|. . . THE CYBER BOXING ZONE JOURNAL||
|SPIRITUAL ADVISER ON ALL MATTERS
WEBMASTER AND NEWS EDITOR:
HISTORY & RESEARCH:
Hank Kaplan, Tracy Callis, Matt Tegen
Chris Bushnell, DscribeDC, Francis Walker, Dave Iamele, Katherine Dunn, John Vena, Rick Farris
Enrique Encinosa, Randy Gordon, Pedro Fernandez, Joe Koizumi, Mike Moscone, Dr. Ferdie Pacheco, Jim Trunzo, Barry Lindenman, Pete Ehrmann, Monte Cox, Matt Boyd, Alan Taylor, Arne Steinberg, Lee Michaels, Joe Bruno, Lucius Shepard, BoxngRules, Adrian Cusack, Phrank Da Slugger, Pusboil
Editorial: Rinsing Off The Mouthpiece
"Hypocrisy is a peculiarly revolting vice, alike in public and private life; and in public life - at least in high position - it can only be practiced on a large scale for any length of time in those places where the people ... are content with a complete divorce between promise and performance."
Theodore Roosevelt (My man, Big Stick Teddy, never even imagined Pay Per View but damn, he nailed it! ...)
The Internet has been quite & very good to the Ol' Spit Bucket.
Without it, there would be no CBZ & none of the wonderful & in some cases, tighter than 2 ticks in Tucson friendships I've made because of it ...
But, there is more than one dark side t' the web.
One of the slime pits I've encountered are the innumerable boxing boards that are now available. The main boxing board on the Internet is the news group: rec.sport.boxing.
But they are all basically the same ol', same ol' ...
A cacophony of racial slurs & aggression of the kind which you would expect to encounter on an Aryan Nation board.
Yeah, well ... The Bucket has trawled through rec.sport.boxing as well as all the TV network & AOL boards. This has entailed wasting a few, precious, at my down & dirty cynical age, hours of mi vida, that I will unfortunately never be able to get back ...
Back in '89, when I first got online with my pathetic, sorta, kinda, souped up, IBM PC Junior, (I'm proudly, A Mac Man these days ...); I remember eagerly searching out any boxing boards ... I was hungry for some serious discourse about the, "red light district of sports" ... I was bitterly disappointed to discover a nether world of smoldering rage & resentment, not so cleverly disguised as boxing dialogue.
Well, dear readers, in the intervening decade, nada freakin' thing has changed ... The misdirected, unintelligible screeds from the boxing boards is beyond the pathetic or the reasonable.
Almost any coherent post by a boxing fan is immediately dissected, shredded & shoved through a meat grinder of obscenity's & empty threats.
I was going to mention some of the main offenders I've encountered, but I decided, why encourage these squids???
There is already more A-hole convolution & venom online per capita, then you would find on any given street.
It is so bizarrely aberrant, it literally wobbles what's left of the mind ...
So what's a boxing fan to do who wants to connect with other aficionados? There are serious fans who post on the boards but usually, they are tsunami'd by the snarky, know-nothings who drown them out with their vitriol.
One of the great pleasures in being a boxing fan is the detailed dissection of the minutiae of pouring over almost four century's of fights & fighters.
No other "sport" can claim that kind of documented lineage.
The boxing boards are ostensibly here to provide a forum for this. Unfortunately, for the most part, they fail miserably at it ...
However, the boards are by no means a complete wasteland. There is a large number of serious boxing fans out there if you look hard enough ... In fact, Matt Marowitz , who is our newest contributor, is a poster that the CBZ's own, "Mr. School Of Hard Knock's", Rick Farris, pointed out to me.
I read his posts & invited him to saddle up & join our posse ...
Giddy up! ... MattBCoach@aol.com debuts this month.
One solution for avoiding A-holes, is develop your own boxing board among a circle of online friends. Here at the CBZ, the writers have started an informal, semi regular, e-mail, "boxing board", where we discuss a variety of fistic & semi fistic subjects.
One of, actually, the big one lately, has been the decay, rot & reek, of the manly art being displayed in such a raw, naked & media trumpeting way.
Let's face it, despite the fact that in 1999, most of the big fights actually happened, it's been a real big stinky, dump city, year for the squared circle ...
The fights have been dismal. Many of the decisions so absurd it's beyond the point of verging on being criminal ... & if that wasn't bad enough, the Fed's indict the IBF - & all the stripped to the bone, greed & corruption is
& then ... The feces really hits the fan, with a Miami Herald article, claiming proof of some 30 fights being fixed.
Yeah, well ... Maybe the Ol' Spit Bucket is terminally cynical; but this last item didn't exactly shock me & send me into paroxysms of virulent indignation ...
Many of the CBZ staff & writers have some serious problems with the ills that are now assailing boxing. For instance, DscribeDC has decided to walk away from the sport & writing for the CBZ.
This is a major, personal, bummer ...
'Scribe actually predates the Bucket on the CBZ. He was writing for it long before I quietly arrived on the scene ...
Losing a wit & great writer like DscribeDC, really is quite a blow to the solar plexus of the CBZ ... & a major indictment on why boxing sucks as far as mainstream America is concerned ....
Dscribe & the inimitable, irascible, Joe Bruno (talk about the odd couple!), have always been the most vociferous advocates of reform for boxing.
Lately, they've both been advocating organizing a boycott of all PPV shows. In principle, it's a dandy idea but as Chris Bushnell pointed out, why cut off your nose to spite yourself? PPV is a freakin' reality.
Albeit, a really crappy one ...
Bruno put it this way, "Sometimes for the greater good we have to deprive ourselves of something we like, to not allow the evil forces that be to dictate to us ridiculous prices for whatever they're foisting on us this month".
I may be playing Beelzebub's advocate here ... But, is there any such thing as the "greater good", when we are talking about boxing? Greater good & boxing is an oxymoron. Let's face it, a huge part of boxing's attraction is
that it is an unseemly cesspool. It's the dark side of being a MAN. Just like being say, at the Alamo or Little Big Horn was; though not usually to that extreme.
Boxing is about power, dominance, subverting somebody's will & pain.
Yeah, I know, the skill, the art of self defense, the sweet science, blah, blah, blah ...
I've been in the ring & I've worked in corners. The only beauty in boxing is the extraordinary will & dedication of the fighters & how they overcome things that would bury the rest of us.
Unless you've been smacked in the mouth - repeatedly - & overcome somebody trying to waste you, you don't get it. You may get it intellectually. But you don't get it.
Conversely, the whole oeuvre of the bloody noir that is boxing is about darkness with intermittent shadow & light. Boxing can't be wholesome or stand alone in the klieg lights. That would be the antithesis of what it is...
With that being said, the arguments that Dscribe & Bruno have made about PPV & loss of credibility are of course, on the mark & very pc ... But, they are pointless. Boxing will always be the slattern of sports & like it or not, that is how it should be.
Boxing is all about the darker impulses of mankind.
Nothing more. Nothing less.
The French essayist, Francois La Rochefoucaid, wrote over three centuries ago:
"Hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue."
I wonder if he had somehow conjured up a vision of Don King & the IBF? ...
The Bucket has received a number of missives since the Grant - Golota fight. My apathy toward Grant is well known to our readers as I've expressed my views on him a number of times, most recent in my July '99 editorial for the CBZ Journal.
The one we're reprinting along with my response was chosen because it was the most civil & never questioned my parentage ...
"I have a question for you. I have seen articles written by you on the CBZ that bash Michael Grant and that say he will never be champion. I have also seen you write articles about how the great fighters are made by coming
back from behind or after being knocked down and hurt to win. After Grant showed that heart in the Golota fight, what do you think of Michael Grant now?
The short answer is that I still think Grant is a big stiff. But ... A big stiff who proved he has heart ... Let's face it, man. Grant lost every round (& looked terrible doing it), right up until the end.
& Andrew Golota isn't exactly a ticket to ride to the Hall Of Fame.
Grants skills are mediocre. Golota more than proved that. Grant was lucky he was facing such a gutless wonder because he was heading for a certain loss. Michael Grant, as impressive as he looks physically, is a seriously flawed fighter. In this fight he proved he can come back from adversity & overcome crisis. This is more than most fighters have going for them & it is something to admire in him.
& I do.
My esteem for him as a courageous fighter has definitely risen. I also admire the innate human decency in the man ...
But it's not enough.
Michael Grant is never going to be one of the all-time greats in my estimation. & basically I feel the same way about him as I did before - with the caveat - that I now see a warrior within that statuesque but ineffective physique.
However, when you look over the mediocrity that is the heavyweight division, when the title gets broken up again (& it will), Grant has a decent chance of picking up an alphabet belt. Lennox Lewis, also a fighter I'm not
terribly impressed with, I believe would pick Grant apart & TKO him in the middle to late rounds.
Yeah, well ... That's about it for this month. The CBZ Journal will be on hiatus until mid January, though news updates & major fight reviews will continue unabated. In the mean time I suggest our readers avail themselves of
our Boxing Encyclopedia, it will provide hours of fistic reading. I also suggest that our readers sign up for the CBZ Newsletter which will keep you informed on any breaking news or postings on the CBZ.
Finally, along with MattBCoach, we have another new contributor that I'm very pleased to introduce: Mark Jacobson.
Mark Jacobson is a novelist and journalist whose work has graced the pages of Esquire, Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, the New York Times, New York Magazine, and many other publications. Long an aficionado of the sweet science, he has profiled a number of fighters, including Thomas Hearns and Muhammad Ali.
The CBZ is honored to publish his excellent piece on Mustapha Hamsho's life in retirement. Hamsho was one of the Bucket's personal faves from the '80's. Mustapha was a graduate, Summa Cum Laude of the Fritzie Zivic school of boxing & Mark's terrific piece more than does him justice ...
See ya'll next millenium!
Bruno on Boxing
By Joe Bruno----Former Vice President of the Boxing Writers Association and the International Boxing Writers Association
The mailman knocked on my door this morning and delivered me a package. It was a GPX CD Player AM/FM Stereo Cassette Recorder I had ordered from Amazon.com. The price? A measly $19.99, plus shipping and handling. The Boombox originally cost $49.99. But Amazon discounted the player to $29.99, then added a $10 gift certificate, lowing the price to less the twenty bucks.
So it can be done. Something that once cost $49.99, can be bought for $19.99. Then why can't the same thing be done for pay-per-view boxing?
Tell the truth. How many of you now reading this column spent $49.99 of their hard earned money on a pay-per-view boxing match in the past decade. Fifty bucks to watch a so-so main event, and a undercard filled with stiffs, freaks and and mismatches (Butterbean immediately comes to mind. Plus Christy Martin against the waitress of the week).
Come on now; raise your hand if you were one of the hundreds of millions of poor saps who had to fork over their fifty bucks if they wanted to see whatever spectacle the main event was advertised to be. And how many of you thought you actually got equal value for your dollar?
So why do you continue to sit back and do nothing about this blatant highway robbery? Would you same people pay 50 thousand dollars for a 20 thousand dollar automobile? I don't think so.
So here's what we are going to do. We are going to write our cable company (The form letter is provided below by the CBZ. All you have to do is fill in the cable company name and your name, and slip it in the envelope the next time you pay your cable bill). In this letter we are going to tell the cable company that we want value for our dollar. We will gladly pay $19.95 for every pay-per-view boxing match they may broadcast in the future. But
never again will we fork over the exuberant price of fifty bucks.
The poison dart is in your hand. Throw the damn thing.
Remember if you are not part of the solution, you are definitely part of the problem.
Dear (fill in cable company name)
This is to inform you that I insist on getting value for my dollar. I pay your cable rates without question (My payment for last month's bill is enclosed). Your price is your price, and that's what I pay because there I feel I am getting equal value for my dollar.
But your pay-per-view rates for boxing matches are exorbitant and totally out of line with reality. I will never again pay $49.99 for a boxing match that either ends with a dubious decision, or ends early because some lout has chosen to foul his opponent, either by hitting him low, hitting him after the bell, or by biting off his opponent's ear.
However, I will gladly pay $19.95 for every boxing match you propose to air on your cable network. I feel $19.95 is a fair price; a just price for pay-per-view boxing matches. I am willing, for $19.95, to take the chance
that the fights will be competitive, and that some bizarre ending to the boxing match will not mar my evening of enjoyment.
So please contact your partners in pay-per-view boxing; the boxing promoters. Tell them my feelings. Tell them I'm tired of getting ripped off. Tell them I would be glad to pay $19.95 for pay-per-view fights, as would millions of other people who have so far refused to pay $49.95 for over-hyped and under-performing pay-per-view boxing events. As a result, more people will get in the habit of paying for pay-per-view, which in the long run, will notably increase your bottom line.
The good will you will generate by this gesture will foster improved customer relations, a prime objective of any revenue generating business.
Your valued customer,
(Fill in your name)
By Mark Jacobson
You never know when you might walk into the corner store to buy a quart of milk and see a face from the distant, treasured past on the other side of the counter. This particular face, slightly battered but still handsome in a sleepy way, belonged to Mustafa Hamsho, now the owner and operator of the M & H Deli on 14th Street in Brooklyn's Park Slope, but once the leading contender for the middleweight championship of the world.
"Mustafa!" Faded pictures hanging on the wall below the store's pressed tin ceiling showing the fighter, who is from Syria, in boxing gloves and a burnoose confirmed the ID.
From behind the phone card displays, Milky Ways and Koranic quotations, a huge smile came across Mustafa's squarish countenance. "Oh, how are you?", he boomed. "Are you still working for the Village Voice?"
. "How can you remember that?" I hadn't worked for the Village Voice for 20 years, hadn't seen Mustafa for almost as long. It seemed the passage of time, along with the fact that Mustafa had been hit in the head often, and hard, by the likes of Marvelous Marvin Hagler and others would preclude such mnemonic feats.
"No, no," said Mustafa, now 46, a dozen years past his last fight, chortled in his low-timbre but lively Arabic-inflected English. "I remember everything."
It being a beautiful spring day, Mustafa, with typical hospitality, drew two cups of coffee from his urn beside the Boar's Head sign, bid his nephew to man the Lotto machine, and set out two folding chairs on the sidewalk. Ignoring his array of ringing cell phones and beepers, the erstwhile pugilist then filled me in on his highly
particularized life and times. Or, what Mustafa, with offhand geniality, refers to as "my American thing."
Growing up with his brothers in the Syrian town of Lattika on the Mediterranean coast, Mustafa never imagined he'd make it in this country, much less come close to a world champion. His parents, whom he describes as "not rich, not poor" were religious people, "they wanted me to become a doctor," says Mustafa, still formidable looking despite an extra 25 or so pounds. But after a friend arrived in Lattika with a few dogeared pictures of Sugar Ray Robinson ("the most beautiful of all") and Joe Louis, Mustafa was smitten. When at 16, he defeated the 28 year old Syrian middleweight champion, Mustafa began to think "I might be good."
Seeking a "bigger world", Mustafa signed onto a Greek steamer which eventually pulled into a Red Hook pier for six months of drydock. In America for the first time, Hamsho was amazed and pleased to find Atlantic Avenue Arabic community a short walk away from his disabled ship. It was at that time he began training at a couple of the local gyms. "I'd tell them I was sick and sneak off the boat to work out," he recalls. After a hazily remembered New Year's Eve in Brooklyn, Mustafa jumped ship permanently and took an apartment in Bay Ridge, where he still lives 26 years later.
The beginning of his fight career was inauspicious. He got nothing for his first fight, $75 for the second. Not being able to speak or read English he signed a lifetime contract with a less than reputable (even for boxing) promoter. Soon, however, Hamsho fell in with a zany, if typically rapscallion, array of New York fight crowd characters who would change his life."These people, they were so crazy but what did I know?_for me they became what this country was," Mustafa recollects with a bemused shake of his still bushy haired head. There was Chuck Wepner, a.k.a The Bayonne Bleeder, the model for Stallone's "Rocky" character, who had somehow
managed to last 15 rounds with Mustafa's great hero, Ali. There were the two Als-Al Certo, noted Secaucus clothier and Al Braverman, a crude-mouthed, pickle-nosed plug ugly with a secret passion for delicate porcelain dolls which he sold in his fussy antique shop located under an elevated train in the Bronx. Foremost of these denizens, however, was the floridly syntaxed, popeyed and smashnosed Irishman, Paddy Flood, who would not only become Mustafa's new manager but also his mentor and guide to the New World, if you want to call attending Yonkers Raceway to bet on trotters six nights a week guidance.
Well-versed in the Barnumesque ethnic nuances of the sweet science, Paddy envisioned a massive Madison Square Garden showdown between Mustafa, whom he had dubbed The Syrian Buzzsaw, and Mike Rossman, who despite being brought up as the Italian Mike Dipiano, had taken his mother's maiden name and was campaigning as The Jewish Bomber.
It was in this context that I first encountered Mustafa, after climbing up the creaky stairs of the old sweatbox Gramercy Gym near Union Square. Paddy Flood sat in his accustomed spot, on the red vinyl couch
by the window, drinking his usual cup of hypersweetened tea. The Hamsho-Rossman match-up would be "the biggest thing New York has ever seen!" Flood exclaimed. "Arab vs. Jew! Jew vs. Arab! I'm gonna put a picture of a bomb on his robe! Tick, tick, tick. It'll sell-out! Every Jew in the City will come to boo him! They hate him! He hates them! He hates Jews!"
At this point the young Mustafa, dutifully working his southpaw jab in the nearby ring, scandalized by such talk, politely excused himself for interrupting. "But, Paddy, that's not so_I don't hate Jews."
Flood was apoplectic at this sabotage of his salespitch. "When you gonna learn? That's not what you're supposed to say!," he exploded.
As it was, Mustafa never fought Rossman. He was very strong, however, and employing his inelegant but highly persistent attack, managed to beat almost every major middleweight in the late 1970's and early 80's.
Colorfully monikered men like Bobby Boogaloo Watts, Bobby Czyz, and Willie The Worm Monroe fell before the Syrian Buzzsaw, as did the fleet Wilfredo Benitez. The only one who stopped him was the nonpareil Hagler, probably the best fighter in the world at that time. Then, shortly before a second losing meeting with Hagler, Paddy Flood had a cerebral hemorrhage and died on the spot. Mustafa sobbed uncontrollably at the wake. "He was my best friend!," the fighter wailed.
"It was not the same after Flood. He talked about money all the time, but he never really cared about it. They said he lied, but he never did to me. He loved me. So I loved him." Mustafa says, sipping coffee in front of the M & H Deli ("you know, Mustafa Hamsho_Hamsho Mustafa"). The store, is only part of his holdings. In addition to owning the five story building with his partner and friend, Dr. Malik, a Pakistani internist, he also has the car service, Destinations Unlimited, around the corner and a Laundromat on Classon Avenue. Mustafa likes the Laundromat best because "it is just machines, dirty underwear and quarters, no people. You can't trust anybody." Mustafa says he gave all of his fight money to his family, and now, with a wife and five kids in Bay Ridge (four between age 5 and 9), he has to work "night and day to keep up." So far it's been working, fine. It
is no big thing to see Mustafa pull up in front of the M & H Deli in a black Mercedes, either the sedan or the sports model, designer sunglasses on , knit shirt with Plaza Hotel logo snug upon his barrel chest.
Noting that most of his former opponents have not shared this good fortune, Mustafa sighs. "Some hit me so hard I still have scars. I look in the mirror and I know Wilford Scypion did that to me. These men, they live in me. But some are not doing so well. It is sad. If you are a fighter, it is everything to you. When it is over, without education, there's nothing left, nothing to do. You go down." Mustafa has avoided this fate because "I know who I am and where I come from_America is a great country, it has given me independence. But you can get lost here. There is so much on TV. So I keep my culture. We speak Arabic in the house. I send my children to Al Noor Arabic school on 4th Avenue. They teach respect for the family there. There is tradition. In public school, the children come in, they say, my Daddy yelled at me, they call 911."
Now Mustafa is a pillar of the community, a small business Don of sorts. He sits in his tiny office behind the car service dispatch booth where of jugs of anti-freeze and jumper cables compete for space with the memorabilia, including a photo of a white-suited Mustafa handing out the trophy for the 1984 "Hamsho Pace" at the Meadowlands and other pictures of his many good friends, including Saudi Arabian princes and the tandem of
Jack Maple and William Bratton, former NYPD brain trust. Here, Mustafa receives local merchants who seek his council on business matters, large and small. Today an elderly Albanian man has arrived. 38 years in the Brooklyn
coffee shoppe business, his most recent effort has failed and now he's fed up. The rents on 7th Avenue have skyrocketed, he doesn't understand what the yuppies want. Mustafa listens patiently, hearing the man out. The restaurant business is difficult, Mustafa notes consolingly. "I had four different restaurants and never made money in any." After some talk comparing the dictatorial methods of Milosevic and Saddam, the man, his mood lightened, thanks Hamsho and leaves. "He's a nice guy," Mustafa says, later.
Today is a big day for Mustafa because, finally, his boat, a 25-foot fiberglass job, is going in the water. It's a 25 footer, which the fighter moors over by Marine Parkway, where Flatbush Avenue meets the ocean.
Mustafa can't wait to take his friend, the Saudi prince, out for a little spin around Sea Girt.. "I came here in the bottom of a ship," he says with sly smile, "now I go as a King in my own boat." With that, Mustafa gets up and goes inside the M & H Deli. A Lotto player has come in and wants Mustafa to punch in the numbers for him. "Because you bring good luck," the player says.
My Memories of Jerry Quarry
By Rick Farris
Less than a year ago, I was watching ESPN hoping to hear the result of a fight that had taken place earlier in the evening. When the sports news finally came on I waited thru the scores of games I had no interest in and was happy to hear the announcer say . . . "And now from the world of boxing".
I expected a report on the fight since there was nothing else of importance going on in boxing at the time. Instead, I heard something that made me forget about the fight result I had been waiting for. I still remember the
words . . ."a sad note to report in boxing today, former heavyweight contender Jerry Quarry has died at the age of 53." I was stunned.
