Speaking of ether and homes, I think it is time for someone to take a rag to Gordoom's nose. As you will read below, his vituperative tirades have taken on a darker tone (and his punctuation is worse than ever). With the appropriate degree of the proper chemicals, however, it is likely that he can live out his remaining years without harming himself or others.
So, to those of you who care to write to him, please do so, but humor the old codger -- you too may bark loudly once you have lost all of your teeth.
Machiavelli didn't have a thang on DeLisa ... the Ol' Spit Bucket is starting to wonder if even Don King is in the same league as this freakin' guy ... but first, in case any readers have begun in the middle of this sorry-ass, long & brutal saga let me take a moment to explain: This Dante's Inferno-like landscape the Bucket's life has descended to all started with a comment in DeLisa's editorial last November that fingered me as the UnaBomber. Within hours after his slandering screed went out on the web the Feds assaulted my humble bunker & since my harrowing escape I've been plunged into a miasma of horrors all brought on by the Caligula of cyberspace -- DeLisa! The Bucket's time is short & there will be no recitation of the indignity's that have been my burden ... if you want more background, read the back issues of this rag.
At any rate, as of the last post, the Bucket was comfortably ensconced in the lap of luxury at the Cuban Minister Of Sports' crib ...After establishing our pitiful beachhead on the shores of Cuba, Queer Trains had hauled me down to the cleverly concealed lifeboat he had stashed under one of the dunes. Trains pulled out an incredible assortment of goods, among them C-rats, two Uzis', dry clothes, a Grundig shortwave, my battered Powerbook, beer & more tequila ... After a pause that didn't quite refresh he led us on a drunken, meandering route to the outskirts of Pinar Del Rio.
Queer Trains is an amazing dude ... within 2 hours of mysteriously radioing to someone in Havana, a chopper showed up to haul us back to Fidel's home turf. The Bucket aint ashamed to admit I was shitting bricks thru-out this whole surreal scenario. What especially twanged my nerves was Trains' stubborn refusal to explain what the hell was going on. Soon a chopper showed up.
The details remain unclear ... I have dazed, hazy images of being met by a functionary so fat he had crack Cuban troops orbiting dangerously around him like absolutely full of fire power moons. He grabbed me in a odiferous bear hug as I stumbled out of the chopper & wetly kissed me on both cheeks & exclaimed grandiosely, "Senor Bucket! Eeet is such an honor!" Needless to say, the Ol' Spit Bucket was stunned the unexpectedly salubrious reception ...
As it turns out the Sports Minister is a stone boxing fanatic & dedicated web cruiser -- apparently Queer Trains, with his nefarious cargo carrying connections had somehow hooked up with the Minister's passion for seriously twisted porn & regularly smuggled it out of Coral Gables & circuitously brought it to him in Havana. Fortuitously for the Bucket, the Minister's passion for porn was matched only by his zeal for the sweet science ... especially when it came to Cuba's Olympic boxing team ... thus he welcomed the Spit Bucket into his small but petty realm.
Given the circumstances, I was more than willing too accept his preening, viscous personality ...Hey! The stranger inna strange land aint gonna bite the greasy palm that's extended...The Minister, whose unctuous affability grew easier to take after a gigantic seafood platter, hard core Cuban rum & some much needed relapsation -- turned out to be not such a bad guy ... it's hard to dislike somebody that lavish's you with praise for your writing, great seafood, wild exotic women, rum & killer Cuban hemp ... Hell, the dude was so empathetic I told him the twisted tale of DeLisa's manipulations & he somehow created & used the cover of February's Cuban refugee crisis to surreptitiously blow DeLisa's web page outta cyber space ... If you don't believe the Bucket, e-mail email@example.com & ask him ... DeLisa casually mentioned it in last month's editorial -- but what he'll never admit is that blowing his precious web site outta cyberspace finally brought him to his knees & forced him to finally show the Bucket some mercy & place me in his Miami - Caracas-Havana pipeline that he has set up as a criminal axis for top American CEO's, movie & rock stars & ranking sports figures - in a criminal exchange of guns & butter for Cuban cigars that he turns around & sells in bulk to the aforementioned ...
"Some dance to remember, some dance to forget ... " sang the Eagles. Jose Sulaiman, the fuhrer for life of the WBC, dances like a chicken on a hot plate in a hackneyed back road carny ... having just read Jose's interview in a recent issue of KO I have to give grim, grudging, respect to the man ... for his ingenuous gall. I thought Don King, Newt & OJ were the greatest dissemblers of the '90's, but this guy is a classic. He makes Ronald Reagan seem cogent in comparison.
In all fairness, the Bucket's got to give a tip of the fedora to Nigel Collins for attempting to conduct a hard hitting interview. The problem was, that the harder Mr. Collins pressed, the more Mr. Sulaiman wiggled like a charming snake on a stick ... At one point in the interview, it becomes apparent that Jose was about to widen his horizons & blow off the whole sitch ... Nigel backs off, & the questions are soft ball lobs from that point on ...
Now, the Ol' Spit Bucket wants to make clear, that this is not a criticism of Nigel Collins interview style ...Sulaiman obfuscates with a mixture of charm, flat out lies & the knowledge that he was granting, not seeking, the interview. Collins was trying to conduct the Q & A in a manner than any knowledgeable fight fan would have wanted ... which is diametrically opposed to the puff piece that Sulaiman was so obviously pandering for ...
Sulaiman would have us believe that he's Disraeli, Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, with a smidge of Gandhi & a dash of Mother Teresa thrown in for good measure ... all this is of course wrapped up in a wholesome self-sacrificing package that reeks of self - aggrandizetion ... but hey! If it works for Rush & Newt, why not an Hispanic carbon copy? Sulaiman is a man that loves to proclaim that neither he or any other functionary of the WBC draws a salary. How noble, how self serving ... would Jose have us believe that he goes outta pocket for all those championship fights he & the WBC officials attend & party at around the world? ... I don't think so. Sulaiman has his nose so far up Don King's bunghole they both mouth breath together & together they rule the sport.
Forget the WBA & the IBF (as all boxing fans should) they run distant seconds in the alphabet stakes. The WBC is the vanguard organization in the sport ... did you notice which meaningless title belt Tyson went after first? When Chavez beat Meldrick Taylor & annexed the IBF title did you notice which title he gave up for no good reason at all? When Riddick Bowe dumped his WBC title belt in a trash can, he & Rock Newman were striking a futile blow that splintered the heavyweight title ... & a loss to Holyfield later & Bowe is shut out of the title picture within all three of the major sanctioning bodies until at least mid-97. When arguably the best heavyweight in the world is shut out of a title shot, you know there's some evil power games going down & if a hard rain is falling, Jose & Don are bathing gleefully in it.
If instead of Sulemain's pandering for media acceptance, he put his mouth were his bullshit is, he has the control & power to really clean up & revitalize the sport ... but Sulemain apparently gets off more on brown nosing Don King from Zaire to Japan & back rather than cleaning up the sport he professes' to love. That's the pity ... & the shame, of a sport that produces some of the noblest & most abused athletes to ever come down the pike...
