|. . . THE CYBER BOXING ZONE JOURNAL||
|SPIRITUAL ADVISER ON ALL MATTERS FISTIC:
HISTORY & RESEARCH:
Hank Kaplan, Tracy Callis, Matt Tegen
BoxngRules, Chris Bushnell, Adrian Cusack, DscribeDC, Francis Walker, Dave Iamele, Phrank Da Slugger, Pusboil
Enrique Encinosa, Randy Gordon, Pedro Fernandez, Joe Koizumi, Mike Moscone, Dr. Ferdie Pacheco, Jim Trunzo, Barry Lindenman, Katherine Dunn, Pete Ehrmann
Editorial: Rinsing Off The Mouthpiece
RIP: THOMAS GERBASI SR. (1937-1999)
Thomas Gerbasi Sr. wasn't a boxer. His connection to the CBZ was that my stalwart, associate editor, Tom Gerbasi, is his son. Gerbasi Sr. taught his son to be a tough, stand up, guy, with a real blue collar work ethic &
instilled in him his life long passion for boxing. I never met or spoke with Tom's father but he was exactly the kind of hard core boxing guy that I write for.
After we publish every issue of the CBZ Journal, I always ask Tom if he's printed out the issue & shown it to his dad yet. He would always come back with some pithy comments from his father. In fact, in our July 98 issue, I
wrote a eulogy for Frank Sinatra ... The whole time I was writing the piece I had Tom's dad in mind as exactly the kind of person I was writing the article for. I figured if a New Yawk, Eyetalian, dyed in the wool, Sinatra & boxing fan of his generation dug my article; then I had done my job well.
I remember driving Tom Jr. crazy bugging him about printing the issue out & getting it over to his dad ... It's weird how someone you've never even met or spoken to can influence you. I mean, it was damn important to me that Tom's father read my piece on Ol' "Blue Eyes".
Death is so final & the Ol' Spit Bucket (for once), is at a loss for words to comfort Tom & his family ... All I can say is, rest in peace, Thomas Gerbasi.
& even though I never met you, you were my kinda guy ...
Thomas Gerbasi (1937-1999) - A Fan
By Thomas Gerbasi
Like many boys born in the late 1930s, Thomas Gerbasi grew up as a boxing fan. And like some of them, he wanted to fight. At 17, he was in training for the New York Golden Gloves as a lightweight. His training consisted of throwing punches at a heavy bag non-stop for every second of a three minute round. But dont think that this decision met with approval from his family. In fact, an uncle took him to a store in Brooklyn frequented by all-time great Tony Canzoneri. Canzoneri, with his ears cauliflowered, and nose spread across his face, put up his dukes and asked the teenager "So, ya wanna fight, kid?" The "kid" was undeterred. He wasnt going to be Canzoneri, he was going to emulate his hero, Benny Leonard, "The Ghetto Wizard". Unfortunately, the day before his physical, he suffered a severe cut on his hand and had to withdraw from the tournament. The next year he was in the Marines, and his boxing career had ended.
He never lost his love for the sport though. He told me of watching Rocky Marciano battle Ezzard Charles in the Yankee Stadium bleachers, where the fighters resembled ants. He had seen Jack Johnson answering questions in an arcade booth on 42nd Street. And when boxing had its golden age on television in the fifties, he couldnt be pulled away from the tube. "The Rock" was without a doubt his favorite fighter of all-time. But some obscure names also dotted his list, guys like Chuck Davey and Walter Cartier. And while Marciano was his number one guy, a crude, aggressive power brawler, I think his other favorites showed that he was more in tune to the quick and skillful boxers of the day.
In 1968, he had a son, and there was no question that I was going to be a boxing fan. While other kids got taken to Toys R Us on weekends, I was brought to Willoughbys, a camera store near New Yorks Madision Square Garden, to buy old fight films. There were racks of films there, to be used for the old 8mm, and Super 8 cameras. And while I wanted the modern fights, the "Thrilla in Manila" and Leonard-Duran, that was not going to happen. We picked up old newsreels called "Monarchs of the Ring", which contained tons of fights from the 20s and 30s. We grabbed Chuck Davey-Rocky Graziano ("Graziano didnt touch him the whole fight"), and a couple of Kid Gavilan fights. He shut me up with Ali-Quarry II and Foreman-Frazier I, but the oldies were his favorites.
Many a Saturday afternoon in the 80s was spent in front of the tube, watching the great selection of fights on display on a weekly basis. But now we began to clash. A close second in my fathers hall of fame was "Manos De Piedra" Roberto Duran. If you said something negative about Duran, you had a problem on your hands. Unfortunately for him, and probably very disappointing as well, I had developed my own tastes, and my favorite was "Sugar" Ray Leonard. And while I had a heap of good natured ribbing heaped on me after Leonards decision loss to Duran in Montreal, I had more than my share of revenge when Duran pulled his "No Mas" in New Orleans later that year (1980). The quitting by Duran shocked my father, and while he still rooted for him (he was in his glory when Duran stopped Davey Moore a couple of years later), it was never the same again.
After that my father grew more cynical of the fight game than the average person (in fact, he was more cynical than your average group of people). But like an addict, he couldnt stop watching. He got a charge out of Mike Tyson, and thought that he had a chance to be one of the greats. My father was stingy with his praise, and not many fighters of my era could be compared to those of his era. Ali? I ran a computer tournament one time, and the final result had Ali beating Marciano. "What? Ali beat Marciano?" he bellowed. "Let me tell you, Rocky (they were on a first name basis by then) fought Roland LaStarza in a rematch. He hit him so hard he broke the blood vessels in his arms. Ali couldnt stand in the same ring with him." At this point I didnt argue. I could never win.
Among current fighters, the only one that I saw him really get excited about was James Toney. He raved about his skills, and said that "this guy could fight back in the old days". Another fighter he had hopes for was his son. He knew a guy who owned a gym in Manhattan. I told my dad that I wanted to fight in the Golden Gloves for an article. I was 28 at the time. He hooked me up with his friend in the gym, and I started to train. I pulled my dad to the side one day, and said "Ive got my physical Sunday." "For what? Youre not feeling okay?" "Im fine. The physical for the Gloves." "What? I thought that you just wanted to work out. I didnt think you wanted to fight." Oops.
