The Cyber Boxing Zone Journal
A/K/A THE AMERICA ONLINE BOXING NEWSLETTER (May 1997)
by GorDoomWe at the Cyber Boxing Zone are very pleased to welcome two new writers to our Staff: Joe Bruno & Pusboil.
I'll start with Pusboil. He's a passionate & well versed fan who I met through an e-mail he sent me. While his first post was disagreeing with me on something I'd written - I noticed that he articulated his thoughts very well so I invited him to write for us - thankfully he accepted & now we have a great new addition to our corps of writers.
Joe Bruno is a whole other ball of wax. I won't go into detail about Mr. Bruno's boxing background - he does a good job of it himself as you will read ... Bruno is a man who writes about harsh truths. At times they may make for some uncomfortable but always interesting reading.
I expect Mr. Bruno is going to be one of our most controversial writer's. Hell, in some ways he even out "Bucket's" the Ol Spit Bucket himself! Let us know what you think. I know whether he pisses you off or you agree with him, he will always provide facinating reading ...
Joe Bruno's Return to Boxing
by Joe BrunoOkay wiseguys, so you say how can someone make a comeback if you never heard of him in the first place. Well, stick around and I'll give you the grand tour.
No, I'm not that Joe Bruno, the esteemed Republican senator from upstate New York who's trying to end rent control as we presently know it in New York State. Love the guy. Wish we were related. But it was not meant to be.
No, I'm not that Joe Bruno, the former fire commissioner of New York City, who's now a judge in New York and not doing so well, I hear. Seems he let a guy go out on low bail recently, and the nut killed someone, but hey, no one's perfect. Thank God I'm not him either.
This Joe Bruno was a boxing judge in New York State in 1979, and I had the misfortune of being one of the judges the night Willie Classen was killed by Wilford Scypion with two right hands to the head at the start of the tenth round. Eva Shain was the other judge, and Lew Eskin was the referee. I wrote the cover story for Ring Magazine on that fight, and within three months I had my own boxing column (with my cute little picture on top) with the News World, (later called the New York Tribune), a small daily newspaper in New York city. I did five boxing columns a week, three on one entire page every Monday. (My column was also duplicated in Spanish for our sister paper Noticias Del Mundo)
At the time, I was the only sportswriter working for a daily newspaper in New York City who did a regular boxing column. To wit: Mike Marley had stopped his boxing column at the time for the New York Post, and started up again afterward. Mike Katz was then with the New York Times (now he's with the Daily News), and while he covered boxing, he did no columns, (God forbid a boxing column in the Times, that liberal rag which has called for the abolition of boxing more times than Bill Clinton has dropped his trousers in hotel rooms). And Wally Matthews had not yet started working for the now defunct New YorkNewsday. (Matthews has since moved to the Post, and may be the best boxing writer in America, that is, until Joe Bruno's return)
Cynics may say I was working for a conservative piece of garbage that was owned by the Reverend Sun Yung Moon. And I say, the Moon guy paid good money, didn't try to convert me, didn't force me to marry a woman I never met, and I didn't have to sell too many flowers at the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel either. So there.
I also did a monthly column for that eccentric icon Bert Randolph Sugar at Boxing Illustrated from 1980-85, and my work also appeared in Boxing Today, Inside Boxing, and Penthouse Magazine. (Yes, I kept my clothes on). In 1986 and 1987, I wrote a twice-a-week boxing column for the Times Herald Record in Middletown, New York. Most recently I did two pieces for International Boxing Digest for my old friend Herb Goldman; an interview with Teddy Atlas, and the story surrounding Tommy Morrison's revelation he had AIDS.
I was elected the vice president of the Boxing Writers Association from 1981-85, and I helped found the International Boxing Writers Association, along with Marc Maturo of the Gannett Newspapers, of Rockland County in New York. Marc was the president. I was the vice president. We folded four years later because Marc had the audacity to get married. Shit happens.
So why am I back?
Flashback to the movie Network , where Peter Finch yells out the window, and says to the world, "I'm sick and tired, and I'm not going to take it anymore."
Well brother, now that now goes for me too. In spades. This former scribe is sick and tired of boxing fans all around the world being duped into parting with their hard earned cash in order to support the mighty monstrosity called Pay-Per-View. And now I'm going to do something about it. For the first time in my life, I'm writing about boxing, and not getting paid for it, so you better believe that I sincerely believe in what I'm preaching.
This Pay-Per-View horror has got to stop, and the only people who can stop it is you. This is the perfect case where the victims themselves can choose not to be a victim any more.
Face it fools, if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. So smarten up. Starting right now.
I'm sure everyone here has received notification in the mail saying they are the "Big Sweepstakes Winner!!!" of one stupid promotion, or another. How many of you have actually made any money filling out those ridiculous forms? Those with their hands up, may be excused to go directly to the bathroom.
Well, right in this space, I'm offering you the means to put your hard-earned cash back into your pocket, and more importantly, how to keep it there. Money that people like you were free to spend as they saw fit, before their homes were conspiratorially wired with that little black box that brings you Pay-Per-Fucking-View. (Ladies, please excuse the words Pay-Per-View).
As recently as the 1980's, big fights that are now shown on Pay-Per-View were either shown on free TV, or on such cable networks as ESPN, USA, and for special occasions, on additional pay tier channels like HBO and Showtime. When I covered the Larry Holmes-Renaldo Snipes heavyweight championship in Pittsburgh in the early 1980's, the fight was showed free on ABC television. Most of Muhammad Ali's title fights in the 1970's, such as ones against Richard Dunn, and Karl Mildenburger were also shown on free TV. Sure, they were stiff fights, but they were free stiff fights. When Ali lost his first fight to Ken Norton, that fight was on free TV, as well as both of Ali's fights against Leon Spinks. Only blockbusters like Ali-Frazier and Ali-Foreman were shown on closed-circuit TV's at arenas, and movie houses across the nation.
The closed circuit excursions of the 1970's galled me a hell of a lot less than the 1990's Pay-Per-View robberies, because at twenty five 1970's dollars a pop, it was a fun night out with the boys. Not just stupid old you, sitting home alone like that MaCaully Culkin kid in the movies, praying you get a competitive fight for up to fifty bucks a shot.
First, lets examine some recent Pay-Per-View flops, that left paying boxing fans crying their stolen eyes out. Starting with the worst, first:
1. Mike Tyson's get-out-of-jail first fight special against Peter McNeeley--- NcNeeley went down less than a minute into the fight from either a left hook, a stiff breeze, or a hard stare from Tyson. Then, as McNeeley was just starting to fight back, his manager (partner-in-crime?) Vinnie Vecchione jumped into the ring and stopped the fight for a Pizza Hut Pizza. Of course, no refunds.
2. Tyson-Buster Mathis Jr.--Tyson had the good sense to carry the fat stiff for three rounds, and the first mean punch Tyson threw, Mathis went down like a beached whale. Still no refunds.
3. Tyson- Frank (No Relation) Bruno--Bruno, maybe the least talented heavyweight champion of all time (what do you want? He's British), looked as frightened as Tyson's first date after Iron Mike got out of jail for rape. Whenever Tyson got in close, Bruno hugged him like he wanted to waltz, and quite possibly kiss him too. Finally, Bruno went down from a barrage of punches, half of which had completely missed their terrified mark. Don King still kept your money.
4. Sugar Ray Leonard-Hector Camacho- This fight was a robbery of a different color. Not only did Leonard put up little resistance to the light-hitting Camacho, he admitted after the fight, he should not have never been in the ring in the first place, due to an injured calf. Hell, a real injured calf on the way to the slaughterhouse would've hit Camacho with more meaningful punches than Leonard did. So after admitting he bilked the public at $39.95 a pop, Sugar Ray still kept your cash.
And who are the beneficiaries of that treacherous little black box called Pay-Per-View?
1. Don King, a twice convicted of felonies he was later pardoned for, who has a bad hair day every freeking day.
2. Bob Arum , a sleazy Harvard bred lawyer (need I say more about Bullshit Bob?), who once said to sportswriter Bob Water of Newsday, "Yesterday I was lying. Today I'm telling the truth."
3. Butch Lewis, a tuxedo without a shirt, who formerly sold used cars, and recycled teeth to the Spinx Brothers.
4. The Duva clan, who's patriarch Lou looks like a reject from a Deputy Dog cartoon (Okay, they're Italian, so I'm giving give them a break).
