The Cyber Boxing Zone Journal
A/K/A The America Online Boxing Newsletter (September 13, 1997)
by Mike DeLisaWell, the Summer's about over and, I hope, things will pick up over the next few weeks. Neverthess, we've got a full roster of boxing "stuff" this issue from the usual gang. I'd like to make a note of mention that we are continually adding records and bios to the website, thanks in no small part to the efforts of Tracy Callis and Matt Tegen. Check out the "Past Champions" section to check out what we've got.
DAVE'S TOP 10 LISTS II
(sequel to list I, March 1996).
by Dave "Scoop" Iamele email@example.com
Top 10 boxers who should retire:
- Larry Holmes
- George Foreman
- Tommy Hearns
- Roberto Duran
- Mike Tyson
- Hector Camacho
- Michael Carbajal
- Frans Botha
- Michael Moorer
- All the heavyweights coming back older than 37
(1) Looked dismal against fighter who wouldn't have been able to carry his jock strap 10 years ago. (2) Despite impressive showing against dim Savarese, if he won't fight Larry, he should stick to selling mufflers & burgers. (3) Damaged goods. (4) Even though he has wins over Camacho (never mind judges mind boggling scoring) & Castro he's just a freak show. (5) Just wants the cash. (6) Boring. (7) Apparently his desire got blown away in a drive-by . . . (8) extinction time for White Buffalo (9) phone call Michael, it's the boxing fans, they're crying, they want to know why you're still fighting. Teddy Atlas had the right idea. (10) You know who you are. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Top 10 fights I'd like to see:
1. Naseem Hamed vs. WBA & WBC champs
2. Felix Trinidad vs. Ike Quartey
3. DelaHoya vs. Trinidad/Quartey
4. Holyfield vs. Lewis
5. Vince Phillips vs. Kostyu Tszyu II
6. Holyfield vs. Moorer
7. Golota vs. McCall
8. Golota vs. Lewis
9. Roy Jones vs. Nigel Benn/Steve Collins
10. Junior Jones vs. Naseem Hamed
(1) I'd like to see the Prince unify the feather weight division. He makes Roy Jones look conventional. (2) I know it will probably never happen - but what a fight it would be! (3) Someone has to test the Golden Boy. (4) Many interesting questions would be answered about both fighter. (5) Great rematch. (6) Holy needs to erase this shameful loss. (7) Who knows what would happen?! Maybe Golota would punch McCall to the groin and the Atomic-Nut case would start crying? (8) Good match-up. (9) Nigel probably is spent by now but maybe he could get up for one more bout. If not - give whitey a shot. (10) Could Junior poison the Prince? If he did, they'd have to save a spot for him in Canastota. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Top 10 fighters to keep an eye on:
1. Naseem Hamed
2. Felix Trinidad
3. Ike Quartey
4. Evander Holyfield
5. Vince Phillips
6. Kostyu Tszyu
7. Junior Jones
8. Frankie Randall
9. Lennox Lewis
10. William Guthrie/Andrew Golota (tie)
(1) See March 1996 article - same spot, same reason. (2) Remember when Tyson went to the can and Don King made Chavez his star? Replace USED Mexican with fresh Puerto Rican, use same recipe. (3) Needs big match-up. (4) Keep an eye on him cause I'd be real surprised if he's still fighting in 1999. (5) You gotta love the underdog. (6) Can he rebound? (7) See #4. (8) Do or die time. (9) Could be the dominant heavy in the near future if he can get by Golota. (10) No one wants to fight him - that says it all. (10) Can he over come himself? Honorable mention: David Tua - he'll be back. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Top 10 underrated fighters:
1. Evander Holyfield
2. Naseem Hamed
3. Lennox Lewis
4. Ike Quartey
5. Steve Collins
6. William Guthrie
7. Roy Jones
8. Terry Norris
9. Tim Witherspoon
10. Andrew Golota
(1) He beat up the baddest dork on the planet and still went in as the underdog in the rematch?!? (2) I know he's from England, but he's for real. (3) Everyone remembers Lennox getting shattered by Ollie. (4) Getting lost in the scrabble to the Golden payday. (5) For a white- Irish guy, he can fight. (6) Best ex-drug dealer, fighter today. (7) Montel fight was a fluke - just needs the right opponent to rekindle interest. (8) Can he prove himself without Don King? (9) I thought he beat Mercer, he should've got the opportunity to fight Golota. (10) Only has himself to blame. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Top 10 overrated fighters:
1. Marco Antonio Barrera
2. Michael Moorer
3. Kirk Johnson
4. Danny Romero
5. George Foreman
6. Virgil Hill
7. Lonnie Bradley
8. Montel Griffin
9. Pernell Whitaker
10. Bronco McKart
(1) Doesn't have the heart or the desire. (2) A disgrace to left - handed people everywhere. (3) Please. (4) If he couldn't beat Tapia . . . ? (5) Yes, I know, he still has power but unless he can get an opponent with no legs, he better stick with Larry or a rematch with Savarese. (6) Been shot for years. (7) Yawn. (8) Got lucky, once. (9) Never be able to get himself up again. (10) A never was - has been. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Top 10 opponents for George Foreman:
1. Larry Holmes
2. Larry Merchant
3. Peter McNeeley
4. Bruce Seldon
6. Chris Byrd
7. Bert Cooper
8. Sonny Liston
9. Floyd Patterson
10. Joe Bugner
(1) Only if they both promise to go away. (2) Please someone, punch him. (3) They could fight over the last slice of pizza. (4) Won't even have to really hit him. (5) Both have to weigh in over 300 lbs. (6) Now that would be a sight! (7) Know what I'm sayin'. (8) Even match up. (9) Might come out of retirement for one last big payday. (10) or Joe Frazier, he's pissed. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Top 12 Pound - 4 - Pound:
1. Oscar DelaHoya
2. Roy Jones
3. Naseem Hamed
4. Evander Holyfield
5. Felix Trinidad
6. Ricardo Lopez
7. Johnny Tapia
8. Ike Quartey
9. Terry Norris
10. Lennox Lewis
11. Bernard Hopkins
12. Junior Jones/Yuri Arbachakov (tie)
(1) Don't expect Camacho to stand and trade. (2) Ko's Montell this time. (3) Soon to be # 1. (4) If he was a few years younger, he'd be even higher. (5) Felix vs. Oscar is the stuff of dreams. (6) Needs to move up in weight. Please! (7) Secured his position with win over Romero. (8) Needs big match. (9) Will he fade away without D.K. (10) If foul - Pole beats him, he's gone. (11) Only loss to Roy Jones. (12) Has to prove he can beat other top level fighters besides M.A. Barrera. (12) Needs more US exposure to move up. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Top 10 heavyweights:
1. Evander Holyfield
2. Lennox Lewis
3. Not rated
4. Ray Mercer
5. Tim Witherspoon
6. Andrew Golota
7. Mike Tyson
8. Oliver McCall
9. David Tua
10. Michael Moorer
(1) What's to say? (2) Could be the next unified champ. We'll know more Oct. 4. (3) Hey, that is fun! (4) I didn't even know he had a neck. (5) Needs a big fight (again). (6) Not bad for a white heavyweight. Put him in with White Buffalo. (7) Don't even think he won't be back. (8) Ditto. (9) Despite loss, still viable. (10) Only because he's holding a belt.
Finally, A Fight Night!
by Thomas Gerbasi firstname.lastname@example.org
August 23rd, Madison Square Garden, New York City. How fitting for the arena known as the "Mecca of Boxing" to host the first good night of boxing we've seen in a while. No biting, no fainting, no hugging, no crying. Just five fights, ten fighters, and four hours which captured everything that was good about boxing. We saw outstanding craftsmanship (Ricardo Lopez), gritty determination (Julio Caesar Green), the birth of a new star (Isra Girgrah), and devastating punching power (Felix Trinidad). And for this to be a Don King Production makes it all the more remarkable, given King's lousy cards as of late (read the new Tyson era). All in all, a bright night (finally) for the sport.
In the opener, Featherweight titlist Wilfredo Vasquez retained his crown with a unanimous 12 round decision over tough Columbian Roque Cassiani. Cassiani, despite having no clue as to what the sounding of the bell meant (he repeatedly hit after the gong), stood his ground with the vastly more experienced Vasquez, and even scored a flash knockdown of the champ. In the end though, too many right hands from Vasquez spelled doom for the challenger.
Next up, Julio Caesar Green challenged for the WBA Middleweight crown held by previously unbeaten William Joppy. As you can tell by the previous statement, Joppy went home without the crown. This was maybe the most intriguing matchup of the evening. Joppy was a late replacement for Lonnie Bradley, who missed the fight due to an eye injury, and William looked lackadaisical in the first two stanzas, which included his first ever trip to the canvas in the second. But Joppy came back in the third, dropping Green twice, and having him seconds away from a stoppage. Green showed tremendous heart during the round, and even tagged the champ with a couple of haymakers at the end of the frame. From then on, the pattern was familiar: Joppy on his bicycle, Green chasing. There were few spirited exchanges for the rest of the fight, and it appeared that Joppy had injured his right hand around the fifth round, as he rarely threw it after then. Joppy also lost a point for "spinning and hitting" in the 11th. This point did not prove to be a factor in the decision, as Green took it unanimously by the counts of 113-112, 116-113, 114-112. I had Joppy as the winner 115-113, as I felt that he was controlling the pace of the fight with his jab and movement. Green was the aggressor, but I didn't feel that he exhibited "effective aggressiveness", and this cost him a few rounds on my scorecard. But if my heart had to pick a winner, it would have been Green, as Joppy's arrogance and showboating turned me off. It brought a smile to my face to see his reaction at the announcement of the verdict.
As the night continued, I felt good because I now knew that all Mike Tyson fans could rest easy. In the ring for the Women's bout of the evening was Don King's baby, Christy "The New Tyson" Martin. Are you a little depressed because you won't get to see "The Baddest Man on the Planet" for a year? Just check out Martin: she's arrogant, disdainful of her opponents, arrogant, packs a huge punch, arrogant, and can't fight when things don't go her way. Did I mention that she was arrogant? Anyway, Martin defended her "honorary" Women's crown against unknown Isra Girgrah before a heavily pro-Christy crowd. Well, suffice to say that those cheers turned to boos over the next eight rounds. After a strong start, which produced a flash knockdown in the second, Martin soon became baffled by the style of a defensively sound, accurate punching Girgrah. If the Atlanta based Girgrah had half a decent punch, there would have been a kayo. Regardless, by the end of the fight, Martin had a bloody nose and an ugly mouse under her eye, and looked the part of a loser. Not according to the judges, who had her winning unanimously by outrageous scores of 78-74 and 78-73 (2x). I had the fight a draw (76-76) with Martin's knockdown proving to be the margin of the draw. But with Tyson gone, ol' Donnie has to have a meal ticket, and Martin's it as far as Women's boxing is concerned. Plus, Martin plays the role to the hilt. The only things missing were Horne and Holloway.