Next scene. My Dad, now in the role of "Soccer Mom", is driving his little boy of 28 to his physical. A few weeks later, I fought in a "White Collar Boxing" night at Gleasons Gym in Brooklyn. He was there, and he saw his sons head somehow surgically attached to his opponents left glove. Though he didnt tell me, my mother let me know that he was kind of upset, saying "That was something a father shouldnt see."
It got worse. Before my big Golden Gloves debut, my Dad looked me in the eye, and said "No matter what happens, you got in there. Some guys just talk. You walked it. Now get an attitude, bust this guy up and lets go home early." Well, we went home early. It was an inspiring speech, but unfortunately I fought more like Tom McNeeley than Tommy Hearns. I was kayoed in the first round, and the first one in the ring to attend to my unconscious form was my father. The year was 1997, and I think he died a little that day.
The last fight we saw together was the De La Hoya-Quartey fight. We even went to an all-womens card I was covering in Atlantic City, and he came with me to Manfredy-Gatti in AC as well. My memory of that night was us walking past a strip bar in Jersey that said "Couples and Amateurs welcome". My Dads response: "Hey, thats us, were a couple of amateurs."
Some children never knew their fathers or had a relationship with them. My fathers parents were separated when he was young. He never really knew his father. But instead of passing that neglect on to his kids, he became a father who should be an example to all fathers. He was always there for me and my sister, and you know what, when we had our clashes and run-ins, we could always talk about boxing, and that would pave the way for anything else. Ive become a fight junkie like my father, and I owe boxing a thank you. Boxing also owes a thank you to my father, because even in the dark times, my dad was a fan.
I love you Dad, and I miss you already. This is my ten bell salute to you.
The End of an Era
By Lee Michaels
Writing is the most wonderful form of expression. And as several million...possibly one billion of you know, I have been expressing myself in a very opinionated, boxing-oriented column called "Power Punches" for several months now.
However, the essence of this particular column will be different. There will be no bold predictions here. Read on if youd like, but I simply dont feel like telling my readers why I believe, for example, that Evander Holyfield will once again shock the world and beat Lennox Lewis in their rematch.
Instead, I want to tell you the truth.
See that name up there Lee Michaels? Folks, that aint my name. Have you ever read Gordooms articles and then thought to yourself "What kind of name is Gordoom?!? Where the hell is THAT guy from?"
I know how you feel. Hey, try talking to the man on the phone. But heres some late breaking news: He isnt Gordoom, Gord-dammit.
Like Gordoom, I have a day job. Like Gordoom and every other writer for the CBZ, I dont write these articles for the money. As a matter of fact, nowadays, everything I do thats related to boxing is on a voluntary basis.
It didnt used to be that way.
* * *
My professional association with the sport of boxing ended on July 31, 1999. Its what some of my co-workers referred to as "D-Day." It was the end of our careers at ESPN Classic.
Formerly known as "Classic Sports Network," ESPN Classic instantly became a hit with boxing fans when it launched in 1995. How couldnt it? Its first 24 hours of programming was all on Muhammad Ali.
In September of 1996, I joined the network, still known as CSN, as an associate producer. I had spent the previous 2 ½ years with - how ironic - ESPN, which would eventually buy our company. Having already been a casual boxing fan, I asked to work on boxing. My wish was granted.
I was 25 years old then. What a unique opportunity I had. With the thousands upon thousands of fight films available to me, I studied film of boxers that most people only talk about. I studied the greatest fighter of them all, Sugar Ray Robinson. I studied the two greatest fighters after Sugar Ray: Cassius Clay and Muhammad Ali. To me, the epitome of defense used to mean the 1985 Chicago Bears and their famed "46"scheme. It soon became Willie Pep. And I studied and studied and studied film after film of the most charismatic fighter ever, Jack Johnson. To see Johnson, in an era of severe discrimination in both sport and society, have the "audacity" to taunt his white opponents on film was simply amazing. To see footage of Johnson, huge smile, sweet suits and all, walk the streets with his white wives and girlfriends made me applaud the man. You go Jack
I studied the bad too, like Primo Carnera, possibly the worst heavyweight champion ever. I was astonished when I watched a kangaroo continually pepper the mob-controlled champion with jab after jab in an exhibition. "And neeewww, heavyweight champion of the world, Mista Kangaroo!"
I also was captivated by a fight that Classic banned from airing, but was forever cemented in my memory: Emile Griffith killing Benny "Kid" Paret in the ring. Referee Ruby Goldstein froze for 3 seconds, which was just enough time for Griffith to land over a dozen unanswered punches to Parets skull as he sat tangled in the ropes. I would later be at Classic when Dick Schaap interviewed a sobbing, apologetic Griffith about the fight. The pain was obviously still eating away at Griffith.
Classic also gave me the opportunity to meet some of boxings old-timers like Gene Fullmer, Carmen Basilio and my favorite of them all, Tony DeMarco, who is simply one of the nicest men Ive ever met. I had the chance to interview Sugar Ray Leonard, Alexis Arguello and Willie Pep, who told me how 1) he blew his career earnings of $4 million and 2) Muhammad Ali "wasnt that good of a fighter." I didnt know whether to laugh or cry. As for Arguello, little did I know that one year later I would become co-workers and friends with his son, Alexis Jr.
And then came "The Greatest." I remember holding back tears at Radio City Music Hall during the world premiere of "When We Were Kings." When Ali KOd Foreman, the crowd went wild, acting as if the fight was happening at that very moment. My emotions also ran high during the after-party at the All Star Café, where Ali himself walked right by me and gave me a typical Ali glare.
Then came the odd moments. Like calling Mike Tyson in Phoenix while he was training for his latest comeback to boxing. Tyson may not be the best heavyweight in the world anymore, but he is the heavyweight king of boxing history. There isnt an active fighter around who can tell you more about the Sweet Science than Iron Mike. In a three-minute conversation, an incredibly pleasant Tyson agreed to be interviewed for a documentary I was working on called "Shadow Boxing: The Journey of the African-American Fighter." We set a tentative date to shoot the interview with him.