5. Donald Trump, whose hardcover book Art of the Deal, was recently seen selling at a chain bookstore for fifty cents, and still saw no takers. Conversely, Marla was selling for a few bucks more, and the line was out the door. (Only kidding, The Donald).
6. All the casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, who have been robbing your money for years, without pay-per-view.
Well people, it is time to smarten up, and I'm going to show you how.
First of all, stop envisioning every Pay-Per-View fight as something you must see, or you're totally uncool, and start looking at it as a investment of your time, and more importantly, your hard-earned cash. When I wrote my boxing columns for the New York Tribune in the early 1980's, on the day of a Pay-Per-View fight I deemed unworthy, I wrote a list of alternative things to do the night of the fight. So, I'll try this tricky tactic again.
Listed below are much wiser expenditures for your hard earned cash rather than wasting it on unworthy Pay-Per-View fights:
1. Take your wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, or whatever out to dinner---For fifty dollars, you can eat a damn good meal, and have a better chance of getting lucky, than if you flipped the coin on a Tyson-versus nobody Pay-Per-View fight being competitive.
2. Go see a good movie--- Wouldn't you rather see New York City crumble in Independence Day, rather than Peter McNeeley fumbling on the canvas for a slice of pizza?
3. Read a good book----All right, I'm stretching it here, but I'm sure you'd get more thrills reading "Underboss--The Life of Sammy The Bull Gravano in the Mafia" than you would from seeing a bad imitation of Sugar Ray Leonard stumble around the ring against a chubby un-Macho Camacho.
4. Watch free television instead---Come on, seeing Seinfeld, Frazier, Friends, or even 3rd Rock From the Sun has got to be more fun that seeing Pernell Whitaker bob, weave, boogaloo, make a near mockery of the sport, and then claim he was obviously robbed by the three Las Vegas judges. Puh-leez!.
5. And Finally---Put the fifty dollars you're tempted to spend on Pey-Per-View under your pillow. Then chill out and go to sleep. The next morning, remove the fifty bucks and put it back in your wallet. Then read the newspaper coverage of the fight from people who are paid to suffer through monstrosities like the Lennox Lewis- Oliver McCall fiasco.
Besides saving yourself some cash, you'll accomplish one more important objective by refusing to buy any more pay fights on your home TV. When enough people band together and just say NO to Pay-Per-View, they will finally force the robber baron promoters to consider other venues to exhibit their fights. When the Pay-Per-View cash cow is slaughtered by prudent boxing consumers, weasels like Don King and Bullshit Bob Arum will revert back to putting these fights on HBO, Showtime, ESPN, USA Network, and maybe even one day, back on free TV.
If you wish, you can invest the money you save in your local club fights, where the poor promoters traditionally take a bath in order to develop, and showcase new pugilistic talent.
The choice, boxing fans, is up to you. You can be the mighty Hammer of Thor, or the lowly nail, destined to be smashed into oblivion and the poorhouse.
If you refuse to do as I suggest, you might as well drop your drawers, bend over, and take what you most decidedly deserve from Don King and his criminal cohorts.
And boxing fans, they don't even use Vaseline.
It was the best of boxing, and it was the worst of boxing. All in the same fight.
Savarese-Foreman- April 26th Two Faces of Sports
In an unlikely heavyweight barn-burner televised nationally on HBO, George Foreman, the Grandfather Time of Boxing, looked the best he had in years, and still only eked out a controversial 12-round split decision over the surprisingly rock-chinned Lou Savarese of Greenwood Lake, New York.
The fight was a war from the first round to the last, Savarese broke the most sacred rule in boxing -- Thou Shalt Not Stand in the Ring and Trade With George Foreman -- and although he faded in the last two rounds, he still seemed to do enough to beat Foreman, but just barely.
Almost every round was close, so the scoring was expected to be the same This scribe had it 114-113 (7-5 in rounds) for Savarese, the same score as Atlantic City boxing judge Al De Vito. Barbara Perez, the wife of shot-referee Tony Perez (why she is a boxing judge in another story) had it 115-112 for Foreman.
Both scores were in the ballpark, and it was just a matter of how you saw certain rounds.
Yet the scoring of some joker named Shafeeq Rashade, who had it 118-1110 for Foreman (10-2 in rounds) leads us to explore a disturbing phenomenon that is not only infecting boxing, but other sports as well.
Boxing insiders know that New Jersey Boxing Commissioner Larry Hazzard exerts an influence in boxing vastly disproportionate to what his job was intended to be. When he was a referee, Hazzard was described by the late great sportswriter Dick Young of the New York Daily News as, "A man who obviously thinks he's the show, rather than the fighters."
As Jersey Boxing commissioner, Hazzard acts like a dictator, and is known to appoint certain "friends" as boxing judges and referees. Hazzard, although he has not changed his name, is a Muslim, as is his appointee, "Amen" Rashade.
That statement is an aside, a flowery side-dish, or whet-your-taste appetizer.
Here's the meat.
In our society, the subject I'm about to breech could never be covered in a politically correct daily newspaper, nor a boxing magazine, but breech it, we must. Rashade's scoring of the Foreman-Savarese does not reflect a racial statement, but rather who, for commercial reasons, did Hazzard want to win this fight.
Obviously Big George, and rightfully so, is one of the biggest, if not the biggest draw in boxing. He eats hamburgers, sells mufflers, calls all his sons George, and his bigger than life persona is the motor that drives the boxing money-making machine. Having George win the fight is in the best interest of boxing cash-eating vultures, and men like Hazzard deem that the number one scoring criteria. (Sorry guys, ring generalship, whatever that is, just doesn't cut it).
So, to insure the verdict he wants, Boss Hazzard installs Buddy Rashade as the third, and deciding judge. Rashade is so eager to please he doesn't even make an attempt to be impartial. Instead of copying the style of legendary "let's do business" judges like Harold "The Hedger" Letterman, and score the fight like Barbara Perez did, Rashada turns in a ludicrous card that vaguely admits that Savarese was even in the same ring with Big George.
Sadly, Hazzard is allowed to get away with tricks like this because anyone who dares challenge him is quickly accused of playing the "down and dirty" racial card.
Fuzzy Zoellar calls Tiger Woods a little boy, and makes crass jokes about chicken and collard greens, and K-Mart drops him as a spokesman as quick as you can say "swallow your putter."
Tiger Woods makes sexual jokes about black men's condom sizes and lesbians to a reporter from GQ Magazine, and gets away with it because he's the next Jordan-sized superstar of color in sports.
Al Campanis and Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder are immediately fired for tasteless remarks about blacks. Yet, Isaiah Thomas gets to be part-owner and general manager of the Toronto Raptors after he tells the world, "Larry Bird would just be another player if he were black."
Double standard? You betcha. And it will remain this way until the American media begins to call a spade a spade without worrying about whether Jessie Jackson is going to picket their publication.
The Day I decided to Knock out George Foreman
by MikeDeLisa (firstname.lastname@example.org)So, George Foreman has once again defended the Heavyweight Title, beating Lou Saverese over 12 rounds. Watching Saverese make the mistake of trading with George was simply frustrating. For 25 years the way to beat Big George has been clear -- stay the fuck out of his way!
I, of course, had devised a clear way not only to beat George but to knock him out as long ago as the Summer of 1973 when I was 16 years old. (Dear God! I'll be 40 in a few short months and Foreman is not only still fighting but fighting well.)
Let me make one thing clear -- my all-time hero is Joe Frazier. Foreman's January 1973 victory over Smokin Joe was absolutely traumatic. "Say it ain't so, Joe!" Becuase of that victory and Foreman's inscrutable persona, many at that time thought Foreman absolutely unbeatable. How could anyone stand up to his power and size? Well, like Max Schmeling before me, whenever I got the chance to expound my views I would say mysteriously "I zee zometing!"
What I saw was a big guy with looping punches, much like the bar fighters I disposed of handily at the age of 16 and at a weight of about 140. Since I knew how to box and since I was blessed with a decent punch I was infused with the egoism of youth: I was unbeatable. In a street fight it was simple. Most often they would swing away with a right hand. I would step to my own right, reach out with my right and grab the guy with my thumb in the crook of his left. Then I would step again as I threw a left hook. That usually stopped them long enough to let me let go with my right and punch with it to the side of his head. Street fight over!
