The Cyber Boxing Zone Journal
by Mike DeLisaThis issue is the largest and, I think, best one yet. I call this the Roshomon issue because of the different views on the Lewis-Mercer fight card, Prince Haseem, and the differing views on the middleweight division. This issue is in three parts to let it load a little faster. This is part one. You can also read part 2 and part 3. Ciao, Mike
A VIEW FROM THE HALL REDUX: THE 1996 INTERNATIONAL BOXING HALL OF FAME INDUCTION WEEKEND
By David "Scoop" IameleAfter having the time of my life last year in Canastota, NY I was wondering how this years visit to the International Boxing Hall of Fame ("IBHF") would compare. There were many differences right from the opening bell, but the main change for me was this year I was visiting in an "official" capacity as a reporter for AOL Boxing Newsletter.
My preparation for the hour drive out was quite thorough: 3 cases of beer, 1 six pack of Pepsi, 1 six pack of Iced Tea, 1 large cooler filled with ice and previously mentioned beverages. One small cooler filled with about a hundred bucks worth of exquisite stogies for me and all my boxing cronies. One tape recorder with tape, several boxing cards and books, 1 copy of Sports Illustrated with Christy Martin on the cover and 1 instant camera with 2 packs of film, and a couple of pens for autographs, plus other miscellaneous party favors.
I arrived this year with my lovely new fiancee Malonie -- who also happens to love the sweet science (hey, can I pick 'em or what?) -- on Thursday evening about 4 p.m. Aaron Pryor was just entering the motel and he stopped for a photo with me that he graciously autographed for me. This was the Hawk's year for induction and he was more than generous with his time with the fans. So I figured I'm off to a good start -- the car is not even cooled down yet and already had my first autographed photo.
After having a cold one at my Goombata's (Tony Graziano's) fine eating and drinking establishment, it was off for the obligatory visit to the Hall itself.
I gave Mel the 10-cent tour, then we walked back to the restaurant to put on the 'ol feed bag. Bob Foster was having a drink and signed a card for me.
The food was excellent, as always, and as I kicked back in my seat puffing on an Arturo Fuente Hemingway I couldn't help but think, "Life is good!" After this brief moment of introspection it was time to head off to Canastota's American Legion for the annual cookout. Christy Martin autographed my SI cover and Arthur Mercante signed a card as well. Christy mentioned she was fighting on the Tyson-Seldon undercard (I'm sure her match will be more exciting than the main event). After a little schmoozing and a couple of Basilio Buda sausages with the works and its back to Graziano's for a night cap before the trip home. At the bar I meet up with Joe "Canastota" Pecorello, an old cronie I met a few years back on my first visit during induction weekend. Joe taught me everything I know about the great art of schmoozing and he's a boxing maven in his own right.
The little woman and I are engaged in a rousing game of Cribbage when the editor-n-chief, "Mad Dog" Mike DeLisa makes his fashionably late grand entrance.
Introductions are made all around, drinks are drunk, and I go down gracefully in defeat in the cribbage game. While Malonie is explaining the finer points of Cribbage to Mike's wife, Lynn, Mike and I enjoy a couple of Lars Tetan's Phat Cigars and do a little catching up. After a couple of hours of yaking and hob-nobing it's time to call it a night -- midnight already! Where does the time go?
Friday morning and it's my brother, Smokin' Joe Wojcik, and I on the road to the boxing mecca. I have to spring the news that Alexis Arguello will not make it this year due to an unfortunate incident in his home country of Nicaragua. This is a very sad side bar as Alexis is considered one of our buds and will be sorely missed. I try to console my brother with the dubious news that the De La Hoya - Chavez match will be shown free at the Turning Stone Casino.
Upon our arrival Friday we caught up with Livingstone Bramble who took a photo with me and signed it. The Rasta Man told me about a big fight coming up and told me I could do an exclusive interview with him for AOL later in the weekend. Then it was time for a ringside chat with "Gentleman" Gerry Cooney.
