The Cyber Boxing Zone Journal
A/K/A The America Online Boxing Newsletter (November 13, 1997)
by GorDoomThe CBZ is looking for some foreign correspondents. Great Britain & Europe are well covered by Derek Cusack, but we would welcome some contributors from Mexico, Central & South America, Africa, Japan & the Far East.
You don't need a Pulitzer in your hip pocket to be a good boxing writer - just read some of my stuff if you need proof ... The main attributes needed are a love of the sport & an ability to express yourself. So if you've ever thought about it, here's your shot ...
I think we have an excellent issue for our readers perusal ... I weigh in with my all-time rankings of heavyweights through the middleweights. This is guaranteed to cause some controversy ... For instance, when I first showed it to Joe Bruno he got so pissed off at where I ranked Rocky Marciano, that he refused to read the rest of the article!
Phrank The Slugger contributes his more modern ratings, Joe Bruno once again lacerates in a new tirade, Dave Iamale conducts a very entertaining interview with former welterweight & middleweight champion, Carmen Basilio, former Ring Magazine editor & NY state boxing commissioner, Randy Gordon, provides an open letter to Evander Holyfield.
Ring Magazine computer boxing maven & the founder of the innovative Electronic Boxing Monthly web site, Jim Trunzo, proffers a few thoughts on boxing ... & as always DscribeDC checks in with his skewed, satirical view point on the sweet science. I'm also very pleased to include a fine new article by noted Cuban boxing writer & political commentator, Enrique Encinosa.
We also have some diverse new articles from our newest contributors, JE, Thomas Gerbasi & Barry Lindenman.
We actually have so much stuff this month I may have inadvertently forgotten to mention one of the contributors ... & if I have, my apologies in advance.
I would also be remiss if I didn't mention the terrific effort & dedication of our new web master, Pusboil, who has put in a lot of time updating the page & putting up fight reports the moment they arrive ... Enjoy the new issue!
All Time Rankings
by GorDoomThe Ol' Spit Bucket is constantly barraged with requests to give his all time rankings, division by division ...So, to quiet all the yammering I'll begin this month with the Heavyweights down through the middleweights.
With the heavyweights I'm going to have to give two separate lists. This is due to the peculiarities of the heavyweight division, i.e. the enormous growth in size that parallels both Foot & B ball athletes since the end of WW II. For this reason, I'm compelled to break it down into two separate lists: One dating post 1900 - to 1950, the other '51 to the present.
1900-'50- 1- Gene Tunney - Perhaps the most underrated fighter in the history of boxing. Tunney was the ultimate stylist - slick but tough as nails, along with fellow champion, lightweight immortal & contemporary, Benny Leonard, introduced the modern era of boxing as we know it today. Both Tunney & Leonard were giants, stylistically years ahead of their times. This was evidenced some 40 plus years later, when a young Cassius Clay adapted many of Tunney's slick moves into his own unique arsenal ... Think about this: If slick little Billy Conn, at 167 lb.s, could totally befuddle Joe Louis; what do you think a 190 lb. punching stylist like Tunney would have done too him?
Dream match ups: Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano.
2- Joe Louis- An almost perfect fighting machine. A fighter whom all heavyweight champions are still measured against. Louis was also an important part of American social history. Jackie Robinson acknowledged that without Joe Louis paving the way before him, he would never have had a baseball career ...
Dream match ups: Dempsey, Ali, Holyfield.
3- Jack Johnson - Lil' Arthur was a master boxer/puncher, light years ahead of his peers ... As significant a figure in sports & American social history as Joe Louis, Jackie Robinson , Muhammad Ali & Arthur Ashe. Dream match ups: Tunney, Ali, Holmes.
4- Jack Dempsey - This is based mostly on the way he carved a path replete with gore & fallen body's as a contender. His accomplishments once he was crowned as champion, after demolishing the "Pottawatomie Giant", Jess Willard, in perhaps the most brutal fight ever recorded on film, were sporadic at best ...
Dream match ups: Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano.
5- Sam Langford - Both Langford & the man who follows him on this list should have been heavyweight champions. Only the racist mores & attitudes of their times prevented them from the opportunity of fighting for the title & gaining their just rewards ...
Dream match up: Jack Johnson for the heavyweight championship.
6- Harry Wills- See above.
Dream match up: Jack Dempsey.
7-Ezzard Charles- The forgotten champion. Like Holmes, he suffered the impossible task of succeeding an immortal ... Following Joe Louis as champion, was in its day, an even harder assignment than following Ali ... Charles, a terror at light heavyweight, was never the same following the death of one of his early opponents - yet he still was talented enough to beat Joe Walcott & an admittedly faded Joe Louis as heavyweight champ. A heavyweight parallel to Emile Griffith's career. Also gave, at the age of 38, Rocky Marciano's toughest & signature fight ...
Dream match ups- Floyd Patterson, Michael Spinks, Evander Holyfield.
9- Max Schmelling- The "Black Uhlan" was a gifted technician who also possessed a murderous right cross. Sadly, he's only remembered today for his one round deconstruction by Joe Louis. Schmelling was an excellent fighter, who was good enough to have taken the Brown Bomber apart in 12 rounds in their first match ... It was as shocking as when Holyfield destroyed Tyson in their first fight ... Joe Louis would not lose another fight for 14 years.
Dream match up: Ezzard Charles.
9- Jim Jeffries - In his prime (1898-1904), the baddest man on the planet.
Dream match up: John L. Sullivan.
10- Max Baer- A frustrating fighter who never took the sport seriously. Blessed with enormous talent, he could have been one of the all time greats, but chose to squander his gifts on wine, women & song. Dream match up: His life was a dream ... but, Mad Max & Ken Norton would have made for a fascinating fight ...
1- Cassius Marcellus Clay - There is a huge difference in the fighting styles & abilities of Ali before & after his exile. I know he changed his name to Muhammad Ali before he refused induction into the army, but for the purposes of this article I will delineate his two careers As Clay/Ali. The Ol' Spit Bucket truly believes that young Cassius would have kicked Muhammad's ass ... but, it's a tribute to how great a fighter he was that the #2 heavyweight on this list is:
2- Muhammad Ali- The greatest. In both incarnations.
Dream match ups: Jack Johnson, Gene Tunney, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Mike Tyson.
3- Larry Holmes- Along with Tunney, the most under appreciated great heavyweight in boxing history.
Dream match ups: Joe Louis, Sonny Liston, Ali in his prime.
4- Sonny Liston- To this day, the baddest heavyweight presence I've ever seen.
Dream match ups: Joe Louis, The young George Foreman.
5- Evander Holyfield - Another vastly underrated fighter. Not only the two time unified Heavyweight champion, but totally destroyed the invincible aura of Iron Mike Tyson in regaining a portion of the heavyweight title in one of the greatest upsets of all time. Evander also was the first & only fighter to ever unify the moribund cruiserweight division.
Dream match ups: Joe Louis, Jersey Joe Walcott, Ezzard Charles.
6- George Foreman- Like Ali, a fighter with two distinct incarnations. He excelled in both of them & whether you like Big George or not, he's always shown the true heart of a warrior. His knockout of Michael Moorer to regain the heavyweight title twenty years after he lost it is the stuff of legend ... & was one of, if not the greatest individual sports feats of the 20th Century.
Dream match ups: Sonny Liston, Mike Tyson.
7- Joe Frazier- On the night he beat Ali in "The Fight Of The Century", I don't know if any heavyweight, of any era, could have taken him ... The Joe Frazier of that long ago night was an unstoppable force of nature. Frazier was a fighter whose style destined him too burn out early. Never the same after the first Ali fight, but he dominated his truncated era as contender & champion until he met Foreman.
Dream match ups: Jack Dempsey, Rocky Marciano, Ken Norton, Mike Tyson.
8- Rocky Marciano - I can hear the screaming already ... How could you rate " The Rock" so low, you freakin' !#!X!#X#X!! ... Yeah, well I hate to burst anybody's bubble; but who the hell did Marciano ever beat???... Well, the Bucket's hear to tell ya ... Joe Louis age 41. Joe Walcott ( twice ), 38 & 39. Ezzard Charles 38, & Archie Moore, age 40, going on god only knows how old ... Remember, this was in age when any athlete, much less a boxer over the age of 30, was considered on the decrepit side of his career ... Of his peers, the two best fighters Marciano faced were, Harry " Kid " Mathews, a blown-up light heavy & the very ordinary Roland LaStarza. Sorry folks ... Rocky was a tough sum'bitch, but who the hell did he ever beat except over the hill greats & a bunch of stumble bums & never was'?... The Bucket only rates him this high because of his sterling ( & even that has come under fire ), record & because he was the best, in an extremely poor for heavyweights era ... But ... It must be said that The Rock was a fighter who made the most of his limited abilitys & wrung every ounce of talent, will & guts he had, to thoroughly dominate his era. One of the most valorous warriors in the history of boxing.
Dream match ups: Jack Dempsey, Sonny Liston, Joe Frazier, Mike Tyson.
9-Tie - Joe Walcott, Ezzard Charles & Floyd Patterson-These three fighters made the most of the physical ability's they had & gave their all every time out.
10-Tie- Ken Norton, Riddick Bowe & Mike Tyson Arguably this trio is superior to the previous one, but all three of these guys were extremely flawed fighters despite their enormous talents ...
THE LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHTS
1-Gene Tunney ( also #1 heavyweight pre-1950) As a light heavyweight, Tunney tore through the division defeating among others: Battling Levinsky, Harry Greb, Tommy Loughran & Georges Carpentier.
2-Ezzard Charles- An excellent case could be made for switching positions with Tunney ... but this is MY list, & I'll stick with it ... Charles, like Tunney, is best known as a heavyweight champion. While neither one was ever light heavy champ, they both dominated the light heavys in their eras. Among Charles' best known light heavyweight victims were, Teddy Yaroz (also former middleweight champ 1934-35), Anton Christofordis (light heavyweight champion), the great Charley Burley (twice), Joey Maxim (light heavyweight champion), Archie Moore, Jimmy Bivens & Lloyd Marshall.
3-Archie Moore- It's very hard to rate anyone above the venerable Ol' Mongoose ... You can make a good argument that he was one of the top 10 fighters of all time ... but Charles did beat him soundly three times, knocking him cold in the 8th round of their third & final match
Dream match ups: Gene Tunney, Billy Conn, Bob Foster, Michael Spinks, Roy Jones Jr.
4-Bob Foster- Once again, I know this is a controversial rating of the superlative Foster ... Hell, you could make a good case for switching any of the top four around - they were all magnificent fighters & all of them are among the greatest of all time ... Pound for Pound.
Dream match ups: Gene Tunney, Archie Moore, Ezzard Charles, Harold Johnson, Michael Spinks, Roy Jones Jr.
5-Billy Conn- His legendary first fight with Joe Louis is what most people remember about him; but his outstanding career encompassed much more. Among his many stellar victims were: Fritzie Zivic, Teddy Yaroz, Babe Risko, Vince Dundee, Young Corbett, Solly Krieger, Fred Apostoli, Tony Zale, Melio Bettina & Gus Lesnevich ... All of them world champions. Billy Conn, like Benny Leonard & Gene Tunney was stylistically years beyond his contemporaries. When you look at films of Conn you see a thoroughly modern fighter.
