|. . . THE CYBER BOXING ZONE JOURNAL|
|SPIRITUAL ADVISER ON ALL MATTERS
WEB MASTER & ASSOCIATE EDITOR:
HISTORY & RESEARCH:
Hank Kaplan, Tracy Callis, Matt Tegen
BoxngRules, Chris Bushnell, Adrian Cusack, DscribeDC, Francis Walker, Dave Iamele, Phrank Da Slugger, Pusboil
Enrique Encinosa, Randy Gordon, Pedro Fernandez, Joe Koizumi, Mike Moscone, Dr. Ferdie Pacheco, Jim Trunzo, Barry Lindenman
RINSING OFF THE MOUTH PIECE
I dont like Mike. I dont wanna be like Mike. I think Mike is a prime, slimy, example of late 20th Century, American, detritus. Michael Gerard Tyson is undoubtedly Americas 2nd most famous Afro-Felon & frankly, a disaster as a human being ... But, to the Ol Spit Bucket, whats been happening to both him & Mr. Bill is unconscionable.
Well put Mr. Bill on the back burner, after all,
ostensibly, this is a boxing rag . . . But Mike aint running for office or being
appointed to an ambassadorship or a seat on a judicial bench.
Hes a freakin boxer for Gods sake.
The Bucket feels Tyson has more than paid for his eerie transgression . . . His 3 million dollar fine & the loss of another 40-50 million in purses - not to mention the humiliation that has been heaped upon him - is enough. When you add the fact that the NSAC publicly released his psychiatric evaluation, I believe the public flogging of this man should come to an end.
For once there has been some good news TV wise, for Boxing. TNTs show with Shane Mosely had great ratings, and they actually were 40% higher than their average NBA game. I found those numbers very encouraging because young Shane, while brimming with unlimited potential, is hardly a household name at this point ...
ESPN2s regular Friday night card is also a very encouraging sign. Gotta admit though, when I found out the megalomaniacal Bill Cayton was in charge & his first move was to bounce Al Bernstein from the broadcasts, I was thoroughly prepared to hate it ... But, once again, Ive been proven wrong.
The broadcast team of Bob Papa & Teddy Atlas is excellent. Papa is a smooth TV pro & Teddy, in his rough hewn way, may be the best fight analyst this side of Gil Clancy.
The NFL-like studio part of the show is going to take a little getting used to, but hey, at least they re trying something a little different for boxing. The wild card here is 25 year old Max Kellerman, in a sorta neo-Terry Bradshawish role.
The casual dress & the sheer youth of Kellerman are a little off-putting at first, but the kid knows his stuff. A dissertation on Sonny Liston proved more insightful than some of the commentaries Ive heard from men twice his age. He may not be as user friendly as most talking heads, but give the kid a chance, at least hes truly passionate about the sport.
Another plus for Kellerman, is that because of his youth he will prove more attractive to younger fans than older hacks like Larry Merchant & Steve Albert. And lets face it, what boxing needs most is an influx of younger fans.
One last thing on Kellerman; Max, please stop using the phrase, The best heavyweight (or whatever), in my lifetime. Son, I got t-shirts older than your lifetime ...
Because the Bucket is the kinda guy that will give The Devil his due, I gotta give (albeit reluctantly), Bill Cayton a tip of the fedora for a job well done. Yet, despite all this seemingly good news for our beleaguered sport, I was brought stunningly back to reality by an article in my local newspaper. The article was about the enormous popularity of pro wrestling.
The article basically boiled down to these very depressing facts:
1- Every week, approximately 35 million Americans watch pro wrestling on cable every week.Gotta jones to watch some pro wrestling? There are five shows a week on cable. When you compare this with the infinitesimal gains that boxing has made on TV lately, its truly pathetic ...
2-The combined Nielsen ratings for pro wrestling rose 50% in the last year.
3-Advertisers have tripled the amount of ad money for wrestling broadcasts over the last two years.
The combines revenues of PPV broadcasts & pro wrestling merchandising are over a billion (!) dollars a year.
5-Pro wrestling has become the highest rated original programming on cable TV. Between them, the WCW & WWF Monday night matches are seen by more men between the ages of 18 & 49 than broadcast network shows like NYPD Blue, Law & Order & Homicide.
Plug Dept: Id like to turn our CBZ readers on to an excellent monthly print magazine called, Boxing World, which is available by subscription only. Tom Huff, who is the editor & publisher has put together a magazine that I feel is much better & more current that print monthlys like Ring & KO which are always at a minimum three months behind.
Unlike the aforementioned, Boxing World, is as current as possible for a print magazine. It features a great blend of fight reports, interviews & columnists. BW also features excellent historical pieces. If you want to just check it out first, a 1 issue sample is 2 bucks. A six month subscription is $18.00. write to:
The Boxing Bulletin Board
PO BOX 46299
Bedford Ohio 44146
Well thats about it for this month except for our massive November issue.This month features a plethora of interviews with both past & current figures in Boxing. The usual posse of writers really came through this month with some great stuff.
However, we do have a new contributor, a well known boxing insider writing under the alias of, Lee Michaels. Fuh-get-about-it. Youll never guess who he is ... Anyway, I think you will all enjoy his column as well as the rest of the issue
One last note: As some of you may be aware, Pusboil, our long time web master had to resign his post. In the interim, Tom Gerbasi has been filling in & doing yeoman like duty for us. However, Tom is not only the hardest working writer in the biz, hes also a man who holds down three(!)(actually four...tg) jobs & is also raising a family ... So, were putting out the call for a new web master. What the job involves is putting up the almost daily news items & uploading the CBZ Journal once a month. The web master will also get paid as much as myself & our featured writers, which is squat.
As web master you will also have the joy of talking to the Ol Spit Bucket at least three times a week to discuss what needs to be done on the site ... Sounds really attractive dont it?
But seriously, there are some perks like press passes to fights. If you love boxing & know your HTML, youll join a crew of guys working on the fastest growing boxing site on the net as well as the most widely read boxing magazine in the world.
Anyone interested. should e-mail me. GorDoom@aol.com
THE MAN WHO WANTS TO BE KING
By Randy Gordon
I've been fortunate in my business life. I've worked with Presidents of huge corporations, state legislators, with high-ranking Senators, with several state governors and even a real Italian Count. My recent few weeks with a man who calls himself The Prince were memorable, if nothing else. I was brought in by British promoter Frank Warren to work with WBO featherweight champion Naseem Hamed a month before his title defense against Wayne McCullough. It should have been more than just a memorable experience. If it was anything else, it was also forgettable.
Ask the people at Bally's. Ask its President, the ultra-classy Ken Condon, and his staff, if he enjoyed having Naseem Hamed around. In a political moment, he'll say it was interesting. In a moment of total honesty--which I'm sure that's what you'll get--he'll tell you he never wants the spoiled brat back on his property again.
Naseem did nothing to help the promotion, which was billed as "Fright Night," for it took place on Halloween night. He was supposed to jet into town a week before the fight and help sell the fight by doing appearances, holding open workouts for the public, doing a media train/bus trip and appearing on nationally televised shows. That wasn't the case.
Every day, we were told another story by the London-based protectors of their jobs, the people of Sports Network, who fall over each other as they try to suck up to Frank Warren and Naseem Hamed. Warren actually seems to care for his staff, though Hamed seems impervious to caring about anybody or anything other than himself and his immediate family.
First, Hamed was coming in on Friday, October 23rd. Then, it was Saturday. Then Sunday. "Scheduling problems," we were first told. Then, "Visa problems." It seems the geniuses at Sports Network, who have books and folders on everything, forgot to take care of Hamed's visa, and he was not allowed to enter the United States until all was taken care of. It took executives from HBO to make calls to the "right people" in order for Hamed to arrive in the USA. And when he did arrive,it was not a week before. It was 3 1/2 days before. There were no appearances. There was one open workout.
And in that one, he blasted the British press for writing anti-Hamed stories. He told one veteran writer--Colin Hart--that he stinks, and said "from now on, I'll be calling you Colin Fart!" That was about as nice as Naseem Hamed was in Atlantic City.
Yes, Naseem is a world champion, albeit one recognized by the WBO, the same organization which recognizes Herbie Hide as heavyweight champion of the world.
I must say that The Prince was always courteous to me. However, I saw him nice to virtually nobody else, especially to the professionals at Bally's, who bent over backwards to try and help him, and that made me terribly uncomfortable. The Bally's people gave him access to every floor and amenity they had, and yet it didn't seem to be enough. He and his people seemed to
want more and more.
On Fight Night...excuse me...Fright Night...he wanted a limousine to take him the few hundred yards down the boardwalk to the Convention Center. This was astounding to former light heavyweight champion Jose Torres, who said, "In my day, we walked!"
Former featherweight king Juan LaPorte also expressed disgust over the actions of The Prince."He's a real prima donna," said LaPorte. "Imagine taking a limo a few blocks!"
The Prince, who is undefeated in 31 bouts, with 28 knockouts, continues to talk about himself in terms of legendary status. Off his last three performances--against Wayne McCullough, Wilfredo Vazquez and Kevin Kelley--he has a long, long way to go before we even allow him into the conversation of all-time greats.
The Prince predicted he would knock out Wayne McCullough in the third round. He said "I'll spank you like I'm your daddy." That was among the nicest things he said. He also said to McCullough, "I'm going to hurt you. I'm going to give you such a terrible beating that you'll never fight again! This will be your last fight!"
When I saw two of his training sessions, I thought to myself, "He'll beat McCullough, and may even knock him out, but this guy has no shot against the top featherweights in the world. The Prince has also been talking of moving into the junior lightweight and lightweight divisions. Forget it! Floyd Mayweather and Angel Manfredy are drooling, hoping to get their hands on him.
So is Freddy Norwood. And Luisito Espinosa. And Manuel Medina. Even Vuyani Bungu would outbox him. As for a step up against the lightweights, NO WAY! Shane Mosley has to be falling to his knees in prayer for such a fight to happen.
Prince Naseem Hamed is a gifted athlete who actually wins fights on natural speed and power. He really does have uncanny and unusual power for a featherweight. He knows how to box a little. Just a little, though. His jab is an unorthodox backwards slap, and he rarely doubles up on it. He hardly punches to the body and you'll never catch him planting his feet and getting into a rumble. He fights with his chin up in the air, but gets away with it because of his quickness. Speed negates speed, and you can be sure the likes of Floyd Mayweather would eat him alive with even greater speed.
HBO is paying him close to $2 million per fight for a six-fight package. Three fights are now over and done with. Number four will probably be early next year in Las Vegas against someone like Marco Antonio Barrera, who looked sensational in taking apart Richie Wenton in just a few rounds under Hamed-Barrera. Is The Prince worth it? Sure he is. People want to see him fight. His nasty, cocky attitude makes people want to see him stretched on the canvas, and so, they'll watch.
Hamed's brother, Nabeel, a courteous, likable soul, believes his brother isn't cocky, but rather "super confident in his ability." To the untrained eye, the Hamed group has to believe that. When The Prince says he's better than Willie Pep and the rest of history's great featherweights, they have no way of knowing. To most of Hamed's entourage, the names of Pep and Saddler and Armstrong are just names in a record book. The fact is, Hamed is not even in their league.
Even the names of the last 20 years--Wilfredo Gomez, Salvador Sanchez, Alexis Arguello, Eusebio Pedroza--would most likely crush Hamed. So would two men still boxing at a higher weight, but who started out as featherweights, destroy him--Julio Cesar Chavez (who actually started around 115 pounds) and Hector Camacho.
Since he turned pro in 1992, Naseem Hamed has had himself a run a good fortune and a heck of an act. But that act is wearing thin. I understand that fighters have off nights, and I will attest to the fact that both of his hands were swollen at fight's end against McCullough. In fact, it was I who brought him in a bucket of ice to place those swollen hands in. However, when
you talk the talk, as Hamed continually does, you have to walk the walk. He's talking, but doing little walking.
If he can no longer get along with longtime trainer Brendan Ingle, he should go out and get himself a new trainer, one who can teach him to throw straight punches with snap. Never mind that he has 28 knockouts. His future opponents are going to be young, gifted champions, guys who will hit him and rough him up, guys who can take his power and fire back, not guys who will fold the first time he hits them with one of his wild uppercuts or looping rights.
I saw what I had to see from The Prince. Even his ring walk was stale. If he expects to become King one day, he's going to have to improve and do so mighty quickly.
Otherwise, he'll be just another Prince to be knocked from his throne.
Interview Conducted By Thomas GerbasiTG - What have you been up to since your last fight?
AA - I'm the commissioner in my country, and I try to help the new kids. I believe that in a country like my country, the sport could be a good opportunity for the kids to get out of the ghetto and become somebody. I don't know why we as human beings believe that we deserve everything. The young fighters these days, they think that they can party, and at the same time be fighters. Which is a wrong thing. At least for myself, I already quit, I already did my thing. But this is the challenge that I have right now. I'm trying to be the example that they need. But the world is full of distractions.
But I do other things, I have a television show, a radio show. I'm a guy that everyone knows, and everyone likes me, and because of that I have the responsibility to try and enhance this behavior.
TG - Is the discipline what you miss most about boxing?