The Terminator is back ... & whether you like it or not, Iron Mike has justified his grip on the imagination of the general sporting public. His convincing destruction of the clutching Brit, Frank Bruno, was naked in its atavistic brutality. That's what boxing is all about ...
The Spit Bucket has gotta admit, albeit begrudgingly, that Iron Mike looked almost as good as ever ... & a definite improvement over Tyson's Picasso- like artistic (in a fistic sense), blue period circa 1989-91.
Before Iron Mike's protracted stay in the House Of Many Slammers, he had to the educated eye, shown an abrupt decline in his skills & attitude toward the sweet science. You should know the in's & out's of Tyson's turgidly melodramatic soap opera by now. The Bucket's gotta say that Tyson has earned his measure of respect ... & like the Chairman Of The Board before him, he's done it his way.
America's second most famous Afro-Felon has returned large. Three fights, three wins, 7 rounds total. 60 million in purses (minus Don King's "legal expenses" & otherwise)& the WBC heavyweight title. Not too shabby for six months work ... hell, OJ must be gnashing his teeth in utter frustration ... even though he was acquitted & Iron Mike was convicted, it's an amazing turn of events when a little thang like a dismembering slasher murder of your ex-wife & a friend of hers overshadows your years as a sports hero & all around mensch ... yet a thug like Tyson goes from bad to worse in the public's view & comes out on the other side of serious jail time bigger & a more lucrative cash cow than ever ... while OJ languishes forever as the ultimate example of the 20th Century American pariah ... I let you draw your own conclusions ... Hell, Tyson rivals only "I wanna be like Mike" Jordan in his TV Quotient ... one hopes there are a lot less kids that wanna be like Iron Mike ...
The Bucket has gotta admit that on one level he really did want to see Bruno fulfill his promise to knock Tyson into Don Kings lap ... but the reality is that for Boxing's sake the correct outcome came about. Mike Tyson is the only boxer besides Big George with any real grip on the public's consciousness. Yeah, I know Roy Jones Jr. & Oscar De La Hoya are rising stars, but neither of them is a major star outside of the relatively small forum that boxing maintains in the sports world. Fighters such as Chavez, Holyfield & Whitaker have their adherents but none of them has remotely the same media impact as Tyson ... to put it another way, Tyson is even more famous than the original "Iron" Mike - Ditka. Anyhow, as mind wobbling as it seems ... Iron Mike Tyson is the future of Boxing.
Tyson is the only fighter capable of creating real interest in the sport & propelling it as a viable entity into the next century. Let's face it, Mike has created more of a buzz in the last 6 months than the whole sport has generated since his incarceration ... & that's because of Boxing's place on the media's totem pole -- within a hair above wrestling. A majority of this is the sports own fault -- namely the barracuda like feeding frenzy on the living flesh of the boxers by the alphabet organizations, many of the state commissions & the rabidly avaricious promoters. The low self esteem with which the sport conducts itself is beyond belief. All of us serious fight fans have become inured to the constant barrage of sleezy, nefarious bullshit that we are constantly assaulted with ... but to outsiders looking in, it's a gangsta sport were the evil inmates run the asylum ... Basketball is a sport on the verge of the same dilemma, albeit for different reasons. In B Ball the players have the power & control the sport & that why miscreants like Rodman get away with the bullshit they do. Even in boxing, it's impossible to imagine Mike Tyson deliberately headbutting Mills Lane ... in Boxing, the situation is reversed, all the power lies out of the hands of the boxers ...you don't read books or see movies about commissions or promoters getting screwed ... it's always the plight of the fighter, many who go thru their careers as little more than dupes -- puppets on a vicious string.
The point of all this is that Mike Tyson, at this critical juncture of the sports future, is the last best hope ... I can hear Oscar & Roy's fans howling in protest, but with the exception of Sugar Ray Leonard, the mantle as the Main Man in the sport has never been carried by anyone other than heavyweights. Even the incomparable Sugar Ray Robinson had Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano & Ali as the standard bearers for the sport during his career. Let's face it, the likes of Bruno, Seldon or Boptha aren't gonna inspire anything but media inattention ... & Iron Mike is back, to give my beloved sport a desperately needed mainline of public attention ... I don't know if his skills are back to the level of his heyday or not & I don't care ... & even if I can't relate to the boorish style with which he conducts himself, it don't mean shit, 'cause like it or not, he's the Main Man & all of us fight junkies need him ... bad.
A tip of the Fedora to Marco Antonio Barrera & Kennedy McKinney for a soulful display of the art of the fighting spirit ... Boxing don't get no better than their stirring masterpiece ... more than a modicum of dismay for Nigel Benn's unbecoming failure of effort against a shop worn Sugar Boy Malinga. This was one of the great disappointments of early '96 ... Wake up call to HBO's Larry Merchant!... & I quote your own bad self: "How could a great fighter like (once again stumbling over Orlando Canizales's surname,) slip thru my mind"...?! ... need I mention how ... yeah, well ... gee Larry, maybe you should study the game a little bit more & try to verbally preen a little less. Your in danger of turning into a permanent anachroisim ... & that would be a shame considering your considerable talents as an erudite sports writer & well versed sports editor for the Philadelphia Enquire way back when ...
Back To Benn ... My wild ass runnin' buddy, litigation attorney & fellow contributor to this cyber-rag, DscribeDC, felt that Benn's tragic encounter with Gerald McClennan had sapped him of his killer instinct & directly contributed to his disheartening loss to Malinga ... Well, I hate to disagree with the mouthpiece that has hauled my ash outta more legal fire's than the Law allows ... but, some fighters, like some NFL football teams & assholes you know in your own life just seem to have your number... a few years back, Sugar Boy engaged Benn inna life match which Nigel managed to cop in a homey split decision. In the 2 bouts following the McClennan fight, Benn had exhibited none of the caution that Emile Griffith & Ray Mancini displayed in the bouts following crossing their own Rubicon with Benny Paret & Duk Koo Kim . . . in fact, in the 2 bouts the Bucket has observed post-McClennan Benn has showed the same killer instinct that has marked most of his career. The Bucket believes that Malinga just has his number ... like Louis had Walcott's, Kingpetch had Griffith had Rodriguez's, Harada had Jofre's, Saddler had Pep's, Robinson had LaMotta's & Douglas had Tyson's ... shit happens & the givens in life turn into mysteries & the smart money somehow deposits it's stash in the wrong account ... the bummer is in the shit canning of the only legitimate challenger to Roy Jones's ascendancy as Boxing's best exponent of the 90's.
Sugar Boy had also previously soured himself in a dismal blowout vs Jones. Unfortunately, this leaves one of the most phenomenal talents the sport has ever been blessed with; holding the bag, without any viable opposition within the division he reigns in as champion ... kinda like if Aggassi or Sampras had nobody to compete with -- or if Ali had no Frazier -- or Kennedy had no Nixon ... you get the drift.