The fight I was waiting for all night was the 105 pound unification bout between WBO champ Alex "Nene" Sanchez, and WBC titlist Ricardo Lopez, boxing's best kept secret. While the result was an anticlimax (Lopez TKO 5), watching Lopez fight is a thing of beauty. Lopez is a perfect fighter, and I have yet to see him tested. He controlled the fight against Sanchez from the weigh in, and never gave the youngster a chance to get started. The next thing you knew, it was over. Lopez is fundamentally sound, is an accurate puncher, has great reflexes and defense, and can punch the lights out with either hand. Unfortunately, the public in general, and boxing fans in particular, would rather pay to see De La Hoya vs. Camacho than a Ricardo Lopez fight. Granted, Lopez' competition in the Strawweight division is slim and none, but watching him fight makes you want to shove a couple of Big Macs down his throat so he can move up in weight. If you haven't seen him, make an effort to do so. He's that good.
The Main Event of the evening was a disappointment, but not really. I wanted to see welterweight champ Felix Trinidad get tested a bit in his move up to junior middleweight against tough Troy Waters, and I was hoping for a replay of the Waters /Norris fight from a few years back in which Waters had Norris on the deck and in trouble before being stopped. So I was let down there. But I also love seeing displays of awesome punching power, and Trinidad did not disappoint . "Tito" drilled Waters to the head in the first, and the Australian hit the canvas hard. He barely rose at the count of nine, and it was just a matter of time before Trinidad sent him down and out. The end was quick and brutal, and punctuated a fine night of fighting. Will Trinidad get Terry Norris in the ring? I hope so, and unlike the opinion of some experts, I think Trinidad will make short work of "Terrible Terry". But my real dream fight would be Trinidad against either De La Hoya or Ike Quartey. I'd definitely part with a fifty dollar bill for either of those fights.
Is boxing back? It never went anywhere. You just have to look a little harder for it sometimes, and luckily "The Quest For The Best" card at Madison Square Garden showed that boxing's still alive and well.
EASY FOR RHODES
by Adrian Cusack
Ryan Rhodes is one of the most exciting young fighters in British boxing today. The Sheffield southpaw is a big puncher, has fast hands and can be caught himself occasionally. However we knew all of this before his meaningless victory over American Ed. Griffin on August 2.
Since his career-best victory over former WBO light-middleweight Champion Paul 'silky' Jones last December, Rhodes has had three easy victories lasting a total of just nine rounds. British veteran Del Bryan lasted into the seventh, but fellow Britons Peter Waudby and Lindon Scarlett were dispatched in the same manner as George Foreman dispatches cheese-burgers (and cynics may argue that the burgers offered more resistance). So British and Irish fight fans (who had followed Rhodes' rise on Sky TV) were becoming impatient, we wanted Rhodes' next opponent tobe a durable contender who could give Ryan a test and tell us whether or not he is world championship material. What we got was Ed. Griffin.
Griffin hails from the same American state (Maryland) as Sugar Ray Leonard and Joe Gans. Unfortunately the similarities end there. Ed. held a 15-2 (5) resume but most of his wins came in very moderate class and at the welterweight division. "Another Rhodes pushover" was the headline of the 'Boxing news' preview of the fight. To nobody's surprise, they weren't wrong.
Rhodes ,who is a stablemate of Naseem Hamed and has a style similar to that of the 'Prince', took control right from the start , driving in hard shots until a right decked the American. Rhodes looked like he could finish it whenever he wanted but the 20-year old, who calls himself the 'Spice Boy', paid for his hands-down style by getting caught with a rare Griffin left hook.
Ryan wobbled Griffin again, early in the second, and it was only a matter of time before he finished it. Another barrage sent Griffin to the canvas for the second time, and Referee John Coyle should have called a stop to the slaughter. Instead he let Griffin take another left hook which sent him crashing onto his back and the one-sided affair was stopped at 2:04 of the second round.
There is no doubt that Griffin tried his best, but he had about as much right to fight Ryan Rhodes as Butterbean has to challenge Evander Holyfield. For the record, Rhodes retained his IBF Inter-continental light-middleweight paper hat and added the WBO version to his collection also. Rhodes' next contest looks set to be a potentially dangerous defence of his British light-middleweight title against Manchester banger Ensley Bingham. Rhodes is younger, fresher and should be able to out-box the veteran, but he sometimes leaves himself open and if he does so against Bingham (who has one-punch ko power)then he could find himself counting the ring lights from a horizontal position. One thing is for sure: it will be far more interesting (and competitive) than Rhodes-Griffin.
ON THE UNDERCARD:
Commonwealth flyweight champ Peter Culshaw marked time before his British title fight against Ady Lewis by registering a clear 8-round points verdict over Wales' capable Jason Thomas.
Fight of the night was a brawl between two unbeaten novices: Marty Renaghan, from Northern Ireland and Manchester's Antony Farnell. Renaghan floored Farnell in the first and looked on course for a quick win, but Farnell rebounded impressively dropping the Northern-Irishman at the end of the second and finishing the job one round later. Both light-welters showed great courage and ability, and don't be surprised to see them meeting again somewhere down the line with a title at stake.
RETURN TO GLORY
By Joe "Canastota"
Once upon a time at the center of the Empire State, an arena holding 1000's was built to honor the great armies of the nation. Eventually, gladiators from around the world would come to this place seeking glory in battle.
The citizens of the central city filled the arena, eager to watch the combatants fight in the square circle. Their favorite son was a young man who had made a meager living working on the local onion farms. It was he who had the heart and courage to be the world champion. His legacy brought pride (and onions) to those in the city, the Empire State, and the nation , as he fought any and all gladiators from afar who would come to oppose him.
O.K., so, I'm talking about Carmen Basilio, The War Memorial Auditorium in Syracuse, N.Y., plus Friday Night Fights in the fifties. But the boxing bug that bit this CNY area back then left a long, hard sting. Basilio's nephew Billy Backus became world champion back in the sixties by TKO'ing Jose Napoles in this place. After a while, pro boxing made a quiet exit from the area with the only reemergence being a Sugar Ray Leonard fight in the brand new Carrier Dome, built circa 1980, to honor a great corporation of the nation. ( my god I'm starting to sound like Don King!)
Finally, after almost two decades, boxing was back courtesy of one H. Dolgon, owner of the local hockey team, The Syracuse Crunch. ( do I sense a little irony?)
The night 6/21/97 was dubbed (I dub thee) Return to Glory with the promoters trying to capture (and capitalize on) "some" of the excitement from days of yore.
It must have been a good idea because it was telecast on Fox Sports and the Empire Networks and the count at the gate was close to 5000. Hey, why not invite a couple of women fighters into the ring?
First up, local Amy "Red Dog" Burton, so named for her abundant hair of the same color, versus Mona Nelson out of the great state of Texas, in both fighters pro debuts. The fight went 6 rounds in which "Red Dog" tried to windmill her way into her much larger opponent. Outweighed and outreached, persistent Amy Burton was held at bay by Nelson who won by an unanimous decision. So what? Lets stop the insanity?
Moving on, the real fights started with veteran Merqui Sosa (25-5-2) against (fighting out of the red corner) a young Russian, A. Umarov (17-3-1,17 KO's) in a 10 round light heavyweight match. Sosa dropped the red with his first punch and dominated the first 2 rounds. Umarov managed to hang in and even seemed to have Sosa in trouble in the 4th, but Sosa came back and destroyed the Russian 29 seconds into the next round, scoring a TKO. A couple of minutes later, I spoke with Merqui about the fight.
C.J: " Merqui , you knocked the kid down with your first punch !"
M.S: " Yeah, I caught him right on the top of the head with a good left hook."
C.J: " Were you more surprised when he went down or when he got back up?"
M.S: " I think he was surprised by the knockdown. When he got up he tried to cover up more."
C.J: " You seemed to go into a sparring mode at that point instead of trying to finish him off."
M.S: " I like to take my time."
C.J: " You hit him with just about everything you threw the first 2 rounds, then he came back in the 3rd and 4th."
M.S: " He was a good puncher."
C.J: " Coming in he had 17 TKO'S in 17 victories. Did he have a lot of power and did you ever feel like you were in trouble."
M.S: " When he hit me good, I had to hold him a little, but again, I like to take my time."
C.J: " You didn't take too long, knocking him out after dominating the 5th round. What's next for you?"
M.S: " Well, that's up to my promoter. Whenever he says to fight, I'll be there."
C.J: " I hadn't seen you fight in awhile before tonight. I don't recall seeing you as a light heavy. Do you like this weight?"
M.S: "I have to eat too much and it makes me slow."
C.J: " Well congratulations on a great night and I hope to see you again soon!"
M.S: " Thank you, thank you very much."
I found Merqui to be a very gracious man. I wished him well in the future, which seems to be as a test for possible up and coming youngsters, but I think that anyone who steps into the ring with Sosa will be treading "murky" waters.
While I was interviewing Merqui the next fight was starting and ending in 46 seconds of the first round. Val Smith improved to 6 - 4 after TKO'ing Christopher Mendy (5-1) in a scheduled 4 round heavyweight bout.
Former World Champion Tracy Harris Patterson squared off against Ricardo Vasquez in the next event, a Jr. Heavyweight bout scheduled for 10 rounds. The former champ peppered his opponent with jab after jab right from the opening bell, clearly outclassing Vasquez. Patterson ended the fight halfway trough the 3rd round with a powerful overhand right set up by the jab. He looked very sharp and lightning quick this night. After the fight the dressing room was packed, but I managed to sneak in a couple of questions:
C.J: " Tracy, it took you an awful lot of fights, by today's standard, to finally get a shot and win the title, under the tutelage of Floyd Patterson. What are your thoughts on this?"
THP: " I have no regrets. My father was from the old school, you understand, and he taught me that experience was the most important thing that you could bring into the ring, especially in a championship fight."
C.J: " Well that experience really showed tonight! What's next for you at this point in your career?"
THP: " I'd like to get another shot at the championship before too long. I'll fight anyone, anytime."
I could hear the announcer welcoming Olympic Gold Medalist David Reid into the ring so I shook Patterson's hand and thanked him and rushed back to my seat to take in Reid's 3rd fight as a pro. By the way, Patterson improved his record to 58-4-1 (41 KO's) while Vasquez dropped to 20 - 6.