AA - I did that because I really enjoyed the sport, and that was one of the key factors in my career, because I never got to know anything. I never drank, I never went out. And that's one of the points I tell the new fighters. If you don't want to end up all beat up or hurt, don't make the mistake after each fight to go to a bar to celebrate. In my day we never did that. I always wanted to rest because I was tired. Everyone invited me out, but I had the courage to go rest. And that's one of the things I'm trying to inject. But it seems to be a bit difficult because of what's happening to the sport. The sport seems to me to be losing its values. An example was the last fight with Chavez and DeLa Hoya. If that would have been me, I'd never stay sitting on the damn stool. I would have gone to the end. My opinion is that the guy thought "Look,this is the eighth round, the guy is beating me up, I made the money already." But that's baloney. The pride doesn't exist anymore. They have more interest in the money. I tell the people on my television and radio shows, a guy with a hundred something fights, with his past record that he is a macho man, how can he allow himself to leave the sport sitting on a stool? And some of the audience called and said "you're right". Even though the guy was bleeding, he could have swallowed the blood so nobody knew that he was bleeding.
TG - And Genaro Hernandez did the same thing last week.
AA - Yes, with Floyd Mayweather. And it was an awful fight. Both guys went down a couple of times like Wrestlemania (laughs). But I understand that because Mayweather is too young. That's the commercialization of the sport. In my day I fought 60 times before I got my title shot. I was more solid as a fighter. I had better technique. But there are exceptions. Like DeLa Hoya. In his 13th pro fight he won the title, and he has improved technically and physically. But Mayweather, he was in too much of a hurry to connect on the guy, and they both looked like amateurs. That's the problem with the business. They want to make quick money. But on the other side, it's better not to waste the kids' time. To be specific, in the case of DeLa Hoya, he's been well promoted, Bob Arum has been doing a great job with him, and it seems like the guy is what he is, a great fighter. But he hasn't developed some of what we used to do. We used to have more combinations. He only connects two or three punches. He never goes four, five, six, seven. He hasn't developed a higher combination rate like we used to do. It's probably for the same reason of getting there too soon. They don't get to master the art of the sport.
TG - You fought everyone they put in front of you. Do you look at fighters today and say "well, who has he fought?"
AA - These days, there's no competition out there. Like in the case of Chavez and Hernandez, they don't fight for what the sport means. They don't have the respect for the sport the way Duran did it. They don't have the same values. What I keep saying is that my trainer injected me with the respect of the sport. I never gave a low blow to anybody, never headbutted anybody, I never used my elbows. The kids these days have lost the mystique of the sport. My trainer used to tell me "Alexis, get to sleep early, don't get laid too often" (laughs). I remember he used to say "you're supposed to sleep thinking about boxing, taking a shower thinking about boxing, taking a shit thinking about boxing." These kids only think about it in the gym. Most of the time they don't even get up and run. Look at (Lennox) Lewis. What a terrible fight for a champion. Looking that bad with a fighter that doesn't have his quality. That was awful. A champion getting tired in three rounds was the most disgusting thing I ever saw. That's the reason why they don't have the stamina to throw more than three or four in a combination pattern. And that's a problem.
TG - You've always been a gentleman, in and out of the ring. Has there ever been a fighter that really tried to get you to lose your cool?
AA - No, never actually. There was one time, when I fought Mancini. There was a hyping of things, they brought his father, and even Mort Sharnik, who was the producer for CBS, told me that I would lose. And I never felt hate toward anybody. Those moments would give me more strength to push myself over the limit. Those opinions, "I'm gonna beat you", and all that. And Mancini was so quiet, he was a pro also. But that moment, when you get into a press conference, it's not to offend anybody. It's not to try and show that you are better than anybody, because we aren't. That was always my opinion. That begins with your roots, the way a trainer brings you up. An example, Richie Giachetti can never bring anybody because he doesn't have the human ability. A person, to be a good teacher, has to learn to teach. This guy, Giachetti is a bogart guy, a guy that will never teach moral issues.
TG - So you believe that a trainer is the most important part of a fighter's development?
AA - Definitely. But in this case, look at Eddie Futch. I worked with him, he was a great trainer. But Eddie Futch also worked with Riddick Bowe. And look where Riddick Bowe is, he's in the slammer. In my case with my guy, there was a promise between me and him that I would never lose my respect for the sport.
I have everything that a man could want, and boxing gave it to me. How am I going to lose my respect for the sport? And I would never allow anybody to lose the respect of the sport. Personally, I am so appreciative for what God has been able to give me.
TG - How did you feel when you were told that you were going into the Hall of Fame?
AA - That was a great thing. I think that every kid today doesn't care about it. I never thought about it because in my day it didn't exist.
TG - So you think that today it's all about money?
AA - That's my point. It's not that harmful because we as humans, we have to live. And I understand that the world is an economic world. But even with that we have to think about what we can give to the sport in order to please ourselves. I have to give something back to it. Look at Pernell Whitaker. He's gotten so much from boxing, and look, he's been stopped for DUI, been caught with cocaine. And everytime I read these articles I say what the hell is this guy thinking? These guys don't think. The most important things in my world are my kids. And that's why all the reporters in my country try to talk, because I don't do anything. And they talk "Alexis is broke, Alexis is this, Alexis is that". Even though I don't make the money I used to make, I'm okay. I do a lot of things. I like to work. I don't like to sit down in my house. I enjoy life. And I always told the reporters that your problem is that I never do anything.(laughs)
TG - A lot of your major fights were fought in your opponents' home towns. Weren't you worried about getting the short end of a decision?
AA - Actually, a fighter that works hard and enjoys the competition the way I did, he never thinks about that. In my day we never thought about those kinds of things because we, the fighters, were supposed to make the decision. When you have worked hard enough and know that you are in condition, you have grown enough to learn the art of the sport. Once you are in shape and know how to connect your punches, you make the decisions. Up there you do what you have to do in order to do what has to be done. That's the way we used to think.
TG - Were you ever intimidated in the ring?
AA - One day. My first fight. I was so nervous. I was trembling, I was so scared. I remember that I was walking from my dressing room, I was so nervous, and when I was climbing into the ring, a reporter said "this guy, they're going to break his bones, he's too skinny", and I got worse. Oh man, I was sweating, and I told my trainer "I feel so nervous", and he said "That's okay Alexis, don't worry about it." And the first punch my opponent threw touched my chin, and I said "uh-oh". And then I felt my adrenaline pumping, and as soon as my body got warm, I hit the guy and he went down. The referee started counting, and that was the time I said "I like this. I'd like to keep doing it." But I was shitting in my pants.
Then, I sparred with Ruben Olivares when he came to fight Yambito Blanco. And I said that if I want to learn I have to spar with this world champion. I didn't even tell my trainer that I was doing it, but I had to go. And he beat the living crap out of me. He put a black eye on me. That was in 1971. And then I went to fight him in 1974, and I asked him "Ruben, do you remember when you put a black eye on me?" And he said "Hey kid, I don't remember you, but I'm gonna send you home early. I don't want to punish you. That's okay kid, I'll take care of you really early. That way you don't suffer." I said "Are you kidding me? I came here to do something for my country buddy. Don't take it too lightly. I'm here to battle it out. Whatever's going to happen, I respect you. I'm just trying to remind you about what you did when I was a kid. But the best will win tonight, buddy."(laughs) I remember I said that.
TG - Tell me about your first title fight with Ernesto Marcel.
AA - February 16, 1974. Tough guy. Up until then, I thought that power was everything. And that night I found out that technique, speed, intelligence, is what controls the sport. It's not power. I had 40 kayos and any guy that came into my country, I knocked him out. And when I fought that day I realized that boxing is not only strength and power. It's beauty, it's rhythm, it's coordination, it has movements that are like a ballet dancer's. The movements are to look good and connect the punches one after the other and to leave you in a position where you are in balance. Like you're flowing. And that's the beauty of it. And that night I found that out. After I got a new trainer, while still keeping my old one because I never wanted to get rid of him, I learned some things. That defeat helped me to get the grounds better to understand that that was the day I grew up as a boxer. To find that my strength wasn't enough.
That night wasn't discouraging. It was when I found out that I needed to do something else. To learn the movements that Marcel taught me that night. And he gave me a lesson. That day I cried. I cried because I failed my people when I tried to become the first world champion. I remember that my trainer told me, crying the same way I was, "Alexis, we lost a battle, but the war is still on". And I could never forget those words. Then I started working harder than ever.
TG - There were rumors about a fight between Roberto Duran and yourself. How do you think that fight would have turned out?
AA - That would have been a war. That would have been a train collision. I remember one day I was checking in at Caesar's Palace and Duran came in "Alexis, you son of a bitch, you mother f....r, queer, faggot! Why don't you sign the f.....g contract? I'm gonna kick your ass." Then he started pushing me. And I said "Duran, don't do this bullshit to me. Don't push me around." Then I turned around and left. Then he followed me and said "Alexis, this is only publicity, man. I like you." I said "Hey Duran, look, I'm a serious man, I'm a businessman. But if it comes that we're going to fight, then we're going to do our jobs. But don't fool around with me." Because I never liked people talking. I never liked that. I was a quiet guy. Let's get up there and do our jobs. But the guy came out and said "Alexis, I'm sorry. I'm just trying to hype it up." And you could do that with the mouth, but then the guy started pushing me, and then I got upset. But we became good friends. The fight never happened because he went from 135 to 147, and that was the reason I stayed in the lightweights. Actually I was a junior lightweight when this was going on.
TG - Since you mentioned 147, there were rumors in the early eighties about a fight between yourself and Sugar Ray Leonard.
AA - No, no, no. Never. Leonard was so good. I didn't have anything to do with that weight division, buddy. Look, right now I'm probably weighing 160. I would have had no chance whatsoever. How am I going to fool myself? He was a superb champion.
TG - What are your thoughts on Alfredo Escalera?
AA - Oh man. The second fight was the fight of the decade. That was a war. The man was talking to me during the rounds when we would get into a clinch. He was telling me "You skinny mother f----r, kill me you son of a bitch." That was the toughest guy I fought. I was so young. After the fight, when we were taking the test for drugs, the guy came to me and said "Hey Alexis, why don't we sign the third one? We're gonna make a lot of money." I said, "Get out of here. Find someone to fight. I don't want to go through another one." He was a tough son of a bitch. And then my doctor performed an operation, because I had an eighteen stitch cut on my right eye, right on the train. My flight was leaving at eight in the morning and the fight ended about 11:30, so we went back to the hotel, packed everything, and got on the train from Rimini to Milan. We took a six hour ride on the train. And I got plastic surgery right there on the train, with no painkillers.
TG - Ray Mancini?
AA- Good memories for many reasons. He was younger. I was thirty years old already and everyone was saying that it was time for me to leave. Everybody was pointing out my weaknesses, saying I was over the hill. And I prepared myself so well. I stayed in the Concord hotel in upstate New York for six weeks training, and by the time we made it to the press conference, everyone, including the producer, was saying that I was going to lose. And my trainer got upset. He said "Alexis, we want this kid knocked out as soon as you can." In the first round, when the bell rang, I came out and I tried the guy, and when I went back to my corner at the end of the round I said "Hey guys, this won't be a first rounder. This guy is a tough cookie." But then I started applying my experience. He was a brawler, a guy who wanted it with all his heart because his father had never gotten a title shot . And after his father had gotten an operation on his heart, he was brought to the site of the fight, and I though that it was to push me, to psych me out or something. But it didn't work. We went fourteen rounds because the kid wanted the title. In the twelfth round I hit him with a straight right hand in the mouth, and I opened up a cut on his mouth. He put his knee on the canvas, turned around all wobbly, and headed directly to his corner. And in the boxing rules, when a fighter gives his back to his opponent, he's out. I asked the referee, Tony Perez, "Tony, the guy is out. He turned his back on me." He said "Alexis, keep fighting or I'll disqualify you." I said "What? Are you kidding me? I'm gonna hurt the kid." But the guy was tough. And in the fourteenth round, I connected with such a combination that the kid could not take it. But the fight itself was a toughie. It is one I always think good about. Especially after the fight. Tim Ryan brought us to do the interview and said "That's what we're talking about, two gentlemen who fought like men, but now they're friends." And when Ray was coming in I said "Look, the same way you love your father, I love my father. And if there's anything I can do for you let me know, because I'm sure you're going to be champion." And that came from my heart because he's a special kid.
TG - Aaron Pryor?
AA - That was a tough one. This is the way I put it: the same thing I did to Olivares, someone had to do it to me. In this sport, what we do when we're coming in, they do to us when we're going out. (laughs). Unfortunately this is the only sport where those kinds of things happen.
TG - Do you think that he had something in the infamous bottle in his corner?
AA - Afterwards I heard that Panama Lewis had been disqualified by the New York State Athletic Commission for pulling the padding from the gloves in the Resto fight, so anything could have been done.
TG - I saw him take shots from you and not even move.
AA - Oh man, everytime I did that, I hit the guy with everything I had and he was laughing at me. I can't believe it. Let me tell you one thing, the guy was a fast guy, he was so quick, and what scared me the most was that in the fourteenth round I was tired so I thought that he would be tired too. But the guy came on like a storm (laughs). But I took the shots. I stood on my feet. I didn't want to go down. The referee, Christodoulou, was the one who put me down. (laughs) I was 32 years old, and he was 24, 25 and it happens to all of us. It was a great battle. The first one in Miami? What a fight. Those fourteen rounds. Everytime I see them I start to sweat. The guy was good. And he was there with heart and soul and with a purpose.
TG - You've seen Pryor since at the Hall of Fame. What's it like when you run into one of your former opponents?
AA - Actually we never refer to our fights. The only thing we feel is that we have a bond with each other. A common bond that pressures us to respect each other because we are in a brotherhood. We have something in common. With Pryor, we have 24 rounds in common. The first one went 14, the second one 10. In the second fight in Vegas, the referee yells "Alexis, do you want to keep fighting?" "Are you nuts? Get out of here. Finish it." (laughs) I was done, forget about it. That referee was Richard Steele. I was with my heart and soul into the first fight and the second fight. Pryor was a great fighter. And I asked him the last time I saw him at the Boxing Hall of Fame. I asked him "Hey Aaron, tell me you son of a gun, tell me what the hell you had in that bottle." He said "Alexis, it was peppermint schnapps." I said "Get out of here. Peppermint schnapps won't give you what you had." (laughs) But he was laughing. We had two battles, and such a bond between us.