I was aware that Jerry had not been doing well and suffered from Dementia pugilistica. I knew that he had been living with his mother Arawanda in a mobile home park near the Hemet area of Southern California and was under her care. Mutual friends from the past, such as former middleweight Mike Nixon, Jerry's brother-in-law, had told me that Jerry could no longer handle simple daily tasks, such as shaving. Jerry's older brother Jimmy would help him with such things. I remember how sad it was to hear this a couple of years back, and that Jerry would no doubt die young. However, I couldn't imagine him dead at 53.
I wasn't the only person surprised to hear of Quarry's death. However, in my case it was something very personal. You see, as a kid all I wanted to do was become a boxer. Jerry Quarry helped make this possible. Jerry's success and accomplishments are a part of boxing history. However, being close to a boxer who won the National Golden Gloves Heavyweight title in 1965, and went on to fight for the World Heavyweight Championship as a professional, is a part of my history.
When I was twelve-years-old I had a dream that was a bit unusual for a middle class kid growing up in Burbank, California. I was going to be a professional boxer. I didn't just want to be a pro fighter . . .I was GOING TO BE a pro fighter. I set a goal for myself and nothing was going to stop me. Of course, nobody took me seriously but it didn't matter, I took myself seriously. However, this was not going to be easy. First off, there were no boxing gyms in the Burbank area or close by where I could start out. The YMCA didn't have a boxing program and even if it had, I was looking for a place where real boxers trained, amateurs and pros.
In early 1965, the Western Regional Golden Gloves Championships were televised in the Los Angeles area and, naturally, I was glued to the TV. The heavyweight final was won by a 19-year-old from Bellflower named Jerry
Quarry. Quarry scored a decision over Clay Hodges and would represent Los Angeles in the national tournament the following week in Kansas City. There was something special about this fighter and I couldn't see anybody beating him in the Nationals. I was right.
Jerry Quarry not only won the 1965 National Golden Gloves Heavyweight title but was the only boxer to do so by knocking out all five of his opponents. I read about Quarry winning the National Golden Gloves title in the Los Angeles Times and the news made me want to start boxing even more.
I was frustrated because I had a goal and couldn't get started. I was twelve years old and not getting any younger. I couldn't help but remember that the TV announcer for the Golden Gloves had said that Quarry had started boxing when he was seven, so I believed that I was about five years behind schedule. I used to think of how great it would be to start out in the same place, and train in the same gym as Quarry did, wherever that was.
One day I had this crazy idea. Why not call Jerry Quarry on the telephone and ask where he trains and how I could get my boxing career started. Of course, this would require a phone number. I remembered that Quarry had been introduced in the ring as being from Bellflower, so I called information and asked the operator for the number of a Jerry Quarry in Bellflower. She said she had one listing and it proved to be the right one. A few minutes later I was talking on the phone with Jerry Quarry.
I think Jerry was as surprised by my call as I was to get thru to him. I congratulated him on winning the Golden Gloves and asked where he started out. Jerry said he started when he was seven-years-old in a little gym behind the garage of Johnny Flores, the manager and trainer of quite a few top professional and amateurs boxers. I asked Jerry where this gym was and he said it was in the San Fernando Valley.
"The San Fernando Valley, I live in the Valley, where's the gym"? I asked. Quarry told me that "The Johnny Flores Gym" was in Pacoima, about a dozen miles from where I lived. I asked Jerry if Flores still worked with kids and was told that Johnny had several kids competing in amateur and junior amateur tournaments. Quarry told me that he was about to turn professional and that Flores would co-manage his career along with his father Jack. I asked when he would have his first fight and he told me that he would make his debut on the undercard of the Vicente Saldivar - Raul Rojas featherweight title fight at the L.A. Coliseum in a few weeks. I wished him luck and thanked him for the information. My grandfather had just retired and he and my father agreed to give me transportation to Flores Gym if I agreed to keep my grades up. Within a few weeks I was a member of the same boxing stable as my new idol, Jerry Quarry.
During the next six years I competed as an amateur and turned professional shortly after my 18th birthday. In 1970, the year of my pro debut, Quarry split from manager Johnny Flores. However, during the first six years of Jerry's pro career, I was one of the first to hear about what was going on behind the scenes in the world of heavyweight boxing.
After Quarry turned professional, he shifted his training headquarters from Flores' Gym to the Main Street Gym in downtown Los Angeles. On weekends, Johnny's gym was closed, so I'd hop on a bus early Saturday morning and workout at Main Street before the professionals took the floor. It was here that I was able to watch Jerry Quarry train as he moved up the ladder in the heavyweight division
Every weekend when Jerry worked out at the Main Street Gym, his entire family would turn out to watch. When I say entire family, I mean everybody. Jerry's parents, brothers & sisters, children and other's would fill the bleachers at one end of the gym. Jerry's mother Arawanda would pack a picnic basket and the family would make an event of it. This was something that used to irritate gym owner Howie Steindler. One day after the Quarrys left the gym, Steindler had to pick up paper plates, cups and napkins left by the Quarry brood. The gruff little Steindler finally posted a sign by the front door that read "THIS IS A BOXING GYM. IF YOU WANT TO HAVE A PICNIC TAKE IT TO GRIFFITH PARK".
Watching Jerry spar with other heavyweights in the gym was always exciting to me. He boxed with a variety of fighters such as Amos "Big Train" Lincoln, Eddie "Boss Man" Jones and Joe "Shot Gun" Shelton to name a few. On occasion, he would even spar with welterweight contender Ernie "Indian Red" Lopez for speed. However, it seemed that the most brutal workouts were the sparring sessions between Jerry and his younger brother Mike, who was my age.
I remember once, shortly after Jerry had become rated among the top ten in the heavyweight division, he and Mike sparred together one Saturday morning. Mike was just 16 at the time and weighed about 160, thirty five pounds less than Jerry. Jerry cut down on his brother like he were fighting for the title and left Mike laying face down on the canvas. Mike had taken a brutal left hook to the body and thought the punch had broken his back. I could understand a fighter working hard when sparring but was surprised to see him cut down on his 16 year old brother like he did. It was no wonder why Mike Quarry adapted a jab-and-move boxing style when he fought. He had learned to keep his distance from his older brother or pay the price.
After winning his first twelve pro fights, eight by knockout, Jerry was held to a draw by another unbeaten heavyweight from Utah, Tony Doyle. He won his next three fights scoring two knockouts before being held to another draw by Tony Alongi. Jerry would get lazy in these fights and allow himself to fight on a dead even level with boxers that were nowhere near him in talent. This drew criticism from the fans and would drive Flores crazy. Jerry had tremendous talent, however, he also had a lazy streak that came out more than once during his career.
After the Alongi fight, Jerry's record was 15-0-2 (10 KO's) and he needed a victory that would impress the many L.A. boxing fans and journalists that were following his career. As he would do so many times in the future when
people doubted him, Jerry Quarry came alive. Jerry was matched with one of the most rugged heavyweight trial horses in the world, George "Scrap Iron" Johnson. Johnson had fought some of the best heavyweights in the world and had never been knocked down. Joe Frazier fought "Scrap Iron" early in his career and Johnson became the only man aside from Oscar Bonavena to go the distance with Frazier.
In the second round of Jerry's fight with "Scrap Iron", Johnson backed Quarry into a corner. The moment Jerry's back touched the turn buckle he cut loose with a vicious left hook that landed flush on Johnson's jaw and sent him reeling backwards across the ring. "Scrap Iron" spun around twice before hitting the ropes on the other side of the ring and went down flat on his back. Referee Lee Grossman didn't even bother to count.
The following month, Jerry returned to Kansas City where he had won his National Golden Gloves title and defeated Al Jones in a ten rounder. It was then back to L.A. for a rematch with Alongi and Flores was upset that Jerry was not taking him serious. Again, Quarry and Alongi fought to a draw. Flores was frustrated at his fighter and told Jerry that he would never reach the top ten unless he started taking things seriously. As far as Jerry was concerned he was still unbeaten and good enough to beat anybody in the world. In his next fight, he would learn differently.
Eddie Machen was considered an over-the-hill former contender that had been KO'ed by Ingemar Johansson in one round, half a dozen years earlier. At least that was Jerry's view. Machen was on a comeback and had recently upset another unbeaten L.A. heavyweight named Joey Orbillo. Quarry knew that he was better than Orbillo and took old Eddie Machen lightly. On July 15, 1966, Machen would hand Jerry Quarry his first professional loss via a unanimous ten round decision.
After a three month rest, Quarry finished 1966 with three straight wins and won three more in early 1967, including a ten round decision over Brian London whom had fought Muhammad Ali for the title the year before. About the time Quarry beat London, Ali was stripped of his Heavyweight title for failing to register for the Draft and the heavyweight title was suddenly vacant.
At this stage, The Ring Magazine rated Jerry Quarry just outside the top ten heavyweights in the world. For Quarry to break into that elite group he would have to defeat one. His next match would offer that chance. The man Quarry would be facing was not only a contender, he was a former World Champion. Floyd Patterson was not only a former champion, but the youngest to ever win the title and the only one ever to regain the title after losing it. These facts would be enough to inspire anybody to take the fight serious, however, the most motivating factor for Quarry was that Floyd Patterson was his idol.
Quarry trained hard for the Patterson fight and should have won. He had everything necessary to beat Patterson but showed the former champ too much respect and didn't follow up on several occasions when Floyd was hurt.
After ten rounds the decision was a draw.
A few months later Joe Frazier won the New York version of the Heavyweight title with a decision over Buster Mathis. However, few considered Frazier-Mathis as a valid title bout considering there were eight other heavyweights in the picture. I will never forget the smile on Johnny Flores' face the day he walked into his backyard gym and told us that he had learned that there was going to be an eight man elimination tournament to determine a successor to Muhammad Ali's title. The reason for Flores happiness was that his heavyweight, Jerry Quarry, would be among the eight.
In the quarter final round Quarry would be matched with Patterson in a rematch of their fight just four months previous. Jerry wanted a tune-up first and KO'ed Billy Daniels in one round at the Olympic Auditorium. Six
weeks later he would avenge his draw with Patterson and score a 12 round split decision over the former two-time champ.
Quarry's opponent in the semi-final round of the tournament would be Thad Spencer, the man who was favored to win the title. I remember that during the weeks leading up to this fight, Johnny Flores would talk about reports
he was getting regarding Spencer's conditioning. Flores had gotten word that Spencer was doing a lot of partying and taking Quarry lightly. This was a major mistake because Jerry was in top condition and ready. On February 3, 1968 Jerry Quarry gave Thad Spencer a one-sided beating before stopping him in the 12th and final round. Going into the championship final with Jimmy Ellis, Jerry Quarry was a solid 8-to-5 favorite based on his exceptional performance against the heavily favored Spencer.
By now, the in-fighting between Jerry's father Jack and Johnny Flores had been going on for months. Flores was one of boxing's shrewdest and most respected managers in boxing. Jack had been a problem from day one. He had no experience in dealing with boxing promoters and had no business being included in the management of his son. He insisted Jerry make him co-manager along with Flores so he could keep an eye on things. His only responsibility was to make sure that Jerry got up every morning early to do his road work. Unfortunately, Jack Quarry rarely got up early enough to wake his son.
In Jerry's first shot at the heavyweight title, he made the mistake of trying to out box Jimmy Ellis and dropped a boring fifteen round decision. After the decision was announced, Quarry grabbed the microphone from the ring announcer and dramatically announced his retirement from boxing in the middle of the ring. Jerry was only 23 and I remember thinking, "give me a break", as I watched this on TV. After the disappointing performance Jerry had put on that night, nobody cared.
Seven months later Quarry was back in the ring and KO'ed trial horse Bob Mumford in Phoenix. After winning four straight with three knockouts Quarry made his Madison Square Garden debut with an impressive twelve round decision victory over Buster Mathis. Jerry Quarry was back in the heavyweight spot light and three months later would return to the Garden for another shot at the Heavyweight title. This time, Quarry would be facing one of the best heavyweights to ever step into the ring, Joe Frazier.
I will never forget this fight. I was seventeen years old at the time and had watched it develop from day one. My closest friend, amateur heavyweight Alan "Kit" Boursse' would travel to New York with Flores and Quarry to serve as a sparring partner. Jerry set up training camp in the Catskills at the legendary Grossingers Resort where many boxing greats of the past, such as Rocky Marciano, trained for championship fights at the Garden. I would get weekly reports back home from Boursse' who told me that Jerry was in top shape and had injured every sparring partner in camp but himself. "Jerry's punching the crap out of everybody they bring in here and I don't know how I've avoided getting hurt", Boursse reported. "He's going to surprise everybody that thinks he hasn't a chance with Frazier. Jerry is likely to knock him out".
I had high hopes for Jerry Quarry the night he stepped into the ring with Joe Frazier for their first fight. Jerry was ready and, as always, so was Frazier. In the first round I think Jerry shocked everybody, especially Frazier, by going right to Smokin Joe and backing him up. Quarry had Frazier reeling from an all-out attack and there was the smell of an upset in the air. Jerry fought Frazier tough and I'll never forget the people in the theatre watching it on closed circuit TV jumping to their feet and cheering Quarry during the first few rounds. However, by the 7th round Frazier had taken control of the match and stopped Jerry. Jerry had given his best and I was disappointed he didn't win. To add insult to injury, after the bout, the I.R.S. invaded Quarry's dressing room and served he, his father Jack and trainer Teddy Bentham with tax bills. They announced that back taxes for all three would be garnished from the purse. The only one in Jerry's camp that was not served with a tax bill was Flores. Jack Quarry was furious that he would have to pay back taxes out of his cut and noticed that the feds were not bothering Flores. "What About him!" Jack shouted, pointing at Flores. The agent looked at Jack and answered "Mr. Flores has paid his taxes and is not involved in this".
This was the beginning of the end of Flores' association with Quarry. Jerry would fight three more times in 1969, scoring two KO's prior to returning to Madison Square Garden in December to face George Chuvalo. Chuvalo was the rugged Canadian who had fought Ali for the title five years earlier and was known as a catcher. Jerry went into the bout a heavy favorite and in good shape. Of all the disappointing moments in Jerry Quarry's career this was the most surprising of all. As expected, Jerry had his way with Chuvalo and handed him a one sided beating. Thru the first six rounds Quarry had staggered Chuvalo repeatedly and in the 7th had Chuvalo ready to go. After staggering the Canadian Jerry got careless and caught a left hook on the chin. The blow caught Jerry off balance and sent him to the canvas. Jerry was not hurt but the referee had to call it a knockdown. Instead of Quarry jumping to his feet quickly to show he wasn't hurt, he foolishly decided it would be a good time to take a breather until the count of eight. Jerry was resting in a kneeling position but when the count reached eight he remained on one knee and was counted out. Jerry's excuse was that he couldn't hear the count and the fans went crazy. I still remember how disgusted Flores was when he returned to California after the fight. At this point Flores and Jerry were no longer speaking and Johnny would never again work his fighters corner.
Jack Quarry had convinced his son to drop Johnny Flores. However, Flores still had two years remaining of a seven year contract signed by the fighter upon his turning professional. Jack Quarry didn't pay much attention to
contracts and attempted to sign with promoters for fights involving his son. He soon discovered that the contracts were no good without Flores' signature and that promoters had no time to do business with an idiot like Jack Quarry.
This infuriated the elder Quarry and Jerry as well. As wrong as it was to alienate himself from Flores, Jerry made one smart move at the time and that was to get rid of his father. Unlike Flores' contract, Jack Quarry's
contract with his son had expired two years previous and had never been renewed. Johnny Flores would still be entitled to one half of 33.3% of all of Jerry's future earnings until 1972. The father would be entitled to exactly what he deserved, nothing.
At the time Jerry had become friendly with a very well known Los Angeles attorney known for his underworld connections. It was no secret that Quarry was upset over having to honor Flores' share of future purses and a few months later Flores' became the target of an attempted contract hit involving two off-duty Los Angeles police officers. The attempt upon Flores' life was a failure and never connected to Quarry directly. The L.A.P.D. was able to play the incident off as a case of "mistaken identity" but Flores sued the City of Los Angeles and settled out of court.
After winning four straight in 1970 with three KO's Jerry would become Muhammad Ali's first opponent after three years of inactivity. The bout was held in Atlanta on October 26th and Ali had no trouble using Quarry as a
target, stopping Jerry in three rounds.
After winning his next six fights, Quarry challenged Ali a second time in 1972 and once again was stopped, in seven rounds this time. Jerry opened 1973 with a 7th round knockout over Randy Neumann and the following month was matched with Ron Lyle. Lyle was an unbeaten knockout artist and was considered the next Sonny Liston. Quarry entered the match an underdog and not expected to beat the thunderous punching Lyle. As so many times before in the career of Jerry Quarry, he rose to the occasion and easily defeated Lyle over twelve rounds at Madison Square Garden.
Ten months later, after scoring two more knockouts Quarry was matched with another unbeaten knockout puncher, Earnie Shavers.
Quarry was considered to be on the down side of his career despite his beating Lyle earlier in the year. People would say "Quarry just can't win the big ones", and Shavers was expected to win. Once again Jerry Quarry
defied popular opinion and this time did it convincingly. He knocked out Earnie Shavers in the first round, setting up a rematch with Joe Frazier.
The previous year, Frazier had the lost the title to George Foreman and had just lost his second fight with Ali. Quarry was hot and Frazier had lost his last two. Quarry fans believed that this might be Jerry's fight. However,
after five rounds Quarry was finished and the bout was stopped.
Quarry's ring career came to an end on March 24, 1975 he was KO'ed by Ken Norton in five rounds at Madison Square Garden.
Quarry wisely announced his retirement from boxing after the Norton fight and was immediately hired by CBS to announce their televised fights. This was an ideal situation for Quarry because he was articulate and the fans loved his analysis of fighters and matches. Jerry was able to provide something in the broadcast that other sports announcers could not and that was a fighter's perspective of a match. After years of Howard Cosell's nonsense on ABC, Quarry was a welcome alternative and CBS could not have been happier.
Two years later, after establishing himself with CBS, Quarry was having thoughts of a comeback at age 32. When CBS got word of Jerry's intentions they immediately were supportive of their announcer's decision to fight again and wanted to televise his comeback on their network. They told Quarry that if it was successful, great. However, if it did not go well he would be able to step right back into his job at the mike. However, they wanted to have an option on the TV rights to his first fight and offered him $250,000.
This is where it became evident that Jerry Quarry was no wiser a business man than his father Jack. When Quarry learned that ABC was willing to pay $300,00 to televise his comeback, Quarry took the greater offer and signed with ABC. On November 5, 1977 Jerry returned to the ring in a scheduled ten round bout that appeared on ABC. Jerry fought a light hitting nobody named Lorenzo Zanon in Las Vegas and took a beating from the opening bell until finally catching the Italian with a left hook in the 9th round. Luckily, Zanon went down from the hook and couldn't (or wouldn't) get up. Had the fight gone the distance Quarry would have lost. Jerry realized he
was thru and retired once again.
About this time I stopped by Johnny Flores' house with Kit Boursse', my friend who'd been Jerry's sparring partner years earlier. Flores' told us that after the fight Quarry tried to get his job back with CBS but the network was so angry at him for giving ABC the television right to his comeback they were no longer interested in him.
The last time I saw Jerry Quarry was in 1983. I was living in Westalke Village, California and I knew that Jerry had a home in Agoura Hills, just a few miles away. One day a friend of mine who worked in a local restaurant
called me to say that a couple of boxers were sitting at the counter and they said they knew me. "Who are they?" I asked. "Jerry and Mike Quarry". I immediately drove to the restaurant and talked with Jerry and Mike for about an hour. Jerry seemed the same as always and I didn't notice any signs of dementia at the time. However, Mike looked like a beat up old fighter and was slurring his words. I'd run into Jerry several times over the years but hadn't seen Mike since before he was KO'ed in a world title fight by Bob Foster. I could tell that Mike was different and it made me feel bad because he was always the best looking and sharpest of the Quarry brothers.
Jerry was 38 years old at the time and very overweight. A couple of months later I was shocked to learn that he'd had a fight in Albuquerque and had scored a first round knockout. A few months later he won again by decision in a ten rounder in Bakersfield, California. However, Jerry retired again and I hoped that this time it was for good. Unfortunately it wasn't. Nine years later at the age of 47 Jerry Quarry lost a six round fight in Wisconsin to some nobody. This would be Jerry's last boxing match, however, it would not be his last fight.
Jerry's biggest challenge would come in the form of Dementia Puglistica. The night I tuned into ESPN hoping to hear the result of a fight, I had no idea it would be the result of Jerry Quarry's last fight.
Today when I think of Jerry Quarry I don't picture him with dementia, or bleeding from a cut after a bout with Muhammad Ali. I see the Jerry Quarry that excited thousands of boxing fans as he fought his way into the
heavyweight picture at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles. I see the Quarry that sent "Scrap Iron" Johnson flying across the ring before falling unconscious to the canvas. I see Jerry going toe-to-toe with Joe Frazier and
having the best of it in the early rounds. I see Ernie Shavers unable to make it thru the first round with Jerry. And I can still hear the voice of the 1965 National Golden Gloves Heavyweight Champion telling me where I can
find my dream and make it come true.
Rest in peace Jerry Quarry . . . and Thank You.
Power PunchesQuestions or comments, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Lee Michaels
First and foremost, my prediction for an Evander Holyfield victory was wrong. I'll pat myself on the back when I'm right, and I'll admit when I am wrong.
Second - a decent majority of the press, as well as fans I've spoken too, seem satisfied with the quality of the rematch. Why? Because boxing is in such a sad state that people become satisfied with a bout simply based on the fact that the outcome wasn't controversial.