Gerry and I have an entertaining and emotional talk and seemed very at ease with the crowd of fans that clearly hung on his every word. After Gerry's speech, it was a quick Q & A period. I asked Gerry what he thought about the Tommy Morrison situation and if he felt he was lucky to not have had the same misfortune. Gerry replied with some insights into his own less than sterling background and told of how easy it was to be led down the wrong path when you're seemingly on top of the world. Gerry was mobbed afterward and I decided to wait to try to get his picture and autograph later.
On the way back to Graziano's I caught up with Vito Antuofermo and got an autograph and picture before playing a couple of games of Cribbage (won one, lost one). Then it was time to go off to the casino for an hour or so of blackjack before the Chavez-De La Hoya bout. After about an hour I was the winner of a grand total of $ .25. One of the gang came over to tell me he had somehow gotten a table in the Onyx room and to go in the side door. I got up from the table, relayed the message to my brother who was in the process of losing his shirt and headed over to take a gander. I told the guard with the steroid imbalance that my friends had a table inside and I'd like to go in and join them. He informed me that under no circumstances was he going to allow me in this room. Huh? It looked like a good time for plan "B".
At he other room, Casino, one of the guards, a fan of the Newsletter, invited me in. I got myself a table right up-front behind Sandy Saddler and settled in to enjoy the show. The first fight I saw in it's entirety was the Tapia fight. This fight reminded me a great deal of the Jimmy Garcia - Gabrielle Ruelas fight except this hopelessly outclassed opponent's father stepped in before his son could get killed. Next up was the Benn, he won, if you care. The main event finally started about midnight and the large crowd was more than ready. The boxing celebrities settled back into their seats after mingling about with the fans during the previous bouts. They were all there: Cooney, The Hawk, Jake LaMotta, Willie Pep, Vito, etc., etc. . .
De La Hoya was just too much for the over-the-hill Mexican superstar and stopped him on cuts in the fourth round. The crowd booed with disapproval but I thought the point was moot. The kid was just too big and strong. I left immediately after the decision was announced and headed home, ready for another big day on Saturday.
Saturday morning my bro and I are outside the Hall listening to Jose Torres' ringside lecture where I get a nice shot of Jose that he graciously autographs for me. I spotted Marc Ratner of the Nevada State Athletic commission and asked him about the stoppage the night before. He replied that he felt Joe Cortez stoppage came at the perfect time and he felt De La Hoya was just too much for Julio on that given night. I was also curious about his thoughts on Evander Holyfield's physical condition in light of the rumors of a Tyson/Holyfield bout. Marc was very politically correct in his answer and stated that Evander would be tested thoroughly before any such bout came about. I also asked him about his personal feelings concerning Evander's retiring. His reply was "he just wanted to make sure Holy was healthy and if he was, he certainly deserved a shot." "Tremendous fighter, tremendous heart, tremendous guts." When asked about his feelings on the Butterbean, his reply was, "He is a regulator's nightmare, we have a lot of trouble getting the right type of opponent, I'd like to see him fight some better guys and next time he fights in Nevada he'll have to fight a little step up.
I also got a couple of cards -- A Tommy Morrison Ringlord "sample" card, and De La Hoya, Chavez and Lennox Lewis cards (Fax Pax from U.K.) for a buck a piece. There were many boxing memorabilia dealers and even more fans present for the convention. After the convention, I met up with Bert Sugar at the bar, had a cigar with him, and talked a little about the Chavez/De La Hoya bout. I got a nice autograph from Big Bob Foster who told me "If you don't put out that cigar I'm gonna knock you out." Luckily for me Bob wasn't serious and he left it up to the generous amount of Miller beer I was consuming to knock me out.
I skipped both the cocktail party ($50) and the dinner ($100) because of a shortage of cash. However, I did stop in at the cocktail party for a moment and was impressed by the Hall's improvement from the past year's party. I met my esteemed editor at Graziano's after he returned from the dinner (apparently his budget was larger than my own) and he set up a lat top to show fans our newsletter. Fans from all over the world seemed very impressed and gave it a big thumbs-up! The place got jammed packed and really rockin', so naturally it was time for me to call it a night.