I had met up with Reid earlier in the night and was impressed by his composure as a very young Jr. Middleweight. His opponent, John Long, (7-1-1) was no match for the Olympian. Reid decimated Long, knocking him down twice in the 1st round and twice more before knocking him out in the 3rd.
The final bout on the card pitted Canastota's Joel Humm against Kady King in a cruiserweight match. Again, the fight ended in the 3rd round with King (12-2) KO'ing Humm (14-10-4).
Overall, the night was an exciting one, especially if you like knockouts. The crowd was loud, rowdy and totally into the fights. The main attractions should have been more evenly matched, but it was still a good night of boxing. Return To Glory didn't exactly live up to it's billing, but it was a big step towards putting Syracuse back on the boxing map with the promise of more cards in the near future. I can't wait!
P.S. I'd like to thank Mike 'Lemme at Em' Delisa, his wife Lynn, and Dave 'the scoop' Iamele for their part in making this years induction weekend at the IBHOF in Canastota a most enjoyable and memorable occasion.
SHOOTING FROM THE HIP: A MONTHLY TRIP AROUND THE FIGHT GAME
by Derek CusackQuality Commentating Kos Punchstats in One - Sided Massacre
"Let's see the punchstat figures for that last round": What the hell? I have seen punchstat figures emerge recently on TV boxing coverage, but while watching a video of the HBO broadcast of Whitaker - De La Hoya I realized that they are a huge part of fight broadcasts in the US. Not only does someone get paid to record how many punches each fighter lands, they must separate head and body shots. It also appears that someone either very boring or very well paid has trawled through the archives and "punchstatted" a lot of old fights in order for the commentators to waffle on about the significance of more numbers.
And "power" punchstats? Give me a break - how do the laboratory scientists decide these? "Well, that punch was just a tickle, leave that out. Hey, what's the other guy doing on the floor? This does not compute. Malfunction, Malfunction." I watched these figures closely during the Oscar- Pernell fight with a growing sense of surrealism. They were completely removed from reality.
Punchstats are an insult to the viewer. They are based on the assumption that the fan at home cannot gauge what's going on in the ring without the aid of silly figures. They are an endorsement of the ridiculous computer scoring system used in the amateur game. Most of all though, punchstats are something for the new breed of inferior TV boxing commentators to talk about during those "vacant" moments. A pathetic replacement for insightful comments, skilled analysis and good old humourous ringside banter.
Besides which, quality commentators throw an average of 300 jabs per round, while the most jabs punchstats ever threw in a round was 147.
NOWHERE TO HIDE
In this awful year for heavyweight boxing, the most competitive title fight we have seen was Herbie Hide's two - round annihilation of Tony Tucker for the WBO title in June.
Tucker was flabby and appeared to land no meaningful punches during the brief encounter. However this does not detract from Hide's achievement in becoming the first man to stop Tucker through force in a square ring (he was stopped in seven by Bruce Seldon, but this was due to eye damage). There were many doubters who felt that Hide could not live with the big men, but Tucker weighed in 29 lbs heavier than Hide for the June 28 match. The only established heavyweight the Briton fought before Tucker was Riddick Bowe, and Bowe floored him repeatedly en route to a fifth round stoppage win.
After the Bowe loss, Hide took a 16-month career break and went on to dispose of a couple of club fighters (in six rounds and one round) before contesting the WBO crown. By seizing the title for a second time following such a low level of ring activity, Hide showed that he has the ability to join the history books as one of England's greatest ever heavyweights. He has speed, variety, and newly - realized power. Indeed, Hide showed such courage in defeat against Bowe that he temporarily halted the US insults against British heavyweights' export trade.
However the old demons who are doing a 1997 world tour of heavyweight boxer's brains may see to it that Hide winds up another fighter who enters the history books as a wasted talent. He appeared to show good sense when he spent half of his $2m. purse from the Bowe fight and a lot of time building a home for himself in England, before he decided to carry on as a boxer. However this shrewd image is fading fast as Hide has recently been trying hard to fulfil the membership qualifications for boxing's fast - growing wild men club.'
Personally, I don't know whether I'd prefer to hear about some fighter going berserk and assaulting a police dog or to watch Oscar De La Hoya's phoney milky bar kid' post - fight interview smile. Or to hear Lennox Lewis' "happy Mother's Day to all the Moms out there, stick the kettle on and break out the chocolate biccies Mom I'll be home right away" post - fight nauseums. But I do know that the increasing number of out - of - the ring offences committed by fighters are painting the sport a blacker shade of dark. This violent sport has always hung it's justification on the fact that it instils discipline in wild men and steers them onto the right track in life.
Days before the Tucker match, Hide appeared in court on charges of soliciting a prostitute. He has since been arrested for assaulting a police officer. Given the normal correlation between a sportsman's focus outside the sport and his performance in his sport, Hide's emphatic win over Tucker was a rarity under the circumstances. However, no man can continue to split his personality inside and outside the ring indefinitely. It's time for Herbie to shape up or ship out.
* The Cyber Boxing Zone offers its sympathies to Herbie Hide and his family following the death of Herbie's 10 - year - old brother, Alan from leukemia two weeks ago. Alan had been fighting the disease for years and was a driving force behind the career of his older brother.
TAPIA V. ROMERO: A VICTORY FOR BOXING
The recent battles of the small men in Las Vegas gave boxing an eleventh - hour organ transplant to revive the sport, for the time being at least. The four men who contested the two major fights on this bill deserve great credit for this: Johnny Tapia, Danny Romero, Baby Jake Matlala and Michael Carbajal.
Baby Jake relinquished his WBO light flyweight title to fight Carbajal and finally gain some well - earned recognition in the US. Jake is a hugely entertaining little man and it was great to see him getting a chance to establish himself in the twilight of his career. Carbajal has earned his place in the record books, and bowed out against a fine fighter. One thing which must be said about this fight however is that there was an obscene discrepancy in the fighters' paycheques: Carbajal received $150, 000 while Jake was handed a paltry $10, 000.
Tapia in particular scored an important victory for the sport. I remember reading in one boxing magazine (after the Lewis - Mc Call fight, sorry, disaster) that all fighters with a history of drug use should be banned. Yeah, ban them. Take their only worthwhile pursuit away. As long as we can watch a decent fight, who cares about the consequences for both the individual and society as a whole? If they relapse and clean out someone's house to raise enough money for a fix, that's OK because I get to see quality boxing now.
I am not suggesting for a minute that it was right to allow Mc Call to enter the ring while going through cocaine withdrawals. Boxing (generally speaking at least, or when King and his crooked influence doesn't get in the way) has sufficient testing methods in place to ensure that a practicing drug addict will not be able to compete.
However this has never been a sport for the kids who have an impeccable behavioral record and youngsters generally don't take months out to decide whether to join medical college or a pro gym. Boxing, more than any sport, reaches out to the disadvantaged and offers them an opportunity to help themselves in a positive way.
No disrespect to Romero, but Johnny Tapia proved that winning is for winners. This victory is his pay-day for an ongoing, successful battle against substance addiction and a desire to live life the right way. It is a shining example for boxing to point to whenever selfish, misguided types suggest that former drug addicts have no place in the ring. And it is a glimmer of hope for other addicts - with patience and plenty of hard work, such achievements are there for all to seize.
Mickey Ward recently said of former cocaine addict Vince Phillips that Phillips was a champion before he ever won a boxing title considering the demons he had conquered. The same applies to Tapia.
BATTLE OF THE HEAVIES
Just as Bob Arum and Don King slug it out in the US for the status of no. 1 promoter, there is a similar ongoing battle in the UK between the two Franks, Warren and Maloney.
Frank Warren started fast against the odds. After suffering a career nose - dive following a shooting incident, he rose from the ashes and signed serious ticket - sellers like Nigel Benn, Frank Bruno and Naseem Hamed. He also formed a partnership with Don King to improve his world-wide network of available fighters.
While Warren has all the glitter, and more top - drawer fighters, Maloney has the integrity and the honest, hard - working men. Maloney is currently in the process of overtaking Warren in the integrity stakes. He has put on some quality matches involving leading British fighters, which many promoters wouldn't risk (eg. Ingle - Mc Millan, Graham - Johnson). He promoted a superb show on July 12 featuring two European title fights, and from the massive bill I could only describe one contest as dull. Also, his securing of Andrew Golota as an opponent for Lewis was a very brave move. Although Golota is technically vastly inferior to Lewis, this is the best available opponent to test the WBC titleholder.
Meanwhile all we hear from Warren these days is plenty of whining about how he can't make the right matches because the opponents he wants to sign are looking for too much money. As he whines, he matches Hamed with Cabrera, Jason Matthews with Patrick Swann, the greatly promising Ryan Rhodes with the terribly limited Ed Griffin and the ever - undermatched Joe Calzaghe with Luciano Torres (one of many). These fights were all bill - toppers.
The aftermath of the Torres fight saw a very entertaining exchange between Warren and Sky TV commentator Ian Darke. Warren was insistent that the Brazilian (stopped by Calzaghe in three) was a world - class opponent, while Darke quite rightly stated that he was not. Warren eventually stormed out of the camera eye fuming, but not before he backed up his assertion with some blatant lies regarding Torres' ranking. It was later reported - hilariously - that Warren had remarked when watching Torres in Milan prior to the Calzaghe fight, Torres was so bad "I'd have beaten him. And you think I'm joking?" Such a conveniently short memory is typical of Warren.
Maloney on the other hand is renowned for speaking his mind. He pulled no punches when Don King allowed Mc Call to fight Lewis, calling King a "slave trader" and accusing him of attempted murder. The funniest outburst I heard from Maloney was when there was an unexpected delay between fights on one of his cards. The show was being televised live, and the MC was twiddling his thumbs during the gap. The camera mic picked up the agitated voice of Maloney addressing the MC: "Do something, don't leave us like this!" MC: "What will I do?" Maloney: "Fucking sing, dance, whatever, just don't leave us like this!" Unfortunately the fighters began their ring entrances at this point, so we missed the opportunity to see a singing, dancing boxing MC.
Maloney has what it takes to cut out the crap and give us value - for - money boxing in Britain and Ireland. While Warren has fully embraced the idea of PPV, none of Maloney's promotions have featured as independent PPV events. I feel Maloney's flair is aided by the fact that he himself has boxed (as an amateur), and therefore has a deeper understanding of the fighters' needs. The sooner Maloney is crowned undisputed champion of British promoters, the better.