Like 800,000-plus other homes, I paid $49.95 to watch this fight. I'd love to be able to justify my expenses by reaching and saying that this was a good one. Folks, it wasn't. An aging, yet still game Holyfield plus a heartless,
cautious giant in Lewis made for a boring rematch, plain and simple.
Disagree with me on my criticism of Lewis? Then picture yourself a professional boxer, at 6-5, 240-plus pounds. If offered a style of fighting, as in passive or aggressive, knowing your physique, what would you choose?
Personally, I'd choose to be aggressive. I'd use my size advantage to dictate the fight rather than do it the Lewis way. At his size, Lewis can actually make his jab a weapon rather than an annoyance. Once he did so, if he were to ever show an ounce of aggressiveness he'd be worth watching. Until then he is pound for pound one of the snoozers in the sport.
Which leads me back to pay-per-view fights. Just when is a pay-per-view worth its price? Had Holyfield-Lewis II been a barnburner, it still wouldn't have been worth paying $49.95. If I am going to pay that amount for a PPV, I better get a good undercard. This undercard was awful. It's one thing if a good undercard is scheduled and the fights don't pan out, but this was the opposite end of the spectrum. With a good undercard booked, at least there is an attraction to the viewer to tune in before the main event, thus giving themselves a chance to justify paying for the telecast.
I remember paying for the Roy Jones Jr.-Montell Griffin rematch, which was held on a weekday on PPV. If my memory serves me correct, this fight was priced at $19.95. As history shows, Jones delivered a spectacular one-round KO. Was I angry because of the lack of quality rounds? Not at all. Rooting for Jones to avenge his DQ loss, this is exactly the result that I wanted.
However, when I shelled out approximately the same amount of money to watch Lou Savarese KO Buster Douglas in one round, I WAS angry. Angry because of the pathetic performance of Douglas.
Now, you're asking yourself, "Why did you keep paying these prices for these fights if all you do is complain?"
Because I'm an insecure boxing fan. In other words, had Holyfield-Lewis II ended up being great and I didn't see it, I would have felt left out until I saw the replay on HBO. Thus, my theory for wasting my money.
Will I pay for another PPV in the future at $49.95? Absolutely.
For the millions and millions of you who read this website, you know that I am not a fan of George Foreman on HBO/TVKO telecasts. Some of the most absurd comments in the history of boxing analysts come out of this gentleman's mouth.
On the Andrew Golota-Michael Grant telecast (which replayed Holyfield-Lewis II), Foreman stated that Lewis has the potential to be heavyweight champion for 9 years.
NINE YEARS?!?! If Joe Louis entered today's game of alphabet soup, even he would have a hard time holding a belt for 9 MONTHS! With each organization having such indifference in rankings and mandatory challengers, it's simply not possible.
And just how did Foreman come up with NINE years?
Not a telecast goes by where Foreman proves that he is arguably the worst boxing analyst in the sport.
Where are you, Gil Clancy?
Andrew Golota is the Derrick Coleman of boxing. So much talent, yet not a thing to show for it.
He is also the poster child for why boxing needs to screen fighters in a more extensive manner before they enter the ring. In four big-time fights now - Bowe twice, Lewis and Grant, Golota has shown that he is mentally incapable of being in the ring.
This is most obvious when the pressure is on. Aren't pressure-filled moments what boxers, or athletes in general, live for? It's one thing to get knocked down when you're ahead on points, therefore losing your momentum. Happens all the time in sports. Baseball team 'X' is up 4-1, they give up a grand slam, and whammo! With the swing of a bat they're down 5-4. Momentum shift.
But to be a quitter like Golota is a disgrace. His two low-blow DQ's against Bowe were his way out because he couldn't handle the pressure. And those of you who saw the Grant fight heard him quit loud and clear in the middle of the ring.
Boxing is a brutal sport. You either decide to enter its gates or you don't. Whatever decision you make must be an educated one. Sometimes that decision is detracted by managers and promoters who care more about your money than about your well being. And if that is the case, this is where the sport needs to step in. Screen fighters extensively before fights. Put them through stress tests. Boxing must do its best to ensure that absolutely nothing other than a boxer's abilities will determine the outcome of a bout.
Of course, until boxing is regulated by one sole organization, this will all be fantasy.
There are boxers who have sacrificed their health, even lives in this sport because they had heart and weren't quitters. In essence, when Golota quit on national television, he not only disgraced the sport, but he announced his
expulsion from it as well.
Until next time.
Randy's World of Boxing
By Randy Gordon
NOW THAT LEWIS-HOLYFIELD IS OUT OF THE WAY...
I'm really tired of hearing people say how lucky Lennox Lewis is. Lucky? You don't win an Olympic gold medal, have as fine a professional record as he does, win the heavyweight championship of the world, hold it for as long as he does and beat Evander Holyfield twice (yes, twice!) by being lucky. Is Lewis lucky he didn't come along in an era which featured Sonny Liston, Cleveland Williams, Zora Folley, Eddie Machen, Jerry Quarry, Cassius Clay, George Chuvalo and Oscar Bonavena? Sure. But as for being lucky to be champion or lucky to win a unanimous decision against Holyfield? Forget about it! Lewis is a tall, gifted boxer who can give anybody fits with his boxing ability and long, long jab. Now, if anybody is lucky, it's Frank Maloney, Lewis' big-mouthed dweeb of a manager. The guy is among the most pompous individuals I have ever met in my many years in boxing, and I am far-from-alone in that opinion.
By the way, don't be surprised to see Lewis make his first title defense of his unified belt in front of a boisterous, intimidating hometown crowd in London.
Evander Holyfield has long been, not just one of my favorite fighters, but favorite people. Neither of these factor into my feeling that he should fight no longer. In fact, he should have hung up the gloves following his
Pay-Per-Chew fight against Mike Tyson. Let's face it, he is not going to be granted a third fight against Lennox Lewis, nor will a fight against his close friend and stablemate, Michael Grant, ever materialize. Don't expect
Holyfield-Tyson III, either, at least not for a long while. By then, Holyfield will be pushing 40. Too many fights, too many wars. I think we've all seen the dangers of boxing when one too many punches find their target.
Enough. Finito. Wave goodbye and go count your millions, Evander. You were an outstanding champion.
When was the last time you saw a knockout punch in a major fight do to the loser what happened in the Oleg Maskaev-Hasim Rahman fight? A right by Maskaev sent Rahman through the ropes, across a press table and onto the floor, where a television monitor fell on top of him. OUCH! He was stunned, though not badly hurt. However, I believe that one punch ruined him.
Another outstanding champion continues to make a fool of himself and tarnish the legend he took years to punch out. His name is Larry Holmes. The fat, out-of-shape, overweight, looking-like-he-needs-a-bra "Easton
Assassin" continually threatens to climb through the ropes and fight again. Spare us. His "fight" last summer against James "Bonecrusher" Smith, another sadly-out-of-shape former heavyweight champion was one of the most pitiful exhibitions of boxing I have ever seen...While on former champions, let's also show the exit to Greg Page. The one-time WBA heavyweight king is another in the group of nothing-left fighters who believes people still want to see him in action. Hey, in his prime he often came into the ring out of shape. That was in the early to mid-80's. Now, he's in the same group as Holmes and Smith. Enough!
Geez, I can't believe how many writers, announcers and fans are killing Andrew Golota, saying he out-and-out quit against Michael Grant. Quit? The guy fought nearly 10 really tough rounds against perhaps the best heavyweight on the planet. Okay. So Golota doesn't have the heart and determination of Muhammad Ali or Joe Frazier. But how many fighters do? Do we expect every one of them to fight that hard and for that long, then plead for the referee to allow the fight to continue after they've been drilled, staggered or knocked down? Every man is different and each has his own breaking point. Golota reached his and packed it in. It's that simple. Did I enjoy the fight any less because he quit? Absolutely not. His quitting took nothing away from my enjoyment of what had been an outstanding heavyweight battle.
If I hated anything about the fight, it was listening, once again, to the constant, head-shaking bleatings coming from the mouth of HBO's George Foreman, who is setting new standards in mediocrity every time he puts on the headset. Why does HBO continue to use him? Why not Roy Jones Jr.? Or Gil Clancy? Or anybody but George!!!...If you're wondering what will come next from Golota, do not expect retirement, as so many are suggesting and predicting. The prediction from this corner is that the rough, tough "Foul Pole" may next be put in with tall, destructive but still untested Vitali Klitschko. Hmm. Interesting matchup!
It seems from this corner that female boxing is picking up. There are more and more bouts featuring women and more and more bout cards highlighting the tender gender. Then why has the world's top female boxer--Lucia Rijker--dropped off our radar screens?
A big thumbs down to Nevada's governor for removing the best of their five state athletic commissioners--Dr. James Nave--from office after 11 years or service. Once again, politics rears its disgusting face as it replaced
perhaps the finest commissioner in the country with a political hack, one who doesn't know a fish hook from a left hook. Although the three commissioners who remained on the NSAC are tight-lipped, I understand all are extremely upset with the decision.
Don't be shocked if you see Mike Tyson one day rejoining his porky former trainer Kevin Rooney. The extremely overweight Rooney, who has been Vinny Pazienza's longtime trainer, has been sending out feelers towards the Tyson camp and we understand the interest is there, though Rooney's presence is making Tyson's present trainers, Jay Bright and Stacey McKinley, very unhappy...Grant Elvis Phillips, President of Grant Boxing Equipment, recently won an undisclosed amount of money in a lawsuit against Everlast...Watch talented New England lightweight Gary Balletto. The power-punching Balletto is 14-0-1 with 14 knockouts and is a fresh young talent in the division...As long as you are online, check out Floyd Mayweather's website at www.akaprettyboyfloyd.com .
The WBC recently voted, 32-0, to strip welterweight champion Felix Trinidad of his title if he goes through with his decision to face WBA Jr. Middleweight champion David Reid. Let's see who backs down first--the WBC or Trinidad. Naturally, if Trinidad does get stripped, expect one of the participants in the battle for Trinidad's vacated WBC title to be none other than Oscar de la Hoya.
By the way, I love the fact that the U.S. Government is closing the noose around the neck of the IBF. Former U.S. Attorney Zachary Carter is expected to be installed as the replacement to IBF Prexy Bob Lee. Lee and his
attorneys are expected to battle Carter's installation, but sources tell me he has little chance of winning that battle. While the government has a myriad of its own problems, its involvement into boxing cannot possibly hurt the sport. Hopefully, the government will soon figure out a way to dismantle the foreign-based WBC, WBA, WBU, WBO and other alphabet organizations.
Will somebody please tell me why Stephan Johnson was allowed back in a boxing ring? The man was carried out of the ring on a stretcher back in April in Canada. Had he been your fighter, would you have allowed him back in the ring? I doubt it!
How Joe Louis Would Have Beaten Muhammad Ali!
By Monte Cox
In the July 1991 Ring Magazine I had a letter published giving four reasons why I thought Muhammad Ali would have defeated Joe Louis had these two all time great heavyweights ever met in their respective primes. These four reasons sum up how most modern boxing fans think of a potential Ali-Louis battle: 1) Ali had greater speed, especially of foot. 2) Ali had the ability to adapt and change his fight plan while Louis tended to be more robotic. 3) Ali had the better chin and successfully absorbed the bombs of some of boxings most dangerous sluggers. 4) Ali was never beaten at his best; his first loss came at age 29.
Having grown up as a fan of Muhammad Ali it is sometimes difficult to be objective. I felt a need to prove this popular theory to myself. I began an intensive study of the two great heavyweights particular styles by thoroughly studying films of both fighters, as well as the opinions of other knowledgeable historians and trainers. Within a year I published an article in the May 1992 Boxing Scene "Joe Louis: The Best Heavyweight Ever!" In this article I argued that out of all the heavyweight champions it was Joe Louis who most closely resembled the perfect fighter. I concluded the Louis-Ali match-up as a toss up that could go either way. After more years of study I now firmly believe that Joe Louis could defeat Muhammad Ali. The following describes the how and why.
Muhammad Ali has become such a legend that people think of him as invincible. One person wrote to me that Ali was a "demi-god". I admit its pretty impossible to defeat a deity. However, Ali was not a god, but a human being and as such had human frailties. As Jack Dempsey once said "no man has everything." Ali had a number of weaknesses as a fighter. He did not have an orthodox style and never learned the rudiments of classical boxing. Ali made many tactical errors in the ring. Ali did not know how to properly hold his hands, duck (he pulled back or sidestepped), parry or how to block a jab!
Ken Nortons trainer Eddie Futch said (Anderson pg. 233) "The jab was a big reason Muhammad Ali never figured out why he had so much trouble with Ken Norton in their three fights."
Norton consistently hit Ali with his jab because Ali didn't keep his right hand up to parry Nortons counter jab. Ali leaned away from punches. He dropped his hands low. These poor habits caused him trouble with quick handed boxers who had solid left hands.
Joe Louis said of Ali in his autobiography, "Alis a great fighter, (but) he made too many mistakes, his hands are down a lot, and he takes too many punches to the body. I know what Im talking about" (Louis pg. 260).
Technically, Ali wasn't a very good fighter; it was just that his physical gifts (speed, reflexes, and chin) were so astonishing that he was able to get away with things that would have gotten most fighters beaten up. Some may argue he did end beaten up when his career was over. George Foreman notes on his web-site (www.georgeforeman.com) that after Alis speed diminished "it became apparent that he never really learned defense."
Even before his exile Ali was far from unbeatable. His chin was among the best in heavyweight history, but no mans chin is impregnable. Ali was nearly kayoed by Henry Coopers left hook:
"It caught Clay on the side of the jaw and Cassius went over backwards through the ropes. He rolled back into the ring, then got dazedly to his feet. He was gazing off in the distance starry-eyed. He wobbled forward gloves low. He started to fall but his handlers caught him" (June 19, 1963 NY Times). Had that punch not come at the end of the round he would have been in serious jeopardy.
Ali also struggled against Doug Jones. The lesson from that fight is not whether Ali deserved the decision, but that a small heavyweight of modest ability was able to be competitive with him. Fighters with quick hands and good left jabs always caused him great difficulty. Against Louis, Ali would be facing one of the fastest and most powerful jabbers in boxing history.
Now, consider the statement by Murray Goodman that Joe Louis "could knock you out with a left jab." (Goodman, "Rocky Marciano vs. Joe Louis. Who Would Have Won In Their Primes?" Boxing Scene, Spring 1995 pg. 83).
"There was kayo power in every one of Joe Louis punches, but the most important of all was the battering ram of a jab, which was equal in power to an ordinary heavyweights right cross" ("The 10 Greatest Punchers of All Time", Mike Silver, Ring Almanac, pg. 122, 1998).
Boxing historian and writer Ted Carroll summarized a potential Ali vs. Louis match-up: "Louis had one of the fastest right hands ever seen in a ring. It boomed out of his slow moving gait with the speed and suddenness of a rattler. Clays defensive technique relies greatly upon leaning backward out of range of his opponents blows. Against a right hand of Louis speed and power this would have been a highly dangerous maneuver and the current champion would have been flirting with disaster every time he tried it. It is possible to conceive Clay getting a decision over Louis in a bout that lasted the full 15 rounds. But it is not so easy to imagine his going the distance without getting tagged by Louis fast hands somewhere along the way. When that happened it could mean the end of everything right then and there for Muhammad Ali." ("How would Clay Have Done Against Stars of the Past", Ring, July 1966).
Carroll also noted that boxers with great footwork such as Conn and Pastor had given Louis trouble. But Ali was not as correct a boxer as Billy Conn or Bob Pastor. Ali had many faults in his style. Joe Frazier nearly knocked him out in the 11th round of their first fight as Ali exposed himself with in the corner with his hands down. A crunching left hook to the jaw had Ali wobbling around the ring in serious trouble. Louis was a faster and by far a more accurate and powerful puncher than Frazier was. He was the finest combination puncher in heavyweight history, and possibly the greatest finisher. If Louis had Ali hurt the way Frazier did in the 11th round there is no way Ali would have survived.
Alis legs were doing the "dance that puppets do when the guy with the strings is drunk." (Bob Waters, Newsday, Mar. 9, 1971).
Had that been Joe Louis in there instead of Joe Frazier it would have been over! Louis was a deadly finisher and didn't let his man off the hook when hurt. The "Brown Bomber" was the epitome of the hooded assassin. In fact the saying goes "Once Joe Louis had his man hurt...."
Foreman had Ali out on his feet by Muhammads own admission (Ali pg. 406-409). George Foreman and Earnie Shavers were arguably heavier hitters than was Louis, but they were not nearly as explosive or quick with their hands. George and Earnie were limited fighters who ran out of gas in the later rounds. Foreman was the heavyweight destroyer non-pareil, who owned the first five rounds of any fight, but by the sixth he was done. Shavers tried to pace himself in his fight with Ali, and consequently failed to go after him after he had him hurt. Louis had 15 round stamina and kept his power into the late rounds. Louis was a constant knockout threat throughout a fight, while Ali only had to make it though the early rounds against Shavers and Foreman, who threw a lot of wild haymakers, wasting their limited energy. Louis didnt make that mistake, throwing short, jolting, economically sound punches. Louis would pick his shots and take apart any man who placed himself on the ropes.
The "rope-a-dope" would not work against Louis, in much the same way it didnt work against Frazier in Manila. In that fight, he absorbed a terrible beating to the body.
"Ali slumped into his corner at the end of the 10th round exhausted and contemplated quitting"(Sports Illustrated, Oct 13, 1975).
Louis would pressure Ali, like Frazier and Norton. Ali didnt like pressure, as he preferred to box from the outside. Joe Louis once described how he would have fought Ali:
"The kid has speed and theres no one around to outbox him, and the opponent who tries is in his grave. Especially in the middle if the ring. Id see to it that Clay didnt stay in ring center. No. Hed be hit into those ropes as near a corner as I could get him. If he stayed on the ropes he would get hurt. Sooner or later hed try to bounce off, when he did he would get hurt more. Id press him, cut down his speed, and bang him around the ribs. Id punish the body. "Kill the body and the head will die", Chappie use to tell me. It figures. Sooner or later hed forget about that face of his and he would start dropping that left hand like he did against Mildenberger and Chuvalo. Those fellows got their openings by accident, and fouled it up. I would work for it and wouldnt reckon to miss when it arrived. Cassius Clay is a nice boy and a smart fighter. But I am sure Joe Louis would have licked him." ("How I Would Have Clobbered Clay", The Ring, Feb. 1967).
Joe Frazier fought this battle plan mapped out by Louis in 1967 almost to perfection on Mar. 8, 1971. Frazier began working the body early. He punished Ali along the ropes, and when his opening finally came (in the 11th and again in the 15th) Frazier took advantage. Smokin Joe failed to score a knockout that day but his victory was decisive. The plan almost worked in the third fight as well, Ali absorbed such a beating he said it was "the closest thing to death" that he had ever experienced.
Kenny Norton used a very similar plan. Eddie Futch instructed Norton "your not going to hit Ali by slipping, dropping underneath or parrying. Ali carries his right hand out here to the side because he knows he can get away with it. If you try to slip his jab and counter-punch hes gone. If you try to bob underneath hes gone. You have to hit him while hes punching. When he starts to jab you punch with him. Keep your right hand high. His jab will pop into the middle of your glove and then your jab will come right down the pipe That is what destroyed Alis rhythm." (Anderson pg. 235).
He further planned out the following, "If you start from the center of the ring it will only take you three steps to get Ali on the ropes. Every time you jab, step in and jab again. Then do the same thing." Then Eddie told him what to do when he got Ali to the ropes, "Dont do like all the other guys do. Dont throw your left hook to the head, hell pull back against the ropes and pepper you with counter-punches, instead start banging his body with both hands." (Anderson pg. 235). That is how Norton, whose jab, speed, and power was inferior to Joe Louis, gave Ali hell in three very close fights.
Joe Louis trainer Jack Blackburn was a master boxer, an all-time great lightweight who fought heavyweights. He was a genius at boxing strategy and at least the equal of men like Ray Arcel and Eddie Futch. Blackburn would have devised a plan to defeat Ali using the same strategy that Joe spoke of in 1967. He would have seen the same weaknesses that Futch used to instruct Frazier and Norton to defeat Ali. Ali did not hold his right hand in place to block the counter-jab. Chappie Blackburn would tell Joe, "hes a sucker for a left jab." Louis had the perfect classic style to defeat Ali. It would not matter that Alis jab would "get there first." Joe would block Alis jab with his right glove held high, his chin tucked under his shoulder and counter Ali in the middle of his face with his own jab just as Norton did. He would use the jab to maneuver Ali to the ropes.
As Goodman noted, Louis was a "master at cutting off the ring" (Goodman, 64).
Ali said he was forced to go to the ropes against Foreman, "All during training I had planned to stay off the ropes but now Ive got to change my plans. Sadler and Moore have drilled George too well. He does his job like a robot but he does it well Im famous for being hard to hit in the first rounds, but no fighter can last (dance) fifteen if he has to take six steps to his opponents three." (Ali pg. 405)
Joe would put continuous physical and psychological pressure on Ali. Louis would cut off the ring and step Ali towards the ropes, where he would then pound the body. Muhammad would then begin to drop his hands. Blackburn would instruct Louis "when he throws the right uppercut, deliver the knockout drops with the left hook." Ali threw a right uppercut from the outside, a strict no-no. This is what made him vulnerable to the left hook throughout his career. Joe Frazier exploited this flaw and dropped Ali in the 15th round of their first fight.
Eventually Louis would see an opening and strike. Goodman described a Joe Louis assault like this:
"There were no warnings with a Louis punch. He would lash out like a cobra, and it could be just as deadly"(Goodman, 64).
Jimmy Braddock was once asked what it was like to get hit by "The Brown Bombers" punch, "It aint like a punch," Braddock said. "Its like somebody nailed you with a crowbar!"(75 Years of The Ring, Vol. 3, No. 1, 1997 pg. 61 Section: The Best Puncher).