Well, in my wisdom I figured that a variation of this would work on Foreman. Move to your right, duck the left hook if he threw it, and punch at him from the angles. Since he was so slow, as you kept moving to your right, he would have to slowly turn to face you and you could land shots with impunity. And, I figured, I could hit hard enough to drop anyone I hit. (Hell, I was 16, you know how those dang teenagers are!)
By July 1973, my friends were sick of my incessant stratems to beat Foreman.
God then intervened.
The posters sprouted like some uncontrollable weed: George Foreman, Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World, would be appearing at the local Smithaven Mall to sign autographs. If I wanted to avenge Frazier's defeat, all I had to do was stand on line. And, you can be sure, all of my friends encouraged me to do so.
Thus it was that a gang of about 15 dopes, led by me, descended upon the Smithaven Mall one humid Long Island afternoon. I distinctly recall that one of my crew was carrying a "portable" Panasonic tape recorder the size of VW Bug to record the sounds of my death.
But I had a plan. I would stay patiently on line. I would approach the desk where Foreman would be sitting. I would ask Big George for an autograph. And as he bent his head to sign, I would coldcock him. If he tried to stand, I would circle behind him and punch. Then I would run. (I was even prepared to dive into the mall fountain if need be for my getaway.)
The line was enormous. Big George was late. Within minutes of course, the several hundred people on line were made aware that a skinny kid at the back of the line was waiting to punch Foreman in the face. I was ushered to the front of the line to await the Champ's arrival.
God then intervened.
A portly guard stepped to the podium. "I'm sorry folks. The Champ is not feeling well and has just canceled his appearance."
Now, do you recall Ali's histrionics prior to the first Liston fight? Well, I launched into a tirade that made that look like a monk's mealtime. "Foreman is a fag!" I shouted. "He knows I'm here and won't come out! Drag him out here, I'll kick his ass." Never had I felt so relieved.
The crowd laughed at my antics for awhile, then drifted off to buy tie-died t-shirts and Sly and the Family Stone LPs. My friends and I went for grilled cheese sandwiches at Pappa's Diner.
Sitting here tonight, nearly 25 years and 50 pounds later I must concede that as a skinny 16-year-old I would not have knocked Foreman cold. I figure I would have stopped him on cuts.
The Mantle of Greatness
by Jim TrunzoIt always amazes me how quickly the members of the boxing fraternity bestow the mantle of greatness on a fighter. Let some precocious youngster score a dozen knockouts in a baker's dozen bouts against never-will-be or never-was opponents and the kid's pounding on the door for admittance into his division's top ten rankings. If one of the victims of this wunderkind happens to have once been a contender himself, then boxing fans are treated to speculation that he could be the division's next great champion.
Finally, if the anointed one gets a shot at, say, the QVC World Semi-Welter Inter-Global Network of Stars championship - and wins - boxing "experts" will begin touting him as a "sure Hall-of-Fame" fighter.
The only thing that the boxing world does faster than label a prospect with greatness is strip him of the same designation. Marco Antonio Barrera is an excellent case in point. On November 11, 1996, the 23-year old "baby-faced assassin" owned an undefeated record with 31 stoppages among his 43 wins. Barrera was, among other things, the heir apparent to Julio Cesar Chavez as Mexico's greatest fighter; headed for a super-fight showdown with England's own version of the Second Coming, Nassem Hamed; and the winner of the Fight of the Year bout against Kennedy McKinney.
It was immediately after the McKinney fight that Barrera was canonized; he lost his sainthood five fights later when he got mugged by Junior Jones. The same pundits who were shouting about Barrera's right to be considered as a candidate for Best Pound-for-Pound fighter were now whispering, "Hey, who has Barrera fought aside from McKinney? McKinney's not the fighter he was and he still gave Barrera hell. Think about it!"
Yes, think about it. Noe Santillana, Jesus Sarabia, Frank Toledo, Agapito Sanchez, Eddie Croft - these were some of the names on Barrera's ledger before the Jones fight. Damned if they weren't spelled exactly the same way in the record book after it. Somehow they were a list of moot points when we wanted to talk about Barrera's power, steely calm, and deadly killer instinct . . . qualities that Barrera had when he was undefeated. Now those same names were "evidence" against Barrera's talent after his loss to Jones.
Ironically, Junior Jones -- whose career was resurrected in his win over Barrera -- was once in exactly the same position as Barrera. Jones, after going 32-0, was being talked about as one of the all-time best bantamweights and, considering his physique, considered a possible triple-title holder. That is until he dropped a confidence-shattering fight to unknown John Johnson and followed up with an even more unimpressive loss to journeyman Daryl Pinckney. Goodbye, Junior Jones, whoever you were!
Barrera dropped out of most of the pound-for-pound lists after his first loss, but he still managed to stay in the top five in the junior featherweight division. But last month Barrera lost again, losing a decision to Jones in the rematch (Hello, Junior Jones. We knew you'd be back!). The vultures could be seen circling above Barrera's head second after the decision was announced. Barrera will now be, at best, "still a contender"; one more loss and he'll be forgotten.
Hey, maybe he should be. That's not the point. Maybe in retrospect Barrera will be viewed as a good, solid fighter who was simply too one-dimensional; a fighter who fell a shade short of having all the tools of the really top-notch pugilists. And maybe he should never have been labeled "great" to begin with. Not so soon. Not until he'd proved himself against solid competition.
It's not just Barrera. While Mike Tyson was dealing with his incarceration by pondering the writings of Mao, Plato and Playboy, the boxing world was pondering where, among the top ten heavyweights, did Tyson belong. Should he be placed ahead of Jack Dempsey or after Joe Frazier? Then after Evander Holyfield pulled a page from the New Testament, rose from the dead (where the cognoscenti had placed him), and taught Tyson to turn the other cheek ("so I can smack you there!"), boxing's foremost front-runners proclaimed Iron Mike a media creation. A bully. A puncher with no skills. Who'd he beat? Trevor Berbick (a bum); Michael Spinks (a light-heavy); Larry Holmes (no pulse); Frank Bruno (no guts). Holyfield! Now there's a guy who belongs in the Hall of Fame! What a great fighter he is! What a great fighter he is. The words come to our lips so easily.
Which brings us to the real point of this piece, Oscar de la Hoya. Oh, you hadn't realized that? Oscar de la Hoya has all the potential in the world. He can be great if we give him a chance. Yet because he didn't destroy Pernell Whitaker a disturbing number of people in the fight game are casting aspersions upon de la Hoya.
What makes it worse, they were doing it while praising Whitaker in the same breath. On one hand Whitaker was fighting his best fight since he was a lightweight; on the other hand, why wasn't de la Hoya doing more? On one hand, Whitaker was using all of his slickness and displaying his defensive genius; but on the other hand, why was de la Hoya so inaccurate with his punches? You can't have it both ways. You can't praise Whitaker and slight de la Hoya at the same time.
The Golden Boy is 24 years old. He's won an Olympic gold medal; he's undefeated; in his young career, the kid has beaten brawlers and cuties. He's knocked out Rafael Ruelas, made Genaro Hernandez quit, brutalized Julio Cesar Chavez, and outgunned undefeated Miguel Angel Gonzalez. And now he's beaten an all-time great in Whitaker. Not convincingly. Not impressively. But he beat him. After only 23 fights and five years as a pro, de la Hoya beat Whitaker.
Is de la Hoya the best pound-for-pound? Not yet. Hell, he's probably not even the best welterweight. Ike Quartey is a very dangerous fight for de la Hoya. So is Felix Trinidad. He's even money at best against either of those two. Oba Carr would be a tough test. Let Oscar take on a Kostya Tszyu, beat a Carr or a Wilfredo Rivera before making him take on a Trinidad or Quartey. The Golden Boy is, by boxing standards, still a boy. But he'll grow into a man and be big enough to wear that mantle of greatness that we want so badly to throw over his shoulders. If we give him -- and others like him -- time to grow naturally by winning in the ring against good competition, not by winning media accolades after beating pretenders, perhaps we won't have to so quickly tear it off them if they lose a bout.
21 Years Ago
By email@example.com (Wes Wildcat)This is what was happening in the world of boxing according to what was reported in Ring magazine in April of 1976.