NAZ AND COLLINS CHASE THE REAL FIGHTS
Naseem Hamed relinquished his IBF featherweight title on Thursday (28 August). Following his one - round demolition of WBO mandatory challenger Billy Hardy in May and his two - round dispatch of late substitute Juan Cabrerra in July, the IBF ridiculously insisted that Naz meet their no. 1 contender - Hector Lizarraga - by mid - August.
As Hamed's last "big name" fight was when he added Tom Johnson's IBF version of the featherweight title to his own WBO crown last February, the Naz camp felt that a match with Lizarraga made no sense whatsoever. The public and press have been crying out for Hamed to prove his dominance in the featherweight division by beating the best.
Hence the relinquishing of the IBF title. Lizarraga is a worthy challenger to Hamed, and would most likely have provided as tough a test as Naz's projected targets Wilfredo Vasquez and Luisito Espinosa, the WBA and WBC titleholders. However Hector is far from a household name, and given the current state of boxing Naz needs to prove himself against the big kahoonas in quality match - ups.
There has also been talk of a Hamed - Kevin Kelley fight in New York this Winter with Junior Jones making a defence on the undercard, the intention being for both winners to meet next Summer. It is impossible to analyse the wisdom in Hamed relinquishing the IBF title now, we can but hope that it was a wisely calculated gesture on the road to quality matches among the little big men. Hamed's next opponent will be announced today (September 1).
Meanwhile, our own Steve Collins has been whooping up a controversy of his own. On August 13, a week after his next fight was ordered by the WBO to be against mandatory challenger Joe Calzaghe, Collins made it clear at a London press conference that he has no intention of fighting Calzaghe next.
He walked into the press conference, announced his position, dropped a press statement onto the table and left promoter Frank Warren to catch flies in his wide - open mouth. Collins maintains that having fought many quality champions throughout his lengthy career, Calzaghe and his ilk fail to fan the fighting fires in his heart.
Again, Calzaghe - Collins would be a quality fight: The Welshman has an exciting come - forward style, is unbeaten, was a vastly accomplished amateur and has a big punch to match his mouth. However, as is the case with Lizarraga, he is practically unknown outside of the UK and beating him would be somewhat of a time - wasting exercise for Collins. At 33, the Celtic Warrior has a limited time in which to establish himself as a fighter who will be remembered in years to come.
As Collins himself put it, "After 25 years in boxing, having boxed the Eubanks, Benns and Mc Callums, small fights don't catch my imagination, plus it doesn't catch my bank manager's imagination either...Calzaghe is a good fighter, but he hasn't really fought anybody. He could be the next Sugar Ray Leonard, but we don't know. If I have to fight him, I will. But, given the choice, I will take the fights that bring out the best in me."
The fight that would "bring out the best" in Collins is a date with Roy Jones Jr. The press conference shock was followed by days of negotiations between Collins and Warren, and these were followed by negotiations with Jones' people. Collins is reportedly close to striking a deal with Jones, but the stumbling block here could be the perennial fight game stumbling block, and the straw which may break boxing's back - good ol' dead presidents.
Both Collins and Jones seem to have put an unrealistically inflated price tag on the fight. Jones is rumoured to want a minimum of $5m. for all future fights. Unless he spends the rest of his career fighting out a series with Mike Tyson, such a figure belongs in the fantasy boxing league. However, a fight with Collins ranks alongside a Dariusz Michalczewski match as one of the two fights Jones needs to dispel the still - present doubters, and either match could easily be made by reasonable negotiators.
There is another man in the shadows - Charles Brewer apparently has been making phone calls to England since winning the vacant IBF super middleweight crown in an effort to secure a unification fight with either Collins or Robin Reid (WBC titleholder), but to no avail. While Jones allegedly seeks $5m., Brewer seeks $300, 000. Frank Warren's (promoter of Collins and Reid) argument is that Brewer is not well known. However, an unknown fighter with a hard - earned belt is an infinitely more worthy opponent than Calzaghe or Hassine Cherifi (European MIDDLEWEIGHT champion,and Reid's next opponent).
BAD MOJO AT THE HALL OF FAME
by Gordoom GorDoom@aol.com
I've always admired the job that Ed Brophy & his cohorts have done in turning the annual Hall Of Fame induction ceremony's into a real event that is yearly growing in stature ...but the induction of Jose Torres is truly one of the most outrageous enshrinements so far ... The Ol' Spit Bucket has carefully perused the list of inductees & can only really find fault with three of them .... & they are all doozies.
Bad enshrinement #1, Billy Graham. Last year I wrote:
"Ed Brophy & the folks that help him maintain the Hall up in Canastota should be commended for the exemplerary effort they have put forth to make what they do a viable proposition. TheBucket has nothing but wishes for the best for a group of folks that have truly worked their asses off to make Canastota be right up there with Cooperstown & Canton.
But ... They need t' get their shit together. The Hall Of Fame is not a freakin' popularity contest. Entrance to the Hall should be on merit. When a moke like 50's welterweight Billy Graham gets elected it makes the whole process cheaper than a $20.00 whore ... Let's take Graham for an example: Billy Graham was a top welterweight contender in the early 50's. He challenged "Kid" Gavilan for the welter title & lost an extremely close decision that at the time was decried as an outright robbery.
In a rematch, he lost decisively. Graham did engage & defeat many of the top contenders of his day. He was a slick defensive fighter with no punch as attested by his record of W 102 L15 D 9 KO 26.
In his first fight against a top ten contender, Tony Pallone, he dropped a 10 round decision in 1946. The next top ten guy he fought was the former jr. welterweight champion, the over the hill, Tippy Larkin in 1947. Again he lost the decision.
Before Graham lost the controversial decision to Gavilan he had already lost two decisions to him. Between the "robbery" & his rematch with Gavilan for the title he lost a 10 round decision to the very young & far in the future middleweight champion, Joey Giardello. Granted, Graham also won a decision from a young Carmen Basilio, but he went on to lose a decisive rematch with a Gavilan that was far from his prime.
That's the guy's total claim to the Hall Of Fame. Somebody explain to me why Graham is enshrined & not say, Duilio Loi, the great Italian two time jr. welterweight champion. He was also a slick defensive fighter with 125 career wins & only three defeats, all by close decision, all of which he avenged. Among his victims were the great Carlos Ortiz (twice & in Carlos' prime) & the woefully underrated Eddie Perkins. By the criteria used to enshrine Graham, why not Duilio Loi?
In the official book for the Hall Of Fame in the short bios on those enshrined it says: "... while Billy was never a champion he made innumerable friends in his fourteen year career..." That's my point exactly! What the hell does being a nice guy have to do with being inducted into the Hall Of Fame? Maybe my values are twisted, but isn't enshrinement supposed to be about merit? Because a fighter was a crappy interview or was simply a big asshole shouldn't exclude them ...
Since when is the Hall Of Fame in any sport supposed to be a popularity contest? Hell, I believe Pete Rose should be in the Baseball Hall Of Fame. If enshrinement is about character as well as popularity what the hell is Ty Cobb doing in there? Based on what he accomplished on the field Rose should be in ... But I digress, it be boxing we're talkin'... I could go on & on but what's the point?
Hopefully most of the overlooked fighters & boxing people will be inducted in time. The errors in judgment here are not Ed Brophy's & the Hall's fault. The blame lies with the Boxing Writers Association which is the electoral body for the Hall Of Fame. Guys, whether you personally disliked the fighter or his management team shouldn't mean shit. Leave the bruised egos at the door & do your research!
Also, isn't it time to evaluate who among the living deserves to go in? There are many deserving fighters & boxing figures that have been woefully neglected. For instance, explain to me why Don King is inducted & Bob Arum & Dan Duva aren't?
Explain to me why Angelo Dundee & Emanuel Steward are in but Lou Duva isn't? Why aren't Hank Kaplan & Ferdie Pacheco in the Hall? These are only a few of the myriad of deserving people that deserve to be enshrined. Now the Bucket realizes you can't bring everybody in all at once, but a careful examination of living boxing figures who are elderly or in bad health is long overdue ... Why not enshrine them while they are still alive & can appreciate the honor?".
Bad enshrinement #2: Ken Norton.
Yeah, I can hear the howls of anger in cyber space already .... but Ken Norton did not have a Hall Of Fame career. Now don't get the Ol' Spit Bucket wrong, Ken Norton was a very good heavyweight at times, but he was not a great fighter. Norton's main claim to fame is that he beat Ali in their first match, breaking his jaw in the process. Their next two fights while very close, where won by Ali. Arguably, Ali never solved the puzzle of Norton's eccentric fighting style & without a doubt Norton gave Ali fits in all three fights ....but, he did lose two outta three of 'em.
While Norton was definitely one of the top heavyweights of the '70's he was at least a full notch below the mighty triumvirate of Ali, Foreman & Frazier. Another point of contention is that other than the first Ali fight & his WBC eliminator with Jimmy Young, Norton lost every major fight of his career. Against the heavy hitters of the division, Foreman (ko by 2), Shavers (ko by 1), Cooney (ko by 1) he simply froze & got whacked out. The list of name opponents that Norton vanquished, with the exception of Ali is not very distinguished: It includes name fighters that were past their prime like, Henry Clark & Jerry Quarry, & a bunch of low level contenders like, Jack O'Halloran, James J. Woody, Boone Kirkman, Ron Stander & Duane Bobick ... not exactly a Hall Of Fame list, eh folks?
The only major fight, other than Ali l, that Norton won, was against that old cutie, Jimmy Young. Young was a Philadelphia fighter that countered the archetypical image of a Philly fighter. Jimmy was a slick defensive counter puncher with no power. You think Pernell Whitaker wins ugly? Jimmy Young could put an insomniac into a coma within two rounds ... but, "just win baby", & that he did. His two main claims to fame are sending George Foreman into a ten year retirement by shockingly flooring Big George & winning a decisive twelve round unanimous decision ... & in the eyes of many reporters, he was jobbed in losing a highly controversial 15 round decision to Muhammad Ali.
Now I don't mention all this to give the impression that Jimmy Young was a great, career making opponent for Norton, because he wasn't. Young was a spoiler, & the main significance of his bout with Norton was that it was a WBC eliminator between their top two contenders. The winner would become the mandatory defense for then heavyweight champion, Leon Spinks. When they showed Leon the money he would make fighting Ali, vs. what he would make defending against Norton, it was no contest ... At that point, Jose Sulaiman & his corrupt cohorts at the WBC decided that Norton vs. Young was really a title fight after all & retroactively appointed Ken Norton the WBC heavyweight champion of the world .... Does any of this sound familiar? Lennox Lewis had the WBC heavyweight title bestowed on him in exactly the same dubious manner. It reeks. But as you can see its nothing new ... Anyway, Ken Norton's, like Lennox Lewis' claim to the heavyweight championship is bogus at best. Norton lost his title in his first defense against Larry Holmes. Granted, it was a great fight, but yet again, he lost another crossroads fight in his career.