On Sunday my brother's ol' lady put the kibosh on his weekend so I stopped and picked up a couple of buddies who are casual fight fans to take the trip out with me. They watched the parade while I stayed at Graziano's quenching my thirst. Then it was time for one last trip to the Hall for the induction ceremony.
After Archie Moore's introduction this, year's inductees accepted their awards and rings. Aaron Pryor and Wilfred Benitiz both gave very moving acceptance speeches. Pryor, who's mother passed away shortly before his induction, broke down in tears on a couple of occasions and Wilfred could barely contain his glee as he accepted his ring with an ear-to-ear grin. Emanuel Steward and Joe Brown also gave very nice speeches, with Emanuel obviously very impressed with his first visit to Canastota. After the ceremony, I was lucky enough to have a talk with Hank Kaplan, who is the most knowledgeable boxing man on the face of this planet. To cap my weekend off, I interviewed Livingstone Bramble while cruising around the beautiful town.
This year's visit was filled with ups and downs: I was disappointed that Alexis, Emile and Buddy McGirt couldn't make it and the weather on Friday and Saturday could have been better. But the kindness and generosity of the boxers, the Hall of Fame Staff and volunteers, and everyone at Graziano's, all the fans and collectors and especially the wonderful townspeople of Canastota who let us boxing fanatics over-run their town for one week a year -- more than made up for any minor disappointment I felt by the absence of my boxing compadres. All-in-all another great visit and I look forward to returning next year for even more schmoozing, autographs, pictures, and interviews.
Sugar Ray Robinson: Is He the "Best" Middleweight of All Time? by Jim Trunzo (email@example.com)[Editor's note: We are pleased to welcome Jim Trunzo as a new contributor to the Cyber Boxing Zone. With his first article, a critical examination of Sugar Ray Robinson's career as a middleweight; Trunzo is sure to create some controversy. You may or may not agree, but I guarantee that they are thought provoking.]
Before you start heating the tar and plucking the chickens for their feathers, look carefully at the question being posed. It's not asking if Robinson is the best pound-for-pound fighter ever to lace up gloves; it's not stating that the original Sugar Ray isn't one of the best middleweight in the history of the division. Most importantly it's not asking if Robinson is the best welterweight! It's simply questioning whether or not Sugar Ray Robinson is the best 154 pounder of all time. Is he better than Harry Greb, Stanley Ketchel and Mickey Walker? Probably. Is he better than Carlos Monzon or Marvin Hagler? Maybe. . . and maybe not.
Let's take a look at Robinson's numbers. Robinson fought for an incredible 25 years, engaging in 201 bouts. During that time, Sugar Ray would win 174 of those bouts (109 by KO), fight six draws and engage in one No Contest and one No Decision bout. He would lose only 18 times and suffer only one stoppage, the latter occurring when fighting Joey Maxim for the light-heavyweight championship and resulting more from heat exhaustion than the fists of Maxim. Impressive. Without question.
But as a wiseguy once paraphrased, "Der are lyin' SOBs, der are damn lyin' SOBs and then der are numbers! Or sumpin' like that!" That being the case, let's break Sugar's record into two separate categories - Robinson the welterweight and Robinson the middleweight:
Sugar Ray Welterweight Middleweight MW ('51-'55) Wins 110 65 17 Losses 1 17 3 Draws 1 5 0 Knockouts 70 39 10 Win Perct. .982 .747 .850 KO Perct. .636 .448 .500 *KO Percentage is calculated by dividing knockouts by total bouts. Some calculate it by dividing knockouts by wins.
Granted that Sugar Ray Robinson was 30 before he began campaigning full time as a middleweight and he fought until he was 45 years old. Still, lopping off the last 10 years of his career and looking at only his first five as a middleweight, we see a distinct difference in the numbers. As a middleweight Robinson's power is down, and his dominance isn't as telling.