Dream match up : Roy Jones Jr. The Bucket would put his money on Conn - talent wise they're equal, but Billy had the true fighting heart ... One last note on Conn: If his career hadn't been interrupted by WW ll I'm sure he would have been vying for the top spot on this list
6-Michael Spinks- The dominant light heavy in an era that was probably the strongest in the history of the division. Spinks, despite his awkward style, was a dynamite puncher with both fists & very skilled defensively. Good enough to be the only light heavyweight champion to win the heavyweight title. ( Michael Moorer doesn't count. His WBO title was specious at best ...).
Dream match ups: Billy Conn, Harold Johnson, Bob Foster, Roy Jones Jr.
7-Tommy Loughran- Master boxer of the 20's & 30's. Ran through the light heavy division. Was beating top heavyweights when he vacated the title after he successfully defended his title seven times. Lost heavyweight title bid to Primo Carnera who outweighed him by 80 lb.s
Dream match ups: Bob Foster, Matthew Saad Muhamaad, Michael Spinks.
8-Maxie Rosenbloom- Slapsie Maxie's greatest lasting legacy is probably as the Clown Prince of boxing. But don't let all the amusing story's about him fool you, this was one helluva fighter ... During his 4 1/2 year reign as light heavyweight champion (1930-34), he fought an incredible 108 bouts, defending his titles successfully ten times.
Dream match up: Archie Moore. Two of the most eccentric boxers in history.
9-Harold Johnson- Another one of those great champions that has been sadly forgotten by history. Johnson was a terrific boxer/puncher who unfortunately fought in the same era as Archie Moore. Good enough to decision Ezzard Charles, who was a heavyweight when they met.
Dream match ups: Bob Foster, Michael Spinks.
10- Matthew Saad Muhamaad- Simply one of the gutsiest warriors it has ever been the Bucket's privilege to observe as he waged war with the best of his era.
Dream match ups: Michael Spinks, Roy Jones Jr.
Honorable mention goes to Jack Dillon, Philadelphia Jack O'Brien, Dwight Qwaii, Victor Galindez, John Conteh, Charley Burley, John Henry Johnson & Marvin Johnson.
The middleweight division ( as I assume the welter & lightweight divisions to be, when I re - examine them), has had so many great champions that it is going to have to be divided into pre & post WW ll segments.
There is such a plethora of outstanding fighters in the middleweight division - that inspired by Jim Trunzo's intriguing article for the Cyber Boxing Zone in the June '96 issue of the Journal, on Sugar Ray Robinson - the Bucket will just take on the post - war ( & if you have to ask which one you shouldn't be reading this article ), segment of the middleweight division this month.
1- Sugar Ray Robinson - Despite Trunzo's erudite critical examination of Mr. Pound For Pound's career I gotta go with my heart here ... Yeah, you don't become 5 time middleweight champ without losing a lot ... & he did lose to journeymen like Ralph Tiger Jones, when he was still in his heyday as a middleweight ... but, he was one day older than Methuselah ( as a fighter ), when he KO'd Gene Fullmer with that picture perfect left hook to regain the crown in '57 & a year older when he regained the crown from the ever determined "Canastota Onion Farmer ", Carmen Basilio. Besides, he's Sugar Ray Robinson ... 'Nuff said.
Dream match ups: Carlos Monzon, Tommy Hearns.
2 - tie - Carlos Monzon & Marvelous Marvin Hagler. Both of these champions were so outstanding not even a C - hair separates them in the all - time standings. Monzon had 14 successful defenses, Hagler had 13. They both faced the absolute best of their respective eras & they both carried themselves like true warrior - champions during their career's. & as Trunzo aptly pointed out with his intriguing stats; a good argument could be made for the top slot for any of these 3 all - time greats ...
Dream match up: Each other.
3- Dick Tiger - ( another one of the all - time monikers in boxing! ), Is one of the great forgotten champions of the last half of the 20th Century. With no apologies to the outstanding champions that Azumah Nelson & Cornelius Boza Edwards were ... but, Dick Tiger was & is the greatest fighter to ever emerge from Africa.
Dream match ups: Marvin Hagler, Tommy Hearns.
4 - Nino Benvenuti - Another great champion who hasn't fared well down boxing history's revisionism street. An Olympic champion & the first great jr. middleweight. Good enough too beat all - time great Emile Griffith 2 out of 3 & pull out a miracle 11th round, one punch KO of the storied Luis Manuel Rodrigues. Would have gone down as one of the best middleweights ever if he hadn't run into Monzon.
Dream match ups: Jake LaMotta, Gene Fullmer, Marvin Hagler.
5- Jake LaMotta. It's all been written, said & shown on film already ...
Dream match up: Rocky Graziano.
6- Gene Fullmer - We live in age where white men can't jump ... but if Hollywood is ever looking for the perfect visage to symbolize a tough white guy ... Gene Fullmer"s your man. Fullmer by no means was a gifted fighter in the sense of a Robinson, Monzon, Leonard or Jones Jr.. He couldn't box, he couldn't really punch & he looked awkward as hell ... But this is a guy who beat Sugar Ray, Paul Pender, Carmen Basilio & Benny " Kid " Paret ... Not to mention, that he faced every top middleweight there was from '54 to '63. An era replete with tough sum' bitches.
Dream match up: Jake LaMotta.
7 - Rodrigo Valdez - Put the great Monzon thru two life & death matches & stopped the quintessential Philadelphia fighter, " Bad " Benny Briscoe in 7, for the middleweight title.
Dream match up: Marvin Hagler.
8 - Emile Griffith - Admittedly his best work was done as a welterweight ... but no apologies are given for victory's over Dick Tiger, Nino Benvenuti & master stylist, Joey Archer. Also had two absolutely gallant losses to Monzon when he was way past his prime.
Dream match ups: Carmen Basilio, Sugar Ray Leonard, Tommy Hearns.
9 - James Toney - Yeah ... I know, we all have the image of his pathetic showing against Roy Jones Jr. & the results of his miserable efforts since ... But up until the Jones Jr. fight, Toney had dominated the middleweight divisions. He ducked no one, ( Tiberi never wanted a rematch & hasn't fought since ... ) & kept a fighting schedule that rivaled & bested the great majority of fighters on this list. His come from behind 11th round KO of Michael Nunn, his do or die spectacular KO of Tim Littles, his stirring 12th round KO of Prince Charles Williams & his two dramatic bouts against Mike McCallum ( D - 12, W - 12 ), seal the deal.
Dream match up: Dick Tiger.
10 - Sugar Ray Leonard - I can hear the screams & curses from cyberspace already ... All I can say is .
He beat Marvin Hagler. You try it ... after a 3 1/2 year layoff & one fight in five years. Not to mention that he was jumping two divisions up from his natural weight. Name me more than four middleweights, on this list, or of any era that could have beaten him ....
Dream match ups: Sugar Ray Robinson, Luis Rodriguez.
Rinsing off the Mouthpiece
The Ol' Spit Bucket is starting to wonder if boxing is cursed. It seems like almost every "super fight" of the last two years, with the exception of the first Tyson-Holyfield fight has been seriously flawed ...
In the lighter weights, De La Hoya vs. Chavez & Whitaker were both duds. Tapia-Romero, while it was an entertaining fight wasn't really competitive. Zaragosa-McCullough ,Tszyu-Phillips & Gatti-Ruelas were all excellent fights but they were hardly considered mega fights ...
The most anticipated lower weight match up: Norris vs. Trinidad never happened.
The heavyweight division, except for Evander, is an almost total disaster! Golota vs. Bowe (twice) & Lewis were at the very least highly unsatisfying fights. Lewis hasn't been in a real fight since he fought Ray Mercer a year & a half ago ... McCall, Akinwande & Golota can hardly be called competitive fights.
Then of course there was the biggest disaster of them all: Holyfield-Tyson II. So what do we have to look forward to? Unfortunately, nothing that's definitely on the books.
Holyfield-Moorer is not a fight anybody is looking forward to with a lot of excitement & anticipation. Ditto Big George vs. Shannon Briggs. Maybe Lewis will face Holyfield, but I'll believe it when I see it ...
The point of this diatribe is the last two years have been a real down time for boxing. There really are only four fighters that really intrigue the fans: Evander Holyfield, Roy Jones Jr., Oscar De La Hoya & Naseem Hamed.
Of course there are many other excellent fighters out there, Tapia, Norris, Trinidad & Quartey too name a few ... but none of them have captured the public's imagination & their fan base remains only the hard core boxing fan.
Boxing needs stars. & the only way it's going to get them is by having competitive matches that bring out the best in the fighters engaging them. It's up to the promoters. If they can somehow put politics & hubris aside, then we might have a viable, thriving sport.
Don't hold your breath ...
Get A Grip Department: As far as the Ol' Spit Bucket is concerned, International Boxing Digest (formerly Boxing Illustrated) has lost all it's credibility as a serious boxing magazine.
The fact that they have designated Roy Jones Jr. as the number one pound for pound fighter of ALL TIME????? Is beyond comprehension ...
Don't get me wrong, I think Roy Jones is a potentially great fighter, a marvelously gifted athlete who has yet to be tested. The key word here is potential ...
What the hell has he ever done to deserve that inconceivable accolade??? Beating a James Toney who left his fight in a rubble of fast food containers??? Knocking out a fighter, Montell Griffin, who he had lost to by an incredibly stupid disqualification???
Does knocking out say, Tony Thornton, rank up there with The Thrilla In Manila, or Sugar Ray Leonard's KO of Tommy Hearns, or Joe Louis exacting revenge on Max Schmelling, or to put it in more modern terms, Holyfield dismantling Tyson, or even Vince Phillips knocking out Kostya Tszyu???
Gimme a freakin' break ... Herb Goldman & the rest of the staff at the magazine should hang their heads in shame ...
Just saw Holyfield steam roll Moorer in an exciting heavyweight title fight! Christmas came early! ...
Throughout Evander's thirteen year career he's provided us with innumerable spills 'n thrills. When ever the boxing writers & insiders (myself unfortunately included) have been ready to write Evander's career obituary - he comes roaring back with yet another superlative effort.
Evander Holyfield is a fighter for the ages. When they mention boxing's greatest warriors Evander's name will be near the top of the list. The Commander has been one of my all time favorites & has never disappointed through lack of effort.
However, as much as it pains me, I'm going to be rooting for Lennox Lewis to win their fight if it ever occurs. The reason is simple: If Evander reaches his goal of unifying the three main alphabet titles, he will rightfully retire in a blaze of glory ... Onliest problem is, is that will put boxing right back to square one.
The Alphabets will come up with three different champions & we will be in the same situation we've been in since Riddick Bowe dumped his WBC belt in the trash ...
For boxing's sake we will all be better off if Lewis wins. I don't like it - but it's a fact, Jack.
Well ... That's it for this month & once again I'd like to remind readers that anyone with any comments, disparaging remarks or praise is invited to send them along via e-mail ( GorDoom@aol.com ). I will respond to any reasonably intelligent correspondence ... Back at ya next issue. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
AN OPEN LETTER TO EVANDER HOLYFIELD
Congratulations on yet another sensational victory and for again lifting our sport out of the gutter. Politicians only wish they could have the respect and belief you now have from an adoring public. Your will to win and strength to believe you can is truly amazing.
For a man who was supposed to be a great cruiserweight, but have tremendous shortcomings in the heavyweight ranks, your incredible physical condition, coupled with one of the greatest fighting hearts ever to step inside a ring, has made you one of history's all-time legendary champions. It is for this reason I write to you.