In an ESPN interview with Norton that I watched recently, Norton admitted that he never really committed himself to boxing during his career. Instead he got by on his sheer athletic ability. Norton did go further than most in his boxing career, but it was not on a Hall Of Fame level.
He got elected because he's a very popular guy & his career is intertwined with legends like Ali, Foreman, & Holmes ... but intertwined doesn't mean your on the same echelon, especially when you've lost to all of them.
Bad enshrinement #3: Jose Torres.
The always subtle & endearing Joe Bruno, has written an examination of Torres' post boxing career for this issue & The Bucket will examine his credentials as a fighter.
Jose Torres, whose career was guided by Cus D'Amato, was one of the most carefully matched fighters of his era. D'Amato, like he did with Floyd Patterson, both before & after he was heavyweight champion, protected Torres as much as possible.
Torres fought most of his career at middleweight & his record is dotted with victories over "name" fighters like, Gene Hamilton, Randy Sandy, Don Fullmer, Jose Gonzales, Wilbert McClure & Gomeo Brennan. All of these fighter were either over the hill or not that great to begin with ... The most formidable of his opponents at middleweight was the rugged Cuban banger, Florentino Fernandez & he took out Torres in five. After moving up to light heavyweight, Torres earned a title shot by knocking out a completely shot, former middleweight champion Bobo Olson in one round. He won the title from legendary skirt chaser & party animal, Willie Pastrano. By 1965, Pastrano was a fourteen year veteran who by the time he faced Torres had gone to the well once too often. Torres knocked out the faded Pastrano in the ninth round.
After winning the title, D'Amato & Torres decided to go after a fight with Ali. Their plan was to fight Tom McNeely (Peter's father), then Patterson & a shot at Ali. The McNeely fight, even though Tom had never had a "prime" to be past of, derailed their ludicrous plan. Although Torres knocked McNeely down in the first round & won a ten round decision, McNeely being the much bigger man (he outweighed Torres 209 to 182), mauled him so badly that Torres never really recovered mentally or physically. Even Torres admits that once he won the light heavyweight he lost all interest in boxing. Torres went on to defend his title successfully three times. On May 21st, 1966 he decisioned Wayne Thornton, a crude, rugged brawler, similar to Australia's Jeff Harding. Then on the 15th of August, he decisioned Eddie Cotton (not today's referee), a very good fighter who by that time was in the nineteenth year of his career & was running on fumes.
His third defense on October 15th, was a spectacular & brutal 2nd round KO of British & European champion, Chic Calderwood. Calderwood was your typical stiff, stand up British fighter, with a decent right hand among his meager talents. Also, the fight was in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in extremely humid & hot conditions that couldn't have done much for the Scottish, Calderwood. No one can say that Torres wasn't a fighting champion because on December 16th, he defended his title for the fourth time that year against the formerly formidable Dick Tiger (One of the greatest monikers in the history of boxing!). Tiger, a great middleweight champion & one of the Bucket's favorite all-time fighters, was thirty seven years old by the time he fought Torres.
In those days, thirty seven was considered ancient for a boxer. Tiger who would die from cancer within five years had at five foot eight been a small middleweight. In a big upset, Tiger took the title by close, but unanimous decision.
Torres lost their rematch on May 16th, 1967, & only had two meaningless fights over the next two years before he retired. Jose Torres, when put in historical perspective as a fighter & as light heavyweight champion doesn't rate very high on the all-time standings. At best he rates as fair to middling. Think of the these former light heavyweights, some great, some just very good: Gene Tunney, Tommy Loughran, Maxie Rosenbloom, John Henry Lewis, Billy Conn, Ezzard Charles, Archie Moore, Harold Johnson, Bob Foster, John Conteh, Victor Galindez, Marvin Johnson, Saad Muhammad, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Michael Spinks, Dwight Qawi, Tommy Hearns ... The reason for this litany of fighters, is that all of these fighters would have decisioned Torres or punched his lights out ...
In the great scheme of things, Torres ranks with light heavyweight champions like Melio Bettina, Gus Lesnevich, Pastrano, Bobby Czyz, Leslie Stewart, Jeff Harding & Virgil Hill. All decent to good fighters, but none of them even remotely Hall Of Fame material. Today's best current light heavyweight, Roy Jones Jr. would destroy Torres. Hell, I'm not sure Montell Griffin wouldn't beat him ...
Now the Ol' Spit Bucket doesn't want to give the impression that Graham, Norton or Torres were herrings or tomato cans as fighters ... nothing could be further from the truth. They were all good fighters, but none of them ever dominated their eras. All would be contenders in any era, but it would be very unlikely that they would be champions in most.
I think it's egregious when fighters like this are elected to the IBHOF based on popularity & political expedience rather than their merits as boxers. The Bucket doesn't have anything against any of these fighters, in fact Ken Norton was a fighter whose career I followed avidly. What I object to is the cheapening of a concept like "Hall Of Famer" & electing fighters like this really degrades & devalues something that should be above the political & personal agendas of the voters.
FIFTY YEARS AGO....... Rocky wins title, loses wardrobe
by Chris Mulvey
The rematch between Tony Zale and Rocky Graziano figured to break all attendance records. Their first fight, held in June of 1946, was thought to be the most brutal in ring history. Graziano, the challenger and hometown favorite, climbed off the canvas in the first round and beat Zale nearly senseless for the next three. Rocky looked like a winner; all he had to do was finish the job. But there was a reason they called Zale The Man of Steelı. The Middleweight Champ from Indiana survived a beating that would have killed a rhinoceros, then rallied to stop Graziano in the sixth . The bout became an instant classic and the return bout was tentatively scheduled for Madison Square Garden. But Graziano soon found himself neck-deep in a mess that put the much anticipated rematch in jeopardy.
On a cold afternoon in January of 1947, New York City police detectives picked up Rocky and brought him to the District Attorneys office for questioning. They asked him about his scheduled match with Reuben Cowboyı Shank, a match called off when Rocky claimed a back injury suffered during training. Shank, a journeyman middleweight from Colorado, figured to be nothing more than a tune-up for Rocky s return with Zale. But funny things started happening with the odds. Money on Shank poured in from around the country. This sudden change aroused the curiosity of the D.A. Why were gamblers suddenly betting on Shank when Rocky figured to win easily? Did they have some inside information? Had somebody gotten to Graziano? The D.A. didn t buy Rocky s back injury as the reason for the cancellation. According to the D.A., Rocky had been offered a bribe of $100,000 to throw the fight, decided he couldn t go through with it, then faked the injury. Graziano was released after eighteen hours of questioning , but was forced to appear in front of the a Grand Jury the next day. The Grand Jury tossed it out due to a lack of evidence: no fight, no fix, and no case. Just the same, The New York State Athletic Commission yanked his license for failure to report a bribe.
Rocky couldn t see what all the fuss was about. The gym was full of guys talking deals, bribes, payoffs, and the like. Disturbersı is what he called them, and if you stopped and reported everything these guys said you wouldn t have time to train. As far as Rocky was concerned, the whole investigation was a way for the D.A. to get on the front page. In any case, the proposed bout with Zale was called off.
If Rocky thought things couldn t get any worse he was wrong. Soon after the New York suspension, Rocky s military record was leaked to the press. Five years earlier, Graziano, a street kid with a long criminal record, was drafted into the United States Army. The tough kid who had never been away from the East Side of New York a day in his life suddenly found himself in the unfamiliar ,and to him, terrifying surroundings of Fort Dix, New Jersey. Graziano s inability to handle the discipline of Army life soon became apparent. Not long after his arrival, Rocky roughed up a Corporal, flattened a Captain, and went AWOL. As military careers go, Graziano s was off to a rocky start.
Eventually apprehended and court martialled, Graziano served a year in Leavenworth Prison. His debt to society paid, he pursued a ring career that led to a top spot in middleweight division. But a dishonorable discharge in post-war America couldn t be erased by a prison term. Despite his ring heroics, Graziano was, to many, a gutless coward. It seemed he had fallen into the abyss.
But then Rocky caught a break. Abe Green, president of the National Boxing Association, refused to go along with New York s suspension of Graziano. This meant Zale could defend his title against Rocky someplace other than New York. It was decided that Chicago IL, right next door to Zale s home town of Gary Indiana, would be the ideal. The bout was scheduled for July 16th, 1947, at the Chicago Stadium.
The match was the talk of the town but the excitement and tension that swirled around the city seemed lost on Graziano. Despite his previous defeat to Zale and the 13-to-ten odds against him, Rocky calmly predicted a knockout win in the second round.
Despite a heat spell that turned the Stadium into a sweat box, ringside seats were lousy with celebrities. Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney were on hand as was the Mayor of Chicago. Gate receipts totaled $422,918, a record for an indoor fight.
The fighters entered the ring around ten p.m. Graziano weighed in at 156, Zale at 160. The temperature in the ring was 105 degrees, so durability and conditioning figured to be a major factor.
The crowd was clearly pro-Zale, partly because Zale was from nearby Gary, and partly because Graziano was perceived as an unpatriotic draft-dodger, a perception Rocky did little to alter. He shadowboxed through the National Anthem, while Zale, who served four years in the Navy, stood solemnly at attention.
But politics and patriotism were forgotten once the bell rang.
Graziano opened fast, charging straight into Zale with both hands. Zale played it smart, blocking punches with his arms and countering with power. Both landed solidly, but it was a Zale left hook to the jaw that was the best punch of the round.
Zale took over in the second. The accuracy of the champion s punches soon became evident on Graziano s face. His right eye puffed and his left brow sprayed blood. He attempted to cover up, but defense was never his strong suit and the Champion landed dozens of blows to the head and body. Graziano tried to retaliate but his missed swings took on an air of desperation.
Round three. Rocky would later refer to this round as the worst three minutes of his life. With his right eye now a slit, and blood still pouring from his left, Rocky was all but blind. Zale took advantage and hammered him from one side of the ring to the other. A right hand dropped Graziano but he jumped up before a count could begin, showing that he wasn t ready to pack it in just yet. Still, ringsiders wondered how much longer he could go on.
Johnny Behr, the referee, wondered about that, too. He visited Rocky s corner following the third and reminded Irving Cohen, Graziano s manager, that in the State of Illinois the penalty for murder was the electric chair, and if things proceeded on their present course he would stop the fight.
