|. . . THE CYBER BOXING ZONE JOURNAL||
SPIRITUAL ADVISER ON ALL MATTERS FISTIC:
WEB MASTER & ASSOCIATE EDITOR:
HISTORY & RESEARCH:
Hank Kaplan, Tracy Callis, Matt Tegen
BoxngRules, Adrian Cusack, Derek Cusack, DscribeDC, Thomas Gerbasi, Dave Iamele, Phrank Da Slugger, Pusboil
Enrique Encinosa, Randy Gordon, Pedro Fernandez, Joe Koizumi, Mike Moscone, Dr. Ferdie Pacheco, Jim Trunzo, Barry Lindenman
- Withered Professionalism by Mike DeLisa
- The All-Time Boxing Tournaments by Thomas Gerbasi
- Irish Boxing by Tomas Rohan
- The Beginning and the End of a Good Champion by Enrique Encinosa
- Interview with Chuck Bodak- Part 2 by Thomas Gerbasi
- Rinsing off the Mouthpiece by GorDoom
- Vinny Pazienza Interview by Barry Lindenman
- Outcomes by Chuck Bogle
- 1998 by Dennis Marconi
- Local Heroes by Thomas Gerbasi
- Mitch Halpern Interview by Barry Lindenman
- Interview with Jill Matthews by Thomas Gerbasi
- March Ratings by Phrank Da Slugger
by PusboilThis month the CBZ has made a serious change. We actually beat our own self-imposed deadline, April 1st !! By doing this there are no implied guarantees about future deadlines. We’ll try our best though. I think we made it this time because The ‘Ol Spit Bucket didn’t want to pay me any overtime this month. Yeah right.
We have some of our usual rogues gallery supplying us with reports this month, Thomas Gerbasi, GorDoom and Phrank Da Slugger, plus some special contributions.
Our fearless founder, Mike DeLisa has returned, Enrique Encinosa also joins us again. Barry Lindenman provides us with two interviews this month. Barry’s interviews are reprinted here courtesy of Electronic Boxing Monthly. We would like to thank the EBM for their generosity.
We also have two new contributors joining the ranks of the unpaid writer, Charles Bogle and Dennis Marconi. Please join me in welcoming them.
Well, enough of the pleasantries, enjoy our new issue and remember to always check our news page. We are constantly updating that section. Last month we had a total of over 30 reports. Special thanks to Pedro Fernandez and Joe Koizumi.
Now Bucket, about that pay raise we were discussing............
Withered Professionalism -- some thoughts on Lewis vs. Briggs
by Mike DeLisaThere is a scene in Raging Bull which speaks volumes about true ultimate goal of all fighters -- to become Heavyweight Champion of the World. LaMotta has his brother, played by Joe Pesci, punch him in the face repeatedly. Nevertheless, Lamotta is distraught. His hands are too small. He can never be big enough to fight Joe Louis; hence, he can never be heavyweight champion. The realization causes the Bronx Bull to weep.
Indeed, acheiving the Heavyweight Championship has been the ultimate goal in sport for over 200 years. Wearing the belt signifies an achievement of mythic proportion. It takes a special breed of prizefighter to suceed. First, and foremost, it takes an ego. As Norman Mailer has written:
Every good prizefighter must have a large ego, then, because he is trying to demolish a man he doesn't know too much about, he is unfeeling -- which is the ground floor of ego; and he is full of techniques -- which are the wings of ego. . . . .
The closer a heavyweight comes to the championship, the more natural it is for him to be insane, secretly insane, for the heavyweight champion of the world is either the tougest man in the world or he is not, but there is the real possibility he is. It is like being the big toe of god.
With Lennox Lewis's fifth round stoppage of linear champion Shannon Briggs, the seeds of insanity have been sown. Briggs, of course, has been revealed -- but not in the way you would normally think, for Briggs has many of the elements that could have coalesced into a fine prizefighter. But, to continue Mailer's metaphor, his ego is huge but he is empty of techinque.
Briggs did everything wrong -- including hurting Lewis. His defense consisted of leaning his head into the path of the short arc of Lewis's right. Curiously, as his stamina faded his bravery seemed to increase. Again an illusion. His bravery smacked of the schoolyard. Sure the bully has beaten you up, but you are permitted to flail at him mightily as the teacher rushes to break up the fight. Here the teacher was named Frank.
Lewis, although not full of technique, perhaps is full of something else. His ego seems to be tempered by lack of confidence. Yes, I know that Lewis appears to be supremely confident in all he does. But I know fighters and Lewis struggles to control his apprehension. On the two brief ocassions when Briggs hit him more-or-less solidly, there was an air of controlled panic about him; but at least he had the presence of mind to keep his hands up and protect his head. My notes for the second round include the circled word "speed" -- meant to emphasize that when Briggs attacked, feinted, and punched with speed at that point, Lewis became baffled and Shannon then clubbed him with a left hook. Briggs, however, could not take advantage of this. After that point the air seeped from Briggs like flatulence on a honeymoon -- let it out slow and maybe she won't notice!
Briggs's deflation allowed Lewis to pick his spots and club the crown from Shannon's head. Lewis now has the title that links him through time to Louis, Johnson, Sullivan, Mace, Cribb, and Figg. (George Foreman fleetingly alluded to this by invoking Tommy Burns!). But, as Lewis knows, he needs to fight Evander Holyfield before he can claim to be the big toe of God.
One can imagine the Bronx Bull watching this fight. Too huge, fast, powerful men cuffing each other; each in his own way failing to exploit their natural gifts. The Bronx Bull calmly puffs on a cigar as Michael Buffer announces the victory, then looks at his hands and begins to weep.
THE ALL-TIME BOXING TOURNAMENTS
by Thomas GerbasiThroughout boxing's storied history, fight fans have compared fighters from different eras with the express purpose of trying to determine who was the mythical greatest of all-time. While we can never know who was the greatest in each division, modern technology has provided us with the means to settle these differences on our home computers. Using Title Fight Pro Boxing for Windows, which is sold by Comp-U-Sports (http://www.boxmag.com), and which was developed by Jim Trunzo, I've set up tournaments in each of the major divisions to determine an All-Time champion. Hopefully these fights will spark not only your imagination, but some spirited debates on who the best really were.
ALL - TIME FLYWEIGHT TOURNAMENT
* denotes an active fighter.
RICARDO LOPEZ* TKO5 Terry Allen
JIMMY WILDE KO5 Prudencio Cardona
PASCUAL PEREZ TKO5 Ho Choi Chang
HIROYUKI EBIHARA TKO3 Yuri Arbachakov*
YOKO GUSHIKEN W15(u) Walter McGowan
MICHAEL CARBAJAL* TKO11(swelling) Yoshio Shirai
HUMBERTO GONZALEZ TKO3 Martin Vargas
PHINCHIT SITHBANG KO2 Efren Torres
MIGUEL CANTO W15(u) Midget Wolgast
GUTY ESPADAS W15(u) Hilario Zapata
FIDEL LaBARBA W15(u) Betulio Gonzalez
TAE-SHIK KIM TKO10 Santos Laciar
PETER KANE W15(u) Benny Lynch
LUIS ESTABA W15(u) Charlie Magri
PANCHO VILLA W15(u) Venice Borkorsor
ANTONIO AVELAR KO4 Fidel Bassa
HIROYUKI EBIHARA TKO12(swelling) Ricardo Lopez*
JIMMY WILDE W15(u) Fidel LaBarba
PASCUAL PEREZ TKO14 Tae-Shik Kim
PETER KANE W15(u) Yoko Gushiken
MICHAEL CARBAJAL* TKO5(swelling) Luis Estaba
HUMBERTO GONZALEZ W15(u) Antonio Avelar
PHINCHIT SITHBANG* WDISQ 13 Pancho Villa
MIGUEL CANTO W15(u) Guty Espadas
JIMMY WILDE VS HIROYUKI EBIHARA
Ebihara, who had stunned everyone with his victories over Yuri Arbachakov and Ricardo Lopez, looked to make it three in a row against the legendary Welshman, Jimmy Wilde. Ebihara showed no respect for Wilde in the first two rounds, winging bomb after bomb at Wilde. By the fourth round though, Wilde seemed to have figured his opponent out, and started to tee off himself. It looked like the end was near when a wild left hook by Ebihara floored Wilde at the end of the seventh. Wilde, angered by this apparent show of disrespect, proceeded to rain punch after punch on Ebihara until referee Arthur Donovan stepped in at 1:53 of the eighth.
PASCUAL PEREZ VS PETER KANE
Kane, another fighter who used the upset route to make it to the quarters, was prepared to use any weapon he had to beat the slick boxing technician, Pascual Perez. Ref Arthur Mercante took a point away from Kane in both the fourth and tenth rounds for butting and elbowing, respectively, but that didn’t deter Peter from dumping Perez in the fifth for an eight count. Rounds eight and nine provided some great toe to toe exchanges, and Kane seemed on the verge of scoring a knockout in the 11th. But Perez weathered the storm, and sent Kane to the canvas twice in the 12th, the second KD prompting Mercante to stop the fight. At the time of the stoppage, Perez led on all three scorecards(104-102, 105-102, 106-101).
MIGUEL CANTO VS MICHAEL CARBAJAL*
This showdown between two of Mexico’s finest didn’t live up to its billing by a longshot. After little action by both fighters in rounds one and two, a big left hook by Carbajal scored a flash knockdown on Canto in the third. Canto hit the canvas again for quick counts twice in the fifth, and referee Tony Perez stepped in to call a halt to the proceedings at 2:40 of the fifth. The scorecards all read in favor of Carbajal 39-36, 38-37, 40-35.
PHINCHIT SITHBANG* VS HUMBERTO GONZALEZ
As in real life boxing, a little controversy snuck into the PC ring as well. Sithbang was scoring well on Gonzalez, a notoriously slow starter, and had built a small lead after three rounds. Midway through the fourth, the two combatants clashed heads, and soon after a cross by Sithbang opened up a large gash over Gonzalez’ eye. The cut forced the stoppage of the fight, but Gonzalez’ corner screamed bloody murder, saying a butt opened the cut. But the call stands. Sithbang via 4th round TKO.
JIMMY WILDE VS PHINCHIT SITHBANG*
Wilde continued his custom of giving away a couple of early rounds against Sithbang. But as the bell rang for the fourth round, Wilde started to open up and pick apart his opponent. A single left hook by Wilde ended matters at 1:52 of the sixth. The scorecards? All for Wilde, and all reading 49-46.
PASCUAL PEREZ VS MICHAEL CARBAJAL*
Perez surprised more than a few observers with his damn the torpedoes style against Carbajal. The most surprised was Carbajal, as he just could not get on track against his more experienced foe. The game Carbajal tasted the canvas in the fourth, and the end came soon after as referee Larry Hazzard mercifully rescued Michael at 2:17 of the fourth.
JIMMY WILDE VS PASCUAL PEREZ
The battle for all-time Flyweight supremacy came down to the top two rated flyweights in the tournament.
Round One featured Wilde drawing first blood with his first punch: a right cross which ripped open Perez’ lip. The blood visibly bothered Perez, who swallowed a steady diet of lefts in the round, causing his right eye to begin swelling.
Perez landed a strong right cross to start the second, but Wilde assumed command again, hurting Pascual with virtually every punch he threw. But like Lazarus, Perez came back from the dead, and started landing on Wilde with flurries of punches to end the round.
Perez went back to his initial strategy of sticking and moving in the third, and it was working to perfection as he landed a number of jabs. But more importantly, Wilde went back to his corner frustrated. Round four followed the same pattern. But between rounds, Perez’ eye was closing rapidly, and his corner told him that it was now or never. The fifth round was a classic, as Perez let it all hang out, and Wilde countered with bombs of his own. Both men seemed ready to go on a number of occassions, but both were standing at round’s end.
Perez, his vision impaired and breathing heavily, was dropped by a Wilde left hook early in the sixth. Perez gamely staggered to his feet, and Mills Lane let the fight continue. But it was just a matter of time. Wilde battered Perez along the ropes until Lane finally stopped it at 2:50 of the sixth.
The scorecards in this short but classic fight all read in favor (49-46,49-47,49-47) of your winner, and ALL-TIME FLYWEIGHT CHAMPION.........JIMMY WILDE.
ALL-TIME BANTAMWEIGHT TOURNAMENT
CARLOS ZARATE KO 9 Vic Toweel
EDER JOFRE TKO 3 Junior Jones*
RUBEN OLIVARES TKO 13 Richie Sandoval
LUPE PINTOR KO 7 Roberto Rubaldino
PANAMA JOE BROWN TKO 12 Rodolfo Martinez
JEFF CHANDLER W. 15 (U) Jorge Lujan
JOSE BECERRA W. 15 (U) Pete Herman
JIMMY CARRUTHERS W. 15 (U) Khasohi Galaxy
FRANKIE DURATE W. 15(S) Johnny Coulon
SIXTO ESCOBAR W. 15 (U) Alberto Davila
ISRAEL CONTRERAS W DISQ 6 Fighting Harada
ELIJIRO MURATA TKO 12 (cuts) Johnny Carter
MANUEL ORTIZ W. 15 (U) Gaby Canizales
ROMEO ANAYA W DISQ 9 Gilberto Roman
ALFONSO ZAMORA TKO 11 Alberto Sandoval
ORLANDO CANIZALES* TKO 7 Jiro Watanabe
CARLOS ZARATE KO 9 Frankie Durate
EDER JOFRE KO 6 Israel Contreras
RUBEN OLIVARES KO 5 Romeo Anaya
ORLANDO CANIZALES* KO 4 Lupe Pintor
MANUEL ORTIZ TKO 7 Alfonso Zamora
PANAMA JOE BROWN W 15(U) Elijiro Murata
JEFF CHANDLER TKO 13(swelling) Sixto Escobar
JOSE BECERRA W 15(U) Jimmy Carruthers
CARLOS ZARATE VS ORLANDO CANIZALES*
On paper, this match had all the makings of a final match. In reality, it was a brutal mismatch. Canizales showed a lot of heart, but not much else, as Zarate pounded him from pillar to post. Canizales was dropped in the fourth for a 1 count, but was obviously hurt. He hit the canvas again in the fifth, but got up at the count of 9. A right cross and two uppercuts followed, and Canizales was counted out at 1:35 of the fifth.
EDER JOFRE VS MANUEL ORTIZ
This fight followed a pattern throughout the fifteen, sometimes boring rounds. Ortiz chases, lands a hard blow, but can’t follow up. Jofre proceeds to tattoo Ortiz with 3 or 4 shots to the head. What does this pattern result in? a lopsided (149-135, 150-134, 149-134) decision victory for Jofre, who scored the only knockdown in the fight in round six. Punches landed? Jofre-300, Ortiz-132.