This letter comes one year after you capped an incredible career by beating Mike Tyson the first time. That was something you had told me years ago you wanted to do. Shortly after losing to Riddick Bowe in November 1995, you said you still had hope of fighting for the world title just one more time. You said it meant everything to you.
Well, on November 9, 1996, you got that shot--and much more. You got the chance to win the title and a chance to face Tyson in one night. On that chilly evening in Las Vegas, you were given little hope on the oddsmakers boards of winning. Yet, your incredible will to win made you everything any athlete could ever dream of being. On that night, you were a great pitcher, capping his sensational career with yet another no-hitter. On that night, you were a great quarterback, engineering a Super Bowl victory over the highly-favored and defending world champions. On that night, your performance must be ranked alongside boxing history's greatest performances. On that night, you put up MVP numbers and you were selected as 1996's "Fighter of the Year."
Instead of hanging your gloves up and going out on top, you answered the critics who said your victory may have been a fluke. You gave Tyson another chance. You said it wasn't the money which drove you to do it. I believed that. I still do. You wanted to prove to the world that your victory was no accident. Under bizarre circumstances, you won on disqualification. Though you walked away with two injured ears, you grew in stature even more with the way you conducted yourself in the face of a public whose attitude towards Tyson bordered on a lynch-mob mentality.
Then, there was Saturday, November 8, 1997. You faced and beat Michael Moorer, the only man whom you had ever faced, but not beaten. You overcame a cut eye and the brutal power of Moorer to once again rise high above boxing and place yourself alone when the word "champion" is spoken.
It is for that reason that, as your friend, I now ask you to fight no more.
Sure, that's such an easy thing for me to say, and such a tough thing for you to do, especially when you are coming off yet another sensational victory and riding the crest of adulation. You also have perhaps another $30 million staring you in the face to take on the challenge of Lennox Lewis.
Evander, with you I have always known it was not about money. With you, the competition and the championship was forever first. Then came the money. With most other athletes, it's the other way around. Against Tyson that first time, you accomplished the goal you were after. You captured the "Holy Grail." Then, to prove to us it was no mistake, you did it again, as if you really had to. Last night, you continued to thrill us with yet another amazing performance. You did it to avenge the loss Moorer handed you in 1994. You claimed you fought with an injury that night. You needed this fight to prove, not to us, but to yourself, that at 100%, you could beat Michael Moorer. Last night, you proved it. Now, I stand in a very small line of those who admire you in asking you not to face Lennox Lewis...or Tyson when he is inevitably reinstated...or George Foreman...or Riddick Bowe should he launch a comeback...or anybody ever again.
Sure, a match between you and Lewis is certainly one which will perhaps transcend boxing and do magnanimous numbers and become yet another of your classics. But I ask, "What will that prove?" I say you let us all wonder what would have happened had the two of you hooked up. Let Lennox now go out and prove himself against the rest of the heavyweight division. Let Tyson come back and face Lewis. Me? I don't care if you can beat Lewis or anybody else. You've already proven you belong to be ranked alongside the greats. Certainly, your heart belongs up at the top.
Before your first victory against Tyson, boxing was in the doldrums. It wasn't the victory which was so uplifting. It was your drive. It was your sheer determination to win above everything else. Your courage touched the hearts of more people than you realize.
Evander, you are 35 years old. One day you'll be 45. And 55. That's how old Muhammad Ali is right now. Twenty years ago, Muhammad Ali was still fighting. Even after that legendary battle against Joe Frazier--"The Thrilla in Manila"--Ali fought on. We cheered Muhammad to go on. We cheered him continue the battles. Evander, I cheer you to retire.
You have everything a man could want. You've got your family. You've got money. You've got your health. You also have the respect of an adoring nation. It is time to stand on the pedestal--the way you did in Los Angeles 13 years ago--and let the world cheer a great champion. No, you didn't win a gold medal then--though you should have--but you've got the gold now. You've got it all. You'll be able to keep it all if you hang up your gloves from this moment on.
Five years from now, you'll undoubtedly be elected into the Boxing Hall of Fame. I look forward to being in the crowd in Canastota, New York, that day, as they place the Hall of Fame ring on your finger, and you enter The Hall, alongside boxing's other immortalized legends.
I know you will pray to find an answer to whether or not you should retire now or continue with your magnificent career. In that case, I too, will pray, for I believe I already have an answer.
No matter what your decision, you are my friend, and I will always be in your corner.
My love and respect,
Last month I wrote an article for the CBZ entitled "The Rose Of Britain & The Lip Of Louisville" . I somehow knew as I was writing it that my good buddy, Joe Bruno, would absolutely hate it. I wasn't exactly sure why, but I knew he would ...
JB wrote me a vitriolic letter that surprised me because I had never realized that Joe's politics are slightly to the right of Torquemada's ... However, while I totally disagree with JB's position, he has a valid point that is unfortunately shared by millions of people in this country. For that reason, even though he's slagging an absolutely stalwart guy like my own bad self, I felt it was important that Joe's skewed views on the subject have a chance to be read.
Joe & I are good friends, but let's just say we agree to disagree ...
One last point: I'm worried about Joe. He has to learn how to express himself & let people know how he really feels ... His shy, hesitant, almost demure & overly sensitive writings, should come out of the closet of self doubt & let him begin to finally express those repressed emotions he somehow keeps locked up within himself ...
Joe my friend, The CBZ worries about you ...
Joe Bruno on Boxing
Muhammad Ali Hero?---Not!!!!!!!There's a new phenomenon taking place in boxing which I'll gracefully call revisionist history. After I read my buddy Bucket's bleeding-heart liberal column on Muhammad Ali last month, I resisted the urge to puke, then I had to inform the Bucket (a.k.a. GorDoom/Spit Bucket) that he forgot to mention one very important thing about his hero: Muhammad Ali may have been great fighter, but he was also a SHAMELESS DRAFT DODGER, who refused to fight for his country in the Vietnam War. Period.
If you say the United States didn't belong in Vietnam--I agree. If you say it was a stupid war---I also agree. I didn't like the war any more than Ali did, but me and hundreds of thousands of other men like me, black, white, or whatever, went into the United States armed service because it was our duty to our country and to our families.
Ali's refusal to be inducted wasn't a black/white thing like he and his people tried to shove down our throats. Hundreds of thousand of white men chickened out and avoided service in Vietnam too. Disgrace-of-a-human being President Bill Clinton was one of those punks.
Ali claimed to be a Muslim minister as an exemption to get out of the military draft. Ali was a minister like Al Sharpton is a Reverend and like Dr. Irwin Corey is a physician. The draft board rightfully saw through Ali's charade and classified him one A. But the creep, who had already gotten rich though the American system of free enterprise, adamantly refused to take the one symbolic step forward on the day he was drafted.
To me, that was not only traitorous, it was damn personal.
My own life was put on hold for almost eight years because of the Vietnam War. I graduated Cardinal Hayes high school in 1965, I wasn't taking enough credits at Hunter College to avoid the draft because I had to work full time so I could buy food to eat and keep a roof over my head. So, as was prescribed by the rules of the draft, I received a 1A classification.
In 1966, I decided to join the Navy, which three of my uncles had already served in, rather than get drafted into the army. I did four years active duty and another two years reserved. I could've beaten the draft like other skells did. Some jerks erroneously claimed to be gay to beat the draft. Others put needles in their arms and said they were junkies so they would fail the physical. And still others like myself were too proud to do things so disgraceful and humiliating, so we did what we thought was the only right and honorable thing to do. We either joined, or we were inducted into the Armed Forces of the United States of America. My only other alternative was suicide, since my father and my uncles would've surely beaten me to death if I ever did anything offensive to myself, my family and my country.
Starting in 1969, I did an 11-month tour on the aircraft carrier Constellation in the Bay of Tonkin 40 miles off the coast of Vietnam. I was a parachute rigger, so once a week I had to fly by helicopter into De Nang to pack the chutes in their base parachute loft. I saw white men serving there in the worst of conditions, along with black men, Muslims, Catholics, Jews and Protestants and a couple of Lithuanians too. Men that didn't want to be in Vietnam any more than I did, but went anyway because America, right or wrong, is still our country, and if you want to live here and enjoy what the best country in the world has to offer, you have obligations.
I'll never forget the night Ali fought Joe Frazier for the first time in 1970. The fight was broadcast live on Armed Forces Radio in the middle of the night for us in Vietnam. I remember hundreds of us setting our alarms for 3 am, even though we were on 12-hour working shifts in the war zone for as long as 45 days in a row. We sat around radios in all parts of the Constellation and I don't remember one man who was rooting for Ali to win. Every race, color and creed was rooting for Smokin' Joe Frazier, not the big-mouthed, race-baiting, draft dodger, and when Smokin' Joe landed his famous left hook that dropped Ali in the fifteenth round, the huge ship rocked with cheers.
For whatever flimsy reasons he and white-hating Muslim sect tried to concoct, Ali refused to be inducted into the armed forces, and to me and millions like me, that's the bottom line. You disgrace the memory of tens of thousands heroic Americans, black, white or whatever, who died in Vietnam and in every war before and since Vietnam, when you glorify the draft dodger, scoundrel, reprobate and the four-marriage adulterer Muhammad Ali admits he was when he was still coherent. The pitiful condition he's in now is sad, but has no relevance to the sins he committed back when he, as he himself proclaimed, was ----The Greatest.
Thirty years have passed, and the sportswriters who railed against Ali's treason in the 1960's - men like Jimmy Cannon, Dick Young, and the great Red Smith - are all dead. The scribes still living are mostly the flower-child, pot-smoking, free-love, "peace man" types (Maynard G Krebs-Beatnik) and selective-memory airheads like Mike Katz, Tom Hauser, Lars Erickson, Robert Lipsig, Jim Dwyer, Anthony Lewis, Frank Rich and Mollie Irvins. Others who choose to ignore Ali's dark past are generally Jane Fonda/Country Joe Fish-types and Woodstock Generation lemmings who read left-wing rags like the New York Times, The Village Voice and the Washington Post. Not to mention limousine-liberals such as Ted Kennedy and Mario Cuomo, who wouldn't be caught dead being in the same building with the very people whose pain they supposedly feel.
Bucket: Muhammad Ali was a great fighter, but he was a draft dodger and much worse. In my book he will never be a great American. He was certainly no Joe Louis, a black man who proudly served his country in World War II and was rightfully referred to by Jimmy Cannon as "a credit to his race: The human race."
Ali is a credit to no one but himself. His war record along with the alimony he is forced to pay to four ex-wives tells me more about Muhammad Ali than anything he ever did in the ring.
Tyson Admits He's Crazy In TV Shocker!!!What will we discover next? That President Lincoln was shot at Ford's Theater?
In a rambling, disjointed and extremely self-serving interview on ABC's Prime Time on Monday, November 3, former heavyweight champ and convicted rapist Mike Tyson told ABC's Alex Wallau many remarkable things, some of them X-rated. The two-part interview took place just days before and three days after Iron Mike crashed his motorcycle and broke two ribs in the process.
Below is a selection of Mike's distorted observations on life and my astute responses to them:
Tyson---- I'm not a stable person. I'm the most extreme fighter whoever lived. I'm really sporadic.
Bruno---Yeah, and bears living in the woods don't use pay toilets.