TG - You're 46 now. Do you look at guys like Foreman, Holmes, and Duran, and get itchy to come back?
AA- No. I have so much respect for what I did and the way I did it that I don't want to put a shadow over something so beautiful, so wonderful. Because people saw me in the best of my prime. And to make myself look ridiculous? That would be bad. It's better to stay here taking care of my kids.
TG - Who were some of your influences when you started fighting?
AA- Actually my influence was my needy situation. I was poor. My father was a shoemaker. My mom used to sell shoes in the street. And I got thrown out of school because my father couldn't afford to pay. And you, I, and all human beings come to this world with a talent. With a goal. And when I was 15, I got something deep in my heart, something that I felt my country needed. There were three guys from my country who tried to win a world title and they failed. And I went for the first time to the gym and I liked it. As days went by I kept thinking of the idea of being the first guy to win a world title for my country. And that thing grew so much that I got the chance in Panama with Ernesto Marcel. And when I lost I was so disappointed. But like I said, I lost a battle, but the war was on. I had to use intelligence and I got involved in it. I got into the business that I wanted to learn so much. I wanted to learn every step of the way. Every move, like I saw Sugar Ray Robinson, like I saw Joe Louis, Ezzard Charles, The Mongoose (Archie Moore), Jersey Joe Walcott. All those guys I saw on Gillette Sports. Every Sunday I used to pay ten cents to watch those guys. I said "Man, these guys are awesome." It was just the dream of a kid.
TG - How does it feel to be such a hero still in Nicaragua?
AA - I'm just another human being like everybody else. Sometimes I feel bad for the way people treat me. I'm just another guy that gave my heart for my country. When the Sandinista confiscated my property, that was a shame. But, we're humans. And in this country, we're so egotistical. There are a bunch of people that don't appreciate what I did. But I understand that the poor people appreciate it twice as much. The rich people hurt because a guy from the ghetto is here in a quarter of a million dollar house, and that I've struggled in my life but I keep going forward. People like me are supposed to die to be the legend they want me to be.(laughs) I'm 46, I have so much to do, and at least I can tell the youth of this country that when you put a goal in your heart, follow through, keep going, don't allow anyone to stop you.
TG - What do you think about women's boxing?
AA - It's an attraction. We live in a world where we all have the right to do different things. I don't think we should stop it. Why? Economically it's a good show. Anytime I see Christy Martin, I say "Man, that girl is a tough cookie." The last time I saw her at the Hall of Fame, I told her husband on the side "Hey guy, is there anytime you make her mad? Don't make her mad because she'll punch you right in the nose."(laughs) At that point I was cracking up, and even Christy heard me and she started laughing, and she said "No, we don't get into those kinds of things." I'm glad to hear it because I'd feel sorry for this guy. If we do it, why shouldn't they do it. There is a passion inside of each one of us. We like the challenge.
TG - What do you say to someone who thinks boxing should be banned?
AA - No, that would be the biggest mistake on earth. There have been so many boxers that have hurt the sport. Harmed the sport because of their behavior, like Tyson with what he did to Evander Holyfield., things like that. But in the long run, there are a lot of kids out there that need this. It would be a crime if out of a hundred guys, one would make a mistake. We can't stop something that you enjoy, I enjoy, and that most of us enjoy. Why? Because we were all born with a fighting instinct. And that's why we enjoy it.
It may surprise American fans too know that boxing is a major
sport in South America, right up there with soccer and baseball.
It is not uncommon for a local paper to include a full color
poster if an upcoming fighter or new champion. This past month,
for example, one paper ran a long article on Martin Vargas,
Chilean flyweight contender of the 1980s. Why was Vargas in the
news? He had recently completed a course in Cuba on refined
coaching techniques which Vargas intends to use in his current
capacity as trainer. Former featherweight champion Antonio
Esparragoza is in the news virtually every week -- he is both
head of Venezuelan amateur boxing and a delegate for his party in
the presidential elections being held this weekend.
Nevertheless, I was still surprised at the attention given to the
30th anniverary of the first Gold Medal won by a Venezuelan, the
1968 light flyweight champion Francisco "Morochito" Rodriquez.
The date: October 26, 1968. That same evening a young american
named George Foreman also won a gold.
The town was plastered with posters; a dinner was being held as
well as an amateur competion named in honor of Morochito. I
wondder if any honors were accorded our other 1968 Gold Medalist,
Ronnie Harris . . . .
Francisco Antonio Brito Rodriquez was born in Cumaná on September
20, 1945. Francisco spent his teen years working with his mother
selling fish in Cumaná. When Francisco was 19, one of his friends
invited him to a local gym run by "the machine that makes
champions" Professor Ely Montes. At that time, Montes was
training future world champions Antonio Gomez and Alfredo
Marcano, along with other good fighters such as Jose Luis Vallejo
and Alfredo Acosta. These were the golden days of Venezuelan
Montes quickly saw that in Morochito he had a boxer of
extraordinary promise. Montes described the tiny flyweight s a
"natural for combat," who quicky absorbed the theory of boxing.
That same year, 1964, the Venezuelan National Championships were
held in Cumaná. Morochito tore through the early fights then was
matched in the finals with another future world champion
"Lumumba" Estaba. That bout never took place. Prof. Montes
pulled his entire team from the competition in protest of a bad
decision rendered against Alfredo Marcano. As a result, the
entire team was suspended. Morochito was out of action for a
little more than two years.
Francisco was reinstated by the Venezuelan Boxing Federation in
time for him to compete in the eliminations for the 1967 Pan Am
Games held in Winnipeg, Canada. The Venezuelan flyweight
represented his country at the games and he walked off with the
gold medal, beating Mexican Ricardo Delgado. Delgado was no
slouch -- he went on to win a gold nmedal at flyweight at the
Morochito followed this victory with a gold medal at the Latin
American Championships, held that year in Chile. He was ready
for Mexico City. Morochito, who had been competing at flyweight,
dropped down to light flyweight (48 kilos), as Venezuela needed
an entrant in that new weight class.
Even 30 years ago, amateur boxing was dominated by cubans. In his
first bout, Morochito drew medal favorite Rafael Carbonell in his
first fight an beat him clearly on a 5-0 decision. After a 2-round kayp of Hatha Karunaratne (Ceylon), Morochito faced U.S.
amateur star Harlan Marbrey, beating him 4-1.
On Saturday, October 26, 1968, the Venezuelan faced Korean Yong-Ju Jee for the gold medal. It was then that Francisco first
faced a boxer's nemisis: nerves.
"When it was just about time to fight, " recalled Francisco, " I
was very nervous. I began to feel cold. Then they knocked on the
door calling for the Venezuelan. That ended my fright."
The gold medal bout was quick, tough, tense, and close. In the
third round, Morochito broke the thumb on his right hand, yet
continued to punch. At the end, the Venezuelan triumphed by a
score of 3-2. The news electrified the nation and Morochito
became a national hero.
Francisco fielded many offers to turn pro and eventually signed a
pro contract. Although his desire to fight was waning, he wanted
to support his mother and family. Shortly after he signed his
contract, he took his mother to see Alfredo Marcano fight.
During the fight, Marcano was cut badly and his bloodied
mouthpiece was knocked into Francisco's mother's lap. After the
fight she begged himm to give up fighting, and he obtained a
cancellation of his contract without ever turning pro.
Morochito did not fight internationally in1969 and by the time
the 1972 Olympics rolled around the fire was out. He made the
Olympic team but was kayoed in his first fight of the games. His
career was over -- an amazing 266 wins and 4 losses in 270 fights.
In 1988, Morochito was elected to the Venezuelan Sports Hall of
Fame. He became a well-respected multi-sport trainer at the
National Institute of Sport where he worked for over 25 years.
In Venezuela, the accolades have never stopped and Morochito has
never given cause for the respect of his countrymen to waver.
"Morichito Rodrigeuz" -- Venezuela'a First Gold Medalist
By Mike DeLisa
Over the past three years, I have spent more and more of my time
in the Venezuelan coastal city of Cumaná, some 200 miles east of
Caracas, where I run a cigar factory. Cumaná, the oldest city in
the western hemisphere, is reknowned for three things -- its
cigars, its fishing industry, and its boxers.
It may surprise American fans too know that boxing is a major sport in South America, right up there with soccer and baseball. It is not uncommon for a local paper to include a full color poster if an upcoming fighter or new champion. This past month, for example, one paper ran a long article on Martin Vargas, Chilean flyweight contender of the 1980s. Why was Vargas in the news? He had recently completed a course in Cuba on refined coaching techniques which Vargas intends to use in his current capacity as trainer. Former featherweight champion Antonio Esparragoza is in the news virtually every week -- he is both head of Venezuelan amateur boxing and a delegate for his party in the presidential elections being held this weekend.
Nevertheless, I was still surprised at the attention given to the 30th anniverary of the first Gold Medal won by a Venezuelan, the 1968 light flyweight champion Francisco "Morochito" Rodriquez. The date: October 26, 1968. That same evening a young american named George Foreman also won a gold.
The town was plastered with posters; a dinner was being held as well as an amateur competion named in honor of Morochito. I wondder if any honors were accorded our other 1968 Gold Medalist, Ronnie Harris . . . .
Francisco Antonio Brito Rodriquez was born in Cumaná on September 20, 1945. Francisco spent his teen years working with his mother selling fish in Cumaná. When Francisco was 19, one of his friends invited him to a local gym run by "the machine that makes champions" Professor Ely Montes. At that time, Montes was training future world champions Antonio Gomez and Alfredo Marcano, along with other good fighters such as Jose Luis Vallejo and Alfredo Acosta. These were the golden days of Venezuelan boxing.
Montes quickly saw that in Morochito he had a boxer of extraordinary promise. Montes described the tiny flyweight s a "natural for combat," who quicky absorbed the theory of boxing.
That same year, 1964, the Venezuelan National Championships were held in Cumaná. Morochito tore through the early fights then was matched in the finals with another future world champion "Lumumba" Estaba. That bout never took place. Prof. Montes pulled his entire team from the competition in protest of a bad decision rendered against Alfredo Marcano. As a result, the entire team was suspended. Morochito was out of action for a little more than two years.
Francisco was reinstated by the Venezuelan Boxing Federation in time for him to compete in the eliminations for the 1967 Pan Am Games held in Winnipeg, Canada. The Venezuelan flyweight represented his country at the games and he walked off with the gold medal, beating Mexican Ricardo Delgado. Delgado was no slouch -- he went on to win a gold nmedal at flyweight at the 1968 Olympics.
Morochito followed this victory with a gold medal at the Latin American Championships, held that year in Chile. He was ready for Mexico City. Morochito, who had been competing at flyweight, dropped down to light flyweight (48 kilos), as Venezuela needed an entrant in that new weight class.
Even 30 years ago, amateur boxing was dominated by cubans. In his first bout, Morochito drew medal favorite Rafael Carbonell in his first fight an beat him clearly on a 5-0 decision. After a 2-round kayp of Hatha Karunaratne (Ceylon), Morochito faced U.S. amateur star Harlan Marbrey, beating him 4-1.
On Saturday, October 26, 1968, the Venezuelan faced Korean Yong-Ju Jee for the gold medal. It was then that Francisco first faced a boxer's nemisis: nerves.
"When it was just about time to fight, " recalled Francisco, " I was very nervous. I began to feel cold. Then they knocked on the door calling for the Venezuelan. That ended my fright."
The gold medal bout was quick, tough, tense, and close. In the third round, Morochito broke the thumb on his right hand, yet continued to punch. At the end, the Venezuelan triumphed by a score of 3-2. The news electrified the nation and Morochito became a national hero.
Francisco fielded many offers to turn pro and eventually signed a pro contract. Although his desire to fight was waning, he wanted to support his mother and family. Shortly after he signed his contract, he took his mother to see Alfredo Marcano fight. During the fight, Marcano was cut badly and his bloodied mouthpiece was knocked into Francisco's mother's lap. After the fight she begged himm to give up fighting, and he obtained a cancellation of his contract without ever turning pro.
Morochito did not fight internationally in1969 and by the time the 1972 Olympics rolled around the fire was out. He made the Olympic team but was kayoed in his first fight of the games. His career was over -- an amazing 266 wins and 4 losses in 270 fights.
In 1988, Morochito was elected to the Venezuelan Sports Hall of Fame. He became a well-respected multi-sport trainer at the National Institute of Sport where he worked for over 25 years.
In Venezuela, the accolades have never stopped and Morochito has never given cause for the respect of his countrymen to waver.
By Thomas Gerbasi
HBO and Roy Jones step up to the plate for Gerald McClellan
This month, HBO Sports, Roy Jones Jr., and Ring 8 are teaming up to raise money for the children of former middleweight champion Gerald McClellan. As you will remember, in 1995, McClellan collapsed shortly after a brutal super middleweight title bout with Nigel Benn. McClellan had a blood clot removed from his brain, and subsequently he will require 24 hour a day care from his three sisters for the rest of his life. This fund raising effort will help make better lives for Gerald's three children.
Kudos to HBO and Honorary Chairman Roy Ones Jr. for doing this for someone who wasn't even an HBO fighter. In fact, when I recently spoke to Gerald's sister Lisa, she told me that no fighter has done more for her brother than Roy. Pound for Pound top fighter? Things like this show that Roy Jones is tops Pound for Pound as a man.
