October, 1999
Hank Kaplan
Michael DeLisa
Thomas Gerbasi
Ed Vance
Hank Kaplan, Tracy Callis, Matt Tegen
BoxngRules, Chris Bushnell, Adrian Cusack, DscribeDC, Francis Walker, Dave Iamele, Phrank Da Slugger, Pusboil, Katherine Dunn
Enrique Encinosa, Randy Gordon, Pedro Fernandez, Joe Koizumi, Mike Moscone, Dr. Ferdie Pacheco, Jim Trunzo, Barry Lindenman, Pete Ehrmann, Monte Cox, Matt Boyd, Alan Taylor, John Vena, Arne Steinberg, Lee Michaels, Joe Bruno, Rick Farris, Lucius Shepard

Editorial: Rinsing Off The Mouthpiecegloves1.jpg (13702 bytes)

By GorDoom

   Since the Sturm & Drang of the De La Hoya-Trinidad "fight" has finally subsided, the Ol' Spit Bucket thought he'd weigh in on the matter. First, after repeated viewings & discussing it with numerous boxing people with varied opinions, all of whom I respect; I still stand by my original conclusion:

   De La Hoya by 8 rounds to 4.

   With that out of the way, I thought it was a crap fight. The pre-fight hyperbole touting it as the 2nd coming of Leonard - Hearns I  was ludicrous.  Sugar Ray or the Hit Man would have run both of those guys right out of the ring ... I'm not saying Oscar or Tito are bums, far from it, as they are both skilled fighters. But compared to the aforementioned, they're  Saturday Night Specials,   going up against  Cruise Missiles.

   The "Fight Of The Millennium" was a huge snore. The expected pyrotechnics were a fizzle. Oscar stayed on his bicycle for 8 rounds & boxed beautifully, while Tito dutifully trudged after him in a straight line seemingly clueless about the concept of cutting off the ring.

   Then Oscar ran out of gas. Or focus. Or will.  He gave away the last four rounds & Tito took advantage of it. That doesn't mean he wiped the floor w/Oscar, he just won the last 4 rounds.

   1999 is the year that all the long anticipated "super fights" finally came to fruition. Unfortunately, for one reason or another they have invariably been disappointments. Holyfield-Lewis, De La Hoya vs. Quartey & Trinidad all landed with a thud.

    Of the three match-ups, Oscar & Ike put on the best show, but the reality is that there were 3 exciting rounds and 9 dull ones.  In all three match ups the endings were inconclusive & controversial. The Holyfield/Lewis decision reeked so much, that even politicians caught enough of a whiff to smell opportunity for publicity & joined the circus ...

   The Bucket ain't about to rehash old news, suffice it to say these fights were all like bad sex, none of them got me off ...

   Now that I've kvetched about those fights, let me say that so far this year, the fight of the year, hands down, is Tapia-Ayala. That my friends was a fight ...

   There are no fights on the books as this is being written (Oct. 15), that promise to be as good during the remainder of the year. Lewis-Holyfield II, Hamed-Soto, Morales-McCullough & Grant-Golota are the best bets. All of them are intriguing but I'm not holding my breath ...
   R.I.P. Wilt Chamberlain.  There are certain figures in one's life that are immutable in your consciousness.  Chamberlain, like Ali or Jim Brown seemingly have always been a part of my life. The Bucket has never been a B Ball fan, but the Big Dipper commanded respect. Wilt was a man's man & made no bones about it. He was the Babe Ruth or Wayne Gretzky of B Ball, but he was also, well into his 50's, a world class volley ball player & marathoner.

   Chamberlain was a true Renaissance Man. A man of varied intellectual pursuits, he was writing a script when he died. He was also an astute businessman & highly opinionated raconteur. .

   I'll miss his immense presence.


   Before I introduce the new issue there are a couple of web sites I'd like to turn y'all on to:  Boxing historian, Monte Cox has an excellent historical site at http://coxscorner.tripod.com .

  One of the highlights is the weekly all-time rankings by a panel of experts that Monte has assembled. This week it's the middle weights & guess what? The #1 all-time isn't Sugar Ray Robinson.

   Check it out. It's a very informative boxing site.

    The 2nd site I want to present belongs to the CBZ's own, Chris Bushnell. Chris' site is http://www.boxingchronicle.com. It's the CBZ's editorial staff's consensus that Chris is the best fight reviewer we've ever  read.

   The Ol' Spit Bucket means it when he sez  Mr. Bushnell has set the bar very high for other reviewers to reach. On his site you will find every fight review that Chris has written for the CBZ as well as other articles.

    The CBZ has been very fortunate the last few months as an abundance of terrific, new, writers have started contributing on a regular basis. Alan Taylor, Matt Boyd, Rick Farris & JD Vena, are the most recent to saddle up.
   This issue we present four more terrific boxing scribes. Three of them, Arne Steinberg, Monte Cox & Eric Jorgensen are all erudite & diligent historians of the fight game. We are lucky to have such experts in the field join our staff. All of them have contributed remarkable articles this month.

   Hell, the Bucket thinks all of these new contributors I've mentioned have contributed some outstanding boxing articles, the kind you won't find anywhere else ...

  Last but certainly not least, the fourth new guy at the table, thanks to Katherine Dunn who introduced us; is the redoubtable Lucius Shepard. 

   Lucius is a Hugo & Nebula Award winning science fiction writer as well as a screenwriter & journalist who has been published in Rolling Stone, Spin & Playboy among others.

    As Katherine Dunn puts it, Mr. Shepard is a "Fistic scholar of high seriousness & wit".  His first boxing experience was on December 3rd, 1960 when as an 11 year old he watched the controversial rubber match between Gene Fullmer & Sugar Ray Robinson which ended in a draw.  Even at that tender age, Lucius told me, he was outraged at how Robinson was robbed.

   Lucius' first contribution is an account of the tribulations of small time boxers down in Yucatan, Mexico. His gritty account flashed me back to my own childhood in Mexico in the 50's & something I hadn't thought of for about 30 years ...

   Due to my father's job, the Ol' Spit Bucket live in Mexico from 1955 to '62. Unlike in the U.S., boxing is a major sport, on a comparative par with the NBA, or NFL, throughout Mexico & all of Latin America.

   My father, a Depression Era pro fighter, started managing & training fighters in Mexico as an avocation. By the time I was seven, Lil' Bucket was working corners for my fathers fighters. What I did was carry the spit bucket, & pass sponges, cut equipment, towels & rinse off the mouth piece, making sure to get it back to the fighter before the next round started.

    I have to say this gave me an up close & personal look at violence & courage under extreme duress at an early age. It also developed a deep respect in me for fighters & especially Mexican fighters. 

   Reading Mr. Shepard's article brought back one experience in particular. It was 1960 & we had two fighters on a "card" in a small town near Lake Tequesquitengo, in the mountains of Morelos, a couple of hours from Cuernavaca.

   It was in a dusty pueblo that had a small bullring that held two, three hundred people at most. Keep in mind, what I'm calling a "bullring" was actually a huge corral surrounded by rickety wooden bleachers.

   When we got there there was still a bullfight going on. We sat down to watch with the maybe 100 or so people that were scattered around the bullring, along w/assorted mongrels, chickens, pigs & donkeys that meandered around underneath the stands to grab some shade from the remorseless heat & fight over whatever scraps of food that fell thru the slats above..

   The young matador (maybe 18 years old), was an obvious novice. When it came time for the kill he was so nervous he couldn't finish off the bull who wasn't much more than a yearling. He must have attempted the coup de grace at least a dozen times. The bull was dripping gore from multiple stab wounds but he kept coming ... The "crowd" got restless & mercilessly got on the young torero's case.

   It was starting to get real ugly when finally a stout, balding, man (who later turned out to be the town butcher) jumped into the ring, ran up to the combatants, shoved the incompetent swordsman aside & grabbed the exhausted, bleeding, bull by one of his horns & slammed a knife into the back of the bulls head.

    The unfortunate animal slowly slid to it's knees & then toppled over spewing blood all over the middle of the bullring.

   The crowd went wild.

   Then it was time for the fights. They dragged the carcass out. The center of the bullring was a bloody mess ... A bunch of campesino's trudged in. One of them dispiritedly swept some dirt over the crimson gore & viscera. The rest of them dug 4 holes in the ground & placed four large poles haphazardly in a rectangle. Then they proceeded to tie some ropes around the poles & presto! We had the most ersatz fight ring I've ever seen, featuring the bloodiest canvas possible.

     I mention all this to illustrate that Lucius' outstanding article about the primitive boxing conditions in Yucatan is no exaggeration.

punch1.jpg (12615 bytes)    S'anyways, that's about it for this month, except for one last item:   Ed Vance, our creative & stalwart webmaster & news editor has come up w/two good, new ideas. Fan Forum & the CBZ Newsletter.

   Fan Forum gives our readers a chance to vent their feelings about the myriad of boxing subjects that constantly evolve. So send your letters in and as long as they're decipherable, Ed will post them in the Fan Forum section.

   The other new wrinkle that Ed has come up with is the CBZ Newsletter. The Newsletter which is e-mailed out a few times every week lets our readers know when new items have been posted. Everything from boxing news to major fight reports to letting you know when the new issue of the Journal is being posted.

   I strongly recommend that our readers sign up (the link is on the main page), so that they can keep abreast of the constantly shifting world of boxing ...

   Enjoy the new issue!


The Flyweight
by Lucius Shepard

shadow.jpg (10288 bytes)    In southwestern Mexico there is a small town named Santander Jimenez.   During the early 70s it was a much smaller place than now, the most insignificant of dots on the map, a farming community with a few blocks of potholed streets and rundown stucco buildings, and a single motel--a one-story wooden structure painted green, topped by a tarpaper roof, and divided into six units.  At dusk groups of campesinos   could be seen walking into town, the men carrying rifles and machetes, their wives trailing behind , holding babies, all heading for the cantina or the movie theater or the plaza, where they would sit by the fountain in the accumulating dark and talk and drink
pulque   or burro  (unrefined rum) from bottles without labels.  When I went into the plaza to ask directions, I was greeted with hostility--it seemed that long-haired gringos were not held in high esteem--and I retreated to my van thinking that Santander Jimenez was a place where I wanted to spend as little time as possible.  It certainly was not the sort of place where I expected to see professional boxing, but on checking into the hotel I saw a poster
stapled to the office door advertising a six-bout card to be held that same night in the movie theater, featuring the light-heavyweight champion of Yucatan.  I also discovered that one of the rooms in the hotel was occupied by six fit-looking guys, some of whom looked to be about my age (I was 22)  and who were extremely solicitous of my
girlfriend.  They told her they were a boxing team and had traveled all the way from Merida to fight.  They invited her and--as an afterthought, me--to attend.

      The movie theater wasnąt much bigger than a theater in a multiplex.  A ring had been set up in the center of the place and about a hundred folding chairs arranged around it.  There werenąt any overhead lights; the only illumination came from the projection booth, so that as the boxers fought, huge indigo shadows of the combatants were cast onto the screen.  The bouts were all decent quality club fights, ranging from flyweight to light-heavy, and the guys from Merida held their own, even though some of them were in against much heavier opponents.  I was particularly impressed with the flyweight, a quick-handed boxer without much power, but with excellent movement and defensive skills that set him apart from the rest.  As the card progressed I realized that the six guys were all wearing the same pair of white trunks--I recognized the bloodstains--and that they only had one pair of shoes among them.   A smallish pair, apparently, as the two largest guys fought barefoot.

     The light-heavyweight champion of Yucatan was a man in his late twenties built along the lines of a Yaqui Lopez.  His stance was too straight-up, and he threw uppercuts from the outside, tendencies that would have gotten him into trouble with world class opposition.  But he was in with a teenager who couldnąt have been more than a junior middleweight:  a thick-waisted blond kid with a ruddy complexion that grew considerably ruddier over the eight round distance.  He absorbed dozens of power shots, but except for a reddened face and an
increasingly stubborn expression, he showed no effects and kept moving forward, whacking the champ with a wicked left hook to the body.  By the middle rounds the champ had lost much of his enthusiasm for the fray and he began to circle, snapping back the kidąs head with a jab.  But the kid kept on throwing the hook, walking through fire to unload it, his shadowy image on the screen appearing much more violent and menacing than he himself, and by the seventh round, heąd slowed his opponent to the point that he was now landing a nice straight right to the head as well.  The champion spent the eighth holding onto the back of the kidąs neck, while the kid flailed away at his liver, his hips, his kidneys, and whatever else fell to hand.  And when at the end of the round the championąs hand was raised, the crowd vented their displeasure with the decision by whistling and gesturing with their machetes.  My feeling was that while the kid had won the battle of wills, he had clearly been outpointed, and I soon found myself arguing the matter with some of the men who had met me with stony glares earlier that evening in the plaza, all of us engaging in a heated yet amicable round-by-round dissection of the bout.  face.jpg (9612 bytes)

    Back at the hotel I fell into a conversation with the flyweight, who was named Miguel.  He was sporting a mouse under his right eye, but didnąt seem the worse for wear.  We talked about boxing, about Ali, Duran, Palomino, Napoles.   He was such a good-natured kid, always joking, smiling, I couldnąt imagine him making a living in the ring (I'd never talked to a professional fighter before and didnąt realize that most of them were quite different from their ring personas), and I asked what he planned to do with his life.  His smile vanished, he
fixed me with a gunslinger look and said he intended to become champion of the world.  

    I've always enjoyed watching Latin fighters.  I admire their aggression, their heart, the way they work the body.  But until that night at the movie theater in Santander Jimenez, watching the shadow of the light-heavyweight champion of the Yucatan being chased about a flyspecked screen by a smaller, quicker shadow with a mean left hook, I'd never understood anything about the obstacles the fighters I'd seen on TV had to overcome.  As I continued to travel around Mexico, I attended fights held in makeshift outdoor rings, in pits normally used for cockfights, in corrals, in every imaginable sort of venue.  I saw guys wearing bruises and cuts from recent fights go face-first at their unmarked opponents; I saw sixteen year old kids debuting against men with 20 fights; I saw other kids substitute for injured boxers despite having fought a bout earlier in the evening.  Part of the mystique attaching to Latin fighters was their toughness, and it was becoming clear how they got that way, and just how tough they had to be in order to claw their way out of the backwaters and make it to money fights in Mexico City and TJ and other such places, and--if they were really tough, really talented, and really lucky--to the States. 

    About a year after the fights in Santander Jimenez, when I was living in Merida, I was in a little ice cream shop on the plaza mayor,  when I spotted Miguel, the flyweight whom I'd watched in the movie theater, walking past.    I called out to him, and after an exchange of greetings, we grabbed a bench and talked for a while.  It was late
afternoon, and on the bandstand at the center of the plaza a brass band dressed in military uniforms were playing a woefully inept rendition of the William Tell Overture to an audience consisting of old men and shoeshine boys.  Pigeons were strafing the benches beneath the trees at the edge of the plazea where lethargic hippies relaxed in
the shade.  Pretty Mexican girls were walking in groups of three and four, taking their paseo,  ignoring the boys who called after them, but quite a few waved and smiled at Miguel--I began to have the idea that he was something of a big deal.  I asked how his boxing was going, and he said he had an important bout coming up with a   from Mexico City.

      The next couple of weeks, at Miguel's invitation, I spent a good deal of time at his gym.  He always acknowledged me with a grin, but we didn't talk much--he was intent upon his training.  The gym was not what I was used to in the States.  Much of the equipment was homemade.  Handsewn heavy bags.   Free weights consisting of axles to which lumps of iron had been welded.  But it was one serious boxing place.  From the old ex-fighters who kibitzed and gave advice to the trainers to the skinny-armed ten-year-olds who ran errands, everyone there was totally dedicated to the sport and to each other.  There was a unity of purpose among the people who frequented the gym, a much tighter bond than any I'd experienced in gyms back home--it brought to mind the intense loyalty displayed by members of those fictive martial arts schools depicted in Bruce Lee films.  At the moment the focus of all that intensity was Miguel.  It was plain that he was the hope of the place, the guy whom they thought might bring them glory and maybe even some money, and when he was sparring or working the speed bag, the old dozers on the benches would come alert and the other fighters would stop what they were doing, and you could feel the push of their wills urging him on.

      The fight was held late on a Saturday afternoon in the bull ring in Merida.  Chairs had been set up on the sand around the ring; they were all filled, and the bleachers, too, were packed.  By the time the main event started, the atmosphere had become electric, almost to the level of a bigtime title fight.   Miguel had improved a lot since Santander Jimenez.  For the first four rounds he dominated his opponent with his movement and quick combinations.   The crowd was on its feet, yelling and shaking their fists.  But then in the fifth he was headbutted and received a bad cut beneath the eyebrow.  His corner was able to deal with the bleeding between rounds, but the cut kept reopening, his opponent continued to use his head, and since Miguel didnąt have the pop to take the guy out, he was forced into an increasingly defensive posture.  As a result, he lost a close and controversial decision. 