Another tip o' the Fedora to HBO for it's sensational After Dark series. In the two outings so far they have given us two classic fights with Barrera-McKinney & Gatti-Rodrigues. Another match-up, Jr. Jones-Canizales while not quite on the same level as the other two fights was still an outstanding bout. Arturo Gatti's miracle kayo of Wilson Rodriguez was especially stirring as he came back from the brink of disaster. The Bucket doesn't think Gatti has a long future in front of him with his in your face style, but I 'm sure he'll make up for the brevity with a lot of excitement while he lasts ...
The Bucket likes to think of himself as a boxing purist with generational roots in the sport that go back to the late '30's ... but being a boxing purist these days is basically a hopeless cause. As much as I might pine for my good old childhood days of 8 divisions & 8 world champs; I realize I'm being delusional. Those days are gone forever ... & in many ways it's for the best. As much as I disdain the Alphabets, they do give more fighters a shot at recognition & a chance of earning some serious geets ... & we as fans, tend to forget the enormous effort & sacrifice even the lowliest prelim palooka has to go thru to be a professional fighter ... that's why the Bucket disdains the bloodsuckers (the empowered ones in the sport), who drain boxers of even in some cases, their life's blood ... an example, is the bad mojo that came down on Frankie Randall in his defense against Coggi ... how in hell could anybody give the title to a known scam artist like Coggi? His first bout with Eder Gonzales should be enough to clue anybody in. The shit rain of bad Ju-Ju that the sport lets befall it, is it's own fault. Nobody would accept this kind of bullshit in any other major sport ... can you imagine any other championship, like say, the SuperBowl or the World Series being decided on the whim of the owner - promoters or governing officials? I don't think so ...
The Ol' Spit Bucket is constantly barraged with requests to give his all time rankings, division by division ...So, to quiet all the yammering I'll begin this month with the Heavyweights ...
I'm going to have to give two separate lists ... due to the peculiarities of the heavyweight division, i.e. the enormous growth in size that parallels both Foot & B ball athletes since the end of WWII, I'm compelled to break it down into two separate lists: One dating post 1900-1950, the other '51 to the present.
1- Gene Tunney - Perhaps the most underrated fighter in the history of boxing. Tunney was the ultimate stylist -- slick but tough as nails, along with Lightweight immortal & contemporary, Benny Leonard, introduced the modern era of boxing as we know it today. Both Tunney & Leonard were giants stylistically years ahead of their times. This was evidenced some 40 plus years later, when a young Cassius Clay adapted many of Tunney's slick moves into his own unique arsenal ...
2- Joe Louis
3- Jack Dempsey - this is based mostly on rep, as his accomplishments once he was crowned as champion were sporadic at best.
4- Jack Johnson - As significant a figure in sports & American social history as Jackie Robinson , Muhammad Ali & Arthur Ashe
5- Sam Langford
6- Harry Wills
7- Jim Jeffries
8- Max Schmelling
9- Max Baer
10-Young Stribling / Billy Conn
1- Cassius Clay
2- Muhammad Ali
3- Larry Holmes
4- Sonny Liston
5- George Foreman
6- Joe Frazier
7- Mike Tyson (subject to change as he is the only active fighter on the list still liable to move up in ranking).
8- Evander Holyfield - A vastly underrated fighter who was not only the two time unified Heavyweight champion, but also was the first & only fighter to ever unify the moribund Cruiserweight division.
9- Rocky Marciano - I can hear the screaming already ... How could you rate "The Rock" so low, you freakin' !#!X!#X#X!! ... well I hate to burst anybody's bubble; but who the hell did Marciano ever beat? Well, the Bucket's hear t' tell ya ... Joe Louis age 41. Joe Walcott (twice), 38 & 39. Ezzard Charles 38 & Archie Moore age 40 going on Methuselah (sic). Remember this was an age when any fighter over the age of 30 was considered on the down side of his career. Of his peers, the two best fighters he faced were Harry "Kid" Mathews, a blown-up light heavy & the very ordinary Roland LaStarza. Sorry folks, Rocky was a tough sum'bitch, but who the hell did he ever beat except over the hill greats & a bunch of stumble bums & never was's? I only rate him this high because of his sterling (& even that has come under fire), record & because he was the best in a very poor for heavyweights era ...
10-Tie - Joe Walcott, Ezzard Charles, Floyd Patterson & Ken Norton
Also: The Old Spit Bucket welcomes any questions, comments, praise, or disparaging remarks anyone wishes to send along via e-mail. I only ask for reasonably intelligent correspondence ... For instance: If you want to tell me I suck; that's cool ... but make the effort & tell me why I suck. Then I can write you back with some choice comments of my own ... peace & profits
Some notes on the Showtime card...
Two amazing fights. HBO has been so thoroughly trounced in the cable wars for the last couple years, you have to wonder if they need a knockout to regain the title.
I am one of those fans who had not seen much of Tom Johnson prior to tonight,but you can't say enough about his 12 round KO over Ever Beleno. Beleno seemed to have everything going his way for the first four rounds, his southpaw style and awkward but thuddingly effective left hand seemingly landing at will. But Johnson showed remarkable championship mettle,regaining his composure and retaking the pace and tone of the fight with his superior boxing ability. For a guy with all his physical problems to look fresh as a daisy after the punishment he soaked up was miraculous. Beleno should also be congratulated for a gutsy performance; he came to win the title, not to impress in defeat, and he left nothing whatsoever in the dressing room.
Look out Azumah, Johnson will give you all you can handle. We know Nelson can still manhandle a fighter w/o heart for battle, but can he top a quality boxer with Johnson's resiliency? Can't wait to find out.
Anybody else hear Ferdie call him "Tom Jones?" When it comes to Ferdie gumping names, "it's not u-nyoo-zhoo-al...."
On to the Benn bout:
Hasn't the British Boxing Bd of Control ever heard of a "press conference?" I haven't seen that much post-fight yammering in the ring since the "if I can change...you can change..." duh-fest at the end of Rocky IV.
Let's give credit where it's due. Our Nige fought the bout of a lifetime a year ago vs. Gerald McClellan. He deserved the acclaim that bout won him.
But like his countryman Eubank, he always seemed to find a way in his other fights to fight down to the level of his competition. Aside from the McClellan contest, Benn never lived up to his bragadoccio or the elaborate media persona that he crafted.
His performance against Malinga was, to put it kindly, lackluster. Malinga did not appear to bring either a great deal of power or speed to the table, merely a stiff rangefinder jab. On this night, that was enough to bust up Benn's kisser until he looked like he had been attacked by a gang of Man. U.supporters with cricket bats. Robbed of sight and timing, all he could do was work the body, wing wide right hands and hope for lucky Sunday punches like the one that led to his only knockdown. A terrifically listless performance for a guy with a stage so neatly set for him to showcase his wares.
The ending of this one was weird beyond description. As bad a bombing as he took, I was still shocked by his retirement announcement. Benn has been through some wars, but not many, and his domination by Malinga was in no way as thorough as, say, Ray Leonard's at the hands of Terry Norris. My guess is that, like Gabe Ruelas, Benn's brush with tragedy took too much out of him psychically. It certainly couldn't have been all the non-sparring he did in non-preparation for this fight.