Now let's compare the great Sugar Ray to some of the other candidates for the mythical "Best Middleweight" Title. At the risk of raising the ire of the real old timers, we'll first dismiss The Michigan Assassin, Stanley Ketchel. And not cavalierly! The problem with Ketchel, aside from the fact that he fought in a totally different era, is that his career spanned only 8 years. Granted, Ketchel fought some quality opponents during the last 3 years of his career (and what would be, unfortunately, his life): Billy Papke, Jack O'Brien, Frank Klaus but those 3 names made up almost 50% of his total bouts during that period. O'Brien was past his prime, Papke knocked out Ketchel and Klause held him to a 6 round No Decision. Ketchell was a tremendous puncher, probably the first real kayo artist in the division, but his abbreviated career leaves enough questions unanswered to keep him out of the top 3 middleweights of all time.
Greb and Walker engaged in 215 No Decisions between them (Greb logging 170 on his own). And again, how do you compare fighters from such diverse eras with any sense of accuracy? Based on numbers alone, Greb would have to be considered a candidate for the top spot and most experts would rank the Human Windmill no worse than third among the all-time middles. He fought the last 90 bouts of his 14 year career virtually blind; he beat Gene Tunney, Maxie Rosenbloom and Tommy Loughran as a light-heavyweight; and was stopped only twice in 304 fights . . . yet the Greb halted only 51 opponents during his career and was only middleweight champion for 2 years. Based on the no decisions, the era gap and his lack of knockout power, Greb can't be compared to Robinson with any certainty.
Mickey Walker is a little easier to sidestep. Walker's record is dotted with 19 losses, including 5 by knockout (although 3 of those came late in his career and after Walker had relinquished the middleweight crown). While Walker is highly thought of, again, modern pundits seldom list him in the top five middleweights, although he is never excluded when talking about the top ten. To consider the Toy Bulldog would mean you would have to also consider fighters like Jake LaMotta and Tony Zale and even Billy Papke. All of these fighters wear the mantle of greatness yet no one would place them in the top slot in the division's history. So who does that leave to compete with Robinson for #1? Monzon and Hagler, of course.
Here's a look at the career totals of the three men (only Robinson's middleweight numbers are included):
Name Robinson Hagler Monzon Wins 65 62 89 Losses 17 3 3 Draws 5 2 9 Knockouts 39 52 61 Win Perct. .747 .925 .873 KO Perct. .448 .776 .598
A fairer comparison can be made looking at the three men's numbers during a five year stretch when each man was in his early 30's:
Name Robinson Monzon Hagler Wins 17 18 10 Losses 3 0 1 Draws 0 0 0 Knockouts 10 13 8 Win Perct. .850 1.000 .909 KO Perct. .500 .722 .727There's nothing shabby about the records of any of these three outstanding middleweights; but statistically, Sugar Ray Robinson comes out in third place in each instance.
A determining factor when comparing fighters must be the level of competition faced. Sugar Ray Robinson's name will forever be linked with Hall of Fame fighters such as Carmen Basilio, Gene Fullmer, Jake LaMotta, Rocky Graziano and solid fighters like Randy Turpin, Carl "Bobo" Olson, Paul Pender, Denny Moyer and Terry Downes. It's a veritable Who's Who among middleweights! What can't be ignored though is that Robinson lost at least once to each of the men named with the exception of Olson. Robinson deservedly receives credit for beating these fighters; conversely, it must be acknowledged that they also beat him. Certainly his age was a mitigating factor in many of the losses. In his prime, it's almost inconceivable that any of the fighters named, except Jake LaMotta, could have beaten Robinson. But in his prime, Robinson was a welterweight not a middleweight! Who among the group, again with the exception of LaMotta, would have been favored against Monzon or Hagler, even when the latter two were in the closing stages of their careers?
At 30 years of age, Carlos Monzon fought vastly underrated Nino Benvenuti and destroyed him in 3 rounds. At 32, Monzon dominated welterweight great Jose Napoles (and before you dismiss this one, remember that Basilio was really just a blown up welterweight, too).