Louis would catch Ali along the ropes with one of his most powerful and deadly hooks. Unlike Frazier, Joe Louis could throw a triple left hook with speed and power as he did against Max Baer. Alis legs would turn to jelly. Louis combinations would fire with piston like precision and the power of a human jackhammer. The speed of Louis assault would be mesmerizing. Ali would be battered unmercilessly and unceasingly until the referee was forced to call an end to the execution.
In comparison to my original somewhat superficial thoughts from my 1991 letter a more thorough examination of the facts shows the following to be true:
1) While Ali is the fastest heavyweight ever, Louis was nearly as fast with his hands. Alis many tactical mistakes would leave him open to one of Louis lightning-like strikes. His foot-speed and jab would be negated by Louis properly placed right parrying hand. Louis would render ineffective Alis primary weapon, his left jab, and drive him to the ropes vis-a-vis Ken Norton.
2) Ali was a master of strategy against slow handed bruisers like Liston, Terrell, Foreman, and Shavers. He had more trouble with men with hand speed who could punch with him like Doug Jones, Norton, and Jimmy Young. Louis was superior in hand speed to any of these men. With the previously outlined strategy, which Blackburn and Joe would be sure to implement, Louis would not be at a strategic disadvantage against Ali.
3) Ali had a great chin, but he was not "superman." Joe Frazier had Ali in serious trouble and he did not have Louis speed and combination punching ability, if he did he would have kayoed Ali in their first fight, perhaps in the third. Liston, Foreman and Shavers were big punchers but slow, and could not carry on a sustained assault for 15 rounds. Louis definitely would keep up the pressure and he was a more explosive and sharper puncher in the mold of a young Mike Tyson. Louis had real shock value in his punches. Alis chin would have its greatest test not against Frazier or Foreman but against Joe Louis.
4) Ali was never beaten until a 3-year lay-off, but it was still close to his physical prime. Some would say he lost to Doug Jones, and he was nearly kayoed by Cooper so his unbeaten streak is not without tarnish. In comparing Ali when he retired at age 36 after beating Spinks his record was 56-3 with 37 kayos. Louis when he retired as champion at age 35 was 60-1 with 51 kayos. Louis also lost four of his best years due to WW2 just as Ali lost 3 ½ years in his forced exile. Overall Ali faced the better competition, but Schmeling (a first rate counter-puncher), M. Baer (one of the hardest hitters in division history), Godoy (never knocked off his feet in his first 70 pro fights), and Walcott (one of the slickest boxer-punchers of all time) are better than anyone that Ali faced during his prime years, with the exception of Sonny Liston. Both Ali and Louis were dominant champions.
Alis slight edge in size over Joe would not be a factor. Ali was 63" 212 pounds in his prime, and had a long 80-inch reach. Louis was 61 ½", and about 207, his best weight in his rematches against Buddy Baer and Abe Simon. Louis had a 76" reach. Louis height and reach was about the same as Norton, or Evander Holyfield. Frazier was 205 in the first Ali-Frazier fight, so any physical advantage is void. Joe Louis had the hand speed, the jab, the power, the stamina, the ring smarts and the style fail to defeat Muhammad Ali. Joe Louis is the one man who would knock Muhammad Ali out!
Ali, M. with Durham, R. 1975. The Greatest My Own Story. Random House.
Anderson, Dave. 1991. In The Corner. NY. William Morrow and Co.
Louis, J. with Rust Jr., A. and Rust, E. 1978. Joe Louis: My Life. Hopewell, NJ. Ecco Press.
Jabs With Johnny Tapia
By J. D. Vena
When my family couldn't come up with a name for our new dog, I thought of a perfect one. We had picked up our dog from a nearby animal shelter that receives its dogs from an organization in Albuquerque. For a five- week old pup, it was extremely frisky. When I leaned over to pick her up for the first time, she jumped up and bit me on the face. Though Albuquerque native and two-time champion Johnny Tapia has never bit an opponent in the ring, I felt that our pup's tenacity and energetic personality rivaled the doggedness that Tapia exhibits in his fights. Unfortunately, my family wasn't enthused with the idea of naming the dog after a great boxer, so we stuck with "Josie." For Johnny Tapia, the only other conceivable name that appropriately fits him is the word "Champion."
Since his release from a three-year prison sentence for drug addiction in 1994, Johnny Tapia has become one of the most established competitors in boxing. Possessing an indomitable spirit, Tapia has not only beaten many
quality opponents but also conquered more demons than the average fighter. Before Tapia was born his father was murdered. When he was young, his mother was kidnapped, raped and murdered with an ice pick. At the age of 12, Tapia also survived a bus crash: a crash that other passengers did not.
It seemed that the only solace for the 32-year old fighter had been within the squared circle. Yet this past June 26th, Tapia suffered another setback, losing his first professional fight and his WBA Bantamweight Championship to Paulie Ayala. In a 12 round war, Tapia and Ayala fought arguably the most thrilling boxing match seen in years. Only days before one of his greatest fights, Johnny Tapia encountered startling news. The news was more difficult for Tapia to absorb than Ayala's punches. After 24 years, the investigators who had reopened the murder case of his mother identified her killer.
On January 8th, Tapia will try to move away from his trauma filled past to move forward with his boxing career. He will challenge the fearsome once beaten, WBO Bantamweight Champion, Jorge Eliecer Julio. Recently, I chatted with Tapia in more chipper spirits upon his long awaited return to the ring, a safer place for him.
J.D.Vena: I have heard that you will be fighting early next year. Have you gone into training yet?
Johnny Tapia: I will be going into camp in a couple of weeks. We're hoping to get this fight in Albuquerque for January the 8th.
JV: How exciting is it for you to fight in your hometown?
JT: It's the best. We pull in about 19-20,000 people.
JV: You next opponent, WBO Bantamweight Champion, Jorge Eliecer Julio has gone unnoticed throughout the decade despite losing only once to Junior Jones. What do you know of Julio?
JT: I really don't know too much about him, but I do respect the guy. He's a two-time world champion and has just about the same record as me (41-1 with 30 KO's). I'm just going to give all I have. I want to be a champion
again and to beat a good fighter you have to beat his style. So I'm going to take it to him.
JV: You have overcome severe tragedies and many life-threatening experiences. How difficult has it been for you dealing with your first professional loss?
JT: Well first off, the better man lost that night. Boxing has been my escape away from tragedy outside the ring. I had a real tough fight with Paulie Ayala. Now I just need to pick it back up and get another belt. You can't keep a good guy down.
JV: Many people, including myself thought that it was one of the most exciting fights in years. Do you envision fighting him again, since you and Paulie would stand to make a lot of money for a rematch?
JT: You know what it is? Bon Arum said he lost a lot of money on the fight. So if he lost a lot of money, why would they want to make a rematch? I'm a fighter and I'd like to fight him again but boxing is more of a business for me. It's all about making money and paying my bills and I have fun doing it.
JV: Arum also promotes Erick Morales, the WBC Super-Bantamweight Champion. I've heard rumors that you soon plan on jumping up to the 122-pound weight class where he fights. Would Bob Arum be the stumbling block in arranging a fight between the two of you?
JT: Well Bob Arum promotes a lot of the122-pounders. I basically want to focus on Julio first and then we can go for bigger and better fights.
JV: Mark Johnson, the new premier 115-pounder in the world has stated that the only reason why you moved up to bantamweight is because you were ducking him.
JV: Hey I don't avoid nobody! I've already fought 49 times which tells you I've fought just about everybody. I just couldn't make 115 pounds anymore. I'd love to fight Johnson. I'll fight 'em all. You know me. I don't back
down from no one. If they want to fight me and the money is right, let's get it on! Hey everyone knows me. I fought every number one contender in the world and every champion in each (weight) category and he's going to say that? That's just talk.
JV: Do you still have bitter feelings towards your hometown nemesis, Danny Romero?
JV: I saw him just last week. We settled everything in the ring. As a boxer, I love fighters too. I respect them. I went on to bigger and better things (after I beat him). I hope he moves on too. He's still a young boxer with a lot of fight left in him and I wish him all the best.
JT: If he were to reestablish himself or win a world title, would you consider fighting him again?
JV: I'm moving on and want to fight different champions because I've already proven what I could do against him. Plus everyone already saw that fight. I'm getting bigger and older, so weight is hard to keep. I'm going to see if I can make 118 (bantamweight) again and then move up. I'm sitting at 145 pounds right now and I'm tall, almost 5'7.
JV: How heavy or how many weight classes would you consider moving up to?
JT: Just 122.
JV: Is it excruciating to get down to 118?
JT: 118 is rough, but when you're the provider in the family, you just do it.
JV: It's a family business for you.
JT: (Laughs) Yeah it's a little corporation and it pays the bills.
JV: People frequently discuss the success and failures of fighters who are trained by their fathers. Shane Mosley and Tito Trinidad have worked extremely well with their fathers. Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Roy Jones Jr.'s situation didn't work out so well for them. You are managed by your wife Teresa. Why has this been successful for you and your wife and are you comfortable with the role she has?
JT: My wife is my (business) partner, but she is all I have and I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for her because she has taken care of me. It also goes both ways with the money situation.
JV: Getting back to your fight with Ayala, is it important for you to fight him?
JT: By all means buddy.
JV: Though many people thought you won the fight with Ayala, the judges in Las Vegas can sometimes be hard to impress especially when you're fighting the promoter's guy.
JT: When you're paid off it's always a different story. (Laughs) We all know that. I didn't sign with Top Rank, so I knew I was going to lose anyway no matter what I did. It's a funny, funky business. It's not what you know, it's who you know.
JV: If you were to fight him again, would you fight him any differently.
JT: I was hurting him with every shot I hit him with. All I have to do is stay outside and make the fight easy. But what happened before the fight with my whole family being arrested, they (Top Rank) just set us up for a lot of stuff. If I were to ever fight Ayala again, all I'd do is stick and move.
JV: The incident with your family was when the Las Vegas Police came in and told you to clear out your dressing room citing too many people. Throughout your career, you've always been known to have family members in your dressing room.
JT: All the time man.
JV: How many people did you have in the room that night?
JT: Just four people: my grandpa, my wife, Freddie (Roach, his trainer) and my cut man.
JV: So you believe it was a ploy set up by Top Rank's people to anger you and throw you off your fight plan?
JT: Everybody in the boxing game knows what happened. It's a tough and true but the better man lost that night. So what can you do? I'm not going to sit here and cry over it. I'll be a champion again soon, a four-time champion. A lot of bantamweights after the age of 30 don't stay around like I have. I'm 32 and I've beat outlasted everybody.
JV: The only fighter that comes to mind is Daniel Zaragoza who fought competitively until he was 38 years old.
JT: I know. Can you believe that?
JV: You'll turn 33 in February and in my estimation, haven't shown any signs of slowing down. What motivates you to continue fighting against the top notch fighters and when do you want to hang 'em up?
JT: The winning attitude John. I refuse to lose. I just love being in the ring. Fighting is where I find my peace and it's how I show who I am. I don't care about being a millionaire. I just want to be able to pay my bills, retire and have fun with my wife and son.
JT: Other than sheer excitement, what should we expect from you in your next fight?
JT: I got to be cool, calm and collected. That guy (Julio) hits very hard and has a lot of knockouts. He'll probably be the oldest guy I've ever fought. He's 34 so he knows how important this fight is to him also. I
just have to take it to him. Lately, it's been tough for me because of what happened with my loss (to Ayala) and finding out about my mother's killer.
JV: Is there a sigh of relief or of frustration now that you finally found out about your mother's killer?
JT: It really has, but there is nothing you can do. I really needed to know (who killed her) but I guess it was better off that I found out later on. Otherwise, I could have ended up in jail for life.
Cracked Craniums--Boxing Nightmares and the Second Impact Syndrome
By Katherine Dunn
(Published originally in the May 20, 1998 issue of PDXS Newspaper)
Bad Enough--One Example
The kid is just 17 years old and we're not going to use his name, but he's a good kid, a fine student, an artist. He's bright, likeable and hard working. He was a little shy, a bit introverted. So a couple of years ago his dad brought him to University Park Community Center in Portland, Oregon and the kid started training in the boxing program. Under the guidance of the experienced coach, Lee Jenkins, the kid gained confidence and physical fitness. He was registered as an amateur but he never had a bout and now he never will. Jenkins was not in the gym on March 16, 1998 when the kid started sparring. Jenkins was in the community center office tending to paper work but the kids' dad was there at ringside along with a volunteer assistant coach. In the third round the kid said he felt dizzy and then collapsed and went into convulsions. There hadn't been any notable shots to his head and observers at first thought he was reacting to a punch to the body. But Jenkins was summoned and a fast call was made to 911. Within six minutes the paramedics were on the spot and recognized symptoms of a head injury. They rushed the kid to a hospital where immediate surgery removed a chunk of his skull to reduce the pressure on his swelling brain. The evidence suggests that the kid had taken a knock to the head the week before. He'd been a little lethargic and sleepy but didn't consider himself injured or sick.
At first there were doubts that the kid would live, but he did. Later there were worries that he might suffer permanent damage, but all the tests now indicate that he will make a complete recovery. He's as chipper
and talkative as ever. In early May he had a second surgery to replace the slab of bone that had been removed from his skull. The speed with which he was diagnosed and treated saved his life, his health, his intelligence
and his talents. It will take a while but the kid will be fine. (Since this story appeared, the Kid has enrolled in college and is reported to be doing well.)
It may take longer for Lee Jenkins to recover. In his decades as an amateur boxer and coach for the City, Jenkins has never had such an accident on his watch before. His shock and grief over the incident are apparent. He shut down the boxing program completely at University Park because he has administrative duties at the Center and feels that he cannot devote enough time to supervising boxing.
Fight folk fear head injuries more than fire or the IRS, and so they should. Brain damage is the viper in the Vaseline for this sport. Boxers don't get broken necks and total paralysis like football players and gymnasts do, or anybody who ventures near a horse. A modern fighter's range of injuries are minor in the scheme of things. Cauliflower ears can be fixed with a single visit to a doctor. Busted paws or jaws, noses or rotator cuffs heal completely with proper care. Even the blindness of detached retinas can be patched up with laser welding. The worst might make you swap your gloves for a tennis racket but they won't ruin your life. The fact is that modern training techniques and safety measures make these injuries less common for professionals and downright rare for the careful amateurs.
But that precious sack of mush, the command central of who and what you are, the brain, is still the terror of any fighter, trainer, coach or fan with sense. Getting bopped in the noggin isn't good for you. The damage can build slowly over years of sparring and competing as small rips inside the brain spread to create Parkinson's syndrome like Muhammad Ali's, or punch drunk syndrome and dementia. Or the brain can be so insulted that the damage is immediate and acute. The brain can swell inside its bony cave, crushing its own tissue and leading to death, or it can bleed, the pressure of the accumulating blood creating equally fatal pressure.
It doesn't happen often. The great majority of boxers never suffer any injury to their central nervous system. A decade long study of amateur boxers by Johns Hopkins University has found no direct causal relationship between amateur boxing and central nervous system damage. Recent studies by neurologist Dr. Barry Jordan at the University of California indicate that some people may be much more susceptible to brain injury than others.
Dr. Jordan is working on a blood test which would identify those must likely to suffer damage. But for now there's no telling. And given the right circumstances it can happen to anybody.
The wowsers who disapprove of boxing always use brain damage as a hefty argument for banning the sport, and that contributes to the fight guy paranoia on the topic. But, of course, boxing isn't the only activity that has this risk. Recent studies on soccer players found a very high incidence of brain damage from "heading" the ball. Football players, sky divers (the snap of the chute opening whips the head around), hockey players, rodeo riders and racing jockeys, all have high rates of the same kind of brain injuries suffered by boxers. Long time mountain climbers suffer punch drunk effects from the shortage of oxygen at high altitudes.
Second Impact Syndrome
The Oregonian newspaper ran an intriguing story by reporter Sheri Fink on May 1, '98 discussing head injuries in sports. Boxing wasn't even mentioned. The key figure in the story was the New York Rangers hockey player Pat LaFontaine, who has been side-lined by repeated concussions in the course of recent games. The story focuses on "second impact syndrome," which is described as "dangerous brain swelling that can lead to death
when a second hit to the head occurs too close to the time of the first."
We discussed "second impact" with internationally certified amateur Coach Bill Meartz of the West Portland Boxing Club who honchoed the U.S. squad through the 1998 Pan American Games. Meartz said he was all too
familiar with the syndrome. Nearly twenty years ago, he explained, when he was first starting out as a boxing coach, a 32 year old karate champ had come to his gym. One day the karate champ got knocked out while sparring. The following day, seeming perfectly normal, the champ came back in demanding to spar again. He collapsed in the first round. Meartz rushed him to a hospital where he was discovered to have a subdural hematoma, bleeding in the brain. Immediate surgery saved his life.
The 32 year-olds' age was probably not the problem, if the Oregonian is right. "In fact," writes Sheri Fink," rates of injury are highest in children, adolescents and young adults."
Consumer Product Safety Commission data show more than 200,000 sports and recreation-related head injuries in the United States in 1995 alone. "Most were associated with football, basketball, baseball and softball."
An expert from the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta told Fink there are around five hundred deaths a year from sports related injuries, and that brain injury is the leading cause of death from sports injuries.
The culture of all sports encourages players to continue in the face of pain or injury. "We're told it's showing character and courage to go play when you're injured," the hockey player La Fontaine told Sheri Fink. And
young athletes quickly learn to hide pain from their coaches.
Getting out of bed in the morning is dangerous and breathing, eventually, leads to death. Accidents will happen, but many can be prevented. It's crucial that coaches, trainers and athletes recognize the first signs of concussion or brain injury. Injury can occur without losing consciousness. The symptoms include: confused facial expression, slowness in answering questions, easy distractibility, incomprehensible statements, stumbling, crying for no reason, or memory problems. Symptoms of concussion include headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, blurry vision and over-emotional reactions.
A handy dandy wallet-sized card called the "Management of Concussion in Sports Palm Card" is available by calling The American Academy of Neurology at 1-800-879-1960, or the Brain Injury Association at 703-236-6000.
Amateur coach Bill Meartz says U.S. Amateur Boxing Inc also puts out a similar card, laminated for sweaty purposes.
There Was No Yellow in Little Red
By Rick Farris
During the summer of 1969, I was training for an upcoming amateur bout at the Main Street Gym in downtown Los Angeles. One day I was talking with the world's number one rated welterweight contender, Ernie "Indian Red" Lopez, who had just lost to champion Jose Napoles in his first bid for the world title. I liked Ernie Lopez and we'd usually visit for a few minutes each day in the gym before starting our workouts.
I was 17-years-old at the time and remember Ernie telling me that he had a younger brother that was my age. Ernie was married and had a couple of small children and said that his younger brother would be moving to Los Angeles from Utah and would be staying with him and his family. Lopez told me that his brother was a bantamweight, like I was, and thought maybe we could workout together. I said "Sure Ernie, I'd like to meet him". Ernie also asked if I could show him around a little because he wouldn't know anybody in town. I said, "No problem, but I haven't really got much of a social life. All I do is go to school and train".
The following week Ernie Lopez and his younger brother showed up at the gym together. I knew it was Lopez' brother the moment I spotted him. He was a miniature version of Ernie, a couple inches taller than I was and the same weight, 116 pounds. He had the same flaming red hair as Ernie and the same light skin. He looked skinny, but not weak, he had that slender hard-as-rock build and I knew if he was anything like his older brother he was as tough as nails. The Lopez brothers were a mixture of Ute Indian, Irish and Mexican.
As the younger brother shadow boxed in front of a mirror on the gym floor, Ernie Lopez spotted me loosening up in the ring and called his little brother over to introduce us. "This is Ricky Farris . . .and this is my brother Danny" Ernie said. We shook hands and nodded at each other and that was about it. A moment later gym owner Howie Steindler, Lopez' manager, walked over to the three of us and said "I want you two guys to spar together in
the future. I think you will be good for each other". We both nodded and the following week Danny "Little Red" Lopez and I would engage in the first of hundreds of sparring rounds that would take place over the next seven
years. I am not exaggerating when I say "hundreds of rounds". I can honestly say that I exchanged more punches with Danny Lopez than I did with any other boxer during my twelve years in the sport. And I have to say that
I cannot remember one round that was easy. I'm sure that anybody who has seen Danny "Little Red" Lopez in action can understand why.
Little did I know that Danny Lopez would win a world title seven years after the day we met. However, I wouldn't have been surprised because he was something special. And Howie Steindler was right, we were good for each other. We were both the same age, size, were both Golden Gloves champions and had been fighting for about five years. Our workouts were tough and competitive. Our styles were different and proved a challenge for both of us.
Danny and I didn't spend a lot of time together outside of the gym but a friendship grew. We respected each other. Danny was quiet and polite. There was another local amateur featherweight in town who was a couple of months older than Danny and I and the three of us all sparred together at different times over the years. His name was Bobby Chacon. We were friends and although competitive, we all showed mutual respect and interest in each other's careers.
About a year after Danny and I met, I turned professional. I had just turned eighteen and was eager to get my pro career started. I expected Danny would turn pro a few months later after he turned eighteen, however, Danny waited about year and made his pro debut just before he turned nineteen.
About six months after my pro debut, gym owner Howie Steindler called Danny and I into his office one day after working out. Steindler informed us that a film company would be shooting a couple of scenes for a TV series in the gym on Thursday and wanted a couple of boxers sparring in the background.
"I want to give you guys first shot at this if you want it" Steindler said. "You don't have to kill each other like you do when you workout, just move around easy and get paid for it." I reminded Howie that I was scheduled to
fight Thursday night in a four rounder at the Olympic Auditorium. "No problem" Howie said, "you'll be outta here by four or five o'clock and have plenty of time to get to the Olympic, and you'll already be warmed up". Sounded good to me.