Who would have thunk that the warrior was going to start bawling like a baby? And to drop down on one knee in the middle of a boxing ring and offer a marriage proposal on SKY TV? (She never said if she accepted...) Maybe Benn's comeback fight can be promoted by Merchant-Ivory? What disillusionment for the hard-as-nails Benn yobbos who cheered over the prone body of McClellan!
I couldn't help but have the impression that, with his "no sparring" approach to the Malinga fight and his unimaginative performance, Nige spent more time on his retirement speech and his marriage proposal then he did on his fight plan. Benn's uncharacteristically-classy exit from pugilism will no doubt endear him even more thoroughly than ever to the British sporting public.
Didn't somebody once call the love of a gracious loser "the English disease?" [Don't blame me, it's not my term.]
Cheers. Dave G.
Recently Arum's Top Rank has been going through some strange changes. First he started buying up many other operations like Ten Goose boxing. Then his almost exclusive arrangement with ESPN's boxing show downsized and the latter started using some other promoters. Arum then announced the Top Rank Boxing Network, but its initial program was available only to dish owners on a pay per view basis. It was poorly publicized and when co-star Raphael Ruelas' hand was injured before the fight, nothing was said. In fact even after the card was purchased no apology or explanation was offered. To add insult to injury, the best fight on this PPV event was a tape of the Davey Moore/Roberto Duran fight! Even here the terrible production values of this whole broadcast were evident. The ringside commentary was provided by Jake and ex-wife Vicki LaMotta. Two of the best rounds were missed when the video suddenly return to the live ring while audio continued on with the bizarre ramblings of the LaMottas.
The only positive thing that could be said about the whole night is that Jeremy Williams did an excellent job as color analyst. Even this was a bit strange as his appearance marks the first time I can recall where a PPV broadcast was used as a lead in to a cable network fight. BTW, the ubiquitous Butterbean was on the card too, even though it preceded his USA appearance by only a week. It does seem truly amazing that the man can fight 2 such formidable foes in such a short time span. It ranks right up there the feats of the great fighters found in the WWF. Come on Bob, I know you're capable of better stuff than this.
When I was a kid, comedians would hone their skills at the resorts in the Catskills. Nowadays there are comedy clubs in every city that fulfill this function. At the same time boxing clubs would put on cards featuring local fighters. St. Nick's in NY and the Olympic Auditorium in LA immediately come to mind. These wonderful training grounds for young, professional boxers slowly died away. In the past few years Indian gaming casinos have begun to fill the void. For part of the year I live in rural Wisconsin. I would often travel to Chicago or the Quad Cities to cover boxing cards. With the advent of Indian Casinos, I suddenly had the opportunity to view matches less than an hour away from my home. For the most part these bouts featured local kids with very little experience, but as time went on I could see them learning their trade. Ho Chunk Casino in Baraboo Wisconsin featured Earnie Shavers on its first card and Joey Gamache on its second. The casino even brought in Sean O'Grady as a media consultant. Those Native American casinos in more populated venues like Foxwoods have hosted many world championship fights.
But I have noticed a disturbing pattern in Wisconsin. There seems to be a lot jealousy surrounding the success of the tribes operating these establishments. The state has been in a constant battle trying to limit their proliferation. Dog track operators blame them for the tracks' lack of success. Even the surrounding tourist businesses that should benefit from the increased traffic complain. This same attitude seems to be popular all over the country. When my wife and I got down to our Florida home, one of the first things my neighbor mentioned to me was the Federal Supreme Court case between the State of Florida and the Seminole Indians. The court decided that the state had to give the tribe permission before they could open a gambling casino. My understanding of the decision is that the court refused to allow a federal court to grant the permission as the result of a petition. I can't imagine the logic that went into a finding that a state could interpret the rights granted by a federal treaty. More importantly, I was bothered by the decision because these casinos have allow the tribes to pump large profits into improving their communities and creating new jobs apart from the gambling. I believe we as boxing fans have a vested interest in supporting the Native Americans in this latest battle for their treaty rights.
"Gonzalez dead in an explosion", "Devastating knockout", "Gonzalez hospitalized after being KOed"... This is how the local papers in Mexico explained the fight next morning. Yes, this kayo was that shocking. In the 4th round, Luisito Espinosa, the former WBA bantamweight champion and the current WBC featherweight champion, landed a powerful right that staggered Alejandro Gonzalez, the former WBC featherweight champion, back to the ropes. Gonzalez was already ready to go when Espinosa landed another big right that sent Gonzalez tumbling to the floor. The ref didn't bother counting and stopped the fight immediately. Gonzalez was down for some time, and was then brought out of the ring on a stretcher. He was then taken to the hospital in an ambulance. Fortunately, he recovered soon after and left the hospital next day.
It was Espinosa's first defense of the title he won from Manuel Medina. He was the 4-1 underdog, mainly because of the fact that he was kayoed by Gonzalez when they met 2 years ago. However, Espinosa showed that he has grown up since that time, and kept the title in a stunning fashion.
The first round was big for Espinosa. He dropped Gonzalez with a short left hook to the chin. It was clearly a knockdown, but the ref declared it as a slip. Gonzalez was hurt nevertheless, and Espinosa battered Gonzalez from all angles for 3 minutes. Gonzalez took a lot of punishment in this round and began to bleed heavily from the nose. Gonzalez recovered very quickly during a minute interval, and began to force the action in the 2nd round but Espinosa outboxed Gonzalez very well, and landed a lot of counter punches. He displayed good defense and footwork and made Gonzalez miss quite often. Gonzalez's left eye began to swell.
Espinosa boxed well in the 3rd as well, but Gonzalez came back strongly at the end of the 3rd, and landed some powerful hooks to Espinosa's face. Espinosa was cut over his right eye. During the minute interval, the ref approached Espinosa's corner and seemed ready to stop the fight, but Espinosa refused to quit and the fight went on. And then the shocking kayo happened 81 seconds later.
"I knew I needed a knockout to win" said Espinosa. "Gonzalez was a real gutsy fighter. He was really strong, but I utilized my speed and won the fight."
"I wanted to show that I was a better fighter, but I lost my cool after I got dropped in the first round" said Gonzalez "I want to continue my boxing career in the jr. lightweight division from now on. I will be back."
I think Luisito Espinosa proved that he is for real by accepting such a tough challenge in his opponent's backyard and by knocking out a strong former champion who is known as a deadly puncher with a chin of iron. Espinosa is a complete package with skills, speed, defense, and power. Espinosa now has to fight the number-one contender Cesar Soto on July 6th. The fight will be held in Las Vegas or the Philippines. There is also a talk about fighting Naseem Hamed in England late this year. Hamed's promoter, Frank Warren, is interested in promoting Hamed vs. Espinosa in England and has been talking with Espinosa's manager, Joe Koizumi. The Featherweight division has a lot of talent, and things are definitely looking up here.