It never happened. Two words: road rage.
Another odd moment took place not too long ago at the Michael Grant-Lou Savarese fight. Sitting next to me was the Savarese family. Round after round I watched the Savarese clan watching their relative take a beating. And round after round I watched them listen to fans cheer for Grant to administer more punishment to Sweet Lou. Generally, for a boxing fan to enjoy the sport they need to de-humanize themselves from what theyre watching. In this case, boxing was never more human to me than at that moment. Needless to say, it was the longest fight Ive ever watched in person.
* * *
Good or bad, none of the above would have happened without ESPN Classic. Classic is no longer headquartered in Manhattan, which is the primary reason why I am no longer working for them. Classic is now headquartered in ESPN-based Bristol, Connecticut. Been there, done that. Lets just say that Bristol is the Primo Carnera of the Northeast.
My boxing experiences at Classic were Ali-esque. In a society that refuses to recognize boxing as a true sport, I have learned that historically, boxing is the sport to have the biggest impact on our country. I have also learned that boxers, active or retired, are the most sincere athletes in the world.
And I have also learned that with boxing, you can never, EVER learn enough about it. Theres always more knowledge to be gained.
And one more thing Trinidad by TKO in 9 over Oscar.
Send questions or comments firstname.lastname@example.org
March 31, 1973
By Rick Farris
A few months ago when I was invited to join the CBZ as a staff writer I expressed a desire to write about boxing from a different perspective. My plan was to share with readers a bit of undocumented boxing history that would not be found in the pages of boxing magazines and history books. In order to do this I would draw from personal experiences from my thirty five years of involvement in boxing. I want to make it clear that I have no intention of writing about my own 12 year professional & amateur career as a boxer or the fighters I have trained during the time since. My career was special to me but average at best in relation to the great boxers I've crossed paths with over the years. The stories I plan to write will only include reference to my career as it relates to the focus of the story and how I was involved. For those who take the time to read my stories, plan to join me as I take a few steps back into time. I will take you inside the gyms, dressing rooms and even a few homes of some great boxers. Some of these fighters were world champions and some were not. However, all were special. I would like to introduce you to a personal side of these men. I did not know all of them personally, but happened to be around them when the public was not watching. Don't expect a lot of startling exposes filled with material fit for the Enquirer. These are just moments in the lives of some exceptional prizefighters. I'm not here to trash anybody or inject personal opinions, just share a few experiences as seen thru my eyes.
Who better to start with than a true all-time great, the Greatest himself, Muhammad Ali . . . . .
In March 1973 I was working out at the Main St. Gym in Los Angeles one day when my manager, Johnny Flores, informed me I'd be replacing a boxer in a preliminary bout the next day in San Diego. "You'll be fighting a six rounder on the undercard of the Ali - Norton fight".
I had been lucky enough to fight on the undercard of several world title fights during my career but the prospect of fighting on one that featured Ali was something special.
The next day I arrived at the San Diego International Sports Arena and was ushered to the dressing room. There was a long corridor with cubicles and lockers where most of the fighters on the card would change and two small
rooms, one on each end reserved for Ali and Norton. I had my mind on my fight but also was curious about Ali. I knew Kenny Norton and we had fought on the same card more than once in the past. I had my second pro fight the night he was KO'ed by Jose Luis Garcia at the Olympic Auditorium in 1970 in his first pro loss. We had also shared a dressing room at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in 1971. However, two years later he was facing a legend and entered the dressing room area almost unnoticed about ten minutes after I did.
A little later I noticed Dr. Ferdie Pacheco enter with Angelo Dundee and they were directed to Ali's room at the other end of the corridor. My dressing area was located right outside of Norton's room and when he passed by we shook hands and I wished him luck. In my mind I thought, "He's going to need a lot of luck tonight. This wasn't Jose Luis Garcia, it was Ali".
A moment later I heard a commotion at the other end of the hall and sure enough Muhammad Ali had arrived. Bundini Brown entered first as if making way for Ali who followed him. Bundini was talking 100 miles an hour but Ali was quiet. Muhammad looked almost bored as he made his way to the room where Pacheco and Dundee awaited him. Also in tow was Ali photographer Howard Bingham and several others. Once Ali had arrived there was a constant noise coming from outside the dressing area.
The prelim fights went on as scheduled and I came away with a six round decision victory in a tough fight. There would be one more match on the card prior to the main event and I hurried to shower so I would be ready for it.
I waited in the dressing area so as I could watch the fighters leave for the ring and when Norton came out of the dressing room he looked relaxed and confident. Ali looked bored, almost disinterested.
You all know that Ken Norton scored one of the biggest upsets in Heavyweight boxing when he broke the great Ali's jaw and won a decision over the former champ that night. However, it was what I saw in the dressing room after the fight that I will never forget.
When I returned to the dressing room to retrieve my equipment I had to push my way thru the crowd of reporters and God knows who else just to grab my bag. Everybody wanted to speak with Norton. The crowd that had come with Ali were now fighting to see Norton.
When I finally got to my locker I slipped out down at the other end of the corridor and passed by Ali's dressing room. I couldn't help but stop outside the room and peak in. There were only a few people in the room and nobody was saying much. Ali was sitting on a fold up chair holding an ice bag to the side of his face while Dr. Pacheco was on the phone making arrangements for Ali at a local hospital. Howard Bingham was standing in the corner talking with somebody about his pictures and two reporters were firing questions at Ali. Bundini Brown turned around from a bad he was packing and shouted at the eager reporters. "Can't you see the man is in pain. Take a walk", Bundini ordered, pushing the two men out the door I was looking in.
A moment later Angelo Dundee walks past me as he entered the dressing room. Dundee was munching on a hot dog and began to tell a stories about some of the women they had met over the years. "Hey Muhammad, remember that redhead who was after me in Miami. The old broad had more chins than a china town phone book" Dundee laughed. Ali just sat expressionless.
Ali was a beaten fighter and in no mood to joke. Losing was not something Ali was used to. He was supposed to win.