The TV series was called "Dan August" and starred Burt Reynolds. Danny and I arrived at the gym at 7am. and finished before 5 PM. just like Howie promised. Danny and I laid off the hard blows and just moved around for
about twenty short rounds that day and got paid $125 (actors daily pay scale in 1971). After we finished I had to get something to eat and then be at the Olympic no later than 7 p.m.
On our lunch break that day Danny told me that he had to find a ride home. I had planned to leave directly from the gym to the Olympic Auditorium but didn't want to arrive at the Olympic two hours early. Danny was still living
with his brother Ernie in Arcadia and said that if I wanted to give him a ride he'd cook me a steak and I could rest there before the fight. It sounded good to me but I didn't want to eat a steak so close to fight time, so on the way home he and I stopped off at a hamburger stand. I know this sounds like the worst thing a fighter could do before a match but it turned out alright because I ended up winning a decision later that night anyway.
When we got to Ernie's house he and his wife were leaving for the night and the babysitter had just arrived. Ernie introduced Danny and I to the baby sitter and her name was Bonnie. I noticed that when Bonnie and Danny's eyes met they just stared at each other like nobody else was in the room. I was going to hang out for awhile before leaving for the Olympic, but I could see that three would be a crowd. Danny and the baby sitter looked as if Cupid had just shot them in the ass with an arrow. Besides, I had to get my mind on my fight and wanted to be alone. I arrived early at the Olympic and got a little rest in the dressing room.
A few months later Danny Lopez married Bonnie, shortly after making his pro debut, and within a year their first child was born. Danny and Bonnie named their baby boy Bronson.
Danny's pro career got off to a great start. He was knocking guys out left and right. One moment a guy would be giving Lopez a good fight and a second later would catch one of Danny's short, jolting blows and fall unconscious to the canvas. Danny Lopez didn't stop opponents on cuts and a referee rarely had to halt one of Danny's fights to save an opponent from further punishment. When Danny Lopez scored a knockout, he knocked his opponent out COLD. And I can verify that Lopez wasn't knocking over tomato cans either, these guys were bonafide prizefighters, some of whom I'd fought myself during my career.
Danny made his pro debut on May 27, 1971 at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles, scoring a first round knockout over Steve Flajole. Lopez would knockout his first twenty one opponents, seven in the first round. In fact, only three of Danny's opponents would make it past four rounds with him. Danny KO'ed Jose Luis Valdovinos, Turi Pineda, Ushiwakamaru Harada and Goyo Vargas before being extended the full ten round distance by a tough Japanese featherweight named Genzo Kurosaw.
After 23 pro fights Danny was 23-0 (22 KO's) and one of the most exciting fighters to ever come out of Los Angeles. However, "Little Red" wasn't the only gunslinger in town at the time. Another one of our buddies was also knocking out featherweights left and right, Bobby Chacon.
Bobby had made his pro debut in 1972, about a year after Danny. Two years later a showdown was unavoidable. On May 24, 1974, Danny "Little Red"Lopez and Bobby Chacon, two of the best Los Angeles featherweights ever and both future world champs, would meet at the L.A. Sports Arena to determine who was
top dog in the City of Angels.
Chacon and Lopez went toe-to-toe but it was Bobby's night. Chacon battered Lopez with shots that would have flattened other boxers but Lopez took Bobby's best and just kept pushing forward. Finally Danny hit the canvas. He got up but was taking great punishment when referee John Thomas stepped in and halted the bout. I liked both of these guys but I was pulling for "Little Red".
I hoped the beating Chacon handed Danny wouldn't ruin his career, but it seemed that was what was happening in the months after the match. Less than three months after losing to Chacon Danny returned to the Olympic Auditorium and knocked out Japan's Masano Toyoshima. A month later he took on a very tough Japanese featherweight Shig Fugiyama. Danny seemed to lack the energy he had showed in previous fights and in the ninth round appeared to be blinded by some substance that came from Fugiyama's gloves. Danny was defenseless trying to clear his eyes in a corner as Fugiyama rocked him with blows to the body and head. The referee had no choice but to step in and halt the contest. Four months later in January, 1975, Lopez took on a tough world rated featherweight from Mexico, Octavio Gomez. Gomez won a unanimous ten round decision over Lopez at the Anaheim Convention Center, handing him his third loss in eight months.
It appeared as if the magical career of Danny 'Little Red" Lopez was over. During that period we had only sparred several times but I recall he seemed less motivated than usual. He'd fight hard, but would not respond with the usual fire that I had known in the past. He had made hundreds of thousands of dollars in less than four years but had blown almost every penny. Now there was doubt that Danny Lopez would ever have a chance to make that type of money again.
Suddenly, the old Danny Lopez reappeared and when he did, he came back better than ever. Danny Lopez would not lose again until his last title defense against Salvador Sanchez four years later. After losing to Octavio
Gomez, Lopez would score four consecutive knockout victories to close out 1975. He would knockout former bantamweight king ChuCho Castillo in two, Raul Cruz in six, Antonio Nava in six and finish off the year by destroying the great former bantamweight and featherweight champ Ruben Olivares in seven rounds. "Little Red" Lopez wasn't just hot, he was on fire.
Danny opened 1976 by knocking out future WBA lightweight champ Sean O'Grady in four rounds at the FORUM. Next he would face Octavio Gomez in a rematch and avenge his loss to Gomez by knocking out the Mexican in three rounds. Lopez was suddenly rated the World's number one featherweight by The Ring Magazine and would face hard hitting contender Art Hafey of Canada at the Forum. The winner of the Lopez-Hafey match would earn a shot at WBC featherweight champion David Kotey who had taken the title from Ruben Olivares.
I was ringside for this fight and had special interest in the match having been in the ring with both men. Both were tough and both packed dynamite in their fists. Danny was unusually tall for a featherweight at nearly 5-9 and
Hafey was unusually short at just over 5-2. However, it wasn't height that would determine this fight, it was styles. Both men's style was to go toe-to-toe and that's exactly what they did. However, it was Danny Lopez
who did the damage and stopped Art Hafey in the seventh round. It would be Hafey's last pro fight. After the bout one side of Hafey's face was left paralyzed and he returned home to Nova Scotia, Canada where he lives today.
Three months later Danny "Little Red" Lopez would travel to Accra, Ghana to challenge David Kotey for the WBC World Featherweight Championship. Before a crowd of 60,000 Africans that had packed a local soccer stadium to root for their hero David Kotey, Danny Lopez took the African apart. Later, Howie Steindler would proudly tell of how quiet the crowd of 60,000 was watching the tough little Lopez take the world championship from Kotey.
I had retired from boxing just a couple of months previous after a very average career. However, when I heard Danny had won the title I felt as if I was a part of it. It gave me a special feeling to know that Danny had done
such an incredible thing. I could still see the skinny kid who'd arrived in L.A. from Utah and how shy he was when he met his future wife. Now he was the champ.
Shortly after winning the title Danny's manager Howie Steindler, a man who had been as much a father to Danny as a manager, was brutally murdered in what remains an unsolved murder. However, boxing insiders close to
Steindler are convinced the murder was a contract hit.
Lopez proved to be one of the most exciting champions the sport has ever known. He would hit the canvas on occasion and then rise to end a close fight with a single punch. Danny defended the title nine times before losing
it to one of the greatest featherweights in history, Salvador Sanchez.
I had not seen Danny for nearly three years after I retired from boxing. One day, just weeks after Lopez had lost the title to Sanchez, I was working as a lighting technician in the motion picture industry. A TV movie that I was
working on was being filmed at the Main Street Gym and Lopez saw me as I worked on the set. I felt a tap on my shoulder and when I turned around it was Danny Lopez, who'd come over to say hello. Most of the people I worked with knew that I had been a boxer but everybody knew who Danny Lopez was and the filming stopped for several minutes as people from the crew gathered around the former champ to wish him luck in his rematch with Sanchez.
I could see the fresh scar tissue above Danny's eyes from cuts suffered in the Sanchez fight but also noticed something that really surprised me. Danny had a look in his eye like I'd never seen before, not in him at least. It
was the look a man has in his eyes when he's lost the love of his life to some other guy. Danny had lost his title to Sanchez and wasn't used to being an ex-champ. He had only held the title for a couple of years but he was a
real champ and I know that a real champion somehow always believes that they will be champion. They know inside they can't hold a title forever, but are never ready to accept the day that it belongs to somebody else. It's
a very personal thing. It hurts. Danny Lopez was hurt. Nobody else could tell but I could.
Danny would lose to Sanchez a second time in an attempt to win back his title, but he would fight for it as if he were fighting for his life.
Danny Lopez was the Featherweight Champion of the world. In my eyes, he will always be a champion.
A Flame Of Pure Fire: Jack Dempsey & The Roaring 20s
Reviewed by Eric Jorgensen
Roger Kahn's most recent contribution to sports literature, "A Flame Of Pure Fire: Jack Dempey & The Roaring 20s", is an elegant, sophisticated ode to a man many consider to have been the greatest fighter who ever lived. The writing, both technically and stylistically, is nothing short of terrific -- a rare treat for a sport not frequently blessed with what anyone would term outstanding prose.
Kahn knew Dempsey (and knew other people who knew Dempsey), so the book is loaded with personal anecdotes and insights into Dempsey's character that are largely absent from the other works on him that have been prepared to date. This feature, combined with solid reporting of Dempsey's more public activities (his fights, his slacker trial, his marriages and his dealings with Doc Kearns & Tex Rickard) produce a rich, three-dimensional portrait of Dempsey that on occasion almost seems to bring him back to life. Moreover, Kahn does a wonderful job of evoking the spirit of the times, of weaving his way among the social and political events that coincided with Dempsey's tenure as champion and that made the 1920s what they were - arguably the most exciting and uninhibited period in this nation's history.
Additionally, and perhaps most significantly for the boxing historian, Kahn has a keen appreciation for Dempsey's true ability - an appreciation that many of today's pundits regrettably lack. For a long time there, Dempsey was considered to be the colossus of the sport. He was the runaway consensus as the greatest fighter of all-time, pound-for-pound, almost from the moment he exited the ring against Jess Willard until the mid-1960s, when those who saw him fight began dying off, and the likes of Sugar Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali began to "overtake" him in popular opinion. Kahn does a splendid job of setting the record straight: Dempsey was not a crude, wild-swinging animal, as some characterize him today. Instead, he was a cold, calculating killer, blessed with blazing speed, devastating power and a keen tactical mind that combined to render him literally invincible when he was at his peak. Kahn further points out that Dempsey's opponents (Willard, Billy Miske, K.O. Bill Brennan, Georges Carpentier, and Luis "Angel" Firpo), commonly dismissed as second-raters by contemporary sportswriters, were in truth as formidable a set of contenders as any champion has ever faced - a fact that makes his utter destruction of them all that much more awe-inspiring.
The foregoing is not to suggest that the book is without its flaws, however; it has a few. For one thing, Kahn's left-liberal pontificating occasionally gets in the way of his story. For another thing, his high-handed dismissal of the some of the predecessor works on Dempsey borders at times on condescension. Finally, and most importantly, the book contains some irritating factual inaccuracies evidencing sloppy research. [For example, it references Bob Fitzsimmons's 8th-round knockout of Jim Corbett (it was a 14th-round knockout) and John L. Sullivan's 15-year reign as champion (it was a 10-year reign), and it recounts Mickey Walker's masterpiece of Irish blarney regarding his fictional "rematch" with Harry Greb as if it really happened, which it almost certainly did not.]
These last points notwithstanding, however, I consider "A Flame Of Pure Fire" to be among the best boxing books ever written and I heartily recommend it, not only to boxing fans, but to all those who appreciate really good writing. Honestly, I enjoyed it immensely, cover to cover.
Bruno On Boxing
By Joe Bruno
Former vice president of the Boxing Writers Association and the International Boxing Writers Association
Lets say this right up top, the Mike Tyson-Orlin Norris fiasco that took place on Showtime on Saturday night October 23rd turned out to be a good thing for the average boxing fan. More on that later.
The fight lasted one uneventful round. Tyson showed none of his supposedly rediscovered left jab. Tyson did what he knows best; he winged punches from all angles, and he fouled his opponent in clinches.
After two minutes and forty seconds of a fairly even first round, Tyson and Norris were caught in a clinch. The referee Richard Steele jumped in to pry them apart. Steele barked, Break! As is required, Norris took a step
back. Tyson, knowing no such niceties, jumped in and nailed Norris with a left hook to the chops. Steel quickly jumped between the fighters and admonished Iron Mike for hitting on the break.
Tyson barely acknowledged the ref and charged forward into another clinch. Steele positioned himself between the two fighters as they wrestled with each others beefy arms. The bell ending the round clanged not once, not
twice, but FIVE TIMES!! DING! DING! DING! DING! DING! Then Steele yelled, Stop punching! Norris dropped his gloves ever so slightly. Tyson dipped his left shoulder around Steele and fired a left uppercut flush on Norris chin. Norris toppled backwards toward the canvas. But his right leg was caught under him, and he pitched awkwardly sideways on top of the leg, all 218 pounds of him. A cornerman rushed into the ring and helped Norris to his feet. Norris walked slowly and gingerly to his corner.
Steele pushed Tyson to his corner. Then Steele informed the Vegas commission, and Tysons corner, that he was deducting two points from Tyson for hitting on the break.
Former New York Post sportswriter Mike Marley, who is billed as an advisor to Norris, then earned his keep. Marley saw the incident for what it was; an obvious foul and possible cause for disqualification. Could Norris have continued? Probably. But what advisor, manager, or trainer wants to see his fighter facing a devastating puncher like Mike Tyson on one bad wheel? The key to beating Tyson is in-and-out, and side-to-side movement; not too likely on a gimpy right leg.
The Vegas commission doctor Flip Homansky examined Norris knee and noted the knee was indeed swelling fast. Doctor Flip confirmed, that in his opinion, Norris could not , and in fact, should not continue. Imagine the
commissions position if the fight wouldve continued and a murderous punching Mike Tyson had knocked out and possibly badly injured a one-legged fighter. Like vultures surrounding a decaying body, an avalanche of
million-dollar law suits wouldve surely followed.
So the fight was declared a no-contest, and Mike Tyson left the ring with smoke coming out of both ears, to the boos of the paying crowd who were duped again into parting with their hard-earned cash. Americas Bogeyman again.
At a post-fight press conference, Tyson went ballistic. "He threw it (the fight)," an angry Tyson said. "How I hit him in the jaw and he hurt his leg?"
The tape Mike. Look at the tape. Norris knee looked like a pretzel bent under him. Spit happens.
With his voice cracking, Tyson acknowledged he had contractual obligations, but still he felt disgusted with the course his career had taken. "I'm tired of this s--t and I feel like quitting boxing.
Thats too bad Mike. I guess well have to muddle on without you
After the fight, Norris was taken to Valley Hospital Medical Center and an MRI showed he dislocated his kneecap. Dr. Flip told reporters, "The MRI clearly shows the path his kneecap took when he went to the ground. When he stood up it popped back in. There's no way he could have continued. He very well might need surgery."
Good thing for Norris, he had a savvy boxing guy like Mike Marley in his corner. Come to think of it, good thing for boxing too. After the recent Randie Carver incident, boxing didnt need to have another fighter badly
hurt in the ring. Especially one fighting on one leg.
Now for the good news for all fight fans. Because of another Tyson performance that robbed the public of what they paid to see; a fight ending with a logical conclusion and a clear winner, there is no way Tysons next
fight could ever be shown in a pay-per-view venue, except maybe on the moon.
Pay $49.95 to see what? Another rob-job with Tysons opponent being led from the ring, either limping, or holding bloody and mutilated ears. I dont think so.
Tyson, and the cruds like Shelly Finkel and Dan Goossen of America Presents, who now benefit monetarily from their association with this convicted rapist, convicted batterer and human disgrace, owe the public one
more non pay-per-view fight. The Norris fight was supposed to be the bone they threw at us so we would dig deep into our pockets for a proposed pay-per-view bout against Shannon Briggs early next year. That bone turned out to be a wishbone that stuck in our collective throats, causing us to gag again on this rancid piece of rotting flesh called the sport of boxing.
Heimlich Maneuver anyone?
Minutes after the Norris-Tyson fight ended, Ferdie The Fright Doctor Pacheco had the task of interviewing Las Vegas Boxing Commission chairman Marc Ratner. Pachecos job was to ask pertinent questions about the bizarre ending of the fight. Ratners job was to answer them to the best of his ability. Thats not exactly what happened.
Pacheco went into the worst interviewing process Ive ever witnessed in almost 25 years of covering the seamy sport of boxing. Ferdie started the discourse with a disjointed, stuttering diatribe that had Ratner glaring at him in a combination of disbelief and dismay. In a voice more fit for the bereaved, Pacheco bemoaned the fact that Mike Tyson travels with a black cloud over his head. That we know. What we wanted to know was weather; a) Norris was truly hurt; and b) would there be a suspension for Tyson for committing two fouls in the space of twenty seconds.
Ratner said the commission would review the tape of the fight on Monday, then present its decision then.
But NO Mr. Bill, Pacheco would have none of that. Pacheco snapped at Ratner like Perry Mason badgering a hostile witness on the stand. Why do you have to wait until Monday? Pacheco snapped. Why cant you review the tape RIGHT NOW and give us your decision?
Ratner said, We found out from past experience that its good to wait awhile, examine the facts and not rush to any judgments.
Pacheco squealed, But we have the tape RIGHT HERE. Why cant the commission go into a room RIGHT NOW and get this over with?
By this time it looked like Ferdie has sprung a leak in his forehead, and Ratner looked like he wouldve rather been in the ring with Tyson himself, rather than face any more questions from this raving lunatic in the employ of
Pacheco ended the interview by whiningly imploring Ratner Not to suspend Mike Tyson again.
Shameless was a song written by Billy Joel. It could also apply to the Fright Doctor Ferdie Pacheco who, in the words of Dandy Don Imus, is ready for the dog track with a name tag pinned in big and bold letters on his
Chalk this one up for the good guys.
On November 5th, Super middleweight Dana Rosenblatt survived a third-round knockdown Friday night to eke out a split decision victory over Vinny Pazienza for the super middleweight title of the fringe International
Boxing Organization. Judge George Smith scored it 115-112 for Pazienza. Judges Joe Dwyer and Rocky Young scored it 115-113 and 114-113, respectively, for Rosenblatt (36-1). This reporter had it 114-114- a draw, but was happy to see the class act Rosenblatts hands raised in victory.
The fight was not much to look at, aside from Pazs flash third round knockdown. Rosenblatt did most of his work to the body, and Pazienza seemed content to stalk Rosenblatt for most of the 12 rounds without doing much of anything, except grabbing the ropes with his gloved hands, cursing at Rosenblatt and generally making a fool out of himself.
Pazienza was so confident he was going to knock the soft-spoken Rosenblatt out, like he did in the fourth round in 1996, he bet big bucks on himself with the Vegas books. That hes entitled to do. But the Pazmanian
Devil went too far when he sent Rozenblatts mother flowers before the fight, signaling he was going to put her poor son six feet under ground. Thatsa no nice.
Pazienza should put as much energy into his fights as he does in terrorizing the mothers of his opponents. Obviously, the steroids are starting to affect the Pazmanian Devils feeble brain.
Or maybe Pazienza should fight Roy Jones Jr. again (In their first encounter, Jones took target practice on the Pazmanian Devil's not-so-pretty mug). The sight of seeing the Pazmanian Fool flat on his back again will warm
many a fight fan's hearts.
Works for me.
A House Of Leather Where Dreamers Dwell
By Enrique Encinosa
I must confess that I am a gym rat. Forget the college degree, the published bestsellers and intellectual chit-chat with fellow authors, I am most at ease in a boxing gym, watching fighters spar while trading tales of the ring with scarred faced old-timers.
Boxing gyms are special places. Most are based in worn out warehouses, converted garages or small storefront operations. Boxing emporiums are traditionally gritty, with dirty windows and pock marked plaster walls where faded paint is covered by fight posters.
Some argue that a mean looking environment creates better fighters, while in reality, the somber grit of boxing gyms is not a matter of design, but of poverty and harsh economic conditions. Within this framework, the ambiance of boxing has been stereotyped, sometimes rightfully so, for it is said of Stillman's Gym that when the crusty windows were finally washed, the fight crowd complained of the bright glare. Miami's legendary Fifth Street Gym, even in the Ali era, was famous for it's voracious termites, which Chris Dundee once described as having the appetite of an "average heavyweight."
Stillman's and the Fifth Street Gym have disappeared, both turned into parking lots. Yuppies now park their foreign sedans in the spot where the Ali legend was born, where Pastrano sparred with Luis Rodriguez, where
Arguello and Duran once pounded bags and skipped rope.
There are other gyms creating their own tradition, becoming part of boxing lore. My favorite among the newcomers is the "Dr. Mickey Demos Amateur Boxing Gym," in southwest Miami.
Tropical Park is a Miami-Dade County owned facility. A concrete and asphalt road runs from gateway to gateway, providing access to handball and tennis courts, baseball fields, picnic areas and a small lake with a sandy
beach. Located next to the tennis courts is a concrete, one story functional building where the Tropical Park Gym is located.
Lou Stillman would have hated the place. The windows are clean, the floors well swept, the restroom facilities impeccable. The walls are painted in an even tone, without peeling strips or indentations. Even the fight posters are placed in a semblance of order, not jammed over each other to cover a rat-hole in the drywall.
There is something else about this gym, something special, for within these four walls, besides the usual ring, mirrors, assorted punching bags and no frills exercise machines, there is history, memorabilia of legends that would make boxing historians and collectors smile with glee.
A wall is dedicated to the memory of the Fifth Street Gym, with the original sign still presiding over sparring sessions. A series of brilliant feature articles on the Fifth Street inhabitants by Tom Archdeacon can be read on a display case. Dozens of glossy photos of Chris Dundee and other luminaries of the fight crowd adorn the wall.