Champion: Riddick Bowe (WBO)
1. Lennox Lewis
2. Mike Tyson (WBC)
3. Evander Holyfield
4. Michael Moorer
5. Oliver McCall
6. Bruce Seldon (WBA)
7. Henry Akinwande
8. Tim Witherspoon
9. Frank Bruno
10. Axel Schulz
Tyson in, Bruno down. 1st, the loser: non-efforts are not rewarded here, and the now-former-WBC title holder crashes at #9. He says he'll fight on, but who cares at this point. He had (again) the chance of his lifetime and he completely blew it. He should be embarrassed. Now the winner: I don't believe in positive displacement, but Tyson beat the #2 contender, and it's a tough argument to rate Holyfield or Moorer above him. Lewis remains at #1 as he's beaten a slew of contenders, and besides, there's still questions about Tyson. Hopefully they'll be answered when Tyson and Lewis meet...McCall got his shit together and got back to beat a thoroughly overmatched opponent. Hopefully we'll see him next time against an Akinwande or Schulz...Don't see Foreman? Grandpa George has been inactive going on 11 months now, and doesn't show any signs of fighting anytime soon. Say adios...Seldon moves up again as a result of the exit of Foreman, but it pains me to do so, and not only because we know he wouldn't last a round against the top 4 guys here (oh, yeah, make that DIDN'T last a round against the top guy here). He's had one fight since winning his crap title a year ago, and that was against Joe "The Whale" Hipp. Waiting for a big fight doesn't make much of an impression on me. How long must WBA #1 contender Akinwande wait? Seldon begins to drop due to inactivity next month...Moorer, idle for nearly a year when it happens, will annex the now thoroughly worthless IBF title with ease. At least he'll spare Botha execution by Tyson or Lewis.
Champion: Nate Miller (WBA)
1. Marcelo Dominguez
2. James Toney (WBU)
3. Ralf Rocchigiani (WBO)
4. Alexander Gurov
5. Alfred Cole (IBF)
6. Adolfo Washington
7. Chris Okoh
8. Anaclet Wamba (WBC)
9. Karl Thompson
10. Torsten May
Little activity, as usual, here this month...Toney fought, even though it was over the limit (at something like 210). He looked fat, but performed well and leap frogs to #2...Rocchigiani also defended his title against a ring worm, but his activity also moves him ahead of Gurov...The only fight scheduled here has Champion Miller defending against the dreaded Brian Laspada...Cole joins the growing list of inactive titlists who I will drop soon. His last defense was back in June (and that against Uriah-Freakin-Grant). How long must IBF #1 contender Adolfo Washington wait before they apply same rules to Cole that they arbitrarily and inconsistently apply to select others? (Now to get my tongue out of my cheek)...
Champion: Henry Maske (IBF)
1. Roy Jones
2. Fabrice Tiozzo WBC)
3. Virgil Hill (WBA)
4. Graciano Rocchigiani
5. Montell Griffin
6. Darius Michelczewski (WBO)
7. Dirk Wallyn
8. Merqui Sosa
9. Rocky Gannon
10. Eddy Smulders
Jesus, NADA as usual -- not a one of these guys made it to a ring this month. Jones is playing basketball, Rocchigiani scheduled to fight the usual nobodies -- the only bright spot is Michalczewski who has a competitive defense coming up in Apr against Russian Asludin Umarov. Oh yeah, and Hill finally gets back into the ring against the legendary Lou Del Valle. The Farce continues...Former title-holders Mike McCallum and Frank Tate also return on April 9th on USA. Hopefully one will look sufficiently impressive to make it back into the Top 10 (and replace one of these uninspiring guys)...Gannon lost after these were compiled, so expect him to drop next month...Face it, Maske-Jones is the only fight here we can get excited about. Let's hope it happens. (OK, OK, Jones kicking the shit out of Hill would be great, too, but I'm talking about COMPETITIVE fights).
Champion: Roy Jones (IBF)
1. Steve Collins (WBO)
2. Thulane Malinga (WBC)
3. Nigel Benn (WBC)
4. Frank Liles (WBA)
5. Henry Wharton
6. Bryant Brannon
7. Michael Nunn
8. Ray Close
9. Charles Brewer
10. Luciano Torres (WBF)
Well I got what I asked for -- excitement and movement...1st up, of course, is that Benn lost in what should have been a gimme defense before a megabout with Collins and then onto Jones. But Malinga really looked good and totally controlled the action...Collins was active, and moves into the #1 spot...I would have dropped Benn behind Liles, but the WBA titlist is chronically inactive, so in effect he drops. He'll do more of that next month unless he fights...Eubank actually looks like he'll stay retired. We wish him goodbye...Close drops a notch because of inactivity. He's gone next month unless he fights...Reassessment on Brewer -- he gave a frightful pounding to Frank Rhodes and displayed good skills. He still needs to work on his D, but I'm happy to have some new blood in this division...Brewer displaces the inactive, and possibly retired, Tony Thornton...If the title holders here make defenses against their respective #1 contenders, we'll have some really good matches here -- namely, Malinga-Wharton and Collins-Nunn.
Champion: TITLE VACANT
1. Bernard Hopkins (IBF)
2. Keith Holmes (WBC)
3. Shinji Takehara (WBA)
4. John David Jackson
5. Jorge Castro
6. Quincy Taylor
7. Lonnie Bradley (WBO)
8. Chris Pyatt
9. Reggie Johnson
10. Aaron Davis
Wow! Reassessment time. There was more movement here this month than in a year...1st, Hopkins looked great, after a couple rounds of shaking off the rust, in dispatching former-#10 Joe Lipsey. WHAT a knock-out. Hopkins wants to unify and I think we can all agree that we hope he gets his wish...Wow again! My former-stablemate Keith Holmes really impressed in stopping previous #1 Taylor. Not just because he won and he won by stoppage, but because he changed his style from an overpowering, Hearns-type to an effective boxer. Taylor couldn't cope with the reach and skill advantages Keith has. And he couldn't counter, and when he thought he was lulling Holmes to the inside, BOOM. Too bad Steele typically stepped in early, because Holmes would have put him away with no questions in the next few rounds...Jackson moves ahead of the inactive Castro...Johnson and Davis both drop because of their inactivity...Lipsey drops out, but gave a good account of himself. If he gets back in the ring soon, don't be surprised to see him here again. With Johnson and Davis on the verge of being dropped, I'll need replacements.
Champion: Terry Norris (WBC & IBF)
1. Julio Cesar Vasquez (WBA)
2. Winky Wright
3. Gianfranco Rosi
4. Simon Brown
5. Andrew Council
6. Paul Vaden
7. Bronco McKart (WBO)
8. Glenwood Brown (IBO 160#)
9. Laurent Boudouani
10. Carl Daniels
This division is the model for all others. *7* of the 10 fighters who were rated last month fought -- 4 of them vs. each other...Champion Norris is looking to cement his place in the Hall of Fame at this point. His 8th-round stoppage of former-titlist Vincent Pettway was very impressive. Norris hasn't lost a round in 4 straight fights now, and 3 of those fights were against current or former title holders. Now he sets his sights on WBA titlist Vasquez...Wright was very impressive as well (aside from all his whining to the ref) in beating a listless Council. If Rosi were active, I'd have elevated Wright to #3. As is, he replaces Council at #2...What was Council thinking? He only threw punches in the final minute of every round. When the other guy's jab is in your face the whole time, you've got to throw more than that. He falls to #5...McKart up a notch as he wins the WBO title. He could've looked better...Former-titlist Daniels returns with a win, and the 2 Browns were active as well.