I picked up my bag and walked out of the San Diego Sports Arena feeling very strange. It wasn't Ali losing that gave me these feelings, it was the lonely look in his eyes as he sat holding that ice bag to his face. It was
quite a sight, one I will never forget.
RANDY'S WORLD OF BOXING
By Randy Gordon
As the date for the most sensational matchup of welterweights this decade draws closer, I find myself thinking more and more about it. Oscar de la Hoya vs. Felix Trinidad. Trinidad vs. de la Hoya. No matter which outstanding fighter you give top billing to, the thought of this incredible match is mind-boggling. Not since Sugar Ray Leonard faced Thomas Hearns 18 years ago this month (has it really been 18 years??!!) has a welterweight
fight--or any fight, for that matter--been this intriguing, at least to me.
This isn't just boxer vs. boxer or slugger vs. slugger or boxer vs. slugger. It's boxer/slugger vs. boxer/slugger. It's speed against speed and power against power. It's will vs. will, youth vs. youth and pride vs. pride. It's two of the finest, hardest jabs the division has seen in years. On paper, it just doesn't get better than this.
Despite the fact that some members of the media have come to call de la Hoya names, I think we realize that many of these very same writers have their own agendas. The fact is, Oscar de la Hoya, while indeed a "pretty
boy," is also a fighter at heart. He certainly showed that fighter's heart in his victory against Ike Quartey. Remember, for years many of those same writers called Sugar Ray Leonard a "pretty boy" and a "media hype." They questioned his chin, they questioned his heart and they questioned his desire to win. Those questions faded into oblivion following Leonard's sensational and thrilling hard-fought victory over Hearns.
I believe de la Hoya and Trinidad will wage the same kind of ferocious battle as Leonard and Hearns did those 18 years ago under the blazing lights at Caesars Palace. I think you'll see an ebb and flow of command during the fight, with each young man etching those moments into our collective memories and into boxing history forever.
Oscar de la Hoya vs. Felix Trinidad is a Pay-Per-View fight. I am one fan who has stopped buying PPV fights, as they just don't deliver the drama and excitement their pre-fight hype promises. This one, however, I WILL buy. I expect a great fight and I am sure I will see nothing less.
I expect 12 rounds of greatness from both men. When the final punch is thrown, I do not expect a horrendous decision from one or two incompetent judges. I expect a decision boxing can accept without discussion. The only discussion will be about the fight.
The winner, I predict, will be Oscar de la Hoya. In the end, boxing will have itself a fight it can truly hold up high to the rest of the sports world and show with pride.
In doing so, boxing will be the real winner, which hasn't had a mega fight it could be proud of for quite some time.
From Corner To Corner: I'm proud of the Nevada State Athletic Commission and its Executive Director, Marc Ratner. They have informed all the sanctioning bodies that the choice and approval of all officials will lie
solely with the NSAC. Great news! It should be like that 100% of the time in 100% of the states. In this important battle, look for the man who wins to be given the decision...By the way, whatever happened to the investigation which was being carried out following the outrageous draw decision in the Lennox Lewis-Evander Holyfield fight? That whole odiferous incident seemed to disappear quietly, didn't it?...Also, what going on with the FBI's investigation into Don King and Bob Lee. A few weeks ago, the Feds raided the offices of both men, raids which were front page news. Since then, nada! I keep hearing that indictments are coming at any moment, but I'm sure we'll see Riddick Bowe-Andrew Golota III before we see any indictments...Oh, speaking of Riddick Bowe, rumors are circulating that he's talking comeback. For his own good, I certainly hope not!...Now that it looks as if Lennox Lewis-Evander Holyfield II is set for November, Holyfield has come out with the statement that he was sick and not 100% for the first battle last March 13. Evander has got to be kidding. With all that was riding on his first fight against Lewis, shame on him for not stepping forward and saying he was sick, if indeed he was sick. With the mega-millions he earned that night, I don't recall him offering to return any of the money. Sugar Ray Leonard did the same thing when he was stopped (I still gag when I write that!) by Hector Camacho in 1997. After the fight, Leonard claimed he was hampered by a severe leg injury which limited his mobility. Actually, nothing seemed wrong with his legs that night. After the fight, he took his millions and ran!...Now that I know Mike Tyson's next bout will be against Orlin Norris, I can make dinner/movie plans for that date. I'm about as excited to see Tyson-Norris as I would have been to see Tyson-Buster Douglas. Had Douglas not been so out of shape and the MGM Grand bought that fight, they would have been laughed right out of the boxing business. At least Norris will give everything inside of himself before Tyson's strength and punching power get to him, even if it's very early. This one will sell to a few homes because it's Mike Tyson, but they're not getting $$$ from this fan...Looks like Francois Botha's dad, Jan, is in charge of his camp, now that Botha's contract with manager Sterling McPherson expired. McPherson had done wonders by Botha, topped by getting him a $2 million payday against Tyson last January 16. It will be curious to see just how far Papa Botha will be able to lead his son...It's amazing how fast the interest in "Prince" Naseem Hamed has subsided. The WBO featherweight king's lack of activity has made fight fans all but forget him...The other day, I overheard two fight fans talking and refer to Teddy Brenner, the legendary matchmaker and head of Madison Square Garden Boxing Department, as the "late" Teddy Brenner. I informed them that Teddy is still with us, though not in very good shape. Visitors to Brenner's New York residence are either turned away or asked to leave after only a short visit. He has been severely depressed since the death of one of his closest friends several years ago and rarely leaves his home any more...Another extremely sad story is that of former featherweight and lightweight king Alexis Arguello, who is battling drug addiction and depression in his homeland of Nicaragua. Arguello, who is one of the finest gentlemen I have met in my nearly 30 years in the sport, has told associates he no longer wants to live. I wish there was a way we could help him. Just a thought, but maybe his old adversary, Aaron Pryor, who is now a minister, could be just the helping hand Arguello needs. I really wish the boxing community would stand up and come to Arguello's aid NOW. Where are the rich promoters and networks when they are truly needed!...Are Stan "Boobalah" Hoffman and his longtime pal, Bob Arum, really on the outs?...No official word yet, but inside sources tell me Pennsylvania's Greg Sirb will be staying on as President of the Association of Boxing Commissions. That's great news, as Sirb has done a great job heading the stubborn lot of political hacks who
pose as boxing commissioners...Speaking of President, I really would love to see Arizona State Senator John McCain throw his hat into next year's Presidential race. McCain, a brilliant politician who is made of the finest
of moral fiber and high-quality ethics, would make a sensational Chief Executive. The fact that he loves boxing and is totally for everything which would make boxing a better and safer sport is all the more reason I hope he
one day resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C.