RUBEN OLIVARES VS JOSE BECERRA
It doesn’t get any better than this. These two guys met in the middle of the ring in round one, and proceeded to plant their heads on each other’s chests and pound away for 12 rounds. The only time they weren’t beating each other up was between rounds or when one of them hit the canvas. In the third, Becerra was dropped for a 2 count, but was hurt. Olivares, surprisingly couldn’t finish him. In the fourth, Ruben looked to finish the job, he was greeted with a left hook on the button which sent him sprawling. He barely rose at the count of nine, and was quickly dropped again. Once again he staggerred up and survived the round. A desperation hook by Olivares at the start of the fifth knocked down Becerra. This was pinball, not boxing. But as the rounds wore on, Olivares’ heavier punches took a toll on Jose, and after a third knockdown in the 12th round, referee Arthur Donovan stepped in and stopped the contest.
PANAMA JOE BROWN VS JEFF CHANDLER
This was another sleeper, as these two technicians put on a boxing exhibition for 15 rounds. Panama Joe’s experience proved to be the difference, though, as he won a unanimous decision (147-142, 147-142, 145-143) over the pride of Philadelphia.
CARLOS ZARATE VS PANAMA JOE BROWN
Brown came out cocky as the fight started, and he proceeded to have a great round. He snapped Zarate’s head back with his jabs, moved well, and stayed out of harm’s way. But a Zarate uppercut at the bell jarred Brown, and seemed to intimidate him. For the next two rounds, Zarate started to land some big blows, and Brown’s activity lessened by the minute. In the fourth, Brown took a vicious beating, and went down for an eight count. But it was a brief respite. Two brutal left hooks by Zarate prompted Mills Lane to step in at the 2:35 mark of round five.
EDER JOFRE VS RUBEN OLIVARES
I might have to have these guys fight a rematch, because this fight shouldn’t have ended the way it did. In this classic boxer-slugger confrontation, both men got their licks in during the first round, with Olivares winning the round on all three scorecards. Round two was more of the same until a double left hook by Jofre sent Olivares sprawling into the ropes. As Ruben tried to compose himself, a right cross opened a gash over Olivares’ left eye. As the bell ending the round rang, Dr. Flip Homansky was in the ring, and he stopped the fight due to the severity of the cut.
FINAL - UNDISPUTED ALL-TIME BANTAMWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
CARLOS ZARATE VS EDER JOFRE
This one was for all the marbles, and surprisingly was not that great of a contest. Both men traded the first two rounds, but by the third, it was obvious who was in control. Zarate landed almost at will on Jofre, and Eder could do little but to clinch and try to whether the storm. Even when Jofre would have a good round, like in the fifth, Zarate would ruin the round by opening a gash inside Eder’s mouth. In the sixth, a large cut opened under Jofre’s eye, but he still fought back gamely, winning the 7th and 8th rounds. But by the ninth round, the result of the fight was no longer in doubt, as Zarate just teed off on the game Jofre. Finally, at the 2:20 mark of the 15th and final round, a bruised, bloodied, and swollen Jofre was rescued by referee Larry Hazzard. The scores at the time of the stoppage were all in favor of Zarate:136-130, 136-129, 135-130.
Your winner and ALL-TIME BANTAMWEIGHT CHAMPION......CARLOS ZARATE!!!
______________________________________________________________________________________ ALL - TIME FEATHERWEIGHT TOURNAMENT
SANDY SADDLER KO8 George Dixon
CLEMENTE SANCHEZ TKO8 Abe Attell
WILFREDO GOMEZ TKO2 Davey Moore
CELIO LASTRA WDisq11 Terry McGovern
RUBEN CASTILLO TKO4cuts Ruben Olivares
EUSEBIO PEDROZA W15(M) Howard Winstone
WILLIE PEP TKO2 Carmelo Negron
SALVADOR SANCHEZ W15(U) Eugene Criqui
BOBBY CHACON KO9 Patrick Ford
KID CHOCOLATE W15(U) Benny Bass
MIKE AYALA W15(U) Antonio Esparragoza
DANNY LOPEZ TKO10 Alejandro Gonzalez*
BARRY MCGUIGAN KO1 Naseem Hamed*
VINCENTE SALVIDAR KO2 Eloy Rojas
SUGAR RAMOS KO6 Marco Antonio Barrera*
TOM JOHNSON* KO14 Ernesto Marcel
SANDY SADDLER KO6 Clemente Sanchez
WILFREDO GOMEZ W15(U) Celio Lastra
EUSEBIO PEDROZA KO3 Ruben Castillo
WILLIE PEP W15(U) Mike Ayala
SALVADOR SANCHEZ TKO10(swelling) Tom Johnson*
BOBBY CHACON KO15 Vincente Salvidar
KID CHOCOLATE W15(U) Sugar Ramos
BARRY MCGUIGAN TKO7(cuts) Danny Lopez
SANDY SADDLER VS. BARRY MCGUIGAN
The tough Irishman gave Saddler all he could handle and more. Saddler’s crisp combinations were nullified by McGuigan’s bombs early. McGuigan was cut over the left eye in the second, and the eye continued to give him problems. A left hook to the liver in the fourth doubled up Saddler, and forced him to cover up. Sandy was almost stopped again in the fifth, but roared back to take rounds six and seven. But early in the eighth, the ringside doctor decided that McGuigan’s cut was too severe, and the fight was stopped at the 0:33 mark. At the time of the stoppage, McGuigan led 66-65,67-65, and the third judge had the fight even at 66-66.
WILFREDO GOMEZ VS. KID CHOCOLATE
This classic boxer-puncher matchup would come down to one thing, could Chocolate stay away from Gomez’ lethal punches? The Kid won the first two rounds with a mixture of speed and savvy. Gomez finally landed a hook in the third and forced Chocolate to cover up. They traded rounds 4 and 5, but in the sixth, Gomez caught Chocolate and sent him to the canvas twice, the second one for a ten count. The scores at the time of the KO(1:56) 48-47 KC, 48-48, 48-47 KC.
EUSEBIO PEDROZA VS. BOBBY CHACON
Chacon has that rare ability to draw boxers into brawls, and this was no exception. Chacon landed the heavier punches in this war, but Pedroza landed with alarming frequency. Pedroza hit the canvas in the eigth, but he weathered the storm. By the thirteenth, the game Chacon was out of gas. Pedroza dropped him at the bell ending the thirteenth, and again in the fourteenth. Each time Chacon rose, but the pounding was finally ended by referee Arthur Donovan at 2:37 of round 14. The scoring was close at the TOS:123-122,124-122,124-122 , all for the winner, Eusebio Pedroza.
WILLIE PEP VS. SALVADOR SANCHEZ
This was a match for the technical boxing purist, not the knockdown, drag ‘em out, action fan. Not much action in this one, just some slick counterpunching, footwork, and defensive moves. The only knockdown of the fight was scored by Sanchez, who dropped Pep for a 6 count in round five. The fight was close going into the 10th, when Pep took over, sweeping the championship rounds on all three judges scorecards. The final decision was unanimous: 143-141, 145-139, 147-139 all for your winner, Willie Pep.
SANDY SADDLER VS. WILLIE PEP
These two all-time greats rekindled their classic, foul-filled, five fight series with a barnburner here in the semis. Both men had their moments in this fight, and both seemed on the verge of a knockout on a number of occasions. Pep went down in round four from a Saddler overhand right, but was up at the count of six. He continued to pepper Sandy with stinging jabs, and by the end of round eleven, the doctor had to call a halt to the fight due to the condition of Saddler’s eyes which had swollen to slits. Willie Pep wins by 11th round TKO. The scores at the TOS:96-95 SS, 97-95 SS, 96-94 WP.
WILFREDO GOMEZ VS. EUSEBIO PEDROZA
Much like the Gomez-Chocolate matchup, the outcome would be based on Gomez’ ability to land his bazooka hooks. Unfortunately for Wilfredo, Pedroza not only has a great chin, but he can punch as well. Gomez looked to be on his way to victory when he dropped Eusebio for a nine count in round three, but Pedroza kept the pressure on, not backing away from his opponent. Pedroza stunned the crowd by knocking Gomez down in the eighth. Pedroza fell again in the eleventh, but was saved by the bell. That was Gomez’ last stand. Pedroza teed off on Wilfredo, cutting him over both eyes and on his mouth, and he swept the final four rounds to take home a unanimous decision, 143-137, 141-140, 141-139
FINAL-UNDISPUTED ALL-TIME FEATHERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
EUSEBIO PEDROZA VS. WILLIE PEP
On paper this fight looked to be a fight between two great champions, but not a very exciting fight. The paper was right. Both men seemed very cautious from the outset, and seemed to be saving their energy for later in the fight. Unfortunately, later never came for Pedroza. A deep gash opened over Pedroza’s right eye early in the ninth round, and there was too much blood for him to continue. Pedroza’s corner claimed that a butt opened the cut, but the referee would hear none of it. A disappointing end to a great tournament. The cards at the TOS:76-76, 76-76, 78-75 Pep. Your winner and ALL-TIME FEATHERWEIGHT CHAMPION......WILLIE PEP!!!
by Tomas RohanThe "British Strike Force" was in action last on the 28th of March. At least that's what Sky Sports were calling the quartet of Lennox Lewis, Herol Graham, Terry Dunstan and Paul Llyod in order for subscribers to part with an extra £10 for the pay-per-view "extravaganza". Unfortunately for the strike force they suffered some casualties. Llyod was stopped in two rounds by the classy Tim Austin, Dunstan was stopped by Immamu Mayfield in 11 in a fight that was incredibly bad even by cruiserweight standards. Meanwhile in Atlantic City Herol Graham suffered another heart breaking KO in a world title bid when his fight with Charles Brewer was stopped (prematurely in my opinion) in the 10th round with (and again this is only my opinion) Graham well ahead.
The main event however made the £10 a good investment as we saw the best heavyweight title fight since Holyfield-Tyson part I. Briggs heart, chin and overall performance surprised me and perhaps he has a better future ahead of him then previously thought. It did strike me though that Lewis is one of those fighters who shy's away from confrontation. Remember Lewis turning his back and running away from Briggs in the early rounds, a stunt he has also performed against Frank Bruno and Ray Mercer. Lewis has always appeared a very on-top fighter and he seems to be uneasy with men who are not intimidated by his size.
However though credit to Lewis for stepping up through the gears and finally reaching top speed. Once he got his jab working in the third he seemed to take control almost immediately after being right hand happy for the first two rounds, a worrying habit which seems to return every time he achieves a quick demolition. Remember the right hand happy Lewis after the Ruddock fight who was unimpressive against Tucker, Bruno and Phil Jackson before being hit by the equally right hand happy McCall.
Anyway if Lewis-Holyfield does eventually happen I fear for Lewis if it goes beyond six rounds. His 18 stone bulk just cannot handle 12 rounds and he was breathing heavily even early on against Briggs.
It’s been a busy period for Irish boxing recently, and a period which has had it’s ups and downs. Firstly back in September of 97’ Irish boxings last Olympic gold medallist Michael Carruth lost in his first shot at a world title.(A points defeat to the very ordinary Michael Loewe for the WBO welterweight crown.)This was soon followed by Steve Collins’ shock retirement in October.
Wayne McCullough’s inactivity for most of last year did him no favours and neither did the rumours of his discontent with manager Mat Tinley. Light-welterweight Mark Winters British title win last October was tainted by the fact that his opponent Carl Wright had to have a blood clot removed after the fight, although Wright has since made an excellent recovery and was ringside for Winters first defence in February.
On the plus side former amateur stars like flyweight Damaen Kelly and cruiserweight Cathal O' Grady have made impressive starts to their pro careers and both remain unbeaten as I write. Although former top amateur Paul Griffin sufferd his first pro defeat when he was stopped by fellow featherweight prospect Dean Pithie. (Pithie incidentally was the last man to beat Naseem Hamed as an amateur.) Cruiserweight Darren Corbett still looks over-weight, but he is one hard-punching fighter and one of a rare breed of exciting cruiserweights.
Also after Christmas after a long and bitter courtcase over breach of contract Steve Collins successfully defended against former manager Barry Hearn, this victory for Steve removed any financial nessicity for a Collins comeback. Collins now plans to open up a pro gym in Dublin.
The film the boxer (reviewed by Derek Cusack last month) also aroused great interest in boxing and the fight scenes choreographed by ex World featherweight champion Barry McGuigan are the most realistic fight scenes I have ever witnessed on the big screen.
Anyway back to Wayne McCullough who is reported to have patched up his differences with Mat "he's like a brother to me" Tinley. I'll believe it when I see McCullough fight again. He is tentatively scheduled for a fight in mid-April. Has anyone else noticed how un-cannily similar Wayne's career has been to that of his idol the afore-mentioned Barry McGuigan.
Both were world class amateurs, McGuigan won silver at the 1978 Commonwealth games in Edmonton, McCullough won silver at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Both turned pro with unproven but financilly well off managers, neither with a lot of experience of world class boxing. McCullough with Tinley, McGuigan with the Belfast bookmaker Barney Eastwood. Both managers promised that their young protégé would be the only fighter that he would ever manage. As for the young protégé’s they looked on sweetly and smiled for the cameras.
Obviously both boxers had Northern Ireland in common and both became involved in political matters, although McCullough not so much thanks to being based Stateside.(Although Derek Cusack has pointed out and I must agree that, McGuigan brought the two sides of the divide closer together than any politician ever did.) Both made high profile starts to their career receiving frequent TV time.
When the world title shot came both fighters had it all to do. McGuigan won the WBA featherweight title on points from the long reigning Eusebio Pedroza while McCullough travelled to Japan to beat reigning WBC bantamweight king Yashuei Yakushiji also on points.
It is from here on in though that things really get scary. Both made their first title defence in Belfast against fast, slick movers. McGuigan fought Bernard Taylor and McCullough defended against Dane Johnny Bredahl. Both were made to look poor before stopping their foes mid- distance.
Both men's second defences were in Dublin against opponents they were epected to dominate. However two average performances from both men had the critics out with their knives. An uninspired McGuigan outpointed Danielo Cabrera while a equally uninspired McCullough barely gained a split decision over Jose Luis Bueno.
McGuigan's next fight was on a June afternoon in Caesars Palace car park in Las Vegas where he lost his title to Texan Steve Cruz in the blistering heat over 15 brutal rounds. So when it was announced after the Bueno fight that McCullough was to fight on the undercard to Chavez V De La Hoya in JUNE in CAESARS PALACE CAR PARK against TEXAN Michael Johnson, I thought I was in groundhog day.
Thankfully fate intervened and after the beating McCullough had taken from Bueno it was recommended that he take a break so the Johnson fight was scrapped. McCullough did however lose his next title fight against Daniel Zaragoza and then the managerial dispute started, the same disputes that McGuigan had with Barney Eastwood after losing his world title.
Almost a year to the day's after their world title losses both fighters announced a reconciliation with their managers. McGuigan's new agreement did'nt last long and he never fought for Eastwood again. Frank Warren signed him but after a handful of fights McGuigan retired after losing on a cut to the average Jim MacDonnel.
As for McCullough how long will his reconciliation last? Surprise, surprise there were whispers that Frank Warren wanted to sign up McCullough.
I wonder what the odds are on Wayne choreographing the boxing scenes to a movie in ten years time. Pretty good I'd say. Watch this space.