Tyson---I truly believe I'll be banned from boxing for life.
Bruno---Not as long as Las Vegas is part of planet earth. In any other jurisdiction, Tyson would've been arrested for felony assault for biting off Holyfield's ear. Not to mention throwing a mean left hook at a police officer in the ring. There were no arrests, and I have no delusions of the possibility of justice in the city of Las Vegas, which was founded by the Patron Saint of Pond Scum--Bugsy Seigal.
Tyson--No one gets punished more than I am.
Bruno--There's the relatives of five million Jews who were killed in the Holocaust who would dispute Tyson's ridiculous notion. And the Catholics nominate a fellow named Jesus Christ.
Tyson---I truly think everyone hates me.
Bruno--Not quite. The sad truth is many inner city kids idolise this punk and actually think he did the right thing to Holyfield's ear.
Tyson-- Holyfield butted me on purpose
Bruno--What? And what Mike did to Desire Washington was an accident? I don't think so.
Tyson--I fell asleep on my motorcycle (doing 25 mph). That's why I crashed.
Bruno--Next time try falling asleep at ninety five miles an hour.
Tyson-To those who hoped I'm banned for life from boxing---Bleep them.
Bruno--No, you savage, felonious, foul-mouthed slime. BLEEP YOU!!!!.
Carmen Basilio Interviewed
by Dave IameleForty years ago in da Bronx at the house that Ruth built a young onion farmer from Canastota, NY shocked the boxing world. Carmen "the Canastota Clouter" Basilio won a razor thin split decision over one Walker Smith, better known as Sugar Ray Robinson after 15 gruelling rounds. That night (September 23, 1957) saw world welterweight champion Basilio take on Sugar Ray for his middleweight title. Carmen entered Yankee Stadium that night a 4 to 1 underdog but he left as the new middleweight champion of the world.
Fast forward 40 years and Carmen is back in his old hometown being honored on the anniversary of arguably his greatest victory by his friends and family at the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Basilio's achievements led him to be inducted in 1990 as one of the first group of fighters enshrined. In his 79-fight career spanning from 1948 to 1961 he won 56 (27 by KO), lost 16, and had 7 draws. He was a two time welterweight champion and also, as mentioned above, won the middleweight belt from Robinson. In Ring Magazine's 1997 Boxing Almanac Carmen is listed as #40 of the top 50 fighters from the last 50 years. He was also involved in 6 of the 100 greatest title fights of all time,(24,27,29,46,69,92). The Robinson bout was #24 followed by DeMarco II, Fullmer, Gavilan, DeMarco I, & Saxton II respectively. Basilio was also fighter of the year from 1955 thru 1959, the longest stretch ever consecutively held by any boxer.
I was lucky enough to get a few words with Canastota's greatest champion as he signed autographs for the hundreds of fans who came to meet, greet, and pay tribute to this gritty pugilist of the 50's. Carmen is a marvellous guy who underwent quadruple bypass heart surgery in June shortly after attending the annual Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.
DI: "When did you get out of the Marine Corp?"
CB: "November 22, 1947."
DI: "How did you happen to chose boxing as a profession?"
CB: "Well ever since I was a little boy, I always wanted to be a fighter. My father was a fight nut. The only time he ever let us stay up after 8:30 at night was on Friday nights to listen to the fights with him at 10:00. He bought us boxing gloves and we were always boxing. Not only that, but I boxed on the high school boxing team. That's the only reason I went to high school, because they had that boxing team. Without that, I wouldn't have gone to school. That's all I ever wanted to be was a fighter. Then I went in the Marine Corp. and I boxed in the corp., got out boxed (as an) amateur for about a year, then turned pro."
DI: "You turned pro in November of 1948 at the age of 21 and KO'd Jimmy Evans in your first bout. Can you remember anything about that night? How you felt? Were you nervous because this was your first pro bout?"
CB: "I felt great that I won, I was in good shape, and I was confident that I could beat him. I'd seen him fight before as a pro, he'd been around a long time, he was an old timer but he wasn't aggressive enough. I don't know whether he's still living or not, he was quite a bit older than me. I was 21 and he was about 33 or 34 years old. The fight was in Binghamton, NY. I was nervous before every fight. I don't care when it was. If you're not nervous, you're in trouble. If you're nervous, then you're sharp and alert."
DI: "On March 6, 1950, you beat former lightweight champ Lew Jenkins in your first 10 rounder. Do you feel this was your first bout against a 'name' opponent, being as he was a former champ?"
CB: "Well, I had been fighting quite often at that time and I was in great shape - there was no problem going 10 rounds. But I really thought I looked busy that night, I won the decision, but I wasn't at my best."
DI: "In January of 1953, you decisioned Ike Williams and you've stated that he was the hardest puncher you ever fought. Do you still feel this way?"
CB: "Well, no, Robinson was a harder puncher than him. But he was, at that time, the hardest puncher I had faced. He was a great puncher. I got in close with him and he hit me two shots in my forearms that picked me off my feet, I said to myself, 'he's not going to hit me again tonight'. He didn't, I took 10 out of 10 rounds from him. He just died last year. He was a great fighter, he was lightweight champion for about seven years, he fought a lot of great fighters. He even went 15 rounds with Sugar Ray Robinson."
DI: "After a couple of bouts with Billy Graham, winning the NYS title along the way, you fought Kid Gavilan in Syracuse. You were the first boxer to ever put him on the canvas when you knocked him down for a nine count in the second round. The fight went 15 rounds and you lost a very close split decision. Being that the bout was held in Syracuse, why didn't you get a hometown decision?"
CB: "Well, I'll tell you - they imported the officials, they imported the judges and the referee from New York City. They were there to protect him and they over protected him. That's what happened. Which is all right, in the long run, because I had to wait two more years but I had some good fights during that time and then I won the title. They bypassed me (Gavilan) and went down to Philly and fought Johnny Saxton. Saxton upset him and beat him. Now Saxtons group didn't want any part of me so they bypassed me and fought Tony DeMarco. DeMarco upset the apple cart by KOing Saxton in the 14th round. But the boxing commission said that the only way they'd approve that match (DeMarco/Saxton) was that the winner had to fight me within 90 days. Tony had to fight me, and I knocked him out in 12 rounds."
DI: "They called that fight, 'a wild, bloody brawl'. What are your thoughts on that?"
CB: "No. I didn't bleed. He did the bleeding. (laughs) No, it was a rough, tough fight. He was a good puncher and he was dangerous and we fought the full 12 rounds. Well, actually after about the ninth or tenth round, he started to slow down, and I started nailing him with good shots."
DI: "When you lost the title to Johnny Saxton on March 14, 195 in Chicago most ringsiders felt you won the bout easily but Saxton was awarded the victory. Was this some mob funny business conducted by Saxton's 'manager' Blinky Palarmo?"
CB: " Well - I don't know what that was but the thing was, that I had hit him on the chin and staggered him in the 3rd round, and when he came out in the fourth round, the stuffing was coming out of his glove. They had taken a razor and slit his glove and they stopped the fight for 20 minutes to get a new glove on him, and then he ran for his life the rest of the fight."
DI: "I think Angelo Dundee picked up on that trick. (laughs)
CB: "Angelo was in my corner."
DI: "He must've learned something that night."
CB: "I think he learned a lot working with me. (laughs) I remind him about it too because I was the first champion he ever worked with. He worked with me a lot of fights and he was a good cornerman but he never trained me. My manager was John DeJohn, and I trained myself. I'd had so many fights before that I didn't need a trainer, so there was no problem there, I knew how to train."
DI: "During your heyday, there was a lot of mob corruption in the fight game. Did anyone ever approach you to take a dive or otherwise throw a bout?"
DI: "You were never approached?"
CB: "No, because I put the word out that if anyone was to approach me, I'd punch 'em in the mouth and have 'em arrested. So they never came near me."
DI: "You fought Saxton three times. If you knew he was a 'connected' guy with the wise guys why not avoid him?"
CB: "Because he had the title and he had us right by the balls so the only way I'm gonna get the belt is by beating the guy."
DI: "Then in '57, you moved up to middleweight to fight Robinson. How did this fight come about?"
CB: "He didn't have a legitimate opponent in the middleweight division at the time, and I had just fought my last fight with Saxton, and I was having trouble making 147 lbs. They were looking for an opponent, we got the opportunity and we thought it was a great idea. We drew a big, big crowd and it was a good pay day. So we went to Jim Morris and MSG and we set up the fight."
DI: "It's been said that you had an intense dislike for Ray, why?"
CB: "That's right."
CB: "Because he didn't like me." (laughs)
DI: "Well, that's a good reason, I guess."
CB: "That's one thing. But in 1953, I was walking in front of the hotel right across from the Times Square building (NYC). I think it was the Statelier, but anyway, he pulled up with his entourage with his big Cadillac, right in front of the hotel, he got out and I was walking past so I decided to go over and introduce myself. I said, "Hi Ray, I just fought Billy Graham the week before, the #1 welterweight. I'm Carmen Basilio.' He gave me the brush off, and I felt about an inch high, and I said one of these days I'm gonna fight this guy and I'm gonna kick his ass. (laughs) It took me four years but I got 'im."
DI: "I want to read you a quote from the '97 Ring Almanac and get your reaction: 'In a huge surprise, welterweight champion beats middleweight champion by split decision. Robinson unexpectedly fights flat footed, guaranteeing plenty of action. Basilio, spotting Sugar Ray 6 1/2 lbs., relies on his unparalleled conditioning and steel chin. The punches fly for all 15 rounds, with both fighters absolutely certain they deserve the verdict."
CB: "He thought he won, but I chased him all night long. I was the aggressor, he could think what he wanted to at the time, but he knew I won that fight. He would never admit that he lost, naturally."
DI: "Now in the rematch in Chicago in '58, you said that you got 'stupid' that night and that Ray kept throwing the right uppercut and about the fifth time he hit you in the eyebrow your eye closed completely in about the sixth round. I've seen the pictures of you after that bout, and I'm amazed you could have went the rest of the distance with your eye like that. It's one of the worst eye injuries I've ever seen. Yet you lost a very close split decision with the referee scoring for you and the two judges giving Ray the nod. You stated that after the bout you walked to your dressing room but they had to carry Ray to his. Do you feel you won that bout?"
CB: "I thought I coulda won it, you know, but it was close. But I think that because my left eye was closed, it upset my timing and judgement of distance and that ugly eye swung the judges a bit. But I thought I won the fight and he knew it too. You know why? Because he would never fight me again."
CB: "Because he was afraid of me, that's why."
DI: "He needed the money, he should have made the third bout."
CB: "He was stupid he thought....you see this guy never liked to be introduced as champion of the world. 'Ray Robinson, middleweight king’, he wanted to be a king see and.."
At this point Ed Brophy interjects and reminds Carmen that he has to sign about fifty more items yet for the Hall and that we had better wrap it up (Carmen being a true Italian, has trouble talking without the use of his hands).
DI: "You feel ok after the surgery? You look great."
CB: "Oh yeah, I'm feeling great. I had a great surgeon, great care at the hospital, and people were just fantastic to me."
DI: "Do you still watch the fights?"
CB: "Oh yeah."
DI: "Who do you like to watch?"
CB: "Gatti. He's an impressive kid. He's aggressive. I like his style, it's similar to mine."