PETER JACKSON "FASTER AND SMOOTHER THAN JOE LOUIS"
By Tracy Callis
Peter Jackson was tall, smooth, and elusive on the order of the modern boxer yet he possessed the ruggedness that typified the "Old School". He had size, quickness, and strength accompanied by great ring science.
Jackson was among the first of the heavyweights to fight up on his toes. A perfectionist in his style, he developed as fine a "One-Two" sequence as the ring has ever known. His punches had the kick of a mule with either hand.
Grombach (1977 p 45) stated "While he was of the old school, he used a powerful one-two punch in various combinations which made him a tricky adversary". Fleischer (1938 p 150) said Jackson threw his punches with lightning rapidity while Lardner (1972 p 78) wrote "Jacksons two blows landed almost simultaneously".
Always in a position to hit, Peter could feint, counter, block, or slip punches by a few inches and avoid a blow by the narrowest of margins. He was a master boxer and a stinging hitter.
He was a gentleman in every sense of the word and yet, John L. Sullivan, the man generally recognized as Heavyweight Champion of the World at that time, would not fight him. Fleischer (1949 p 103) wrote that Sullivan drew the color line in order to evade a match with Peter Jackson and adds it was well he did because Jackson probably would have won decisively just like Corbett did a few years afterwards (also see Langley 1974 p 20 and Fleischer 1942 p 34). Grombach (1977 p 44) said Sullivan ducked the fight by using the color line as an excuse.
Jim Corbett called Jackson one of the most intelligent pugilists that ever stepped into the ring and said it didnt matter whether it was a box or slug affair, Peter could adapt himself to it. He [Corbett] often said Jackson could defeat any fighter he had ever seen (see Corbett 1926 pg 132 145 326). Corbett lived until 1933.
In describing Jackson, Lardner (1972 p 77) wrote "He is considered by many experts to have been the greatest heavyweight who ever lived". He added, "Corbett ranked him with Jeffries as one of the two greatest heavyweights of all time".
Corbett related that he once saw speedy Joe Choynski spar with Jackson and not manage to touch him with a glove. He added that on another occasion Jackson boxed with Bob Fitzsimmons in an exhibition and it was like a professor giving a pupil a lesson (see Fleischer 1938 p 123).
Corbett and Jackson fought sixty-one rounds in 1891 in one of the rings greatest battles. Jackson entered the contest with a cold and a sprained ankle. These two conditions caused him to stop training ten days prior to the fight. Yet, it was Corbett who was more hard pressed during the contest.
Frank "Paddy" Slavin, a hard-hitting scrapper of the modern Jack Dempsey mold who fought Jackson in another of the rings great fights, called Peter "unbeatable the greatest of all masters" (Langley 1974 p 60).
Bob Fitzsimmons refused to meet him in an official fight, calling him the greatest fighter who ever breathed. Fitz said that Jackson was the daddy of them all and that he [Fitz] did not care for the fight (see Fleischer 1938 p 124).
Jim Jeffries once commented on the stiffness of Peters punches short, crisp, and hard. Lardner (1972 p 77) said "Jeffries later used the memory of a punch Jackson had thrown at him as the basis for comparison with all the other single devastating punches he had received".
Lord Lonsdale of England, early president of Londons National Sporting Club and namesake of the Lonsdale Belt, said that although Jack Johnson was the best heavyweight of his time, he [Johnson] never equaled Jackson for science and skill (see Langley 1974 p 61).
Carpenter (1975 p 30) called Jackson "one of the great fighters of the time". Durant (1976 p 30) said Jackson "may have been the greatest ringman of any age". Burrill (1974 p 95) wrote "One of his times most feared and popular boxers".
Fleischer (1938 p 159) said Jackson was "regarded as the greatest boxer of his era". He went on to say that few fighters could be rated superior to Jackson and described him as a sharpshooter and two-fisted scientific hitter. Nat described him as having a powerful left, an excellent jabbing and hooking game, and a wicked right-hand chop.
Arthur Chambers, the man most often credited with developing the Marquis of Queensberry rules and perhaps the foremost boxing authority in America at the time, (see Lardner 1972 p 79) said, "Hes a wonder, make no mistake about his ability. He is one of the finest specimens of fighting man Ive ever seen" (see Fleischer 1938 p 141).
Farnol (1928 p 177) elaborated on Jackson "Perhaps for his size the most finished and beautiful boxer ever seen; magnificently shaped from head to foot, his every move was graceful; also he was incredibly quick and very sure".
Lardner (1972 p 78) described Jackson in battle as moving out carefully, throwing punches with a pumalike grace, stalking his man about the ring, avoiding blows with ease, and hitting his adversary so hard it took a quart of whiskey to revive him.
He added Jackson was like a hurricane tearing through the ranks of the Australian heavyweights, knocking out everyone and later turning to "right-hand barred" exhibitions in which he was not allowed to hit with his right.
Eugene Corri, who was considered by many to be the greatest referee of modern times (see Grombach 1977 p 183), called Peter Jackson the best boxer he ever saw (Farnol 1928 pg 179 180). In other articles, Corri called Jackson the greatest heavyweight he had ever seen.
Jackson was a Muhammad Ali "look-a-like". He boxed rather than slugged and moved gracefully, quickly, and easily about the ring avoiding punches. He was almost the same physical size as Ali but never allowed himself to get as heavy as did Ali in his later career. He even looked enough like Ali in his facial features to be his brother. His personality was likeable and almost everyone who met him developed a genuine affinity for him. He, perhaps, was not as quick as Ali (but almost) and he hit a little harder.