This one seems to be everyones favorite fight. George Foreman knocks out Ron Lyle in a 5 round battle royal. Lyle started out fast and landed some good shots but didn't follow up on them. There was controversy in the 2nd round, it seems the round was cut short by 2 minutes by an error in the ABC tv timer. The 4th round Foreman goes down from a left-right combo to the head, then Lyle visits the canvas from a wild left hook thrown by Foreman, Foreman then goes down again and is able to rise before the round ends. In the 5th round, Foreman comes out with a two-fisted attack and put Lyle down for the count. This fight was Foreman's first fight with his new manager Gil Clancy.
There is a new Welterweight champion as John Stracey stops Jose Napoles in 6 rounds. Napoles, although he has been a great champion and took on all comers wasn't very sporting for this fight, perhaps he knew the end was coming for him. Napoles insisted that the fight be held in Mexico with all Mexican judges and referee, Stracey knew that the only way he was going to win would be to knock him out, Stracey was also not allowed to come to Mexico to prepare for the fight until a couple of days before the fight. After the fight, Napoles complained of Stracey's tactics in the ring.
Top middleweight contender Marvin Hagler was on the other end of a home town decision and suffered his first ring loss from Bobby 'Boogaloo' Watts. Hagler forced the action throughout the fight while Watts was content to run and hold. The scoring for the fight which all in Watts favor was 46-44, 48-44 and 46-46.
Joe Bugner, former British, Commonwealth and European heavy weight champ has decided to retire. Bugner feels he has no more future in boxing, his last fight was a 15-rd loss to Muhammad Ali, his ring record was 51-7-1.
Ron Stander blasted out Terry Daniels in 1-rd, both fighters had previously had title shots against Joe Frazier.
Ancil Hoffman, former manager of Max and Buddy Baer passed away at the age of 91, Hoffman took Max Baer to the heavyweight championship in 1934.
A Light In The Darkness
By: firstname.lastname@example.org (Bruce Bacharach)"There's a light, a light in the darkness of everybody's life" says the song from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. This sums up how I felt watching Genaro Hernandez face Azumah Nelson. In a time where this great sport has faced some of it's worst publicity, two true gentleman and warriors met in the ring. We have seen promoters indicted and tried for fraud. We have seen fighters seemingly lose their minds in the ring. We have seen trainers use some of the strangest tactics to get their fighters to perform. We have seen fighters win titles while sitting on the mat, and fighters win fights on the mat clutching their nuts. Not what you would call a highlight film of events to represent a hard to represent sport. Then two gentlemen stepped into the ring and at least made me forget all that.
Every knowledgeable boxing fan knows Azumah Nelson for years. His history dates back a long way. From losing to the great Salvador Sanchez in a featherweight title bout in 1982 to beating Wilfredo Gomez for the title back in Dec. 1984. More recently his two fights with Jeff Fenech, two fights with Gabe Ruelas and his trilogy with Jesse James Leija showed the Professor still had a lot to teach. Slower than he was in his prime of course, Nelson was still one of the craftiest fighters in the game. With a knockout percentage of over 62% Nelson could either box you or send you to sleep, it was up to him.
Genaro Hernandez was more well known on the West Coast than anywhere else until his meeting with Oscar De La Hoya. Prior to this the biggest names on his record were Jorge Paez, Raul Perez and the late Jimmy Garcia. His fight with De La Hoya brought Hernandez more attention to the rest of the fight fans around the world. Unfortunately it also brought a nose broken in 20 some odd places. People had said nobody on the West Coast wanted to fight Hernandez. Watching him against De La Hoya, I couldn't see what the fear was. But against Nelson, it was a different story. Nelson was favored coming into this fight, but as the fight grew closer, more people including Nelson were saying this was going to be tough for him. And was it ever. Hernandez came in ready to fight. Throughout the fight he used Nelson's understandable lack of speed to use and I dare say invent beautiful angles from which to attack and counter. Some of Hernandez' moves that night were just damn enjoyable to watch. At the end of the 7th round Nelson threw a left hook clearly after the bell that landed on Genaro's neck. Genaro went down like a five dollar hooker. It was immediately ruled a foul by referee Laurence Cole. He deducted a point and gave Hernandez the customary five minutes. Now this is where the light started shining. At this point Hernandez can take five minutes to recover from the blow or he could sit there on the canvas and win the title via DQ. A choice needed to be made. After what turned out to be about an eight minute delay Hernandez chose to do what most haven't and wouldn't, he chose to fight. Maybe it wasn't the wisest choice, who knows what could have happened. But it was the choice that was the best for the sport, and as a fan I applaud him. Hernandez won a split decision (115-114 Nelson-- 116-114 Hernandez-- 118-110 Hernandez). I had it 117-111 for Hernandez. But Hernandez was not finished being the ultimate gentleman this evening, not yet. After the scores were announced in Hernandez' favor, Nelson started to applaud. Both fighters were interviewed by Dave Bontempo. Hernandez said he had too much respect for the sport to stay down after the foul at the end of the seventh round.
The great stuff came after Nelson's interview with Bontempo. Hernandez came over and the two fighters started to chat. Nelson said to Hernandez " I want you to be a champion for a long time", Hernandez replied " As long as you don't come back". Hernandez then proceeded to return the title belt to Nelson by placing it around his waist. He said to Azumah " You came a champion, you leave a champion". He gets the belt around Azumah's waist and raises his hand. Truly one of the better moments and fights this sport has seen in some time.
While Azumah is not what he was a few years ago, he's a little older and a step or two slower, he is still the Professor. Genaro Hernandez on the other hand proved to be someone not in need of a lesson.
"UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL"
THE FOUR - WORLD TITLE FIGHT BILL
LONDON ARENA, FEBRUARY 8, 1997
By: email@example.com (Derek Cusack)
REPORT 1: NASEEM HAMED - TOM JOHNSON (WBO/IBF FEATHERWEIGHT TITLES)Naseem Hamed delivered a characteristically loud retort to his critics in stopping Tom Johnson at 2:27 of round eight. By virtue of this win, Naz adds the IBF version to his WBO crown and adds weight to his claim that he is the World's best featherweight.
The Prince has proved that although he may drop his guard for lower - profile fights (v. Daniel Alicea and v. Manuel Medina), he can produce fireworks when a new belt is at stake. Just as he brutally dissembled Steve Robinson to win his WBO title, Naz destroyed Tom Johnson on Saturday night.
This was "Boom Boom's" twelfth defence, Hamed's fifth and the first featherweight unification fight for seven years. Although Johnson has been showing some signs of depreciation at the age of 32, his recent solid defences quashed any arguments that he was washed up. To say that Johnson is an Evander Holyfield of the lower weights would be a fair comparison: Tom is a devout Christian, a highly accomplished all - round boxer and a true gentleman who exudes class.
Naz - as I'm sure you know by now from my scribblings - is an altogether different proposition. Before facing his last challenger Remigio Molina, Hamed was quoted as saying, "I've seen a video of Molina fighting and he was a complete joke. Even the crowd were laughing in the background!" While Hamed proved his superiority over Johnson in the ring, he can't hold a candle to "Boom Boom's" magnetic charm outside the ropes. The Prince spent the entire build - up to this match losing fans to the Johnson cause by taking his arrogance too far - again!
Despite being forced to sacrifice some of his elusiveness of old against the higher class of opponent Naz has begun to face, he still carries a heavier punch with both fists ("K and O" as he calls them!) than anybody in this division. Johnson bore witness to this fact too many times for his own good on Saturday, and he deserves enormous credit for remaining on his feet until the eighth.
The first real action came in round three when Hamed connected with a ferocious flurry of shots which sent Johnson reeling back. It was in this round that Naz predicted he would win "because my Mum wants me to," but his eagerness to capitalize on his advantage caused him to miss too much and prevented him from fulfilling his prediction.
Johnson's legs betrayed him again in the following round when the power of a Naz left worked it's way down the Texan's body. Hamed slipped down the gears here though, and Johnson was allowed to find his rhythm and rise in confidence over the next two rounds.
Hamed switched the flow of battle back in his direction in the seventh with a single left hook which had Johnson in dire straights. This time Naz took his time and did what he is good at - gradually wearing his opponent down with accurate bombs. A ten - minute interval would probably not have been enough for the Texan, and when the bell rang for round eight he rose to face more of the same.