DI: "You saw the Tyson fight where he bit Evander in the ear. What would've happened had that taken place in your heyday in the 50's? Would it have been such a big deal?"
CB: "Sure, why not? You can't bite a guy. He surprised me, I was disappointed in him. I was really pulling for him.."
My partner in crime, Joe "Canastota" asks Carmen if anyone ever bit him while he was active.
CB: "I had a guy bite my ear. He bit my ear, he bit my shoulder and I kicked the shit outta him. But I don't know what he (Tyson) was thinking. I really thought he was gonna win that fight if he fought a legitimate fight. I don't know what he had in his mind to bite the guy, but he intended to because he took his mouthpiece out to bite him good 'cause it would be kinda tough to bite him all the way through with the mouthpiece in. I still haven't figured out why or what he was thinking to do something like that. Maybe he didn't have confidence that he could win the fight legitimately. I thought he could....it didn't happen that way."
I had a few more questions for the champ but IBHOF director Ed Brophy needed "the Canastota Clouter" to resume signing items and when Ed says, 'jump' at the Hall you better say, ‘how high?', or you'll find yourself across the street interviewing the kid flipping burgers at McDonalds!
I want to thank Carmen for being so generous with his time and also I'd like to apologise to Ed "pull the plug" Brophy for taking up too much time. I would also like to thank all the cyber boxing fans reading this. Keep that e-mail coming. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
LUIS SARRIA AND THE ALI CIRCUS
by Enrique EncinosaThe two things I remember best about Luis Sarria were his face and hands.
He had a wide, black face with round, sleepy eyes and a smile that was warm and pleasant. His hands were huge, thick with long fingers that could claw the fat on a rubdown, soothing the pained muscles of a worn pugilist.
He was living boxing lore. A charter member of the entourage known as the Ali Circus. a witness to Muhammad's legend on a daily basis, from the first prelims through the miracle comebacks that led to Kinshasa and Manila, to the last sad fights of Ali's career. Yet, not being fluent in English and being a modest, easy going man, Sarria was perhaps the least interviewed of the Ali entourage. American reporters referred to him as a “stoic, silent man" yet those of us who knew him well enjoyed his humor and warmth.
Latin fighters who trained at Caron's referred to him as "The Master," a tribute to Sarria's training skills, for in his time the old man had trained hundreds of fighters from amateurs to legends.
I tried to arrive at the gym early, to sit with Sarria and Caron and talk about old timers and boxing roads well traveled. Sitting on worn out chairs we would carry on almost daily mini-interviews in which I attempted to vicariously see the world though the Master's eyes.
"Was Ali the best fighter you ever worked with?" I asked him, and almost instantly he shook his head.
"No", he answered, "Ali was magnificent. Unique. His speed was amazing. His personality was incredible, but he was not the best boxer I ever worked with. You see, Ali relied on speed. He did not fight well inside. Fighters who were in-fighters like Frazier gave him trouble. Ali was so quick, fought so well from a distance and had such great footwork, he never learned to master the fighting at close quarters.”
"So who was the greatest you ever worked with?"
"Either Kid Tunero or Luis Rodriguez. Tunero was so clever, so good, he was boring to watch. He made it look easy. He did not waste any motion. He could fight inside and outside. He could slip and counterpunch with great aim. He was a complete fighter with bad luck, for he never fought for a title. He was a middleweight but he beat Ezzard Charles, Marcel Thil and a bunch of champions and contenders. Ezzard Charles said that losing to Tunero held no shame for the Kid was a wizard in the ring."
"And Luis Rodriguez?"
"Luis was a great fighter, a world champion when it meant something to be a champion. He was as good as Tunero, only flashier. He beat everybody. He had balls. Luis fought guys no one wanted to fight. He was a skinny welter but he beat light heavyweights like Vicente Rondon and Rocky Rivero and middleweights like Benny Briscoe, Skeeter McClure and Hurricane Carter. When he fought Carter the first time, Carter put him down. Luis came back to the corner and said to me -That guy has concrete in his hands, but he's not going to hit me again... And he didn't. Luis outboxed him. Carter asked for a rematch then Luis beat him again. Luis and I came from Cuba together."
"In 1960. Fidel Castro was executing Cubans by the thousands and I did not like communism. Before boxing was abolished in Cuba, they allowed fighters to travel to other countries and fight. So Luis and I came to the U.S, together and after the fight against Mel Collins in Tampa I told Luis -I'm staying. You'll have to go back to Havana alone... Luis looked at me and shook his head. No -he answered me'- I don' t like it either. I'm staying here, also. So we became political exiles. I love Luis He's something special."
"How did you get started in boxing?"
"I came from a very poor background in Cuba. One of my brothers died next to me in bed when I was a child. I knew hunger. Real hunger. I was paid fifteen pesos for a fight and I won. I had about thirty pro fights. Won more than half. In one of my last fights we both hit each other with right hands and we both went down. It was a double knockout. . . then I began to make a few pesos working corners and I became a trainer. I worked with some of Cuba's best fighters, like heavyweight Julio Mederos- and lightweight contender Douglass Valliant. That's how I met Angelo Dundee. Angelo used to travel to Havana once or twice every month with American fighters. He wasn't famous then, just another trainer hustling a payday. When Luis Rodriguez and I arrived in Miami, Angelo hired me to work out with his growing stable of fighters. That's when I met Ali."
"What was it like working with Ali?"
"Impossible to explain. He attracted TV cameras, reporters and crowds like magic. He was magnificent. It was fun."
"How did you communicate?”
“Somehow it worked out very well. He did not know Spanish and my English is broken but we understood each other well. We mixed words with sign language and it worked. Ali is a very nice man. I have seen him help a lot of people."
"Did he treat you well?"
"He paid me a fair salary, but I earned my keep. I worked hard for my money. Angelo and Ferdie worked hard. The sparring partners worked hard, but Ali had people on the payroll that did nothing. All they did was collect paychecks and follow him around. . when Ali found out I was trying to buy a house in northwest Miami, he put up the down payment as a gift to me. Ali has a great heart."
"You were in Manila?"
"He was incredible that night. I thought Frazier was going to stop him. Ali was really hurt, but he has this great heart and he took punishment that would have made other fighters quit. I remember after that fight I was tired, drained. It was like ten fights in one. I was in Zaire also, and there it was surprising, the way Ali allowed himself to be banged around in that rope-a-dope. I still think if he had just danced and jabbed he would have busted up Foreman, which would have been easier than all that rope-a-dope stuff."
"What's the thing that impressed you most about Ali?"
"His dedication. I've seen lots of fighters with talent to make fortunes who wind up driving cabs because they are too lazy to work at being good fighters. Ali had such ability that he could have beaten a lot of good fighters even in poor shape, yet Ali worked very hard. He went to the gym with a serious work ethic. In Zaire he did thousands of sit ups, ran many miles, to the point where I was worried he would overtrain, Ali was dedicated to his performance. He took pride in his work."
"Do you ever see Ali anymore?"
"Not often. He does not come to Miami often."
"Don't you think it is sad to see Ali now? The way he is, slow and quiet?"
Sarria lit a pipe as he watched two fighters going through the motions. He puffed silently, while he thought about Ali.
“Yes and no," Sarria said., shaking his head, "Ali had a life that was so wild, so rich, so incredibly unique, that even if he had known that it was going to end like this, he probably would not have changed anything. Even now, he's still full of joy of living. He’s still Ali and nothing can change that...He's still Ali, and that's a wonderful thing to be...
"Would you have changed anything in your life?"
Sarria sailed, big white teeth on a wide, black face.
"If I could have changed my life I would have been born and raised a millionaire in a castle, surrounded by a harem of girls."
"That's a good fantasy."
"A fantasy. Reality was different. But I have no complaints. I have seen the world and I have made an honest living doing what I do best.'.
Sarria stood up, placed the pipe in a coat pocket and walked slowly towards one of the fighters. The daily coffee break was finished. It was time to train fighters.
As I sat on a broken gym chair, watching him work, his lanky black body framed by the light that filtered through wide doors, I tried hard to etch the image in my mind, to grasp his warmth in my memory.
by Phrank da Slugger2 notes this mth:
1. OBVIOUSLY Kiwanuka was overrrated...but when you look at the fighters below him, it just points out what an absolutely shitty division the Super Middleweight class is...
2. No Keith Holmes? No kidding -- my ex-stablemate has been inactive for over a yr. He's not injured, he just won't fight. If he weren't promoted by Don King, he woulda been stripped mths ago...
Oct Ratings (as of 25 Oct)
There are 3 criteria I use to rate fighters: Quality of Opposition, Performance and Activity. I am ranking the best from 1 to 10; this is to see who deserves a title shot. I rate all 18 divisions, a time-consuming activity to say the least. Therefore, commentary only appears every 3rd mth.