Across the room, glass display cases, highlight shoes and boxing gloves worn by Robert Daniels and James Warring in title bouts, a sequined robe used by Freddie Pendleton, and a boxing bag and shoes that helped train
The curator of the boxing museum and gym is Dwaine Simpson, director of boxing for the county's park and recreation system. Simpson has silver hair, a nose that has been broken more than once and faded scar tissue
scars over the eyebrows. In spite of the tough countenance, the West Virginian has a pleasant smile and a quick wit.
Years ago, from the mid-fifties to the end of the sixties, Dwaine Simpson was a professional fighter, featured in prelim cards at the Miami Beach Convention Center and the Little River Auditorium.
"I had eleven amateur fights," Simpson said, "I lost the first and last and won nine in between. Then Dick Lee signed a bunch of us to pro contracts and I fought a lot of my fights at the Little River, which was a little club that sat just a few hundred fans. Prelim fighters made twenty dollars a fight. If you were fighting on an important card at the beach the prelim pay would get as high as seventy-five dollars."
Starting his career as a wiry lightweight, eventually growing into a middleweight, Simpson fought 142 pro fights, retiring with a very respectable 113-22-7 record. One of those pro fights, an eight round draw against Bobby Marie, took place on a cruise boat, where the rocking of the ship on the ocean made footwork difficult and several fighters became seasick in what Simpson described as "a strange afternoon."
"I knew my limitations as a fighter," he once told me, in an honest self-appraisal, "I loved boxing and I enjoyed the competition, but I knew I was not championship caliber, so I fought four and sixes and an occasional eight rounder, but I fought at my level. If more people fought at their level, boxing would be more competitive and fighters would be hurt less."
Simpson's office at one corner of the building is a continuation of the museum. Framed art prints with boxing themes include the signed work of "Fight Doctor" Ferdie Pacheco and Murray Gaby, a former undefeated
middleweight who is a gifted painter and sculptor. There is a sign from Chris Dundee's home, autographed photos of Rocky Marciano and Mike Tyson and shelves full of boxing statuettes, toys and medals.
The quaint museum and boxing facility has three trainers. Jimmy Navarro and Dave Clark are the other two coaches at Tropical Park.
Navarro is a product of the county boxing program. As a wiry flyweight and bantamweight he fought 44 amateur bouts, winning state and regional titles, including the Sunshine Games. Turning pro he won 21 of 24 pro
fights, including a couple of main event ESPN scraps and a number one rating. Jimmy had good boxing skills and a hard right hand but lacked the lightning speed demanded of the light divisions. Although he is the youngest of the three coaches, Navarro already has a decade of experience in the training business, both at the amateur and professional levels. He relates well to his students, working patiently to teach proper stance, balance and power. Navarro is the future of boxing, the young teacher, part of the new generation of coaches that carry on a pugilistic tradition dating back to the days of Figg and Broughton.
Dave Clark is one of Florida's top boxing trainers, a veteran of several world title bouts with champions Robert Daniels, James Warring and Freddie Pendleton. Dave is liked by all in a trade known for its dark side, for the former amateur boxer is a man who has dedicated several decades of his life to the sport. Clark is a man who enjoys his work, one of those souls who is just as thrilled to be working a corner at a ring pitched in a parking lot as he is at a Las Vegas extravaganza. Dave Clark is the soul of all that is good in boxing.
The Miami-Dade County boxing program, which sponsors two well-staffed gyms is a successful operation. Each year the program averages seventy-five to eighty-five competing amateurs and over three hundred non-competing citizens who train in the facilities. The boxing program has produced an impressive number of professional fighters including the first Miami born boxer to gain a world crown, Robert Daniels, and contenders Glenn Wolfe, Jimmy Navarro and heavyweight Jose Ribalta.
"Daniels and Ribalta were kids when they started with me," Clark said, "I guess they were in Junior High. They were little flyweights. I probably worked over a hundred and fifty corners with just the two of them, between
amateur and pro fights."
"We teach proper stance and balance," Simpson said, "and we do not place our fighters into competitive matches unless we feel they have the knowledge and condition required of the sport. Our sparring sessions are
geared for practice and timing not for two boxers to pound each other. We allow pros to train here as long as they behave and follow rules."
Hall of Famers, men named Arguello and Duran have honed their skills at Tropical Park. Freddie Pendleton is a regular. More typical than the famous names are the still unknowns, sweating their daily grind in front of a mirror, shadowboxing while dreaming of a future.
Hasani Carmenovae and Gus Rahming are two of the dreamers. Hasani, a cruiserweight with 31 amateur bouts and a couple of regional Golden Gloves and PAL titles, is ready to turn pro. In his twenties, the New Orleans
native is a prospect with good boxing skills and an easy smile. His goals are to attain title belts and six figure paydays. Time will tell whether he has the discipline and capacity for hard work that is demanded of a main
event performer. Ahead are years of hard work, small paydays and other hungry fighters. Hasani dreams and trains daily, aware of the hard road to fame and wealth.
Gus Rahming dreams because his past has been a nightmare. He is a well-muscled middleweight who often spars with Freddie Pendleton.
"This guy is a character," Dave Clark told me as we watched Gus shadowboxing in the ring, "Tough as nails. He was the leader of a big gang in the northwest section of town, had trouble with the law and even lived homeless for a year, eating out of garbage cans. And all this while he was a teenager. Then boxing straightened him out. He was a local star and won some regionals and the only losses he had were against the top guys in the
nationals.then he goes off on his own to the Carolinas and fights two pro fights, winning one and losing one. When he comes back, we find out he fought two heavyweights, and he's only a middleweight."
"I like fighting heavyweights," Gus interrupted as he threw punches at the air, "Heavyweights don't move around. They are easy to hit."
"In all my years in boxing," Dave said, "I haven't seen anyone like Gus. One day I picked him and gave him a ride. We are going through a real nasty neighborhood and suddenly we see this big guy with a knife mugging an
old woman. Gus said -Dave, stop the car. Next thing I know, Gus runs up to the guy and forget about the knife, Gus beats this guy like a drum. It's over in seconds. Gus then returns the purse to the old woman, comes back,
sits in the car and says-okay, let's go the gym. It's like nothing happened. He's cool as ice."
I nod my head in amazement.
Gus and Hasani are trading banter in the ring as they shadowbox. The sun filters in through the window, throwing beams of light across the concrete floor. Two high school kids practice moves in front of a mirror. A
businessman in a jogging suit pounds a heavy bag, while a woman boxer skips rope. The echo of a bell fills the room.
I love it so.
It's All About Zab:
Zab Judah Speaks His Mind!
By Francis Walker
Ranked No.1 by the International Boxing Federation at 140-pounds, Zab Judah patiently awaits his first world title shot. Judah, a 22-year-old Brooklynite fighting out of Flatbush, New York, patiently awaits his meeting with IBF junior welterweight champ, Terrron Millett.
Recently, at the Michael Grant-Andrew Golota fight card in Atlantic City, I had an opportunity to chat with Judah, a member of the 1996 United States Boxing Team in the Atlanta Olympics. Some of his teammates included: WBA junior middleweight champ, David Reid, IBF junior middleweight king, Fernando Vargas, and WBC super featherweight champ, Floyd Mayweather.
Judah, currently at 22-0-1, 18KOs, was on hand expressing his views on the entire 140-pund weight class; as well as his newly found friendship with former world champion, Mike Tyson.
Francis Walker: What do you think of the 140-pound weight class, Terronn Millett, Sharmba Mitchell, Kostya Tszyu, among others ?
Zab Judah: I don't give a fuck about them.
FW: Recently, you made a prediction that Terron Millett, the IBF junior welterweight champion would not last one round with you.
Judah: I'm just saying he's not gonna last. What does that say? (Zab referring to his picture on the front cover of the recent KO Boxing Magazine) Uncrowned who? That's it!
FW: Are you impressed with WBA champ, Sharmba Mitchell?
Judah: Hell, no! He's a bum!Whenever Don King is ready to put him up - put him up!
FW: How much do you know of Randall Bailey?
Judah: Randall Bailey? Who's Randall Bailey? He better stay in a child's place. He can get into it too. Randall who?
FW: Arturo Gatti just moved-up to 140-pounds. Have you ever thought about the possibility of facing him one day?
Judah: We're good friends! I don't seek that match because, that's my homey. Plus, we are promoted by the same people. I'm gonna live-up to my name - Zab "Superstar" Judah.
FW: I understand you have become very close to Mike Tyson as of late. What's it like being close to someone like Tyson?
Judah: I mean, it's good. Brooklyn's finest hanging together. It's just a veteran teaching a younger fella coming into the game.
FW: What kind of "positive" advise has Tyson given you during your brief tenure as a professional fighter?
Judah: Everything, all types of advice! Showing me different moves. He's teaching me the game; the back-stabbing, the B.S., the promoters. At one point he was the finest fighter in the world All you can do is learn!
FW: With Tyson well over 30, does he still have what it takes, at his age, to rule the heavyweight division the same way he did when he was 20?
Judah: You know With age, it's a slowdown process. It don't mean nothing to me. Nothing to me!
FW: In Spring 2000, both you and Tyson are scheduled to perform in front of your hometown fans at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Did you ever believe it could happen?
Judah: That's a dream come true, it can't get no better than that. Brooklyn fighters coming together. Not even Brooklyn fighters, New York fighters. It's off the meters!
FW: Lastly, do you have any message for any of the fighters who speaks of fighting Zab Judah?
Judah: Whoever wants it, come and get it! Don't talk about it - Just be about it!
FW: You know Zab, I don't hear anyone calling your name out.
Judah: 'Cause, they ain't crazy! If they call me out and they don't fight me, I'll fight anybody, anytime, anyplace. If you wanna fight Zab Judah, don't call his name and not come out and fight me. You might get slapped!
The Ten Greatest Heavyweights of All Time
By J.D. Vena
As the turn of the 21st century nears, boxing will finally have a definitive answer as to who is the heavyweight champion of the world. One question that will continue to linger into the century is who were the greatest of them all. The age-old question that probably began somewhere in a saloon 100 years ago or so has become more and more difficult for the average pugilistic pundit to answer.
Typically a list of greatest fighters reflects the era in which an individual grew up and other factors that should not have any influence.
Factors such as the impact the fighter had on society or the belief that one fighter's athletic ability was better than another's are just a few of the elements weighed when creating these lists. Some also believe that had fighter A fought in fighter B's era, he would have mopped the floor with his competition. Such speculation will never be proven and therefore can not be realistically argued. Not many experts today can even predict who would win
the contests of today.
Throughout history, the fighters of the present usually do not receive the credit for greatness until those fighters are long retired. For example, in 1950, The Boxing Writer's Association of America took a poll to determine
the greatest fighter of the first half of the century. Jack Dempsey received the most votes with over 250. Joe Louis received 130 votes and everyone else received far fewer (including the likes of Sugar Ray Robinson and Henry Armstrong). Why? What did Joe Louis do after 1950 (the year after his 11 ½ year reign ended) that would place him consistently above Dempsey in most of today's boxing writer's top 10 heavyweight lists? Also consider that up until 1950, the great Sugar Ray Robinson lost only one of 105 fights. Certainly Henry Armstrong's achievement of holding 3 titles in 3 different weight classes simultaneously, overshadows any of Dempsey's accomplishments as well.
In 1960, a similar poll (for heavyweights only) was taken by Ring Magazine. Amazingly enough, Rocky Marciano's name was not mentioned in their top ten. It wasn't until 1970 when Marciano's name appeared on most boxing writers' top ten lists. Obviously, the people of his generation gave him his righted credit when they were old enough to work as a columnist.
Comparing one's ability and the impact a fighter had on society does not indicate how accomplished he is as a boxer. Just as it is unfair to declare Mike Tyson greater than Evander Holyfield because he is considerably the more popular boxer of the two. Therefore, the fairest aspects to consider when rating a fighter's greatness would be what that fighter did during his career. What fighters they beat, how long they were considered in the top echelon, as well as the adversity that the fighter may have had to overcome (Foreman's physical age, Holyfield's size disadvantage) to achieve their success. Certainly having the ability to defeat a variety of fighters who possess conflicting styles and or advantages proves how accomplished a fighter is as well. In this listing, I will explain what a fighter needed to accomplish in order to improve their status. When analyzing these elements, I'm sure you can agree to some extent to the fighters I have included in my personal top 10 list of greatest heavyweights.
1) Muhammad Ali
If you checked out each month's heavyweight ratings issued by Ring Magazine from 1963-1977, you could find at least 6 or 7 opponents within the top 10 that Ali defeated once or twice. Ali was 39 years old the first time he
fought an opponent (Larry Holmes) he would never beat. Along the way, he won the heavyweight title on three occasions. Two of those victories were considered tremendous upsets over highly regarded physical specimens, Sonny Liston and George Foreman.
2) Joe Louis
Reigning for 11 1/2 years with uninterrupted supremacy and 25 title defenses is certainly criteria for Louis to be rated as high as he is. The only way he could have been "The Greatest" would have been had he not lost to
Schmeling earlier in his career, or if he had had enough to beat Charles or Marciano at the tail end of his career. Wins over Elmer Ray and a prime version of Jimmy Bivins may have improved his status as well.
3) Evander Holyfield
If you were to rank the best heavyweights from 1989-1999, you could find nearly everyone's name on Evander Holyfield's resume. After defeating Michael Dokes, one of the top 4 best heavyweights of the 80's, he then
defended his number one status with two wins over #2 ranked fighters (never done or required of by the top-ranked fighter). With the exception of Lennox Lewis, Holyfield defeated every fighter he faced as well as everyone who was perceived to be the best (Tyson, Bowe and Douglas) when winning the heavyweight championship three times. Though he lost and drew with Lewis, the blemishes came at the tail end of his career against an opponent too big.
His other noted wins over Mercer, Foreman, Holmes and Moorer were considerable accomplishments. Holyfield was outweighed in all but one of his fights as a heavyweight and only Mike Tyson, Michael Moorer, Bobby Czyz and Seamus McDonaugh were heavyweights who scaled under 220 pounds. Holyfield has also never faced an opponent who had a record under the .500 mark. Every other heavyweight champion he succeeded has this distinction. Rocky Marciano went the distance with one of these opponents twice. If you also analyze his four losses, two of them were due to medical reasons: an obvious bum shoulder in his first fight with Moorer and suffering from hepatitis B in his third meeting with Bowe. What distinguishes him from fighters such as de la Hoya or Tyson is that he does not feel that cancellation is necessary when hampered by an injury. No matter what the circumstances are, he believes that he will have enough to win.
4) Larry Holmes
The dominance factor is there (21 title fight wins). The longevity is there, but he doesn't have enough quality opponents as the above fighters have despite his long career (from 1973-Present). Other than his impressive win
over Ken Norton to win the title, he doesn't have that gargantuan victory. His win over Gerry Cooney was not as significant considering the fact that Cooney didn't fight competitively after the loss. Though he would be 35 years old when he would lose for the first time, it would come against blown-up, light-heavyweight champion, Michael Spinks.
5) George Foreman
Had Foreman not have ducked Holmes for 20 years or defeated a worthy challenger (Tyson, Bowe, Lewis or Holyfield) of the 90's in his second reign as champion, he could have improved to number two or three. Like Holmes, Foreman remained competitive into his 40's and became the oldest heavyweight champion when he knocked out Michael Moorer at the age of 45. Had Foreman faced a sturdier (chin-wise) champion however, he may not have accomplished that feat. The fighters I rated above Foreman also never lost to the caliber of an opponent like Jimmy Young who on any given day could lose to anyone.
6) Jack Johnson
Though he beat the best fighters of his day, he also lost to a few random opponents along the way during his physical prime. A one eyed Marvin Hart for example was one of these fighters that reportedly licked Johnson.
Johnson's biggest wins against Sam Langford, Sam McVey and Joe Jeannette occurred when all of them were young and raw. McVey fought and lost to Johnson 3 times in 20 round fights, however, they happened within McVey's first 12 fights (also consider that these fighters did not have amateur experience). Johnson's win over Langford occurred when Langford was inexperienced as a heavyweight. Though Johnson showed competitiveness and fought into his 40's and even 50's, Holmes and Foreman were actually regarded as top ranked fighters at their advanced age.
7) Rocky Marciano
Not only were most his victories composed of washed up has-beens (even though they were the best available opponents), he reigned as champion for only four years and retired at the age of 32. The fighters I rated above him were either winning or defending their titles after that age. In spite of this, Marciano's first and last title fights spanned only 3 years of dominance (from his September '52 with Jersey Joe Walcott to his last fight with Archie
Moore in September of '55). Therefore, the lack of longevity (which could have also added to his quality of opposition) is what hurts him most. As a result, you couldn't even complete a top ten list of his opponents without
including fighters with an under .500 record. His record alone is what puts him into the top ten. You have to acknowledge and admire his consistency however, his record would have looked more glorified had he stayed around longer and defeated Floyd Patterson.
8) Joe Frazier
Though Frazier was dominant for four to five years in spite of Ali's ring absence, he was pulverized (by George Foreman) before the age of 30. Holmes was once pulverized, however, it occurred when he was 38 and inactive for two years. Despite showing tremendous courage, he did not fair too well when matched with a bigger stronger opponent. Fighters such as Bonavena and Stander were also able to trouble or hurt Frazier because of their size. If Frazier couldn't go through you, he'd get stopped.
9) Mike Tyson
Tyson was thoroughly dominant from '86-90 and beat up every heavyweight from the 80's with ease. If it weren't for Holmes' near title defense record, Tyson would have surpassed him as the best heavyweight of the 80's. Despite being inactive through much of the 90's, he was always considered the best if not one of the best in the world when he was active. His biggest problem was coping with a boxer who wasn't afraid of him. Like Liston before him, Tyson's opponents were completely terrified of him. Only three of his opponents thus far appeared as though they were not visibly afraid when fighting Tyson. The reason why this doesn't eliminate Tyson's status is
because one of those fighters was one of the greatest (Holyfield) and the other (Buster Douglas) was a massive 6'4 heavyweight who possessed tremendous advantages.
10) Harry Wills
"The Black Panther" defeated one of the most accomplished fighters of all-time (Sam Langford) 16 of 18 times! He also beat every fighter willing to give him the chance (the more experienced versions of Sam McVey and Joe
Jeannette). Despite being the number one contender from 1920-1926 he still never received his most deserved shot in spite of his race (African-American), ability and tremendous size.
Why Some Were Not Included
Looking at my list, you would probably wonder why the infamous name of Jack Dempsey was not included. There are several reasons why he isn't. Consider that in his reign as champion (from 1919-1926), he was inactive for 4 of those years. He feasted on light-heavyweight competition (when heavyweights were available for him to fight) and was knocked cold once in the first round by Fireman Jim Flynn. Though being knocked out in one round doesn't eliminate a fighter from achieving greatness, no fighter listed above had ever experienced such an indignity. Though he came back the next year to reverse that verdict, his aura of invincibility was shattered. So he beat a behemoth in Jess Willard. Willard was inactive for nearly two years and could only fight in spite of his size. Consider that during the two years before Dempsey became champion, he won one of five (1-2-2 record wise)
contests against "Fat" Willie Meehan, a 210 pounder who should have been a middleweight. Middleweights such as Harry Greb had no problem beating the "Fatboy." Dempsey's detractors often criticized him for ducking Harry Wills.
What they should have done was crucify him. How can anyone make a top ten list without fighting the fighter deemed as the second best heavyweight (Wills) for seven years? If Dempsey is ranked at all, it's after Gene Tunney who whipped him twice.
Throughout the late 50's and early 60's, Sonny Liston wreaked havoc in the heavyweight division. While waiting for his earned shot at the title, Liston was beating the best available competition, some with relative ease.
After he destroyed Floyd Patterson in his only two title fight victories, Liston's demise came quite abruptly. Though his downfall came against the great Muhammad Ali, he lost disgracefully in both of their fights in Ali's
first 20 bouts as a pro. Liston quit once and was stopped in the very first round the second time around. There are some that still believe that he quit in their return match as well.
Some would question the logic of having Evander Holyfield in the top 10 without including Riddick Bowe. Bowe twice defeated Holyfield in their three fight series, however he didn't beat many others. Like Marciano, you couldn't create a top ten list of quality opponents who Bowe defeated and his reign (one year) as well as his career (7 years) ended prematurely. Bowe had a tendency to fluctuate in weight in between fights and as a result, he wasn't sharp enough by fight time to utilize the wisdom and the guidance of Eddie Futch. His stoppage victory over Holyfield in their rubber match is also not too impressive considering the fact that he held tremendous size
advantages in weight, height and reach. Holyfield was also ailing from the Hepatitis B virus. A win over Mike Tyson or Lennox Lewis would have invited Bowe into the top 10.
An Interview with Rick Kulis..............by Katherine Dunn
The Founder of the International Female Boxing Association and President of Event Sports, Inc. talks about the current state and the future of women's boxing, with detours through the 2 minute round and the controversial Margaret McGregor.
Whether you agree or disagree with Rick Kulis on any topic, you have to admit that the stocky, articulate businessman is committed to promoting women's boxing. Back in 1997 his company, Events Entertainment, started promoting all-female fight cards, some of which were broadcast on a pay-per-view basis. The shows had foxy titles such as "Leather & Lace", and "Lips of Rouge, Fists of Fury." Also in 1997, Kulis founded a complimentary venture in the form of the International Female Boxing Association (IFBA), a sanctioning body which defined rules, established rankings, and sanctioned titles for women in the professional sport. As in men's boxing, women's sanctioning bodies have a tendency to multiply. IFBA is a rival of the Women's International Boxing Federation (WIBF) founded by former pro, Barbara Buttrick.
Recently, Kulis, now the president of a slightly revised company named Event Sports,Inc., was a prominent critic of the notorious Oct. 9, 99 female vs male match between Margaret McGregor and Loi Chow in Seattle.