Champion: Pernell Whitaker (WBC)
1. Felix Trinidad (IBF)
2. Ike Quartey (WBA)
3. Oba Carr
4. Vince Phillips
5. Luis Ramon Campas
6. Derrell Coley
7. Eamonn Loughran (WBO)
8. Adrian Stone
9. Hector Camacho (IBC)
10. Anthony Stephens
Little action this month, with Coley and Campas the only ones who saw action...Coming up in a few weeks, we have the awesome match-up of Quartey and Phillips. I've been waiting a long time for this one, and I doubt we'll be disappointed...On the same card, Whitaker making yet another sorry defense, this time against the unheralded Wilfredo Rivera. The Champion's not getting any younger...There are some high quality fighters here, and even aside from what would be great unification battles, there are some solid match-ups that I'd like to see: Carr-Campas, Coley-Stephens and Loughran-Stone would really whet the appetite for Trinidad-Whitaker or Trinidad-Quartey.
Champion: Julio Cesar Chavez (WBC)
1. Frankie Randall
2. Kostya Tszyu (IBF)
3. Juan Coggi (WBA)
4. Oscar De La Hoya
5. Giovanni Parisi (WBO)
6. Charles Murray
7. Fred Pendleton
8. David Kamau
9. Dingaan Thobela
10. Khalid Rahilou
This whole division seems to be on hold till the June war between Chavez and De La Hoya...What happened to the King-promised rematch between Randall and Coggi? I think the new title holder isn't at all too eager to get his ass kicked bad in another meeting...Biggest news here this month was Parisi's win over Sammy Fuentes, who exits after being stopped. Parisi re-enters at #5...Pendleton was saved by the flu -- that is, he was supposed to rise in weight and face Felix Trinidad in what would have surely have been a slaughter, but Trinidad came down with the flu. Despite recent successes, I think Pendleton's a retirement waiting to happen...Kamau finally fought, but only managed a Technical Draw with a fighter who was 33-22-3...And Rafael Ruelas didn't make his 140 lb. debut, but Miguel Angel Gonzalez did. Mago was less than impressive in decisioning veteran Ramon Marchena in 8 rounds, but hopefully he'll face a contender here next time out for a good gauge of how he'll fare as a Jr. Welter.
Champion: TITLE VACANT
1. Orzubek Nazarov (WBA)
2. Lamar Murphy
3. George Scott (WBU)
4. Stevie Johnston
5. John-John Molina
6. Rafael Ruelas
7. Ivan Robinson
8. David Totteh
9. Cesar Bazan
10. Phillip Holiday (IBF)
No movement here this month save the exit of Miguel Angel Gonzalez. His replacement comes up from #11 and it's IBF title holder Holiday, who makes it in through sheer activity. And at least he's been beating the stiffs in front of him...Ruelas ALMOST came back, but the flu kept him idle. Good decision -- he needs an impressive win. He stays put for now but needs to fight soon...I was gonna drop Robinson because of inactivity, but the guys below him aren't fighting either...The only fights on the horizon are Murphy-Mendy (for the vacant WBC title) and new #1 Nazarov defending against yet another no-hoper in one of those shameless WBA title defenses.
Champion: Azumah Nelson (WBC)
1. Arturo Gatti (IBF)
2. Regilio Tuur
3. Tracy Harris Patterson
4. Gabriel Ruelas
5. Jose Vida Ramos (WBF)
6. Anatoly Alexandrov
7. Genaro Hernandez
8. Jungsoo Choi (WBA)
9. Jeff Fenech
10. Aaron Zarate
Little action here this month...Ruelas came back and won a decision, but weighed 144 pounds. Stay tuned to see if he appears in this weight class again...Hernandez remains MIA (his last fight was in September, and that was at 135). He drops another notch and next month he's gone...New this month is the arrival of the great Jeff Fenech. He's beaten 2 stiffs, but the wins were very impressive, with the Steward-trained Fenech using more boxing skills and defense then we're accustomed to seeing. He plans to challenge Nelson or Gatti in the late spring. I'd recommend a few more fights against some Top 10 contenders...Fenech replaces Cesar Soto, who's inactive and likely to fight at 126 pounds next time out...Gatti's courageous title defense win happened after these ratings were completed. And Patterson comes back next month. Expect them to rematch in the fall, after Gatti's eyes heal.
Champion: Luisito Espinoza (WBC)
1. Tom Johnson (IBF)
2. Eloy Rojas (WBA)
3. Kevin Kelley (WBU)
4. Manuel Medina
5. Naseem Hamed (WBO)
6. Jose Badillo
7. Robert Garcia
8. Alejandro Gonzalez
9. Miguel Arrozal
10. Steve Robinson
Espinoza cemented his top position with an impressive KO of former-Champ Gonzalez. I just saw it, and it was really an ass kicking. Gonzalez drops to #8...Johnson defended his title with an impressive knock-out as well. The titlist went down against hard-punching Ever Beleno, but came roaring back to attack the body and take out the challenger in the final round...Hamed moves up a notch w/another blow-out over another nobody. Still, he's active...Robinson, in his final month here, slips a notch after more inactivity...Good match-up next month: Rojas defends against 2-time titlist Wilfredo Vasquez. Solid match-up.
[Editor's note: Once again we are honored to present boxmel's views on significant events in the world of amateur boxing. We received a "preview" of the Olympic Trials and I thought it might be entertaining to compare those notes with her thoughts on the finals, so that is the format for this month.]
The top entries in this weight class have to be Albert Guardado, Topeka, KS and Javier Munoz, El Paso, TX. Albert is 23 and has been boxing for 11 years. Javier is 21 and began boxing in 1990. Albert is a well-seasoned, experienced technician and Javier brings both experience and power to this division. The spoiler here could be Bradley Martinez, from the Army team who, at age 26, has been boxing for almost 16 years. He has lost twice to Guardado and once to Munoz. A long shot might be Jauquin Gallardo, from San Leandro, CA who has bested Martinez twice, has never boxed Guardado, but who was soundly outpointed in the PAL Nationals last year by Munoz. At 5-1, Gallardo doesn't have the same power as Munoz or Guardado at 106 Lbs.
Pedro Pena, Los Angeles, CA (18) and Eric Morel, Madison, WI (20) appear to be the top contenders here. After a slow start as a Junior Olympic boxer (ages 8-16), Pedro burst on the national scene winning several top competitions as an open division, senior (ages 17+) and doing well internationally. He never stops throwing punches. Morel has the experience edge on Pena, having boxed for 13 years. He has good national and international credentials. Spoiler here could be Ramases Patterson, Detroit, MI, (early 20's) who has been boxing probably as long as Morel. He is slick, with excellent technical skills.