Jackson was like Sam Langford in that he was so good the champions of his time would not risk their titles against him. These two powerhouse fighters were probably the greatest pugilists never to fight for the Heavyweight Championship of the World.
In summary, Jackson was more scientific than Jack Johnson, was faster and smoother than Joe Louis but hit just as hard, and possessed footwork similar to Muhammad Ali. In the opinion of this writer, Jackson was one of the greatest fighters in the history of the heavyweight division and deserves to be ranked among the all-time best men in this weight class.
Burrill, B. 1974. Whos Who in Boxing. New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House
Carpenter, H. 1975. Boxing: A Pictorial History. Chicago: Henry Regnery Company
Corbett, J. J. 1926. The Roar of the Crowd (James J. Corbett). New York: Garden City Publishing Company
Durant, J. 1976. The Heavyweight Champions. New York: Hastings House Publishers
Farnol. J. 1928. Famous Prize Fights. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company
Fleischer, N. 1938. Black Dynamite (Volume I). New York: C. J. OBrien, Inc.
Fleischer, N. 1942. Gentleman Jim The Story of James J. Corbett. New York: The Ring, Inc.
Fleischer, N. 1949. The Heavyweight Championship. New York: G. P. Putnams Sons
Grombach, J. 1977. The Saga of Sock. London : Thomas Yoseloff Ltd.; Cranbury, New Jersey: A.S. Barnes and Company, Inc.
Langley, T. 1974. The Life of Peter Jackson. Leicester, England: Vance Harvey Publishing
Lardner, R. 1972. The Legendary Champions. New York: American Heritage Press
By Enrique Encinosa
The boxing ring was assembled in the parking lot of a muffler shop. The temporary wood stands were filled with a capacity crowd since early morning. The area surrounding the ring was crowded with people, a few carrying umbrellas to protect them from the bright Florida sun, while others drank beers from paper cups. Up and down Calle Ocho over a half million people moved freely.
The yearly street festival in Little Havana was a picturesque sight on that warm March morning in 1984. Besides the free pro boxing card and martial arts exhibitions, street vendors peddled t-shirts, souvenirs and balloons. Temporary stages were set up for street performances by the best musicians from the tropics. Salsa music and Spanish rock sounds filled the air, the sound of electric guitars and steel instruments mixing with the thumping of conga drums. Dance ensembles in elaborate costumes performed for the crowds. Plates of roast pork with black beans and rice were sold from wooden booths, along with a variety of sandwiches, pastries, fruit juices, soft drinks and beer.
I was busy on that orange bright afternoon. One of my fighters was turning pro. The makeshift dressing room was a rented room in a tiny, worn-down hotel across the street from the muffler shop where the ring had been set-up. Dave Clark, one of the nicest people in boxing, was taping my fighter's hand. The fighter, a light heavyweight with a facial resemblance to Joe Frazier, was relaxed. Dave on the other hand, seemed slightly nervous. The boxing trainer had a father-son relationship with the young fighter, whom he had schooled since the youth had been a thin flyweight in Florida Junior Olympic tournaments.
"Don't worry," I said to Dave, pulling him aside, "this will be an easy fight. The next ones will be tougher, but this one is cake. Tell Little Joe to maneuver in the ring keeping the sun on his opponent's face. That will help."
Dave nodded. He had been working with the kid daily for five or six years. After ninety amateur bouts, the young teenager was entering the pro ranks while still in high school.
A Florida Deputy Boxing Commissioner wearing a wrinkled suit entered the dressing room, his forehead beading with perspiration from the afternoon sunshine. The man's face was creased by a scowl.
"Are you the manager of Robert Daniels?" he asked.
"Yes," I answered, "Is anything wrong?"
"Let's step outside. I need to talk to you."
The commissioner was upset.
"I thought you were an up front kind of guy," he told me, "but I guess I was wrong."
It was my turn to scowl.
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"This kid is seventeen and never had a pro fight. His opponent is twenty-six and has been fighting pro for six years. I'm going to cancel this bout."
I could not believe my ears. The commissioner was concerned about an overmatch while I was personally embarrassed because I believed the fight to be too easy, even for a pro debut. I had tried to procure a tougher opponent, but the few prelim light heavyweights in South Florida were unavailable, some healing, others not interested in fighting a young fighter for four round money, while a couple of others were away on vacations provided by the Florida Department of Corrections.
"Are you serious?" I asked, "James Roper has had eleven fights with only one win. He has been stopped seven times. Daniels was one of the best amateurs in Florida. This is an easy fight for my fighter."
"He's a minor."
"I have a notarized letter from his mother allowing him to turn pro."
"Not good enough."
"How about if I sign a letter assuming all responsibility for any injuries that might happen to him in this fight?"
The deputy commissioner nodded slowly.
"Okay," I insisted, "Get the paperwork ready. I'll sign."
As the deputy commissioner walked away, I shook my head in disbelief. A couple of minutes later, Frankie Otero, the former lightweight contender, working as the matchmaker for the eight bout card of four and six rounders, walked towards me, shaking his head.
"I can't believe that guy," he told me, "when he came bitching about that fight, I thought he would consider it a mismatch for Roper, not Little Joe. I explained it's not an even match."
"It isn't. It's an easy win for Little Joe. Can you open the card with this fight? I don't want this idiot to change his mind."
"Sure. As soon as you sign that paper get him up on the ring."
I walked back to the dressing room. Little Joe looked relaxed.
"Warm him up, Dave," I said, "He's going to be the first bout."
The deputy commissioner returned with a hand-written paper. I signed it with a smile, not wanting to provide any excuse that would interfere with the bout.
The next few minutes I wandered around ringside, talking to friends, sipping a soda, hoping that the political bureaucrats would not interfere once again. As Frankie signaled for the show to begin I felt relieved. Once up on the ring, I reasoned, the fight would not be scratched.
I went up on the ring. The deputy commissioner was seated at ringside, his face inches away from the ring apron, looking mildly disgusted in his wrinkled suit. I smiled once again, walked over towards the ring ropes, standing directly above the deputy commissioner. The paper I had signed was neatly folded on his breast pocket. Roper, dressed in green trunks and a faded robe entered the ring. I motioned for Little Joe to come to where I stood.