Round four. If Graziano didn t feel a sense of urgency before, he certainly did now. If he lost the title, he may never get another one. But could he do it? Could he come back from the gruesome beating he had taken and win the fight?
Zale came out for the fourth slower than expected. The third round had taken something from Zale, too. Arm-weary from so many punches thrown, Zale backed off. Rocky proceeded cautiously, suspecting a trick. But when Zale fell to the canvas following a missed punch, it was clear that Zale's fatigue was genuine. Rocky went back on the attack.
Round five. Graziano s return from the dead was complete. His right hand found the mark, then his left. He raked Zale up and down, body and head. Zale, fresh out of fire power, could no longer go punch for punch. Instead, he relied on thirteen years of professional experience. He sidestepped Rocky s punches when possible, and when it wasn t, he turned with the punch at the moment of impact in order to drain its power. These tactics got him through the round, but he only stalled the inevitable.
Round six. Graziano charged out of his corner and staggered Zale with a right, and then followed with punches thrown from every conceivable angle. He missed plenty, but Zale had nothing left to counter with. Slowly the Champion gave ground. He backed into the ropes near a neutral corner. Graziano s attack grew more furious, as if every punch he landed gave him a jolt of extra energy. It seemed impossible that this was the same fighter who had been beaten so savagely in the third round.
As the attack raged on, The Man of Steel began to bend. He sagged into the ropes. Rocky kept punching. Zale was still on his feet, but he was now stretching the boundaries of human resistance. Referee Behr kept a close eye on Zale. Then, a right hand smash turned Zale around and draped him over the middle strand. Behr pulled Rocky away and began to count. Incredibly, Zale righted himself, but Behr had seen enough. At two minutes and ten seconds of the sixth round Behr awarded the fight to Graziano.
Only Rocky didn t know it. Rocky charged back after Zale, oblivious to the fact that the fight had been stopped. Behr attempted to subdue him but with little luck. Graziano s handlers rushed into the ring, and after taking a few punches themselves, Managed to get Graziano under control and convince him that he was the new Middleweight Champion of the World.
Rocky s return to New York was a triumphant one, even though his title claim received no recognition officially. A motorcade carried Rocky from Grand Central Station to his home. Thousands turned out to hail the conquering hero, but not everyone was a fan. While in Chicago taking Zale s title, some Manhattan thieves were in his apartment taking most of his valuables. Among the missing items: twenty suits valued at $12,000 and twenty sports jackets valued at $1,000. But the thieves were not without compassion. The only necktie in Graziano s wardrobe was left untouched. For Rocky Graziano, every cloud would have a silver lining.
Quest For The Best
When we start to talk about who is the best pnd4pnd fighter in the world , we get nominations from fighters with only 25 fights to fighters who are in their mid thirties .However when all the dust clears there are only three people deserving of this prestigious crown. Pernell Whitaker , Roy Jones Jr. , and Oscar De La Hoya seem to stand above the rest of the great fighters of today . There is still one predicament , who is the best? Most of the media from the west says Oscar while the east says Pernell beat him already and still deserves to be recognized as the best .Then most of the fans will say Roy Jones Jr because of his unreal skills and domination of his weight class.
Why should it be Pernell? Easy answer. Why shouldn't he be?. He beat Oscar De La Hoya in some people's eyes and has never really been beaten . He has won world titles in 4 different weight classes, had more shutouts than Greg Maddux and moves around the ring like a magician .
Why shouldn't he be?
Most people felt he ran from Oscar and didn't show enough heart to deserve the title . He had also looked sloppy in his near loss to Hurtado, and struggled with Rivera in their rematch. Most felt he lost the first bout with Rivera and that he doesn't have what it takes to crank it up in a big time fight. He has not helped his case by being inactive since the De La Hoya bout either.
Why should it be Oscar? He has been nothing but great since his entrance to the pro ranks 5 years ago .He has beaten fighters with a combined record of 208-3-2 in his last 4 bouts . He has already won titles in 3 different weight classes in only 5 years . He is the perfect ambassador for the sport at this point and time , many believe he could reign for many years to come .
Why it shouldn't be Oscar? He has beat nothing but a bunch of blown up Jr. lightweights and when he finally went up to welterweight he picked the worst of the three champions and still lost . Ever since the Whitaker scare he has been running the opposite direction from Whitaker more than Whitaker ran the night of the fight . Whitaker exposed him for nothing more than an over-hyped robotic fighter , who got lucky because Chavez already had a cut on his eye and Whitaker was held at gunpoint and robbed the night of the fight .
Why it should be Roy Jones Jr? He has skills beyond skills .He may be the best combo of speed and power since Sugar Ray Robinson. He has beat everyone in his path and made them look horrible in the process . Many feel he won the crown in 1994 when he whipped the then highly regarded James Toney in 12 rounds. He then lost it when he was disqualified for hitting Montel "don't call me De Niro" Griffin when he went to one knee during their bout in March. However he has since had what I believe as the best big fight performance since Tyson - Spinks , when he kayoed Griffin in the first round of their highly anticipated rematch.
Why it shouldn't be Jones? He wants to play basketball and only fight the money fights . He has passed up on chances to fight Benn , Collins , Liles , and possible rematch with Bernard Hopkins to fight Mike McCallum . Then he was so frustrated in his first fight with Griffin he hit him when he was down . The main problem with Jones , is Jones himself . If he would dedicate himself to the sport again he would most likely be known as the best in the world . However he seems more interested in committing suicide by fighting Holyfield. While the pretenders such as Hamed and Tapia come and go ,one thing for sure is that these 3 will always be right in the middle of the pnd4pnd conversation as long as the choose to be.
We let the fans choose their top ten and stop letting the media pick it for them and this is how they chose it .
1.)Roy Jones Jr.
2.) Oscar De La Hoya
10.) Ike Quartey
LARRY HOLMES VS. MAURICE HARRIS
JUL 29, 1997
by Macke Roberts email@example.com
I have been and avid boxing fan for at least 15 yrs of my 29 yrs on this earth and I love boxing to death BUT DAMN!! nothing pisses me off more than a poor decision by a boxing judge. The July 29 main event pitted Larry Holmesagainst Maurice Harris (classic battle between old veteran and a young fighter who started his career not caring but now finally putting it together with dedication).
Maurice Harris has a record of 9-8 2 ko's but his last 2 fights have been impressive performances, particularly his May 97 fight on USA network where in the 7th round he kayoed James Thunder who had been ranked as high as #11 by the 3 major boxing governing bodies.
In the fight between Holmes & Harris, anyone with decent vision could see that Harris carried Holmes the whole fight! Harris had a better jab, superior movement, more power punches and he was very patient with Holmes so he would not make any mistakes and lose. In my opinion Maurice Harris fought a good fight! And I'm not alone in my opinion -- AP news had the fight 96 to 94 Harris! When the announcer announced it was a split decision I knew Maurice Harris had been robbed. I understand Larry Holmes is a veteran. I understand some people in boxing would like to see Larry Holmes against George Foreman & I understand that going against a veteran fighter (an ex-champ like Larry Holmes) it would be best to get a KO or TKO to insure victory -- but just because Maurice Harris is not well know like Larry Holmes he should not have to suffer with a decision from the judges!
I tip my hat to Maurice Harris deep down he knows he beat Larry Holmes and everybody at Madison Square Garden knows he beat Larry Holmes I just hope Maurice Harris can put this controversy behind him and continue to peform on a consistent level.
Tyson's Blind Believers
by The Myth Dispeller firstname.lastname@example.org
An interesting fact concerning the upper-CUT vs head-collision argument is that those who subscribe to the latter--absurdly discounting as a mere optical illusion the frame-by-frame, slow-motion footage explicitly showing that the gash results from Holyfield's thumping upper-CUT--are of course ultimately basing their belief on nothing more than Tyson's disreputable claim/accusation and deceitful ruse. A prime example of the ratiocinately unsound deduction engendering this belief occurred when a Don-King-Productions commentator explained that he believed a "head butt" (sic) had caused Tyson's gash because Tyson looked at the referee and appeared to say "head butt." (In the scene, Tyson is shown lunging his head, as usual, into Holyfield's temple as Holyfield ducks under his punch, but, still, at this point Tyson is clearly shown to have avoided injuring himself in the process, although he didn't deserve to IMO.) What do you suppose we can conclude about those who predicate their conclusion on the fundamentally flawed premise that if Tyson--a proven liar--says it, then it must be valid and true?
I should add that upon initially viewing the fight at normal speed, I myself thought that an accidental head collision may have caused Tyson's gash. This was due in part to me blindly depending on and trusting the commentary of the said commentator. From my own lapse in this case, I suppose that in all likelihood many of you, too, have ignored the evidence while basing your view on that of commentators, and others, who ignored what the evidence itself revealed in favor of unsubstantive, invalid speculation and assumption essentially supporting Tyson's disreputable charge against Holyfield. After all, being the flawed Homo sapiens that we are, we can potentially be guilty of subjugating our innate logical reason for and deferring to what we perceive as a "higher authority," no matter how lacking that supposed authority may be.
WHAT A LONG, STRANGE GYP IT'S BEEN ... NOTES ON THE SECOND, THIRD,FOURTH, ETC. COMINGS OF RAY CHARLES LEONARD
February 1991: Some four years after his epochal upset of longtime middleweight king Marvin Hagler, 36-year old Ray Leonard steps into the ring against junior middle king and pound-for-pound candidate Terry Norris. The boxing world winces as Norris embarrasses the multidivision legend, knocking Leonard down twice en route to a unanimous 12-round decision.
After the fight, Leonard announces yet another in his string of "retirements." "It's no longer my time," he summarizes. Few would argue.
September 1992: British doom-popsters the Jesus and Mary Chain release their disc "Honey's Dead," featuring the song "Sugar Ray." The song later becomes the soundtrack to a successful beer commercial.
March 1997: Leonard's lust for the spotlight leads him to challenge similarly past-it feather fisted Hector "Macho" Camacho in a PPV 140-lb. bout. Leonard looks sluggish and ungainly, mis-timing combinations, tripping over his own feet and ultimately being pounded out by the light-hitting Camacho in Round 5.
"I have no excuses," Leonard tells reporters afterward. Days later, he recants, blaming an injured calf muscle for his lack of mobility and balance.
April 1997: No longer able to avail himself of fading world-class fighters as soft touches, Leonard plans a "tune up" fight against Danny Phippen, a Whitman, Mass. middleweight managed by Vinnie "the Towel" Vecchione, the man who supplied Mike Tyson with a 90-second challenge in the form of nightclub bouncer-turned-PPV-poet "Hurricane" Peter McNeeley.