If you would like to contribute to the fund, donations may be sent to:
Ring 8 / The Gerald McClellan Fund Home Box Office 1100 Avenue of the Americas Room 10-45 New York, NY 10036
Please make checks payable to: Ring 8/The Gerald McClellan Fund
Also, with the blessing of the McClellan family, I have donated my services to create a tribute web site for Gerald McClellan. This site is currently under construction, and all donations of articles or pictures to be used on the site will be graciously accepted. If you have any reminisces of Gerald or his fights, send them over to me at email@example.com .
The site address is: http://members.tripod.com/~gmantrust/index.htm
Jerry Quarry Update
Contrary to rumors spread by bitter ex-wife Tina, the family of Jerry Quarry was not making funeral arrangements for the former heavyweight contender prior to dental surgery. According to Jerry's sister Brenda, who is responsible for the care of her brother, Quarry had dental surgery on October 21. While there was concern about how Jerry would respond to the anasthesia, the tough warrior of the 70's came through with flying colors, and according to Brenda, is doing better, breathing better, and holding his head higher thanks to the surgery. In other Quarry news, Jerry was ranked as the 27th best heavyweight of All-Time by Ring magazine.
Women's Boxing in Trouble
Unfortunate is the recent demise of LadyBoxer Magazine, the only magazine devoted to women's boxing. More unfortunate is the fact that this is reflective of the state of women's boxing as a whole. The promoters are all losing money, the fighters are demanding outrageous purses for four round fights, the web community has dwindled, and the gap in talent between the elite fighters and the next level is widening. Women's boxing is in serious trouble of being reduced to a politically correct footnote in boxing history. What does it need? A Superfight. Lucia Rijker vs. Christy Martin must be made, and made soon to bring the public back to the sport. If not, it will fade away.
Elsewhere in this issue you will find my recent interview with boxing legend Alexis Arguello. Arguello is widely known not just for his prowess in the ring, but for being a gentleman. And while hype and false images are prevalent in boxing, there are no facades when it comes to Alexis. Let me give you a little background on this interview.
Alexis was in his home in Nicaragua when this interview took place. The dumb American (me) who figures that the world speaks English, gets tongue tied when calling the Arguello residence. Luckily, my wife (who is of Puerto Rican descent) was able to save me, and soon I was on the phone with Senor Alexis. Halfway through the interview, the phones went dead. I tried for another hour (it was around 2am about this time) to get through, but I had no luck. The next day, I had my wife frantically calling Nicaragua to let Alexis know that I didn't hang up on him and offer my apologies. I also had enough material for a part one of a story, and I was going to offer to do the second part in a month's time. I didn't want to take up another night of his time so soon. My wife finally got through, and Alexis was gracious as usual, and insisted that I call back that night to finish the story. "We were getting into some interesting stuff." He told my wife. Needless to say, the fruits of my labors are reproduced here in this issue. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I had conducting the interview. Viva Alexis! Always a true champion.
By Lee Michaels
If you ask Prince Naseem Hamed, he has it all. So much so that hell bluntly tell you how one day, all boxing purists will be forced to accept him as one of the sports all-time greats.
Folks, it will never happen.
Why? Because in order to be a great in the sport of boxing, you have to respect the sport of boxing. And based on his Halloween night performance, the WBO featherweight champion clearly showed why he will never gain the respect he so desperately seeks.
First, lets give credit where credit is due. Hamed won his bout against the "Pocket Rocket" from Ireland, Wayne McCullough. His knockout streak of 18 was brought to a halt, but Hameds combination of boxing/brawling, as well as running in the later rounds was plenty enough to render a unanimous decision.
Unfortunately for Hamed, winning also means attempting to embarrass your opponent, as well as your trainer. Hamed was his usual degrading, talkative self at the pre-fight press conference for the bout. Even worse was his sad attempt to kiss up to McCullough at the weigh-in later in the week. McCullough meanwhile, kept his cool throughout, proving why he is one of boxings classiest fighters.
When the opening bell sounded, Hamed was at it again. He continually taunted McCullough, sometimes in the form of talking, other times in the form of looking away while jabbing. As if that wasnt enough, Hamed then decided to show the world just how much he now despises his longtime trainer, Brendan Ingle. Ingles new book, "The Paddy and the Prince," apparently tells us what we already knew that Hamed is a 24 year old spoiled brat. Needless to say, Hamed doesnt appreciate hearing the truth.
Hamed, who may have already parted ways with promoter Frank Warren by the time you read this, acted as if Ingle was dressed as an invisible ghost when returning to his corner in-between rounds. Ingle would ask Hamed to sit on the stool .Hamed would stand. As a matter of fact, Ingle might as well not shown up to the bout. The only time Hamed appeared to listen was when Ingle told him to keep jabbing. But what else was Hamed going to do with McCulloughs straight-ahead style? In order to keep McCullough from getting inside, Hamed already knew what he needed to do jab.
In other words, Ingle was useless to Hamed. Will Hamed keep Ingle around for his next fight? If Ingles smart, he should make the decision before Hamed does. There is plenty of other circus acts Ingle can train if he so desires.
Hameds claim to become the next Muhammad Ali is atrocious. When Ali spoke, people would listen and then crave for more. When Ali made predictions on fights, he backed them up in the ring. And most of all, Ali respected the sport because he knew that without it, the world would never have known who he was.
Hamed, on the other hand, tries to make boxing fans feel like they should be honored to hear him speak and see him fight. Its a shame, because he is easily one of the most gifted fighters in the sport today. Rather than just use his God-given talents great speed and power Hamed worries more about flashiness, style and trying to re-invent the sport with awkward, undisciplined tactics in the ring.
For now, the tactics have worked against his opponents, but they have backfired with many boxing critics. One day, someone will come along who isnt custom made for Hameds style like McCullough was. And just like Kevin Kelley did, theyll catch him off-balanced and send him down to the canvas. And maybe, just maybe, The Prince wont get up this time.
My choice for the job - undefeated (31-0, 25 KOs) Erik Morales, who recently destroyed Junior Jones.
HBO Callin It Like They Dont See Em
HBOs telecast equaled Hameds ring tactics by giving its viewers a brown nosing contest between its three announcers - Jim Lampley, Larry Merchant and George Foreman. Sometimes, I couldnt understand what they were saying because their heads were so far up Hameds .lets just say trunks.
HBO, now halfway through their six-fight contract with Hamed, once again failed to capitalize on a golden opportunity to dissect the fighters unorthodox style in the ring. Its one thing to simply mention that he has an awkward style, which HBO has done in their first three bouts with Hamed. But rather than tell the viewers why that style may backfire against The Prince one day (and who will capitalize on it), the three amigos simply made Hamed out to be the greatest thing since sliced bread.
Shockingly, Larry "Hi, I Take Eight Rounds to Make My Point" Merchant was the only one to even give us a dose of criticism on Hameds style. But as soon as Merchant spit out his point, he was back to "ooohh-ing" and "awww-ing" at every Hamed move along with Lampley and Foreman.
Which brings up this question - will George Foreman ever make a valid point on an HBO telecast? For example, in the Danny Romero-Vuyani Bungu undercard bout, Big George tried to explain how referee Rudy Battle kept his hands on Romero too long when separating him from Bungu in the clinch. George then tried to convince the viewers that Battles constant hand placement on Romeros chest was the equivalent of punches landing throughout the bout. Wwwwwhhhhhhhaaaaat?
Message to HBO - I miss the always candid and blunt Gil Clancy. He may not have the big name like a Foreman or Roy Jones Jr., but at least Clancy made valid points. I can only imagine what Clancy, a hall of fame trainer, would say about Hameds tactics in the ring.
Then, of course, there is Lampley, who I actually dont mind. The best boxing announcers are the ones who let the action speak for itself. If the action cant speak, then you interject your boxing stories into the mix, a la the greatest of them all, Don Dunphy.
Lampley sometimes tries to be too overzealous during action packed moments, but for the most part, he covers up his lack of boxing knowledge quite well during HBOs telecasts.
The Squared Circle on the Squared Screen
Despite their flaws, HBO is clearly the cream of the crop when it comes to boxing on "free" television. I say "free" because the big networks have all but erased boxing from their sports programming schedules. HBO is always busy putting together attractive cards, giving them a clear edge over anyone else.
Over the next several weeks, HBO clearly has the best fights on television:
11-14: Roy Jones Jr. vs. Otis Grant
Shane Mosley vs. Jesse James Leija
11-21 Oscar de la Hoya vs. Ike Quartey (TVKO)
11-28 Miguel Gonzalez vs. Kostya Tszyu
Luisito Espinoza vs. Kennedy McKinney
Here are my thoughts on other venues for boxing on television:
Showtime: Its simple Showtime does not have the presence anymore that HBO does when it comes to boxing on their non-pay per view venues. Don King would rather make his money from overpriced pay per view cards. If Showtime ever decides to become an active boxing network again, then they can be compared to HBO. Until then, theres simply no comparison.
Fox Sports Network: Because of FSNs regionalized network, it is hard to find exact times as to when their boxing shows air. And when you do get to see them, the fights dont match the competitiveness of HBOs or even Showtime. If you want to see Greg Page or Hector Camacho, Jr, then this is the network for you.
ESPN2: Their new "Friday Night Fights" series is the alternative to the now extinct "Tuesday Night Fights" series on USA Network. The big, and I mean big difference here is that you can watch it without wanting to turn down the sound. Blow by blow man Bob Papa does a nice job of working in partner Teddy Atlas. Atlas is not a natural t.v. guy, but hes clearly the most knowledgeable analyst in the sport. Adding in a unique twist to the program are the studio portions of the show, headlined by "insider" Max Kellerman. Kellermans Gen-X look and sound may turn off many viewers, but once he works on his delivery, people may take him more seriously because the kid knows about the sport. You may not always agree with him, but thats why hes there - to formulate an opinion. Smart move by incorporating the Big Fights boxing library, which ESPN now owns. At least you know youll be getting some good old-fashioned fighting somewhere in the show.
ESPN Classic (formerly Classic Sports Network): Also takes their programming from the Big Fights library. You are always guaranteed great fights, and, if you claim to be a true boxing fan, you should know the results before hand, thus eliminating the "What a waste of time that bout was" complaint that so many viewers use when not pleased with a fight. A dream come true for the boxing purist.
When debating in your head whether Mike Tyson should have been allowed to box again, ask yourself this question
What else is there for Mike Tyson to do? Lecture? Become a chemist?
Fact is, Tyson will never be healed. He will never change. He will always be a problem maker. He will always be a rapist. If you believe in Iron Mike, then read his recent interview in "Playboy." Youll change your mind.
At least with boxing in his life, he can continue to do something that hes actually done right - be a successful prize fighter. That way, at least he can focus on something.
Of course, its only a matter of time before Tyson faces adversity again in the ring. Hell fight a decent, but beatable opponent in his comeback bout - someone like a Botha or Savarese. And then hell jump to a money bout with a much better opponent. And once again, he will lose.
What will Tyson do when he faces, lets say, Evander Holyfield in their third bout, and once again Holyfield counters every Tyson punch with two harder ones? What tactics will he resort to when he simply realizes that he can be beat again and again? He cant resort to ring tactics, because he skills have eroded too much to beat the best heavyweights around.
Mike Tyson will once again resort to thug tactics. And when he does, then he will be banished from the sport that put him on this planet. And the only menace Mike Tyson will become is a familiar one - a menace to society.
Tick, Tock ..Tick, Tock
On January 23, 1999, at the Houston Astrodome, two old men will get together for a very heavyweight bout.
Their age will be a combined 99 years old. Their combined weight is likely to be at around 500 pounds.
This is George Foreman versus Larry Holmes. This is boxing.
And this is my philosophy on why this is actually going to be an entertaining, possibly even a good fight.
Forget the fact that both Foreman and Holmes have bodies like Play-Doh. Forget the fact that both are just a tad removed from their primes. Take this into consideration. We all know that neither Foreman nor Holmes is going to be dancing around the ring all night. They are as agile as blocks of cement.
Therefore, their only choice is to basically stand in the center of the ring. When this happens, they wont have time to exchange recipes. Their only choice will be to exchange punches. And as old as Big George is, he still packs some punch.
What we will have is two old men, going toe to toe, until about the 7th or 8th round. At that time, Holmes will be totally out of gas, while George will still be chugging away. Remember, George has shocked the world before with his surprising stamina. Holmes gets tired just from announcing retirements, so I say Big George by TKO, which will please the hometown crowd for sure.
One of the obvious elements that todays version of boxing lacks is consistent marquee bouts. Boxing fans always seem to reminisce about the glory days of the sport, sometimes pointing back to times like the 1950s when champions always fought the top contenders and ducking fighters wasnt as prevalent as it is today.
If you are one who believes in that philosophy, then consider this. Many of the great bouts that took place in the 40s or 50s were due to the mobs influence on the sport. Frankie Carbo, and then Blinky Palermo, controlled the managers in boxing. They had the say on who fought who, and the mob in general often said who won what bouts by fixing them.
So yes, there may have been great fights, but they werent always honest ones. Todays version of the sweet science is at least a more honest one.
Until next time.
JAKE LaMOTTA: PASTA SAUCE CHAMPION?
By Dave Iamele
FORWARD: Jake LaMotta, known as The Bronx Bull, was born Giacobe LaMotta on 7/10/21 in the Bronx, New York. Jake was middleweight champion from 1949 1951 and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990. LaMottas pro record stands at 106 total bouts, 86 wins, 19 losses, 4 draws, with 30 kos over a 14 year span from 1941 1954 (excluding 1953 when he was inactive). Mr. LaMotta was not only famous in his hay-day but achieved fame again after the release of the Academy Award winning movie Raging Bull starring Robert DeNiro.