Naz looked so cool in continuing his assault that an uninitiated observer would probably have reckoned boxing to be a piece of cake. I was relieved when he found a single corkscrew left hook to lay Johnson out - I had seen him taking enough for one night. "You're looking at a legend soon to be" said the delightfully unorthodox Sheffield man afterwards. He needs to be this good to carry off his level of confidence.
REPORT 2: STEVE COLLINS - FREDERIC SELLIER (WBO SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHT TITLE)Frederic Sellier's challenge for the WBO super middleweight title ended with a cuts stoppage in round five.
Collins looked very composed as he relied on boxing Sellier rather than employing the all - out pressure style which overwhelmed Benn and Eubank. The Frenchman was prepared to trade with Collins more than once in this fight, but his shots didn't carry enough power to ruffle "The Celtic Warrior."
Sellier did have some success with his accurate counterpunching however and won the second round on my card. One concerning factor was Collins' inability to avoid the challenger's long right hand. While Steve was off the boil tonight - he conceded having had difficulty motivating himself for this defence - he never looked troubled, and when the Irishman stepped up the pace Sellier was out of his depth.
In the fifth round Sellier (who was stopped in six by Frankie Liles in his only other World title attempt two years ago) was beginning to take a beating at the hands of the champion. Blood had appeared over the Frenchman's left eye in round two, and in this session he sustained a deep gash on the bridge of his nose.
Though the stoppage - at 2:20 of the round - may have been too premature, there would only have been one winner. Now the Irishman (35-3(19)) says he will beat down Roy Jones Jr.'s door in Florida to ask why his IBF counterpart refuses to fight him!
REPORT 3: ROBIN REID - GIOVANNI PRETORIUS (WBC SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHT TITLE)Robin Reid chalked up his first successful WBC title defence by knocking Giovanni Pretorius out with a ferocious right hook in round seven.
Reid made a feverish start to what was the most entertaining fight on the bill. Pretorius was rocked several times during the first round but somehow only went down once, from a left hook to the body.
The South African - trained by the same man as Sugarboy Malinga (Nick Durandt), who will probably be next to challenge Reid - won his last thirteen by the stoppage route, but he normally fluctuates between middle and light middle. Pretorius is the kind of aggressive fighter who will never be in a dull one, but his defence is non - existent. He showed great courage in this challenge and worked his way back in the third and fourth rounds. By the end of round four it seemed as if Pretorius was outlasting Reid, who had shown inexperience by throwing everything into round one and was beginning to breathe heavily.
The challenger touched down again at the beginning of the fifth, but it wasn't a hurtful blow. Reid was too tired to follow up on this knockdown, but having taken a breather in the sixth he finally stepped up his workrate in round seven. Pretorius' head rolled onto that right hook, and he was counted out at 2:10 of the round.
REPORT 4: BABY JAKE MATLALA - MICKEY CANTWELL (WBO LIGHT FLYWEIGHT TITLE)Baby Jake celebrated 17 years as a professional boxer by outpointing Mickey Cantwell over twelve rounds.
It was almost a fairytale rags - to - riches story for Mickey, who has rarely earned more than #700 for a fight - his gym fees usually exceeding this figure. He produced what was by far his best performance and even stole the decision on Judge Larry Hazard Jr.'s scorecard. Baby Jake showed signs of ring rust - not having fought since last April - and possible depreciation due to his 35 years but pulled away in the final two rounds to secure a deserved victory.
Jake was surprisingly frustrated by Cantwell's success in keeping him outside for much of the fight. The 4'10" South African would not have achieved his status in the lighter weights had he not mastered the art of pushing past the defences of smaller men. The challenger retained an intense level of concentration throughout and looked beautiful at times while nimbly countering Jake before dancing out of range. Mickey even matched Jake in the champions domain - in - fighting - on numerous occasions.
Despite his superb conditioning however, Cantwell couldn't keep up this pace for twelve rounds, and Jake stamped his authority when he needed to in the eleventh and twelfth. The champion upstaged bill - topper Naseem magnificently in the eleventh round by producing the unorthodox punch of the night: a right hook thrown over his shoulder while facing away from Cantwell! The scores read 113 - 115 and 116 - 114 twice.
EUROROUND II: The crap carries on....By: firstname.lastname@example.org (Derek Cusack)
EUROROUND: Around the European Rings
March 8 -> April 8, 1997
DATE WINNING FIGHTER - RESULT - LOSING FIGHTER TITLE\VENUEMarch 8 Juan Carlos Gomez w rsf 9 Arimateia de Silva (WBC International cruiserweight title) Cologne, Germany
* Promising Gomez runs his tally to 17 - 0.
March 14 Johnny Bredahl w rsf 3 Drew Docherty (European bantamweight title) Odense, Denmark
* It's all one - way traffic as Bredahl (now 32-1) has too much for the brave Scot.
March 14 Brian Nielsen w pts 8 Daniel Franco (heavyweights) Odense, Denmark
* Nielsen, recent conqueror of Larry Holmes, looked awful as he struggled to outpoint the Argentinian journeymen.
March 14 Soren Sondergaard w rsf 1 Richie Hess (light welterweights) Odense, Denmark
* European champion Sondergaard goes through the motions in a non - title fight.
March 14 Ryan Rhodes w rsf 7 Del Bryan (British light middleweight title) Reading, England
* Having become the youngest British champion since the war, Rhodes coninues rewriting the record books here by winning a Lonsdale belt in record time (The Lonsdale belt is a prize presented to a fighter who is successful in three consecutive British title fights).
March 14 Dean Francis w rsf 7 Cornellius Carr (WBO Inter-Continental super middleweight title) Reading, England
March 14 Mark Winters w pts 8 Paul Denton (light welterweights) Reading, England
March 14 Kelly Oliver w pts 6 Chris Woolas (cruiserweights) Reading, England
March 15 Andrei Shkalikov w rsf 8 Mauro Galvano (super middleweights) Mazara, Italy
* Much - accomplished former WBC champ Galvano retired from the game following this loss. As with all fighters who decide to hang up their gloves (espcially those who do so before their sell - by - date), we wish Mauro all the best for the future.
March 15 Fabrice Benichou w pts 8 Esteban Perez Quinonez (super bantamweights) Metz, Italy
March 22 Michael Brodie w tco 10 Neil Swain (vacant British super bantamweight title) Manchester, England
* One of the genuine British hopes for future world title honours came through this gruelling but thrilling encounter on top. There was absolutely nothing between these two until Brodie (now 19-0) unleashed a huge right hand to lay the Welshman flat. This fight also brought out the best in Swain - though he lost - and one feels that he would also have been a true force if he had included the gym in his social schedule more than the nightclubs. Fight of the year so far.
March 22 Joe Calzaghe w ko 1 Tyler Hughes (super middleweights) Manchester, England
* TV commentator and former world champ Jim Watt put it best by saying: "We know Calzaghe (now 21- 0) can knock over bums, but why does he have to keep proving it to us over and over again? I mean, we were here anyway but why did they (Calzaghe and Hughes) travel all the way here just for this?"
March 22 Nigel Wenton w pts 8 Wayne Boudreaux (light welterweights) Manchester, England
* Wenton returns to the ring after a 15 month lay - off to outpoint Bodreaux and to discover that, bizarrely,he is rated no.1 by the WBO. Because the other top WBO rated fighters (eg. Julio Cesar Chavez) lost during Wenton's inactivity, the WBO decided in their infinite wisdom that he must be the best light welterweight in the world!
March 25 Chris Okoh w pts 12 Denzil Browne (Commonwealth cruiserweight title) Catford, England
* Okoh (now 14-0) somehow manages to retain his title, look awful and bore a crowd of innocent, unsuspecting everyday citizens to tears all at once (again!). This man should take a leaf out of Mauro Galvano's book, or even take up cricket.
March 25 Gary Jacobs w rsf 1 Jimmy Vincent (light middleweights) Catford, England
* Gary bounces back from his upset European title loss last year by moving up a weight and ending Vincent's recent winning streak.
March 25 Duke Mc Kenzie w pts 8 Bamana Dibateza (featherweights) Catford, England
* Mc Kenzie, who was scheduled to fight Wayne Mc Cullough last Summer, ended a long spell of inactivity by outpointing Dibateza. The former three - time world champion had too much in his repertoire for the African, who had given British champion PJ Gallagher his first taste of defeat last time out.