    I didnąt see Miguel until a few days later.  His eye had been patched up, but he was otherwise unmarked--his opponent hadnąt done much damage with his gloves.  I thought he'd be depressed but he was strangely upbeat.  He said that his performance had proved he was capable of competing on a championship level.  And the controversial result?  He shrugged.  Politics, he said.  He hadn't expected to win a decision,  But people in Mexico City would hear what had happened, and he was confident that before long he'd be fighting in the capitol.  I wasn't so confident.  I figured Miguel was going to be another one of the hard luck kids I'd watched in boxing rings all over Mexico, and that his loss in the plaza del toros    was merely the first in a long line of bad breaks coming his way.  I was glad I wasn't going to be around to see it--I was due to head north in less than a month.  

    It occurs to me now that I shouldn't have been so concerned about Miguel, because I'd witnessed numerous instances of his determination and dedication.   I recall one night we were drinking on the benches in a small square near my apartment, hanging out with some guys Miguel knew who drove horse-drawn cabs.  It was the only time I ever saw him take a drink--he lived in shape;  but he was having woman trouble and was depressed.  It must have been about one oąclock in the morning when someone got the idea that if we drove over to his girlfriendąs house and serenaded her, all his problems would be solved.  Off we went, clopping along in one of the cabs, drunk on our asses.  By the time we reached the girlfriend's house Miguel had passed out, but his friends decided that we had to serenade her nevertheless.  None of them, however, could stay on-key.  Which is why I soon found myself leaning against the neck of a horse, holding onto it to steady myself, and signing a mangled solo version of "Guantamera" to a confused-looking girl standing in her nightgown behind the wrought-iron bars of her
bedroom window. 

    Miguel regained consciousness as we headed back toward the center of town; he seemed angry, and he insisted on being let off at the gym.  He pounded on the door until the old man who slept there opened up.  I
went inside with him, thinking I'd catch a few hours sleep and thus be better prepared to face the woman--doubtless an extremely angry woman--waiting for me at home.   I figured Miguel was thinking along
similar lines.  He went to take a shower.  I settled in a corner and dozed off.    Several hours later I was awakened by what proved to be shouts of effort.   Miguel was hanging from the chin-up bar by his knees, holding a large cement block to his chest, and doing sit-ups. 

    On my way out of town I stopped by the gym to say goodbye to Miguel.   He gave me an embrace, then shook my hand and said God willing we would meet again someday.  But God wasn't willing, apparently.  I never did see him again.   However, a few years later I did learn something about him.  I was in a hotel bar in Athens, the
other side of the world, when I spotted a boxing magazine that someone had left on the counter.  I thumbed through it and came to the page where all the champions and contenders were listed.  I'd been too busy to keep up with the sport for over a year, and I was curious to learn what changes had occurred.  When I looked at the lighter weight classes I was startled to discover that the flyweight who had cast a shadow on the movie screen in Santander Jimenez had come to cast a far more considerable shadow over his division.  Miguel Angel Canto had
become the WBC champion of the world.

Roberto Duran and the Horseshoe

By Rick Farris

In March of 1973,  Roberto Duran,  Lightweight Champion of the World, came to Los Angeles to fight Mexican champ Javiar Ayala in a ten round non-title fight.  The match was on the same card with the WBC Lightweight Championship bout between  title holder Rudolfo Gonzales and challenger Ruben Navarro.

Navarro and I were stablemates and would often spar together.  However,  for this match Ruben had a group of sparring partners whose styles were more like Gonzales than mine.  Two years previous, Ruben came close to upsetting then lightweight champ Ken Buchanan but lost a close decision.  This would be another opportunity to win a version of the world title and he was taking no chances. 

duran1.jpg (12016 bytes)One day I arrived at the Main Street Gym shortly after Duran and Navarro had completed their workouts.  I talked to Ruben in the dressing room as I  laced up my boxing shoes.  That day,  Navarro had sparred with Duran and he seemed a little different than usual.

"This guy hits harder than anybody",  Navarro said.  "He hit me high on the forehead with a spent jab and it shook me all the way down my back to my toes".  I had known Ruben for quite a few years and never heard him express respect for another fighter as he was Duran.  It was almost as if he was intimidated,   not in a cowardly sense, but in a way that caught me off guard.  Navarro had fought and beaten some of the best lightweights and Jr. lightweights in the world during his career,  so I had to believe what he was saying.

A few days later,  I was in the gym at the same time as Duran and it was fascinating watching him train.  He skipped rope like nobody I'd ever seen,  including the great Sugar Ray Robinson.  Duran could do things with aduran2.jpg (8670 bytes) jump rope that made for quite a show.  However,  the most entertaining of all (aside from his sparring) was watching Roberto hit the speed bag with his head.  I don't mean just banging it back and forth,  Duran could make the bag dance with his head as well as most boxers do with their hands.

However,  watching Duran spar was the real show.  In fact,  Duran didn't just spar,  he fought all out regardless of who he was in the ring with and it was common for a sparring partner to hit the canvas and be out cold.  When
Roberto would launch a body attack he'd fire vicious shots that would land with a thud.   He'd let out a "yelp" as the punch was delivered.  The high pitched noise coming from Duran's mouth would punctuate each blow and had an eerie effect.  I was impressed, to say the least, and privately thought to myself, "Glad I'm a featherweight and won't have to fight this guy".

Little did I know that my manager had been talking with Duran's trainer,  Freddie Brown,  and had agreed to let me spar with Duran.  It wasn't something I had a great desire to do,  but a fighter doesn't show his feelings so when I got the news I just acted like it was no big deal.  I was told that the only reason I'd be working with the larger Duran was for speed.   I had fast hands and would provide quickness for Duran.   Brown had assured my manager,  Johnny Flores, that Duran would work lightly and not cut down on me.

Somebody must have forgot to tell Roberto the plan and about midway thru the opening round I found myself sitting on the canvas.  I got up quickly and was OK but it occurred to me that I might be fighting for life.   When the sparring resumed I understood what Navarro had meant when describing Duran's power.  It was awesome, and even punches that most would consider average shots had something I'd never felt before.   It was like being hit with baseball bat.  Duran had  16 ounce training gloves on that looked to be padded,  but it didn't feel like they were.  This was before Roberto had been tagged "Manos de Piedra" or "Hands of Stone" in English.  I can personally verify that this is more than just a nick name, it's a fact!

Duran is a guy who considers the ring his personal domain and anybody who stepped in with him was treated as if they were caught breaking into his home.  The ring was Duran's office and he'd establish this immediately with anybody who entered,  including me.   

After the three rounds of torture with Duran,  I punched the heavy bag. The champ finished sparring with two other boxers, a lightweight and a welterweight who was beaten so badly he left the ring trembling.   After Duran stepped out of the ring Freddie Brown untied the champs gloves and pulled them off.  I was resting between rounds on the heavy bag and moved closer to Duran to get a  look at his hands.   There had to be something harder than a fist inside the gloves and I wanted to see what it was.

duran3.jpg (15847 bytes)Brown glanced over at me and said something to Duran in Spanish and the two began to laugh.  I asked Brown  "What did you say to him"?   Brown just looked at me with a smile and answered,  "I told him you were looking for the horseshoe".

I had to laugh, but honestly,  that's exactly what I was doing.  However, The only thing I found  in Duran's gloves were his fists.  Or as they would later be known, "Hands of Stone". 

About a week later, at the Los Angeles Sports Arena,  my friend and stablemate Ruben Navarro was stopped by Rudolfo Gonzalez in his last attempt to win a world title.  In the fight before the title match,  the real lightweight king Roberto Duran battered Javiar Ayala savagely and won a unanimous ten round decision. 

With the feel of those rock hard fists still fresh in my mind,  I knew that Javiar Ayala  discovered the same thing that Navarro and I had just days before.    The horseshoe had nothing on "Hands of Stone"

Interview With Marvelous Marvin Haglerhagler.jpg (10257 bytes)

By Dave Iamele

    You're Marvelous Marvin Hagler.  You are the middleweight champion of the world, an honor you've held since 1980.  In those seven years, you have successfully defended your title 12 times, ko'ing all of your foes except for future Hall of Famer, Roberto Duran.  You have been one of the very few undisputed champions of the 1980's.  You must be a happy guy, right?  No.  On this April night of 1987,  happy you ain't.  After a career that seemed to triumph over one screw job after another, tonight should have been your crowing moment.  This should have been the defining moment of your career.  Instead it's just one more screw job.   The last screw job.  Disgusted after coming out on the wrong side of a bad decision  against Ray Leonard, you turn your back on boxing.  Forever.  No come backs.  No one-more-times.  Done.

5/18/73 - 4/6/87

67 bouts    62 wins 3 losses    2 draws 52 ko's

    Over twenty years later, I sit sweating in the motel lobby of Graziano's.  It's June in Canastota, and the Hall of Fame is hopping.  I'm waiting.  Been waiting.  I'm surrounded by my gear:  tape recorder, cassettes, mic, boxing mags, interview notes, pens, boxing cards, posters, x-tra batteries, card sleeves, cigars, beers (in portable cooler), etc.  I'm hot and getting a little cranky.  I'm sweating up the suit I just had dry cleaned.   Agonizingly, I can see the cool comfort of the air conditioned bar only a few short feet away.  I can almost taste the beer.  I've been waiting for Joe Frazier for a long time.  Too long.  As I'm debating over leaving or cracking open a cold one from my supply, a bus pulls up.  Who steps out?  You do, of course.   The Marvelous One.  I ask.  You oblige.  Your thoughts --

DI: "You made more middle weight title defenses than anyone except for Carlos Monzon. . ."

MMH:    "Well, I tried.  I was one fight away from conquering the record of Carlos Monzon.  Monzon held the title for 10 years.  Over 7 1/2 years, I was already close to beating that record.  I felt as if I could have done that (beaten the record for most title defenses - 14) but you know what the outcome was.   The controversy with the Sugar Ray Leonard fight.  But it probably was for the best because I would've continued because I was only another fight away from making history in a sense."

DI: "You were known as a devastating puncher, and excellent boxer and you adapted well defensively to your opponents.  One of the best of your time.  Yet, originally, you didn't want to be a boxer, you wanted to play baseball?"

hagler2.jpg (9408 bytes)MMH:    "No.  I played all sports in school.  I was very fortunate, in a sense, to find boxing,  because you had to have the education to play baseball or basketball in college.  In boxing, you didn't have to have that, you just had to have that street (toughness).  I was too small for football.  Boxing was just made for me.  I think I was born to be a fighter."

DI: "Floyd Paterson was one of your heroes when you were coming up?"

MMH:    "Floyd Patterson is STILL one of my heroes.  He was one of my idols.  Also Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. . .Bob Foster. . .  This is why I enjoy coming to the Hall of Fame, because I get a chance to see my idols.  You get a chance to sit down and talk and just hang out with them.  It's a nice feeling."

DI: "That's what the fans enjoy too.  You didn't get a title shot until 1979 against Vito Antuofermo and then they called the bout a draw.  Why did it take so long for you to get a title shot?  Didn't the Petronelli brothers have the connections?"

MMH:    "No.  It's because we never kissed butt and that's what happened.  It's the same thing that's happening to me now in my film career.  I find out it's the same game.  It's who you know.  If you kiss butt, your career moves along a little faster.  That's what happened to me with the title shot.  I didn't kiss butt.  Another thing is I was a dangerous fighter.  At least I was very happy that Antuofermo gave me the opportunity to fight for the title.  I felt that I won that fight, but the decision was a draw.  I always said that if anything ever happens the way that it happened with Antuofermo and me, with him being able to keep the belt because he was the champion. . . well, with me in  my last fight with Ray Leonard, they seen what happened to me in the title fight with Antuofermo, and I was hoping that if it  ever happened to me, it would go in my favor.  Which it happened, and you know the outcome of that."

DI: "You didn't waste much time letting the draw get you down.  Less than a year later , you went over to England and ko'd Alan Minter in three rounds to capture the world middle weight title. . ."

MMH:    "I was the number one contender.  I was the number   one contender for three years (laughs).  Unbelievable!"

DI: "Yet, after you won the title, every fight was a title defense."

MMH:    "And every one was against the number one contender."

DI: "You never ducked anyone."

MMH:    "That's right.  I was very happy the way I finished my career.  There's no one out there that can say I ducked them.  We gave everyone an opportunity to dethrone me and prove who was a better fighter."

DI: "In all those defenses, you ko'd everyone except Roberto Duran.  That's pretty impressive."

MMH:    "Well, you see, Roberto Duran was a different kind of fighter.   Roberto Duran was a three time champion,  he had the speed of a welterweight. . . he had a lot of experience. . . for me. . . I enjoyed that fight, more than anything.   The first few rounds, I couldn't understand, because Roberto still had the speed. . . but after I started to figure out his style and to show him that anything he could do, I could do better.  To go the distance, the full fifteen rounds, that was to show you that I was the true world champion."

DI: "In your career, you didn't seem to make out too well in Philadelphia.  You lost home town decisions to Bobby Watts and Willie Monroe there.  What is it about you and Philly?  It must not be your favorite town."

MMH:    "Philadelphia was the land of opportunity for me when I look back.  All those guys could've been champion of the world if it wasn't for me.   I still respect all those fighters because they were all top rated guys, you know, Cyclone Hart, Bad Benny Briscoe. . . I mean, when you get past these guys, then you know.   That was my test to show my true ability.  To show that I had what it took to be a true world champion."

DI: "You revenged both of those losses with Watts and Monroe later. . ."

MMH:    "Well, you know, with the first Watts fight, I thought that wasn't right  and with the Willie The Worm fight, I made no excuses - I've never made no excuses, I had bronchitis at the time and my trainer didn't even want me to take the fight.  But there were just two weeks until the fight and it was an opportunity, you know?  I mean, he was rated #3 in the world and you get by this guy, maybe you get a shot at the title.  And that's what I wanted, a shot at the title."

DI: "So, basically, you retired undefeated, truthfully."

MMH:    "I feel that way.  Even the last one (the Leonard bout), which was very hard for me to swallow, because I know in my heart that this guy never beat me, but you know the controversial decision.  I felt that with a little luck . . . that the luck should go on  my side. . . but I never had any luck in the boxing game (laughs).  I just got tired of the politics and everything, and I just said `forget it', you know."

DI: "I remember we listed to the fight on pay-per-view.  We didn't pay for it, so the picture was all scrambled but back then, you could still hear it.  So it was like listening to it on the radio.  Anyway, we certainly had the impression that   you had won the fit, and I can remember everyone was shocked when they announced that Leonard was the winner.  Having watched the bout several times since, I think you clearly won the fight.  You got robbed."

MMH:    "Well, I think there's no way in the world, even by being the champion - talking about Antuofermo again - where in a draw, the belt went to the champion.  If you don't knock the champion out or you don't beat the champ convincingly, the title still remains with the  champion.  That's a lesson I learned the hard way.  So then I knew what it took for the last fight.  There's no way, I mean when I was finished with the Ray Leonard fight, I came out without a scar,   without a swollen lip, not nothing.  I mean, if you've seen the fight with me & Mugabi, I mean I was a mess.  It was a very hard fight.  But these guys came to fight, came to take away my title.  This guy (Ray Leonard) only came to survive."

DI: "You were a very active fighter until 1981, then you only had 3 or less bouts a year from 81 - 87.  Why?"

MMH:    "That had nothing to do with me.  That depends on the manager and trainers.  That's what they wanted to do, so that's the way I went."

DI: "People wondered why you never came back after the Ray Leonard bout or why there was never a rematch.  Were you just sick of getting screwed?"

MMH:    "I got screwed all my life!  I mean, you know the boxing game, and I just got fed up with it.  We did wait around for another year hoping that Leonard would give me a return match, and I think if the shoe  was on the other foot, I'd have given him the return match.  I think this guy was just waiting around for me to get older,  then he felt he'd have a better chance.  But you know, I was still very strong when I retired, and I still felt very good, but you know I waited a year, and when I saw he wasn't gonna give me a rematch, I decided that life has to go on, and I have to find another career.  Which is what I've done now with the movies and now that's what I'm chasing - It's like another title fight but now an Oscar is like a championship title (laughs)."

DI: "How's that going over in Italy?"

MMH:    "It's going very good, you know.  But it's still hard.   You can get discouraged,  but I think the boxing games helped me to keep strong and focused.  I believe that if  I put the discipline, the sacrifice, the determination that I put into boxing into this, then something's gotta come out very good."

DI: "One last question, Champ. . ."

MMH:    "I've only got four films under my belt right now. I always felt when I was doing a film, it's like the beginning of a boxing career.  So I'm like in my fifth round (laughs)!"

DI: "So you play kick-ass guys like Van Damme and Chuck Norris?!"