In the ring, Jake was one of the toughest, most determined competitors of all time. Outside the squared circle, Jake has had his share of trials and tribulations. To learn more about one of the squared circles fiercest battlers, read Raging Bull or rent the movie.
Putting this piece together I debated about whether to leave it in the straightforward Q & A format (which some editors dislike) or to incorporate Jakes comments into an article about him. Eventually, I opted for the Q & A because I felt there was nothing I could envelope Jakes wonderful, straight forward, Bronxesque words with, that would not be redundant to anyone whos ever viewed Raging Bull or better yet, seen Jake fight. Hell, if Q & As good enough for Hugh Hefner, its good enough for me! So here are Jakes thoughts, unedited, written exactly as he spoke them:
Q: "How did you first become involved in boxing?"
JL: "Oh, that was many, many years ago! I was a little kid and Id get involved in street fights and things like that and then I went to the gym and I started to learn a little technique. Before you know it, I got very involved in boxing, but I started very, very early when I was 8 years old. I was fighting out of the Bronx and I turned professional when I was 18 years old, but before that I mustve had about a 1000 fights between street fights and amateur fights."
Q: "Was Ray Robinson your first big money fight?"
JL: "Thats right, you did your homework! Yeah, the first big fight I won was against Sugar Ray Robinson. He was undefeated in his first 134 fights. It was a great, great experience for me to achieve something like that, and from then on, I was famous, that was in 1943. Then there was a lull when I retired and then the movie (Raging Bull) came out and I got famous all over again. Superstar Robert DeNiro won the Oscar for best actor and it was nominated for 8 academy awards and they say it was one of the best movies of the last decade. Could you believe something like that?"
Q: "Were you happy with DeNiros portrayal of you in the movie?"
JL: "Of course! He did such a great job and Im glad he won the Oscar for it because he really deserved it. As a matter of fact, at one point during the making of the movie, he took four months off to put on 60 lbs. (to play Jake much latter in life, after his boxing career was over). Can you believe that? After, when he lost the weight, he did fitness training and he couldve fought professionally, thats how dedicated he was! He s a great, great guy and a great superstar. I doubt if there was anybody else who couldve done it but him!"
Q: "Was your rivalry with Ray Robinson personal at all or strictly business?"
JL: "No, no, no! Ill give you a nice antidote on that we fought six times, as a matter of fact, I do stand up comedy and I use it as one of my jokes and the more they hear it, the more they laugh, and it goes like this. I fought Sugar Ray Robinson so many times its a wonder I dont have diabetes. You have to laugh at something like that its so funny. I was the first man to beat him and then I got married in Las Vegas and he was best man at my wedding!"
Q: "Why do you think your bouts were so popular?" (w/ Robinson)
JL: "Because they were great fights and they were close! You dont fight six times unless theyre close. One time, I had him down and out and the bell saved him and they gave him the fight by 1 point because he was going in the army the next day. Another time, I had him down and out and the bell saved him and 2 out of 3 judges gave him the fight even though in total punches thrown and landed, I was ahead. I mean these were close fights! They voted him last year as the greatest fighter pound-for-pound that ever lived!"
Q: "What about another one of your famous opponents, Fritzie Zivic, you fought him four times?"
JL: "You really have done your homework! He was a great fighter from Pittsburgh. I won three of them fights and I learned an awful lot from being in the ring with him."
Q: "On November 14, 1947, you took a dive in a fight with Billy Fox in exchange for a title fight promised to you by the mob?"
JL: "At the time, there was an investigation into boxing and I explained to them that the reason why I threw that fight was because that I had to manage myself. I didnt believe in the mob, I didnt trust them and everybody was against me for doing something like that but time was running out. I was getting older . . . I had a beautiful wife, children, I had everything I wanted. At that time, it was everything I wanted, today it would be considered poverty . . . So time was running out and they promised me a chance for the championship if I did something like that and Ive admitted it and a lot of people dont blame me for it."
Q: Did the committee suspend you or try to stop you from boxing?"
JL: "Well, no. I just couldnt get fights so I fought all the black guys. The white guys wouldnt fight me so I fought all the black fighters and 8 out of 10 fights I had were with black people. I fought more black men than any white fighters alive or dead probably. They helped me make a living and I helped them make a living."
Q: "Finally, in June of 1949, you got your title shot against Marcel Cerdan in Detroit. How did you feel when you finally got your shot?"
JL: "Marcel Cerdan is considered to be the greatest fighter pound-for-pound that ever came out of Europe and he was a great competitor but at that time, I couldve beaten anybody. I was the uncrowned champ for 5 years. I finally got a shot but I had to pay for it to get it. I paid money under the table."
Q: "Once you won the title, how did you feel as compared to when you were trying to get it?"
JL: "It was something I wanted for many, many years and I finally got it but I had to do something shady to get it. But if I had it to do all over again, Id do the same thing."
Q: "In the Raging Bull movie, it shows DeNiro portraying you, destroying the championship belt to get the jewels. Did you really do that?"
JL: "Oh that was a bad time in my life you gotta describe the whole thing. Tell the audience what youre talking about . . . (At this point, Jake gets very agitated) Tell them what youre talking about!! You saw it in the movie, I took the gems out just to sell the gold and I found out that I did a bad thing cause I couldve got more money if I hadnt destroyed the belt just to get the jewels off."
Q: "What are you doing with your time now?"
JL: "Im glad you asked that! Im connected with my son in the tomato sauce business. Its called LaMotta Tomatta and its doing very, very well. You can inquire about it by calling 1-800-LAMOTTA. You can also inquire through my son about me making personal appearances. I make appearances all over the world just call the number and ask for my son, Joe LaMotta."
Q: "Are you still a fight fan?"
JL: "Well, not so much like I used to be because the caliber of fighters that fight today . . . theyre good but theyre not as good as the fighters that were fighting in my time. Besides, they make so much money now theyre spoiled. They make a million dollars and then what incentive do they have to fight more, they dont have any incentive. In my day, you had to make a living thats why I kept fighting all the time. As a matter of fact, Ill tell you something interesting that many people dont realize that I fought the greatest fighter pound-for-pound that ever lived, Sugar Ray Robinson, twice in three weeks! That s something."
DI: "Thank you very much for your time, champ."
AFTERWARD: While putting this interview article together, one of my editors suggested calling the 1-800-LAMOTTA number to request a jar of Jakes "tomatta" sauce to do a kind of review of the sauce just for a fun tie-in to the story. I called the number on September 3 and a woman answered the phone, "LaMotta Foods". I explained who I was and what I wanted, she hesitated a moment then told me, "Im sorry theres been a tragedy, Joe LaMotta (Jakes son) was aboard Swissair flight 111. Im his partner, he was my husband . . . please call back next week. I dont know whats going to happen, perhaps my attorney can . . .". The poor woman was obviously in shock and I just passed along my condolences and told her I would call back at a later date. Again, I wish to express my sorrow and condolences to the entire LaMotta family for their tragic and untimely loss. I thank the champ for taking the time to speak with me.
By George Azar
THE FIGHT. Sometimes the reaction of a fight crowd leaves you wondering if you were watching the same contest as thousands of other people.On Halloween night, Naseem Hamed gave Wayne McCullough a 12 round beating...while going backwards. He controlled the fight, toying with the Pocket Rocket, doing what he pleased, when he pleased. The Prince boxed when he wanted to box, controlled the center of the ring when he wanted to stand his ground, jolted McCullough when he wanted to trade leather and made the former bantamweight champ look the fool when he wanted showboat. Not often do you see a fighter win a round while hardly throwing a punch, or bang an opponent in the face time after time, while looking off in the other direction.
The final punch stat numbers showed that while Hamed and McCullough threw approximately the same number of punches, Naseem connected with twice as many blows as McCullough and hit him with double the number of power shots.
Still, thousands in the crowd at the Atlantic City Convention Center thought Wayne McCullough was robbed. Their delusion was based on the mistaken belief that McCullough won because he moved forward throughout the contest, and never stopped throwing. That's ludicrous. Wayne McCullough never dazed the Champ, never hurt him, never had him in trouble. So how did he win ? He gallantly attacked throughout the contest, but found himself absorbing punishment and swinging into thin air.
McCullough said Naz ran, so he therefore lost the fight. Well yeah, the Prince ran, just like Ali ran and Sugar Ray Leonard ran. By that logic, I guess you could say Oscar Bonevena beat Muhammad Ali back in the early 70's, because he was still on his feet after taking a 12 round pasting. McCullough's only victory was a moral one, in that he was able to survive a non-stop, thirty-six minute shellacking and not get knocked out.
As for the Prince, how can you criticize a man who has stopped every opponent he has faced in the past four years, save for one hard-headed Irishman? Like Bob Dylan, just when you think you know what to expect from the Prince, he surprises. Dylan was booed at the Monterey folk festival when he played electric guitar to fans who expected to hear acoustic music. Likewise, last December Naseem was criticized in Madison Square Garden for brawling when fans expected to see a slick boxer, and this month in Atlantic City for putting on a masterful defensive exhibition when fans expected to see a knock-down, drag-out brawl. Like the folkies in Monterey a generation ago, the fans who booed the Prince in Atlantic City were too dull to recognize genius, even as it blazed before their eyes.
By Tracy Callis
Tom Sharkey was a crude brawler from the "Old School." At the sound of the opening bell, he attacked, throwing bombs until the end. He was a rough and durable violator of rules. To him, the rules were simply restrictions that kept a real fight from taking place. He grabbed the elusive Jim Corbett, wrestled him to the floor and began to pummel him. He pinned Jim Jeffries' left arm-under his own, causing Jeff's glove to come off and when the referee stepped in to put it back on, Sharkey took a murderous swipe at big Jim. He frequently pushed referees aside and occasionally hit at them. He head-butted, hit on breaks, held and hit, hit after the bell and got away with it.
He was short and squat with excessively broad shoulders and a huge, deep chest upon which was tattooed a colorful star and sailing ship. His motto was "Don't Give Up the Ship." He used a straight-up stance but at 5-9 he was still a low target. His nose was crooked and his left ear was cauliflowered (a gift from Gus Ruhlin in their 1900 bout). Face-to-face confrontations with several all-time greats only worsened the condition of the ear. It is said his hands were strong enough to bend silver dollars. In style, he was aggressive and ever striding forward towards his man, throwing powerful haymakers.
Sharkey once said, "The bigger they were, the better I liked it. I knew I could cut them down to my size" (see UP Release, April 17, 1953). In the article, I Fought the Best of Them, he wrote -- "I made them all back away from me. I had to carry the fight to them, including Jeffries".
There is no doubt that Sharkey could hit. In an era of brute strength, where the capability to take it was a must and knockouts were hard to score, Tom scored 37 knockouts in 54 bouts (almost 70 percent).
The "Sailor" fought the best men of his time. Twice each he fought Jim Jeffries, Bob Fitzsimmons, Jim Corbett, Peter Maher, and Joe Goddard. He fought both Gus Ruhlin and Joe Choynski three times. He also met John L. Sullivan and Jack Monroe.
Boxing writers have long been in awe of the natural savagery and iron will of Sharkey:
One boxing historian described Sharkey as an "animal of a man that swarmed all over his opponents." Hall-of-Fame writer Gilbert Odd called him "a rugged fighter who depended more on toughness than skill." John J. Romano (Everlast, 1929, p. 57) called Sharkey "Game and aggressive to the core." Stanley Weston described Sharkey as "one of the most durable heavyweights of the olden era"
Diamond (1954, p. 40) wrote that "Tom Sharkey was a veritable nightmare to heavyweights. He never became champion, but with a little luck he might have been ... He was very strong and muscular and had great power of endurance. He would sail in like a whirlwind, let go with both arms - and keep on slugging. His great weakness was that he couldn't block a punch and left himself wide open". He observed: "Sharkey's punches, often wild and erratic, were always dangerous".
Durant-Bettmann (1952, p. 120) said:
"Sharkey was a tough, squat battler who had the misfortune to appear when there were many great heavyweights on the scene. He fought them all but could never quite win the crown."
Willoughby (1970, p. 360) writes, "One of the greatest of the old-time "near-champions" was the rugged sailor, Tom Sharkey, who fought all the leading contenders of his day". Burrill (1974, p. 175) writes Sharkey was "... regarded by some as an uncrowned champion".
Robert E. Howard, writer, boxing enthusiast, and creator of "Conan the Barbarian" left an unfinished essay on the "The Iron Man":
"Sharkey was a raw novice; Choynsky a trained veteran. Choynsky smashed Sharkey over the ropes and out of the ring. The Sailor landed on his head on the concrete with all the heft of his 190 pounds. That would have caved in most skulls like an eggshell. Sharkey climbed back into the ring and [won]."Another historian, John McCallum (1974, p. 51) pictured "Sailor Tom" as "a rugged, sawed-off Pier-Sixer with a brassbound sea chest of a torso and a rawhide constitution, who gave Jeffries his hardest fights."
Jim Jeffries, himself, called Tom Sharkey has toughest opponent. In his autobiography by Fullerton (1929, p. VII), he twice put Sharkey's name in capital letters. He called Sharkey the roughest, gamest, and most willing fighter in the world (see Lardner, 1972, p. 131).