March 27 Jonathan Thaxton w rsf 9 Paul Burke (IBF/WBO Inter-Continental light welterweight title) Norwich, England
* Thaxton (now 14-3) looked better than ever as he coped with the many skills of Burke before lowering the boom in round nine.
March 27 Jason Matthews w rsf 3 Paul Wright (vacant WBO Inter-Continental middleweight title) Norwich, England
* "The Method Man" claims his first title by showing his power to the outclassed Wright.
March 28 Teddy Reid w pts 6 Eamon Magee (welterweights) Boston, MA
* Belfast man Magee (now based in Boston with Wayne Mc Cullough) loses his unbeaten record via a split points decision to wily Reid. his record now reads 7-1(5).
March 29 Chris Eubank w rsf 4 Camilo Alarcon (light heavyweights) Dubai, Egypt
* Eubank (now 45-2-2) scores his second comeback victory in the East. Reportedly, he looked like the skilled Eubank of old, and is taking his career more seriously now. His next fight will probably be for the WBU title.
March 29 Oscar Garcia Cano w rsf 11 Manuel Carlos Fernandez (European lightweight title) Grande - Synthe, France
March 29 Fabrice Benichou w pts 8 Eber Moreno (featherweights) Grande - Synthe, France
* Former loser to Wayne Mc Cullough Benichou keeps busy with his second win in as many weeks.
April 4 Michael Alldis w rsf 3 Ervine Blake (featherweights) Brighton, England
* Alldis warms up before his challenge for fiery Paul Ingle's British crown.
April 4 Tanveer Ahmed drew 12 David Armstrong (vacant WBO Inter-Continental lightweight title) Glasgow, Scotland April 4 Willie Quinn w rsf 6 Stinger Mason (middleweights) Glasgow, Scotland
* Quinn bounces back from his unsuccessful challenge for Neville Brown's British title.
April 4 Brian Carr w pts 10 Lyndon Kershaw (British super bantamweight title eliminator) Glasgow, Scotland
April 5 Ferrid Ben Jeddou w pts 12 Orlando Oviedo (IBF Inter-Continental flyweight title)
Avezzano, Italy April 6 Djamel Lifa w rsf 6 Moussa Sangare (vacant European super featherweight title) Thiais, France
April 8 David Starie w rsf 7 Sam Storey (vacant British super middleweight title) London, England
* Starie (now 13-0(9)) looked very calm in claiming his biggest scalp to date. He was impressive in that he consistently pressured this wily old pro for seven rounds without once being ruffled by Storey's tactics. So as another name is added to the list of exciting British super middles, the future looks bleak for Irish former world title challenger Storey.
April 8 Justin Juuko w rsf 2 Rakhim Mingaleev (super featherweights) London, England
* One of my favourite fighters to watch (Juuko) remains unbeaten and casually disposes of a fighter who gave PJ Gallagher all the trouble he could handle last year.
April 8 Vince Feeney w pts 10 Francis Ampofo (vacant Southern Area bantamweight title) London, England
* In a puzzling development, Vince Feeney from Sligo in Ireland wins the British Southern Area title. Although he did just enough to win the fight on the referee's scorecard, he didn't win it on mine. Feeney's limits were cruelly exposed in the last few rounds, and I fear he will never rise beyond this level.
April 8 Steve Roberts w pts 10 Gilbert Jackson (vacant southern area light middleweight title) London, England
April 12 Ryan Rhodes w rsf 1 Lindon Scarlett (vacant IBF Inter-Continental light middleweight title) Sheffield, England
* Rhodes barely raises a sweat in destroying mismatched Scarlett and adding the spurious IBF title to his British crown. Rhodes is an exciting, active prospect and the prospect of his forthcoming mandatory British title defence against experienced Ensley Bingham is enough to make the mouth water.
April 12 Barry Jones w pts 12 Peter Judson (IBF Inter-Continental super featherweight title) Sheffield, England
* Judson loses his title at the first hurdle as Welshman Jones plays matador to his bull - like style for twelve rounds. Jones displayed great discipline and lovely boxing skills, and has been added to the EUROROUND "Ones to watch" list. Stay tuned for further details...
April 12 Terry Dunstan w rsf 1 Art Jimmerson (cruiserweights) Sheffield, England
* British champ Dunstan does what was asked of him in a non - title fight. Not much was asked of him, by the way.
April 12 Jim Rock w pts 6 George Richards (light middleweights) Sheffield, England
* The Rock extends his unbeaten tally to 6-0. Jim has recently joined Naseem Hamed, Rhodes and fellow Dubliner Paul Griffin in the Brendan Ingle camp, which is the place to be these days.
April 19 Giovanni Parisi w rsf 8 Harold Miller (WBO light welterweight title) Milan, Italy
***NOTE: We are aware that all Inter-Continental and International titles etc. are vacant in their own way. However, the title fights marked vacant above are so because the title was not held by anyone prior to these matches.
Some questions to test your knowledge of the fight game: 1) Who is the youngest British champion since before the war (or since Eric Boon, who won the lightweight title in 1938 when he was 13 days short of his 19th birthday)? 2) Who has recorded the shortest time (90 days) between winning a British title and winning a Lonsdale belt outright?
RHODES MORE TRAVELLED
The answer to both of the above questions is the same: Ryan Rhodes, the hottest new prospect in British boxing. Not only is he very active in the past five months, but he is meeting worthy opponents, picking up titles, thrashing statistical records and, most importantly, learning as he goes along.
If you have seen Ryan in action, you know his style by now. If not, just picture a 154lbs Prince Naseem Hamed with equal power and unorthodox defensive skills. He is a switch - hitter with two heavy hands and is just brashly confident and as exciting to watch as his soul brother. He has been in boxing gyms from the age of six, and is finally beginning to raise eyebrows on the world stage.
Conversion for me came when he stopped the brilliantly skilled Paul Silky Jones (in only his eleventh fight) to seize the British crown on December 14, 1996. Silky had been stripped of the WBO crown since his previous fight, and this was his first contest since winning the title. Experts (like this humble soothsayer) favoured him to give the comparative beginner a lesson in the fine art. Not to be - Rhodes matched his senior in every department until the eighth, when he lowered the boom and watched Jones being counted out of contention.
It couldn t happen to a nicer lad, said trainer Brendan Ingle. Ryan trained hard for six weeks and for the last week we stayed in a hotel. I slept in one bed, Ryan in the other. If he sneezed, I was there with a tablet. And I m sure - given the handsome 20 - year - old s womanising habits - if he tried to sneak out to a club, Ingle was there with a leash. I imagine Rhodes reputation for having more than a passing interest in the finer sex had more to do with the hotel room arrangement than sneezing!
Ingle continues (as he has a habit of doing): What Ryan did was probably more difficult than when Naz challenged Vincenzo Belcastro. Ryan had to beat a man who knew the system, who fought the same way as we do (Jones is also a Sheffield native, and used to train in Ingles gym early in his career). But it was always going to come down to who made the first mistake. I said it wouldn t go beyond eight and I remember Ryan nailing him with a hard left to the chest in about the fifth, when Rhodes was a southpaw. I think it made Jones more wary. He didn t look the same after that. But Ryan is a champion now and he has got to walk and behave like one.
Rhodes has since beat Peter Waudby (ko 1) in his first defence of the title, Del Bryan (rsf 7) in his second and Lindon Scarlett (rsf 1) in a successful bid for the IBF Inter - Continental light middleweight title. He has been on the floor early in his career, and it looked for all the world as if we had a glass - chinned Naz clone on our hands. But Rhodes has impressed greatly since and is picking up invaluable knowledge from fights such against quality, experienced fighters such as Bryan and Jones.
His goal is to challenge WBO 168lbs king Steve Collins before the year is out, but there is moving quickly and then there is moving TOO quickly. As the Celtic one said himself: Pick on someone your own size, Ryan! I do however expect Rhodes to claim a version of the light middleweight world title by the time we re all ringin in 98. And at 20, he s still a growing lad - who knows what mouth - watering matches lie ahead involving Rhodes and his natural progression up the weight divisions. Right now I would pit him against Boudiani or Wright. He certainly has a far better chance of ruffling Wright than fellow - Englander Steve Foster who will be on the receiving end of a humiliating defeat when he challenges Winky on May 3. As Rhodes himself says, echoing of Hamed, If I hit anybody on the chin, they are going out!