Champion: Evander Holyfield (WBA)
1. Lennox Lewis (WBC)
2. Michael Moorer (IBF)
3. Ray Mercer
4. George Foreman (IBA)
5. Brian Nielsen (IBO)
6. Tim Witherspoon
7. Andrew Golota
8. Larry Donald
9. Ike Ibeabuchi
10. David Tua
Active this mth: Nielsen, Lewis, Golota
Champion: Nate Miller (WBA)
1. Marcelo Dominguez (WBC)
2. Carl Thompson (WBO)
3. James Toney (IBO)
4. Robert Daniels (IBC)
5. Juan Carlos Gomez
6. Johnny Nelson
7. Fabrice Tiozzo
8. Uriah Grant (IBF)
9. Akim Tafer
10. Adolfo Washington
Active this mth: Thompson, Nelson, Gomez, Tiozzo
Champion: Dariusz Michalczewski (WBO)
1. Roy Jones (WBC)
2. Lou Del Valle (WBA)
3. Graciano Rocchigiani
4. Virgil Hill
5. Merqui Sosa
6. Ole Klemetsen
7. Michael Nunn
8. Montell Griffin
9. William Guthrie (IBF)
10. Ricky Frazier
Active this mth: Michalczewski, Klemetsen
Champion: TITLE VACANT
1. Robin Reid (WBC)
2. Frank Liles (WBA)
3. Joe Calzaghe (WBO)
4. Joseph Kiwanuka
5. Charles Brewer (IBF)
6. Roberto Duran
7. Jorge Castro
8. Henry Wharton
9. Herol Graham
10. Andrei Shkalikov
Active this mth: Calzaghe, Castro
Champion: TITLE VACANT
1. Bernard Hopkins (IBF)
2. Lonnie Bradley (WBO)
3. Otis Grant
4. William Joppy
5. Aaron Davis
6. Simon Brown
7. Peter Venancio
8. Brian Barbosa
9. Silvio Branco
10. Julio Cesar Green (WBA)
Active this mth: none
Champion: Terry Norris (WBC)
1. Laurent Boudouani (WBA)
2. Felix Trinidad
3. Raul Marquez (IBF)
4. Winky Wright (WBO)
5. Bronco McKart
6. Verno Phillips (WBU)
7. Shibata Flores
8. Anthony Stephens
9. Emmett Linton (IBA)
10. Keith Mullings
Active this mth: McKart
Champion: Oscar de la Hoya (WBC)
1. Ike Quartey (WBA)
2. Felix Trinidad (IBF)
3. Jose Luis Lopez
4. Pernell Whitaker
5. Oba Carr
6. Shannon Taylor
7. Vernon Forrest
8. Derrell Coley
9. Peter Malinga (WBU)
10. Michael Lowe (WBO)
Active this mth: Quartey, Lopez, Whitaker
Champion: TITLE VACANT
1. Vince Phillips (IBF)
2. Khalid Rahilou (WBA)
3. Kostya Tszyu
4. Reggie Green
5. Julio Cesar Chavez
6. Agapito Sanchez
7. Ray Oliveira
8. Rafael Ruelas
9. Miguel Angel Gonzalez
10. Carlos Gonzalez
Active this mth: Rahilou
Champion: TITLE VACANT
1. Orzubek Nazarov (WBA)
2. Stevie Johnston (WBC)
3. Shane Mosley (IBF)
4. Israel Cardona
5. Phillip Holiday
6. George Scott
7. Cesar Bazan
8. John-John Molina
9. Demetrio Ceballos
10. David Tetteh
Active this mth: Molina, Nazarov
Champion: Genaro Hernandez (WBC)
1. Arturo Gatti (IBF)
2. Azumah Nelson
3. Angel Manfredy (WBU)
4. Gabe Ruelas
5. Yongsoo Choi (WBA)
6. Tracy Harris Patterson
7. Derrick Gainer
8. Jesus Chavez
9. Anatoly Alexandrov
10. Justin Juuko
Active this mth: Gatti, Ruelas, Chavez, Choi, Juuko
Champion: Luisito Espinoza (WBC)
1. Naseem Hamed (WBO)
2. Wilfredo Vazquez (WBA)
3. Kevin Kelley (WBU)
4. Cesar Soto
5. Angel Vazquez
6. Juan Marquez
7. Orlando Canizales (IBA)
8. Hector Velasquez
9. Fred Norwood
10. Paul Ingle
Active this mth: Hamed, Ingle
Champion: Junior Jones (WBO)
1. Marco Antonio Barrera
2. Vuyani Bungu (IBF)
3. Erik Morales (WBC)
4. Antonio Cermeno (WBA)
5. Kennedy McKinney
6. Hector Acero-Sanchez
7. Enrique Sanchez
8. Wayne McCullough
9. Cassius Baloyi (WBU)
10. Adan Vargas
Active this mth: McKinney, Vargas
Champion: TITLE VACANT
1. Nana Konadu (WBA)
2. Johnny Bredahl (IBO)
3. Tim Austin (IBF)
4. Jorge Julio (WBO)
5. Mbubelo Botile
6. Daorung Siriwat (Chuvatana)
7. Sirimongkol Singmanassuk (WBC)
8. Paulie Ayala
9. Cuahtemoc Gomez
10. Oscar Maldonado
Active this mth: Bredahl
Champion: Gerry Penalosa (WBC)
1. Johnny Tapia (WBO & IBF)
2. Samson Dutch Boy Gym (WBF)
3. Danny Romero
4. Yokthai Sit Oar (WBA)
5. Satoshi Iida
6. Oscar Arcinega
7. Joel Luna-Zarate
8. Luis Bolanos
9. Takato Toguchi
10. Julio Gamboa
Active this mth: Luna-Zarate
Champion: Yuri Arbachakov (WBC)
1. Mark Johnson (IBF)
2. Jose Bonilla (WBA)
3. Arthur Johnson
4. Carlos Salazar (WBO)
5. Chartchai Sasakul
6. Raul Juarez
7. Ysaias Zamudio
8. Saen Sow Ploenchit
9. Adi Lewis
10. David Guerault
Active this mth: Juarez, AJohnson, Salazar, Guerault
Champion: Saman Sorjaturong (WBC)
1. Jake Matlala (IBA)
2. Melchor Cob-Castro (WBO)
3. Pichit Chor Siriwat (WBA)
4. Jesus Chong
5. Joma Gamboa
6. Mauricio Pastrana
7. Edgar Cardenas
8. Keiji Yamaguchi
9. Kaaj Chartbandit
10. Yo-Sam Choi
Active this mth: none
Champion: Ricardo Lopez (WBC & WBO)
1. Rosendo Alvarez (WBA)
2. Ratanapol Voraphin (IBF)
3. Chana Porpaoin
4. Rocky Lin
5. Andy Tabanas
6. Lindi Memani
7. Alex Sanchez
8. Fah Sung Pongsawang (WBF)
9. Ronnie Magramo
10. Mongkol Chareon
Active this mth: Lin
# of World Champions: 12 (of 17) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT HE WASN'T SO BAD . ..
by Jim TrunzoJust when you think that maybe Don King isn't as big an idiot as he tries so hard to be (I mean you have to work at something to be good at it, don't you?), he manages to out-do himself.
Virtually the first words out of his mouth were, "Holyfield vs. Tyson III; it's the fight the people are going to demand." What people? His 'yes' men? Team Tyson? Fight fans want to see a unified title. Fight fans want to see Holyfield-Lennox Lewis.
Personally, I don't have a lot of interest in seeing Iron Bite take on Evander a third time, especially a year and a half down the road. I'd rather see Holyfield - Moorer III if I can be sure that the Moorer who showed up for the rematch would be back in the rubber match.
King lamely tried to mount an impromptu grass roots campaign to get Tyson reinstated but much to the announcer's credit, he forced King to acknowledge Lennox Lewis.
But Holyfield - Lewis has more standing in its way than Don King. The two fighters fight for different networks, a stumbling block that's thwarted other potentially excellent bouts. Then there are the impending legal matters "protecting" the rights of the so-called mandatory challengers - worthy opponents like Orlin Norris - that could further prevent or delay a Holyfield - Lewis unification match. And Evander's not getting any younger.
THE UNDERCARD: "Theater of the Bizarre"
Weird stuff. The supporting fights on the Holyfield-Moorer card were strange, to say the least. You had two champions who looked like they didn't want to fight, one who looked like he couldn't and scoring that defied explanation.
Uriah Grant vs. Imamu Mayfield (IBF CW Title Bout)
Uriah Grant looked every bit his age (36) as he was outhustled and outpunched in almost every round of his first defense of the IBF crown that he'd won just 5 months ago from Adolpho Washington. Imamu Mayfield, a decent-looking fighter with 17 bouts on his resume, scored a knockdown in the 5th and dominated the bout. The scoring, 115-112, 116-111 and 117-110 was certainly right-on in this one. EBM had it at 116-111. Grant didn't seem to give a damn about the fight, showing little emotion and looking for one big shot all night. Unfortunately for him, Mayfield found it and delivered it!
Wilfredo Vasquez vs. Genaro Rios (WBA FW Title Bout)
Somehow, Vasquez managed to win a fight that everyone except the judges thought that he'd lost. Rios, who'd lost 5 times in 22 bouts and scored only 7 knockouts in the process, had "earned" the #8 spot in the WBA Ratings and had never fought stateside. Vasquez, a 3 time champion, boasted an impressive record of 49-7-3 (37 stoppages) and figured to make short work of Rios.
The pre-fight "scoop" proclaimed that Rios was a plodder, with few skills; obviously, someone didn't do their homework. Rios showed excellent movement, nice hand speed and a solid work ethic as he banged away at the champion round after round.
Vasquez appeared to be slightly ahead as the fight entered its second half (EBM had it scored 58-57 after 6 rounds); however, from that point on, the unheralded Rios outpunched Vasquez at every turn. By the fights end, it looked like another champion was about to bite the dust.
Then the scoring was announced: 115-114, 116-112 and 117-113 . . . in favor of Wilfredo Vasquez! Ah, Las Vegas! Home of the Champions! EBM had the fight 116-114 in favor of Rios but we failed to factor in the requisite bias that enabled Vasquez to keep his crown.
Nate Miller vs. Fabrice Tiozzo: WBA CW Title Fight
Three times previously Miller and Tiozzo were to fight and three times Tiozzo pulled out for one reason or another. The fight, originally scheduled for France, was being held in the U.S. Miller was coming off a five straight knockout wins. At the same time, Tiozzo was fighting rumors that he was playing around big-time. So you had to figure the winner to be Miller in a close but comfortable fight.
Except that Mr. Miller never showed. In one of the most lackluster performances by a champion to date, Miller fought in such infrequent spurts that Miller's corner began screaming at him after the third round and never let up until their man had lost the bout.
Tiozzo didn't look like a world-beater either but the French fighter showed a great chin and enough desire to take the title in unanimous fashion. EBM had the fight scored 115-113, so it was closer than the announcers would have had you believe.
If you'd paid attention to the overrated Ferdie Pacheco, you'd have thought that Miller hadn't landed a punch all fight and that Tiozzo was the cruiserweight equivalent of Marcel Cerdan! Official scoring saw the fight at 115-113 twice and 117-114.
In this case, the scoring was somewhat misleading. The fight never appeared to be in doubt nor did Miller every seem in control. Tiozzo just didn't dominate any round and it was really as much a case of Miller losing the fight as Tiozzo winning it.
WITH ALL DUE RESPECT!
It's not like I don't appreciate the fine job that all parties do at International Boxing Digest nor do I pretend to understand boxing as well as Sean O'Grady but come on, guys! You can't be serious about your evaluations of Roy Jones, Jr.
IBD ranked Roy Jones, Jr. as the best all-time pound-for-pound fighter ever. Better than Sugar Ray Robinson, better than Joe Louis, better than Muhammad Ali! Prior to his annihilation of Montell Giffin, IBD didn't even have Jones listed higher than Oscar De La Hoya. I have no idea how subscriptions are at IBD but they must not be where they want them. I have to believe that placing Roy Jones as #1 All-Time had to be a ploy to provoke controversy. If so, I think the powers that be should be more concerned about credibility than subscription enrollment.
And Sean O'Grady. Sometimes the blows to the head show early and sometimes they show late. What else could have caused O'Grady to pick Roy Jones over Holyfield in a hypothetical match? In a recent issue of The Ring, O'Grady states, "Boxing is Roy Jones and Roy Jones is boxing." Excuse me? What about Holyfield and De La Hoya? Who do you think draws more fans, Sean? O'Grady goes on to say (about Holyfield), "Holyfield is the consummate professional . . . against Jones, I think he would reach another plateau" and then immediately follow with this jewel: "I still think Roy Jones would beat him." I should have been forewarned when O'Grady started out by saying, "Power strikes feat in opponents in this sport, and Jones has the speed to do it." Did I miss something? Hey, maybe Sean was misquoted or his words taken out of context.
Please don't misunderstand. I have complete respect for Roy Jones as both a fighter and as a person. I have met him on several occasions and he has been extremely gracious each time. As a fighter, he has few if any peers. Jones is a blindingly fast blend of speed and power (maybe that's what O'Grady meant!) and when motivated, he's a pleasure to watch. Boxing is better because of him.
I still, however, don't want to elevate him to sainthood. Even Jim Lampley (for whom my respect continues to grow) congratulated him but added a tongue in cheek caution, something about " . . . in time!" or ". .. .eventually."
HOLYFIELD BETTER THAN DEMPSEY AND TUNNEY?
Talk about a magazine wanting to stir up controversy. Boxing 98, one of the London Publishing family of boxing publications and sister to The Ring, ran an article comparing Holyfield to the All-Time Great heavyweights. Commander Vander came out pretty well: He beat Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey, Gene Tunney, Rocky Marciano, Sonny Liston and the old (meaning young!) George Foreman. Holyfield lost to Muhammad Ali, Larry Holmes, Joe Louis and Joe Frazier. Not bad!