And at 34 and 35, Monzon fought two grueling 15 round bouts against Rodrigo Valdez. For those of you too young to remember him, Valdez a tremendous fighter who in his prime could literally do it all. Valdez knocked out tough Bennie Briscoe in 7 rounds, was only stopped once in 73 fights and might well be remembered as one of the greats had he not had the misfortune to fight in the shadows of the incomparable Monzon - and lose to him twice. Other names on Monzon's ledger that compare favorably to some of the men fought by Robinson are Briscoe, Emile Griffith, and Denny Moyer.
Hagler's competition bears highly recognizable names, ranging from rugged pros like Willie "The Worm" Monroe, Bobby Watts, Vito Antuofermo, and Alan Minter to greats or near-greats like Tommy Hearns, Roberto Duran, John "The Beast" Mugabi and Sugar Ray Leonard. In fairness to Robinson, it must be stated that the last group of fighters were all moving up to the middleweight division when they met Hagler but each was at least as legitimate as Turpin, Fullmer and even the overrated Rocky Graziano. Do the match-ups yourself. Hearns against Turpin, Fullmer and Graziano. Leonard against any of those three. The Duran who at 37 beat a primed Iran Barkley against Pender or Moyer or Downs. Who would your choices be? Yet, Hagler, already in his early thirties (and pushing his mid-thirties against Hearns and Leonard) masterfully beat Hearns, Mugabi and Duran, losing only a disputed decision to Ray Leonard in what would be Hagler's last fight.
Who, then, among the three is the best middleweight of all time? Well, you'll never get a two-thirds majority for any one of the following: Robinson, Monzon, Hagler, Greb, or Ketchel. You'll even find vehement supporters for Walker and LaMotta. But it would be a cop out not to go on record after doing a piece like this so here goes. And you're welcome to disagree - which I'm sure you'll do. And please keep in mind that I'm not saying that Robinson couldn't beat all of these guys any more than I'm saying that Hagler or Greb or LaMotta couldn't win against any of the others on a given day. Overall, though, here's my call:
1. Carlos Monzon: His height and reach, great chin and desire, thudding jab and respectable power overcome his somewhat methodically approach in the ring. He would be able to take Robinson's best shot and would, stylistically, be a puzzle for Sugar Ray. I'll never forget reading about Mike Tyson, talking (I think) with Hank Kaplan, stated that he believed that Monzon was the only fighter who could have beaten Robinson if both had met in their primes. [Editor's note: Hank Kaplan does not agree with Tyson; he rates Robinson as #1].
2. Sugar Ray Robinson: Just a smidge behind Monzon. In 100 fights, give Monzon 50, Robinson 48 and two draws! As a welter, no one comes close. As a middle, if he's not #1 then he damn well is #2!
3. Harry Greb: In spite of all the arguments presented earlier, it's simply too hard to ignore the overall numbers that Greb achieved, regardless of when he did it. Yet I don't believe that Greb could have beaten either Robinson or Monzon with any consistency. I also think that he'd have life and death with Marvelous Marvin Hagler.
4. Marvin Hagler: Make him 3.5 or 3.75! His southpaw stance, his chin, his fire would have made him a threat against any of the top 3. I like his chances much more against the cruder Greb than I do against either Monzon or Robinson. If Sugar Ray Leonard could eke out a win over Hagler, the real Sugar could have won even more convincingly. Robinson would have been too versatile for Magler and Monzon would have possessed the same advantages against Hagler that he did against the more talented Robinson.
6. (Tie) Stanley Ketchel and Jake LaMotta: I can't place either of these guys in the Top Five but I would have loved to have seen Ketchel's deadly punch against LaMotta's chin. LaMotta was a better boxer than he's credited and Ketchel was no ballerina. I'd put my money on LaMotta if someone held a gun to my head.
Hopefully, this article provided you with some food for thought. I'd love to see rebuttals to the above. Keep your punches above the waist and your gloves in front of your face!
