gamboa
7. Edgar Cardenas
8. Keiji Yamaguchi
9. Kaaj Chartbandit
10. Yo-Sam Choi
Active this mth: Cob-Castro, Chong, Gamboa, Cardenas
Champion: Ricardo Lopez (WBC & WBO)
1. Rosendo Alvarez (WBA)
2. Ratanapol Voraphin (IBF)
3. Chana Porpaoin
4. Rocky Lin
5. Andy Tabanas
6. Lindi Memani
7. Alex Sanchez
8. Fah Sung Pongsawang (WBF)
9. Mongkol Chareon
10. Ronnie Magramo
Active this mth: Lopez, Sanchez, Voraphin, Mehani
# of World Champions: 12 (of 17)
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