One significant difference between Rhodes rise to world class and that of Hamed is that he is meeting far more worthy opponents along the way. The fight fan in me thanks whoever is responsible for this excellent match - making. Ryan (14-0) must meet mandatory challenger Ensley Bingham by July 31.
Given the fact that Bingham also possesses concussive punching power and has challenged for Wright s title, this contest is enough to make the mouth gush. It should also reveal whether or not Rhodes punch resistance (or lack of same) will impede his future progress. Stay tuned for further details......
LEON SPINKS VISITS BOXING HALL OF FAME
by David "Thunder" IameleOn September 28th, the International Boxing Hall of Fame in scenic Canastota, NY rolled out the red carpet for the former Olympic gold medal winner and ex-heavyweight champion, Leon Spinks. I was very pleased when I received my notification from the hall announcing Leon's visit to sign autographs and greet fans. I've visited with Leon on a few other occasions, and have always found him to be a fun, engaging, and humorous guy to hang with.
The morning prior to Leon's visit, a local radio station conducted a short "interview" with Leon. Unfortunately, they apparently only wanted to poke fun at the former champ and the whole thing was a mockery.
The weather was crappy on Saturday, but I remained undaunted and packed the family and my trusty tape recorder into the Subaru to make the trip out to Canastota. Leon was scheduled to sign autographs from 1-3 and it looked like we would arrive about 2. Since the kids were starving, our first stop was across the street at McDonalds for a little health food. Even the McDonalds in Canastota has a tribute to boxing, a small glassed-in display pays tribute to local heros Carman Basilio and Billy Backus in the parking lot. After satisfying our hunger, we strolled over to the Hall to get the scoop on things. I stopped and talked with Ed, Mike and Jeff Brophy about upcoming changes and additions to the Hall, and Ed helped me set up an interview with Leon.
After taking a look around the Hall at some of the newer displays, including (on loan) Aaron Pryor's IBF belt, I strolled over to say "hi" to the champ and have him sign a baseball that his brother Michael had signed for a home boy of mine. I was pleased that Leon remembered me right away, since it had been over a year since I last saw him. The kids all got autographs and kidded around with Leon, who seems to really enjoy being around youngsters. Our youngest, Brittany, took me aside and told me confidentially, "he ain't got no teeth!" After Leon got done signing autographs he generously took time to answer a few questions for me, which for some reason, drew a crowd. The first thing I did was give the champ one of my esteemed editor's tasty cigars, which Leon accepted with delight.
DI: "It's great to see you back in Canastota again, champ."
LS: "It's great to see you, it's great to be back."
DI: "Tell us a little about yourself before you became a boxer."
LS: "I was raised in St. Louis with my 5 brothers. We were all athletic, but me and Michael were the only ones to use our abilities. The others never pursued their dreams."
DI: "Six boys! Sounds like your mom had her hands full."
LS: "I had my hands full. I was the oldest and had to keep ‘em all in line."
DI: "What got you interested in boxing?"
LS: "Well, in the neighborhood I came from they made me box cause everybody beat you up."
DI: "How did you end up in the gym? Did someone see you fight and take you under their wing?"
LS: "No, when I went to the gym I never knew I could fight good. I taught myself the abc's, to learn how to box. Then after I learned how and I started winning, I stayed with it."
DI: "I was doing a little research on you this morning and I read that in your amateur career you won 3 American titles and lost only 8 times in 127 bouts. Is that correct?"
LS: "That's wrong. I had 185 bouts, won 133 by ko, with just 7 losses."
DI: "That's an amazing record. So, then you turned pro, after the Olympics?"
LS: "Yeah, in January of 1977."
DI: "In the Olympics when you won the gold, you defeated Cuba's Sixto Soria in the finals, stopping him in the third round?"
LS: "Yeah, that's right ko'd Sixto to win the Gold in the last round."
DI: "‘76 was an amazing year for the Olympic boxing team, with you and your brother and Sugar Ray. I don't think any boxing team since could compare with that group, especially beating the Cubans like you guys did."
LS: "Yeah, them Cubans are tough, man. Good fighters."
DI: "Now I had always thought you fought Ali after only 6 pro fights and Ali was your 7th bout, but I read that it was your 8th fight. Which is it?"
LS: "See, your right, it was my 7th pro fight. They keep messing up my record. When I fought Ali, I had 5 wins, 0 losses with 1 draw. Ali was my best fight."
[Editor's note: Leon's record was 7-0-1 prio to the first Ali fight.]
DI: "That was in February of ‘78 in Vegas. You were a pretty big under-dog in that bout. Like 8-1, 10-1."
LS: "Yeah, I was a 10 to 1 under-dog in that bout."
DI: "So, after the first fight with Ali, the WBC stripped you of the title for not fighting their #1 contender, Ken Norton. Now why did you insist on fighting Ali instead of keeping your belt and fighting Norton? Was it a money issue, or you felt you would get more exposure with an Ali bout, or did you want to prove that the first fight wasn't a fluke?"
LS: "No, no. I didn't fight Ken because the WBC tried to make me fight him. You see, I'm the champ, so I'm gonna fight who I want to fight. That's the way the WBC is, they try to pressure you to fight who they want you to fight, and if you don't, they strip you of the belt. So I told them, ‘you can have it'. Tyson, same thing."
DI: "In the rematch with Ali in New Orleans in ‘78, do you feel you were in the best shape for the fight and that Ali just had too much desire to win the title back for the third time and was the better fighter that night?"
LS: "No, I thought I won that fight. Ali was just holding and hugging, no matter what I did, they was gonna give him back that belt. They didn't want Leon Spinks to be the champ they wanted Ali (to be champ)."
DI: "Did you work with the same people both in your amateur and pro career?"
LS: "No. In my amateur career I had a trainer from the Marine Corp. I fought for the Marines, I was doing a lot of traveling around the country, all over the world."
DI: "What are you most proud of, your gold medal or beating Ali for the belt?"
LS: "I'm proudest of my gold medal, because I won it fighting for my country. I was representing the United States, so that's the biggest thing for me. See, when I fought Ali, that was just for me. I'm proud of myself too, I still kiss myself in the mirror. I'm so happy."
DI: "Do you and your brother, Michael, still see each other as much as you would like or not? I know you are both busy."
LS: "Well, we don't see each other as much as we would like to, but when we do, it's like a family reunion. You know, huggin, we love each other."
DI: "Do you still have family in St. Louis?"
LS: "Yeah, my family's still there."
DI: "What do you think about the treatment that fighters get now? A lot of fighters after they retire don't seem to get the respect that they should. Like baseball players get treated like Gods and boxers don't seem to get that."
LS: "Well, the way things are now and the way the fighters have been acting, a lot of fighters don't know how to conduct themselves around people. They bring it on themselves. Then there's the guy who fought Tyson, (Seldon) these guys look bad, and then they bring it back on all of us."
DI: "If you could go back and change one thing in your pro career, would you or would you do it all the same?"
LS: "One thing I would do different is have somebody talk to that referee, when I fought Ali (the rematch)."
DI: "Thanks a lot for your time, champ, always a pleasure."
LS: "Anytime, for you."
After the interview, Leon joined us over at Graziano's for a couple of cold ones. Leon was very at ease there and really seemed to enjoy everyone's company and tirelessly signed autographs for all. The owner, Tony, congenial, as always, "raffled" off a large inflatable, Budweiser boxing glove to the kids, which Leon gladly signed.
By the time I had a couple of beers, the kids were bored and it was time to load up the car and head for home. I would have enjoyed staying and doing a little more partying with the champ, but I can look forward to seeing Leon at the 1997 induction ceremonies. Be there, I know I will.
Thanks to all my friends at the hall and a special thanks to Tony G. for making my visit to Canastota enjoyable, as always.
GorDoom's Spit Bucket
It was a frightening possibility ... Before tonight's trench war between Big George Foreman & Lou Savarese, it occurred to the Ol' Spit Bucket that if Savarese had beaten Big George tonight he would have been the the true & linear heavyweight champion of this whole weird wide world.
OLD MAN RIVER JUST KEEPS ROLLING ALONG ...