Now I know what Evander's accomplished. He dominated the cruiserweight division. He destroyed the myth that was Mike Tyson, not once but twice. He beat a prime Riddick Bowe. And he's deservedly headed for the Boxing Hall of Fame. But Holyfield's also lost twice to Bowe (once by stoppage) and once to Michael Moorer. Does that mean Moorer could have beaten any of the above? How many could Riddick Bowe have handled?
Personally, I have a hard time seeing Holyfield beating Marciano and Liston. If Holyfield went to war with the first incarnation of George Foreman, he might well have his head handed to him, although I can see a Holyfield win if he boxed Foreman and used his ring smarts. Holyfield vs. Tunney would have been interesting - a real chessmatch and probably a toss-up fight.
THERE'S BEEN A LULL
Not much happening lately in the world of boxing, at least not in the ring. Tyson managed to grab some headlines with his motorcycle accident and the Hamed - Eubank airport scrap garnered some press. Other than that, it's been rather quiet.
Two fights worth noting that took place last week saw overrated super-middleweight Joe Kiwanuka get starched by veteran Thomas Tate and Julian Jackson blast out a fighter whose name escapes me.
Kiwanuka supposedly possesses this killer punch but I've seen him fight 3 times and I'm still looking for it! Tate, a classic underachiever, can really fight when the mood strikes him. Kiwanuka rolled the dice that against Tate and crapped out.
Jackson, one of the most explosive punchers that I've ever seen, looked great against his rather ordinary opponent. "The Hawk" is still all offense and little defense. His lack of defense didn't hurt him in his last bout because he seldom was hit; however, in spite of his still impressive power, his hand speed looked so-so and a fleet-footed opponent might well have left him frustrated and befuddled. Keep an eye on Julian's next few bouts. Fighters younger and with less of a punch then he has are getting title shots.
SAVARESE GETS CLOCKED AFTER DARK! --------------------------------------------
Nah, Lou Savarese wasn't mugged in Central Park. He was bludgeoned at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. HBO's BAD series featured two heavyweight matchups that, if nothing else, started to clear the murky waters in the upper-middle class section of the heavyweight division. A couple of young guys took on a couple of older "young" guys, with the winners to be elevated to a slightly higher level and the losers to be eliminated from serious consideration as contenders.
Hasim Rahman versus Obed Sullivan
In the first bout, Hasim Rahman earned a majority decision (the ref who had the fight scored even is the guy who should have been mugged!) over willing but limited Obed Sullivan.
Rahman looked much the stronger of the two and Sullivan's fight plan seemed to play into Hasim's strength. Sullivan spent a lot of time on the inside getting out-muscled instead of using what appeared to be better boxing skills and staying outside. Even so, it was obvious that Rahman possessed superior hand speed and although he's still crude, Rahman looks like he has potential; he made it very clear why Big George Foreman chose Shannon Briggs over Rahman as his next opponent.
Sullivan is one of those fighters who has just enough ability in all phases of the game to be competitive, but he lacks any outstanding skill that might take him to the top. He's good in all areas but not exceptional in any.
The fight was marred by excessive holding and some nasty use of the head on the part of both fighters. Questionable refereeing by Wayne Kelly didn't help. Kelly allowed the fighters to hug and mug far to long before ordering breaks and while he frequently admonished them to keep in clean, he seemed less than emphatic about it.
David Izon versus Lou Savarese
The co-feature proved to be much more exciting as David Izon took on Lou Savarese. Izon's name used to be Izonritei, but he was tired of having it mispronounced so he changed it. Larry Merchant promptly called him "Eye-zon" instead of "E-zon", something David corrected after the fight. Savarese was coming off his first career loss, a split-decision defeat against George Foreman that earned him more respect than he'd received in all his wins put together. Against Foreman, Savarese showed guts by standing toe-to-toe and banging with Foreman. In the aftermath of his bout with Izon, one has to wonder what that says about Foreman.
Izon's most impressive outing also came in a losing effort when he extended highly touted David Tua before falling in the last round of their bout. Izon actually fought Tua on an even basis until Izon fatigued late.
As expected, Izon came out fast against Savarese and took two of the first three rounds. Savarese started to hit his stride late in the third, and the fight was dead even on the scorecards. In the fifth, Izon connected with a blistering overhand right, however, that stunned Savarese. Two knockdowns later, Savarese (now 35-2) was saved by referee Arthur Mercante, Jr. and Izon (20-2-18 knockouts) took a huge step forward toward a possible title shot.
Savarese showed little in the way of defense and his chin must now be placed in the questionable category. It must be noted, though, that the shots Izon hit Savarese with would have caused problems for just about any heavyweight. The thudding righthands landed high on the head, one slightly above the ear on the "sweet spot". Of course, any number of fighters would have avoided the looping shots being thrown by Izon!
Big Lou appeared to have good hand speed against Foreman but it may have been an illusion. Izon consistently beat him to the punch and Izon's punches weren't delivered with lightening-like quickness. Savarese may have simply looked fast against the ponderous Foreman.
Savarese stated that he'd continue fighting and rightly assessed that a single win in the heavyweight division can put you right back into the title fight picture.
As for Izon, he showed just enough strengths to make him an attractive opponent for the Holyfield's and Lewis' and Mercer's (and even Golota) and just enough weaknesses to make him less than a threat. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ICE, ICE BABY: MY QUEST FOR THE CROWN, or WHAT'S THE GREAT WHITE NORTH WITHOUT A GREAT WHITE HOPE?
by DscribeDCWell, that's it. The decision has been made. I am tired of being a pudgy, lily-livered boxing columnist. For years, I've hankered to slip on the old foul protector, lace up the pillows, march down the aisle to the rollicking punk tune of my choice ("White Riot?" "Someone's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight?"), slide between the ropes, wave gamely to an adoring crowd, shadowboxing all the while in my sequined "DC Discombobulator" robe, and...to quote Mills Lane...oh, well, never mind. You get the picture. I want to be a boxing phenom, an inspiration, the Greatest.
Unfortunately, the only boxers who ever really seem to get any enjoyment out of the game -- huge purses, endorsements, magazine covers, party invitations, Leno appearances, dates with generic "supermodels," etc. etc. -- are the champions. The other guys just get to grab the short end of the stick: endless hours of roadwork, agonizing training regimens, sparring round after round with young, hungry gym rats, cuts, bruises, broken noses, incipient brain damage...Fighting, always fighting. Thanks, but no thanks, amigos. Not for the Scribe.
If it's all the same with you, I think I would like to skip straight to champ. And I think I've figured out how. But it may require a bit of travel. And a taste for fish.
The Icelandic boxing federation, currently based in Reykjavik, is the country's duly-constituted boxing regulator. Being the liberal-minded nation that it is, Iceland's constitution guarantees freedom of association. Everyone has the right to come together and form organizations to promote their interests. Even those nasty, disreputable boxing people.
The Icelandic boxing federation has no competition for the hearts and minds of the Icelandic boxing public. In fact, it has no competition, period. Boxing -- professional and amateur -- has been illegal in Iceland since 1956, when a bunch of professional fighters got into a drunken punch-up with the local polizei. Boxing is verboten and so is sale or possession of boxing equipment with intent to, well...box... (The Reykjavik gendarmes just confiscated a cache of the federation's boxing gear for precisely that reason.)
There are no fights in Iceland. No big pay-per-view cards, no small but lustily-cheered casino shows, no smoke-filled men's club "fight nights." No controversially-scored amateur tournaments. There are no curvaceous ring card girls, no gray-haired fight commentators, no ringside wags trading locker-room gossip. Come to think of it, there are no locker rooms. Or ringsides. Or rings. There are no bright-eyed, overachieving young contenders, no shopworn heavyweight trial horses, no brash, loudmouthed media darlings publicly haranguing hard-working blue-collar foes. There are no fighters. No fights. Nothing but a federation.
You see, that means Iceland has to be a country in search of a handsome, well-spoken, clean-living champion, a sex symbol for tha ladiez, a role model for the kiddiewinks, a competitor in which they can take pride. A man who embodies all the benefits of clean living, personal sacrifice and benevolence toward those less fortunate.
Umm, that would be me. Over here. Yeah, me.
DscribeDC(TM) would make the letter-perfect Icelandic Cruiserweight Champion. (Although having skipped my last dinner, I may at this moment be the perfect Icelandic Light-Heavyweight Champion.) I have never been beaten, never been knocked down or stopped on cuts, never even lost a round. I have never been involved in gambling, fight-fixing or any form of illegal activity. I have never faked a training "injury" to duck an opponent or extort more money from a promoter. I have never been DQ'ed for grabbing or hitting below the belt. I have never bitten an opponent, started a ringside brawl, or publicly bashed a referee for deducting points. My record is clean. No one has humbled me in the ring. I've lost fewer fights than anyone but Marciano, with whom I am currently tied for first on the all-time list. What more could a rating body ask?
I've already begun to draft my application:
Please allow me to submit my name for registration with the Icelandic Boxing Federation. I believe that the enclosed check for US$50.00 [wink, wink...DDC] should cover any applicable processing fees. Since this would, I believe, make me the only boxer registered with the IBF, I would also like to petition you to include me in the federation's cruiserweight rankings. And since every set of rankings must begin with a champion, allow me to offer my services as Icelandic Cruiserweight King.
My pertinent information is as follows:
Name: Dave "The DC Discombobulator" G------- (soon to be Dave "The Nordic Nightmare" G------- or Dave "The Reykjavik Ruffian" G-------)
Weight: 180 (or thereabouts)
Age: Older than Whitaker, younger than Holmes
Physical Ailments: Astigmatism, allergies, agita (but nervous system A-OK!)
Professional record: Undefeated
Other registrations: None
In furtherance of my suit, I also possess the following additional qualifications:
1. In the late 1980s, I attended not one, but two Sugarcubes concerts.
2. I recently shook the hand of Magnus Ver Magnusson, Iceland's former "World's Strongest Man," while he was pulling a tractor trailer around the parking lot at the Arlington, VA Fresh Fields.
3. I enjoy Icelandic smoked salmon (yum!).
4. I once rented "Looking For Bobby Fischer," a film whose title contains the name of an international chess master who once played a highly-publicized series of matches in your beautiful city.
Granted, the provision of an actual "belt" might strain the federation's budget, but, in the spirit of international fellowship, should I be named champion, I would gladly provide my own richly-bejewelled golden belt, provided my cousin agrees and the federation can see past the fact that it is engraved with the name of the American musical collective The Charlie Daniels Band.
In this world of seemingly effortless international travel, champions rarely stay in any one place for long. However, I assume that the championship I seek would require me to spend a certain amount of time within the territorial boundaries of Iceland.
If officially recognized by your body, I think I could manage a visit sometime in the next year or so (sooner, if a really, really good coach fare opens up), during which I will make myself available for ticker tape parades, beauty pagaent judging, official state receptions, etc. In the meantime, I would obviously be at your disposal via phone, fax and internet to handle any ceremonial duties which I may be called upon to carry out. After all, any fighter in any kind of fighting shape has to stay "flexible," eh? (I also have quite a way with a one-liner, as you can see.)
I eagely await your answer.
I can hardly wait to schedule my first autograph session, to drop by Sean and Al's broadcast table at Casino Magic and offer my insights on a wild four-rounder, to throw a hissy fit at my first press conference, to fire my first manager (sorry, Bucket), to go mano-a-mano with Roy Firestone on ESPN ("Roy Jones ain't never whupped me! Roy Jones cain't never whup me!...")