TRINIDAD LEAVES NOTHING IN DOUBT
by Doug HoytI watched the Felix Trinidad vs. Freddie Pendleton fight on May 18 with a couple of friends and someone said that Trinidad's eyes reminded him of Ali's. Sacrilege?. . . no way! Trinidad is the same kind of young, confident fighter as Muhammed Ali that makes you love this sport so much. And his eyes? Yes, they do eerily remind me, as well, of Ali's. Clear as a bell and confident, unlike those of so many older, worn fighters, his eyes are firmly fixed on boxing's wonderfully crowded field of champions and contenders in the middle ranks of welterweight to super middleweight.
Chavez, de la Hoya, Quartey, Whitaker, Norris... these names just invite thoughts of the great fights that will happen (hopefully) in the next few years. Pick any two names out of those I just listed and talk about a fight between them for the next half hour or so. You can do it with these names.
Try doing that with heavyweight names. There's Tyson. There's Lewis and Bowe. Then there's the rest. Lennox Lewis looked so vulnerable against Ray Mercer. Yes, I thought Mercer won the fight, too. Riddick Bowe? He got knocked down, then let go by Evander Holyfield. You think Tyson would have let Bowe escape? Didn't think so. While Mike Tyson is arguably one of the best heavyweights of all time, the true bulk of the talent pool in boxing, as it was more than ten years ago, is the welter-middleweight ranks. Go back to the early 80's and think heavyweights. Larry Holmes. OK. Think welter-middleweights. Leonard, Hagler, Hearns, Duran... As it is today the talent, the marquee names, are in those middle ranks. Rather than lament the dearth of great heavyweights, let's celebrate the number of quality fighters that don't weight more than 160 pounds. Felix Trinidad is one of the great ones right now. Great punching power, great speed, and great balance. Some one should line up a fight for this guy so we can... oh yeah!...the fight.
Well, there was never really any doubt was there? The first round was pretty uneventful as both fighters circled each other for three minutes.
The second and third rounds were marked by two things. Pendleton sticking out his tongue at Trinidad every now and then, and Trinidad unleashing a few devastatingly jabs. The fourth round was more of the same for the most part. Trinidad never wavered. Pendleton, out-gunned and slower, seemed to realize he wasn't going to shake or unnerve his young opponent. Trinidad, in excellent condition, never came close to providing an opening to
Pendleton, either. Something happened, too, at the end of the fourth round.
Pendleton staggered. He didn't seem quite right near the end of the round. Trinidad rocked him with a jab that stung him. He recovered, but had that been early in the round, I don't think the fight would have made into the fifth. After that it was all academic. The next round had some early action, but Pendleton seemed to throw in the towel before the final knock-out punch. A left hook to the kidney from Trinidad is nothing to scoff at, but Freddie was in trouble before that. He sort of slumped into the ropes, waited for that last punch, and collapsed. The ref counted him out at 1:30 of the fifth round. He complained of dizziness after the fight.
I can only guess he got nailed at the end of the fourth with a Trinidad punch and never really recovered. Trinidad KO in five.
Trinidad won all five rounds with out much excitement, but this was one of those treading water fights young champions have to go through while the powers that be in boxing position themselves for maximum pay-day bouts for all involved. Trinidad - Pernell Whitaker is the fight the public is demanding, but there are lots of options. Trinidad-Randall, Trinidad-Quartey, Trinidad-Coggi. I'll be first in line to watch these fights, though at this point Pernell is first on anyone's list of fighters to see pitted against young Felix. With Whitaker getting a gift his last time out, the pound-for-pound title is up for grabs and what better way to decide it than to actually pit two of the top fighters in the world against each other. In any event, Felix Trinidad is next scheduled to fight on the Bruce Seldon - Mike Tyson undercard on July 13. Though this might seem like yet another pit stop on the way to a possible Whitaker fight in the fall, at least the world will get to see those clear, confident eyes face down another opponent in a display of the "sweet science" by one of boxing's best, and brightest young fighters.
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