"How you feeling, Joe?" I asked.
"Fine." Robert was not a big talker.
"I want you to do me a special favor," I said, loud enough so the man at the ring apron would hear me, "I want you to drop this guy cold in the first round. I want you to drop him right here, in this spot where I am standing. Not anywhere else. Right here. You understand."
Daniels nodded. He didn't know the details of the situation but at seventeen, he had street smarts, earned in a tough northwest Miami neighborhood. The deputy commissioner looked like he was ready to jump in the ring, but the announcer, holding a battery operated microphone, was in the process of introducing Roper.
The fight lasted less than a minute. Roper danced, jabbing twice with his left. Little Joe shuffled in, hands held high, wine red gloves shielding his face. Roper moved to the side as Daniels pawed a lazy jab, cutting the ring, moving his opponent towards the spot where the commissioner sat. Roper jabbed twice more, threw a right that grazed Little Joe, eating a jab in return. As Roper's back touched the ropes, Little Joe shifted his weight, unloading a short hook that landed crisply on his
opponent's chin. James Roper dropped to the canvas, his glassy eyes staring at the deputy commissioner.
The referee raised Daniel's arm in victory. I toweled off my fighter while I looked down at the ring apron. The deputy commissioner was shaking his head in disbelief. I winked at him and smiled again. He did not smile back.
"You did good," I said to Little Joe, "you are on your way now."
I was right. Robert Daniels, who turned pro at seventeen in a Miami street festival, went on to become the first Florida born boxing champion.
Enrique Encinosa can be reached at
Jack Dempsey and the All-Time Greats
By Eric Jorgensen
When Jack Dempsey flashed out of America's wild west and into its sporting conscience in the late teens, no one had ever seen anything like him. He combined the right hand of John L. Sullivan, the left hand of Jim Jeffries, the speed of Jim Corbett, the cunning of Bob Fitzsimmons and the ferocity of Stanley Ketchel. He was almost instantly acclaimed the greatest fighter of all-time and remained the consensus selection in that regard well into the 1960s, when those who saw him fight began dying out. (In the Associated Press Mid-Century Poll conducted in 1950, for example, Dempsey received 251 votes as history's number 1 fighter, pound-for-pound; distant runner-up Joe Louis received only 104 votes and 3rd choice Henry Armstrong only 16.) To me, Dempsey remains unique, and he is still the all-time pound-for-pound champion. Nor does he rank much lower, if at all, as a heavyweight.
Old-Timers vs Moderns
These days, one reads a lot about how the old-time heavyweights were too small and too primitive stylistically to compete with their "modern" counterparts. I submit, however, that the foregoing grossly oversimplifies the analyses. While it is certainly true that Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey, Gene Tunney, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, and most heavyweights of the pre-Sonny Liston era, would have conceded a lot of weight were they campaigning today, it is also true that ability can overcome weight. For a variety of reasons, it seems to me that the old-time fighters were superior pound-for-pound to today's fighters such that the best of them could have more than held their own against their bigger successors.
For one thing, boxing was far more popular in the old days than it is now. More athletes were competing, fight clubs flourished, and, perhaps most importantly, there were fewer divisions and fewer champions. Nowadays, football, basketball, tennis, and other, safer sports attract the athletic talent, so overall competition quality has declined in the ring. Thus, the champions of old had to climb a higher mountain than the champions of today have to climb.
Moreover, the old-time fighters had far more fights in their careers, as a rule, than do their modern counterparts (for many reasons, primarily economic). Thus, those fighters became truly skilled and
seasoned while still at their physical peaks. Dempsey, for example, had 60 or 70 professional fights (at least) by the time he won the title at age 24. Thus, he had a career's-worth of experience and his
in-prime body at the same time. These days, a fighter can become a millionaire after 20-30 fights, or fewer, and so often loses some of his ambition. Thus, he slips into semi-retirement, fighting once a
year or so, without ever learning some of the finer skills mastered by the busier fighters of legend. Mike Tyson and Riddick Bowe are perfect examples of this. Both began losing strength and speed to age while they still had a lot to learn.
Nor have training techniques changed all that much. Boxers were way ahead of the times in recognizing the value of cardio-vascular conditioning (even John L. Sullivan skipped rope and did roadwork). Conversely (and bizarrely), they have been among the last to abandon old superstitions concerning weight-training. Angelo Dundee still thinks lifting makes a fighter "musclebound" (i.e., slow and clumsy). Thus, boxers have by and large failed to benefit from modern training methods the way other athletes have.
Proponents of the modern boxer often respond to arguments like the ones I've just set forth with comments along the lines of: Awell, you can theorize all you want, but all I have to do is take one look at the films to know Jack Johnson wouldn't have lasted 15 seconds with Mike Tyson. But, films can be deceiving. Though the old-timers may appear "awkward" on film (at least sometimes), the careful analyst must reason his way beyond mere appearances. He should think of the silent film era movies he has seen. The movements of the actors appear disjointed and clumsy -- almost cartoonish. They appear grossly uncoordinated and inept when performing even the most rudimentary physical feats. Yet, would anyone conclude that Clint Eastwood walks more skillfully than Charlie Chaplin walked? Of course not; to do so would belie all common sense. The difference, then, is not in the actor but in the quality (primarily the speed) of the film capturing the act.
Jack Dempsey In Particular
With respect to Dempsey, there is an additional "biasing factor" relating to films. The film clip most people see is the second half of his first round against Jess Willard, when Dempsey had Willard reeling around the ring and ready to go. Yes, he looks wild, perhaps even "crude", as The Ring's editor-n-chief Nigel Collins contends, but pretty much every fighter looks that way in such circumstances. Anyone troubling himself to view the second and third rounds of that fight, when Dempsey was catching his breath after his premature victory celebration following his apparent 1-round win had left him a bit winded, would have to concede that Dempsey appears highly skillful
bouncing nimbly beyond Willard's reach, deftly slipping punches, etc.