MMH:    "Yeah.  I like the action/adventure type of films.   I like to stay in focus and in front of the fans.  I have a lot of fans and people wonder, `where did Marvelous Marvin Hagler go?'  Now, my fans can go to the movies and still see the kid.  I hope I can do as great a job in movies as I did in the ring.  Another thing I'm trying to do is show boxers that there is another life after the ring.  You don't have to be making comebacks.  I mean the money ain't all that great, but I'm having fun making movies.  That's what's good.  Anything that you do, if you're having fun, then it's good."

DI: "And you're not getting your head punched in."

MMH:    "That's even better, not takin' a punch."

DI: "Thanks for your time, Marvelous."

MMH:    "Anytime, thank you."

    So the tape stops, and I pick up my gear.  Marvin graciously signs a couple of boxing cards for me, and I take off after another interview, or a least a cold beer.  I never did get Joe Frazier to sit down for an interview, but I got a chance to speak with the Marvelous One because of him, so Joe's all right by me.  If Marvin never wins his Oscar or isn't quite Clint Eastwood, it won't be because he didn't give it his all.  And he was Marvelous in the ring, Lord he was.

Bruno on Boxing
By Joe Bruno---Former vice president of the Boxing Writers Association and the International Boxing Writers Association

    Like Yogi once said, it was deja vu all over again.

    It what was probably the most stunning decisions since General Custer decided to take on those pesky Indians, Felix Trinidad was awarded a majority decision over Oscar de la Hoya on September 18th in Las Vegas. Judge Jerry "Robber" Roth scored it 115-113 and "Burglar" Bob Logist had it 115-114, both for Trinidad.   Glen "Highwayman" Hamada had it at 114-114, a draw.

    The Don King-bought Vegas judges perpetrated a bigger travesty than their counterparts did in New York City after the Lennox Lewis-Evander Holyfield heavyweight fight earlier this year. At least in the heavyweight fiasco that took place in New York City, Lewis got a draw. That fight produced an investigation into the honesty of the boxing judges. The De la Hoya-Trinidad robbery should mandate the same, but the fact is, everyone in the town that Bugsy built is so giddy about a possibly rematch and another huge payday, no one gives a hoot anyway.

    Just look at the ludicrous scoring of Judge "Robber" Roth. This crook gave Felix Trinidad three of the first four rounds, when in fact, it was hard to  make a case that Tito won any of the first nine rounds.

    Gil Clancy, who worked as an advisor in De La Hoya's corner said afterwards,  "I'm shocked. Don't those people (judges) know good boxing when they see it?"

    Sure they do Gil. But they see more  lucrative paydays in their pockets, if they vote for the right (the Don King-owned) fighter, much more distinctly.

    The fight went simply like this. De la Hoya won the first nine rounds easily. He out jabbed, out punched Trinidad, and he seemed able to take out Tito anytime he wanted. The tenth round was razor close, so I gave it to
Trinidad, just for showing up.

    Before the eleventh round,  Clancy, one of the most savvy trainers in the history of boxing, told De la Hoya to "simply box." The implication was that Oscar was so far ahead, only a knockout by Trinidad could give him the fight.

    Clancy's advice was on the mark. De la Hoya did what he was supposed to do in the final two rounds. He boxed and stood out of harm's way.

    Like the Holyfield fight, I watched the fight over Neil's house in sunny Sarasota, Florida with friend Felix. We all were hoping to see the much publicized "fight of the millennium." Instead we saw a masterful, but sometimes boring, boxing display by De la Hoya that made most purists giddy. The intermittent booing in the arena was probably caused by the Vegas high rollers who bet big cash on Trinidad,   and were watching their money flush
right down the drain.

    After the fight Neal, Felix and I all scored the fight the same way; 117-111 ( 9 rounds to 3 )in favor of De la Hoya. There was nary a doubt in our minds. but before the decision was announced, I told them like I did after the Holyfield fight, "Don't laugh guys, but Don King bought at least one judge. I bet one judge scored the fight a draw."

    Neal and Felix laughed heartily again, but not with the same conviction as they did after the Holyfield-Lewis fight. I  proved to be prophetic again when "Highwayman" Hamada's scorecard was announced.

    But never in my wildest imagination was I ready for what I heard next; the other two crook judges giving the fight to Trinidad.

    I rushed to my computer the following morning to read what other boxing scribes around the country had thought about the decision. Only Mike Katz of the New York Daily News, (who has a running feud with De la Hoya and constantly calls him "chicken"), scored the fight a draw. Everyone else had it for De la Hoya. Some had it closer than I had , but all for De la Hoya nevertheless.

    Then I turned on the Sports Reporters on ESPN and New York Daily News diminutive sports columnist Mike Lupica (I'm being kind. The man's Pee Wee Herman, but not as tough) actually said, "I thought Felix Trinidad won the fight."

    Now I felt much better, since this is the same Mike Lupica whom I   never saw at a single fight, or boxing press conference that I covered in New York City from 1978-1989. To Lupica, boxing and most fellow sportswriters are way beneath him. Lupica's a member of the elite, Fourth Estate pseudo-intelligencia, who look upon us peons as if we are hemorrhoids on the backside of society.

    After the fight, Oscar had a stunned incredulous smile pasted across his handsome face. He said, "Trinidad is a very strong fighter. I am hurt inside emotionally.  Honestly in my heart I thought I won the fight.  I really believe I was giving him a boxing lesson, but apparently it wasn't appreciated by people (the judges).  I really believe I was in control of the fight.'

    "Give him the last four rounds and it is still 8 to 4," de la Hoya added. "I feel in my heart that I tried to box and give a good lesson. The people at ringside didn't see that. I thought I had it in the bag, I swear in my heart I had it in the bag.  I was never, ever hurt.  I really, really felt he was hurt two or three times.  But still, the strategy was not to knock him out.  I was not even thinking of knocking him out." 

    De la Hoya wasn't the only person in Vegas stunned and hurt financially by the three unscrupulous judge's decision. His promoter Bullspit Bob Arum said afterward, "I don't know what the hell people are looking at scoring a bout. I have never been so damn stunned.  There was a lot of talk about Oscar not being able to lose a decision in Las Vegas, I think the judges went in with that mind set.  If you win eight of the first nine rounds, it should be in the bag." 

    Guys, it was in the bag. Don King's bag, you fools. In fact, in the ring after the decision was announced, King, with his usual mocking style, told Oscar,   "You see, what you need is a better promoter."

    A promoter more capable of influencing (buying?) the judges.

    The bottom line is this. Boxing people who understand what they were watching, and actually know how to judge a fight, all had it bigtime for Oscar. The others, some who see a fight as often as Halley's Comet makes an
appearance, or have a personal dislike for Oscar that clouds their judgment, either had it a draw, or somehow scored the fight for Trinidad because he was moving aggressively forward for most of the fight.

    The operative word here is "effective aggressiveness."   Effective aggressiveness (De la Hoya), clean punching (De la Hoya), defense   (De la Hoya), and ring generalship (De la Hoya), are the four criteria supposedly used to judge a fight. (The great Willie Pep once won a round without throwing a single punch because his defense was so spellbinding.)

    If you are a stickler for statistics, CompuBox had De La Hoya landing 263 of 648 punches, Trinidad 166 of 462. (41% to 36%) Oscar landed 97 more punches, and the harder blows throughout the fight were consistently landed by De la Hoya, especially his piston like left jab, which seemed nailed to Tito's nose throughout the first nine rounds. The only power punches of any note landed by Trinidad were fired in the last two rounds.

   So kiddies, save up your pennies. The rematch is in the bag too. The only person who can gum the works is De la Hoya himself. Oscar could retire and tell them all to shove it. But don't count on it. Oscar has pride, and the fear of being called chicken by more people than Mike Katz, should be enough to force him to fight Trinidad again.

    There is a precedent for a champion never fighting again after being screwed in Las Vegas. After he was robbed in a twelve round fight against then-Golden Boy Sugar Ray Leonard in 1989, Marvelous Marvin Hagler decided to star in action movies in Italy rather than submit himself, his pride, and his fight record to the rogue Las Vegas judges. If the next time they meet, Oscar greats Hagler with a "caio paisan", then his proposed rematch against Trinidad could go right down the crapper.

    Show real guts Oscar. Not intestinal fortitude, which most fight fans know you have anyway. Use the fortitude of your mind. Tell them all to take a hike. Make commercials. Make movies. Make Spanish albums. But don't give them what they (King) want so dearly; a chance to screw you, and the paying public again.

    I hate to say it, but this one was a pleasure to watch.

    Former great champion Julio Cesar Chavez had his clock totally cleaned by club fighter Willie Wise on the undercard of the Ricardo Lopez-Will Grigsby title fight in Las Vegas on October 2nd. Wise won virtually every
round, completely dominating Chavez, and almost knocking the Mexican legend down twice. If Wise had been a bigger banger ( he has only has seven career knockouts), Chavez would've surely been blasted out. The judges scorecards were unanimous for Wise,  118-111, 117-111 and 116-112.  How anyone gave Chavez four rounds is another example of the criminal judges in Las Vegas. The online scoring tabulated by Showtime had it 10-0 for Wise. This reporter had it 9-1 for Wise, giving Chavez only the first round.

    As usual, Chavez made excuses for his poor performance.

    Through swollen lips Chavez said after the fight, "Wise got his confidence against me and I was preparing for an easy fight." 

    Then Chavez hinted he might be foolish enough to try to fight again, the next time against a banger like junior welterweight champion Kostya Tszyu.     "I am still the challenger for the junior welterweight title," Chavez
said.  "Preparing for a championship fight is a lot different than for an easy fight like this." 

    Easy fight? Maybe Chavez was hit a lot harder than it appeared.

    If Don King is greedy enough, and of course he is, and Chavez stupid enough (this one's up for grabs), a fight against Tszyu could be suicidal for Chavez.

    It won't be a pretty sight.

  Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

    This shocking tidbit was in a New York Daily News, written by TV columnist Bob Raissman. "In a letter to the Miami Herald, Showtime boxing analyst Ferdie Pacheco ripped into TVKO's coverage of Felix (Tito) Trinidad's
win over Oscar De La Hoya. Pacheco accused TVKO's announcers of being pro De La Hoya, and directed much of his wrath at the guys from CompuBox who keep the punch stats. He claimed they work for Bob Arum, De La Hoya's promoter."

    The two guys Pacheco is slinging mud at are Logan Hobson (previously   a boxing writer for the now-defunct United Press International), and Bob Canobbio, co owners of Compubox. I've known Logan for twenty years (and Bob for the last fifteen years. I distinctly remember telling both that this punch stat thing would never work (I also thought General Custer was right about those damn Indians). Both Logan and Bob are above reproach. They work only for themselves, and in this business of counting punches, integrity and good eyesight are of the utmost importance. Bob Arum is not their friend. if anything, both are closer to the Duvas, and they don't give the Duva's
fighters a break either.

    But this fraud Pacheco, "The Fright Doctor," has been nothing but a shill for Don King for years. Listen to Pacheco working a fight on Showtime, or a pay-per-view promoted by King, and right away you know which fighter Don King wants to win. It's like the other fighter is not even in the ring. In the journalism business, his peers rank Ferdie Pacheco somewhere below President Clinton for integrity, and Donald Trump for shamelessness,  and that's saying  a mouthful.

    If Don King ever gets forced out of the boxing business, Pacheco might have to get a job shilling the freak show for Barnum and Bailey's. For that Pacheco is eminently qualified.
Tyson.jpg (8961 bytes)    I'm not sure if this falls under the category of "man bites dog", or "dog might bite man again."
    Former heavyweight Mike Tyson, who chomped off part of Evander Holyfield's ear in a 1997 title fight, said if a referee fails to protect him in his next bout, he would react in the same way. "I would do it again under those circumstances,'' Tyson told the Los Angeles Times. "Referee Mills Lane wasn't protecting me from head butts. He didn't handle the situation appropriately.''

    Tyson continued his self-serving diatribe with, " In retaliation, I'll fight back because nobody is fighting for me. I have to defend myself. It is just human nature to defend yourself.  Nobody ever has any sympathy or pity
for me."

    Wrong, Vampire teeth. I know one boxing columnist who thinks you're unfairly labeled "America's Bogey Man." The same columnist probably thinks President Clinton's didn't inhale, or have "sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky."

    Still, one thing's a lock.  The Las Vegas commission, who reinstated Tyson's boxing license after a 15 month suspension for the above bite, is on pins and needles waiting to see if Tyson goes (biting) berserk again against
Orlin Norris later this month in Vegas. If Tyson does resort to form "protecting himself", the commission is sure to give Tyson more than an just an earful.

JOE FRAZIER … "SMOKIN’ JOE – THE BLACK MARCIANO"frazier1.jpg (10325 bytes)
By Tracy Callis

Joe Frazier "came out smoking" at the opening bell and was still smoking 15 rounds later if necessary. He was a swarming, non-stop, perpetual motion attacker who fought from a crouch. A sturdy man with a tough jaw, powerhouse left hook (his right wasn’t bad either), and tremendous endurance, Joe came straight at his man, bobbing and weaving as he moved in.

Smokin’ Joe wiped out most competition easily and quickly. Only the better fighters could go any distance with him. He won the title "by degrees" following the action which stripped Muhammad Ali of the crown. New York state first recognized him as champion and, as he beat man after man, popular opinion considered him to be the best heavyweight around. Finally, in 1970 he knocked out Jimmy Ellis to become THE world champion.

Only two men defeated him in the professional ring – Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. Frazier fought three bouts with Ali, winning one without question and losing two, both of which were extremely close. He and Ali went 41 rounds against each other and Joe never left his feet. Only two men ever knocked him down – George Foreman and Oscar Bonavena (both men well over 200 pounds).

On the other hand, he is one of only four men to knock Ali down. He knocked out George Chuvalo who had never been stopped. He flattened huge Buster Mathis. He leveled the lighter, faster Bob Foster. All of this goes to show Joe’s power and quickness.

Stockton (1977 p 92) wrote that Frazier "… was an excellent body puncher and relied primarily on his powerful left hook. He exerted constant pressure and was fairly hard to hit with his bobbing and weaving style. He had no trouble with cuts and took a good punch."

Houston (1975 p 126) said "Frazier is murder at close and medium-range, ripping vicious hooks and uppercuts to the body and switching to the head, often snorting and grunting as he punches."

Litsky (1975 p 111) described Frazier as an "aggressive, relentless fighter who withstood punishment so that he could get close enough to his opponent to deal out punishment."

Cosell (1973 p 218) called him "… a very good, very tough fighter." Carpenter (1975 p 136) said Frazier was "pure aggression."

frazier2.jpg (10180 bytes)Muhammad Ali said "Frazier is not a great boxer. He is just a great street fighter" (see McCallum 1975 p 75).

Henry Cooper, British heavyweight, paired Frazier with Sonny Liston saying, "They were slugger-killers from the hard American school". He added, "You could hit Frazier with your Sunday punch and you could break your hand" (see Atyeo and Dennis 1975 p 82).

Yank Durham, Frazier’s manager, said the things that separated Joe from other good fighters were his determination and strength (see Durant 1976 p 165).

Durant (1976 pp 166 226) wrote "Joe’s great strength comes from his massive shoulders and huge arm and thigh muscles." He described the third Ali-Frazier bout as "… one of the roughest, most dramatic championship bouts ever staged."

Frazier is often compared with Rocky Marciano since their fighting styles were extremely similar. Joe was bigger than Rocky in physical dimensions but whether he was bigger on punch or chin is debatable. Odd (1974 p 68) wrote that he was correctly called the "Black Marciano" due to his physical make-up, fighting style, strength, durability, and punching power.

Atyeo and Dennis (1975 p 82) wrote "Joe Frazier was - perhaps still is – a master slugger, a throwback to the days when men fought each other with bare fists face to face across a chalk mark on the floor. His nickname ‘Black Marciano’ was an apt description, for like ‘The Rock’, any finesse Frazier had in his squat chunky body was entirely eclipsed by his unshakable determination to knock out his opponent."

McCallum (1974 p 343) likened Joe unto Marciano saying they were built alike and fought alike, using a "jungle technique." He goes on to say that Joe was not vulnerable to cuts like Rocky was.

McCallum (1975 p 74) wrote "Like Marciano, Frazier came to fight." He added "Joe was dedicated in hisfrazier3.jpg (13925 bytes) training just as Rocky was. Both of them trained as they fought and their gym fights were wars. They were willing to take a punch to land one of their own. Both men smashed away at the body to soften up an opponent and to open up the head defenses."

Grombach (1977 p 89) wrote that Frazier was often compared to Rocky Marciano because of high dedication to training and explosive punching.

Teddy Brenner, former matchmaker for Madison Square Garden, said "Frazier throws more punches and throws them faster than Marciano" (see McCallum 1974 p 343).

Cooper (1978 p 151) wrote "Joe was a better fighter than a lot of people believed. There wasn’t a lot of finesse with him, but he was something akin to Marciano" and added "Remember this … He fought Ali when Muhammad was at his best, and he even beat Ali with the title at stake."