The Beginning and the End of a Good Champion
by Enrique EncinosaI was there at the beginning and there at the end. The beginning was a June night in 1984, at a club fight card in West Palm Beach. My young cruiserweight prospect, Robert Daniels, later to become a world champion, was scheduled to fight his fourth pro bout against a kick boxer named Brooks Groton. As I readied Daniels, a muscled Jamaican sat quietly near us. I nodded a hello to the man, checking out his body frame. The Jamaican was a light heavyweight or cruiserweight, probably using borrowed equipment for his pro debut.
South Florida is an area of the country that has enjoyed a constant boxing activity for decades. In that year of 1984, over fifty pro boxing shows had been held in a three county area, while the rest of the state featured regular cards in Tampa plus a few other shows in scattered cities, like Jacksonville and Orlando. The gyms, at least a dozen of different levels of grime and size, were packed with pros, ranging from world class performers to human punching bags. Because of the hundreds of bouts generated by the sizable activity, there was a need for prelim performers to face the house fighters, the rising stars tied to a half dozen local promoters.
The labor pool for recruiting opponents came from the migrant camps where blacks, Jamaicans, Mexicans and Haitians, worked long hours under a blazing sun, in areas where alligators still roamed freely and snakes slithered between the stalks of sugarcane. Men who worked like this were willing to fight for a few hundred dollars. Most were inexperienced and poorly trained, trying their best but getting their asses kicked. Being tough men they did not complain, for a four round paycheck for a few minutes work was easier money than swinging a machete under a tropical sun for a full day. In South Florida boxing jargon, "bean picker" came to mean a raw, tough guy who could fill the win roster for the more experienced and better trained house fighter.
I figured the Jamaican was the bean picker du jour for Rogelio Bolanos, a tall Cuban from Miami with a long amateur career and eight straight wins as a pro. The Jamaican was scheduled to be the ninth bean meal for the hard hitting prospect.
Daniels won his fight in two rounds. Groton was one of a group of kickboxers and tough man contest alumni who often crossed over to pro boxing. Some, like James Warring, did well, but most went the way of the bean pickers, to winning few and losing plenty. A crunching hook fractured Groton’s nose and the bout concluded. As Daniels returned to the dressing room, I sat ringside to scout out Bolanos, whom I was looking to match against "Little Joe" Daniels.
The Jamaican was introduced as Uriah Grant. For a man turning pro he did not seem nervous. As the first round began I nodded in repsect. Grant has some basic skills, perhaps acquired in a few amateur bouts in Port Antonio or Montego Bay, as he plodded forward ready to rumble. Bolanos unloaded and Grant took it and gave it back, slamming hooks to the body and the head, missing often but landing enough that Bolanos grunted and leaned forward, looking for a clinch. The Cuban tried his best, hitting Grant with a couple of sharp rights but the Jamaican plodded forward, swinging and hooking. IN the second round Grant took over and it was stopped in three. Uriah Grant won his first pro bout by knockout over an undefeated prospect named Rogelio Bolanos.
That was the beginning. Now this is the end. Sandwiched in between this moment and that one, fourteen years in the past, Grant left the canefields, faced more tough guys, won and lost, then moved into the contender level, becoming a sort of Tropical Jersey Joe, a man who fought anyone on short notice and always gave his best. He fought for the title and lost, then, at the tail end of his career he won an alphabet soup crown. Hard luck followed and he lost the belt in his first defense.
In an era where there are more fighters wearing title belts than there are churches in Ireland, being a champion does not mean as much as it should. I tend to respect by performance, not by alphabet belts. And I have a champion’s respect for Grant. He’s a clean living family man who bought a house, makes mortgage payments and works as a construction worker between fights. He’s not a friend in the sense of being buddies, but when I have talked to him at the gyms or the fights he had always been amicable and sincere. At thirty-six he’s at the end of his career, so when I heard he was fighting at the Miccosukee Indian Casino, I figured to go see him do battle, perhaps for the last time.
On this evening in February, my son Erik and I parked our car at the far end of the Miccosukee Casino. I had been looking forward to this fight card. Besides Grant against Saul Montana, there were a dozen scheduled bouts including Ray Mercer, Boom-Boom Johnson, and Frankie Toledo. The boxing marathon was to be even more amenable by hanging out with my boxing pals, the legendary historian Hank Kaplan and former lightweight contender Frankie Otero.
As we walked towards the casino area, a green sign by the side of a pond warned: BEWARE OF LIVE ALLIGATORS. Later that night I would reflect on the sign and the metaphysical relation to Uriah Grant, who had seen several in his early days as a cane cutter.
The place was packed with boxing people that night. Don King with his electric hairdo and Shannon Briggs with his gold dreadlocks. Courage Tshabalala and Maurice Harris were in the audience. Jimmy Lennon Jr. was announcing. A group of us talked boxing, Jose Ribalta, another decent man inside and outside the ring, reflected on some of the tough guys he has faced.
"Bonecrusher hit harder than Tyson," he said, "but Tyson threw more punches. And Larry Holmes is sneaky. He has a way of inching forward and you think you are not in range and then he pops you."
I saw trainer Al Bonnani with Uriah Grant and walked over to wish them the best.
"We took this fight on ten days notice," Bonnani said, "but Uriah is always in pretty good shape. He fought Montana once before and it was a tough fight but Uriah stopped Montana."
I shook Uriah’s hand.
"Beat him like you beat Bolanos," I said and his face split into a wide grin, white teeth flashing, he remembered.
It was not to be. Grant tried like always, with all his heart and will. At thirty-six, after twenty-six wins and thirteen losses, after thirty-nine wars and fourteen years of punching and being punched, fighting for something called the North American cruiserweight title, Grant lost his fourteenth fight.
He had his moments. His nose was broken early in the fight, but Grant rallied. He won the fourth, fifth and sixth, hitting with crisp hooks and staggering the Mexican in the seventh. Montana with thirty wins in thirty-seven fights, fought a smart fight, jabbing at Grant, piling up points, stepping up the pace. By the tenth round Montana was hurting a tired Grant. The Jamaican lost a tooth in the eleventh. Referee Armando Garcia stopped the fight in the last round.
After watching Ray Mercer dispatch a muscle-bound sparring partner Leo Loiacono, my son and I prepared to head back home. Accompanied by Frankie Otero we stopped by Grant’s dressing room. Grant sat in a corner of the room, his face covered by his hands.
"I almost stopped it," Bonnani said, "but he did not let me. He’s heart broken. Tell him he did not shame himself."
Frankie Otero, who traded leather with Ken Buchanan and Alfredo Escalera, walked up to Grant, touching him gently.
"You have nothing to be ashamed of," Frankie said, "you tried your best. That’s all there is..."
I walked up and touched his shoulder. His battered face looked at me.
"Thank you," I said, "It has been an honor to see you fight."
I meant it. I was there at the beginning and the end.
Chuck Bodak - Part II
Interview conducted by Thomas GerbasiTG - Let's use Oscar DeLa Hoya as an example. When you're working with him, do you have to go to camp with him, or are you just called in for the fight itself?
CB - It's not compulsary, because I have a lot of other work, but I try to go up as often as I can.
TG - From a technical standpoint as a cutman, have you ever come in contact with a cut that you couldn't close?
CB - Not really, because sometimes it takes around two or three rounds to really seal it completely to where you have it under control. And other times you get a kid that's a bleeder and it's real tough to stop it. In fact, I had one one time, very small, about a quarter inch cut, and I couldn't stop the damn bleeding. No two human beings are alike and one guy, I guess the pressure's so great, blood just squirts out. Even the small arteries. But the general capilliary cuts, when they open up, are not hard to stop really.
TG - So there's not one magic formula that will stop any cut?
CB - No, not really. You're not a miracle man, you just know what you do, and what you're doing, and the time you have to work with and stuff like that. There are different methods, like I work a lot with freezing, besides medication, and that helps too because a lot of times you can freeze a cut and it literally seals itself. But when a cut is too bad, I myself will try to attract the attention of a referee, so I'm not involved with humiliating a fighter or something like that, or sticking my neck out, and shake my head or something that it's too bad or the guy doesn't have a damn chance, you know, what's the use?
TG - Is this something you picked up over the years, or was there someone in particular who showed you all this?
CB - When I quit fighting and went into teaching, I made sure that whatever there was pertaining to working with a fighter, besides teaching them, all his needs and desires and stuff like that, I've learned. You know like dealing with doctors. I deal with a lot of commission doctors that I know real well and I'll discuss different things with them. I read up on different medications. There's always modification over a period of time where things change. Some commissions permit you to use it, some don't. And I check out all kinds of stuff that is new on the market or that they use in surgery. It's amazing, they even use that super glue for a lot of internal bleeding and brain surgery and that. They use super glue but you'd never use it in a fight. It's stupid to even think about it because the jostling in the corner, one guy pouring water over a guy. I mean you have some very erratic situations in a corner and it wouldn't be practical to work with the thing. It's bad enough working with adrenaline, where you have a pad underneath the cut so it don't drip in the eye where it could cause quite a bit of irritation. But there's not any miracles to perform, you just have to know what the hell you're doing, and know the person, that's it.
TG - What are your thoughts on Whitey Bimstein?
CB - During his time he was great. A lot of it too is that you create a reputation and you're very fortunate in people wanting you for your reputation, and the publicity you get, and the contacts you make, and there's a lot of luck involved. A lot of times there's a lot of weird things that happen too. Like for example, you work with one guy one time and you do real good work or sometimes you're not even doing anything cause they don't get cut or something, and the next time they don't call you, they call someone else. To me that's luck. You got a reputation that you can do the job. If a guy hires you once or twice and what happens the third,fourth, fifth time or whatever? Did you lose everything or what? It's weird. Plus I guess fighters, to a point, are eccentric, and a lot of it deals with managers, the way the guy feels, or something.
TG - Ray Arcel?
CB - He's another guy that I had a lot of respect for because his philosophy was "you don't train, you teach". And that's the truth. You refer to training as working with animals because you can't educate an animal. You train an animal. When you deal with a human being, boxing is a science, regardless of what the product is in performing, and if you don't educate a guy, he's got nothing. Like the old adage "he's got balls", but that's garbage to me. When I hear that I want to throw up. It's not a question of balls, it's a question of mentality.
TG - Eddie Futch?
CB - A good teacher. And a lot of it too, besides being a talented individual, it's the type of person that you are. Your philosophy.How you sell yourself to an individual.How you can function with him as a unit. He's in that category, he's a nice person. Because you can be a great athlete, but what kind of person are you? Which is more important than anything.
TG - Eddie "The Clot" Aliano?
CB - One of the best and a nice person. He's a laid back individual, he does his job. And Eddie's the type of guy that you would literally have to walk up and talk to him. He was almost like shy, but a good person. Teriffic guy. He's a very good friend of mine.
TG - Is there a competitive thing among trainers and cutmen, or is it more of a camraderie?
CB - Well it all depends on the relationship you have with a person. You know, if a guy's got a lot of faults in reference to what you're looking for, for harmony and cooperation and stuff like that, you're sort of evasive, you walk away from situations and stuff like that because how can you deal with something like that? It's like I'm not going to go to your house if I feel uncomfortable or if I know you're an asshole or something like that. I wouldn't even go there. And it's the same way with people. The way they are a lot of times, the things that they do, and their whole philosophy in the business and the way they treat people, you just don't deal with them. Like a lot of them, I just walk by them, and I can get along with anybody. But so many of them will screw you, bum rap you, try to hurt you, why? I could never understand that. If anything, you want to help a guy, or if he isn't compatible, you just ignore him or walk away from him. Why get ulcers, why lose sleep over something that's not important.
TG - Are there any good young trainers around today?
CB - There's a lot of them. They ask me questions and tips and I help them because I feel this way: if I have something you think you need, or advice, you ask me, I'll tell you. Why be a hog, or why if you have talents or something of value to someone, why keep it to yourself?
CHUCK ON DREAM FIGHTS
TG - Julio Caesar Chavez vs. Roberto Duran
CB - That would be a tough one because they're both literally in the same category. They were very talented in different respects. Some of those matchups are really tough because you have two tremendous talents, it's almost like flipping a coin.
TG - Barney Ross vs. Oscar DeLa Hoya
CB - Well, at this stage, you'd probably have to say Barney Ross because, Oscar, as great as he is, with the potential of being greater, you'd have to give Barney the shade because he was always in tremendous condition, he had a good philosophy, he was a tremendous person, which I think is a huge asset in boxing when you deal with mentality in teaching. That would probably be the answer there.
TG - Tony Zale vs. Marvin Hagler
CB - I'd say Marvin Hagler because he was a greater technician than Tony. Coming from me, I'm originally from Gary. I was on amateur teams with Zale, I worked with him at the Chicago CYO for 25 years, and in reference to an honest opinion, I'd have to pick Hagler. See Tony was tough, but he was not a great technician. Tremendous condition, desire, devotion, and everything else, he had all that. And he became a success. But when it comes to great technology, he didn't have it, not in comparison to Hagler.
TG - Archie Moore vs. Roy Jones Jr.
CB - No question, Archie Moore. At this stage. After a few years of accomplishments you might change your opinion. But it's nothing to do with the time that he fought, or the guys that he fought. Like they'll compare the old timers with the modern day fighters. Look at the difference in records with a lot of them. Look at the difference in the opponents that they fought, and not only champions. There were guys in the old days who never had an opportunity to become champions because of the control and everything else. Today, if you can't get a break with one organization, you get a break with another organization, and become a champion, which is nothing wrong. There's so much to give and they can only give so much and somebody comes in and adds to it, which is good. The other guys, who are not in the top three , for example,they have an opportunity to became a champion,they have the opportunity to make a decent buck in preference to being nothing or a nobody and just making an ordinary payday. Paying you for what a promoter thinks you're worth. When you become a champion, you have some prestige. It demands a little more money.
TG - Evander Holyfield vs. Ezzard Charles
CB - That's a tough one too, because Ezzard Charles was a great, great fighter. In fact, one of the most underrated fighters that ever lived. Another guy that was so talented. That would have to be a toss up too.
TG - What do you think about women boxing?
CB - I think it's all right, I'll tell you why. If that's what a woman desires and she becomes talented, devout and dedicated to the sport, why not? Look for example, in track. Can you imagine a woman pole vaulting? Because they're not the muscular type, and it demands a lot of muscular reaction. Plus today, women that are participating in sports develop themselves, they have a great desire and determination, they love what they're doing, they become masters at what they're doing. What's wrong with that? Maybe not in comparison to the male, but on the other hand, what they do in performing sometimes amazes you.
TG - What would you say to someone who thinks boxing should be banned?
CB - That's idiotic. Why don't they ban all the contact sports? Because these detrimental incidents happen in all of them. You can get hurt, you can get killed. You can do the same thing in your own home. You can fall down and break your neck, break your shoulder, your arm, your leg, or whatever. You can walk out of your driveway, get hit by a car and get killed. Those things are inevitable. They happen. How can you say that it shouldn't be or they shouldn't jeopardize themselves? So what? It's an individual's choice, right? And if there's a penalty to pay or there's success involved, it's yours, you earned it, you're entitled to it.