Notably, Kulis was highly visible on the CNN Talk Back Live program, decrying the idea of male vs female boxing and the McGregor-Chow match in particular. McGregor defeated Chow on Saturday, Oct. 9. On Tuesday, October 12, Kulis flew into Seattle to meet with McGregor and her manager/trainer Vern Miller. Kulis signed McGregor to a multiple fight promotional contract with Event Sports, and a small endorsement contract
for TKO women's boxing gear. On November 14, in her first bout under the Event Sports contract, McGregor dominated tough Cheryl Nance for a six round decision win on an America Presents show carried nationally by Fox Sports.
I talked to Kulis by phone to get his take on McGregor, the 2 minute round, the IFBA, and the state of women's boxing in general.
KD--Is Jackie Kallen still involved with the IFBA?
RK--No, Jackie was our first Commissioner and she left us after about a year and then Shelley Williams became our next Commissioner. And Shelley has decided to go back to manage fighters.
We're without a commissioner at the moment and that's why I've become a spokesman for the IFBA. But I created it back in '97 because there wasn't any...there really wasn't any rhyme or reason to women's boxing. The
weight divisions weren't defined. Women were fighting each other with twenty to thirty pounds difference. It was just a mess. So we founded this thing with 16 weight divisions. We got the two minute round. We got the pregnancy testing. We got the glove that we designed specifically to fit a woman's hand.
The inside of the glove is a little bit tighter and the grip bar that goes across where you make a fist is lower than in a man's glove. So it more conforms to a woman's hand. We were at first using the Everlast woman's glove when we first started but it caused so many cuts and so many abrasions and so many hand injuries that we just said there's nothing out there for women.
So we went directly to TKO and TKO worked with us. And we sent the glove out to Tracy Byrd and Fredia Gibbs and 10 or 12 other fighters at the time. And they helped give the input til we got to the point where we actually had a glove. And we can say now after a hundred and seventy-two matches that we used this glove in, that we haven't had one serious cut or one serious injury.
KD--What's your thinking about the two minute round?
RK--Actually the IFBA established the two minute round kind of universally across the country. The boxing commissions didn't really have any way to organize women's boxing up until 1997. In fact it wasn't until 1998, last year, when they actually established the two minute round, actually established the ten round championship format. They actually established the pregnancy testing. They worked hard on the breast protection. They've started to have some rules universally across the country for the sport. It's really developing. It's new. It's different. It's got to the point now where there are more fans that are watching it, and they enjoy it. Now every male card. Every single male card.... literally every single card, whether it's on the highest championship level or the lowest club level, it's almost mandatory that at least one of the bouts is a female bout.
KD--Just to return briefly to the two minute round. What is the rationale for the two minute round as opposed to the three minute round?
RK--Well early on I think it was because the women really didn't have the ability to get into shape for the three minute round. There's not a lot of sparring for the women. And that is the biggest problem in this business, is trying to find sparring in the local area. So the women didn't really have the training to do the three minute round in the beginning. And I think the people who started the two minute round concept did it, you know, because they were women....a protective approach.... But then what we found, the reason we adopted it, the IFBA, the reason we got involved with it was because there's more action in two minutes.... It wouldn't even be bad if men went to two minutes. It's just more fun to watch. What you find in three minute rounds is that they dance around with each other for two minutes and thirty seconds and then hit each other for thirty seconds. And what the women have found with the two minute rounds is that they don't have a lot of time to do that. They come right out from the opening bell and start to show their skill and they go for the entire two minutes.
KD--I understand that international amateur competition has gone over to five two-minute rounds as opposed to three three-minute rounds. And apparently all international competition in amateur boxing now is going to be conducted in that format.
RK--Well the two minute round, even for men it would show more action in the ring. But of course they've got their established format and that's what they're going to continue with. But the women, luckily enough, can kind of set their own rules and the two minute round has been very successful.
KD--And you don't find women complaining that it's patronizing or diminishing? The equivalent of half-court basketball?
RK--Naaa. Not at all. First of all the women get paid more for their opening bouts...They get paid more than the men do anyway for the small ones. They get two hundred dollars a round vs one hundred dollars a round (for men). So right away they're making a little bit more money. The two minute rounds obviously are just something that's been established. That they would live with. And there's nothing wrong with it. It's more fun. It's better for the fan. It's kind of like the AFL, when they got started they had a little different rules. And the ABA, with basketball, had a little different rules. Women's boxing established some different rules and luckily they've applied. People like it.
(Event Sports,Inc's next all female fight card is scheduled for a January
2000 Friday Night Fight show on ESPN2)
KD--Will that be the first all female show for ESPN2?
RK--No, it will actually be their fourth one. We produced three of them in1998, and then in 1999 they haven't produced one yet and that was only because of casino problems. They were prepared to do one in October but
that didn't work out so we moved the October show to January. They've been very successful for ESPN. Generated ratings double of those of men. So they want to get back into the business.
They've generated double ratings for ESPN2 and they've doubled the ratings for when USA Tuesday Night Fights were on. They have the highest ratings of any boxing show USA Tuesday Night Fights had done in the
previous five years.
KD--Why do you think that happened?
RK--Well I think it had a lot to do with channel surfing, obviously. People were clicking around, they saw this new opportunity on television. They watched it. One thing about women's boxing is that it really delivers on the promise. It's not like the WNBA where perhaps the women don't jump quite as high or run quite as fast or slam dunk, or it's not women's tennis where they have to play three sets vs five sets for the men. This is a situation in which women really perform in the ring. And once people see it they stop, they look, they enjoy it. It's a very enjoyable sport.
KD-- I know a number of crusty male fight fans who have gradually come to that conclusion, however resistant they were in the beginning.
RK--Yeah, and that's exactly what happened to us back in 1997 when we started this thing. The boxing fans were kind of split fifty-fifty. Some of them enjoyed it, some of them didn't. But the ones who didn't enjoy it, after they got to see it , you know on a more professional level, or a higher level, they started to embrace it. So virtually now, almost all boxing fans have accepted women's boxing as part of the boxing format.
The problem that we have here in this sport is that there are very few women that have come up through the amateur ranks. Once we get that..And we will get that within the next two years..Right now what we're dependent
on is women who've gone in for aerobics training and that's partially how Ali got involved in this thing--Or--they come out of kick boxing. Which is where Margaret comes from.
KD__Or out of the Tough Women contests like Christy Martin.
RK--Or out of the Tough Women. Right. Though very few out of the tough women. There's only two. Christy Martin and Tiffany Logan.
KD--And Andrea DeShong.
RK--Yeah. But that's it. They're not the bulk of it. We have three hundred women that are fighting professionally around the country, and you only have three that have come out of the tough women. It's not really a ground to start on. But the majority of these women, it's almost fifty-fifty down the road, they either come out of the aerobics side or they come out of the kick boxing side. It's only the Denise Moraetes's who have come out of
the U.S amateur program. And those other women who are going to come out of that program are going to make the sport move ahead. We are literally on the threshold of having a very bonafide professional sport that is going to be supported in the same way that the men's business has been supported.
That's one thing about basketball, obviously Title IX was very important for women. Particularly on the collegiate level. It allowed them to develop their skills, which also means they took them into the professional ranks. Unfortunately boxing doesn't have that same kind of background. It has to come from the amateur level. Luckily enough now the Golden Gloves now are established, and USA Boxing are going into their fifth tournament I think. So we're there. This is a very exciting opportunity, for women and for boxing fans.
KD-- Mexico recently legalized women's boxing. A lot of very talented and skilled male boxers come out of that area, maybe we can look forward to a flood of Mexican women boxers as well.
RK--I think they're going to be there. We certainly have a very prolific program in Canada. We have a great program in the United States. There will, in fact, be forty countries that will participate in the first (amateur) World Tournament which will be held in 2001. From the third world nation perspective it's a great opportunity for an additional Olympic sport without a lot of investment. You don't have to invest in a lot of equipment. You're fielding a team for virtually nothing. So that's why I think it's going to work.
But more importantly, there's not one event that we've done,--and we have sold out the Bally's Hotel in Las Vegas, we have sold out Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, we have sold out the Grand Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi three times, and the Horseshoe Casino up in Louisiana three times, there is not a time when we have not had standing ovations and crowds that have said 'when are you coming back.' And that's what it's about from a promotion perspective.
KD--And what do you see as valuable to Event Sports about Margaret McGregor?
RK--I think what we see in Margaret is that Margaret has a desire to fight the best in her weight category. She really wants to be in women's boxing. She took this match (against male boxer Loi Chow) because she felt there
wasn't anybody she could fight. It became kind of a media circus, but it drew a lot of attention to her, particularly, but ultimately it's turned out to draw a lot of attention to women's boxing. The nice thing about Margaret is that she delivers on the promise. She's not taking her clothes off in Playboy and then can't fight when she gets in the ring. She's not Lucia Rijker who, frankly, has got a name in kick boxing but I don't think she's established her name in boxing, period. She has not fought one decent woman in the sport today. Unlike Christy Martin who fought a Deirdre Gogarty or who fought a Sumya Anani, Lucia Rijker has not fought one legitimate opponent. Not one. But she's lived on her kick boxing background. There's a time when Lucia is going to have to step in the ring and fight somebody in this business and when she does she's going to get beat. She's going to get beat just like Christy Martin got beat by Sumya Anani. There are so many good women in her weight division that she will
not meet or fight. So I think that Lucia Rijker is a non-issue in our business. Just as Christy Martin became a non-issue in our business when she was beat by Sumya Anani. I think that Margaret has the opportunity to
actually be the best in the featherweight division in this country. She really does have the skill. So that's why we went and talked to her.
KD--And of course she comes in on the wake of a whole lot of media attention so she's a ready-made name who people will want to see.
RK--And you know what? Nothing wrong with that. That's what women's boxing needs. Women's boxing needs a star. Bottom line. Needs a star. No questions asked. Margaret can be that star. She's not doing it in a round
about way. She's doing it very directly. And luckily enough she's talking about the sport of women's boxing, she wants to be a party to that. Yes, there's no question the notoriety that came from fighting Chow is gonna help women's boxing.
But she's not Christy Martin saying I'm a fighter and I don't really care about women's boxing. She's not Lucia Rijker saying I'm just not capable of fighting anybody of any quality in my weight division. She's not Mia St. John saying I prefer to take my clothes off and get my face on Conan O'Brien and Pacific Blue versus actually performing in the ring. She's prepared to go out there and actually fight. And that's what women's boxing needs.
They need a star and she's going to be that star. Margaret is going to bring that media attention. No question about it. I think she has the ability to be a star within her weight category. Which is the featherweight weight category. We're excited about her because she wants to fight women. She only did this men's thing because she felt that there was not competition for her. And when it was pointed out to her over and over again that there were literally forty women in the featherweight division that she could start fighting tomorrow, she said wait a minute, this is what I wanted to do all along. I just wasn't given this opportunity by my trainer or my manager or the local market.
And see, that's the biggest problem we have. Here's Margaret McGregor at 125 lbs. She's up in Seattle, Washington, and you know there's not another 125 lb professional in that marketplace. The closest 125 pounder is in Tacoma. So where's she going to get the sparring? And when the local promoter says I'm going to put on a local fight and my entire budget is ten thousand dollars. And I want to put on a women's fight but I want to find them local so they'll drive in because I can't afford to fly them...Well, there's no opponents for her. And we have that in various parts of the country. There are some areas where there are more women training than in other areas but it's very difficult to find two women of the same weight in the same town for these local promoters to drive them in. That's why it's tough.
KD--On CNN Talk Back Live prior to the McGregor-Chow bout you were very critical of the idea of the mixed-match.
RK--Yes. There's no place for it. There's no place for it in boxing. There's no reason to have it. There's nothing to be gained from it. There's nothing to be proven by it. And again, had Margaret said I want to continue fighting men, we wouldn't be talking to her.
KD--But the product of this mixed-match was sufficient media attention so that you found her.
Rk--Absolutely. My criticism, particularly toward her was that her trainer had not sought out sufficient opportunities to fight other females.
KD--But had she not gone through with this you never would have made this deal with her, correct? You might never have found her.
RK--We probably never would have heard of her. That's the reality of it. Yes. There's no question that this turned out to be a very successful promotion for Margaret. There's no hiding that or denying that or trying to B.S. it.
KD--And you seemed to indicate earlier that you thought in general it really called a lot of attention to the fact that women's boxing exists.
RK--First of all, Margaret always positioned herself....and all my criticism never ever centered on this match. It's not about that match. It's all about the state of Washington sanctioning it as a legal bout. Which would then open up the doors to other states or other fighters or other promoters wanting to do this. And I'm still worried about that. I still don't think that's a good thing. The fact that Margaret is saying that she's not looking to fight men right now, she's looking to fight women, turns that attention positively in her favor. It doesn't help when you get on the Internet and you see Lucia Rijker wants to fight a man next year. That's all B.S. And that's what I was worried about. And that's what the IFBA continues to worry about. That these type of things should not happen. And we don't believe they should ever happen again.
Kevin Taylor's CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING
Reviewed by Eric Jorgensenkevin@kkcomp.globalnet.co.uk. The game costs about $40.00 (but check first as it is priced in pounds).
Kevin Taylor's new game, Championship Boxing, is a superb addition to the boxing simulation genre. Indeed, I would go so far as to call it the finest example of its type that I have ever encountered (that "type" being the old-fashioned, non-computerized, paper & dice variety).
Taylor's set up is extremely well thought-out, and demonstrates a deep and thorough understanding of the technical intricacies of the sport, as well as its history. Here's how it works:
To start, each player selects a boxer -- either a contemporary or an "all-time great" (the game rates several hundred old-time champions and contenders from all weight classes). Each boxer is rated in 10 different categories (dominance factor, punching power, knockdown, staydown, tendency to foul, punching accuracy, evasion, TKO, stamina, tendency to cut), and each is assigned a "favorite" punch or set of punches. When two boxers are selected to fight, their respective ratings are compared and adjusted, each according to the other (a high evasion factor by one fighter may affect the punching the accuracy of the other, for example). The basic "action" in a given round is determined by rolling dice and comparing the numbers the dice produce to each boxer's personal statistics and to a "Punch Chart" (which provides 100 different possible exchanges). Each round will consist of between 9 and 12 exchanges. "Stamina" is reduced (with various attendant consequences) throughout the course of the fight, with the rate of reduction depending, naturally, on the intensity of the action.
The game is sophisticated enough to permit a player to control his/her boxer's fundamental fight strategy. At any point in time, a player may select from among 5 different strategies (normal, defensive, running defense, all out attack, pressure), each of which will affect the boxer's personal statistics in one way or another (for instance, and logically, the "all out attack" strategy increases "dominance factor" but decreases "stamina"). This feature introduces a "skill" factor to the game that makes it considerably more entertaining than it would be otherwise (and than other games like this are).
The game's only draw-back is that it involves a fairly steep learning curve. No question about it, the game is complicated. [My wife, whom I made play the game with me, quipped that it is "like a computer game except that you have to perform all the calculations by hand that, in a civilized world, a computer is supposed to perform for you".] But, it really is worth it, particularly if you don't have access to a computer powerful enough to run the fancier, more high-end sort of CD Rom programs. Indeed, the very fact that the game is complicated is what will allow it to hold up over time and which makes it more fun than its simpler competitors (in the same way that chess is more fun than checkers and that bridge is more fun than old maid, for example).
If you are interested in ordering a copy of Championship Boxing, you can write to Taylor c/o K&K Computer Solutions, P.O. Box 5606, Harlow, Essex, CM17 9RW, England, or email him at
Cudas Corner: The Unlikeliest of Saviors
By Matt Boyd
If youre like me, this big month for the big names in the biggest division of boxing has made something less than a big impression. But it took me a while to figure out why. After all, we did get what we asked for: an Undisputed Heavyweight Champion - for a few days at least. The fight was reasonably competitive. The judges were fair and accurate with their scoring. But something was missing.
For months weve been subjected to the over-used metaphor of the first fight being another "black eye" for the sport of boxing. Clichés aside, the injustice of the first fight demanded restitution. And we got it, but in unspectacular fashion. The right guy won, but not the right way. Lewis didnt fight as well this second time, but he got more points. Holyfield dramatically improved his efforts, and lost his belts anyway. But we did not see righteousness prevail with the drama that we craved. There were no heroes in this fight, and without one, there could be no savior for the sport of boxing.
Weve been conditioned to think that boxing needs a savior to reverse the numerous indignities it has suffered in recent years. Indictments are a welcome step in the right direction, but there is an emotional need to see boxing redeem itself in the ring rather than in court. Time and again, we see the next big fight being hyped as the one that will return boxing to its glory days, and time and again we are disappointed. Lewis and Holyfield couldnt do it. De La Hoya and Trinidad couldnt do it. Roy Jones Jr. cant do it. If not these men, then who?
Is there any fighter out there who can capture the fascination of the boxing public to the degree necessary to redeem the sport? Clearly the key to this redemption is not merely talent. All of the aforementioned fighters are talented, some of them prodigiously so. It isnt popularity - those five men have been among the most popular in boxing for the last several years. It isnt an issue of charisma. These men continue to be some of the more well-spoken and engaging personalities in the sport. What then could this intangible quality be? Does it even exist at all, or is the idea of one fight or one fighter serving as a savior for the sport just wishful thinking by desperate fans.
After much consideration, I think there is one fighter out there who can do it. As bizarre and unpalatable as it may seem, I think the only fighter who has a chance to redeem boxing is the man who contributed the most to its disreputable recent history. This fighter is none other than Mike Tyson. (I can hear the chorus of groans already.)
How, you ask? I concede that he is not the most talented fighter even in his own division any longer, if he ever was. He is certainly not a popular figure. He is one of the most recognized and despised names in professional sports. It is not an issue of charisma. He is not particularly well-spoken or engaging. In fact, his thinly disguised and controlled animosity towards nearly everyone he encounters while in the public eye makes him a poor ambassador for the sport. In his favor, he does generate interest, though at this stage in his career it is more akin to the morbid fascination with which spectators used to watch Evel Knievel jump motorcycles. Sooner or later something will go wrong, and one would regret having missed the spectacle.
As conspicuous as it is, the circus-like aura that attends a Tyson bout is not what yields the unique opportunity to serve as the savior for boxing. No, that opportunity is afforded, ironically enough, by Tysons failures. More than any other sports figure in recent history, Mike Tyson represents wasted potential. His explosion onto the heavyweight scene was compared by many to Alis (Clays). Tyson had fans more excited about the heavyweight division than they had been in a decade. We all had the feeling he was going to be great. He was so feared by his opposition he had them half beat before the opening bell. But he got caught up in being Mike Tyson instead of focused on being the heavyweight champ, and he let it get away.
No fighter has ever risen to such meteoric heights, then plummeted to such despicable lows in so short a time-span and under such intense scrutiny. His fall was tragic; almost epic. He went from being an icon, held in awe fans and opponents alike, to being hated. We despised him all the more for not living up to our hopes and expectations of what he could have, should have been. The depth of fans disappointment in Tyson overshadows that for any other sports figure of the era. And it is a lingering disappointment that boxing fans worldwide seem unable or unwilling to let go of. It is ironic that Tyson has made this lingering resentment work for him, earning him big money fights even against insignificant opponents. We still watch his fights even though it has been more years since he lost the belts than the number of years he held them.
It is this enduring fascination with Tyson that makes him unlike any other fighter. Anyone else who failed so miserably to live up to their potential would have been disregarded by the fans. But not Mike. Why? Even after everything that he has done and had done to him (and there are plenty of each), fans remember how they felt when they saw him in his prime. And deep down they think that maybe, just maybe he might recapture some of that magic.
Boxing is all about drama, and Mike Tyson is the most dramatic fighter of our time. But it goes even beyond the sport itself. Our culture values drama, and it embraces the concept of redemption. No other athlete holds the potential for drama or redemption on the scale that Mike Tyson does. It really would be a story of epic proportions. As we all know, boxing fans are suckers for underdogs. And though Tyson has never been an underdog in a boxing ring (except against Holyfield the second time around, and even that is debatable), the odds against him regaining his lost status are long indeed. His potential for a dramatic comeback is unparalleled.
In that sense, Tysons redemption would be bigger than the sport of boxing. And that is exactly why he is in the unique position to redeem the reputation of the sport as a whole. If he can overcome the odds and redeem himself by living up to his lost potential, he might just bring the whole sport along with him. Is it likely to happen? No. Does boxing even need it to happen? Probably not. But sooner or later something may go right, and one would certainly regret having missed that spectacle.
JACK DEMPSEY "LEAN AND MEAN WITH THE SKILL AND THE WILL"
By Tracy Callis
Jack Dempsey has been called the "Eternal Champion", the ultimate yardstick by which all heavyweight fighters are judged (see International Boxing, July 1969). He was the most thrilling, brutal, and savage fighter who ever entered the ring. His vicious intent was the complete and total destruction of his opponent, and he didnt care how he did it. This usually meant disaster for his foe.
He had the equipment to carry out his plans. As Litsky (1975, p 86) put it, he had "fast hands, fast feet, and frightening power". He was durable with high cheekbones that protected his eyes. He could take a punch. Dark-bearded, mahogany-skinned, busted nose, hair cropped close and high above his ears, Dempsey "came to fight" (see McCallum, 1975, p 23).
Durant (1976, p 68) described him as follows,
"He had a perfect build and appearance of a fighter high cheekbones, deep-set eyes, a bull neck, and a beautifully proportioned body. He was hard all over, in muscles and in mind. He was always in condition."
He went on to say,
"He was an exciting fighter, as aggressive two-fisted cyclone in action, all flame and power. He seemed to burn with a white rage at the sound of the bell."
Crouching, bobbing and weaving, chin-on-chest, teeth bared, scowling at his victim, smashing with piston-like, bone-crushing hooks and uppercuts, Dempsey attacked. He was rough and dirty, the prime example of "anything goes". He hit low, after the bell, and on breaks. He butted and used rabbit punches, thumbs, and laces. The killer instinct was always visible. If a man wanted a fight, he had it. If he didnt, hed better not get in the ring with Dempsey.