These two "Iron Men" fought twice for a total of 45 rounds. The first bout lasted twenty rounds and each man was "busted up." Following his close but disputed decision loss to Jeffries in their first bout (1898), Sharkey vowed to defeat Jeffries in the second bout or die trying. He almost died. His nose was broken, two ribs cracked, his face cut up, and his left ear swollen to he size of a grapefruit. The second fight, went 25 grueling rounds. Promoter Bill Brady described a little-known fact:"Jeff's fight with Sharkey at the Coney Island place was memorable not only for its own sake, but also because it was recorded in the movies in the first film ever taken under artificial light. The story of how the lights were so hot they burned both men bald-headed is well known. It isn't so well known that the cameras broke down during the middle of the last round of the fight and had to be taken over again some time later." (W. Brady, Showman)
Indeed, this second fight (1899) is rated among the all-time classics with both men dealing out and absorbing considerable punishment, "a collision of natural strong men".
Durant (1976, p. 51) says that Sharkey was "... the rugged sailor who might been champion in almost any other era of the ring".
Charles Mathison, old time boxing man, was of the opinion that "Sharkey was so rough and ready that Gene Tunney would have to be at his very best to outpoint him".
TAD, boxing writer of the 1920s, wrote "Sharkey would raise Cain with the boys of today. What a battle a Dempsey-Sharkey affair would have been."
Perhaps the most fitting legacy for the Sailor was given by his namesake, Jack Sharkey, the Boston Gob. Shortly before his death, in an interview with Mike DeLisa, the former Heavyweight Champion was shown a large photo of Tom Sharkey. Jack looked at the picture, silent for a long while, then said softly -- "Now that was some fighter!"
It is the opinion of this writer that Sharkey was a Rocky Marciano "look-a-like" and a "near-equal"of the great "Rock" in ruggedness, power and size. He had the bad luck to fight when Jim Jeffries, Bob Fitzsimmons, and Jim Corbett were around. Had he fought in any other period of history, he probably would have been a champion.
Interview conducted by Barry LindenmanBL: You come from Canada which is known for turning out tough, rugged hockey players. You were known as a tough and rugged boxer. How did you get involved in the sport of boxing when it appears from your boxing style that you would have made a great hockey player as well?
GC: You think I fight like a hockey player (laughing)? You think all Canadians are tough? I thought they were mostly "stick and move" guys (laughing). As a kid, I remember when I first opened up a Ring magazine. It was the first time Id ever seen anything about boxing, heard anything about boxing or even knowing about boxing. For me it was like when a kid opens up the centerfold of Playboy. To me, it was like "wow, this is it!" I thought it was like the greatest thing in the world. I saw pictures of guys with all these muscles throwing punches shots at each other. I guess it was the respect for power that really turned me on to boxing as a young man.
BL: Did you have a certain boxing role model that you patterned your style after?
GC: No, not really. There was a lot of guys I liked but I dont think I ever tried to fight like this guy or that guy. I grew up watching Joe Louis, Willie Pep and Ray Robinson. As a kid when I first started to box, those guys were champions of the world so theyll always mean something a little more special to me than a lot of the other guys. Youre looking at me through American eyes. To me, Im just a fighter, you know what I mean? I dont think I had a Canadian style or an American style. My style was just mine, just walk in and pitch.
BL: You will always be remembered as a long time heavyweight contender who fought the best, took their best shots and was never knocked off his feet either as a pro or an amateur. Are you satisfied with your reputation and how youre remembered as a boxer?
GC: First of all, it depends whos trying to remember me. Certain guys may think of me in a certain way and other guys may think of me in another way. Most people think I was a tough guy who took a good rap. I think I was a lot better defensive fighter than I was ever given credit for. Ill go down in history as a supposed tough guy who fought a lot of tough guys, beat a lot of tough guys, lost to some tough guys. I was there. I was a contender for almost a couple of decades and knocked on the door a few times, but am I satisfied, hell no! If youve never been champion of the world you cant be satisfied. I guess I can say Im proud of my achievements. Im happy with some of the things Ive done. I did OK. A fighter always thinks he coulda done better than he did. Theres always a gnawing kind of feeling that I wish I could have been champion of the world. Theres a piece of me that always feels kinda incomplete. All in all, I did a lot better in life than most guys. I was ranked number two in the world at one time. Not too many guys can say they were number two in the world, except Hertz, me and Hertz (laughing)!
BL: Having faced such great fighters such as Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, who would you say was the hardest puncher you ever faced in the ring?
GC: It was neither of those guys. Mike Dejohn was a real good wacker. Mike Dejohn knocked out a lot of guys in one round. Mike Dejohn was a good banger. Foreman was a good banger too, of course. Mel Turnbaugh was also. I guess they were about the three hardest punchers: George Foreman, Mel Turnbaugh and Mike Dejohn.
BL: During your great career, you fought Muhammad Ali twice and went the distance with him both times. You first fought him in 1966 just before his three year exile from the sport and then again in 1972 soon after his return to the ring. What differences did you notice in Ali in the two times that you fought him and did you alter your strategy between the first and second fights?
GC: You got it wrong. Ali went the distance with me both times (laughing). I threw more head punches in the second fight. In the first fight, I concentrated on maybe 75 - 80 % to the body.
I kinda switched it the other way around in the second fight. I fought a smarter fight the second time. I hit him with a lot of jabs in the second fight. Nobody ever talks about that but if you look at the film, youll notice I hit him with a lot of jabs. But I still think I should have worked the body more than I did. I worked the body too much in the first fight and not enough in the second fight. The second fight was still a very close, hard fought fight. Some sportswriters even thought I won the second fight. How was Ali different? He was just more energetic in the first fight. He threw more punches and had more verve in a sense. He was trying to get by in the second fight with a lot of guile. He didnt have the same physical attributes as he had in the first fight. He had flashes of it but he couldnt sustain it like he could in the first fight. In the first fight, he was a much better conditioned athlete. After his exile, he never really came back. He never came back to the fighter he was before he was put into exile. He was never that fighter ever, ever, ever again. Even though he fought some great fights after with Joe Frazier for instance, he was never the same fighter. When he beat George Foreman he beat him by using his brains. He sucked him in with the "rope - a - dope." He didnt beat him on physical ability as much as a well planned fight plan. He used his intelligence and general boxing savvy and let Foreman punch himself out. Then he just took over. But he was not the same athlete ever again.
BL: Ali was famous for giving his opponents nicknames. Sonny Liston was the Bear, Joe Frazier was the Gorilla. He nicknamed you the "Washer Woman." Do you know what he meant by that?
GC: In September of 1963, I beat Mike Dejohn, knocked him colder than Missouri mule. I knocked him out with a left hook and pummeled him over the ropes. It didnt occur to me until twenty five years later in 1988 why he called me the "Washer Woman." It was because in the fight with Dejohn, I had his back draped way over the ropes and I already had him knocked out. I had him pinned against the ropes and I started pummeling him, just beating on a knocked out guy. It looked like I was working on a scrub board. Thats why he called me the "Washer Woman." It sounds uncomplimentary but it really wasnt. Ali said George Chuvalo fights rough and tough like a "Washer Woman." It was a kind of a cute term.
BL: Although you never won a world title during your career, what would you say was your greatest moment in your boxing career?
GC: Theres a few of them. I knocked out Doug Jones, something that Ali couldnt do. In fact, a lot of people thought he actually beat Ali. I knocked out Jerry Quarry when a lot of people thought I would lose to Quarry. I knocked him out with a second to go in the seventh round. After the Frazier fight, my eyes had a propensity to swell up very rapidly so in the fight with Quarry, I fought like a one eyed cat peeping in a seafood store for about four rounds. The referee told me if the eye gets any worse he was gonna stop the fight so if I didnt knock him out when I did, they would have stopped the fight. I also knocked out Manuel Ramos in five rounds. He was the Mexican champion whod beaten Ernie Terrell and a few other guys and had Frazier down before Frazier eventually stopped him.
BL: Weve mentioned your strengths as a fighter, being a tough, aggressive fighter with a granite chin. What would you say was your one weakness that perhaps prevented you from becoming a world champion?
GC: A bad manager (laughing)! I think I should have fought more out of a crouch for one thing.
That would have been much more beneficial to me. I stood up too straight a lot of times. They always say I was a poor defensive fighter but I dont buy that one bit. If I show you fights from the old days youd be surprised. But people only want to see you one way. Even when they see something different, they dont see it. I took a great shot, right? But I didnt take that great a shot like I got hit with every punch in the world. I took a good rap. I did, you know, but they had me walking around like Superman but I didnt like to get hit. Believe me I didnt (laughing).
BL: You fought during an era when boxing enjoyed a lot of success. Today, the sport appears to be on the decline, being overshadowed by football, basketball and now even hockey. What are your thoughts about the current state of the sport today?
GC: First of all, there arent as many fighters as there were in the old days. The fighters dont have as much chance to hone their skills. Even great fighters like Sugar Ray Leonard only had about thirty five or forty fights. Its like a joke. Willie Pep, Ray Robinson, Archie Moore, guys like that had one hundred fifty to two hundred fights! The guys now dont fight. The old guys had more chance to experience different styles and work on different things. They were more complete fighters and more experienced in the old days. Not to say that theres anything wrong with Sugar Ray Leonard. Sugar Ray Leonard in his prime was a helluva fighter. Today, you dont have to fight as much because you make so much money. Youre worried about taxes and stuff.
Take a look at Henry Armstrong. He fought three title fights in three weeks! He didnt have those kind of financial worries about making too much money. He didnt have his accountants fighting with him (laughing). But they do have great fighters today. You cant say Mike Tysons not a helluva fighter. Holyfields a damn good fighter too. Golota can fight if hes got his thinking cap on. Theres a few heavyweights out there but they just had more depth in the old days. In the old days you had to climb over more bodies to get to the top. Now, you dont have so many bodies hanging around. So its a little easier that way plus the moneys a lot more enticing today.
BL: Is there any boxer currently fighting today that reminds you of yourself as a fighter?
GC: You want to talk about guys who remind me of my style, theres young David Tua. Hes a walk in and pitch kind of guy. I like him. He walks in. Hes not afraid of anyone. Hes got a lot of stamina and hes a strong kid. He doesnt punch enough in combinations but hes a tough kid.
And Tyson. Hes a tough kid. He walks right in. Hes that kind of a guy. Hes got lots of balls too. I like Tyson. Id like to meet Tyson and show him a couple of things. I could help Mike.
His problem is he doesnt know how to fight on the inside. If you take a look at his fight with Buster Mathis, Jr., he exposed that. Theres a chink in the armor. Hes too straight up on the inside. If he ever pulled his right leg back, his whole upper body would be at a forty five degree angle. Hes have his head on the other guys chest. Hed be safe. The other guy would have no room for any leverage and Mike would have all the leverage. His stance works against him on the inside. Hes easy to push back and he cant fight when hes going backwards. But Mike is a helluva an athlete. Hes very quick, got great reflexes and punches like a bazooka. Hes the only guy out there in the heavyweights who can give you goosebumps.
BL: In your personal life, you have been dealt a tough hand with tragedies involving some close family members. How have you endured when others might have crumbled and do you think the physical and emotional toughness that you displayed in the ring helped you cope with life outside the ring?
GC: I only know who I am and I only know what I feel. I cant tell you what somebody else feels. Ive been through hell. Im going through hell. I go through hell every day. Im in pain every day about my family. But that doesnt mean I still cant enjoy life. That doesnt mean that when I see my granddaughter Rachel and she tells me she loves me that I dont enjoy that. That doesnt mean that when I see my grandson Jesse and he puts his arms around me and tells me he loves me that I dont enjoy life. I see my grandchildren and I go nuts. They mean everything to me.
There isnt a day that goes by or a conversation that doesnt end up with "I love you." My children love me. They express themselves to me. My grandchildren do that. My new wife does that. Her children do that with me too. In one way Im still lucky because Im surrounded by people who care for me. I have some good friends too. If it wasnt for my friends and my beautiful remaining family, I wouldnt be here. Nobody can survive without love. Thats the one thing that keeps me motivated to do anything. I was fifty six when I hooked up with my second wife. Can you imagine? Who the hell falls in love at fifty six? At fifty six youre just suppose to look for a companion. I fell in love! I was walking around wounded. I was walking around stunned. I couldnt even get out of bed for a month and a half after my first wife died. All of a sudden I meet somebody. All of a sudden I got married. I know that without that, I couldnt have survived. Until you walk in my shoes, you dont really understand. I lost three kids and a wife. I needed something in my life. Joanne is my "Celestine Prophecy." If you get a chance, you should read that book. Its a great book. Its about people you meet and people you meet for a reason. Who do you think introduced me to my second wife? My first wife! They both used to work in the same emergency ward at a hospital. My first wife was an electrocardiogram technician and my second wife was a registered nurse. Who the hell knows how you meet certain people and why you meet certain people? Its crazy.
BL: Except for a brief career by Marvis Frazier, it seems that the great fighters of your era, Ali, Foreman, Norton and yourself have discouraged their children from entering the ring. What is it about the sport of boxing that made you not want your children to become fighters?
GC: First of all, its a very difficult business. Boxing is up and down. Theres no guarantees like in football, hockey and baseball with those big, fat contracts. Once you make it to the pros, even the worst hockey player makes a good buck or the worst basketball player in the NBA or the worst baseball player, they all make a decent living. You could be the 1000th best in those sports, but man, if youre the 1000th best in boxing, forget it (laughing). If youre not in the top ten, forget it. Its a tough business that way. And why should you mess with your looks? I used to be a good looking guy when I was a kid. Look what happened (laughing)! Whod want their kid to get a broken nose or a mashed up ear or possible brain damage even though theyre making big money? Marvis ended up OK and made some good bucks and still got his brains in tact. Hes a very smart kid, a very nice kid. Marvis is a beautiful young guy who ended up OK but a lot of kids dont end up OK. Its a business where you can get killed. Who the hell wants to put their kid in a business where he can get killed or end up punch drunk?