In a way it's really idiotic. If you feel that way, don't even look at it. How can you look at something when down deep in your heart you're condemning it? How can you enjoy it? You've got to be a real hypocrite. And these things that happen, no one wants to see it happen. It's sad that they happen, but hell, that's life. There are a lot of things that happen, both pro and con, in life but who are we to judge or condemn it?
RINSING OFF THE MOUTH PIECE
by GorDoomAs we slouch toward the end of the 20th Century Blues, the Ol' Spit Bucket, got t' thinking about the fighters who in these troubled times, are leading the way for boxing.
At the vanguard of the sport are three fighters: Evander Holyfield, Oscar De La Hoya & The Prince Of Freakin' Weirdness, Naseem Hamed. These three, are the only certifiable "draws" extant. Other than these three, there are no fighters (unless your Johnny Tapia, in Albuquerque), that can guarantee a lot of paying butts in the seats, either at home, or in the actual arena.
Roy Jones Jr. & Felix Trinidad should be part of that vanguard, but they're not. Both of them are blessed with awesome physical gifts, that they are wasting, as the years roll unequivocally by ... Inactivity, is one of the surest ways to get blown out in what should be a "gimme" fight.
In Roy's case its more serious. He's almost 30 & at an age where he should in the prime of his career. Instead, he still has yet to prove himself against top flight competition. Fantasies about winning the heavyweight championship & all the attendant dead presidents & glory are nothing but a childish dream. Meanwhile, the best years of his career are nothing but vacant spaces ...
The Bucket believes, that if Roy had just buckled down & fought people like Virgil Hill, Henry Maske,Frank Liles etc. - even for a paltry 2-3 million geets a pop - he would have developed the kind of recognition that the aforementioned trio now boast.
Felix Trinidad is apparently heading down that same dead end road. Like Jones, he's always screaming about the lack of respect & money he's achieved. Who's fault is that? Yeah, well ... Having Don King as your promoter should be one clue, dude.
Unlike Roy, Trinidad's career started out on an exciting roll. On June 19th, 1993, at the callow age of 20, he blew out Maurice Blocker for the IBF welterweight title. He followed with impressive defenses against, Luis Garcia, Anthony Stephens, Hector Camacho, Yori Boy Campas & Oba Carr.
The Carr fight was on December 10th, 1994. Since then, the vastly talented Trinidad, has withered on the vine due to inactivity & fighting desultory opposition. The much anticipated mega-matches with Terry Norris & Oscar De La Hoya never happened. But instead of continuing to fight the best opponents available, atrophy & misplaced hubris have set in.
Roy has already let the best years of his career slide into the abyss, but Trinidad is still only 25 years old. He should be at least at the same point, career wise, as Oscar. Whatever anybody's opinion about De La Hoya is, they have to admit he's an active fighter, who learns & improves with every outing. For over three years now, the same can't be said about Felix.
In terms of talent, Trinidad, is at the very least, as physically gifted a fighter as Oscar, but he just doesn't have the same steep learning curve. It's been so long since Trinidad has had to extend himself in the ring, that I fear, that the next fight he has against a truly tough opponent, could end in a monumental upset.
If Felix was fighting a warrior, like say, Keith Mullings, I wouldn't put my money on him. I think the same thing would happen to "Tito" that happened to Terry Norris. Mullings is not a guy that your going to blow out in under three rounds, he's going to keep coming & coming, like a 90's version of Carmen Basilio. Mullings is by no means a talent on the level of Trinidad, but he's a hungry, blue collar warrior, without a drop of quit in him.
The Bucket feels that if either Roy or Felix get into a fight that turns into a war - that goes into the middle to late rounds - they could be in dire straits, because they would be woefully unprepared for that kind of gut-check.
The upshot of all this is: Roy & Felix may not realize it yet, but they are both in extreme danger of wasting what should be marvelous careers. & they will have no one to blame but themselves ...
Just read a report about Riddick Bowe that came in over the mojo wire, that truly saddens me. Apparently, he's checked himself into a mental health facility to help him cope with stress problems that are seemingly overwhelming him.
Ever since his retirement, Bowe has set himself up in ludicrous situations. From joining & abysmally quitting, The Marine Reserves, volunteering as a career, school crossing guard!!!, getting beat up by his sister & most disturbingly, having his wife, Judy, file a written complaint of alleged spousal abuse with the police & promptly packing up their five children & moving out of hearth & home.
The spousal abuse, if true, is unconscionable. Especially by a man that was not only The Heavyweight Champion Of The World, but also a man with a very strong family background.
Despite my revulsion due to the alleged spousal abuse, I somehow still have a modicum of sympathy for the man-child that is Riddick Bowe.
Now, don't get the Ol' Spit Bucket wrong, I ain't tryin' to be disingenuous ... In these post - OJ times, & as a man who has never raised a hand to any of my children or my four wives (& you gotsta know that at least three of them seriously pissed me off at one time or another), - I in no way, countenance verbal or physical abuse of anyone, unless its within the squared circle.
Unlike Tyson, who I believe is a verifiably twisted & mordant soul, Bowe has never struck me as the mean spirited sum' bitch that is, "Spare Change" Mike.
Tyson & Bowe are a fascinating contrast. Although both of them rose from exactly the same grim, inner city, Bed-Stuy enviorment, the differences in their personalities & life style choices, are enormous. In comparison to the street ogre that is Tyson, Bowe (give or take a press conference sucker punch or two), has always come off as warm & fuzzy in comparison.
They both share something else besides their background ... They both had ruthless svengali's in Don King & Rock Newman; that facilitated in bringing out the worst in both of their personalities. But that doesn't excuse either of them for their uncouth (& sometimes criminal), behavior.
Both Iron Deficiency Mike's & Big Daddy's foibles, have been so well documented that laying them bare once again, would be an exercise in redundancy ... Suffice it to say, they are both easily manipulated by outside influences.
The Bucket ain't into dime store psychoanalysis, but it is readily apparent, that both of these lost boys, have been seeking guidance from father figures that would make Henry The Vlll, seem like Ward Cleaver, in comparison ...
Don King has been dealt with ad nauseum by this scribe, but Rock Newman, feels like fresh 'n bloody meat, to the Bucket at this point.
Rock Newman ... Where do I freakin' begin??? ...
Before I get into seriously slagging the toxic fragment of detritus, that is Rock Newman, I have to begrudgingly admit one thang: Without Newman, there never would have been a heavyweight champion named Riddick Bowe.
Newman brilliantly resurrected Big Daddy, from the dung heap he had lowered himself into, after the fiasco against Lennox Lewis, in the 1988 Olympics.
Bowe quit like a dog against Lewis & none of the power brokers in boxing were willing to give him ( or his tarnished silver medal), a shot, after his abysmal surrender in Seoul.
Newman not only coerced the esteemed Eddie Futch into training him, he maneuvered Bowe sagaciously to his title shot against Evander Holyfield.
Well & good I say ... But once Newman had his meat hooks firmly clamped around the heavyweight championship, megalomania & utter arrogance set in.
The first incarnation of Newman's machinations, was to convert the personable, "Big Daddy", into a '90's faux version, of Muhammad Ali, as Ambassador At Large, to Rock Newman's, very bent vision of a Disney Land presentation of: "Newman World" ... This included "state occasion" visits with The Pope, troops in the Middle East & any American Ghetto rally that could possibly score some Afro-Centric points.
Like I stated earlier, so far so good ... Hey, the Ol' Spit Bucket makes his living in the music biz ( it certainly ain't from boxing), & no one values the effort & hype it takes to create an image, more than my own bad self ... But Newman's manipulations, were as subtle as an unexplained TWA airline disaster.
Subtlety, is blasphemy to Rock Newman. The mean spirited, little pit bull, gloried in the fact, that as manager of the heavyweight champion, he was unencumbered by promotional ties to any one organization ... At that point, he basically controlled the power plays in boxing ... & he used & abused that advantage for all it was worth.
Again, I have to say, that Newman brilliantly brought his life's-project to fruition ...
But this is where the worm turned ....
By this time, Newman had proclaimed himself as the "genius" of boxing & was ready to tear boxing apart & reconstruct in his own snarky image. Newman's refusal to come to terms with Lennox Lewis, for a match that was a natural super-fight, was his first blunder. The day he had Big Daddy throw his WBC belt in the garbage can was the beginning of the end for Bowe.
Instead of matching him with credible opposition, Newman foisted profitable (for Team Bowe), defenses on the public, with re-treads like Jesse Ferguson & Michael Dokes. Bowe blew them out as he should, but by this time, the hunger & focus that is needed to maintain a boxers skills had long since eroded. Big Daddy was more interested in building a kitchen for his bedroom than fighting ...
It seems inevitable now that he would lose his rematch with a focused & driven Evander Holyfield. Once he lost his title in the infamous "Fan Man" fight, Newman & Bowe were shut out by boxing's powers that be. Newman in his hubris had reamed everybody he could while Bowe was champion & it was payback time for the self styled "genius of boxing" & Big Daddy.
Once he lost his title, Bowe lost his way & seemingly gave into the brutish ways that Newman so gleefully encouraged: Belting Buster Mathis Jr. when he was down on one knee, sucker punching Larry Donald at a press conference & engaging in a distasteful war of words with Jorge Gonzales. By this point, Big Daddy had tarnished the good guy image he had once had. The final denouement were the foul-filled disasters with Andrew Golota.
Newman brazenly caused the riot that followed the first fight in Madison Square Garden & then refused to take any responsibility for his actions. The riot & the fact that he had Bowe splinter the prized jewel of sports, The heavyweight championship, by throwing the WBC belt in the trash, are Rock Newman's legacy to the boxing world.
Following the Golota fights, Big Daddy retired & his life has unraveled & devolved to its present lurid state.
Riddick Bowe could have possibly been one of the great heavyweight champions. He was bright, witty & had an engaging personality. It is not inconceivable that he could have gone on to a very successful career as a boxing announcer. All those future possibilities have now evaporated.
Bowe may have plenty of money, but his family is gone, his speech is alarmingly slurred & he & his boxing career are viewed as a joke. Worst of all, his life has gotten so bad he has committed himself into a mental facility.
This is not the way the story was supposed to end. What was once a witty, likable & talented fighter, is now nothing more than a shell of his former self. The blame has to be placed on both Bowe & Newman. They flat out blew it ...
Which brings me back to Felix & Roy. They could learn a lot from Big Daddy's mistakes. The first & probably most important lesson to be learned, is to keep regularly fighting credible opposition, so they can continue to hone their skills & progress as fighters. Inactivity & shoddy opposition is the sure road to ruin.
A DEVIL WITH HEART
by Barry LindenmanThey don't call it ESPN for nothing. After all, ESPN does stand for the Entertainment and Sports Network. Today, more than ever, sports and entertainment are becoming inseparable. Nobody knows this better than Vinny Pazienza. He has been entertaining boxing fans with his exciting performances since he first turned pro back in 1983. Win or lose, there's no such thing as a dull Vinny Pazienza fight. From his music introductions, his flashy boxing attire, his whirlwind boxing style to even his post fight press conferences, Vinny "The Pazmanian Devil" Pazienza has been the quintessential boxing entertainer.
The story of Pazienza's career is one of ups and downs. But what makes him stand out from the rest is how he has consistently overcome adversity with his tenacity and perseverance, or as he simply puts it, his "heart and soul." Yet, it is ironic that like Evander Holyfield, his unique heart, determination and ability to overcome tremendous odds, sometimes overshadow the tremendous boxing ability that he possesses. He overcame a broken nose when he won his first world championship, the IBF Lightweight Championship over Greg Haugen in 1987. Despite being written off each time following unsuccessful tries to win a title at 140 against Roger Mayweather, Hector Camacho and Loreta Garza, Pazienza once again proved his critics wrong. After moving up in weight to 154 pounds, he first won the USBA Junior Middleweight Championship against Ron Amundson and soon after, won the WBA Junior Middleweight title in October of 1991. He punctuated that performance with a knockout of Gilbert Dele in the twelfth and final round.
However, only a month following his second world title, Pazienza was involved in a tragic car accident that cracked two vertebrae in his neck. Despite the initial advice from his doctors, he vowed to comeback and fight again. The now famous images of Pazienza working out in the gym while still wearing the protective halo to protect his healing neck speak volumes about his philosophy of life: never give up; give it all you've got, and above all, "keep the faith." His comeback fight, a little more than a year after the accident, was a triumphant decision over Luis Santana in December of 1992. Still displaying the power he is often criticized for not having, Pazienza scored two knockdowns in his comeback fight. A knockout win over former world champion Lloyd Honeyghan, not one but two victories over the legendary Roberto Duran and a sensational one punch knockout over previously undefeated Dana Rosenblatt followed.
To say that Pazienza's career has been a combination of both sport and entertainment would be an understatement. He credits seeing the movie Rocky with inspiring him to become a fighter. His nickname is a takeoff on the popular cartoon character, The Tasmanian Devil. His entertaining fights are crowd pleasers despite the outcome and recently, he has ventured into the world of acting. In a sense, his long and entertaining boxing career has now come full circle. Twenty one years ago, his desire to become a boxer was energized by seeing Sylvester Stallone on the big screen. Recently, he just finished shooting a movie with Sly. Although he already has one of the best nicknames in boxing, "The Pazmanian Devil," he might also borrow a nickname from one of his contemporaries from the world of show business, James Brown. Like him or not, respect his boxing talents or not, Vinny Pazienza has to be considered one of the "hardest working men" in boxing.
BL: You had a very successful amateur career yet you decided to turn pro in 1983 rather than try to make the 1984 Olympic team. Considering the success that those guys had in Los Angeles, do you ever have any regrets about not being on the Olympic team and potentially winning a gold medal?
VP: No, not at all. Because of the politics in amateur boxing I just don't think that I would have made it on the Olympic team.
BL: You've had a lot of memorable moments as a fighter: winning the lightweight championship in 1987, winning the junior middleweight title in 1991 against Gilbert Dele, your two wins over Roberto Duran, the sensational knockout of Dana Rosenblatt. Of all the great fights that you've had, which fight do you look back on and say to yourself, "I was at my absolute best then."
VP: Probably when I knocked out Gilbert Dele in the twelfth round to win the WBA Junior Middleweight Championship in 1991. That was a good one. Also when I fought Joe Frazier, Jr. at the Providence Civic Center in 1986.
BL: Just as your flashy style, confident attitude and success as a boxer has created a large group of fans known as "Pazmaniacs" who follow your career religiously, it has made some people dislike you as well. How would you respond to that?
VP: You can't please everybody !
BL: Only a few days after winning the WBA Junior Middleweight Championship, you suffered that terrible car accident. Publicly you vowed not only to fight again but to comeback and win another championship, which you did at 168 pounds. But what was it like for you privately? Did you ever have any moments where you felt sorry for yourself and said, "why me?" or ever have any fears about fighting again and maybe risking permanent injury?