Gutteridge (1975 p 35) argued "… Frazier, I am convinced, was strong enough to have walked through many of the idolized heavies of yesterday."

In the opinion of this writer, Frazier was one of the all-time great heavyweights. For sure, he was strong enough to have walked through many of the idolized heavies of yesterday.


· Atyeo, D. and Dennis, F. 1975. The Holy Warrior – Muhammad Ali. New York: Simon and Schuster

· Carpenter, H. 1975. Boxing: A Pictorial History. Chicago: Henry Regnery Company

· Cooper, H. 1978. The Great Heavyweights. Secaucus, New Jersey : Chartwell Books, Inc.

· Cosell, H. 1973. Cosell. Chicago: The Playboy Press

· Durant, J. 1976. The Heavyweight Champions. New York: Hastings House Publishers

· Grombach, J. 1977. The Saga of Fist. New York: A.S. Barnes and Company, Inc.

· Gutteridge, R. 1975. Boxing: The Great Ones. London: Pelham Books Ltd.

· Houston, G. 1975. SuperFists. New York: Bounty Books

· Litsky, F. 1975. Superstars. Secaucus, New Jersey: Derbibooks, Inc.

· McCallum, J. 1974. The World Heavyweight Boxing Championship. Radnor, Pa.: Chilton Book Company

· McCallum, J. 1975. The Encyclopedia of World Boxing Champions. Radnor, Pa.: Chilton Book Company

· Odd, G. 1974. Boxing: The Great Champions. London: The Hamlyn Publishing Group Limited

· Stockton, R. 1977. Who Was the Greatest. Phoenix: Boxing Enterprises

Power Punches
By Lee Michaels

women.jpg (13655 bytes)October 8 and October 9, 1999 - two of the most historic dates in one of the biggest farces in sports: women's boxing.

On Friday, October 8, Laila Ali, daughter of Muhammad, made her debut in boxing a successful one, knocking out her unheralded opponent, April Fowler, 31 seconds after the opening bell.

The next evening, boxing history was made when the "Sweet Science" staged a rotten event, a battle of the sexes.  Margaret McGregor, 5-foot-9 and weighing in at 129 pounds, squared off against Loi Chow, 5-foot-2 and 128
pounds in a 4-round exhibition. I would tell you the result, but I decided not to wait until the bout was over to write this column. Why? Because the outcome is irrelevant.

As was the debut of Laila Ali. For those of you who recognize women's boxing as a legitimate sport, I apologize. I apologize because you are so ignorant in your reasoning. And just what is that reasoning? Is it that Laila Ali will
bring a legitimate woman's name to the sport? That a woman fighting a man will prove that both sexes are equal at everything they do? That fighters like Christy Martin and Lucia Riker can actually box and should therefore be
recognized as legit fighters?

Let's investigate for a moment. In men's boxing, the best defensive fighter is Pernell Whitaker. In women's boxing, the best defensive fighter is….

martin.jpg (4618 bytes)Hence, my point. There is no defense in women's boxing! There is no technique in women's boxing. My evidence - the most popular woman's boxer ever, Martin. Martin is one thing and one thing only: a brawler. A brawler with a straight-ahead style who gets hit and bloodied rather often. Yet she is the king of her domain.

Actually, technically speaking, she isn't. Lucia Riker is easily the most complete boxer/slugger in the sport. But she's the only one. Sure, many women claim to be her equivalent, but where are they? Why haven't we seen them yet? Lack of recognition, you say? Correct, you are. However, you left out a comment before "lack of recognition." Lack of talent.

Which leads to the disgusting display between McGregor and her male opponent. What needs to be addressed first is this pitiful excuse of a human male known as Loi Chow. I personally would like to thank Mr. Chow for not only setting a wonderful example for   humanity, but for disgracing males like myself who were taught not to hit a woman. In a world where hitting a woman is a sin, Chow volunteered to do so in a very public forum. Sure, McGregor agreed to this, but her motivation was obvious. She wanted to prove a point, that a woman can beat a man at his own game. What point did Chow want to prove? That man now has a new arena in which to beat up a woman besides the privacy of a home?

Mr. Chow, I wish I could e-mail this to you, you pathetic human being. You are not only a disgrace to society, you are also a disgrace to the thousands of men who actually attempt to make boxing a legitimate sport, as hard of a job as that is.

As for McGregor, you too are a disgrace. A disgrace to the women who are at least attempting to legitimize their "sport." It is actions like this which will prevent women's boxing from being able to stage competitive, safe fights. Rather than McGregor search for a semi-formidable female opponent like most female fighters do, she took the high road. And because of that, she made a laughable "sport" even more laughable.

Laila Ali's situation is not laughable, but at this stage in the "sport" of women's boxing, the only attention she can bring to it is negative attention. She is 21 years old, and before October 8th, had never fought in a boxing match of any kind, amateur or professional. She is also 5-foot-10 and 166 pounds, which is gigantic for a female fighter. Finding legitimate opponents at her weight class will be nearly impossible. Sure she could lose 30-35 pounds and fight Martin or Riker, but that's more fantasy than reality. So who is there for her to box that will both legitimize both her career and the "sport" in general?

I'm still waiting for the answer, folks.

Therefore, Laila Ali, until proven otherwise, is only a name with absolutely no boxing credentials. And now all of a sudden she is the future of her "sport." How sad.

Let's accept the facts. A woman, in physical terms, was not created to take the physical punishment that boxing so often dishes out. A woman's breasts are not meant to absorb punch after punch after punch. Further more, a
woman's breasts are not meant to be stuffed under some sort of protective boxing gear and THEN pounded with punch after punch after punch.

In order for women's boxing to become legit, more attention needs to be directed towards their training methods. It all begins in the gym. Once stamina and technical skills are correctly taught to the female boxing population, then the pool of legit female boxers will increase.

Until then, female boxing will only be a spectacle, the equivalent of the men's Toughman Contest.

Even more important is that it's also a tragedy waiting to happen. One day, the all-offense/no-defense style of women's boxing will come back to haunt the "sport." A bout will occur where one or both opponents show no defensive skills at all. Someone will get seriously hurt, media coverage will ensue, and then wham! Another tragic black eye for the sport of boxing.

What will happen then?

I'm still waiting for the answer, folks…

Jabs and Uppercuts

A few feelings about some legit boxing items…

…Just to put my two cents in, Felix Trinidad did not win his bout against Oscar Dumb La Hoya. Dumb La Hoya LOST the bout. Question for Oscar: If you so outclassed Trinidad by out-boxing him in the first eight rounds of the fight, would it have been asking too much for you to do so for the final four rounds? By doing so, you would have left no question marks with the three judges. The outcome would have been signed, sealed and delivered in your favor. Instead, Team Dumb La Hoya executed one of the worst strategic moves in the history of championship boxing.Even more disturbing about Dumb La Hoya was his recent appearance on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno. Oscar said he wanted to put on a boxing clinic that night to prove to everyone that he could box, move and defend himself. However, Oscar added that the fans were not accepting towards his style, so he will go back to the brawling style he used against Julio Caesar Chavez in their second bout. Seeing that future opponents for Dumb La Hoya may include such names as Trinidad, Ike Quartey, Fernando Vargas, David Reid and Shane Mosley, just to name a few, this doesn't seem to be a good idea. Simply put, this is a fighter without neither direction or security in the boxing world.

…Speaking of Mosley, the only thing I can see holding him back in the welterweight division is pacing and stamina. Against Wilfredo Rivera, Mosley tried to do too much too soon and got tired early. He was not yet in
welterweight shape.  Mosley looked great physically, but his conditioning needs to match the physique. Once it does, he may be the best welter out there.

…Catch Prince Naseem Hamed on Conan O'Brien lately? Hamed made a typical Hamed-like entrance to his seat. After dancing through the crowd for about 3 minutes to hip-hop music, Hamed finally took his seat next to a shocked Conan. After a one-minute interview about absolutely nothing, Conan told Hamed that he'd run out of time. Show over. An absolute PR disaster for Team Hamed.

…I will continue to repeat this until the bout is over. Holyfield over Lewis in their rematch. No way Holyfield looks this bad in two straight bouts. Lewis will be overconfident, throwing bombs, Holyfield will counter with
lethal combos, and tim-berrrrr!

E-mail me your opinion of the worst strategic moves made in championship boxing history and I'll post them in the next column. Otherwise, send any comments/opinions to
leebubba@aol.com. Until next time


by Arne Steinberg

    "Hey, Wesley Mouzon," a voice called out across Frazier's gym in Philadelphia.

    I looked around until I thought I had located him standing near me ---- a tall, quiet, well dressed man who carried himself with some dignity.

    "Wesley Mouzon?" I said.  "How do I know that name?"

    "You're too young to know me," he answered abruptly.   "I had my last fight in 1946."

    "Well, remind me," I said.  "Who did you fight?"  I knew I had come across the name before, somehow connected with the history of the lightweight division.

    Seeing that he couldn't escape easily, he began to name some of his opponents.
"I fought Ike Williams . . .Bob Montgomery . . .Leo Rodak, the featherweight champion . . . Allie Stolz."

    Mouzon told me he had been trained by Gene Buffalo, who in turn had been taught by the great Jack Blackburn, trainer of Joe Louis.  So I was talking to a link back to the greatest fighters of the early 1900's, since Blackburn, out of Philadelphia, had fought Joe Gans and Sam Langford just after the turn of the century.

    Mouzon asked me what was going on earlier near the front of the gym where he had seen me surrounded by a number of long retired Philadelphia fighters who were taking turns illustrating fine points of the game, some of them whacking me around with enthusiasm as they demonstrated.

    "They were giving me a beating," I told Mouzon with a laugh.

    "You got to be careful,' he said.

    My curiosity whetted by our talk, I decided to look up Mouzon's fights the next time I was in a good library.  Armed with the dates of his bouts with Ike Williams, Rodak, and Bob Montgomery from their records in the Ring record book, I set out to search through the old newspaper file.

    Mouzon's 1945 ten rounder with then NBA lightweight champion Ike Williams ended in a draw.  One judge gave the fight to Mouzon, six rounds to four, while the other two scored it a draw by 4-4-2 margins.  The write-up said Mouzon was eighteen years old at the time, in his second year as a pro.

    I stopped for a moment.  Eighteen years old?  In 1945?   He had told me his last fight was in 1946.

    A few fights after the draw with Williams, the eighteen year old whiz scored a clean knockout in six rounds over Leo Rodak.  It was the first time in his fourteen year career that the former NBA featherweight champion had been down for the full count of ten.  Mouzon was described as " a chocolate blur " in action, with a rapid fire attack capped by a devastating right hand.

    Wesley had just turned nineteen four days before he met Bob Montgomery in a non-title bout at Shibe Park in Philadelphia.  The threat of rain caused the promoters to rush the main event on earlier than scheduled, and Mouzon scored a stunning second round knockout over the holder of the world lightweight title, New York State version.

    "Right hands did it," said a jubilant Mouzon in his dressing room.  "I caught him early."

    Mouzon's victory earned him a title shot against Montgomery three months later, on November 26, 1946.  The nineteen year old challenger was rated an 8-5 favorite to take the title and Mouzon's trainer, Gene Buffalo, agreed with the odds.   "No question about it," he said. "New champ tonight.  No question."

    In an unusual situation created by Mouzon's fast rise to title contention, his co-manager Tom Montgomery was not allowed to work in Mouzon's corner for this fight because of Tom's family relationship with Mouzon's opponent.  Tom was Bob Montgomery's brother!  When he had originally gotten a piece of young Wes' contract, he had no idea that Mouzon was going to advance so quickly into the title picture.

    Mouzon came in at a surprisingly light 132  3/4 on the day of the fight, while Montgomery just made the lightweight limit at 135.  Thirteen thousand fans in Philadelphia's  Convention Hall watched as Mouzon gave Montgomery a boxing lesson for the first four rounds, working off a beautiful left jab and scoring repeatedly with vicious flurries of punches to the head.

    But Montgomery survived the onslaught and in the fifth the tide turned as Bob began to reach his younger opponent with a  withering body attack.    Soon Mouzon was cut over his left eye, and his nose and mouth bled.     He slowed down noticeably, but rallied to fight back fiercely at times.

    In the eighth round the end appeared near as a left hook by Montgomery shook Wes badly.  At this point Mouzon staged a tremendous rally, throwing everything he had left at Montgomery in one final attempt to turn the tide.  He managed to rock Montgomery with a solid right hand, but it was his last gasp.  Montgomery withstood the battering and came back to finish Mouzon with four solid shots to the head, knocking the challenger part way through the ropes where he was counted out.

    Mouzon cried in the ring when he realized he had lost in his chance at the title.

    "Don't think Mouzon isn't a great fighter," the victorious Montgomery said after the fight.  "He might be a champion someday."

    But the somedays were never to come for nineteen year old Wes.  In his dressing room after the fight he complained that he couldn't see out of his right eye.   The commission doctor called in an eye specialist who determined that Mouzon had suffered a detached retina during the bout.  His career was over at the age of nineteen.

    "I had my last fight in 1946," Mouzon had said to me when I first  met him.  Now I understood why he remembered the year so well.

    When I asked about Mouzon at the gym I found that most of the fighters and trainers knew nothing about his career.  Light heavyweight Jerry Martin was surprised to hear that Mouzon had fought for a title. 
I asked Martin what he did know about Wes.

    "Well, he's a quiet kind of guy.  He doesn't say much.   He's in the gym late in the afternoon," Martin said.  "I think he comes after work."

    What was Mouzon like as a trainer, I asked.  "Well, I can tell you this," Martin said.  "This guy Dwight Braxton he trains always does better sparring with me on the days when Wesley's there."

    Trainer Georgie Benton knew Mouzon.

    "Yeah, Wes -- he was a beautiful fighter," Benton said.   "He had a style people like to watch."  According to Benton, Mouzon moved to New York after his career ended and went into some other line of work.  He had only recently moved back to Philadelphia and gotten involved with boxing again after an absence from the sport of many years.

    The next time I ran into Mouzon in Frazier's gym, I told him I had looked up his record.  While his fighter Dwight Braxton pounded the heavy bag, we discussed some of his fights.  "I just caught him before he was warmed up," Wes said of his two round kayo of Montgomery.

    I brought up the title fight with Montgomery, mentioning I had read that Montgomery was outboxed so badly in the early rounds that at one point he fell on his face after missing a punch.  Mouzon looked off in the distance.  "Yeah, I remember that," he said.  "He missed and then went off balance.

    "It was just one of those things," Mouzon said of the injury to his eye  that ended his career.  "I see Bob from time to time.   We're friends.  He runs a bar here in Philadelphia, you know.

    "Actually, guys like Williams and Montgomery, with the style they had, they were easy for me to fight.  Allie Stolz, he was good.  Very experienced, a very smart fighter.  You know he fought for the title three times."

    The ringwise Stolz had handed Mouzon his first loss, taking a ten round decision over the seventeen year old fighter.  (Mouzon ended his career with a 23-3-1 record in 27 fights).

    "I didn't find out until too late in the fight with Stolz that he couldn't take it too well to the body," Mouzon said.  "I remember I knocked him down late in the fight, and then I couldn't hold back my next punch.  I hit him while he was already down.  They gave him a rest and let the fight continue."

    Mouzon looked down at the floor of the gym, reliving the moment, twisting his right hand in a downward direction.   I noticed that the punch actually consisted of a sudden twist of the arm, nothing else.  At the end of it his hand was turned almost completely around.  This very short, turned over punch was a characteristic of some of the great fighters in the early days of this century.

    "You must have had quite a right hand," I said, "knocking out Bob Montgomery in two rounds."

    "Oh, no," Mouzon disagreed.  "It wasn't that good.   We were always working to improve it."

    "You were very tall for a lightweight," I observed.   Mouzon is well over six feet tall.

    "No, not then.  I wasn't this tall then," Wes said.   "I grew several inches after I stopped fighting.  I was just a kid then.   I hadn't even started to reach my full development as a fighter."

    Mouzon's face brightened up when I told him about his trainer Gene Buffalo's comment before the title fight with Montgomery --- "No question about it.   New champ tonight.  No question."

    "Yeah, he was like that," Wes said.  "He would tell me before a fight, 'I saw this guy you're fighting.  You'll beat him easy,'  or something like that.  Then after the fight he'd tell me he'd never seen the guy." Mouzon laughed.  "He was just saying that to make me relax."

    Finished with his work on the heavy bag, Dwight Braxton came over as we talked.  "You watch me," Braxton said.  "I'm going to be something.  I'm going to do something."

    They told me Dwight had just returned from a fight in Johannesburg where he had scored an upset tenth round knockout against a highly regarded African fighter.  Mouzon mentioned that he and co-manager Quenzell McCall were having difficulty getting Braxton fights.  I wished the fighter and trainer luck.