BL: Seeing Muhammad Ali now and how he struggles with Parkinson Syndrome, what are your thoughts? Do you feel sorry for him? Has his condition changed your views about boxing?
GC: Muhammads got a certain grace about him no matter what happens. I dont feel sorry for him mainly because I see him as a happy person. I see him as a spiritual person. I see him with his family. I see him surrounded by love just like me in a way. That makes life worth living. When I see Muhammad I see a caring person. I see a loving person. I see a person surrounded by people who love him. Hes always receiving constant adulation no matter where he goes. Take a look at what happened at the Olympics in Atlanta. Hes gotta feel good about a lot of things even though he knows he cant communicate properly. Take a look at his face. Does he look unhappy? I dont think so. He knows hes appreciated. He knows hes loved. He knows hes important. He knows he has peoples attention. So in that sense, he feels good. If you look at his face, he has the face of a happy person. He looks at peace with himself no matter that hes physically impaired to the point where he shakes and everything else. Its almost embarrassing for him as he struggles with it. It took a lot of courage for him to go to Atlanta with the torch, a lot of courage just to show yourself the way he did after being a guy who was one of the greatest athletes of all time. Even with the shaking and the tremors and everything, there was something quite beautiful about it all. Collectively, the world for a few beautiful moments saw that.
BL: Since your retirement from boxing, have you kept active in the sport in any way?
GC: I was active in boxing with a number of fighters for a while after I quit boxing. I was involved in promotions, managing, training a few good fighters including Razor Ruddock and Johnny Tapia.
But it never really worked out the way I wanted. There always was something that seemed to go wrong. With the fighters, they never worked the way I wanted them to work. They never put out in the gym the way I wanted them to on a continual basis. For instance, if you look at Razor Ruddocks body when I had him ten years ago and look at his body now. Theres a helluva difference that speaks for itself.
BL: You just turned 60. After all youve been through during your boxing career and in your personal life, what advice would you give to someone trying to cope with adversity and life's challenges?
GC: All I know is that no matter what you have in life, you have to have love in your life. If you have to face adversity and we all do from time to time in our lives, you have to get the strength by feeding off the people that care about you. You have to feed off what you feel for other people too. Loving other people gives me strength. Other people loving me gives me strength. If it wasnt for love, I wouldnt be here. Its as simple as that. In speeches, I talk about what helps keep people alive and how we have to have love tattooed in our psyche by hearing "I love you" from our parents, our siblings, our spouses, our children and our grandchildren. That might sound so corny but thats what keeps me alive. It just kind of reestablishes and reconfirms the way we feel about each other. Young people ought to know that a parent or a grandparent really cares about them.
By Francis Walker
For nearly 14 years, Ricardo Lopez has proven his claim as one of the elite fighters in
the world. In a quest to catch the late heavyweight legend Joe Louis' all-time records for
longest uninterrupted reign (11 years) and most successful title defenses (25), Lopez, a
fighter whom many felt would never meet a dangerous opponent during his eight-year
championship climax, ran into serious problems when he faced Rosendo Alvarez.. Having
never suffered a single defeat as an amateur or professional, Lopez nearly suffered the
first loss in his career. Lopez-Alvarez I may have ended in a draw, but on Friday,
November 13, there will be a winner...
Live from the Las Vegas Hilton, making the 21st defense of the WBC strawweight title, Lopez (46-0-1, 35KOs) challenges Alvarez (23-0-1, 16KOs), the WBA minimum-weight titlist, to a 105-pound championship unification rematch.
The bout, promoted by Don King Productions, will be televised on Showtime.
When they met on March 7, under the Julio Cesar Chavez-Migel Angel Gonzalez Pay-Per-View show in Mexico City, Alvarez' aggressive straight-away style forced Lopez to fight backward. Lopez' left-jab was not a factor in the early rounds, as Alvarez' determination helped set the tempo. In the second round, Alvarez landed a right hook that floored Lopez for the first time in his career. Afterward, Lopez stood up to Alvarez' attack with left-jabs and right-hand finishes.
Just when the bout appeared even, an accidental collision of heads left a deep cut across Lopez' right eye in the seventh.
According to the WBC rules, if an accidental headbutt occurs before the fourth round - the bout is ruled a technical draw. Anytime after, the judges go to the scorecards. In addition, the uncut fighter is docked one point from each of the three scorecards. One judge scored the bout 67-64 for Lopez. The second judge had Alvarez ahead 68-63. Since the final score keeper could not make up his mind, scoring the encounter 66-66 (even), the bout was ruled a draw.
Since then, many felt Lopez, a 30-year-old native of Mexico City, Mexico, lost to Alvarez, 27, Managua, Nicaragua. Alvarez, was an unknown quantity, despite having retained the World Boxing Association championship on four occasions,so critics believe the judges gave the bout to Lopez. Besides, who generates more money to the sanctioning bodies? I, for one, feel as though politics played a key role in the decision factor of the bout. This is the reason why knockouts are an important factor in championship prize fights.
Speaking of knockouts, does Alvarez have what it takes to not only beat, but stop Lopez? Well, styles make fights and Alvarez has shown he has what it takes to win big.
Alvarez was able to come straight in underneath Lopez' jabs. Lopez had difficulty finishing a combination for the simple fact that Alvarez ducked many of the blows.For Alvarez to repeat his performance, he has to force Lopez to fight backwards for the entire fight. The fighter who pressures his opponent to fight backward could pull it off.
Unless of course, Lopez is the aggressor. He must blend his jabs with accurate combinations, forcing Alvarez back. The difference as opposed to the first fight is that Lopez has to punch downward, closer to Alvarez' body and not headhunt.
Should Lopez do this without getting hit, he will escape with a decision.
I for one was surprized with Alvarez' performance against Lopez, one of the finest talents in the world today. It is hard to not believe that he will repeat his performance. Alvarez is on a high right now, but unless Lopez shakes the cobwebs and sharpens his game plan, Alvarez may hold two championships.
The boxer known as "King Solomon" was born in the year 1900 in Colon, Panama (the canal region). His birth name was Emilio Suliman Segheri. His parents, both Syrian, were wealthy in real estate in that region of Panama.
Emelio grew up near the US naval base, where he spent alot of time where he picked up the art of boxing. Although not a member of the U.S. Navy, he was somehow coerced into boxing for the Pacific Fleet against an Atlantic Fleet boxer named Sailor Grundy, with Emilio taking the title in his weight class at the time. Still very young, but driven by his love for the fight game, he shortly thereafter became a professional boxer. Upon his turning pro, a somewhat biblically inclined friend used his middle name Suliman and turned it into his new "professional name" with the adding of "King." Emilio Suliman Segheri became "King Solomon."
The King's father was disappointed that his son did not follow his footsteps in real estate. The father convinced a friend to give King a job as a "mess boy" on a steamship to divert his attention from boxing. A few days out of port, the ship was torpedoed by a German Submarine and the ship went down with only one lifeboat escaping harm.The King took command of the lifeboat, and was hailed as a hero upon his return to Panama.
His father, very happy of his survival, was still bent on diverting his attention from boxing, and sent him to college in Kingston, Jamaica. The King never finished college but instead dropped out and went back to Panama to pursue his boxing career. King Solomon became the Panamanian heavyweight champion, and also the South American heavyweight champion, succeding Louis Firpo.
Because of his successes, the American Ambassador to Chile Sprewell Braedon -- who was called the "Copper King of the World" because of his extensive holdings in copper mines --bought the rights to King Solomon for $50,000 then brought the King to the United States settling him down in Riverside on the Hudson.
His first fight in the states was a 10-round no-decision with Mike Wallace in May 1925. Soon thereafter King beat Chilean Heavyweight Quinton Romero-Rojas, who had knocked out newcomer and future heavyweight champion Jack Sharkey. After two wins in New York City, King lost to top heavyweight Jim Maloney in Boston, a tune up fight for Maloney who was getting ready to fight Jack Dempsey. After a 10-round loss to Jack Sharkey, the King was rematched with Maloney. The King knocks out Maloney in the 4th round, but the referee DQ's him for hitting after the bell, a call disputed by many of the sportswriters in Boston, most of who claimed the fight was only in the 1st minute or so of the 4th round with nobody hearing the bell at all. Yet Maloney was victorious even though carried out of the ring.
Although he was DQ'd in that fight,it was a defining moment in King Solomons career,he now was getting recognition as a big name boxer.
Some other fights he had were with Johnny Risko (ND-10), a second loss to Sharkey, who also became friends with the King . He lost decisions to Jack Delaney and Tommy Loughran.
In October 1925, the King was preparing to fight recently crowned Light Heavyweight Champion Paul Berlenbach in a non-title bout. During training he fractured his wrist and his contract holder Braedon told him to call off the fight. Instead, the King listened instead to his handlers and fought aftet the wrist was injected with novocaine. The results were devastating. King Solomon was TKO'd in the 9th round after being knocked down 17 times (the King had only been knocked down one time in his entire career before that). Braedon let go of the King after that fight.
The early promis shown by the King over those first few months was never fully realized, perhaps because of the broken wrist. He finally retired in 1930, losing a good many bouts but always putting up a good fight.
Interesting tidbits about the King:
[click here for his boxing record]
- King Solomon only fought main events
- He fought 1 of 2 main events to open the Madison Square Garden 8th and 48th
- He was chastised by the Jewish community for claiming to have a Jewish mother (at the insistance of handlers who,knowing his mother was Syrian, thought it would further his career, never realizing the backlash it would create)
- Although blackballed by the Jewish community at the time, Damon Runyon wrote a full page atricle on the King in the Journal American Newspaper defending the King's right to box.
- He made 4 motion pictures with Warner Brothers Studios
- He was good friends with Ed Sullivan and the founder of the Daily News, Mr Annenberg,who gave King Solomon a job after his fight days were over.
Mark "Too Sharp" Johnson is the first African-American flyweight champion
in boxing history. He's a slick southpaw with knockout power and his only loss in 37 bouts
is a dubious hometown decision over 8 years ago. His record stands at 37 wins, 1 defeat,
with 24 kayos,yet only die-hard boxing fans know who he is. I was lucky enough to see
"Too Sharp" up close doing what he does best when he came to the Turning Stone
Casino Resort in Upstate New York to defend his IBF Flyweight title for the sixth time
against Luis Rolon (now 18-3, 11 ko's) in a bout televised live on ABC's Wide World of
Sports on July 26th.
Johnson dominated the bout, winning a unanimous decision; however, many in the crowd were
less than thrilled that Johnson's opponent was around long enough to hear the final bell. ABC commentator Alex Walleau
called Johnson's Whitikeresque defensive performance unprofessional -- apparently unaware
that Johnson had injured his left hand while continually pummeling his limited but
I spoke to Johnson the day before his bout on a variety of topics and found him to be very
polite and candid, a gentleman and family man. As mentioned earlier, Johnson's only defeat is a four round loss to Richie
Wenton on March 17, 1990 in a bout that took place in Wenton's hometown of Belfast, N.
Ireland. I asked Mark if this "loss" was a hometown rob-job? "Oh yeah, it
was definitely a rob-job! I fought him on St. Patrick's Day in Ireland, so that tells you
a lot about that decision. I think that loss on my record was good for Mark Johnson
because a lot of fighters see that loss and think I can be beat. Many of the best By Phrank Da Slugger
Some mistakingly think the Champion in each division is the guy who I think is the best.
This is not the case. There are 2 criteria by which I determine Champions: the 1st is
lineage (Oscar de la Hoya beat Pernell Whitaker who beat Buddy McGirt who beat Simon
Brown); and the 2nd is defeating another fighter also ranked in the top 3 in the division
- this is how Evander Holyfield is the Champ. There is an exception: Bernard Hopkins is
that rare titlist who has reigned a long time and defeated many contenders. Hopkins is the
dominant fighter in his weight class and has won, mostly via KO, against a number of
different contenders. You could say I'm rewarding him for long and meritorious service.
Heavyweights (over 195 lbs)
fighters in the world have a loss on their records, like Roy Jones, for example. One loss doesn't hurt anyone."
Early on in Johnson's career he fought mainly in Inglewood, CA for Forum Boxing but he now fights for Cedrick Kushner's camp. I asked the champ if this arrangement was more to his liking. "It's working out great [with Cedric]. I haven't been as busy as I'd like but the main thing is I'm getting exposure on the East Coast now." Johnson, from Washington, DC, won the vacant IBF Flyweight title in May of 1996 with a first round knockout of Francisco Tejedor. Johnson is also one of the few boxers in the game today who is trained (successfully) by his father, Abraham "Ham" Johnson, without a lot of animosity or friction. Who is on Johnson's hit list? Danny Romero, Johnny Tapia, Baby Jake Matlala, or anyone else who's willing to sign on the dotted line. Mark says that if a big money bout doesn't materialize shortly he will retire and go back to college for his degree. "Boxing is a business, it's not about playing around, it's about making money. That's what I'm in the sport for, to provide for my family."
Prior to Johnson's bout on ABC he was in a high profile bout on ESPN against highly regarded Arthur "Flash" Johnson. It was the first Flyweight bout involving both an African-American champion and challenger, plus the referee and ring announcer were also African-Americans. What was supposed to be a highly competitive fight was over in the first round when "Too Sharp" pasted "Flash" with a beauty of a shot. "The fights that are supposed to be hard are my easiest ones and the ones that are supposed to be easy are my hardest. I was in great shape. I was pumped up. I was ready for that fight. He was ready. I don't want to take nothing away from Arthur, but I hit him with a great shot early that hurt him and I'm a good finisher as everybody knows. If I get you hurt I get you out of there. I don't give anybody a second chance to get themselves back together to hurt Mark Johnson." I asked Johnson how comfortable he was at the flyweight limit of 112 pounds. "I'm not. I'm making it but I think one or two more fights will be it at flyweight. I'm looking forward to moving up to 115 pounds. If the Tapia or Romero fights don't happen, or I can't unify the flyweight title, there's no sense for me to keep fighting."