VP: I never said, "why me" because things happen to people everyday. That's just part of life. Now, when I look back at tapes of what had happened to me and what I went through working out with the halo on, I can't believe that I did that. I don't know what was going through my mind. But I remember at the time thinking "kill or be killed" which is the attitude I go into the ring with a lot of times. I said to myself I'm gonna make this happen or I'm gonna die trying.
BL: Before your fights, you and your opponents are seen as showing genuine hate for one another. This was especially the case against guys like Greg Haugen, Hector Camacho, Roberto Duran and Dana Rosenblatt. How much of this was just pre-fight hype and how much of it was real?
VP: Some of it is pre-fight hype but some of it's real. I'm the kind of a fighter that fights with a lot of intensity. If I don't fight with that intensity, I'm not the same fighter. I have to build up an anger and a little bit of a hatred for my opponent. People sometimes will ask me if I like the guy that I'm fighting or if I'm friends with him. How can I like him? He's trying to knock my skull off my shoulders in front of millions of people! Why would I like that guy? That's the type of attitude I need to bring into the ring because I fight a lot on emotion. Trainers tell fighters all the time "don't let your emotions overtake you." But for me, it's worked to my benefit when my emotions overtake me.
BL: A typical description of Vinny Pazienza the fighter might include a phrase such as, "what he lacks in skill, he makes up for in heart." Would you agree or disagree with that and why?
VP: I would agree with that but there's a lot of ability and skill that go along with the heart. A lot of guys that just have heart alone don't make it this far. You need more than just heart. Having heart brings you to another level and that's where I've taken my career because I have a lot of heart and soul.
BL: How did your association with the cartoon character The Tasmanian Devil as your symbol and mascot first come about?
VP: Great story. A local cable announcer in Providence just nailed it on me one day early in my career. I was about twenty years old and I'd just turned professional and still living at my parent's house. My mother stays home and tapes all my fights. When I came back home after a fight, my mom told me how surprised she was that the local cable announcer didn't know how to pronounce my name. I told her that I went to school with this guy and he knows me well. She told me he pronounced my name wrong and called me something like Vinny Tazmania. So she shows me the tape and sure enough, he called me Vinny "The Pazmanian Devil" Pazienza. Ever since then it stuck. It actually is a great nickname for me. It kind of serves the purpose.
BL: What were your thoughts as you saw the biting incidents in the Holyfield - Tyson II fight?
VP: It was ugly. I was just like everybody else. I was in shock and didn't like what I saw.
BL: What would you do if your opponent bit your ear during a fight?
VP: (After a long pause to think about his answer) Let's just say I don't think I would have reacted like Holyfield did.
BL: People may or may not know this about you, but you're one of the most accommodating sports figures when it comes to your fans: always willing to take time to sign an autograph, take a picture with, etc. This is very opposite from the flashy, some might say "cocky" persona that you bring into the ring with you. Unlike many who have achieved success and fame, how have you been able to keep everything in perspective when it comes to your relationship with your fans?
VP: I appreciate my fans. I appreciate it that people watch me and like me and get a lot of inspiration and faith from me. I think it's a beautiful gift. I've turned down one autograph seeker in my entire life ! I'll never forget. I was running to catch a plane in Chicago. I was late. As I'm running to the plane, some kid yells out "Vinny. Vinny Pazienza. Oh my God, the Pazmanian Devil. You gotta give me an autograph." I was running at the time and I said, "my man, I can't. I'm late for this plane." I told him to write to me and I'd send him something. I don't know if he ever did but that was the only autograph I ever turned down in my whole life.
BL: How do you feel about the increasing trend of women competing in the sport of boxing? Do you think they should be given a legitimate chance to compete against each other, or do you think it's just a novelty act, side show to help sell tickets?
VP: I think women's boxing is OK. If they would like to do it, it's up to them. I wouldn't want my fiancée to box but a lot of women like it. So long as they stay women against women and men against men, I think it's fine.
BL: Is there anything about the sport of boxing that you would like to see changed?
VP: Boxing is such a medieval sport that there's not much high technology that you can apply to it. I don't think there's too much more that can be done with boxing. The only thing that I would like to see is more unification of the sport and more exposure. People don't seem to appreciate boxing the way that they do Major League baseball, the NFL or the NBA. If I had done what I had accomplished and I was a Major League baseball player or an NBA athlete, I'd be on the cover of a Wheaties box and doing Gatorade commercials. Boxers themselves are very respected but boxing overall does not get the respect it deserves. Without a doubt boxing has a black eye because of the thievery in it and the lack of organization. Young kids can't see boxing on TV because it's not on during the day a lot of times. It's got a lot to do with the marketing of boxing.
BL: Currently we have guys like Foreman, Holmes, Duran, Leonard, Hearns, etc. fighting well into their forties. What do you think about guys who were champions in the 1970's still fighting today and should we expect to see you fighting when you're in your forties?
VP: (Laughing) I hope not. I don't think I'll be doing this too much longer. I love to fight and I still feel good so I'm gonna continue until I don't feel good or have that desire. It's tough to pin an age down to tell somebody when to stop fighting because everybody feels differently at different ages. Boom Boom Mancini was washed up at twenty five years old. At twenty five years old, I was just starting to kick it in and become a man. That's up to each individual when to call it quits.
BL: If you had never gotten into boxing, do you ever wonder what you would have been doing instead and how your life would have been different?
VP: Sometimes I do wonder. I think I would have went into business with my Dad. He was a salesman. He sold everything from A to Z. I think I might have done that.
BL: Once your career as a fighter is finally over, do you see yourself still involved in the sport in some way, as a manager, trainer, promoter, etc?
VP: Possibly. A lot of kids want me to train them now. A lot of young fighters look up to me and would listen to me. I've been through it all so I could give them some advice. I know I could help a lot of guys with their boxing skills because I know a lot of different styles. I'd like to help out some kids and maybe make a champion, who knows.
BL: You have some interests outside of boxing, most notably a possible film career. Could you give a brief update on "Heart and Soul," the film biography of your life, as well as "The Good Life," the film you recently made with Sylvester Stallone and Andrew "Dice" Clay?
VP: The movie about my life will be done. Right now it's in the writing stages again because I changed over writers. I didn't like the writer that was doing my story. He was just adding too much to it and it was just total fiction. There's no need to add anything to my life story. It's so dramatic as it is. So that will happen sooner or later and I'm not sure who is gonna play my role. Sometimes I often want to try it myself but I'm not sure. I've done a movie called "The Good Life" with Stallone, Dice and Dennis Hopper. That'll hopefully be out this winter. Then I did a new Police Academy movie. It's a comedy they did on the Police Academy movies and will be seen by about eighty million homes. More people will see me act in this than have ever seen me box. One episode is based around my character, Ty "Sweetcheeks" Henderson !
BL: You always set such high goals for yourself. Now that you've gotten into acting, will you not be satisfied until you win an Academy Award?
VP: I just tried out for a movie with Robert DeNiro. It was for the life story of Vinnie Curto. I would have loved to have gotten that role but they gave it to Ray Liotta. It would have been a major break for me and I know I could handle something like that. You never know. One day, you never know. If I ever get an Oscar, I will wear one of my world title belts up to the podium. It would be a dedication to boxing and to give acknowledgement to my boxing career and to all of boxing.
BL: Earlier you alluded to your fiancée. Have you guys set a date yet?
VP: No. To pin a date down for me is not easy !
by Dennis MarconiHere we are well into the third month of 1998, and I was reflecting on the lamentable fact that so few major fights have occurred or are even scheduled for the year. Sorry, fans, but I just can’t get very excited about Trinidad-Zulu, Lewis-Briggs, Hollyfield-Akinwande, Tiozzo-Ray, Dela Hoya-Charpentier or Jones-Hill. To call 1998, "The Year of the Tuneup Fight," is being kind.
Other than the Manfredy-Gatti war that was staged in January, it’s been a very uneventful time for boxing. Roy Jones has all but decided that he’s too big for boxing; Bernard Hopkins seems willing to get it on, but there’s no response; Johnny Tapia and Mark Johnson are talking, but nothing is set; and, of course, there’s Oscar De La Hoya, the master of them all who has just about set the standards and rules for passing on a big fight.
Faced with the horrifying prospect of fighting the top welterweight challengers, namely Jose Luis Lopez, Felix Trinidad and Ike Quartey, Oscar has apparently selected Yory Boy Campos as his next opponent. Yes, this is the same Campos who was knocked out by Felix Trinidad and stopped by Lopez. Just another example of what’s going on in boxing these days; lose big to someone and get a big money title shot. Just ask Mr. Akinwande or Mr. Terry Ray or Mr. Virgil Hill.
It’s no big secret that all of boxing suffers when the champions refuse to fight the top challengers. Most of us long for the prospect of seeing Trinidad battle DeLa Hoya or Lewis take on Hollyfield. After all, this is supposed to be the muy macho sport of them all where the best are supposed to be chomping at the bit to fight the top contenders. Just ask Ali or Leonard or any of the great champions from the past whose careers were largely defined by the men they faced in the ring. Indeed, much of boxing’s great lore and rich history emanates from the classic fights that made these fighters legends.
But today, as the 90’s comes to a close, we’ve had precious few of these epic battles to watch and savor. What we seem to be witnessing in boxing is a contagious philosophical disease that is spreading rapidly to nearly all of the top-notch fighters. I can’t give it a name, but I know how to describe it-"make as much money as you can without taking on any risk."
At first glance, it sounds so logically correct and sensible. But, when you stop and think about it, you’ll realize that, unless it’s stopped now, it will all but wipe out the competitive aspect of boxing. It will become strictly an exhibition.
Just think if this short-sighted and narrow attitude were to exist in other sports. There’d be no need to have a World Cup in soccer or a Super Bowl in football. Spectators would have to be content with players showing off their skills and talents against hand-picked opposition. Isn’t that what we really are approaching in boxing today?
One can always go back in boxing history and point out some glaring examples of champions ducking top challengers, but what we have now is a near epidemic. The biggest violator, in my opinion, is Oscar De La Hoya. By and through his Barnum and Bailey type promoter, Bob Arum,he’s been able to amass a staggering fortune while building a plastic-coated, inflated career. He’s taken the easy route, sidestepping tough opposition while opting to take on opponents who are either too old, too small or just too incompetent.
Worse yet, these two have conducted a slick Madison Avenue type sell proclaiming the greatness of Oscar. We are told that he is a brilliant fighter who is " good for boxing." He’s taking on tough opponents and soon, he’ll face even tougher ones- just give him some time. Unfortunately, this nonsense has been going on for too long and is being bought by too many influential people, some of whom even laud Arum for promoting his "product" so well. ‘After all,’ they reason, ‘he’s making tons of money by fighting safe opponents so why take a chance and fight a top contender, he doesn’t need it. Boxing is a business , and Bob and Oscar are showing everyone how to exploit it to the max.’ Trouble is, I’m getting the feeling that these two are looking more and more like those snake-oil salesman we see in the movies who sold their worthless wares to people way back when
Notwithstanding the clear fact that fans are being made fools of by these blatant con artists, the most sensible response to this self-serving and short-sighted way of thinking is that boxing cannot afford to tolerate this type of reasoning. When we accept this propaganda and then condone it, we’re contributing to undermining the already fragile credibility of the sport.
Within the last two weeks, Oscar has come out and again, tried to humiliate boxing fans and insult their intelligence. First, he proclaimed to the press that he was looking forward to fighting Campos who, he explained, was a more attractive opponent than Jose Luis Lopez. Never mind the fact that those two met a little over a year ago in Los Angeles ,and Lopez won handily inside six rounds, this is boxing’s "golden boy" speaking and , in his eyes, we must accept it. Maybe it’s because Campos has one of those useless title belts that Oscar seems to thrive on collecting. Obviously, he wasn’t talking about their relative boxing abilities.
Then, just last Saturday night, on HBO, we are told, live and in person by Oscar, that we’ll have to wait until next year to see those "big fights" when he moves up to 154 pounds. In the meantime, he’ll have four five fights at 147.
Sorry Ike, Jose and Felix, you’ll have to try and gain some weight, and wait another year or so before Oscar fights you. Well, maybe, he’ll fight you; remember, weren’t we told last year that Oscar would fight those guys in 1998 ?
Well, surprise- here we are, 1998, and Oscar’s looking forward to fighting five "mystery fighters" this year. I can’t stand the suspense of waiting to hear who is picked from their bottomless bag of soft touches. At least we know it won’t be Kostya Tszyu or Terry Norris.
Despite these most recent and glaring examples of conning the public, we can expect to hear from the media that Oscar really is a credit to boxing. His adoring fans will continue to patronize his fights; his smiling face will still adorn the covers of boxing magazines whose editors have proclaimed him as the "best pound for pound fighter " in the business; and, the gullible boxing public will continue to quietly obey Bob and Oscar"s choice as to who he will fight next. Guaranteed, it won’t be Felix Trinidad, Ike Quartey or Jose Luis Lopez.
I can’t help but think that other champions, such as Trinidad, Jones and Hollyfield ,are keenly aware of what Oscar is doing , and they’re emulating him. After all, it wasn’t too long ago when these guys were fighting the best in their divisions. But by now, they must be thinking, "Hey, if Oscar can get away with it, why should I take the risk of losing my title . We’re no fools either." And so it spreads. The net result of all of this thinking will make boxing as farcical as the WWF.
There is, of course, a very simple capitalistic answer to this problem; don’t buy the product. The most obvious and effective way would be not to buy those pay- per- view exhibitions Bob loves to throw your way. Make some noise; write to Top Rank and HBO and demand that Oscar fight one of those three. Send letters to boxing publications that publicize Oscar; call sports talk. It may sound corny, but it would work if enough people do it. I can still remember my Economics professor telling us-"it’s all about supply and demand." Let’s demand some real fights
by Chuck BogleOn February 22, in Washington, D.C., IBF flyweight champion Mark "Too Sharp" Johnson (33-1, 24 KOs) faced top challenger and NABF flyweight champion Arthur "Flash" Johnson (17-3, 10 KOs) for the IBF title. It was billed as a "fighter's fight" between two of the best in the lighter weight divisions, two boxers with diametrically opposed styles and, indeed, little in common beyond their name. Well, that and an odd habit each had of referring to himself in the third person. "Coming home for me is very emotional," said the IBF champ. "It's a lot of pressure on Mark Johnson." After the fight, the loser assured us that "no one is more surprised than Arthur Johnson."
So it should have been great, right?
Well, it wasn't. Not exactly. There's not really that much to talk about in terms of the actual fight. Mark Johnson, a southpaw, seemed fairly relaxed in the opening part of the first round, flicking his jab easily and landing a couple of hard shots to the challenger's belly. The champ then landed a kind of looping, lunging right hook as he was moving in and the challenger was moving out of the way. The punch didn't even seem like it landed at first, but it caught Arthur across the jaw, and he parked himself against the ropes and stayed there for what was left of the fight.
All ten seconds of it.