The less-than-eagerly-anticipated Phippen bout goes by the boards when Leonard, on the advice of his physical therapist, cancels the June 1 CBS match to permit his calf injury to heal fully. Vecchione's towel remains sheathed.
July 1997: Leonard pulls out of a planned July 25 bout against Irish Dan Connelly, set for the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn., due to a "lack of training time."
August 1997: Leonard pulls out of a planned September 8 bout against Belgian Francois LeBoeuf, set for the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn., in a protest over the planned merger of EEC currencies into something called a "Euro."
October 1997: A planned October 24 bout against Icelandic Oggi Goddmundsdottir, set for the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn. is canceled after Oggi's name on the casino marquee causes a massive power outage. Casino representatives estimate that the debacle costs the Mohegans some $450,000 in lost poker machine revenue alone.
April 1998: Frustrated with the quality of opposition, Sugar Ray makes yet another odds-defying lunge at a major title, contracting to contend for the WBC's newly-created Intergender Middleweight belt. Leonard faces off with veteran battler Christy "The Coal Miner's Daughter" Martin, who undergoes a unique training regimen to gain the pounds required to make the middleweight limit. Her routine includes high-protein shakes, advanced weight training, and being six months pregnant. "This is the most splendiferously calamitous turn of events in human memory," shouts Martin's polyester-clad promoter Don King, whose fortunes have tumbled since Mike Tyson's banishment from boxing in July 1997. "My girl is gonna be fighting for two!"
Rocked in the early rounds by looping, overhand rights, Leonard catches a break, and the title, when Martin develops an irresistible craving for anchovies and lime Jell-O at the start of Round 8 and is ruled "unfit to continue" by madly-booed referee Richard Steele.
January 1999: Still flush with his title-winning success, Leonard announces plans to lure transvestite songstress and New York state legislator RuPaul into a bout promoter Mike Acri dubs "Who's Da Man?," a "unification" match for the newly-minted intergender belt. But the bout never takes place, with RuPaul claiming on fight eve that the television lights at the Gates Taj Mahal's main-event ring make her look "washed out and pasty." A long line of challenges are issued by female boxers desperate for credibility and a big payday, but Leonard spurns them all, allegedly telling adviser Mike Trainer that the potential dollars "don't make the risk worthwhile. There's no [Donny] Lalondes in that crew..."
September 2004: After a much-needed five-year breather "to get back the fire," Leonard announces at a hastily-arranged press conference in Henderson, Nevada that he will box former middleweight king Jake LaMotta in a title bout sanctioned by the Seniors Tour of Ted Turner's newly-formed Turner Boxing Federation. "It worked for golf and, we feel, in a graying America, it can work for boxing," says Turner, never media-shy. "LaMotta thinks because he had a movie and I didn't, that he can put me down," Leonard gripes. "He is not showing me the proper respect." Things get hairy on the publicity tour when LaMotta gives Leonard "the horns" over the pasta course at an AARP-sponsored testimonial dinner and feigns "agita" during Leonard's after-dinner remarks. "Whaddaya talkin' about?" LaMotta jokes, "I beat the real Sugar. This guy ain't nothin' but sweet n' low..." The press goes nuts. The bout, nicknamed "Sugar N' Spite," is held at Atlanta's new Ric Flair Colisseum and draws a disappointing house of 1100 due, Turner assures reporters, to the season premiere of NBC's "Suddenly Susan." LaMotta comes out slugging, but is unnerved by Angelo Dundee's insistence on flashing old centerfolds of LaMotta's ex-wife Vicki, and is ultimately disqualified for making obscene hand gestures at the ringside judges. "We got him out of his game plan," Leonard crows. "We messed with his head, just like Ali. And he may be next." Despite furious early-rounds backpedaling, Leonard's calf holds up.
June 2005: Leonard's run on the TBF Seniors Tour is in jeopardy. Lengthy negotiations with former middleweight champion Carmen Basilio ("the man," Leonard reminds the press, "who beat the first Sugar...It's payback time!") stall when Mississippi commission doctors refuse to clear the Canastota onion farmer for the bout, citing Basilio's 1997 six-way heart bypass surgery. "Jeez, Holyfield's got a heart problem and some faith healer bops him on the head and everything's hunky dory," Basilio complains as his payday evaporates. "Me, I got more hardware than IBM." Frantic communications with Marvin Hagler, engaged in a long-running Milanese production of "Othello," prove fruitless, as do attempts to locate comeback-friendly ex-middleweight-turned-heavyweight Iran Barkley. CBS fills the date instead with a new figure skating world-championship arranged the day before its telecast.
September 2007: Leonard successfully defends his Seniors title against former Argentine middle champ Carlos Monzon who (having died in a January 1995 traffic accident) refuses to answer the bell for Round 1. Leonard's triumph is marred by rumors of a fix when "late money" pours into Disney Mickey's Palace sports book, reducing the odds on a Monzon victory from 6:1 to even-money.
February 2012: Acri and Leonard attempt to promote a "Spirit of '76" fight card headlined by a title tilt featuring Leonard and former middleweight contender and cause celebre Rubin "Hurricane" Carter. "It's a natural for the fans," Ray muses. "I won a gold medal in '76, and Carter IS 76." The event is staged for a largely non-paying crowd at Microsoft Square Garden, with former folk legend Bob Dylan braying an improvised and unintelligible national anthem.
Leonard starts fast, but his conditioning betrays him and, after absorbing three left hooks from the surprisingly feisty septuagenarian, Leonard is counted out by referee Sean O'Grady. "This is it," says the sunglassed Leonard after the debacle, "it's even less my time now than when it wasn't my time after the Norris fight. Now, it's absolutely, positively not my time. Not even close. Uh uh."
March 2012: Leonard is detained by U.S. marshals and placed under federal indictment for violating the recently-strengthened McCain/Bryan professional boxing act by attempting to box in New Mexico with false credentials just weeks after the Carter KO. "It's in my blood, a compulsion," Leonard repentantly tells stoic federal magistrate Myron Mindich. "Let the healing begin." Attempting to fill in on a Kiwanis-sponsored boxing card at a Tucumcari, NM taco restaurant, Leonard aroused the suspicions of fight-night organizers by presenting a license issued to a "Sidney Walker" by the New York State Athletic Commission in 1941. "We figured he was in a little too good shape for his age," deadpanned promoter Elwood Greggins. Leonard escapes prison, but is enjoined from all further fistic activities.
November 2039: Ray Charles Leonard passes away of natural causes in Palm Springs, California. Retired fighter Oscar De La Hoya reads a statement prepared by Leonard just days before his demise: "This time, I'm pretty darned positive that it is not in any way, shape or form, my time. Really."
April 2040: As provided for in Leonard's last will and testament, IBM loans third-generation supercomputer "Deep Blue III" to the Leonard estate for the "Ray Leonard Posthumous Invitational." Using over 600 variables including speed, strength, defense, stamina, ring generalship and commercial endorsements, Deep Blue conducts a series of computerized bouts between Leonard and history's finest battlers. Shocking the experts, Leonard bests Kid Chocolate, Sam Langford, Jack Sharkey, Harry Wills, Harry Greb, Peter Jackson, both Joe Walcotts, both Jack Dempseys, Stanley Ketchel, Bendigo, Jack Johnson, Yankee Sullivan, Joe Louis, Sonny Liston, Dick Tiger, Eder Jofre, Fighting Harada, Tommy Morrison, Bob Foster, John L. Sullivan and Aaron Pryor but, surprisingly, loses to former Whitman, Mass.middleweight Danny Phippen. Deep Blue's programmers charge the Phippen loss to statistical error and crown Leonard "Eternal Fantasy Cyberboxing Champion."
August 2047: At a celebrity-studded auction of sports memorabilia held at Sotheby's auction house in New York City, the spit bucket used in Leonard's title-winning effort against Wilfred Benitez fetches a bid of $6,000, easily beating the $1,750 bid for the mouthpiece worn by Tommy Hearns in his second loss to Iran Barkley. The real winner in this auction is a piece of skin from the right ear of Evander "the Real Deal" Holyfield bit off and spit out by Mike Tyson in their 1997 contest. It is won with a bid of $12,900 by former child star and recluse Macaulay Culkin.
February 2055: A panel of experts, including a New York University professor of comparative religion, a Tibetan Lama, three Hindu yogis, a Marin County channeler and former Beastie Boy Adam Yauch present the Montana Athletic Commission with an affidavit declaring 16-year-old Eustace, Montana high-school wrestler Reese Lumpkin to be the bona fide reincarnation of Ray Leonard. Skeptics claim the stunt is intended to whip up interest in one of the sport's most dubious promotions: Elko, Nevada direct e-mail ad guru Rance "Elvis" Gilligan's PPV digital cybercast of "Nowhere to Hide," a full-contact martial arts battle matching Lumpkin with 16-year-old Clatskanie, Oregon diner waitress Brianna McFarland, allegedly the reincarnation of former Whitman, Mass. middleweight Danny Phippen. Lumpkin creates a scene at the press conference by jeering and pointing at the bemused McFarland, shouting, "he's still duckin' me!..." At the last moment, the contest, to be staged at the Frontier Fairgrounds outside Missoula, is halted by a contingent of county deputies, television talk show hosts, child welfare advocates and Baptist evangelists who release a statement denying the existence of reincarnation and proclaiming "the whupping of unruly teenage girls should be confined to the privacy of the home."
March 2055: Lumpkin and Gilligan attempt to stage "Lumpkin-Duran IV," a wrestling match between Lumpkin and the reincarnation of the former Panamanian great, a nine-foot Everglades crocodile named Willy. "People don't realize all the negative energy released into the universe by the 'No Mas' fight," Gilligan explains. "That bad karma can be a real bitch."
At the last moment, the contest, to be staged at Sea World, is halted by a contingent of county deputies, television talk show hosts, animal rights advocates and Baptist evangelists. "I can't believe we live in a county where a man isn't free to wrestle a willing reptile for money," Lumpkin protests, promising a court fight that could keep the latest Leonard comeback in the papers well into the second half of the century. "I'm late for a meeting. Anybody know what time it is?"
June 2056: Boxing history of a sort is made when techno duo Potted Geraniums play their worldwide dance floor hit "Sugar Ray (Comeback Mix)" on the MTV Video Music Awards. Backed by 40-foot Diamond Vision replays of Leonard's Pepsi ads and Showtime color commentary, they sing a paean to the ex-champ's lingering lust for the spotlight: "Sugar Ray, Sugar Ray/Would not fade away/Mainlinin' Ben Gay/Sugar Ray, Sugar Ray/One big auto de fe/Rinse away the gray/Sugar Ray/Still with us today..."