The International Boxing Hall of Fame is only a few miles down the road from the Turning Stone Resort. I asked Mark if being inducted was one of his goals. "Without a doubt. Being the first African-American flyweight champ in history I think I will be inducted. Every time I'm fighting I'm setting records: my fight with Arthur Johnson was the first time two African-Americans fought for the flyweight title, this bout (with Rolon) is my 6th title defense, that's a record for an American flyweight champ."
I wondered if Johnson felt any pressure to be a role model. "No! Role models tend to let you down. Look at Mike Tyson, if he was your role model you'd be crying. It's hard to be a role model now, people fail to realize that you have a life outside of boxing. If I'm in a bar having a glass of wine with friends it's a crying shame. Why? Because I'm champion of the world? I'm only human. That's why I don't consider myself a role model, although I do a lot for the kids in Washington D.C."
Johnson is an exciting fighter and a great champion, so how come we haven't seen him on HBO's Boxing After Dark series? He seems a natural. "I think it's because it's hard for them to come up with a great match up for me. You look at the Arthur Johnson fight, that was a fight that people thought would be a great fight, that it should be an HBO fight. Then HBO sees me blow him out and they be like -- Damn! Who can we get to fight this guy? The fight for me right now is Johnny Tapia. Now that's a fight everybody wants to see! Both of us are great warriors. I have a lot of respect for Johnny and I know he has a lot of respect for me." I told Mark that I thought that would be a tough fight to make because Romero seems next for Tapia and Don King being Tapia's promoter doesn't help matters. "Well, I think it's going to be tough because he's moving up in weight, Danny's moving up. Nobody's ducking nobody, it's just that everybody's just getting a little older and weight becomes a little harder to take off."
Why not Baby Jake for an HBO bout? "Well, that's something they're talking about for later this year. It will depend on if I can stay at flyweight. I think it would be a great fight, you're talking about a guy who throws 100 punches a round!
Johnson talks a lot about fights that should have happened -- Romero, Carbajal, Gonzales, etc. But, he is hopeful that big money bouts will now materialize for him before it's too late. He is a boxer that is on everyone's pound-for-pound list and he doesn't plan on being around for long so if you get an opportunity to tune in when Johnson is boxing you had better watch "Too Sharp" now before it's too late.
There are 3 criteria I use to rate fighters: Quality of Opposition, Performance and
Activity. I am ranking the best from 1 to 10; this is to see who deserves a title shot. I
rate all 18 divisions, a time-consuming activity to say the least. Therefore, commentary
only appears every 3rd month.
Champion: Evander Holyfield (WBA & IBF)
1. Lennox Lewis (WBC)
2. David Tua
3. Larry Donald
4. Ray Mercer
5. Brian Nielsen (IBO)
6. Andrew Golota
7. Michael Grant (IBC)
8. Hasim Rahman
9. Ike Ibeabuchi
10. Herbie Hide (WBO)
Active this mth: Holyfield, Lewis, Tua, Nielsen, Hide, Golota (out: Byrd-
(Inactive list: Mercer)
Cruiserweights (195 lbs)
Champion: Fabrice Tiozzo (WBA)
1. Juan Carlos Gomez (WBC)
2. Carl Thompson (WBO)
3. Marcelo Dominguez
4. Robert Daniels (IBO)
5. Imamu Mayfield (IBF)
6. Johnny Nelson
7. Saul Montana
8. Chris Eubank
9. David Izeqwire
10. Kenny Keene (IBA)
Active this mth: Dominguez, Gomez
(Inactive list: Izeqwire)
Lt. Heavyweights (175 lbs)
Champion: Dariusz Michalczewski (WBO)
1. Roy Jones (WBC & WBA)
2. Graciano Rocchigiani
3. Reggie Johnson (IBF)
4. Montell Griffin
5. Lou del Valle
6. Ole Klemetsen
7. Virgil Hill
8. Michael Nunn
9. Crawford Ashley
10. Derrick Harmon
Active this mth: Michalczewski, Ashley, del Valle (out: Siluvangui-lost)
(Inactive list: Rocchigiani, Hill)
Super Middleweights (168 lbs)
Champion: TITLE VACANT
1. Charles Brewer (IBF)
2. Joe Calzaghe (WBO)
3. Thomas Tate
4. Frank Liles (WBA)
5. Richie Woodhall (WBC)
6. Thulane Malinga (WBF)
7. Robin Reid
8. Jorge Castro
9. Dean Francis
10. Mads Larsen (IBO)
Active this mth: Tate
(Inactive list: Reid)
Middleweights (160 lbs)
Champion: Bernard Hopkins (IBF)
1. Otis Grant (WBO)
2. William Joppy (WBA)
3. Silvio Branco (WBU)
4. Hassine Cherifi (WBC)
5. Keith Holmes
6. Robert Allen
7. Antwun Echols
8. Andrew Council
9. Peter Venancio
10. Dana Rosenblatt
Active this mth: Allen, Rosenblatt (out: McCracken-inactive)
Jr. Middleweights (154 lbs)
Champion: Keith Mullings (WBC)
1. Luis Ramon Campas (IBF)
2. Laurent Boudouani (WBA)
3. Harry Simon (WBO)
4. Winky Wright
5. Bronco McKart (IBA)
6. Verno Phillips (WBU)
7. Tony Marshall
8. David Reid
9. Fernando Vargas
10. Raul Marquez
Active this mth: Campas, Marquez (out: Norris-rose in weight)
(Inactive list: Phillips)
Welterweights (147 lbs)
Champion: Oscar de la Hoya (WBC)
1. Ike Quartey
2. Felix Trinidad (IBF)
3. Jose Luis Lopez
4. Oba Carr
5. Vernon Forrest
6. Shannon Taylor
7. Edgar Ruiz
8. Derrell Coley
9. Ahmed Kotiev (WBO)
10. Michele Piccirillo (WBU)
Active this mth: de la Hoya (out: Søndergaard-dropped in weight)
(Inactive list: Trinidad, Coley, Ruiz)
Jr. Welterweights (140 lbs)
Champion: TITLE VACANT
1. Vince Phillips (IBF)
2. Khalid Rahilou (WBA)
3. Kostya Tszyu
4. Julio Cesar Chavez
5. Miguel Angel Gonzalez
6. Antonio Diaz (IBA)
7. Carlos Gonzalez (WBO)
8. Diobelys Hurtado
9. Reggie Green
10. Søren Søndergaard
Active this mth: Chavez, Diaz, Søndergaard (out: Lopez-displaced)
Lightweights (135 lbs)
Champion: TITLE VACANT
1. Shane Mosley (IBF)
2. Cesar Bazan (WBC)
3. Stevie Johnston
4. Jean-Baptiste Mendy (WBA)
5. Orzubek Nazarov
6. Israel Cardona
7. Ivan Robinson
8. Jesse James Leija (IBA)
9. Phillip Holiday
10. Artur Grigorijan (WBO)
Active this mth: Mosley
(Inactive list: Holiday, Grigorijan)
Jr. Lightweights (130 lbs)
Champion: Floyd Mayweather (WBC)
1. Angel Manfredy (WBU)
2. Gabe Ruelas
3. Genaro Hernandez
4. Anatoly Alexandrov (WBO)
5. Takanori Hatakeyama
6. Yongsoo Choi
7. Goyo Vargas (IBA)
8. Jesus Chavez
9. Arnulfo Castillo
10. Robert Garcia (IBF)
Active this mth: Mayweather, Hernandez, Manfredy, Castillo (out: Pedersen-
Featherweights (126 lbs)
Champion: Luisito Espinosa (WBC)
1. Naseem Hamed (WBO)
2. Fred Norwood
3. Cesar Soto
4. Derrick Gainer
5. Juan Carlos Ramirez
6. Wilfredo Vazquez
7. Juan Marquez
8. Manuel Medina (IBF)
9. Carlos Rios
10. Cassius Baloyi (WBU)
Active this mth: Norwood, Baloyi
(Inactive list: Medina, Vazquez)
Jr. Featherweights (122 lbs)
Champion: Kennedy McKinney (IBC)
1. Erik Morales (WBC)
2. Vuyani Bungu (IBF)
3. Marco Antonio Barrera
4. Enrique Sanchez
5. Wayne McCullough
6. Danny Romero
7. Carlos Barretto (WBA)
8. Hector Acero-Sanchez
9. Junior Jones
10. Guty Espadas
Active this mth: Barrera, Barretto, Acero-Sanchez (out: Navarro-displaced)
Bantamweights (118 lbs)
Champion: TITLE VACANT
1. Johnny Bredahl (WBU)
2. Jorge Julio (WBO)
3. Joichiro Tatsuyoshi (WBC)
4. Nana Konadu (WBA)
5. Tim Austin (IBF)
6. Paul Ayala
7. Cuahtemoc Gomez
8. Mbubelo Botile
9. Adan Vargas
10. Dario Azuaga
Active this mth: Julio
Jr. Bantamweights (115 lbs)
Champion: In-Joo Cho (WBC)
1. Johnny Tapia (WBO & IBF)
2. Samson Dutch Boy Gym (WBF)
3. Gerry Penalosa
4. Satoshi Iida (WBA)
5. Joel Luna-Zarate
6. Takato Toguchi
7. Veeraphol Sahaprom
8. Yokthai Sit Oar
9. Julio Gamboa
10. Julio Cesar Cardona
Active this mth: Sahaprom
(Inactive list: Toguchi, Sit Oar)
Flyweights (112 lbs)
Champion: Chartchai Sasakul (WBC)
1. Mark Johnson (IBF)
2. Mauricio Pastrana (WBA)
3. Hugo Soto
4. Ruben Sanchez-Leon (WBO)
5. Carlos Salazar
6. David Guerault
7. Alejandro Montiel
8. Jose Bonilla
9. Saen Sow Ploenchit
10. Melchor Cob-Castro (IBA)
Active this mth: Pastrana, Guerault, Ploenchit (out: Jensen-displaced)
Jr. Flyweights (108 lbs)
Champion: Saman Sorjaturong (WBC)
1. Jake Matlala (IBA)
2. Juan Cordoba (WBO)
3. Pichit Chor Siriwat (WBA)
4. Joma Gamboa
5. Edgar Cardenas
6. Oscar Andrade
7. Kaaj Chartbandit
8. Hawk Makepula
9. Yosam Choi
10. Juan Herrera
Active this mth: Cardenas, Makepula, Herrera (out: Pastrana-rose in weight)
(Inactive list: Siriwat, Chartbandit)
Champion: Ricardo Lopez (WBC)
1. Rosendo Alvarez (WBA)
2. Zolani Petelo (IBF)
3. Wandee Chor Chareon
4. Ratanapol Voraphin
5. Kermin Guardia (WBO)
6. Lindi Memani
7. Rocky Lin
8. Ronnie Magramo
9. Andy Tabanas
10. Satoru Abe
Active this mth: Memani, Voraphin, Magramo, Abe (out: Porpaoin-inactive)
(Inactive list: Tabanas)
World Champions: 13 (of 17)
Mark "Too Sharp" Johnson is the first African-American flyweight champion in boxing history. He's a slick southpaw with knockout power and his only loss in 37 bouts is a dubious hometown decision over 8 years ago. His record stands at 37 wins, 1 defeat, with 24 kayos,yet only die-hard boxing fans know who he is. I was lucky enough to see "Too Sharp" up close doing what he does best when he came to the Turning Stone Casino Resort in Upstate New York to defend his IBF Flyweight title for the sixth time against Luis Rolon (now 18-3, 11 ko's) in a bout televised live on ABC's Wide World of Sports on July 26th.
Johnson dominated the bout, winning a unanimous decision; however, many in the crowd were less than thrilled that Johnson's opponent was around long enough to hear the final bell. ABC commentator Alex Walleau called Johnson's Whitikeresque defensive performance unprofessional -- apparently unaware that Johnson had injured his left hand while continually pummeling his limited but hard-headed foe.
I spoke to Johnson the day before his bout on a variety of topics and found him to be very
polite and candid, a gentleman and family man. As mentioned earlier, Johnson's only defeat is a four round loss to Richie
Wenton on March 17, 1990 in a bout that took place in Wenton's hometown of Belfast, N.
Ireland. I asked Mark if this "loss" was a hometown rob-job? "Oh yeah, it
was definitely a rob-job! I fought him on St. Patrick's Day in Ireland, so that tells you
a lot about that decision. I think that loss on my record was good for Mark Johnson
because a lot of fighters see that loss and think I can be beat. Many of the best
By Phrank Da Slugger
Some mistakingly think the Champion in each division is the guy who I think is the best. This is not the case. There are 2 criteria by which I determine Champions: the 1st is lineage (Oscar de la Hoya beat Pernell Whitaker who beat Buddy McGirt who beat Simon Brown); and the 2nd is defeating another fighter also ranked in the top 3 in the division - this is how Evander Holyfield is the Champ. There is an exception: Bernard Hopkins is that rare titlist who has reigned a long time and defeated many contenders. Hopkins is the dominant fighter in his weight class and has won, mostly via KO, against a number of different contenders. You could say I'm rewarding him for long and meritorious service.
Heavyweights (over 195 lbs)