The champion moved in, digging vicious hooks to the body as though he were prying open a clam. Eventually, the challenger's hands opened, just a little, and a straight shot landed flush on the jaw and dropped Johnson to the canvas where he just lay there, grimacing in pain and shielding his eyes from the glare of the lights.
And that was it. Mark Johnson tried not to seem surprised in the post-fight interviews; he tried to ignore what had just happened and focused instead on calling out Johnny Tapia. But the way he pumped his fists in the air and jumped up and down immediately after his opponent had been counted out belied his otherwise calm demeanor in the interview. He had been planning for a much harder fight, and the sudden interruption of that storyline seemed to disconcert him as much as it did everyone else.
To similar effect, if on a somewhat less exalted level, was a recent bout at the Great Western Forum. Cody "Alaskan Assassin" Koch (24-0, 20 KOs), a bouncer turned boxer, faced Forum prospect Ed "The Hammer" Mahone (15-0-1, 15 KOs). The fight was technically for a something called the NABO heavyweight title, for whatever that's worth.
Whereas the ending to the Johnson-Johnson fight seemed a betrayal of the pre-fight narrative, it was difficult initially to get a clear sense of the "story" of this fight. Each of Mahone and Koch had followed what seems, depressingly, to be the career path of choice among young heavyweights, even those without much skill. That path involves a long string of fights against bartenders, "tough veterans," ex-champions, etc., before taking a genuinely risky fight. The idea, apparently, is to put together as extended a string of knockout wins as possible before permitting a fighter to face even moderate competition. Mahone had spent the last year fighting the "tough veteran" types. Koch's opponents had been of a somewhat lesser caliber, if that's possible. So, Mahone was probably the nominal favorite in the bout due to his somewhat higher class of competition, but as a practical matter, not much was known about either fighter.
Curiously, Koch shimmied toward the ring to Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Relax." An odd choice perhaps, but I guess Koch had spent lots of time in the dance clubs just prior to tossing folks out of them. Koch was clearly excited as he got into the ring. He had already worked up a sweat, and jumped up and down in his corner awaiting Mahone.
"The Hammer's" entry was somewhat more dignified, and he somberly strode in to some jazzy rap rhythms and wearing a colorful kente outfit. Mahone to me resembles a young Riddick Bowe, before the personal troubles and years of pounding in the ring gave Bowe's face a haunted look. Mahone, like Bowe, is articulate, bright and personable, and even more than that, honest. He admitted that he had been "in trouble" in a fight with Bryant Smith a year or so before, calling it his toughest test. As he took off his robes, I realized Mahone reminded me of Bowe in another way as well -- Mahone's gut was soft and flabby, and he looked to be about five to ten pounds heavier than he should have been. Clearly, he and his training regimen had something of a falling-out recently.
The first round was a decent one for Koch. His southpaw stance appeared to confuse Mahone, who was in a defensive posture throughout. Koch was busier, more accurate, and threw harder throughout the round, essentially landing a straight left to Mahone's chin whenever he wanted. Koch is no thing of beauty, you understand, his punches are a little too amateurish and hooky, and a lot of them didn't really appear to hurt Mahone, but he clearly won the first couple of rounds. In the third, Mahone started to connect a little more, landing hooks to the body. Koch appeared to think that one or two of the shots went low (it was hard to tell), and he almost seemed ready to drop to a knee after what he considered a particularly egregious hit, but the round was a close one nonetheless.
The middle rounds were carbon copies of each other. Koch was generally the aggressor, peppering Mahone's face with short, choppy and surprisingly quick shots that occasionally appeared to stagger his opponent while Mahone was sluggish and bored-looking, only occasionally showing signs of life by throwing to the body, often way to the body if you catch my drift, with a point being deducted for a flagrantly low blow in the sixth.
The story slowly started to develop throughout the course of the fight -- the more gifted but less motivated (or more distracted) fighter had failed to prepare as he should have and, worse, resorted to cheap, low shots to make up for that lack of preparation, while a more limited but pretty game fighter performed far beyond what most thought he was capable of to score an upset (at one point, even his own cornermen enthused "wow, man, you look like a boxer tonight!").
Except that the story didn't end quite that way. The turn was foreshadowed in the eighth, with Mahone landing, almost by accident, some good body punches that really took the wind out of Koch. Koch still came out strong in the ninth, continued to outthrow Mahone, and started the tenth the same way, on his way to what looked like a relatively easy victory (I would have had him up by eight rounds to two at the end of the tenth, with another point deducted for Mahone's low blow). Then, the fight fell apart for Koch in the space of about a minute. A big uppercut brought blood to Koch's nose; Mahone went low with another punch (this one nearly landing on Koch's hip) and was warned, but no point was deducted. Then, a series of about five punches, culminating with what looked like either a really borderline punch to the midsection or about the third low blow of the round put Koch on his back. He raised himself to an elbow immediately, and seemed aware of what was going on, but his face was a mask of disbelief, and he failed to beat the count.
Koch, in the post-fight interviews, took umbrage at the low blows -- "He hit me in the NUTS!" he squealed, "SIX TIMES! And the ref didn't do NUTHIN!!" He had a point, I suppose. But Koch's loss, just like that of Arthur Johnson, wasn't quite that simple. Arthur Johnson, to his credit, didn't suffer a Lewis-Golota type of blowout. Johnson was prepared, in shape, didn't have any history of emotional problems, wasn't on any medications that could impair his performance, etc. Nor did he lose because Mark Johnson is that good (although he's obviously a pretty talented fighter). The challenger just "got caught," in the language that fans and journalists alike use for something they can't entirely comprehend. Similarly, while it's tempting to cast Koch as the virtuous victim of a low-swinging Mahone, he wasn't knocked unconscious by the low blows, nor did he appear completely incapacitated by them. Rather, Koch lost, despite having won about eighty percent of the fight to that point, because, well, just because.
I felt vaguely dissatisfied after each of the fights, as though someone had cheated, though obviously that wasn't the case. Both Johnson and Mahone had beaten their respective adversary the only sure way to beat anyone in boxing -- hit them so hard, or in so exactly the right place, that they can't get up. So the sense of moderate injustice I felt after each fight didn't derive from the specific result so much as from the general situation -- that the fight could have ended so suddenly and surprisingly, seemingly from nowhere at all.
In many ways, the fact that there really wasn't a rational and tidy story to explain each sudden and brutal loss was more disturbing than the potential alternative narratives that could have explained the fights (that Arthur Johnson was overrated, for instance, or that Koch just faded late). The issue is an enduring one in boxing, as any fan with a knowledge of the game will tell you. Provided a fighter can avoid getting knocked out himself, the potential is always at least theoretically there to end the fight quickly, to put an abrupt end to whatever story had been developing. The type of sudden, shocking d‚nouement occurring in all the fights I've described is something that fans of most sports don't have to deal with. Unexpected turnarounds (a great kickoff return, a killer serve, a clean triple axle) may occur, but they generally don't completely decide the outcome.
And ultimately, I think it was the sudden and illogical end to the "story" of each fight that bothered me most of all. At their most satisfying, boxing matches are like small, very violent morality plays. The stories of the individual boxers and the sport in general converge to teach us something of what we want to believe about ourselves and each other. I think that's part of why the "Rumble in the Jungle" has such an enduring appeal for fans of the sport and for fans of sports in general. A perceptibly aging, post-draft hiatus Ali already had been decisively beaten by Frazier and, even more surprisingly, by Ken Norton. There were those who doubted, not unreasonably, that Ali would ever win a major fight again. Each of his conquerors, in the meantime, had been demolished in fairly short order by a pre-Midas commercial George Foreman. "Big George" was a different sort of guy then, not the smiling shiller of mufflers and burgers he became in his second career. He was mean. He brooded. Every punch he threw was as hard as the one that shook Michael Moorer to his toes in 1994, and he was quicker with them as well. He must have looked unbeatable. Before their fight, Howard Cosell stated publicly and somberly that Ali would lose, perhaps badly, perhaps with severe long-term consequences to his health. When instead Ali came off the ropes that night in Africa and landed seven unanswered punches to Foreman's head to knock him out and reclaim the heavyweight championship of the world, the narrative suddenly and dramatically switched from the sad story of a faded once-wunderkind's final and devastating loss to a tale of redemption, of victory in the face of horrifying odds, of guile and experience winning out against brute strength and youth.
What makes boxing such a profound and occasionally frustrating experience, at least for me, is that such breathtaking corkscrew turns, which can and do occur with some frequency, don't always have such a ready-made alternative narrative that will help to make sense of the result. The fan is left with an odd and uncomfortable disquiet derived from an ending that has been imposed upon, rather than grown from, the action in the ring. This uncomfortable feeling also can be instructive, but it teaches a darker and somewhat more ambivalent truth than the tidy moral lessons fans can derive from boxing's most satisfying moments. In fights such as the Johnson/Johnson and Mahone/Koch bouts, some of the chaos and randomness of life is exposed. Fans are forced to acknowledge that essential parts of ourselves, our bodies and consciousness, are not always entirely within our control, that on occasion, despite the most diligent preparation, despite talent, despite everything, we will lose, sometimes for no reason at all, and that undeserving people sometimes will be victorious.
Mahone's comments in his own post-fight interview were revealing and perhaps a fitting epitaph for the fight (and this article). "Giving honor to God," he said, "I'm not in the best of shape and the Lord just blessed me today with the win." Now, I'm not sure if the Lord was blessing Mahone or not (is He/She a fight fan, anyway?). But I'm willing to bet that the look on Koch's face as he lay propped on one elbow that night, a look that combined stunned disbelief and an almost righteous sense of injustice, was probably not too different from the look worn by a certain fellow named Job.
by Thomas GerbasiPlainview, New York - A club fight. No television cameras. No hype. No pretensions. In other words, just boxing. The purest form of the purest sport. And when CBZ publisher Mike DeLisa had to go away on business the night of March 12, I jumped at the chance to go to the Explosion Promotions "Night of the Heavyweights" card at the Vanderbilt in Plainview, Long Island. I'm glad I did.
The opening bout was a four round heavyweight matchup between Erol Sadikovski (230 lbs) of the Bronx and Jersey City fireman Larry Cureton (247 lbs). Now the last time I saw Cureton, he was the round card "guy" at the all-women's card in Atlantic City on January 10. Now it was time to see if he could fight better than he pranced around the ring. Sadikovski was game, but after the first round he was sucking wind, and Cureton started to build up the points between a steady jab. Late in the fourth round, with the pro-Sadikovski crowd exhorting him to "do it for the neighborhood", Erol landed some good shots. But it was too little, too late. The scores read 40-36 twice for Cureton, and 39-37 for Sadikovski. Cureton wins by split decision and ups his record to 4-2 with 1 kayo. My scorecard read 39-37 for Big Larry.
The crowd settled in by now, and it looked to be a standing room only crowd. Some boxing celebrities soon rolled in, like young prospect Zabdiel Judah, Jake "The Snake" Rodriguez, dual women's champ Kathy Collins, and the gentleman who sat next to me for the evening, legendary referee Arthur Mercante. Talk about a small world, my grandmother's foot doctor was Mercante's brother, and I still have an autographed Ali-Frazier I picture from him, which reads, "To my little pal". This brought a laugh from Arthur, a gracious man, quick to give autographs, take pictures, and talk to the fans. One of boxing's good guys.
Fight number two was a middleweight bout which pitted Stuart Daniels against Travis Simms, a former National amateur champion and Olympic alternate. Remember Simms' name. At the opening bell, Simms came out fast and unleashed a lightning quick left hook to the jaw of Daniels. Stuart was out before he hit the canvas. Referee Arthur Mercante Jr. didn't even bother to count. 12 seconds. Fight over. In all the fights I've seen, either live or on tape, I have never seen a more devastating knockout. I will keep an eye out for Simms' future development. It was only one fight, and a short one at that, but he looked like a star.
Undefeated Douglaston heavyweight Derek Panza was up next against North Carolina's Dwayne Casson in a scheduled four rounder. Casson stepped into the ring with a 1-2 record, but it was obvious that he had no intentions of losing to the popular Panza. Early in the first, a right hand by Casson dropped Panza. Panza calmly rose, and both men went to war, taking turns staggering each other. They continued to maul and brawl with each other in round two, with Casson getting his nose bloodied and losing a point for hitting behind the head. By the third though, Panza's bombs had worn Casson down, and after a standing eight count, another barrage forced referee Wayne Kelly to step in at the 2:17 mark. Panza's record now stands at 5-0, with 3 kayos.
And it kept getting better. The Long Island Welterweight Championship was on the line in bout number four, as "The Turkish Tiger", undefeated (8-0) Gihat Salman battled 2-4 Robert Alvarez in a six rounder. While the Turkish contingent in the crowd expected a win for their man, no one told Alvarez. The program stated that the fight "will be so close that you could probably hold it in a telephone booth". Well, they weren't too far off. In a fast paced, exciting bout, Alvarez chased after Salman all night, opening a nasty gash on his right eye, and winning over the crowd. For his part, Salman landed the cleaner shots, and brought out some oohs and aahs with some Hamed-like moves. When the decision was announced, unanimously for Salman, the crowd booed. But it was clear that Salman had done enough to win (I had him winning 59-56). Hats off to Alvarez though, for giving his all, and never taking a step backward. Despite his record, I'd have no problem watching him fight a third time (I saw Alvarez lose a close decision to Richard Hatton on the Hamed-Kelley card).
The Main Event. A ten round bout between Columbia, South Carolina's Melton Bowen (37-6), and local hero Richie "The Bull" Melito (19-1 with 18ko's). The only time I had seen Melito fight, he was getting "smoked" by Bert Cooper in one round last year. But you couldn't tell that to the crowd at the Vanderbilt, who cheered as if Melito was the second coming of Rocky Marciano. And maybe Bowen believes he is, as Melton was steamrolled in two rounds. Bowen couldn't get off in the six minutes of action, as he was repeatedly drilled by the all business Melito. At the end of the second, Bowen retired in the corner due to a broken nose, and the capacity crowd went home happy, having been treated to an exciting night of boxing.
It just goes to show, you don't need all the glitz and glamour to have a good night of boxing, just some guys who are willing to go in there and fight. Kudos to the promotional and matchmaking teams over at Explosion Promotions. I'm ready for the next card. Hey Mike, do you have a trip planned soon?
Interview with Mitch Halpern
by Barry LindenmanBL: How did you first get interested in boxing?
MH: I've always loved the sport of boxing. When I moved to Las Vegas, Richard Steele befriended me and has been like a father to me ever since. I used to follow him to the gym and would glove up and unfortunately got my ass kicked a little bit. Later, he started helping me become a referee. So it's really because of Richard that I'm involved in the sport of boxing.
BL: Did you ever have any aspirations of becoming a boxer?
MH: After I got hit a few hundred times I realized that being a fighter wasn't for me! I decided that I was more the official type, not the fighter type.
BL: What made you want to become a referee?
MH: I love being in the ring. I enjoy the hands-on job that a referee has and of course I always admired Richard and what he did so I wanted to be a referee just like him.