Grantland Rice (1954, pp 116 117) called Jack the "greatest attacking" star in sports that hed ever seen and said he was keen, lithe, and fast. He writes,
"It was his speed, speed of hand as well as foot, that made him such a dangerous opponent In the ring, he was a killer a superhuman wildman He was a fighter one who used very trick to wreck the other fighter." (also see McCallum, 1974, p 89)
Durant and Bettman (1952, p 170) wrote, "He was all fighter a tough, 190-pounder with whipcord muscles and a scowling face".
Dempsey was a two-handed hitter who could knock out a man with one punch from either hand. He threw heavy, blockbuster punches that pulverized and flattened bigger, stronger men. Keith (1969, p 127) asserted that Jacks hook was a "close second" to that of Jim Jeffries.
Often, he threw "controlled punches" so that he could follow one stiff blow quickly with another. He had great balance and quick hands that could get to vulnerable spots and therefore beat or knockout light, fast men although he had his toughest times against this type of fighter.
He was accused of using plaster of Paris in his gloves but Carpenter (1975, pp 64 67) asserted that his hands alone were enough to tear out a mans heart and guts.
Joe Benjamin, old time fighter, said "Jacks hands were hard as rocks. He was the perfect fighting machine hands, legs, fighting brain, and disposition. He was simply a super-human wild man" (see McCallum, 1975, p 23).
Cooper (1978, p 7) called Dempsey "mean and merciless" and said (1978, p 9), "He let his fists hammer out their own message, and if he had to trade punches, take two to land one, well the one that landed was going to be a good one".
John J. Romano (1931, p 94) said "Dempsey was known for his terrific punching. A tiger man in the ring he did not know the meaning of the word quit "
Gutteridge (1975, p 71) wrote "He was once the most powerful, ruthless, and dangerous unarmed man in the world" and added (1975, p 76) "Dempseys greatness, apart from the power of his punches, was his ability to crush much heavier opposition with the sheer viciousness of his attacks."
He was scintillating and explosive and lost little time in getting his man. His 25 one-round knockouts, the highest total among the heavyweight champions, attest to this fact.
Houston (1975, p 31) called him "a true hungry fighter" and contended "It is doubtful if any heavyweight fighter before or since could have surpassed Jack Dempseys sheer savagery in the ring. His style was one of unbridled aggression."
Bromberg (1958, p 39) wrote "his ring savagery was the outgrowth of a wandering adolescence in the hobo jungles of the far west."
Grombach (1977, p 54) commented that he bowled over opposition with "startling speed and dynamic knockouts" and observed that a nonstop "two-handed attack and killer instinct" was his order of the day. He later added (1977, p 100) that Dempsey in his prime was probably the greatest boxing champion of modern times.
Odd (1974, p 25) wrote,
To name Jack Dempsey as the most exciting of all the heavyweight champions is no exaggeration, for he packed more thrills and drama into his ring battles than any other and carried a knockout punch in each fist."
He further said Dempsey was game, durable, and dedicated to physical fitness, and these qualities made him a terrifying opponent for anyone.
Jack had the upper body strength of the old school fighters but could move on his feet like the new. Tipping the scales at 190 pounds, his upper torso was equivalent to that of a 210-pound man. He was lean and mean with the skill and will, 190 pounds of hate!
Lardner (1972, p 217) remarked,
He may not have been the greatest fighter who ever lived though denying it will get you a stiff argument in any bar in the land but he was certainly the most exciting, the most colorful, the most dynamic, and the most savage. There was an immense fury coiled inside him waiting to be released."
He asserted that Dempseys appeal lay in the fact that "he was willing to take six blows to land one", had a "panther-like concentration on demolishing his enemy", and carried "explosive charges in both hands". He called Dempsey a swift and accurate hitter who was able to flatten a foe with a blow traveling no more than eight inches, and said the punch could come at any moment.
Gene Tunney felt that Dempsey was the greatest of all heavyweights (1952, pp. 36-38) and pointed out Dempseys ability to take it saying, "Jack could recover faster than any man I ever fought. He was dangerous with a five-second interval" (also see McCallum, 1975, p 27 and Rice, 1954, p 131).
Nat Fleischer ranked Dempsey as the #4 All-Time Heavyweight. Charley Rose ranked him as the #3 All-Time Heavyweight. In the opinion of this writer, Dempsey was the #3 Heavyweight of All-Time.
Bromberg, L. 1958. Worlds Champs. Retail Distributors, Inc.
Carpenter, H. 1975. Boxing: A Pictorial History. Chicago: Henry Regnery Company
Cooper, H. 1978. The Great Heavyweights. Secaucus, New Jersey: Chartwell Books, Inc.
Durant, J. 1976. The Heavyweight Champions. New York: Hastings House Publishers
Durant, J. and Bettman, O. 1952. Pictorial History of American Sports. Cranbury, New Jersey: A.S. Barnes and Co.
Grombach, J. 1977. The Saga of the Fist. New York: A,S, Barnes and Co.
Gutteridge, R. 1975. Boxing: The Great Ones. London: Pelham Books Ltd.
Houston, G. 1975. SuperFists. New York: Bounty Books
International Boxing. July 1969.Rockville Centre: G.C. London Publishing Corporation
Keith, H. 1969. Sports and Games. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell and Company
Lardner, R. 1972. The Legendary Champions. New York: American Heritage Press
Litsky, F. 1975. Superstars. Secaucus, New Jersey: Derbibooks Inc.
McCallum, J. 1974. The World Heavyweight Boxing Championship. Radnor, Pa: Chilton Book Company
McCallum, J. 1975. The Encyclopedia of World Boxing Champions. Radnor, Pa: Chilton Book Company
Odd, G. 1974. Boxing: The Great Champions. London: The Hamlyn Publishing Group Limited
Rice, G. 1954. The Tumult and the Shouting. New York. A.S. Barnes and Company
Romano, J. 1931. Champions All. In Everlast Boxing Record, pp. 92-126
Tunney, G. 1952, September 23. Dempsey Could Flatten Todays Heavies All in One Night. In Look, pp 36-38
The Best To Never Win A Title
By Matthew Marowitz
Last night I was in the mood to watch a good movie, so I settled for a great teleplay. I popped Rod Serling's television version of "Requiem for a Heavyweight" into my VCR and watched one of the finest boxing plays ever
written. Former Army Bantamweight Champ Serling gave us a great story about a washed up heavyweight trying to redefine his life. It was near the end of the play when a young prospect is brought to the crusty old trainer, played by the late Keenan Wynn, wanting to be a fighter. When the trainer tries to discourage him and the prospect refuses to be discouraged, the trainer replies: "Well, then get this straight! There are EIGHT champions! The rest are also-rans!"
I wondered how well that line would play TODAY if the truth were told and Keenan Wynn said, "Get this straight! There are 206 champions! If you can't win a "World" title in seven fights, you ain't worth my time!"
I realize just how easy it is to win a "World" championship today. It is one of the many things causing the decline of boxing. I also realized just how difficult it was to even get a title shot many years ago. It took men like Ezzard Charles ten years to get a world title shot, while it took Leon Spinks just ten FIGHTS to get a shot at the undisputed heavyweight championship.
Many excellent fighters, because they didn't have the right connections, their respective divisions were unusually strong at the time, they didn't have the right skin color, or were just TOO good in their time for the champ to risk fighting them, never won a world championship.
In this article I will pay tribute to the finest fighters who NEVER won a world title, division by division. These fighters will come from those wonderful times when there were just eight champions reigning in boxing. I have decided to cover Heavyweight to Lightweight, not because the Feather, Bantam, and Fly divisions are not important, but because I had to keep this article to a smaller size then "War and Peace".
There were many men in this division who never won world titles who were truly championship material. Probably the man who comes most to mind was Sam Langford.
Born in Weymouth Falls, Digby County, Nova Scotia in 1886, Sam Langford ran away from home at the age of 12 and worked his way to Boston. Sam Langford never held a world boxing title, although he fought and defeated many of those who did.
After just three years as a pro, Langford and his manager felt he was ready for the heavyweight big leagues. In 1906, Langford took on Jack Johnson, Negro Heavyweight Champion and contender for the world crown. It took Johnson, (who was in his prime and had both a huge size and weight advantage) 15 rounds to defeat Langford. Thereafter, Johnson never gave Langford a rematch for fear that he might lose his title, and when Johnson won the heavyweight championship two years later, he was even more determined to keep his title,
and stayed away from Langford.
Throughout his prime, Sam Langford was in an unusual boxing situation. Although his weight permitted him to fight in weight divisions other than heavyweight, no champion would risk his title against him, and not incidentally, America at the time had no desire to see another black champion.
Between 1902 and 1923, Langford fought nearly 300 recorded bouts in every division from lightweight to heavyweight. He was rarely defeated, but never got the title match he deserved. Langford fought, and beat, many of the top fighters in his time. Men like Harry Wills (an incredible 21 times!), Joe Jeanette, Sam McVey, and John Lester Johnson, all men denied their rightful shot at the championship because of their skin color. Langford also fought and defeated several outstanding white fighters who were not fearful of crossing the color line: Ed "Gunboat" Smith (W12, KO3), and former Lightheavy champ "Philadelphia" Jack O'Brien (KO 5) in a non-title bout.
By the early 1920's, Langford's advancing blindness began to cause problems, but not before he won the heavyweight championship of Mexico and Spain in 1923. A knockout by a virtual nobody in 1926 finally convinced him to withdraw from the ring.
Sam Langford died in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1956, a year after his election into The Ring magazine's Boxing Hall of Fame. He was the first non-champion ever to be so honored.
There were other great heavies who never won a title. Sailor Tom Sharkey was a truly great heavy who fought and beat many top heavies in his time, but the division was just too strong for him to become champ. In more
recent times, I would have to include men like Cleveland Williams and Jerry Quarry as two men who could have won a title or two today. Williams had an extremely hard punch and was an excellent fighter, but he was so good many fighters ducked him. Quarry was unlucky enough to come along when the heavyweight division was at its strongest. Ali, Frazier, Foreman, and Norton all were at or near their peaks when Quarry was fighting, so Jerry could never win the title.
In the olden days of boxing, this was considered the "bastard" division, sort of the way many look at the cruiserweight division today. Most outstanding fighters in this division considered the light heavyweight title
a weigh station-they looked to step up to heavyweight, where the REAL money was. The finest fighter in this division never to win the lightheavy title might well have been the finest fighter EVER in this division-Ezzard
Charles. Many of Charles' early fights were against the world's top middleweights and light heavyweights. He defeated the likes Teddy Yarosz, Charley Burley and Joey Maxim, and drew with Ken Overlin. After military service during World War II, Charles defeated Hall-of-Famer Archie Moore and avenged losses to Lloyd Marshall and Jimmy Bivins to earn a No. 2 ranking at light heavyweight in 1946. He fought five light heavyweight
champions, beating four of them, but never challenged for the light heavyweight crown. Yet he became heavyweight champ.
Jimmy Bivins, was another who made a career out of defeating good fighters, being top-rated, and never getting a shot at the Light heavyweight title. This happened in spite of defeating eight world champions, and being in the
top ten in one division or another from 1940 until 1953. Incredibly in 1942 he was rated as number one contender in the light-heavyweight and Heavyweight division at the same time!
During a streak from June 22, 1942 until February 25, 1946, Bivins was undefeated with one draw, and the list of men he beat reads like a who's who, of that boxing era. He defeated Joey Maxim, Joe Muscato, Tami Mauriello, Bob Pastor, Lee Savold, Ezzard Charles, Anton Christoforidis, Pat Valentino, Lloyd Marshall, Lee Q. Murray, Melio Bettina (who he also drew with), Curtis "Hatchet Man" Sheppard, Archie Moore (he stopped him), Johnny Flynn and Billy Smith, to name some of them! Prior to his loss on April 17, 1942, to Bob Pastor (he had Pastor down twice in the first round), he had also defeated Billy Soose and the then current light-heavyweight champion Gus Lesnevich in a non-title bout.
In 1942 Jimmy Bivins was rated the number one contender in the light-heavyweight and heavyweight division at the same time. When Bivins' career ended (with four wins in a row) in 1955, he had beaten 86 opponents, most of them champions or top contenders. His biggest payday was $40,000 for his 1951 bout with Joe Louis. He lost on points, and Louis was kayoed by Rocky Marciano in his very next fight.
Bivins was actually a natural 175 pounder, and at 5ft. 9ins, many opponents towered over him.
In most recent times, the best light-heavy never to have won the title was Yaqui Lopez. Lopez fought and beat many of the top contenders of the time, including former champs John Conteh and Mike Rossman. He was robbed of the title via a horrendous decision against Victor Galindez.
In my mind, the best Middleweight never to win a title was Charley Burley of Pittsburgh, who recently had been afforded some due recognition by being voted into a couple of Boxing Halls of Fame. Legendary trainer Eddie Futch has called Charley Burley the greatest all-around fighter he ever saw and that is quite a compliment considering Futch's vast experience. Charley has the praise of many former opponents, even men who beat him. The fabulous Archie Moore rated him near the top of the opponents he most respects.
Charlie's listed 98 bouts show that he was never stopped, while he knocked out 50 men himself. And like Langford, he too wasn't afraid to get into the ring with larger men. Again like Langford, he was also forced to fight many of the best black fighters of the time, while hoping for a title shot---usually held by a white man! He met some real toughies like Holman Williams (seven times). Cocoa Kid, Lloyd Marshall, Oakland Billy Smith, Jimmy Bivins, Archie Moore and Ezzard Charles. And the white fighters he did fight were good ones like Fritzie Zivic (three times), Billy Soose and men of that caliber. After 84 wins he still couldn't get a title shot, although he was ranked near the top of the welterweights in the late 30's and then right through the 40's as a middleweight. Burley was a great, despite never having won a title.
The most recent middleweight who was perhaps the best one never to win the title was Bennie Briscoe. Briscoe fought and beat many top ranked middleweights, but never managed to win the prize.
Black fighters weren't the only victims of title lockout in the 40's and 50's. Another hard luck great was Billy Graham. He was often called the uncrowned Welterweight champion. Like the others he was a victim of being
too good for his own good, and he was also a victim of a cruel streak of bad luck and some strange decisions. Like Burley, Billy was unstoppable. In 126 pro bouts, he was never counted out or stopped for any reason! And he was fighting all the best welterweights and middleweights.
Unlike Burley, Billy did manage to land a title shot, twice against the great Cuban Kid Gavilan. He lost both times by decision in very close bouts in 1951, in New York first and then in Havana in 1952. The bout in Cuba was
said to be one of the all-time greatest robberies, but what could he expect fighting local hero Gavilan in his homeland?
Although the Gavilan bout was controversial, Billy had one other bout that topped that for drama. On 19 December 1952, Billy lost a ten-rounder to Joey Giardello in New York City. But right after the verdict was awarded to Giardello, the Commissioners, Christenberry and Powell, changed judge Joe Agnello's card to enable Graham to be awarded the split-decision win.
Giardello took the matter to the US Supreme Court and sometime later the decision was again reversed and given to Giardello! Maybe this is why we don't see decisions disputed as much today. They have already been upheld by our Nation's highest court.
When Billy Graham retired in 1955, he left behind an outstanding record of 102 wins, nine draws and only fifteen losses. He, too was another example of a man who surely would be a champion today if he were fighting.
One can look through boxing history and pick out many more would-be lightweight champions who never got close. There were others who made a living out of fighting greats and near-greats like The Fargo Express, Billy
Petrolle, who is highly -thought-of by former champion Jimmy McLarnin. From 1922 until 1934 Petrolle's record is filled with wins over greats like McLarnin, Tony Canzoneri, Jack Kid Berg, Bat Battalino and other top fighters.
There was also "Lefty" Lew Tendler, a great southpaw lightweight who came along when that division was perhaps at its strongest. Considered by Nat Fleischer to be the ninth greatest lightweight of all time despite never
having won a title, Tendler had two bouts with great lightweight champ Benny Leonard that were acknowledged to be classics. The first bout took place in 1922 at Boyle's thirty acres in Jersey City and attracted 60,000 fans and a gate of $400,000.00, both records up to that time for a non-heavyweight title bout. Tendler had the great Benny Leonard in trouble early on but Leonard's style and courage won him a decision. The rematch, in front of
58,000 people in Yankee Stadium, had Leonard winning another decision.
Tendler was a fast, hard puncher who was durable, too. He would have won two or three titles today.
Well, those are my picks. There are probably others I missed that I'm gonna catch hell for. I guess there is an upside of so many titles in today's boxing world, and that is that it is impossible to shut anyone out of a title today. People tend to think the "real" champ is whoever is the better fighter, and maybe its fitting that way, as opposed to believing that a corrupt organization's belt makes a champ.
Still, I really miss the days when there was just ONE champion per division.
The Theatre of the Unexpected!
By Monte CoxLarry Merchant once eloquently called the sport of boxing the "theatre of the unexpected." This expression vividly describes what makes boxing unique among all other sports. Boxing is the one sport that can end abruptly, and in utter devastation. In the NFL or NBA we can be confident that the game will be played for four quarters. A baseball game is going to last nine innings. A tennis match will be played from three to five sets. The sudden violence, which puts an end to a contest of skill, courage, and determination, has no equal in all of sports. It is for this reason that George Foreman has said, "boxing is the sport to which all other sports aspire."
Boxing is the highest form of competition. There is no one to whom to pass the ball, no one to help you out when you are in trouble, no excuses. It appeals to the macho side of every man. The heavyweight champion since the days of John L. Sullivan has always been considered "the strongest man in the world." Forget the power-lifters and the body builders, every gym rat knows full well that a boxer can destroy the muscle-bound in seconds! The roughest and the toughest man is the truly strongest man. And the strongest man can end a fight at any time.
One fighter can be utterly superior to his opponent, out-boxing them and winning easily, when one unexpected savage blow can not only turn the course of a fight, but also end any further action. Ill never forget the night John Tate was giving Mike Weaver an unwanted lesson in boxing 1980 (for the WBA heavyweight championship). Tate had won 12 of the first 14 rounds. In the15th I was beginning to add up my scorecard, when suddenly one crushing left hook by Weaver ended the contest. Tate, who was undefeated and looked for all the world like a champion for 14 rounds, fell like a tree. I was no longer watching a sport, I was in a place akin to the Twilight Zone, the theatre of the unexpected.
There have been other such tales of woe and destruction in boxings long and illustrious history, when an unexpected ending to a bout came true with the swift assurance of a mighty blow. Bob Fitzsimmons was losing to James J. Corbett, having been down once in the 6th round, and was being completely out-boxed. He came back to kayo Corbett with the now famous "solar plexus punch" in the 14th. Jack Dempey, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Sonny Liston and George Foreman were renowned for their ability to end a fight with one punch. Nothing can match the type of electricity and excitement that occurs during those moments. All it takes is the right punch, delivered the right way, landing in the right place, and POW you have entered the theatre of the unexpected.
Perhaps the term "the theatre of the unexpected" applies equally well to the unexplainable endings of many important boxing matches. Who can forget tough guy Roberto Duran crying "no mas" in the second Ray Leonard fight? Or Rock Newman and Riddick Bowe tag teaming Elijah Tillery along the ropes? Or Andrew Golota going ballistic and fouling out, while beating Bowe to a pulp? How about the many horrible decisions weve all been witnesses to such as the Holyfield-Lewis "draw"? The sport goes from the majesty of the "king of sports" to the base "gutter of sports" in seconds. Yes, even for those reasons, boxing is the theatre of the unexpected.
Perhaps no fighter in history exemplifies both the terrifying power and irresistible appeal of boxing, as well as the sheer lunacy to which the sport is prey, than does Mike Tyson. His crushing one-punch knockouts of men like Trevor Berbick and Francois Botha are what attract many fans to the sport. Like the psychotic character Twoface from the movie Batman Forever, boxings Janus face is always changing from moment to moment. With the speed of a flip of a coin, Mike Tyson erupts (after being head-butted) in his rematch with Holyfield, and in the space of a second, Holyfield is minus part of his ear. Now that was unexpected!
In the latest episode of the continuing drama that is Mike Tyson, he drops Orlin Norris after the first round bell, and Norris suddenly quits on his stool, claiming a knee injury. A post-fight examination revealed that Norris had dislocated his knee, but whether or not the punch was intentionally thrown is questionable, though I personally do not feel it was (only Tyson knows that for sure). Whatever one thought about the blow, it was another night of controversy for boxing yet another foray into the unexpected.
Perhaps thats not the bad thing we make it out to be. Boxing thrives on controversy. A black eye is not so bad, after all, we can still see out of the other eye right? We know that for every bad decision, and chaotic night, we are only one punch away from glory! . The theatre of the unexpected sets the stage for the spectacle, often despite itself.
By Thomas Gerbasi
Whos the tough guy around here?
Maybe I am
Ive run miles and miles hours before you even think of waking up
Ive watched millionaires get called warriors; I think fighting for your rent check is substantially more warrior-like
Ive bled for $100 a round, while the men who arranged my legalized beating take half my money
Ive seen people laugh at me and mock me while I stand half naked before them My pain is a joke to them but the customers always right right?
Ive had nights when I cried because I couldnt get out of the way of a punch and nights when I could have beaten Ali the former in reality, the latter in dreams
Ive been led to slaughter by those who called themselves friends I dont have any friends
The people Im closest with are the ones who are trying to hurt me with their hands and the feelings mutual
I had fights I dont remember, and some I cant forget Ive woken up and forgot my own wedding anniversary, well, maybe thats has nothing to do with fighting
I watch fights on TV, and say "that should be me", but it never will be
Ive had things done to my body which make torture victims cringe, but I fight on
My daughter goes to Show and Tell with my bloody trunks Daddy doesnt work in Silicon Valley
Ive got no linemen to blame for missed blocks, no point guard who didnt pass me the ball Ive got two fists and desperation
Whos the tough guy around here?