I'm thankful that the Cyber Boxing Zone was able to defer the inevitable shit storm that's gonna rain down on us when George eventually gets his clock cleaned ...
Because we are purists here at the Zone; we believe that George Foreman is heavyweight champion of the world until someone beats him or he retires.
It's not a popular stance - but it is the correct one. I've explained ad infinitum to our dear readers the concept of linear championships & the whole the Man who beat the Man deal ... S' I ain't goin down that dreary road again.
Suffice it to say, that the Ol' Spit Bucket & the entire Cyber Boxing Zone staff, crew & posse, are eternally grateful to Big George for staving off that inevitably difficult day when we will be forced (unless, he hopefully retires ...) to make that between a rock & a revolting place - choice.
By revolting, I mean can anybody, no matter how loaded, whacked out or genetically related to the sensitive Mssr. Savarese they may be, imagine Lou Freakin' Savarese as world heavyweight champion???!
The Bucket don't mean to be unkind ( Well ... maybe a lil' bit ), but if the CBZ had been forced to recognize Poetic Lou The Larruper as heavyweight champ the proverbial fan would have really been blowing out some serious shit ...
Big George, ( & I know I'm sounding like that tired beer commercial, but we're sooo grateful! ), I LOVE YA MAN ...
Okay, s' 'nuff o' that ... We actually had a helluva interesting fight tonight. Both Big George & Larrupin' Lou showed us a lot tonight about preconceptions & how wrong they can be when it comes to the not so sweet science ...
Foreman was supposed to be so old, fat & unmotivated that Larrupin' Lou was actually the betting favorite with the Vegas books.
Savarese was supposedly so untested, white & ineffective that George was the only fighter on this pitiful orb that he could possibly be favored against. Yeah, well ... What the hell do all us boxing "experts" know??? Apparently, not a whole helluva lot ...
T'night was the first major bout since the Ol' Spit Bucket gave up on predicting fights after the Whitaker - De La Hoya & Jones - Barrera ll bouts.
Ever since the Bucket made this firm resolution, my own bad self feels a certain airy freedom ... kinda like being a virgin on the brink - & obviously it has been many decades since I've been a virgin at anythang ... It was liberating, watching a fight without any set in stone preconceptions.
The Bucket refuses to make predictions about fights anymore. My batting average on picking fights has been so far below the legendary Mendoza Line that I've had t' permanently retire any misguided judgments that the obviously mentally rusted, battered & dented Bucket may hopelessly cling too ... But seriously folks, when it comes to pickin' fights the Bucket not only sucks - he leaks. S' don't ask for any failure of judgment calls from this corner anymore ...
All the cute aside's, aside, we were treated to a helluva fight t'night. George Foreman & Lou Savarese reaffirmed what the fight game is all about ...
It is obvious to anyone who has observed Big George's career since the 60's that he is a true warrior. When you strip aside the corny lounge act that is George Foreman, at the core remains a fighting heart. He has proved over & over again that once the Punching Preacher steps into the ring he's all business. Big George is too old, too fat & too old to be fighting ... Period.
At least that's what all of us pundits claim. & tonight, we once again learned that there is no way to measure a warrior's heart. That's why Holyfield & Jr. Jones come t' mind as perfect examples of this truism. All three of these fighters have been proclaimed toast as far as their boxing careers by the "experts" ( sadly, the Bucket also belongs to this myopic group ).
Lou Savarese, on the other hand, was an unknown quantity. Being a white man has its advantages in the real world but in boxing it is an obstacle to overcome. Despite his flashy 36 & 0 record, Savarese was basically looked at as a big, white, no - hoper.
Again, all of us "experts" showed our stuff as savy sages ...
What we got tonight was a first class heavyweight brawl. & how often can anyone make that statement? Both fighters gave it everything they had it an all out war & both covered themselves with glory.
It isn't often that two boxers come out of a fight & both increase their stock in the public view. Savarese has now got to be considered a credible heavyweight contender. Now the Ol' Spit Bucket ain't saying he's the next avatar of the heavyweight division, just that he showed he can fight & provide rugged competition.
Big George once again proved that he maybe the only fighter in the sport's long & twisted history that deals with the fight game totally on his own terms. He's his own promoter, manager & trainer. I can't think of anyone who has ever done that successfully.
He's also so far past being considered "old" for a fighter it's almost surreal. While Big George's act of fighting at age 48 is not without precedent ( Bob Fitzsimmons, Archie Moore & Jack Johnson among the most notable ), it is still a remarkable feat.
Of the aforementioned trio, Only Jack Johnson, was still fighting at a comparable level at that age. On May 2nd 1926, "Lil Arthur" soundly beat heavyweight contender, Pat Lester by 10 round unanimous decision.
Just because Big George's feat is not without precedent it in no way denigrates his extraordinary accomplishment tonight. Think about this: While Savarese hardly provides the same level of competition that a Tyson, Holyfield, Golota or Lewis would; he is still a young man in the prime of his life. How many 48 year old men could be competitive given those facts? Foreman can still beat men young enough to be his sons! Don't believe me? I challenge any 45 + year old man reading this to whip himself into shape & get in a ring with a 25 to 35 year old man & see how long he lasts ...
After the conclusion of tonight's fight the Ol" Spit Bucket was left with these thoughts:
- Nobody in boxing is going to sway Big George from the course he has set for himself. I think it is fair to say that everyone involved with the sport would breath a sigh of relief if Foreman would hang up his gloves. It also is apparent that even at the age of 48 Big George is at the very least a competitive fighter. He has all the money that he could possibly need & the good will of fans around the world. Nobody wants to see Big George ending up hurt & battered but at the same time no one has the right to tell the man what to do ... He's a warrior & if he wants to go out on his shield that's his look out ...
- Savarese also proved his point. He is a quite & very long stretch from being a great fighter, but he proved he is a good fighter. & for Larrupin' Lou Savarese, that was a huge victory in itself.
It was a pretty intriguing month for boxing ... The latest news of interest was Riddick Bowe's retirement.
RINSING OFF THE MOUTH PIECE
Personally, I'm very happy that Bowe retired & I hope he stays retired. By now everybody has noticed that since the second Golota fight & up to an Up Close interview on ESPN a few weeks ago, Big Daddy has been slurring his words alarmingly.
This was a guy that was always amusing & loquacious. It is cause for great concern when a 29 year old fighter can't speak clearly anymore ...
The Ol' Spit Bucket realizes that history will view Bowe's career as unfulfilled - but so freakin' what! ... The man made over a hundred million dollars, bought & paid for seven fine homes for his family; not to mention moving them out of the ghetto & creating better lives for them ... I'd call that pretty damned successful!
Boxing doesn't need another Ali or Gerald McClennan ... Fulfilling the fans expectations is so much bullshit. This is professional boxing we're talkin' here. As the great sportswriter, Red Smith, so aptly put it: "Boxing is the Red Light district of sports". In other words, this ain't tennis or golf - this is do or die in the arena ...
As far as the Bucket is concerned in regards to Big Daddy: He came, he saw, he conquered & left wealthy ... I wish more fighters could end their careers like that. Very unsatisfying result to the Whitaker - De La Hoya lash up. Before the fight , the Bucket, in his not so infinite wisdom, thought Oscar would win by an easy TKO between rounds 8 - 12. Yeah, well ...
At first I strongly felt that Oscar didn't do enough to take the title ... but after repeated viewings I consistently came up with De La Hoya winning by two points. This fight defined the term, "winning ugly", but win he did.
I think we all forgot something. As faded & disinterested as Sweet Pea has looked the last few years, he is still one of the greatest defensive artists of this century. Pernell is easily on a par with such all - time defensive wizards as Benny Leonard, Willie Pep, Eder Jofre, Nicolino Loche & Wilfredo Benitez.
I don't care if Pernell Whitaker was as old as George Foreman, he would still make any fighter look awkward & ineffective.
Jr. Jones & Marco Antonio Barrera gave us a fight for the ages in their rematch. Poison has sure surprised this scribe in is last two bouts! In some ways this was an even more impressive performance than his blow out of Barrera in their first match.
It was impressive watching Jr. gut it out against a formidable foe over twelve tough rounds. A tip of the Fedora to two gallant warriors ...
Well, that's it for this ish ... Back at ya next month ...
© 1997 The Cyber Boxing Zone
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