BL: Many people involved in boxing have regular occupations that have nothing to do with the sport. For example, Mills Lane is a district court judge, boxing judge and TV commentator Harold Lederman is a registered pharmacist. What is your occupation when you're not refereeing?
MH: I run the printing department for the Hilton Corporation in Las Vegas.
BL: As a referee, you literally have the best vantage point in the arena to view the fight. How are you able to separate the boxing fan in you from your responsibilities as a referee?
MH: The bottom line is that when you step in the ring, you have a job to do. You're not a fan when you're in the ring. You're a fan when you're outside the ring. When you're inside the ring, you're there to enforce the rules and protect the fighters and that's what you're paid to do.
BL: We think of a referee as always being calm, cool, and collected in the ring. Would you say that it takes a certain kind of personality to become a good boxing referee?
ML: You definitely have to have a thick skin, I'll tell you that. Sometimes, you get it from all angles. You need to keep things in perspective. We're very fortunate here in Las Vegas to be a part of some pretty big events. If you lose perspective of what you're doing and what your job is, you can get caught up in all the hoopla. You need to be able to separate the two and just do your job.
BL: Taking into consideration all the hype, media attention and money involved in big time professional boxing, do you yourself ever get nervous or feel the kind of pressure that the participants feel when going into a world championship fight?
MH: Not just world title fights, I think you get nervous before any fight. The bottom line is you've got a fighter in the red corner and a fighter in the blue corner and you're there to make sure the fight stays clean and that they're obeying the rules and regulations of the state. I think there's always a sense of nervousness when you step in the ring, irregardless if it's a four round fight or a twelve round title fight. You still have two fighters in there that are throwing punches at each other. It's a nerve racking job.
BL: How many years experience did you have as a professional referee before you got a chance to do a world title fight?
MH: I had four years under my belt.
BL: Who were the participants in that?
MH: Simon Brown versus Troy Waters for the WBC Welterweight title.
BL: How many total world championship bouts have you now refereed?
BL: How are referees chosen for a particular fight? Are referees like yourself Mills Lane and Richard Steele rotated for world champion fights or do you have to lobby to the commission to participate in certain fights?
MH: First of all, there's no lobbying allowed. We're all professionals and we respect the process of how the athletic commission selects us. There's a five member athletic commission here in Nevada and they sit down together and decide who's the best official for a certain event. When you're assigned, it's a privilege and when you're not, you're there to support the guy who is assigned.
BL: If you don't mind me asking, how much does a referee make for doing a fight?
MH: It all depends. For example, when I did Holyfield - Tyson I, I got $10,000 for that one. For a smaller title fight where the purses aren't as big, you can make between $1,600 and $2,000 for those.
BL: Would you characterize the relationship between yourself and other professional boxing referees such as Richard Steele and Joe Cortez as one of competition or cooperation?
MH: It's definitely cooperation. I'm real lucky. I feel that my peers out there in Richard, Joe and Mills, are the three best referees in the world. Like I said before, we're all very, very close. Richard's like a father figure to me. Mills and I talk at least once a week and Joe was my roommate when he first moved to town. We're all real tight and supportive of each other. There's not a whole lot of guys out there that know what you're going through when in you're in the ring except for your peers. I feel real lucky to be part of a group like that because those guys are the absolute most professional in the world. They're the best in the world so it's good for me to be around those guys.
BL: You were originally slated to be the referee in the Holyfield - Tyson rematch yet you decided to bow out when the Tyson camp protested. As you watched the infamous biting incidents as a spectator during the fight, did you say to yourself, "I wish I had been the referee," or were you even more glad that it wasn't you serving as the third man in the ring?
MH: I would have loved to be the referee in that situation. But I was sitting on my couch with my daughter on my lap and my wife on one side of me eating pizza so it's real easy for me to say that . Mills was in a real tough position in that fight. It's a shame about what happened and it's a shame that the fans suffered. The bottom line is as far as the outcome was concerned is that the right guy was chosen for the right reason because of the intentional fouls.
BL: During my interview with Mills Lane a couple of years ago, he said that you and he were close friends and even made the comment that when he eventually retires, he would like you to carry on his tradition of saying, "let's get it on." Has he discussed this with you and is this something that you would like to do?
MH: Actually he has mentioned it to me. I think it would be an incredible honor for anybody. Would I do it? I don't know. I probably would do it out of respect for him because there's only one Mills Lane. But he is such a great official and such a great man that I don't think it would be doing justice to him to have somebody else say that. When he's done refereeing, "let's get it on" should be done too. I mean that with the utmost respect for Mills.
BL: It wasn't long ago when many states permitted the referee to act as one of the three judges scoring the fight. Would you prefer to act as both a referee and judge in the same fight?
MH: Absolutely not. My job is to enforce the rules and to protect the fighters. That's my focus. I'm not really a good judge of fights and I totally agree with the separation of the two.
BL: From a referee's standpoint, do you prefer to officiate a certain weight class over any other?
MH: No. The particular weight class or the amount of rounds doesn't matter at all. Whether they're 105 pounds or 295 pounds, it's the same rules and regulations.
BL: What do you consider some of the more memorable fights that you have been a part of over the years?
MH: Obviously, Holyfield - Tyson I was a huge event and it was a great honor to be part of that. I've done a few of Oscar De La Hoya's fights and I've done Holyfield - Moorer II. One thing that's real memorable for me is that I've been all over the world for the WBA and the WBC as a referee and I've got to see places that I never even dreamed of going to. So that's been real exciting for me.
BL: Speaking strictly as a fan, what fighters do you enjoy watching today?
MH: I love watching them all. It's hard for me to say. I love boxing and I love all fighters and the different styles. It doesn't matter who's fighting or where the fight is. If it's on TV, I'm watching it.
BL: Several years ago, world championship fights were shortened from 15 to 12 rounds, yet we still had the recent tragedies involving Jimmy Garcia and Gerald McClellan. What additional safety measures would you like to see introduced into professional boxing to help insure the safety of the boxers?
MH: I think that the pre-fight physicals and screenings should be more intense. I'm not a doctor so I can't get into the medical issues about boxing. The bottom line is that injuries are gonna happen and unfortunately fatalities are gonna happen. I think we save a lot more lives than we lose and we protect a lot more fighters from getting seriously hurt. You're always gonna have people second guessing decisions and what not. When someone gets seriously hurt in football or auto racing or something, it's usually just a little thing in the sports section on the fifth page that nobody really sees. But when someone gets hurt in boxing, it's the headline. Then people start calling for the ban on boxing. I think for the most part, the referees do a pretty good job of protecting the fighters. To go through something like I went through with Jimmy Garcia, I wouldn't have changed a thing. If they fought again tonight, I know I wouldn't have stopped the fight any sooner. Because the same guys that wrote about me letting this guy go through this terrible beating, which it wasn't, would be writing that I robbed a guy's dream of becoming a world champion. If a kid's protecting himself and fighting back, then he gets the opportunity to continue and fight. A lot of these injuries are internal that you don't know about. It's a horrible, horrible tragedy but I think if you look at the track record of the sport of boxing, it's a pretty good one. There's a lot of guys fighting out there and the great majority of them are healthy and thank God, I like to think that we as referees add to that.
BL: Has Don King been good for boxing or would it be better off without his influence?
MH: I think Don King has been great for boxing. He puts on some incredible shows. I also think that Bob Arums's great for boxing and the Duvas are great for boxing. I think that anyone who wants to promote is good for boxing as long as they're putting on good shows and putting legitimate fighters in the ring and giving the fans what they want. In that sense, I think the more, the merrier.
BL: Mills Lane has been in the ring when a fan hang glided into the ring, when a fighter cried and had a nervous breakdown in the ring and when a fighter bit his opponent's ear. What is the most unusual experience you've had since you became a referee?
MH: Thank God none of those things have happened to me. One time when I was overseas, I had a guy that wouldn't come to the center of the ring before the fight and refused to look the other fighter in the eye. After about five minutes of going back and forth with him, I finally got him to come to the center of the ring to give him the instructions and the guy ended up getting knocked out twelve seconds into the first round! I was involved with a fight between Terry Norris and Luis Santana in Mexico City where Terry Norris committed an intentional foul. He hit Santana in the back of the head and Santana got knocked down and stayed down for five minutes and ends up winning the fight. That was kind of a weird deal.
BL: As a sport, boxing has been on the decline for years in terms of popularity and TV exposure. Can the new stars of the sport like Oscar De La Hoya, Roy Jones, Jr. and Naseem Hamed revive the sport in spite of its controversy, negative publicity and constant criticism?
MH: I think so. I think that's the beauty of boxing. Everyday you've got a new guy popping up. Look at "The Prince" and the kind of hoopla he brings to a fight and Oscar De La Hoya with his charisma and his ability to fight. You got the guys from the amateurs and the Olympics coming in. I think boxing is a rollercoaster. It's got its down times and its up times. There's always blue skies ahead.
Jill "The Zion Lion" Matthews
Interview conducted by Thomas GerbasiJill Matthews. The current IWBF / IFBA Junior Flyweight Champion after winning a unanimous decision over rival Anissa Zamarron. Pretty straightforward, but a statement that doesn't begin to tell the story of New York City's Zion Lion. The first woman to win New York's prestigious Golden Gloves tournament, Jill is also a hairdresser, a graduate of Hunter College, and lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter for Times Square, a punk band with a CD out, and which sports ex-Misfits member Bobby Steele on bass. Her drummer? Husband David Turetsky, a Park Avenue lawyer, and son of a prominent Rabbi.
Pretty eclectic background, but can she fight? Just picture a pint sized, female hybrid of Henry Armstrong and Aaron Pryor. Yeah, she's that good. Perpetual motion from bell to bell of each round, in a short time Matthews has turned the world of female boxing on its ear. And she's getting better with each fight, the latest being her ten round war with Zamarron. In what has become a Graziano-Zale or Ali-Frazier of the fairer sex, Matthews - Zamarron has been a non stop slugfest through three fights. And with the series all even at 1-1-1, could there be a fourth? We can only hope. I now present Jill Matthews...
TG - Why boxing? How did you get started?
JM - It was like the ultimate challenge. It was really cool and offensive and something I thought was really great, so I tried it.
TG - Did you start just to learn the sport?
JM - Yes. Basically because I thought male boxers had great bodies, not in terms of me lusting after them, but in terms of the most in shape, perfect body that I would want to have. So that's why I started boxing, just for the workout.
TG - When did you realize that you were going to pursue this further?
JM - I never realized I was going to pursue it. I just did the Golden Gloves; I won that, and then the promoters wanted me to go pro. And I thought it was a big joke. I was like "yeah right". So I didn't want to do it. And then I finally said okay, I'll do it, and that was with Anissa Zamarron, so I lost my first fight. And then I said, you know what, I never want to box again, but I really want to learn how to box. I figured after two amateur fights and one professional fight I should really learn how to box. So I started training really hard, and then I said to myself I don't want to quit on one fight, one loss. I want to give it one more shot to see if it was a bad day or I really suck.
TG - What was your family's reaction when you told them you were turning pro?
JM - I never really told them. They knew I was training every day and they knew that I like to take things to the max. And I said to them pretty much if something comes along, I'll take it, and if something doesn't, I'll just be in great shape. I looked at it that way. And they just kinda know I'm nuts and I like a challenge. And they figured I'm going to be fighting girls, so they weren't really worried.
TG - What's the reaction of the other women fighters in your gym (Gleason's)? Do they see you as a role model for them?
JM - No. Not at all, I don't think. As far as my training schedule, when I go into the gym, there's really no other women in the gym at that time. So I'm pretty much hanging out with the guys, which I like, and most of the women, for some reason, come in after five.
I don't think that a woman 180 pounds is gonna find someone 106 pounds their role model. In boxing it's very much if you see someone almost your weight, that's kinda who you look at as a role model, and there are no other women near my weight class. So I think they think I'm cute and spunky, but I can't imagine that they think of me as a role model.
TG - How would you describe your fighting style to someone who's never seen you before?
JM - The problem with me is that I love fighting. I love it. I thrive on it. So I have to keep reminding myself that boxing is a sport. Keep your hands up. Be careful. You know you shouldn't really get hurt. Cause when I go in, it's just, I love to brawl, I love a good fight. Even in the gym, when I get my ass kicked, it's like "Wow, that was cool, man". So I always say to people, like last time I said "I guarantee it's gonna be exciting. I don't know who's gonna win, but you're gonna be excited" because I don't put up with boring fights. I don't have the fuckin' patience, I don't have the time. It's like let's get this show on the road here, and let's do our thing. A lot of times people see me in the gym and they go: "you know, after seeing you fight and now seeing you in the gym, your form is a lot better in the gym." Yeah but, when I get in a fight it's like I wanna take her out.
TG - Are you giving your trainers gray hair with the way you fight?
JM - I think there are a lot of fighters that don't listen too much. Luckily, in the gym, I listen a lot and I learn what I have to do. Like in my last fight, I did my thing for the first three rounds and then I was forced to do what I learned in the gym. Because you can't go all out for ten rounds. So I think when I go onto automatic pilot, all the things that I learned in the gym will start coming out. Actually in my last fight I started boxing more in the later rounds.
TG - Were you reluctant to take the second fight with Zamarron after the result of the first one (A second round TKO loss)?
JM - Hell's yeah! But not so much that it was her. I had been a four round fighter, and I only did four rounds once. Four other fights it was first round knockouts. The most I had ever done was four rounds, and I was exhausted. And in the gym I had only done five rounds. So it was like a big Russian roulette. It was like well, I'm gonna go out there, and I might not win, but I want to hurt her real bad. I swear. So she could show her belt to everyone in the fuckin hospital. That was basically my goal. I didn't think it would go that far.
TG - Do you think she takes you lightly?
JM - No. I think she thinks she won or should have won, whatever. But I don't think she took it lightly. If you go ten rounds with anyone, and you can't take them out in ten rounds, how could you take them lightly?
TG - What about before the fight?
JM - Yeah. She was actually telling people she was going to knock me out in the fourth or fifth round. You believe that? She said, quote "I'm gonna carry her for a couple of rounds, and then I'm gonna take her out". Maybe she meant take me out to lunch or for a beer.
TG - Do I detect a little bad blood there?
JM - No. It's just that confidence is so obnoxious.
TG - Do you think she'll be coming to the fight with the same style?
JM - Yeah, of course.
TG - And do you have the same fight plan as last time?
JM - No. Because I know I can go ten rounds this time. Like last time I said I ain't going ten rounds so I might as well do what I have to do. At least get some punches in and do something, but I'm not gonna go the ten rounds. Now I know I can go ten rounds. My guess is I'll probably go in with the same gusto, but then maybe in the middle rounds rev it up a little more. Because I know now that I went the distance, and I had a little extra energy left at the end of the fight. And I've been training much harder, like more rounds. My endurance has been better.
I didn't know because I didn't know how much I could do.Every time I saw the round cards coming up, I went "wow, cool, fifth round". Each time I saw a card it was like "yes, yes", just thinking I went this far, oooh I went that far. That was like the neatest part.