    A couple years passed before I saw Mouzon again.  He was sitting almost unnoticed in a crowded hotel lobby late in the evening after Dwight Braxton, now WBC light-heavyweight champion of the world, had just defeated former champion Matthew Saad Muhammad for the second time in devastating fashion.

    I asked Mouzon about Braxton's development since I had last seen them.

    "When I got back in boxing after I moved back to Philadelphia in 1978, I helped train four fighters," Wes said.  "One of them was Dwight.   He was the least promising of the four at that time.  But he was dedicated.   He made the trip in from Camden every day to work out at the gym in Philadelphia.   He never missed a workout.

    "With Dwight, we practiced and practiced and practiced the speed of his punches.  You know, that was one of my greatest assets as a fighter," Mouzon said.

    I remembered the description of Mouzon as "a chocolate blur."

    "You know, a lot of these big guys, they don't punch that fast.   The other light heavyweights, they don't expect Dwight to be that fast.  Or that strong.  He surprises them.  He's very strong.

    "When we first started, he was a walk-in type fighter.  We did a lot of work on defense --- on moving his head.  Now its second nature to him."

    "At what stage could you tell you had a real fighter on your hands?" I asked.

    "Well, in a fight in Baltimore, his fourth pro fight, against a guy named Louis Butler, I saw he could take a punch and come back.  He really got nailed.  A right hand caught him flush, but he stayed in there.

    "After the round back in the corner I said to him, 'You've got to win this final sixth round big to get the decision.  We're fighting in this guy's home town.'  And he did.  He went out and came back to win that round by a big margin.  That showed me something."

    "By the way," I said.  "What sort of work did you do those years you spent in New York?"

    "I was in the dry cleaning business," Mouzon said.   "I was a spotter.  No, not just a spotter --- I was a silk spotter."   Mouzon smiled.  "There was good money in that.

    "And I had never finished school, you know. I had been a high school drop out.  So while I worked in New York, I went to school at night and got my high school diploma.  Then I went to a Junior College, too.  I got a degree in accounting, although I don't use that now.

    "When I moved back to Philadelphia, I kept on working as a a spotter.  I actually like the job.  I liked the challenge, like anything else.   It's a difficult job to do well.  But after Dwight beat Mike Rossman, I felt free to give it up."

    So more than thirty years after his hopes of realizing his full potential as a fighter were dashed, Mouzon quietly found a way to come back and demonstrate his ability in another facet of the boxing game.  Since he had been through it all himself, he is a cool and knowledgeable man to have in the corner between rounds.  Boxing wisdom handed down from years past showed up in Braxton's complete outclassing of his opponents during his rise to the title.

    From his accomplishments in a three year ring career that ended prematurely at the age of nineteen, Mouzon was obviously one of the more gifted fighters ever to step into a ring.  In fact, not a single one of the top lightweight champions in the history of the division could claim to have reached a comparable stage of development at the early age Mouzon did.  Had his career not been cut off   suddenly in 1946, his potential would have been almost unlimited.  But somehow in the years that have passed since that time, the story of Wesley Mouzon has been strangely overlooked.

Necessary Toughness: A Story Of Ray Oliveira
By John Vena

    This past January, I ran into an old friend at the annual Southern New England Golden Gloves Tournament held at the P.A.L. in Fall River, Massachusetts.  I had not seen Ray Oliveira in person since he had lost a close decision and his NABF Junior Welterweight Championship to Washington D.C.'s Reggie Green in July of '97.  I was thrilled that he remembered me since I attended the same gym with him for only a short time during the
early to mid 90's.

    While pursuing a degree at Umass-Dartmouth, I decided to fully indulge in my passion for the sport of boxing by participating in it.  What I learned from my involvement with the people who regularly worked out there was the discipline and the toughness necessary in becoming a successful boxer.  To be a boxer, one needs a multitude of guts and inner strength that can for the most part be difficult to find.   Win or lose, throughout Ray Oliveira's
career, he has always managed to muster this strength.  Fighters like Ray Oliveira had to, because he grew up one of 19 brothers and sisters.

    Anyone who puts on a pair of boxing trunks and fights another individual in front of thousands of people shows a lot about their personality.  When following the life of a boxer, you are bound to see some considerable accomplishments. Having said this, I'm sure you can recollect many fighters who could be described as a thrill-a-minute person to be around.

    While reminiscing with Oliveira about old gym wars and characters, I decided to mention one of my favorite gym stories.  Ray had already been in some fairly big fights before I began training at the P.A.L.  In a span of
nine months, Oliveira had retired hard hitting Tracy Spann, lost a tough decision to Zack "Attack" Padilla and another close verdict to Jake "The Snake" Rodriguez.  Oliveira needed to resurrect his steadily sinking career
from his two successive setbacks.  What better way than to pair off with the top contender of the division at the time: recently dethroned Charles "The Natural" Murray.

    Murray was nicknamed "The Natural" for his innate boxing ability and a straight right hand he used to knock out many of his opponents.  If Murray was matched with a solid pressure fighter, however, he would have difficulty establishing his rhythm and keeping his opponent at a distance from which he would prefer to throw his right hand.  Jake Rodriguez was successful in stifling Murray's game plan when he won his IBF Junior Welterweight Championship from him in February of 1994.

    Oliveira also executed this smothering style effectively.  It wasn't always Oliveira's customary style.  Earlier in his career, Oliveira was nicknamed "Sucra"* for his stick and move style.  A bullet wound above his right knee however, abruptly handicapped Oliveira's mobility and he was forced to fight in a more stationary position.  Fortunately, Ray adapted very well as a pressure fighter.  He earned a shot at Zack Padilla's WBO Junior
Welterweight Title when he punished Tracy Spann for six one sided rounds until the bout was stopped.  In his losing effort against Padilla, the two combined to throw 3,020 punches.  This CompuBox record shattered the
previous record (which also involved Padilla) by some 600 punches.  No recorded fight since has come close in total punches thrown.

    Throughout his preparation for Murray, Oliveira had looked very sharp.   On the Monday before he was scheduled to meet Murray in a ten round fight, Kippy "Top Cat" Diggs of Cape Cod, Massachusetts was asked to come in and spar with Oliveira.  With the possible exception of Ralph Chaplick, an old amateur nemesis of Oliveira, Kippy was one of the most useful sparring partners Ray worked with when getting ready for a fight.  Diggs also gave a decent impression of Murray's style and threw a hard right hand.

    At the time, Kippy was an up and coming, unbeaten welterweight contender who usually looked competitive against Oliveira for about two rounds.   However, after Kippy would empty his bag of tricks, Oliveira would pummel him until their sparring session ended. 

    By the time the two were ready to spar, I was done with my typical microwave workout and therefore ready to sit back and enjoy these two beef it out.   In the second round of sparring, Diggs missed with a left hook.  Or should I say his glove did.  Kippy's elbow landed flush on Oliveira's nose.

Crack!  Immediately, the action stopped.  With the exception of Oliveira's intermittent expletives, there wasn't a sound heard in the gym.  The guys were all shocked and I felt terribly for Ray as the incident seemed to jeopardize his upcoming fight.  His fight with Murray was an opportunity to thrust him back into title contention.  He was also being mentioned as a potential opponent for Oscar de la Hoya. 

    The next day, I approached Libby Medeiros, a dear friend of mine and Oliveira's chief second.  To my dismay, he told me the fight was still on despite Oliveira suffering a broken nose.  The fact that Ray was still going to fight Murray in a critical crossroads bout that could forever affect his reputation startled me.

    In my two years of attending the Fall River P.A.L. and being a devoted fan to the sport of boxing, I had seen and read of many extraordinary feats of the "Sweet Science."  Besides the many characteristics I admire about a
boxer, what I have always found intriguing is the achievement of overcoming adversity.   For example, Tommy Morrison broke his jaw and came back to knock out Joe Hipp. A year before the Oliveira and Kippy Diggs sparring accident, I watched in amazement as Oliveira bewildered Vinny Pazienza in a sparring match when Ray was clearly outweighed by 35 to 40 pounds.  Now Oliveira would be faced with one of the most formidable opponents of his career with a broken schnozz.

    I believed in my heart that Oliveira was capable of defeating Murray,but I couldn't resist having doubt in him because of his ailment.  That Thursday, a day before Oliveira would turn 26 years old, Oliveira and Murray would
meet in a ten round main event on ESPN.  In my opinion, while standing in the ring, Oliveira looked nervous.  It was also surprising to hear him in a pre-fight interview humbly state that he had had trouble believing in himself
in the past.

    Shortly after the bell sounded for the first round Oliveira walked steadily towards his antagonist then tore after Murray as if he were fighting his last round.  The game plan that Medeiros had devised for Ray was to immediately work inside and attack Murray's lean mid-section.  This would make it less likely for Murray to time Oliveira with his vaunted right cross.

    Through the early going, Oliveira completely disrupted Murray's rhythm, landing a barrage of hooks to the body and some potent uppercuts to the jaw.

All seemed to be working very well for Oliveira when suddenly during the second round the two would clash heads causing Oliveira to wince.  The top of Murray's head collided directly up into Oliveira's nose.  Instantly, I began to become nervous.

    When Oliveira fights, he impetuously tucks in his chin as if he were trying to hold a golf ball underneath it.  In doing so Sucra was able to slip most of his opponents blows.  Besides having tremendous will power, it is the major reason why Oliveira has never been stopped in his career. 

    Murray on the other hand was more of a straight up fighter.  He had a tendency to dip his body in toward his opponent and step over the left or right to set up a possible open shot.  Against Oliveira, when Murray dipped, the top of his head would collide up and into Oliveira's nose.  This happened periodically throughout the fight and caused brief stoppages in the action.

    Surprisingly, these painful misfortunes would not discourage Oliveira.   By the eighth round, the tremendous body beating Murray was absorbing had him coughing his gum shield onto the floor.  Despite his mouthpiece dilemma, Murray had been very busy making a valiant attempt to reestablish his career.

During the eighth round, Murray was credited with throwing 85 punches.   Unfortunately, "Relentless Ray", as the ESPN commentators were calling him, threw 100 more punches that round.

    Before the 10th round began, Medeiros instructed Oliveira to maintain his torrid pace.  He also suggested that if Murray happened to lose his mouthpiece again, to make him pay by "driving uppercuts up into his jaw."  During the round, a gasping Murray lost his mouthpiece once again and Oliveira immediately followed through with Medieros' instructions firing and landing uppercuts into Murray's jaw.   It was a convincing finish to a dominating and disciplined performance by Ray Oliveira.

    As the scorecards were read after the fight, Oliveira looked concerned as his punched out arms draped over the ropes.  The 1,111 punches Oliveira threw were convincing enough for the judges to deservedly award him a unanimous decision that was, quite possibly, the biggest victory of his career.

    As remarkable as Oliveira's upset over Murray was, what impressed me most  was the adversity that Oliveira hurdled in doing so.  Oliveira would go on to defeat Murray again in '97 for Murray's NABF Junior Welterweight Title.  In discussing with Ray which one of his victories he most treasures, he without hesitation replied: "The second fight with Murray.  I beat him worse than the first time and I won his title." 

In my opinion, it was their first battle.  A battle when toughness overcame fear.   Oliveira defeated a highly regarded former titlist entering the fight with a broken nose.  There have been many fighters who have reasonably
postponed bouts in fear of losing, but there are other fighters who snarl at such fear.   New York Jets Head Football Coach, Bill Parcells always insists, "On game day, players play."  Oliveira shows that on fight night, fighters  fight. 
* Oliveira is of Cape Verdean descent where the native language is Portuguese.  The Portuguese word for sugar is "sucra." 

Cuda’s Corner: An Autumn of Our Discontent

by Matt Boyd

It wouda been . . . coulda been . . . shoulda been . . . but it wasn’t. That can be said for most of the notable events (make that non-events) that took place in our beloved sport this month. And it looks like that pertains to the upcoming month as well. But what should we expect from a sport whose most valued skill is the ability to generate hype? Take for example two greatly noted but hardly notable performances over the last few weeks, one largely un-noted but should have been, and a handful of prospective events upcoming (and in one case not upcoming), whose hype factor (or lack thereof) will far overshadow the substance of the bouts, and will likely overshadow some more compelling fights as well.

Much has been made of the De La Hoya v. Trinidad contest, and I don’t intend to rehash it now and reopen the wound in boxing fans’ waning faith in their sport, but let me say this. Could any performance short of epic have lived up to the pre-fight hoopla? Bob Arum and Don King did a masterful job of selling this fight, so much so that it was virtually assured to be a let-down. We can all resent Oscar for turning tail, and we can deride Trinidad for not meeting the challenge when Oscar bothered to present one, but truth be told it wasn’t that bad a fight. It was damn close to the eye and on the cards (I scored it a tie), and the judges did their jobs. The problem was, it wasn’t the greatest Welterweight bout in 15 years, as advertised. It wasn’t even the best welterweight bout of the month. What it was was an average fight that was obscenely over-hyped.

Even so, De la Hoya Trinidad wasn’t even the most egregious example of hype overshadowing substance. That title would have to go to the McGregor v. Chow so-called ‘Battle of the Sexes’. This contest surely represents what is most wrong with boxing today, and ironically enough, it doesn’t have anything to do with the gender of the combatants. This was just a poorly conceived and poorly performed exhibition. Margaret McGregor totally outclassed Loi Chow, but did not possess the power to finish him off. She did little to advance the cause of women’s athletic equality, which was the major draw for this spectacle. She jabbed an unskilled bum for eight minutes while he walked around the ring, performing less like a boxer than what he truly was, an ex-jockey in trunks.

Gone virtually unnoticed in the interim between those two over-hyped non-events was a genuinely entertaining, competitive, significant bout between two prominent, talented names in the sport: ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosely and Wilfredo Rivera. A dramatic knockout in the last half minute of the last round capped an exciting first fight for Mosely after a 12 pound jump up to Welterweight from Lightweight. It was made all the more compelling by the fact that no one, including De La Hoya, had ever stopped Rivera. At the time of the stoppage Mosely was on his way to a close split decision, but the KO put an exclamation point on his claim to big fights at the new weight. It certainly doesn’t strain the imagination to think that had the other fights not consumed so much media attention, Mosely might have received more of the recognition he should have for his impressive Welterweight debut.

On the horizon are a couple of fights that are sure to generate media attention, with much of it likely to be unjustified. The first is of course the rematch of the heavyweight unification bout between Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis. Given the uninspiring performances the first time, fans and media alike should look forward to this fight with a skeptical eye. Neither fighter is any younger, and one assumes that Holyfield will succumb to the inevitable, but don’t expect him to do so in dramatic style. I can easily see a long, slow, plodding, protracted clench-fest which ends mercifully in a decision for Lewis. Then again, Lewis may be as sick of that sort of thing as we are, and knock his block off. One can only hope.

A more grim prospect is the upcoming Mike Tyson bout against Orlin Norris. Yet another in a line of Tyson opponents who illicit the same reaction among fans: "I think I’ve heard of that guy . . . like five years ago. What happened to him? Was he in the slammer too or something?" Tyson seems resigned to fight second-stringers for whatever remains of his career, and apparently we the fans are resigned to pay him millions to do it. Good work if you can get it, but one questions the good sense of a boxing public who makes this guy a top draw one lackluster performance after another. No doubt it will be the same this time out, with people tuning in by the millions, if only to see whether Tyson lives up to his recent comments that he’d bite another opponent if the circumstances dictate and the opportunity and appendage present themselves.

One for the ‘shoulda been . . . but won’t’ category is the canceled Roy Jones Jr. unified title defense against Graciano Rocchigiani. Rocchigiani is a valid contender to the titles - and some would claim a legitimate holder of the WBC belt, given the tap-dancing of that body with respect to Jones’ claim. Whatever the politics, it would have made for a potentially entertaining fight for a champion who is desperately in need of some legitimate competition. Sadly, there just doesn’t seem to be money in it. This is one fight that could have benefited from a healthy dose of hype. Rocchigiani needs marketing help in the states, as does the other serious European Light-Heavyweight contender Dariusz Michalczewski, if they are ever going to be in on a main event of any interest to the American boxing audience. Maybe if one of them can sign with Don King . . .

A fight that will likely languish in relative obscurity due to its proximity to the Holyfield - Lewis rematch is the Michael Grant - Andrew Golota fight for Grant’s alphabet-soup heavyweight title, the NABF. Grant, whose physique alone is usually enough to draw some attention, has proved spotty, especially in defense and finishing off opponents he has hurt. Still, there is something compelling about him. One has the sense that if he can click with a trainer and learn how to make that power work for him, he could be a monster in a heavyweight division in need of a kick-start. And Golota, star-crossed and unsatisfying as his career has been, has shown just enough talent and power to prevent the boxing world from writing him off completely, despite his apparent determination to force them to do so. If these two meet on a good night for both, there are the makings of a big-time clash between big heavyweights. If not, its probably for the best that this fight gets lost in the shuffle.