Few would argue.
Joe Bruno's Inside Boxing
In the past few months, this column has gone ballistic exposing the seamier side of Dung King. To show I am an equal opportunity lambaster across all races, color and creeds, this month I'll offer you up some boxing scoundrels who have been treated with kid gloves by most of the boxing media throughout the country. I've dealt with these chumps on many levels, and I'm sick and tired of seeing them constantly deified in print and on the tube. The reasons for this hand-off treatment by the press range from their likability(Jose Torres) to the appearance of respectability(Seth Abraham). Of course, in the case of others (Dung King, for instance) outright under-the-table payments insure puff pieces in various publications ranging from boxing magazines to daily newspapers. Give King credit. He sure knows how to spread the wealth, just as long as the big piece stays in his pocket.
Boxing Scoundrel Number One: Jose Torres
This Hispanic smoothie was recently inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame, and if he belong in Boxing's Hall, can Primo Canera be far behind? My main man Bucket will expose of Jose's lack of ring qualifications later in this publication, so I'll concentrate on No-Way Jose's exploits after he hung up his non-lethal gloves.
In the early 1980's John Branca (brother of former Brooklyn Dodger pitcher Ralph Branca) was appointed by Governor Cuomo as the Chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission. As a political favor to many of his liberal constituents, Cuomo then appointed Torres and second in command to Branca and gave him the title "New York State Boxing Commissioner." Torres is tight with pseudo intellectuals writers like Pete "Kiss me, Abe Hirschfeld" Hamill, and Norman "I Stabbed My Wife" Mailer. The pompous Mailer is so full of himself, he recently wrote a fictional biography of Jesus Christ in the first person (Well, at least they were both Jews). Mailer and Hamill were the hub of the liberal wheel that ran New York City, so as a favor to them, Cuomo threw Torres a small bone.
This bone became the whole body when Branca decided to resign, in order to run for Mayor of Yonkers. (Yes, he lost. And no, he didn't run against Bobby Thomson.) So, in a grand display of generosity, Cuomo now slipped Torres into Branca's spot, establishing the benchmark for putting someone in way over their head. In his short stay as Chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission, Torres was totally inept and downright embarrassing.
Shamelessly partial to Hispanic fighters, the Chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission sat at ringside screaming boxing instructions to fellow Victor Cafe's habitue Roberto Duran, while Duran was in the process of removing the WBA jr. middleweight title belt form Davey Moore's waist at Madison Square Garden in 1984. Imagine how Moore felt, since if Torres should have been rooting for someone at ringside, shouldn't it have been homeboy Moore, who was born and raised in New York City? Or maybe Torres and Duran shared more in Victor's Cafe than the fabulous paella.
On another occasion in 1985, future junior middleweight champion Mark Medal fought in a main event at the Felt Forum against a boxer from Florida(His last name was Johnson). Torres was so loud at ringside shouting encouragement to Medal, Johnson's manager told the New York press after the fight he would never bring another fighter to New York State as long as Torres was still Chairman.
But Torres completely crossed the line of propriety in his handling of the Tim Witherspoon-Bonecrusher Smith title fight in 1987 in Madison Square Garden. Witherspoon, supposedly managed by Carl King (son of Dung King), was scheduled to defend his title against Tony Tubbs in an HBO Heavyweight Title Tournament that had the implied intention of unifying all the heavyweight titles under one champion, Mike Tyson. Remember, Tyson was managed by Cus D'Amato, who also managed Torres, and subsequently Torres was thisclose to the Tyson camp. It was imperative for Tyson's people that the tournament continued with nary a snag, and when Tubbs pulled out three days before the fight, panic set in Tyson's camp, since the life of the tournament was now in danger. They were counting on fighting the winner in the last leg of the tournament, and a cancellation would set back Tyson's coronation at least six months, and maybe even a year.
So, Dung King decided to slip in a late substitute, Bonecrusher Smith, who was amazingly also managed by Carl King. Witherspoon balked at fighting Smith, since he had trained to fight a weak-hitting boxer (Tubbs), and didn't want to deal with the heavy-handed Smith at the last moment.
Enter King, Tyson and HBO lackey Jose Torres.
Torres warned Witherspoon if he didn't fight Smith, Torres would immediately strip Witherspoon of his WBC heavyweight title. Frustrated and hurt, Witherspoon refused to okay the new contract in writing, so Carl King as the manager of both fighters, initialed the contract change, making the contract legal in New York State. Witherspoon was so bummed out by being betrayed by his own manager and the Chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission, he barely went through the motions, and he was TKO'd in the first round under the three knockdown rule.
The fight took place Friday night, and on Monday morning I paid a visit to Torres in his lower Broadway New York City offices. I fumingly sat there as Torres chummingly spoke to Pete Hamill on the phone, and when he finished I lowered the boom.
"You were a fighter," I told Torres. "How would you have liked it if your manager changed opponents on you at the last minute without your approval."
Torres gave me the dumbest non-answer of all time.
"If that happened to me," Torres said. "I would've knocked out my opponent in the first round instead of the other way around."
The Witherspoon story gets better, or worse, depending on your point of view.
The following day Torres leaked to the New York press a story that Witherspoon had failed his mandatory drug test. Associated Press picked up on the story, and this erroneous information appeared in almost every daily newspaper throughout the country. But in fact, Witherspoon had passed his drug test with flying colors. Assistant boxing commissioner Jackie Graham (brother of old welterweight Billy Graham) had told Torres, "Witherspoon's drug test came up negative." NEGATIVE, for Christ''s sake.
But since English is Jose Torres' second language (or maybe third), the moron misinterpreted NEGATIVE as being something BAD, and Torres told the press that Witherspoon had FAILED his drug test.
Then, Torres got downright nasty. He fired Graham for giving him the wrong information about Witherspoon's drug test.. The popular Graham went to his pals in the press with the story, and Torres was forced to hire Graham back. Then Torres, his nose growing bigger every second, tried to tell us, "I never fired Jackie in the first place."
At this point, I had had enough, and in my column for the Times Herald Record of Middletown, New York, I wrote an open letter to Governor Cuomo begging him to fire this buffoon Torres, thus avoiding further embarrassment to boxing in the state of New York. A month later, Torres resigned. He said the reason for his resignation was that he wanted to devote his full time to writing the biography of Mike Tyson. Yeah, and O. J. Simpson is still looking for the killers of his wife and Ron Goldman.
Suffice it to say, Jose and I have not exchanged Christmas cards since.
Boxing Scoundrel Number Two: Seth Abraham of HBO I have never met a more intensely dislikable man in the sport of boxing than Seth "Shrimp" Abraham, head honcho at HBO. Abraham is a snotty, whiny, runty piece-of-crap who favors suspenders ala financier Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street. At times, even Dung King has a nice way about him, and I've shared a few brews with King on occasions, and found myself being charmed and having a damn good time in spite of myself. (Of course, I checked my pockets and counted my fingers immediately afterwards.)
In the early 1980's, the International Boxing Writers Association had had enough of the phony and fixed fighter ratings put out by the WBA and the WBC, and the IBWA decided to form their own ratings committee comprised of fifteen boxing writers from countries throughout the world, including those in South Africa and the Far East. Mike Katz (then of the New York Times) and Steve Farhood of KO Magazine were appointed co-chairmen, and every month the IBWA released their own ratings in the six major weight categories, starting with the featherweights. These ratings were available to any network, or publication that wished to use them, and were funded by no one to prevent against the appearance of impropriety. The Associated Press ran our ratings every month, as did the now defunct UPI.
The IBWA wanted more exposure for our ratings, so president Marc Maturo of the Gannett Westchester and Rockland Newspaper set up an interview with Seth Abraham in order to convince Abraham to use our rating for his televised HBO fights, as a counterbalance to the fixed ratings drummed up by the WBC and WBA. As the vice president of the International Boxing Writers (I was also the VP of the Boxing Writers of America), Maturo asked me to accompany him to Abraham's office, located at Columbus Circle near Central Park West. We arrived full of piss and vinegar, and Maturo began to pitch our ratings. But before Maturo got one minute into his presentation, Abraham stood up and excused himself from his own office. A minute later, Abraham's secretary entered and informed us our audience with Shrimp Abraham (not to be confused with Shrimp Scampi) was terminated. The reason being, Shrimp Abraham thought we were there to do an in-depth story about his great work at HBO Boxing, not to discuss something so inconsequential as boxing ratings.
The gutless creep didn't have the balls to tell us the news to our faces, and from that day on I've always been a little skeptical of Abraham's motives concerning the sport of boxing. My fears were realized a few years later, when Abraham married his network to Don King Enterprises in order to televise the fights of future convicted rapist Mike Tyson. Of course, when Tyson got out of jail, King stuck it to Shrimp Abraham by signing an exclusive contract for Tyson with rival network Showtime. Since then, Abraham has cried incessantly about what a demon King is, and every boxing writer who was around in the early 1980's now sits back and smiles.
Seth "Shrimp" Abraham is now the Poster Child for : "When you lie down with Dung, you don't stand up smelling like perfume."
Boxing Bimbo Number One: The Sports Babe
First of all, calling this fawning fat tub of lard a Sports "Babe" is like calling Roseanne a fox. The only "Babe" I'd ever associate the Fat Lady with would be the pig in the cute movie who thought he was a dog.
On Monday August 18, the Sports Babe's guest on her nationally syndicated ESPN radio show was Dung King. The purpose of King's appearance was to drum up unpaid publicity for his upcoming pay-per-view fight show at Madison Square Garden starring Felix Trinidad. The Sports Babe lobbed one softball after another at King, and Dung nailed them solidly, making him seem like a cross between Nelson Mandella, Mother Theresa and the Pope. Not once did the Sports Babe ask King anything that could be even slightly construed as probing. The Sport's Babe's conduct was so embarrassing, you could almost hear her knees hit the carpet and King's zipper sliding down.
Her best line was, "Don, it seems that everything that goes wrong in boxing is unjustly blamed on you. Throughout the years, have you finally learned to accept this injustice?"
Obviously, if the Sports Babe ever interviewed Charles Mason, the only questions she'd ever ask the deranged serial killer would be about his great love for pop music.
ESPN Radio, please flush this "Babe" down the crapper, and quick. And adding a little Lysol wouldn't hurt either.
End Quote: "I think he is a wacko. I've watched him four times and I've seen him bite, butt and hit low. He has the mentality of a wild animal." -- Frank Maloney, when asked his opinion on Andrew Golota
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