TG - Do you feel any added pressure, being in the main event?
JM - Nope. Cause like I said, I promise an exciting fight. That's a guarantee. I can't ever guarantee a win, but I can guarantee that no one will go away saying "oh, that was bullshit", you know "boring", or "what's up with that?". Guaranteed excitement. I don't think I'm capable of going in there and having a boring fight. I get bored. And I don't care if I get hurt. I don't wanna get hurt, quite honestly, but when I'm in there, that's the last concern that I have. I almost think it's cool like if I could get hurt and still not go down. It's like "wow, she's tough". I hate those fights they fight ten rounds and no one has like even a mark on them. It's called shadow boxing or dancing.
TG - What does David (Jill's husband) have to say about your fearlessness in the ring?
JM - He thinks it's neat. Let's put it this way: if I wasn't boxing, I'd just be nuts, and breaking doors in my house. That's what I used to do, and now I box. Every door in my house is busted. He'd rather me be directing it in that way. But my trainer and him wish I had a little bit more of that "I don't wanna get hurt" in me. I care about losing, I don't care about getting hurt.
TG - Tell me about your fight in Denmark with Sengul Ozokcu (a four round decision loss).
JM - That fight I took just because I wanted to fight. And I had a fear of flying, and a fear of leaving the country, and a fear of going someplace without my husband, so I took the fight to see if I could overcome that. They said we were going over Thursday and we were going to fight Saturday. And we went over Thursday and fought Friday. So it was like a ten hour plane trip. We got there, we lost like a whole day, like I was up all night. And they weighed you in and then you fought. Cause I'm a Jew it was kinda like I knew what the Jews were like on the train to Auschwitz. We were on the bus and all the Americans were on the bus going to the fight and everyone had big circles under their eyes from not sleeping and stuff. And I'm thinking something's not right here. And I realized going there that I was kinda getting set up, and I was thinking wow, this really sucks. But it's too late. And they weighed us in and she was much heavier than me, but that wasn't even the point. The point was you can't fly to another country, miss a night's sleep, and fight the next day. I learned that. I have to learn everything the hard way. It's true. I have not been hand fed any of this. I've learned everything the hard way. But that's been my whole life, so I'm used to it. I take the loss because I feel like I'm a bigger person.
A lot of these female fighters that have these great records, ask them if they went to another country to fight. You'll notice that a lot of the female fighters with losses, it's cause they flew to another country to take a fight. They didn't just take the fights that were fed to them. Because you go to another country, you don't knock them out, you've lost. To go there for a little bit of money, just to take a fight cause you really want to fight. Zamarron does that too. She takes any fight that comes up, and I give her total respect for that. And her record is not fantastic, but she's a better fighter because of it.
TG - Take this as a compliment, after seeing you fight, I can safely say that you fight like a guy.
JM - Thank you very much. Because of comments like that, I'm staying in boxing just to get better. Just so I look more like a boxer, because I love it. I think like a guy because I like to go in and do what I have to do. That's why Christy Martin is cool, because she knocks people out. That's what you want to see.
TG - Do you chalk that up to sparring with men, or your trainers?
JM - Both. I think I suck. And I respect boxing so much that I know how much of a beginner I am. And like when you said do any of the other women think of me as a role model? No, because they all think they're great. All of them think that they're the best. I know that I suck. You see in terms of boxing, you know who I compare myself to? Male boxers that I see. And considering the male professional boxer, I suck. But a lot of them have had like 50 amateur fights before they even turn pro. So it's more lack of experience, but I want to get the experience. And I want fans to see me get better and better in front of them. But while I'm trying, they're gonna be excited.
TG - Are you looking at this for the long term, or just something for the next couple of years?
JM - Well, a couple of years is long. It depends on how many fights you have in a couple of years. Like this year I had seven fights, that's a lot of fights in one year.
TG - So what's your ultimate goal? If you win the title, what's next?
JM - Probably to defend the belt a couple of times. Since last time was my first ten round fight, it did spark something in me that was very exciting. Before going into the fight I said I just want to do ten rounds once and then that's cool. And after doing it once, I'm like wow, this is the beginning of a new thing for me. Cause this is like a real war you have with someone. It was the most outrageous thing ever. And so I don't want to even think about ending it now.
TG - Do you still occasionally get feelings of not wanting to fight again?
JM - This was the first time I fought and I didn't want to quit afterwards. I felt good, and I really wanted to do it again. This time I gotta admit, and it doesn't sound good, but this was the first time I was on an all-female card. It kind took the coolness out of it for me. I'm telling ya. I went into boxing because it was a male sport. Now all of a sudden I'm thrown into groups of women. That was my nightmare in life. Groups of women. I never belonged to coffee klatches and to be with a bunch of women to me is like a nightmare. And I had nightmares for weeks about hanging out with all these women. Talking about their weight, and diuretics, I didn't want to hear that. Do you want to hear about their menstrual cycles? I don't.
TG - What's a typical day in training like for you?
JM - Usually I wake up about eight and I run four miles. And I do a little bit of conditioning, very light. I come home, eat breakfast, and then go to Gleason's from one to three. That's all the time.
TG - Who are some of your favorite fighters, male or female?
JM - That's a tough question, because as I'm learning they've been switching and changing. I mean right now it's a complete mess, I like a little bit of each person, so you can't get an answer out of me on that one. Let me put it this way, it's not a female.
TG - What are your thoughts on Christy Martin and Lucia Rijker?
JM -Lucia Rijker I don't know too much about, but both of them have started this whole thing, and knock people out and stuff, so it's cool. I'm sick of hearing "I don't get enough money", and all the complaining, to tell you the truth. People stereotype women, and rightfully so, as complainers, and you get someone like a Christy Martin, and all she ever fuckin does is complain. In every interview I've ever seen. Now I respect her as a boxer, I respect what she did, but no one wants to hear you fuckin moan and groan. They want to hear you go "Yo, I love you man, I love Jesus, I love my mother, and God bless cause I'm goin to Disneyland." That's what they want to hear. They don't want to hear " This one's screwing me over, and I'm worth this and I'm worth that, and people are paying to see me". I'm sick of that. I'm sick of it. And that's the second any of these females get a little big, that's all you hear. I don't want to listen to it. If I ever did, I told my husband to take me out back and shoot me.
TG - If you had to choose, what would it be, boxing or music?
JM - 100 % boxing. No contest. Boxing over everything.
Mar Ratings (as of 18 Mar)
by Phrank Da SluggerThere are 3 criteria I use to rate fighters: Quality of Opposition, Performance and Activity. I am ranking the best from 1 to 10; this is to see who deserves a title shot. I rate all 18 divisions, a time-consuming activity to say the least. Therefore, commentary only appears every 3rd month.
Some mistakingly think the Champion in each division is the guy who I think is the best. This is not the case. There are 2 criteria by which I determine Champions: the 1st is lineage (Oscar de la Hoya beat Pernell Whitaker who beat Buddy McGirt who beat Simon Brown); and the 2nd is defeating another fighter also ranked in the top 3 in the division - this is how Evander Holyfield is the Champ. There is an exception: Bernard Hopkins is that rare titlist who has reigned a long time and defeated many contenders. Hopkins is the dominant fighter in his weight class and has won, mostly via KO, against a number of different contenders. You could say I'm rewarding him for long and meritorious service.
Champion: Evander Holyfield (WBA & IBF)
1. Lennox Lewis (WBC)
2. Larry Donald
3. Michael Moorer
4. Ray Mercer
5. Brian Nielsen (IBO)
6. David Tua
7. Andrew Golota
8. Michael Grant (IBC)
9. Tim Witherspoon
10. Shannon Briggs
Active this mth: Tua, Donald, Mercer, Nielsen (out: Rahman-displaced)
Champion: Fabrice Tiozzo (WBA)
1. Juan Carlos Gomez (WBC)
2. Marcelo Dominguez
3. Carl Thompson (WBO)
4. Nate Miller
5. Robert Daniels (IBC)
6. Johnny Nelson
7. Saul Montana
8. Imamu Mayfield (IBF)
9. Terry Dunstan
10. Don Diego Poeder (WBU)
Active this mth: Gomez, Dominguez, Montana, Dunstan (out: Toney-inactive, Izeqwire-displaced)
Champion: Dariusz Michalczewski (WBO)
1. Roy Jones
2. Lou Del Valle (WBA)
3. Graciano Rocchigiani
4. Virgil Hill
5. Reggie Johnson (IBF)
6. Ole Klemetsen
7. Michael Nunn
8. Montell Griffin
9. Ken Bowman
10. Mohammed Siluvangui
Active this mth: Bowman, Griffin (out: Sosa-lost)
Champion: TITLE VACANT
1. Joe Calzaghe (WBO)
2. Frank Liles (WBA)
3. Charles Brewer (IBF)
4. Thomas Tate
5. Thulane Malinga (WBC)
6. Robin Reid
7. Herol Graham
8. Jorge Castro
9. Dean Francis
10. Roberto Duran
Active this mth: Castro, Francis
Champion: Bernard Hopkins (IBF)
1. Otis Grant (WBO)
2. Keith Holmes (WBC)
3. William Joppy (WBA)
4. Silvio Branco (WBU)
5. Lonnie Bradley
6. Aaron Davis
7. Antwun Echols
8. Robert Allen
9. Robert McCracken
10. Andrew Council
Active this mth: McCracken
Champion: Keith Mullings (WBC)
1. Terry Norris
2. Laurent Boudouani (WBA)
3. Winky Wright (WBO)
4. Luis Ramon Campas (IBF)
5. Verno Phillips (WBU)
6. Bronco McKart (IBA)
7. Raul Marquez
8. Shibata Flores
9. Emmett Linton (IBA)
10. Anthony Stephens
Active this mth: Mullings, Boudouani, Flores
Champion: Oscar de la Hoya (WBC)
1. Ike Quartey (WBA)
2. Jose Luis Lopez
3. Pernell Whitaker
4. Felix Trinidad (IBF)
5. Oba Carr
6. Derrell Coley
7. Shannon Taylor
8. Vernon Forrest
9. Edgar Ruiz
10. Ahmed Kotiev (WBO)
Active this mth: Coley, Taylor, Ruiz, Kotiev (out: Duran-displaced)
Champion: TITLE VACANT
1. Vince Phillips (IBF)
2. Khalid Rahilou (WBA)
3. Julio Cesar Chavez
4. Miguel Angel Gonzalez
5. Kostya Tszyu
6. Reggie Green
7. Rafael Ruelas
8. Soren Sondergaard (IBC)
9. Diobelys Hurtado
10. Antonio Diaz
Active this mth: Phillips, Rahilou, Chavez, Gonzalez, Hurtado, Diaz (Sanchez-lost)
Champion: TITLE VACANT
1. Shane Mosley (IBF)
2. Stevie Johnston (WBC)
3. Orzubek Nazarov (WBA)
4. Israel Cardona
5. Cesar Bazan
6. Phillip Holiday
7. John-John Molina
8. Artur Grigorijan (WBO)
9. Arturo Gatti
10. Jesse James Leija
Active this mth: Johnston, Grigorijan, Bazan (out: Scott-lost)
Champion: Genaro Hernandez (WBC)
1. Angel Manfredy (WBU)
2. Azumah Nelson
3. Yongsoo Choi (WBA)
4. Gabe Ruelas
5. Tracy Harris Patterson
6. Robert Garcia (IBF)
7. Jesus Chavez
8. Anatoly Alexandrov
9. Derrick Gainer
10. Julien Lorcy
Active this mth: Garcia, Alexandrov, Lorcy (out-Gatti-moved up in weight)
Champion: Luisito Espinosa (WBC)
1. Naseem Hamed (WBO & WBU)
2. Wilfredo Vazquez (WBA)
3. Cesar Soto
4. Kevin Kelley
5. Angel Vazquez
6. Juan Marquez
7. Hector Lizarraga (IBF)
8. Genaro Rios
9. Fred Norwood
10. Paul Ingle
Active this mth: Marquez
Champion: Kennedy McKinney (WBO & IBC)
1. Vuyani Bungu (IBF)
2. Junior Jones
3. Marco Antonio Barrera
4. Erik Morales (WBC)
5. Antonio Cermeno
6. Enrique Sanchez (WBA)
7. Hector Acero-Sanchez
8. Danny Romero
9. Cassius Baloyi
10. Carlos Navarro (WBU)
Active this mth: Acero-Sanchez, Barrera, Romero (out: Oliver-displaced)
Champion: TITLE VACANT
1. Johnny Bredahl (IBO)
2. Nana Konadu (WBA)
3. Jorge Julio (WBO)
4. Joichiro Tatsuyoshi (WBC)
5. Paulie Ayala
6. Tim Austin (IBF)
7. Cuahtemoc Gomez
8. Mbubelo Botile
9. Oscar Maldonado
10. Adan Vargas
Active this mth: Bredahl, Konadu, Tatsuyoshi, Ayala, Gomez, Vargas (out: Siriwat-inactive)
Champion: Gerry Penalosa (WBC)
1. Johnny Tapia (WBO & IBF)
2. Samson Dutch Boy Gym (WBF)
3. Satoshi Iida (WBA)
4. Joel Luna-Zarate
5. Yokthai Sit Oar
6. Takato Toguchi
7. Julio Gamboa
8. Veeraphol Sahaprom
9. Genaro Garcia
10. Luis Benavides
Active this mth: Tapia, Dutch Boy Gym, Garcia (out: Cruz-inactive)
Champion: Chartchai Sasakul (WBC)
1. Mark Johnson (IBF)
2. Jose Bonilla (WBA)
3. Carlos Salazar (WBO)
4. David Guerault
5. Jesper Jensen
6. Raul Juarez
7. Alejandro Montiel
8. Saen Sow Ploenchit
9. Ysaias Zamudio
10. Arthur Johnson
Active this mth: Sasakul, M Johnson, A Johnson, Ploenchit, Guerault, Jensen (twice), Montiel, Ploenchit, Zamudio (out: Coronel-inactive, Lopez-inactive)
Champion: Saman Sorjaturong (WBC)
1. Jake Matlala (IBA)
2. Mauricio Pastrana (IBF)
3. Pichit Chor Siriwat (WBA)
4. Juan Cordoba (WBO)
5. Melchor Cob-Castro
6. Joma Gamboa
7. Jesus Chong
8. Edgar Cardenas
9. Kaaj Chartbandit
10. Carlos Murillo
Active this mth: Sorjaturong, Siriwat, Matlala, Chartbandit (out: Yahiro-lost)
Champion: Ricardo Lopez (WBC)
1. Rosendo Alvarez (WBA)
2. Zolani Petelo (IBF)
3. Rocky Lin
4. Ratanapol Voraphin
5. Ronnie Magramo
6. Lindi Memani
7. Alex Sanchez
8. Eric Jamili (WBO)
9. Songkram Porpaoin
10. Satoru Abe
Active this mth: Lopez, Alvarez, Magramo
World Champions: 13 (of 17)
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