By Randy Gordon


A few weeks ago, I was asked to be an in-studio guest on a FOX-TV show called "The Edge," which is hosted by the beautiful and talented Paula Zahn.   An in-studio guest with me was author/publisher/journalist/cigar
smoker/Fedora lover/character Bert Randolph Sugar.  Following the show, on which we discussed the Margaret McGregor-Loi Chow history-making, precedent-setting bout (we took different sides), Bert and I went out to tip
a few.   Being with Bert again in a bar setting talking sports and life and family was great.  It was de ja vu--it reminded me of the fabulous times we had 20 years ago.  Twenty years!  I remember every second of them as if they happened 20 minutes ago. 

    Too often we are remiss in telling those we care about just how we feel.  I will not be remiss.  I owe Bert a tremendous "Thank you" for all he has done for me and for boxing, and I'd like this column to be a tribute to a man I regard as a big brother and a great friend. 

    Back in 1979, I was the Assistant Editor of World Boxing & International Boxing Magazine, a series of boxing magazines owned by publisher Stanley Weston.  He also put out a bi-monthly boxing magazine called Big Book of Boxing.  I worked for ‘ol Stanley from 1974 until 1979.  Despite my presence, Weston's publications were actually outstanding, with quality writing by such notables as Dan Shocket and Gary Morgenstein and top-notch photos, most by Bill Apter, who is as world-class a photographer as can be found.  There were other boxing magazines to be found on the stands every month, most notably Boxing Illustrated and the granddaddy of boxing mags, The Ring, known as "The Bible of Boxing."

    By 1979, The Ring was nearing bottom after a three-year decline in sales.  This had been caused, in major part, by what had become a cheap, shoddy-looking product; by a female boxer appearing on Ring's cover in 1976; and a ratings scandal the following year which also placed egg on the faces of ABC-TV and the New York State Athletic Commission.  On a warm May evening in 1979, my home phone rang.   My wife answered.  It was somebody named Sugar.  Bert Randolph Sugar.   I knew him only from reading some of the boxing publications he edited, including Boxing Illustrated, and couldn't figure what he could possibly want or need from me.

    He asked me if what he was about to tell me would remain just with me, at least for the time being.  I promised him it would.  He then told me he was in the process of buying Ring Magazine,  and wanted me to be his editor.  I
couldn't believe my ears.  It was the break I was waiting for.

    Stanley Weston was furious when I told him I was leaving him for Bert Sugar.  At first, he  told me, "Get out!"   He didn't just mean from his private office.  He meant from the publishing company...from the building!  Our editor-in-chief, Peter King, was able to calm him down, and I was allowed to return to my desk.

    Later, when he regained some of his composure, Weston told me, "You have no idea what kind of man this Bert Sugar is.  He is an eccentric.  If you go to work for him, your life will change."  The way I looked at it is I already worked for an eccentric.  The worst that would happen is I would be going from one eccentric to another--for more money and more exposure.   Well, Weston was right.  My life did change.  For the better!  I packed my bags and left for a journey which continues today.

*        *         *
    Monday, July 1, 1979, was a sweltering day in New York.    That was my first day working with Bert at The Ring's ratty offices at 120 W. 31st Street in Manhattan.  For the next four plus years I worked side by side with Sugar, learning and growing, all the while, putting out the best monthly magazine the sport had ever seen or ever will see.

    Together, Bert and I took in one title fight after another.  Las Vegas and Atlantic City became regular stops for us as we covered title fights involving such names as Larry Holmes, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns, Wilfred Benitez, Sean O'Grady, Alexis Arguello, John Conteh, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Matthew Saad Muhammad, Michael Spinks, Dwight Muhammad Qawi, Aaron Pryor,   Marvin Johnson, Vito Antuofermo, Bobby Chacon, Ray Mancini and many more.  My announcing career began with ESPN and the USA Network during my years with Bert, and he always fed me constructive criticism on my performances when I returned to the office.

    Our office was a cigar smoke-filled tribute to boxing and to boxers.  As ugly and dirty and ratty as it was, fighters and fight figures loved coming up to the mess that was our offices on the fifth-floor.  It was nothing to
see Randall "Tex" Cobb, Cus D'Amato, Jim Jacobs, Vito Antuofermo,  Alexis Arguello, Wilfred Benitez, Sean O'Grady, Thomas Hearns, Aaron Pryor, Juan LaPorte, Emanuel Steward, Don Turner, Freddie Brown, Ray Arcel, Jack Sharkey, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Matthew Saad Muhammad, Tim Witherspoon, top journalists and camera crews streaming in and out of those offices on any given day.  

    Alongside Bert I learned.  His knowledge and wisdom is vast; his recall is amazing; his honesty is refreshing.  And, in this world of front-runners, his loyalty and is undying. Bert is no back-slapper.  If he likes you, you'll
know it.  If he doesn't, you'll know that, too.

    His sense of humor is, well, different.  On a plane to Las Vegas to cover a Larry Holmes title fight, he started a food fight in the back of the plane by hurling a piece of cheese cake at a sportswriter; in Landover, Maryland,
he was arrested in a bar for chasing Boston sportswriter George Kimball around the bar with a potted palm, after Kimball had playfully tossed some goldfish munchies at him; in a Las Vegas restaurant, he tossed a dinner roll
across the room, aimed at promoter Don King, who had just walked in.  The roll fell short of King.  It crash-landed on a table--splashing in a bowl of soup--where four people dined just feet from King, splattering all four; in Washington, D.C., after waiting for over 30 minutes at a table in a restaurant without being waited on, Bert stood up on his chair and called for help; and in a Las Vegas hotel room, when columnist Dick Young came to the room to see if Bert always wears a hat, Bert came out of the shower wearing only his hat when he answered the door, much to Young's astonished look.  The next day, in his column, "Young Ideas," Young's last line was "And for those of you who wondered, yes, Bert Sugar always wears his hat!"  No, being around Bert was never dull.

    He has called top promoters Don King and Bob Arum all sorts of names; he stood toe-to-toe with Dr. George Lundberg, the longtime head of the Journal of the American Medical Association for constantly and unfairly picking on boxing, when Lundberg's own house needed tobe straightened; and he has been on the case of WBC President Jose Sulaiman for over 20 years for the vast improprieties, embarrassment and wrongdoing he and his sanctioning cronies have brought to boxing.

    And unlike the "New York Negatives"--the group of so-called boxing writers which lurk in yellow journalistic waters of New York daily newspapers and more often than not trash fights and fighters--Bert more often than not
finds positive things to write about fights and fighters.  If boxing is dying, it's not just because of unscrupulous promoters and crooked sanctioning bodies.  It's because of yellow journalists like the "New York Negatives" who will go so far as to make things up just to add spice to their columns.  If boxing is flourishing, it's because of people like Bert Sugar, who has stood at boxing's side for years and told us of its beauty, not just of its ugly side.

    Bert is currently putting out a boxing magazine entitled, appropriately enough, "Bert Sugar's Fight Game."  It's presence and material buries the remnants of what remains of The Ring.  For any  fan of boxing, the magazine is fun and informative.  My only complaint is that it comes out every other month.   It's so good it should be out every other week! 

        One day, Bert Randolph Sugar will be elected to boxing's Hall of Fame.  On that day, I intend to be, not only in Canastota, New York, home of the H.O.F., but the first one out of my seat, as well, applauding the man who has given every ounce of his being to the sport we all love.

    To my buddy Bert, "Thank you" for everything you've meant to me and to boxing.  To Bert, I raise my glass and offer a toast:     "The world needs more people like you."

Moulded from the Clay

by Alan Taylor

clay.jpg (9968 bytes)Whether or not you except that the passing of nineteen hundred and ninety-nine years under a very arbitrary system of measurement constitutes two millennia it is impossible to escape millennium fever.  Those not heading for the hills laden with cans of corned beef, gallons of water and a rifle have turned to producing lists.  We have 'Music of the Millennium' (and if voting goes to form Robbie Williams will be judged a better singer than Sinatra and the Spice Girls will beat the Beatles into submission); we have 'Personality of the Millennium' and 'Sports Personality of the Millennium' and, even if the voting wasn't (as appears the case) restricted to the twentieth century, one man would feature very high in any era.

While I consider Muhammad Ali a personal hero I will leave it to others to catalogue his achievements in and out of the ring.  I thought it might be interesting to look again at the early years.  Many forget or are too young to remember that, for most of the 'sixties, Cassius Marcellus Clay was generally disliked - a braggart, a constantly annoying presence on the boxing scene whom most would dearly love to see knocked on his ass and silenced for once and for all.  I suppose he was a bit like Naseem Hamed really.......only with talent and a sense of humour of course. 

From a British perspective I suppose this desire to see Clay's end was for less political reasons than in the USA and it is from that perspective that my experience comes.  The British establishment was at that time - many might argue still is - very staid and reserved.  Television sport was still largely the preserve of the BBC, Auntie Beeb, and the sight of a young, handsome black man, for whom modesty was unknown and who let all within earshot know that he was 'gonna whup' Our 'Enry, was too much.

Cassius Clay arrived in London in late May 1963 to complete final preparations for a bout against Henry Cooper on June 18 of that year.  The posters declared that 'Jack Solomons Proudly Presents The World's Greatest Showman and Personality, Cassius Clay, "The Louisville Lip", "Cassius the Great"'; 'Says Cassius Marcellus Clay - I'm the Greatest Fighter in the World, I'm the Greatest Poet in the World, I'm the Greatest Predictor in the World, I'm the next Champion of the World.  The press made much of the American's arrogance and apparent inability to stop talking.  He was referred to as 'the Lip' and 'the Mouth' and his ability discussed rarely.

A few weeks earlier Boxing News had delighted in covering Clay's struggle to beat Doug Jones.  The report on the disputed split decision was headed 'Clay wins but Jones bursts the bubble'.  The Jones fight proved, according to the respected publication that Clay was good but 'no wonder boy'.  The verdict was accompanied by cries of 'fix fix fix' and 'fake fake fake' by the Madison Square Garden audience.  Heavyweight champion Sonny Liston was quoted.

"I'll get locked up for murder if we're ever matched", Liston growled.  "I could take him in no more than the third round.  He don't even know how to run.  I would catch him early."

The general consensus seemed to be that Liston's predictions would prove better that Clay's and that the certain defeat of the loudmouthed upstart would be no bad thing.  Indeed, when Liston arrived in London three months after Cassius for a series of exhibitions, the champion was hailed as a breath of fresh air.  On arriving 'clad in a smart grey silk suit, clothes conscious Liston wasted no time in asking how to get to Saville Row (London's style capital)'.  His visit to Norway was reported where Liston 'impressed very much both as a fighter and a man.  His speeches and his behaviour were excellent'  unlike those of the man described as 'Gasseus Cassius'.  Even Liston's snubbing of Blackpool heavyweight Brian London was treated as an uproariously funny episode which displayed Liston's witty nature.

'Q.  Why didn't you shake hands with Brian London?

A.  I was too busy eating.'

'Q.  Why did you stare at him?

A. I didn't stare at him.  I was looking straight through him at the guy behind him.'

Witty stuff indeed.

'Clay's big-talking', Boxing News reasoned, 'could be to satisfy his own ego and cover up a rather stiff inferioritycooper.jpg (15471 bytes) complex.'  After all, if Cassius was as confident as he pretended, why should he feel the need to 'belittle' his opponents?  The paper allowed that 'Clay should win - but we hope it will be 'Enry' and the tone suggested that this hope was not only for patriotic reasons.

Clay did win of course but not before giving birth to one of the great myths of British boxing.  Having predicted a fifth round stoppage of Cooper Cassius appeared to be content to make Henry miss, occasionally firing fast combinations opening a cut above Cooper's eye.  The fight report in Boxing News states, 'the crowd were cheering Cooper and booing the boastful young braggart Clay and were imploring to "Give him one" and "put one on him".'  Cooper did just that at the end of the fourth.

Taunting Cooper Clay held his hands low and swayed away from his opponent's hooks in that style which has since become famous.  And then he swayed right into a left hook.  'The Greatest, Handsomest Heavyweight of all time', sneered the report, 'was sprawling in that London ring with the rain pouring steadily and the fans going crazy with excitement.'

Clay rose at four just before the bell rang to end the session.  It was then that all sorts of shenanigans took place.  In an effort to buy time for his badly shaken charge Angelo Dundee, having noticed a rip in Clay's glove, pulled padding from the rip, worsening it, before drawing the referee's attention.  The official ordered a change of gloves and an attendant was dispatched to fetch a spare pair from the dressing rooms.  As this was Wembley Stadium the trip and the subsequent operation to replace them, no doubt aided by some slow work from Dundee, took five minutes.  The long break stole forever Cooper's chance for glory and Clay duly stopped him on cuts in the fifth as he had predicted.

Perhaps it is a British trait to lionise the glorious failure but Cooper has made a good living from the fact that but for that additional five minutes he would have beaten Cassius Clay and changed boxing history.  Except it didn't really happen!  Oh Clay was knocked down.  There was a rip in the glove but the rest is a myth.  Boxing News makes no mention of a delay.  BBC television coverage shows clearly that the damaged glove was still on Clay's fist during the fifth.  But the myth has grown to the extent that Henry Cooper, Our 'Enry, has himself been convinced that the incident unfolded as I have described it.

Clay did go on to defeat Liston in a glorious upset.  He became Muhammad Ali and the rest is history.  But it wasn't until after his anti-Vietnam stance, the stripping of his title and the return to face Frazier that Ali became regarded as a hero, at least in the United Kingdom.  He became the most popular guest on BBC's 'Parkinson' chat show - guaranteed to be witty, charming and, sometimes, mildly controversial but at all times respected as the most famous person in the world should be.  But it wasn't always so.



  No one remembers Vincent "Choo-Choo" Bell. The little featherweight from Orlando only had three pro fights, winning one and losing two in a remarkable career that spanned only a few months during the mid-eighties. What made the club fighter unusual was the fact that Vincent Bell only had
one leg. "Choo-Choo went to battle with a prosthesis, an artificial leg.

      Although the bureaucrats of the boxing commissions had tried to prevent him from fighting pro, Bell insisted, turning pro with a knockout over Wallace Tisdale, a four round prelim fighter. In his second bout, Bell lost on points to Troy Davis, a ten bout veteran club fighter with fair boxing skills.

      I saw Bell in his third pro bout, in a town in central Florida named Melbourne. Although the Sunshine State is best known for powder gold beaches, nightclubs and tourist attractions, there is a rural culture in some areas of Florida. In areas north and south of Disney World there are cane fields, cattle ranches, dairy centers and an occasional ostrich farm. Melbourne is one of those coastal area towns south of Orlando where cultures meet. The pro boxing card was held in a country-western saloon,
next to an expressway exit.  The place was large, several wide rooms packed with jukeboxes, popcorn
machines, video games with a cowboy motif, and a long, brown bar of worn-out wood and faded brass. Bartenders with western style vests and arm garters served up draft beer from kegs or lined up shot with chasers. Waitresses wearing checkered shirts served up baskets of fries, onion rings and hot dogs. The crowd of several hundred was a blend of cultures combining the beachcombers with deep tans and Bermuda shorts, the farm boys and cowpunchers with Stetson hats or baseball caps advertising automotive products, and the usual blend of college boys and hard-drinking girls.   

       I had mixed feelings about seeing a one legged fighter. Boxing is my favorite sport and I cringe at the thought of turning a battle of strength and will into a freak show. Yet, I knew of several handicapped fighters that enjoyed success in the ring. A couple became world champions.

       Back in France, during the days of muddy trench warfare at Verdun, a German sniper zeroed his sights on an enemy corporal walking a post. The bullet ripped away half of the Frenchman's jaw. The corporal was taken to an army hospital, where he was operated, his jawbone replaced by an artificial one, made up of sheep bone rib and a metal plate. The corporal, who had fought pro for five years before the war started, was told by the surgeons to forget his ring career, for being hit in the jaw would cause intense pain.

      The little man with the metal jaw fooled everyone. In spite of the intense pain, he reeled off fifty-two wins in fifty-five bouts over a six-year period. In 1923, Eugene Criqui, the man who was not supposed to fight, won the featherweight title from Johnny Kilbane, by a sixth round knockout. The little Frenchman was champion for less than two months, losing on points to the great Johnny Dundee. An idol of his people, Eugene Criqui retired from the ring in 1927 with a 94-13-8 pro record that included forty knockout victories and only two KO losses.          

        Tommy Spiegel was another remarkable fighter. Despite a withered leg caused by infantile paralysis, Spiegel fought a couple of hundred pro fights, losing on points to Sammy Angott, Bob Montgomery and Beau Jack, three legends of the ring. Other fighters with leg handicaps include Tami Mauriello and Cyclone Hart. Tami had a lame leg but compiled an 82-13-1 record that included bouts with Joe Louis and Gus Lesnevich. Cyclone Hart overcame polio as a child to become a middleweight contender feared for his power. On a lesser level, but just as meritorious was David "Maceton" Cabrera, another fighter who suffered polio as a child. Cabrera once held the modest title of Mexican Light-Heavyweight Champion, losing in three rounds to Marvin Camel.