Athletic immortality awaits. And I won't even have to tip over a single Volvo.
Whoops. Change of plans. After that celebratory Domino's pizza I just finished, it looks like Iceland just got itself a new HEAVYWEIGHT king... ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
by JEThe proliferation of junior and super weight classes, most of which were formed in the 1970's and 80's has indeed had a diluting effect to the word "champion." It can be argued, however, that the addition of the cruiserweight division makes the most sense when viewed from the perspective of competition.
If we were to accept the removal of the cruiserweight division we would in effect be saying that a 176 pound man would have a reasonable chance to win the heavyweight championship. In view of the increasing size of current champions, witness Lennox Lewis, such a possibility is remote at best.
The fact is that even in the case of the only successful challenge by a light-heavyweight champion for the heavyweight title, Michael Spinks v. Larry Holmes, Spinks weighed 200 pounds for the challenge. (It is in fact true for history's sake that Spinks actually weighed 199 pounds but was listed at 200 at the suggestion of a promotionally-minded Larry Holmes).
Consider the other great light-heavyweight champions who unsuccessfully challenged for the heavyweight title, such as Billy Conn and Bob Foster, and we can quickly surmise that a division should indeed exist to provide opportunities for gifted 190 pound fighters or for light-heavyweight fighters who legitimately outgrow the 175 pound limit. (The current weight limit is 190 pounds, not the 195 your homepage listed. The original limit of the WBC was 195 but was later reduced to match the WBA Jr. Heavyweight limit).
Finally, thinking of great of fighters in history it is likely we would never have known the names Tunney, Charles, Marciano, Patterson or maybe even Joe Louis, had they been forced to compete with today's 230-250 champions. In his record 25 title defenses, Joe Louis weighed an average of 203 pounds. Evander Holyfield, often considered a "small" heavyweight, or even a "blown-up" cruiserweight, has ALWAYS weighed above that mark as both a heavyweight contender and champion.
Champs and chumps enter the ring at all weight classes. The cruiserweight division is no different. In its short history, the class has had some champions of note including Carlos DeLeon, Dwight Muhammad Qawi, and of course Evander Holyfield. The future could see names such as Roy Jones wearing the cruiserweight crown.
The cruiserweight division is here to stay ------ and so it should be. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A Yankee View of the Prince
by Thomas GerbasiKevin Kelley is not impressed. He says that he's seen it all before. The wild outfits. The big entrance. The flashy unorthodox style. Just like Jorge Paez and Hector Camacho. To Kevin Kelley, Prince Naseem Hamed is no great shakes. And on December 19th, in Madison Square Garden, Kelley looks to be a gate crasher during Hamed's American coming out party. Unfortunately for Kevin, the Prince brings a lot more than flash into the ring with him.
I would guess it was more than a year or so ago when I got my first glimpse of the Prince, who if you don't know, hails from Yemen, by way of Sheffield, England. I'm a regular reader of English boxing mag Boxing Monthly, and each month's issue would contain more and more raves about this flashy featherweight bomber. But I was skeptical. See, any country that idolizes Frank Bruno and Mr. Bean can't always be trusted to be objecive.
But soon all my questions were answered. A friend at work is originally from Yemen, and had no problem tracking down Hamed's "Natural Born Thriller" video for me. This video has tons of early Hamed footage, and after seeing it, I knew he had the skills to be for real. Obnoxious? Yes. Flashy? Yes. Devastating puncher? Yes. When I see Hamed, I think of an early Camacho, but with a punch.
Then the next question has to be "But who has he fought?" Robinson, Medina, and Badillo were all solid fighters who fell to the Prince, and Tom Johnson was an above average champion who was handled rather easily by Hamed. As for the other foes on his record, hey, no one wants to fight the guy!
Actually, I should rephrase that: Everyone is pricing themselves out of fights with Hamed. The Prince is THE big moneymaker in the featherweight division, bar none. The man is a superstar in England. Just last week I saw him presenting an award on MTV Europe's awards show. I didn't see ANY US athlete on the MTV awards show here in the States. And all the top featherweights (Vasquez, Jones, Barrera, Kelley, Espinosa) know that a fight with Naseem means big bucks. It also may mean a loss and possible retirement, so don't expect a rush to get to the still improving Hamed.
But Kevin Kelley has opted to fight Hamed, and Junior Jones (assuming he defeats Kennedy McKinney on the same MSG card) waits in the wings for a big money date with Hamed in England's Wembley Stadium (Don't laugh. He'll sell the place out. Hamed's last fight sold out in minutes without an opponent even being announced).
All I have to say about the Kelley fight is this: if Kelley gets hit by Hamed the way he got hit by Derrick "Smoke" Gainer (before Kevin scored a one punch kayo), don't get up for a soda once the bell rings. Kelley is definitely on the downside of his career, and while he can still bang, I just don't think he'll be around come the sixth round.
So the final, big question is: Can the Prince of England win over the States? Only time will tell. December 19th should start to give us some answers.
Editor - Sidelines
The Best in Sports Gaming
THE CHAMPS AND THE CHIEFS:
An Historical Perspective About Heavyweight Boxing Champs and The Presidents of the United StatesThe heavyweight championship of the world: ideally, the most respected, most revered single athletic accomplishment; the ultimate sports achievement. The President of the United States: ideally, the most respected, most revered single personal achievement; the ultimate ambition. History has a way of remembering the reigns of heavyweight champions in the same way that presidential administrations are remembered. Many parallels can be drawn between our past heavyweight champions and our past Presidents.
by Barry Lindenman
When we remember our past heavyweight champions, we remember each of their reigns because of the particular events and circumstances which embodied their unique rise to the top. The same can be said of our Presidents. Each administration is remembered because of the unique circumstances surrounding each of our Presidents' White House years. Arguments can be made about who was a "good" President and who was a "bad" President. The same discussion can be heard for our heavyweight champions: Dempsey, Louis, Marciano, Ali, they were "good" heavyweight champs. Sharkey, Baer, Spinks (Leon), Douglas, they were "bad" heavyweight champions. There is an analogy to be drawn between the heavyweight champ of the world and the President of the United States and how history chooses to remember them.
Let's start at the beginning. George Washington is remembered in the same context as is John L. Sullivan, generally recognized as the first heavyweight champion of the world. Because of their respective distinctions as being the first, they had no predecessors whom history could compare them with. Therefore, they set the standard from which all their successors would be measured against. In addition, being remembered as the first President and the first heavyweight champion of the world, guarantees George Washington and John L. Sullivan an honor and a firm place in history that can never be taken away from them.
One of our more obscure Presidents, Grover Cleveland, is nevertheless remembered for one accomplishment which makes him stand out from the rest. He is the only man ever to be elected President, then lose the election, and then be elected again. The first (and only) U.S. President to ever "regain the title." For the same reason, Floyd Patterson will forever be remembered as the first man ever to regain the heavyweight championship. Historians of pugilism and the Presidency will forever link these two gentlemen for their rare feats.
There is an historical link between President Gerald Ford and Ken Norton. Ford is the only man in history to become President without ever having won an election for either President or Vice-President. He ascended to the Vice-Presidency by replacing Spiro T. Agnew, who resigned in disgrace in 1973. Less than a year later, he became President when Richard Nixon resigned in August 1974 because of the Watergate scandal. As is often said of Ken Norton, Ford was therefore a "paper President.". Similarly, Norton was proclaimed heavyweight champ in 1978 without having won the title in the ring. Despite their greatness and accomplishments, Ford and Norton will forever go down in history as the men who were awarded their titles, rather than win them.
Speaking of Richard Nixon, who would ever think that he and Mike Tyson will be remembered in the same way? Like them or hate them, worship them or despise them, Nixon and Tyson are best remembered not for their accomplishments, but more for their respective falls from grace. The Nixon administration, despite its place in history for opening the doors to both China and the Soviet Union, and introducing the word "détente" into the vocabulary of world politics, will forever be overshadowed by the shame and disgrace of the Watergate scandal.
Similarly, without ignoring all of "Iron Mike's" achievements (youngest heavyweight champ ever, unifying the title, devastating punching power, etc.), he will always be linked with not one but two infamous scandals. His conviction for the rape of Desireé Washington and his suspension by the Nevada State Boxing Commission for biting Evander Holyfield have forever tarnished his image as one of the greatest of all time like the black eye of Watergate did to Richard Nixon.
Our memories of FDR and Joe Louis are equally similar. Not just because Roosevelt and Louis hold the distinction of being President and heavyweight champion respectively, longer than any one else. The memories of them are alike because they both represented symbols of America and what the country stands for during a time when patriotism was the norm.
Coming out of the Great Depression and into World War II, FDR and Joe Louis were both men whom the entire nation rallied around and looked to for leadership. As FDR led the U.S. against the armies of Germany's Adolph Hitler, the nation looked to Louis's fight against Max Schmeling as a symbolic microcosm of how the U.S. would be victorious over Germany. FDR and Joe Louis, were two great men during a great moment in time.
When it comes to style and charisma, John F. Kennedy and Muhammad Ali had no equals. Symbolic of the youth and optimism of the 1960's, these men came along at the right time as leaders of a new generation. Although Kennedy's term was cut short by an assassin's bullet in 1963, and Ali's first reign as heavyweight champ was cut short by the U.S. government, the overwhelming popularity of these two men lives on today.
Although over thirty years has passed since JFK was killed and Ali (then known as Cassius Clay) won his first heavyweight championship, the lasting images of these great men are forever in the minds of people all over the world. Of all the Presidents and heavyweight champions, Kennedy and Ali still reign as two of the most recognizable and popular men that the world has ever known.
A case can be made for a comparison between Harry S. Truman and Buster Douglas. When it comes to upsets, history places these two at the top of list. How many times have we seen that famous photo of a victorious Truman holding up the newspaper with the headline, "Dewey Defeats Truman?" How many newspapers must there have been that already preprinted headlines proclaiming a Tyson victory over the overwhelming underdog James "Buster" Douglas?
The foregone conclusions of a Dewey victory over Truman and a Tyson victory over Douglas were shattered and will forever be remembered as two of the greatest upsets of all time. As President, Truman dropped the big bomb on Hiroshima, Japan in 1945, and forty five years later, Buster Douglas dropped his big bomb on Mike Tyson in Tokyo, Japan.
Lastly, a legitimate case can be made for a similar comparison between Ronald Reagan and the recent resurgence of George Foreman. Although both men were well beyond their years when they ascended to the top, no one can deny the enormous popularity that they both enjoyed. Though lacking in many political skills, Reagan's previous experience as an actor served as a popularity magnet. His approval ratings during most of his presidency were some of the highest ever recorded. Similarly, Foreman's charm and charisma were just as important as were his primitive boxing skills in achieving his immense popularity. Their advanced ages and "grandfatherlike" qualities unite the popular achievements of Ronald Reagan and George Foreman forever.
Without a doubt, cases can be made for historic comparisons between other Presidents and other heavyweight champions. Because of their common symbolism of individual power and greatness, the message is clear. There are analogies that can be drawn between the historical perspectives of our Presidents and their administrations, and our heavyweight champions and their title reigns. It will be a few years before history can be written about President Clinton, Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis and Michael Moorer. Only time will tell how they will be remembered.
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