This division is probably going to be won by whoever wants it the most. The more experienced boxers are Jesus Vega, Salinas, CA (18), who has been boxing for 5 years; Teaunce Shepherd, Milwaukee, WI (18), boxing for 8 years, and Zahir Raheem. All three are fast punchers, somewhat lacking in power, but technically skilled.
Probably the best weight division in the tournament in terms of skills, power, experience and sheer good boxing. The three top contenders are Floyd Mayweather, Grand Rapids, MI, who at age 19, is one of the most completely skilled and adaptable boxers in the amateurs. He has lost to Carlos Navarro and, subsequently, beat him. Probably the top 125 at this time is Carlos Navarro, Los Angeles, CA (19) brings nine years of top Junior Olympic and Senior division experience to the ring. He has extensive international experience, excellent boxing skills and can punch with power. The third competitor to watch is Augustine Sanchez, Las Vegas, NV who, at age 18, has extensive Junior Olympic and Senior division experience. Augie has more power than any boxer in this division, however he also has a habit of sticking his chin out and getting put on the canvas. The spoiler here could be Martin O'Malley, Edmonds, WA, who, at age 19, has excellent power. He has not been able to beat Navarro in several matches and lost to Mayweather at the 1996 Golden Gloves.
This division is up for grabs, with Fred Neal, East Cleveland, OH, (24) probably the man to beat. Neal has been boxing for 15 years and has consistently been at the top level. His top competition will probably be Jermaine Fields, Landover, MD with good experience and excellent skills; Brian Adams, Brooklyn, NY, who stopped Fields at the 1996 U.S. Championships, and Terrance Cauthen, Philadelphia, PA (19).
Another up-for-grabs division, with the top contenders being Calvin Green, Baytown, TX, David Diaz, Chicago, IL (19), and Lechaunce Shepherd, Milwaukee, WI (21). Green has excellent Junior Olympic experience. Diaz has been boxing for 11 years and has top national credentials and Shepherd, who has been boxing since 1985, has good national and international experience. The spoiler in this division could be Larry Nicholson, Tyler, TX, who just moved up from 132 Lbs. Nicholson has been boxing for 9 years and has extensive national and international experience. However, at the age of 29, has begun to slow down and not be as effective as he once way.
The three top in this division are David Palac, Hamtramck, MI (19), who has extensive national and international experience. While long on technical skills, he falls a bit short in the power department. Palac's toughest competition might be Fernando Vargas, Oxnard, CA (18) who just moved up from the 139 division and lost to Palac at the 1996 U.S. Championships. Vargas has excellent national credentials and has done well internationally, although not winning the decisions. He brings power to this contest, but has slowed down since moving up in weight. The third man to watch in this division is Fareed Samad, Philadelphia, PA, who is a member of the Army team. Samad has been boxing for 9 years, is 27 years old, and has power.
This division is one of the weaker ones in the 12 weight classes. The two to watch are David Reid, Philadelphia, PA (22) and Michael Nunnally (21), Jackson, TN (22). Reid just moved up from 147 Lbs. and has excellent national and international credentials. He one only one of two Americans to win gold medals at the 1995 Pan American Games. Reid has been boxing for 11 years. Nunnally has been boxing for 9 years, is a natural 156 Lb'er and has excellent national and international credentials. The spoiler in this division could be Jeffrey Clark, Washington, DC (26) who is a member of the Army team. He has been boxing for 7 years.
The two to watch are Benjamin McDowell, Washington, DC (26) Army, who won the 1994 Boxer of the Year award from U.S.A. Boxing. McDowell has been boxing for five years. And from an experience level, Shane Swartz, Ft. Collins, CO. Shane is 20 years old and has been boxing for 15 years. He has a great deal of national experience, however tends to brawl and is easily outpointed by a skilled boxer. Shane will put up a good fight, however. He won the Silver Medal at the 1995 Pan American Games, losing to Cuba's Ariel Hernandez in the finals. The spoiler in this division could be Ronald Simms, Washington, DC (US Air Force). Simms is 32 years old and has been boxing for 10 years. He has lost to Swartz three times and beat him once. Simms has excellent national and international experience.
The man to watch is Antonio Tarver, Orlando City, FL (27). Tarver began boxing in 1979 and was the only other American to win a Gold Medal at the 1995 Pan American Games. He has been virtually unbeatable in the past two years. Anthony Stewart, Chicago, IL (23) has beat Tarver once (1994) and Eric Wright, Army (28) will do their best to keep Tarver out of the Olympics.
Wide open for the man who wants it the most. The two to watch are Lamon Brewster, Los Angeles, CA (21) and Davarryl Williamson, Washington, DC (27), who has been boxing for two years. Brewster has been boxing for 15 years and has excellent national and international experience. He has excellent boxing skills and power - when he remembers to focus on the task at hand. Williamson's best, and maybe only, asset is his right hand. Two others to watch are Juan Cruz, San Diego, CA (19) and Nate Jones, Chicago, IL (23).
The big man in this weight class is Lance Whitaker, Granada Hills, CA literally, as he is 6'7". At age 24, Lance has been boxing for two years and is currently being trained by Lou Duva. Lance has limited skills but excellent power. Spoilers could be Lawrence Clay-Bey (new enough to the national scene I don't have any information) because he wants to win, and Alvin Manley, Flint, MI (24), who has been boxing for 9 years.
Excellent day of boxing -- NBC missed out on some of the best bouts of the tournament. I understand, however, that ESPN was taping so maybe... The winners in today's competition will meet the Trials champion at the Box-offs in Augusta, GA April 18-20. And, remember, the Challanger MUST beat the Champion twice in order to qualify for the Olympic team. The only time in the history of amateur boxing this has happened was in 1992 when Montell Griffin beat Jeremy Williams twice. I do, however, predict some upsets at the Box-offs.
Albert Guardado, Topaka, KS dec. Sean Johnson, Washington, DC/ 11-3. Albert avenged his 8-7 loss against Sean in the semifinals of the champion's bracket. Albert will meet Jauquin Gallardo who, at 5'9" is a very tall 106'er. Gallardo should actually be at 112 Lbs., if he were to be allowed to grow into his natural weight. This will be an interesting match-up as Gallardo has the height advantage and is a "thinking" boxer in the ring. No predictions here, although I would like to see Albert on the Olympic team. He is 22 years old, has extensive international experience and is a more seasoned boxer than Gallardo who, at age 19, could stick around for 2000.
Ramases Patterson, River Rouge, MI dec. Armando Contreras, La Mirada, CA/ 32-23. "Rhambo" did an excellent job today in beating a tough kid who will do well for the next four years, waiting for 2000. Patterson will meet Eric Morel in Augusta and I predict Rhambo just might be one of the upsets. I was the "paper judge" (back up manual scoring in case the computer went down) on the championship bout on Sunday and from my point of view, where I was sitting, I thought Patterson won. In talking with Patterson's coach, he said their mistake in the championship bout was that they had initially trained to beat Pedro Pena, who lost in the first round to Morel. I think Morel will have his hands full in Georgia.