         Deaf fighters use light signals from their corner to know when a round ends, since they can not hear the gong of the bell. Deaf boxers have included former bantamweight champion Mario D'Agata (54-10-3), Gene Hairston, a top contender who beat Paul Pender, and Spanish featherweight Kid Tano, who fought champion Jose Legra to a draw. Tano claimed that being deaf helped him to concentrate on his opponent without noise distractions from the crowd.
          Billy Daniels, a top heavyweight who went seven hard rounds with Ali, split two bouts with Doug Jones, lost to Cleveland Williams and stopped Mike DeJohn, was missing a couple of fingers. In more recent times, doctors told Vinnie Pazienza, the tough battler from New England that his ring career was finished after being injured in an auto accident. By the time others like Pazienzia were halfway through therapy, the New England fighter was trading leather with Roberto Duran.

        When I met Vincent Bell in the storage area that served as a dressing room, I was pleased. The little featherweight was not delusional about his career or ability.

        "Look," he said to me as his hands were being taped, "I know I am not going to be champ, but I love boxing and I just had to prove it to myself that I could have a few fights. I am not going to sit on my ass and moan about having one leg. I am going to have a few fights so I can say I was a pro fighter."

        It was not a freak show. As Bell removed his robe some in the crowd gasped in surprise. There were no snide remarks or loud comments. Even the most beer drenched cowboys, in their foggy stupor, showed respect for a man with one leg who was willing to fight.

        It was a good bout. Jesus Chavez, a Broward fighter with quick moves went after Bell. "Choo-Choo" stood his ground, popping stiff jabs into his opponent's face, following with a solid hook. Chavez, rocked by the blow began moving more, pecking away at Bell. It was an even fight for two rounds, but the Broward fighter began to chip away at Vincent in the third stanza. It was obvious that Bell could not move as well as his opponent, his footwork always a second too late. The ref stopped it in the fourth, when Bell was staggering against the ring ropes.

        It was a good fight but not a great fight. It was however, a moving performance, for all those who witnessed the bout understood that here was a man giving his absolute best in spite of having been dealt a bad hand. That he lost did not matter to the crowd for his grit won the crowd over. The standing ovation was from the heart. Truck drivers and cowboys, college students and surfers all clapped and hollered, some standing in wood chairs as the fight ended. It was a worthy moment, the kind that makes one feel good about the human spirit.

         Vincent Bell will never be enshrined in Canastota. He does not deserve to be, with a pro record of one victory and two defeats. Still, even with the passing of years, the memory of his last bout always brings a good feeling, the belief that man can overcome insurmountable heights if he so desires, that will power can triumph over physical limitations.




By Eric Jorgensen

sharkey1.jpg (9998 bytes)If Jess Willard isn’t the most underrated heavyweight champion of all-time, then Jack Sharkey surely is. Yes, Sharkey was erratic; ‘twas not for nothing they called him the "The Fighting Fool". Yes, he frequently allowed himself to get out of shape (188 v. Jack Dempsey; 201 v. Primo Carnera the 2nd time). Yes, he sometimes fought with less than 100% effort — sometimes far less, as in his draw with Mickey Walker. Yet, notwithstanding all of that, when Sharkey was "on", as he was against Harry Wills, George Godfrey, Jack Delaney, Max Schmeling, Tommy Loughran the 1st time, Carnera the 1st time, and even Dempsey, he was a truly great fighter — he could move, box and bang — the whole package. Too many people have forgotten that.

The reason why is easily discernable. In the minds of a great number of pundits, Sharkey permanently vacated his place in the all-time pantheon by 2 profoundly discreditable performances: his 15-round draw with middleweight champion Walker and his knockout loss to Carnera. For a variety of reasons, however, I suggest that these fights are indicative only of Sharkey’s inconsistent temperament, not of his true ability, and that to focus on them alone is to do Sharkey a great injustice.

First, the Walker fight. Of course, I have heard the arguments (in fact, I used to make them myself). They gosharkey2.jpg (22712 bytes) something like this: "Look, the fact that Sharkey couldn’t beat a middleweight — no matter how great — proves he was a ham-and-egger, period. After all, could anyone imagine Marvin Hagler securing a draw with Larry Holmes?" But, there is more to it than that. The first point that should be made about that fight is that Sharkey probably did "win" it, in the sense that he deserved the decision. Contemporary accounts typically referenced Walker’s gallant effort and Sharkey’s half-hearted one, but also typically stated that the draw was "sentimental". Nowadays, you hear a lot of people getting carried away, particularly when writing adoring blurbs on the popular Walker, by implying Walker deserved the nod. If anyone who actually saw the fight had that impression, I am unaware of it. At the same time, though, I concede that that’s not the whole point. That the fight was close at all is indeed embarrassing from Sharkey’s standpoint and so must be addressed.

At bottom, the explanation for that performance is that Sharkey just did not give it his best; for whatever reason, he simply didn’t try. It happens sometimes. [Remember Eddie Gregory sleep-walking against Victor Galindez? Howard Davis Jr. against Jim Watt? Same thing.] That sounds like an excuse from an advocate rather than an assessment from an analyst, I know, but the films absolutely bear this out. You cannot watch that fight and tell me that Sharkey looks like he’s interested in winning it: he didn’t throw any punches. One look will tell you that that is not the same Sharkey who fought Dempsey & Wills; not even close. Perhaps the same mob connections that bought Tiger Flowers’s middleweight crown for Walker also bought him an evening without left hooks against Sharkey, or perhaps Sharkey just wasn’t in the mood that night. Again, I fully acknowledge he was erratic. Nevertheless, that was not vintage Sharkey and this fight should not be accorded much consideration when assessing how Sharkey, at his best, compares with the other champions.

Okay, now Carnera. Nobody disputes that Sharkey beat him easily the first time around — knocked him down and pitched a near-shutout. By the time of the rematch, Sharkey was an old 32, was coming off 1-year lay-off, and was about 10 lbs. overweight. So, he was (1) rusty, (2) past his prime, and (3) out of shape. In other words, Sharkey was no longer remotely the fighter he had once been. In addition, Carnera himself has been severely underrated. True, he got hammered by Joe Louis & Max Baer, but so did Schmeling, and nobody laughs at him. Plus, he beat legitimate first-raters in Paolino Uzcuden, Ernie Schaaf and Tommy Loughran (all 3 of whom tattooed Baer at his best, recall). Despite all that, after 5 rounds, the fight was arguably 5-0 Sharkey.

sharkey3.jpg (17180 bytes)Then came the much-debated 6th. Sharkey was cruising merrily along when Carnera pushed him to the ropes and threw an uppercut that looks like it was mostly "arm". Sharkey reared back dramatically and dropped "senseless" to the canvas. Cynics said the fight was an obvious tank. Until his dying day, Sharkey passionately disputed that characterization. His story was that he suddenly became overwhelmed by visions of his close friend and protégé Ernie Schaaf and just froze (or "choked", to use the modern parlance). Films are inconclusive (no matter what anyone tells you).

For my money, the answer does not much matter for purposes of evaluating the in-prime Sharkey’s place in history. Though I actually tend to favor the "dive" explanation (Sharkey did seem to encounter fighters with "ties" to the mob with alarming frequency: Stribling, Carnera, Walker, etc.), Sharkey’s version may be plausible. Occasionally fighters gain reputations — auras of invincibility — that they do not deserve, and fighters who could beat them do not because they don’t believe they can. I have no doubt, for example, Michael Spinks would have performed better against Mike Tyson had he seen the Buster Douglas debacle beforehand. Similarly, I think Floyd Patterson would have performed better against Sonny Liston had he foreseen how Liston would come apart against Muhammad Ali. So, maybe the Schaaf fight had Sharkey thinking Carnera was invincible and maybe Sharkey did choke. Maybe as his lack of conditioning began to tell a bit and Sharkey became concerned whereupon his always-fragile psyche really did place Schaaf’s ghost before him. Or, maybe it’s as simple as a washed-up fighter running into one. Regardless, I say that the Sharkey of the Wills & Dempsey fights was Carnera’s clear superior, as their first fight plainly demonstrates. If Sharkey did choke, I think it was a function of his age and deteriorating ability, as well as the emotional scars left by the Schaaf tragedy, that eroded his confidence and left him psychologically vulnerable; a bizarre combination of circumstances not likely to happen twice, and which never would have happened at all had Sharkey been fit, in his prime, and on his game.

Now for what Sharkey did right. For starters, he proved himself a better fighter than Schmeling, whom virtually everyone regards as having been a great fighter. He trounced Schmeling in the first fight, dominating it completely. Regardless of whether he did in fact hit Schmeling low, I am convinced after watching the films that Max stayed down because he would rather have obtained the title that way than get up and get knocked out, which was about to happen. Schmeling got the win, yes, but there is no question that Sharkey was the better fighter that night. As one commentator described the fight:

"This was one of those nights when Sharkey was at his brilliant best. His jabs, hooks, and uppercuts were working to perfection, completely baffling the dark-browed Schmeling. Jack kept throwing leather so fast and accurately that Max could not get set to throw his big gun. . . . Sharkey had the German groggy in the 4th round and was battering him all over the ring. Then, trying to shift inside one of Max's feeble leads, he brought a hook to the body. Instantly, Max doubled up and clutched his groin as if fouled. . . . Referee Jim Crowley had seen no foul and started the count. . . . [¶] Although Max wore a type of protector which had been proved to withstand the hardest blow without harm to the wearer, he went into a grimacing act that would have drawn applause from the Barrymores . . . . [¶] Was Schmeling really fouled? A careful study of the movies by unbiased observers later revealed that the blow was not low. It was on the beltline, close to foul territory perhaps, but certainly not in the groin."

John Durant, The Heavyweight Champions, Hastings House (1976), pp. 87-88.

Sharkey was also better than Schmeling in the rematch, notwithstanding his weird decision to handicap himself by refusing to throw any body punches as some sort of infantile protest against the disqualification in the first fight: "Fifteen long rounds; I never hit him below the chin." Peter Heller, "In This Corner. . .!" 42 World champions Tell Their Stories, Da Capo Press (1994 ed.), Jack Sharkey chapter, p. 158. Joe Jacobs yelled "We wuz robbed!" when the decision came down, of course, and many people who did not see the fight jumped on the bandwagon. That made things simple for those preferring to rate Schmeling as an all-timer (after all, he beat Joe Louis), but ignore Sharkey at the same time (after all, he lost to Carnera). But, referee Gunboat Smith’s comments on the decision dispel the all-too-convenient "robbery" explanation:

"From the first til the 10th or 11th, Jack Sharkey win every round. The other fellow did nothing but dance. . . . [Schmeling] got the last 4 rounds, but how could I give him the decision when he won only 4 rounds? . . . I give it to Sharkey. Eleven to 4, I've got to do it."

Heller, "In This Corner. . .!" 42 World Champions Tell Their Stories, supra, Gunboat Smith chapter, pp. 44-45. Thus, Sharkey outfought Schmeling 2 out of 2 times, no small feat and one which should be afforded the respect it merits.

Besides Schmeling, Sharkey easily beat the 2 top black fighters of the period, Harry Wills and George Godfrey, who could punch holes in brick walls and whom most white fighters did not want to get anywhere near. [Wills was past his best but still a terrific heavyweight at the time, and Godfrey was in his prime.] He also flattened 2 of the greatest light-heavyweight champions of all-time in Tommy Loughran and Jack Delaney, and whipped another top all-time light-heavyweight, Young Stribling, by decision. So, when he was "right", he could handle both speedy boxers (Loughran, Delaney, Stribling) and hard-hitting powerhouses (Schmeling, Wills, Godfrey). Few heavyweights of any era have displayed such versatility. As one author commented:

"Jack’s repertoire of punches was something to behold. When he first started out, his only weakness was a looping right that he’d toss as though he were pegging an indoor baseball. After painstaking study, he developed the short lethal jolt that begins at the chest and travels only a foot.

There are no more than eight real blows in boxing - the left jab, left hook to the head, left rip to the body, right cross to the chin, straight right to the body and right uppercut. If you wish, you might ring in the left and right inside uppercuts. Few heavyweights past or present could deliver them all, and no one but Sharkey could deliver each one with devastating effect.

Jack’s left jab was no flickering thing like Tommy Loughran’s but a solid smash with his whole shoulder behind it. Tunney had it, but he never had Sharkey’s whizzing left hook that could separate a man from his senses as quickly as his right. Sharkey would step in with his right under the heart just like Tunney, but then he’d risk a right cross to the chin, which was not for Gene. Tunney preferred to reach with the punch - it was safer."

John D. McCallum, The World Heavyweight Boxing Championship - A History, Chilton Book Company (1974), pp. 154-155.

Perhaps longtime boxing guru Stanley Weston summed Sharkey up best when he remarked:

"Throughout his career, Jack Sharkey was an enigma. He had everything going for him: dazzling speed, size, the artistic boxing moves of a Jim Corbett and the knockout power of a Bob Fitzsimmons. He also possessed a braggart's confidence. If it lived and breathed, Sharkey was sure he could bust it apart. Most experts would have agreed were it not for one failing: Sharkey’s short temper. . . . [I]f Jack Sharkey had been able to keep his cool under pressure, he would almost certainly be rated among the elite heavyweight champions, with Dempsey, Joe Louis and Jack Johnson."

Stanley Weston, The Heavyweight Champions, Ace Publishing Corporation (1970), pp. 142-143.

So, where does Sharkey rate? No, even I would not put him among the top 10 or 15 heavyweights of all-time. But, after that, his name surfaces pretty quickly; certainly, he makes the top 25. I say he was equal to or better than any of the five men who held the title between Tunney and Louis. As to those who preceded him, I would make him a clear underdog to only 4: Jim Jeffries, Johnson, Dempsey & Tunney. As those coming after Jim Braddock, I place him ahead of Ingemar Johansson, Jimmy Ellis, Leon Spinks, Michael Spinks, Buster Douglas and Michael Moorer, even-money against Jersey Joe Walcott and Floyd Patterson, and only a slight underdog against Ezzard Charles and Lennox Lewis (an oaf, but a very big oaf). As to the rest, he’s probably a more sizeable underdog. On the right night, however, ya never know. . . .

One thing is for certain, though: Sharkey was too good to be dismissed out of hand as he often is today — far too good!

Gans-Nelson 1: The Film and The Fight!gans-nelson1.jpg (148079 bytes)

By: Monte Cox

The early part of the 20th century saw many lengthy brutal battles. With bouts scheduled for as many as 45 plus rounds, and without the safety concerns of modern boxing commissions. This was a very exciting if not dangerous era for boxers. There were many great, great fights and fighters during this time.

One of the best fights films available from this era is the lightweight championship between Joe Gans and Battling Nelson (1), which took place on Labor Day, Sept 3 1906, in Goldfield, Nevada. According to many historians Nelson was defending the lightweight championship against Gans. However, most news accounts of the time recognize this as Gans defending his title. Gans fought Joe Walcott to a draw in 1904 for the welterweight championship. The press continued to recognize Gans as the rightful lightweight champion and since there were no commissions he should be clearly recognized as the true titleholder. Most modern record books incorrectly give Gans as champion from 1902-1904, and 1906-1908. The record books should read 1902-1908 since he was never beaten for the lightweight title. Gans was recognized as champion by the public. Nelson laid claim to the title after winning the "white lightweight title" by beating Jimmy Britt in 1904. This fight was to settle the dispute.

This classic confrontation was promoted by no other than the legendary Tex Rickard. Goldfield was an ideal location, one of the great mining camps of all time. The purse was $33,500, of which Gans was to receive $11,000 and Nelson $22,500. The gate receipt was $76,000 the largest ever realized for a prize fight in America up to that time. The official attendance was 6,200. The odds at ringside were 2-1 Gans. The referee was George Siler. According to the agreed upon contract Gans weighed in 3 times, the last time before the start of the fight at 3 O’Clock. The Baltimore fighter was examined by Dr. J.H. O’Connor who noted "Gans has not lost any strength in reducing to the required weight, contrary to the rule demonstrated by other men when required to reach a mark lower than their usual fighting weight."(Chicago Record Herald, Monday Sept. 3, 1906).

With the help of Gans expert Arne Steinberg, I recently purchased this rare film from a fight film collector in Chicago. It is about one hour of the 42 round fight.The film is a jewel for a 1906 fight film. It is silent, but is better better than I expected. The film is not always clear and there are some dark spots, splotches, and out of focus areas on the film, but overall it looks good for a film of this era. The real joy of this film is that the film speed is "normal". Most films up to around the mid 20's are very Charlie Chaplin like in the quality of film speed. Not so with this film. The fighters move at normal speeds and appear very smooth. One gets a true impression of both how the fighters fought and of the fight itself.