Steven Carter, Navy dec. Baldo Ramirez, Denver, CO / 13-11. Carter just "popped up" this year and I was very impressed with his all-around skills during the tournament. He lost to Zahir Raheem in the championship finals, but made an excellent showing for a 21 year old with no experience. He will meet Raheem again in Augusta but I see Raheem on the Olympic team with no problem.
Floyd Mayweather, Grand Rapids, MI dec. Carlos Navarro, Los Angeles, CA/ 31-11. In probably the first of two of the most exciting bouts of the day, Mayweather gave Navarro a boxing lesson in a very tough bout. I don't think the score is reflective of the match -- should have been a little closer. The first round was pretty close to even and Mayweather took over in the second and third rounds. Carlos is one of those boxers who should have had the Olympic year in 1995 when he was the top 119 in the U.S. Moving up to 125, he lost a lot of his incredible speed and doesn't have the power that most of the 125's possess. He has also been distracted this year by influences outside of boxing. He will be turning pro. My prediction on Mayweather and Augustine Sanchez at Augusta? Augie beat Floyd in the Trials championship finals (12-11) and I think he'll do it again.
Jermaine Fields, Washington, DC dec. David Jackson, Seattle, WA/ 33-24. This had to have been the second most exciting bout of the day. Both boxers banged it out for three solid rounds and received a standing ovation at the end of the match -- and definitely deserved it! Jermaine will meet Terrance Cauthen in Augusta and this is my second prediction -- I think Fields has an excellent chance of beating Cauthen. In spite of the scoring at the end of their championship bout (10-5), I don't think that was reflective at all. Sitting in the stands, watching from one point of view, I subjectively felt that Fields had beaten Cauthen in a very close bout. Cauthen doesn't have Fields solid, countable power punches and has a real tendency to slap -- a foul that most of the referees did not see or call during the tournament.
Zabdiel Judah, Brooklyn, NY dec. Larry Nicholson, Tyler, TX/ 14-7. Judah did an excellent job of wearing down a very experienced, well-conditioned, but aging Nicholson. I first saw Judah at the PAL National Tournament and was extremely impressed. And he didn't let me down this past week. He will meet David Diaz in Augusta, whom he lost to in the championship finals (13-8) and he just might score one of the upsets I'm predicting. Diaz has excellent power but I don't think he'll be able to match Judah's power plus skills. We'll see.
Brandon Mitchem, Augusta, GA dec. Gary Jones, Washington, DC/ 12-8. Mitchem is a tough kid, just out of the Junior Olympic program, who fought his way back after losing to Gary Jones in the first round of the championship bracket on a very close 18-17 score. I was also very impressed with Gary throughout the tournament but I think his excellent match with Fernando Vargas on Saturday took the steam out of him. Mitchem will meet Vargas in Augusta and will definitely have the home town crowd in his corner. I don't think he'll beat Vargas, but I think he will give him a very tough match. Fernando just moved up to 147 and has lost some of the speed he had as the top 139.
Darnell Wilson, Lafayette, IN dec. Jeffrey Clark, Army, Ft. Bragg, NC/ 8-4. In what was essentially a rather unskilled bout, Wilson was able to outpoint a lumbering, slow Clark. Wilson will meet David Reid in Augusta, after losing to him in the championship bracket 8-7 in the quarterfinals. Close enough to maybe cause Reid to be concerned about the results in the Box-offs. Reid was much better at 147 and Darnell could really give him a rough time in Augusta.
Ronald Simms, Langley AFB, VA dec. Benjamin McDowell, Army, Ft. Bragg, NC/ 5-1. The "Grand Old Man" of the amateurs had no problem beating a McDowell who did nothing but run. As you can see reflected in the score, there were hardly any punches thrown in the entire bout. Boring. Simms will meet Roshii Wells in Augusta, whom he lost to 6-2 in the championship finals. I think Wells's youth will win out over the 32 year old Simms.
Anthony Stewart, Chicago, IL won on a Walk-Over-Glenn Robinson, Bronx, NY This puts Anthony in the Box-offs with Antonio Tarver who, in my estimation, did not look very good this past week. He appeared lethargic and out of condition. Strangely enough, Robinson had beat Stewart in the semifinals of the championship bracket, 17-11. Stewart will be going all out in Augusta and unless Tarver comes to life, he just might find himself looking at the Olympics on NBC with the rest of us.
Davarryl Williamson, Washington, DC dec. Lamon Brewster, Los Angeles, CA/ 18-15 What to say. Brewster has more skills and experience than Williamson and, IMHO, would have represented the U.S. better at the Olympics. Another boxer who has been way too distracted in the pre-Olympic year, losing his dedication and focus. He just wasn't busy enough. Williamson will meet Nate Jones in Augusta. Hard to predict. Williamson only has a right hand and Nate is basically a brawler. No matter who wins, I don't predict any Olympic medals in this division for the U.S. -- well -- maybe a bronze, depending on the draw.
Joseph Mesi, Tonawanda, NY dec. Alvin Manley, Knoxville, TN / 28-7 Mesi has a few more skills than the portly Manley, who should probably be at 178. However, Mesi will face Lawrence Clay-Bey in Augusta, who already beat him 14-3 in the championship finals. Clay-Bey is a real story. He is a 30 year old Corrections officer who began boxing in 1992 for the conditioning aspect of the sport. Finding that he had some good skills, he decided to pursue amateur competition and has done very well in the past year, having RSCH'ed Lance Whitaker at the U.S. Championships. He is a very easy-going person, who is enjoying this part of his life, but also taking it very seriously. I predict he just might do well should he make the Olympic team - which I expect him to do.
During this year's double elimination, many favorites - many who were already "picked" for the Olympic team fell by the wayside or are going to have to beat the champion twice at the Box-offs: Pedro Pena, Carlos Navarro, Mayweather, who is now a challenger, Hector Camacho, Larry Nicholson, Calvin Green, David Palac, Shane Swartz, Lamon Brewster and Lance Whitaker, to name a few.
The other interesting thing that happened that caused the demise of the all-political, hated At Large Selection was brought about, again, by an athlete. Two absolutely ridiculous, political At Large selections were made -- neither boxer had any right nor had they deserved to be put on the At Large team. One boxer called his lawyer, who threatened to sue. A Box-off was held Tuesday morning and both At Large selections were handily beaten by two boxers who are going to Augusta. No more At Large selection. Hurray! There is now talk about adding another qualifying tournament (I hear the Blue & Gold has been mentioned) before the 2000 Olympics. And if you haven't heard already, there is talk at the World Organization (AIBA) level of not allowing the US or Cuba to enter their own 12 men teams in 2000 -- but to have them enter the North American Regional tournaments and have to qualify there. Interesting, huh!
"Fat; there is not any fat on him. Those soft mounds and ridges and rolls are the finest grade and quality of muscle a man can posess. ... That may best describe Jeff's muscular condition at the present moment -- a velvety softness, splendid and superb."
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