The first thing one notices on the film is that Gans enters the ring carrying an umbrella to keep the hot Nevada sun off him. Between rounds the cornermen are furiously fanning the fighters. It must have been very hot that day.

Before the fight the two fighters pose for a series of photographs. One of the most famous photos, shown in many boxing magazines, is actually inverted.That picture shows them as southpaws. The film proves they are both posing right handed.

Gans looks very impressive on film. He proves to be a great boxer-puncher with excellent defense, footwork, counter-punching skills and knockout power, scoring knockdowns with each hand. His powerful right reminds me of Joe Louis, very quick, straight, and accurate! Every time he threw it, it stopped Nelson dead in his tracks. One notices right away how fast he was. Much faster than I would have thought. He reminds me of another fighter from Maryland in his hand speed, Ray Leonard.

The most impressive aspect of Gans is his footwork. Not a lot of jumping around but in spite of Nelsons strong aggression and constant pressure inside, he never is able to trap Gans against the ropes!! Gans, turns, turns, slips and never gets caught against the ropes. He is very evasive with deft moves. Whenever Nelson tries to bull Gans to the ropes, Joe lowers his center of gravity, holds his ground then turns and keeps the fight in ring center at all times. He is truly a "master" at this. On the rare instance his back does touch the ropes he is only there a second before slipping away. This is very impressive. You absolutely cannot get his back to the ropes. He could also move in and out, was very evasive with his upper body, and could even dance a little bit (though not too much of this in a 45 round fight, but he circles and dances out of danger when necessary). He was also a great defensive fighter able to block many blows with his gloves.

Gans took an early lead demonstrating why he was called the "Old Master". By the end of the first round Nelson is bleeding from his ears. Joe Gans threw a 5 punch flurry in round 2 (combinations!). He often throws 3 and sometimes 4 punch combinations at Nelson with frightening accuracy. They are most often landed when Gans is catching Nelson coming in. Gans is primarily a counter-puncher, but he has a fantastic jab and often leads with it to create openings. Gans swept the early rounds out-boxing and outfoxing his rugged opponent. Gans flash knockdown of the iron-chinned Nelson in the 8th round is partially obscured by a dark spot on the film. It appears to be a glancing right followed by a powerful left hook that momentarily drops Nelson on his knees.

Nelson is clearly the aggressor, putting on constant pressure and going to body, throwing allot of punches. A consistent work rate by both men. Most of this fight is fought up close. Gans inside work is comparable to Whitaker against Chavez at times. Excellent blocking, slipping, side-stepping, evasion, and counter-punching by Gans, just outstanding defense. Nelson comes on beginning in the 9th round with a strong body attack. He has excellent body -punching, left hooks to the body and Tyson like right that was described as "peach" of a shot. He's tough as nails and keeps coming no matter what with a Lou DeValle like chin against Roy Jones. Nelson seemed impervious to punishment and came in all the time, often leading with his head which caused Referee Siler to constantly warn Nelson for fouls. Nelsons manager was actually calling for his fighter to use head butts,"Bunt him, bunt him, don’t let him get away" he cried (Chicago Record Herald Sept 4, 1906). This would quickly get a fighter disqualified today.

Gans seems equally comfortable outside or inside, though he lands his hardest blows from the outside. Nelson is a swarmer though and tries to crowd him (he just can't seem to get him to the ropes!) Gradually Nelson is able go to work on the inside. He won his first round in the 10th cutting Gans mouth and pounding away to the body. The next four rounds were fairy close as the tide began to turn in Nelsons favor as he kept up the pressure. Then in the 15th Gans floors him a second time with a sizzling right uppercut. This is a clear knockdown and takes place on the side of the ring the camera is filming the action. Nelson, tough and determined, rallied to take rounds 16-19. Gans roared back to take the 20th round nearly kayoing Nelson with a ferocious flurry of punches, punctuated by a final horrific right cross to the head that had Nelson pitching forward -out on his feet- at the bell. If this occurred today the fight surely would have been stopped! Gans seemed to be in control now and won the next couple of rounds. Nelson Rallied in the 23rd with a series of body shots and a hard right to the head that shook Gans. By the 25th round both men began to tire and the pace slowed. Then in the 28th Nelson tried to open things up and force Gans to the ropes. Gans, like a rejuvenated man, drove Nelson back with several fearful power shots to the jaw, the first of which had Nelson careening around the ring like a drunken sailor. Gans kept after Nelson who was on the verge of being kayoed at the bell.

In the 30th round Nelson was rallying again refusing to lose. In the 33rd round Gans broke his right hand with a terrific blow on the top on Nelson's hard head. It may have seemed like the "break" Nelson was waiting for. Gans, however continued to box brilliantly beating Nelson with his great left jab.

Nelson withered in the heat unable to penetrate the defense of the "Old Master". The Battler absorbed a frightful beating, bleeding from his ears, mouth, and nose, as well as cuts on his face and his left eye closed. Nelson, who had been warned throughout by Referee Siler for low blows, fouled out in the 42nd round. The foul punch is very obvious in the film. The blow was clearly observed by everyone in the arena and there was not a murmur of dissent from the spectators. In the post fight Gans said that he would have put Nelson out in a few more rounds had he not been fouled. "I was playing for his right eye", he declared, "once I closed that, with his other eye closed too, he would have been my chicken." (Chicago Record Herald, Sept. 5, 1906). The two gladiators had fought 2 hours and 50 minutes. The "Durable Dane" couldn't take any more punishment. One of the great fights of all time, Gans-Nelson 1, is commemorated today by a large monument visible in Goldfield from U.S. Highway 45.

Special Thanks to Arne Steinberg, of Maryland, (one of the leading authorities on Joe Gans) for enabling me to get a copy of this fight film.


Cuda's Corner: Coed Boxing - It Makes a Better T-Shirt than a Sport

by Matt Boyd

The enormous amount of attention surrounding the recent first-ever professional boxing match between a man and a woman has raised once again the ugly issue of gender equality in sport. It comes at a very bad time for boxing, whose reputation has suffered some humbling blows of late thanks to various controversies. Adding the complication of gender issues just now is unfortunate to say the least.

In essence though, this not a question of morality. Its not a question of whether women should be allowed to compete against men in the boxing ring. We live in America; people should be allowed to do what they want. But having permission to do a thing doesn't make it a good idea. The real issue for boxing fans is whether men versus women bouts are good for the sport. And when you stop and think about it, the answer has to be no.

The way I see it, there are two main concerns to be looked at. First, does it remain true to the sport? Second, does it present a good show for the fan? The practical-minded among you might choose to consider a third issue: whether it reflects positively on the image of boxing.

So what does it mean to be true to the sport? As hokey as it sounds, I see boxing as being one of the purest examples of competition in all of sport. The idea is simple: two men face each other in the ring and pit their skills, smarts, and determination head to head to see who is the better man (or woman). There are few rules or gimmicks to complicate things. It's simple, it's elegant.

The key to boxing's nobility is its simplicity and its fairness. There are no loopholes to exploit, no concocted advantages to gain. The two fighters walk in to that ring as equal as the rules can make them. The advantage one fighter brings is entirely up to his own talent, intelligence, and preparation. And it is this spirit of fairness that
man versus woman bouts contradict.

Of course this is hardly the first time exhibitions of women versus men have entered into the professional sports arena. It is helpful that so many comparisons between this fight and the original "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs 26 years ago have already been drawn. But it is infuriating that, like
many events where cultural significance is assigned beforehand, the context of that match has been dismissed in favor of a version of events that more favorably represents the cause being championed. Inconvenient details are discarded by the wayside as the cause takes over.

The similarities between the McGregor v. Chow bout and the King v. Riggs match justify the comparison, and speak volumes about the athletic merits of both. In both cases the opportunity to make a positive statement about the athletic equality of women to men was squandered by choosing outrageously unequal levels of comparative
talent and fitness. Recall that at the time of their match, Riggs was a 55 year old man with a big gut and a bigger mouth, and it had been 32 years since he won a title. By comparison King had not even been born when Riggs had won his last title, and she was rated #2 in the world at the time of their match. In short, Riggs was not her equal in his prime, and he was three decades past that. Is it any wonder she cleaned his clock?

Now take Margaret McGregor and Loi Chow. This was no less a mismatch in terms of talent, though thankfully age wasn't an issue. McGregor was an experienced kick-boxer turned conventional boxer with a perfect 3-0 record going into the fight. Chow, a part time jockey, had just 2 fights worth of experience going in, both losses, and he had not fought in three years. McGregor had height and reach over Chow (by four inches!), and probably weight as well when you consider that she weighed in at 128 stripped down, while Chow weighed just 129 with
clothes and shoes still on.

When it was all over, McGregor had defeated Chow in very much the same fashion as King had drubbed Riggs. She won all four rounds on all three cards, and barely got touched in return. But she never had her opponent hurt, despite an overwhelming advantage in skill. Chow looked very much like what he was - a jockey in a boxing match. So then, despite all the hype, controversy, and build-up to this first ever man v. woman professional bout, what really was proved? That a reasonably well-trained and conditioned woman can out-point a poorly trained and conditioned man? King proved that 26 years ago, for what little its worth.

These two competitions illustrate that the effort to prove that women athletes are the equal of their male counterparts through head to head competition is both unfair and unproductive, especially when undertaken in sports that naturally favor men. At the risk of being branded sexist, I would point out a few harsh realities. Physiologically, men are larger and possess superior muscle mass and strength to women, particularly in the upper body; both pound for pound and especially over the population average. By this alone, it would be impossible as a practical matter to orchestrate a fair standard for entering a fight between a man and a woman.

It strikes me as an issue of quantity versus quality. Quantitatively, women cannot hope to match men in athletic prowess in most events. Size and strength are just too heavily slanted in favor of men. Take for example the Olympics, the international standard for athletic achievement. Name one event in which both men and women compete in which women outperform men quantitatively. Even in areas where physiological makeup suggests women might have some advantage (namely endurance and leg strength), women don't perform as well, strictly by
the numbers. Women always finish behind men even in events tailored to their strengths, such as long distance running.

Most "sports" are games which require a variety of athletic skills, rather than mastery of any specific one. Boxing can certainly be counted among these. It requires strength, speed, power, stamina, and flexibility. In that sense, conventional sports might better be compared to an Olympic event such as the decathlon or heptathlon, which also requires proficiency in multiple athletic disciplines. The person generally considered to be the best female athlete of all time, namely Jackie Joyner-Kersee, competed in the heptathlon, medaled in 3 straight Olympics (two gold), dominated world competition for a decade, and still holds the world record in the event. But as great as
she was, it is telling to note that even her world record would not have qualified her for the men's team, let alone earned a medal or a record. Such is the disparity between men's and women's numbers.

This certainly carries over to other professional sports as well. Does anyone really think professional women's sports figures could regularly compete and win against their male counterparts? Why then do we separate men's and women's pro tennis even after Billie Jean King's victory? Does anyone suggest that the current WNBA champion Houston Comets could beat the San Antonio Spurs? If so, why is there a WNBA? Or an LPGA, or any of the rest?

And this sword cuts both ways. To suggest that women should be considered the athletic equals of men as a matter of course is to take away the magnitude of the accomplishment when a women's team surpasses their male counterparts. Take the women's World Cup Soccer team for example. I think they've demonstrated that they are a superior team to the men. I think its a tribute to their achievement that they've more than compensated for any deficit in raw athleticism with their vastly superior skills. To ignore the advantage in athleticism the men start out with is to belittle just how good the women really are.

This as much as anything else illustrates the unfairness of judging women according to men's achievements. To do so is to miss the true value of sport and the virtue of competition. Is not the true purpose of sport to judge the quality of an athlete's performance, rather than the quantity? Isn't the accomplishment in gauging how far one has
excelled, rather than what numbers they rack up for times or scores? A woman who breaks a world record or wins a championship has done something special, regardless of what the men's record for that event is. Her success should be gauged by how far beyond the average woman she has performed or by how much she has expanded her own abilities, not by how far above or below a man's achievement she ranks.

And that brings us back to boxing. Ideally, the person with the best combination of talent, preparation, intelligence, and effort wins a competition, especially in a sport as elemental as boxing. But if one competitor starts with a disadvantage (particularly one not of their own making), then they may be the most skilled, best prepared,
smartest, and most diligent, and still not overcome the disadvantage they started with. In such a case the better man (woman) would lose, which runs counter to the essence of the sport.

This is precisely why boxing has weight classes. Boxing divides competitors by weight to equalize the playing field to begin with. No one would accept a Super Middleweight going up against Welterweight as a fair contest. Yet the differences in musculature between a 168 pound man and a 147 pound man are less extreme than the differences between a comparably weighted man and woman. Why then should the former be perfectly acceptable while the latter is seen as sexist?

Even beyond the question of fairness, there is the issue of entertainment. Boxing is a show. If something isn't good for the fans, its not good for boxing. And beyond the initial spectacle of the man versus woman bout, there is little merit in the concept to present the fans with a satisfying show. A good fight is a close fight; one with enough drama to hold the spectator's attention. Whether the combatants are men, women, or one of each, the key is equality, because equality breeds the drama. In the McGregor - Chow fight, there was neither equality nor drama. McGregor had the talent to make Chow look silly, but not the power to back up her talent. Looking at their pre-fight stats, one could accurately predict just how this bout would end. What then was the point of having the fight if the outcome was never in doubt?

Though boxing purists may cringe at this, a big part of the excitement for a boxing fan is the potential for a knock-out. Its the same impulse that drives fans to watch a car race to see the wrecks. Like it or not, its true. And the fact is, the public's perception is that a man of equal talent is in very little danger of being knocked out by
a woman. And as any boxing fan knows, a fight in which only one person has a chance for a KO generally makes for a dull fight. Points and strategy are an integral part of boxing to be sure, and women have an equal chance to score against men, but big punching power is what draws the crowds.

That being said, I'm sure there are competitive man-woman fights to be made, but they will be few and far between. And even those few are unlikely to be made. There is very little incentive for a male boxer with talent and prospects to go into a fight against a woman. He has nothing to win and much to lose in a sport where reputation equals money. Without big names, big fights aren't going to happen.

Lastly, whether justified or not, the prospect of men versus women fights, which inevitably will get bloody in many cases, just won't sit well with a large portion of the viewing public. Boxing already has a reputation as a crude, brutal, and violent sport. Guys beating up women for money isn't going to help. In sports, image translates to dollars, and boxing can't afford to lose any more status in the public eye.

So, in the end, men versus women in the boxing ring fails on multiple levels. It fails to remain true to the sport in that it does not serve as a valid standard for comparison of achievement for either gender. It fails to make a compelling and competitive contest that fans will want to pay to see. And lastly, it just looks bad. The question
remains as to whether there can be a sport where men and women are truly equal so that they may face each other on a completely level playing field. But considering the true virtue of sport and what it represents, is it really all that necessary that one be found?

by Ed Vance

So you say you want to be a boxing judge.  Being a boxing judge takes more than just desire.  Boxing is a science, and as such it requires a scientist to judge it.   Please fill out the following application and
test to see if you qualify:


Please fill out all information.

Name (last name, first name):

By signing below I certify that all of the above information is correct:

(Signature optional)


Please answer all questions honestly or to the best of your ability.

Section I:  Multiple Choice

1. How do you decide who wins the fight?
a) by truthfully judging each round
b) by crowd reaction
c) by choosing the fighter whose promoter paid the most

2. Fighter (a) throws 27 jabs and lands 18 power shots.  Fighter (b) throws 0 jabs and 0 power shots.  Who wins the round?
a) fighter (a)
b) fighter (b) 'his defense was excellent'
c) the promoter who paid the most

3. You are shown a replay of a round that you obviously scored incorrectly.  You respond by saying:
a) I couldn't see the fight from these angles
b) Everybody makes a mistake
c) Those damn cameramen.  They were in my way the whole round.  I saw nothing. Nothing.

4. You are selected to judge a fight in which you have a bias towards one of the fighters.   You
a) Disqualify yourself due to bias.
b) Report your bias to the state (or national) boxing association
c) Report your bias to the promoter of the fighter that you have a bias for

5.  Who do you report to?
a) Nobody
b) The state (or national) boxing association
c) The promoter paying your mortgage

Section II:  True or False
Please answer all of the questions below true or false.

1. It is OK to give a round to a fighter because his shorts are much prettier than his opponents.

2. It is ethical to accept free vacations from promoters

3. Bribes are acceptable as long as you really need the money

4. Boxing fans like controversy, it is good to give rounds away just for the fun of it.

5. Ring card girls are the most important people in a fight.

Grading your test:

Multiple Choice:  All answers are acceptable, but c answers are the best.

True or False:  All answers are true except number 5 which is a trick question.   Promoters are the most important part of a fight.

Please mail completed applications and tests to :
Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary

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