In fact, Dempsey was an extremely skilled and versatile fighter all around, more along the lines of a heavyweight Roberto Duran than a prehistoric version of Marciano and Frazier (as many today seem to believe). He had the same granite jaw, remarkable stamina, and indomitable will that Marciano and Frazier had, but was quicker, a much better boxer, and, consequently, much harder to hit than either one of them. Also, he neither cut like Marciano nor swelled like Frazier. Finally, whereas Marciano and Frazier tended to wear their opponents down over the course of a fight, Dempsey had one-punch power in both hands (indeed, he was one of the very few fighters in heavyweight history who hit equally hard from each side). He demolished big, modern-sized heavyweights (Willard, Carl Morris, Fred Fulton, and Luis Firpo, among others) in record time. And, whatever their merits as overall fighters (and I submit that they have been underappreciated by boxing historians), those fighters were tough and strong, and these fights demonstrate that Dempsey's power would have proven effective against today's heavyweights. Dempsey possessed an extraordinary combination of skills which allowed him to handle any style he encountered.
Dempsey is often criticized for avoiding Harry Wills (as well he should be), but the fact is that very few experts of the day thought Wills would give Dempsey a run for his money. Indeed, Dempsey
regularly destroyed the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th best black fighters of the day (George Godfrey, Big Bill Tate, and Larry Gaines) in sparring sessions, and Wills was not much better than any of them, if at all. At bottom, Dempsey was just so much better than any other fighter of the day that no one particularly cared against whom he defended. Though Wills unquestionably deserved a shot at the title, he wouldn't have lasted 5 rounds.
Dempsey vs The All-Time Greats
There are only a few champions of any era whom I consider worthy to be compared with Dempsey. In chronological order, they are: Jim Jeffries, Jack Johnson, Gene Tunney, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Sonny Liston, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, and Larry Holmes. I will
also discuss my views on how Dempsey compares with Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield, since those two get a lot of attention from sportswriters today.
Dempsey vs Jeffries: These days, Jeffries is the forgotten man of heavyweight greats. However, those who saw him fight swore he was an awesome figure: powerful (particularly, though not exclusively, with the left), durable (indestructible?), virtually tireless, defensively adept, and underrated in terms of speed. Tex Rickard, who saw Johnson, Dempsey, and Tunney at their best, always picked Jeff as the greatest, as did Dan Morgan, John D. McCallum, and many other boxing experts during the course of the last century.
Great as Jeffries was, though, I do not think he could have defeated Dempsey. I feel that Dempsey would have proven too quick for Jeffries to pick off at long range or to keep on the end of the jab. At close range, I do not think Jeffries could have handled a fighter who hit as hard as he did, but whose hands were much faster than his were. I think Dempsey would have swarmed all over Jeffries (just as Tom Sharkey did), landing heavily and often. I disagree with the classic argument advanced by Jeffries proponents that, even though Jeff would likely have taken a beating in the early going, he would have survived it and gotten Dempsey after Dempsey had tired. Again, Jack could box when he had to, and he did have sense enough to pace himself when an early kayo was not going to happen (as he did against Bill Brennan, Tommy Gibbons, Billy Miske the 1st time, and Morris the 1st time); there is no question in my mind that Dempsey would have had plenty left at the end. This is not to suggest that Dempsey would not have experienced some rough moments, but, ultimately, he would have ground Jeffries down. The only question is whether Jeff could have hung in there long enough to hear the final bell. Close, but I doubt it.
Result: Dempsey TKO14 over Jeffries
Dempsey vs Johnson: Experts down through the ages have lauded Johnson's defensive ability, and I'm not going to argue with that assessment here. Further, that Johnson was rated as the greatest by
the likes of Nat Fleischer and Stanley Weston carries a fair amount of weight with me. Certainly, he had superb reflexes, a terrific all-purpose right hand (straight right, right cross, right uppercut), textbook left jab, nimble feet, and excellent stamina.
However, Johnson did have one glaring weakness in his (in)ability to withstand punishment, as evidenced by his knockout losses to over-the-hill middleweight Joe Choynski (from a body blow) and to third-rater John "Klondike" Haynes, and by the knockdown he suffered against middleweight Stanley Ketchel. Unfortunately for Johnson, this is the worst possible weakness to have when competing against someone as fast and hard-hitting as Dempsey was. For all his speed and defensive technique, I simply cannot envision Johnson avoiding Dempsey completely for an entire fight (don't forget that even ponderous Marvin Hart was able to connect eventually). As one commentator put it, Dempsey hurt everyone he ever hit, and he hit everyone he ever fought -- including Tunney. Nor was Johnson a big enough hitter himself to simply blow Dempsey out of the ring before getting hit in the first place (again, witness the Hart fight). Sooner or later, after Dempsey's legendary body attack had taken some of the spring out of Johnson's legs, Dempsey would have started nailing Johnson, much in the way Frazier started nailing Ali in 1971. However, Dempsey hit harder than Frazier did, and could do it with either hand, and, again, Johnson did not take remotely the punch that Ali took.
Result: Dempsey KO8 over Johnson
Dempsey vs Tunney: I regard Tunney as a souped-up version of Jim Corbett: every bit as fast, probably an even better boxer (he had more fights and, overall, fought rougher opponents), a far better puncher (who threw every punch in the book), and much more durable (I think Tunney had one of the greatest chins of all-time -- never knocked out, knocked down only by Dempsey -- and his stamina was amazing).
That having been said, though, I have to favor an in-prime Dempsey to catch Tunney based on how close the past-prime Dempsey came to catching him. Unlike Louis and Marciano, Dempsey had quick feet, and so was not overly troubled by "speedy boxers", as his wins over the likes of Miske, Gibbons, Gunboat Smith, and Georges Carpentier attest. [Willie Meehan did give him trouble, but those fights were only 4-rounders (Meehan would not have survived 10) and Dempsey was arguably robbed in those two "losses" anyway (he was absolutely robbed in the two "draws").] The films of the Dempsey-Tunney fights show me that Tunney won on superior reflexes more than anything else -- an advantage I don't think he would have enjoyed to anywhere near the same extent (if, indeed, he enjoyed it at all) against the Dempsey who demolished Fulton and Willard. The way I see it, that Dempsey would have landed to the body early and to the head late, and even the great
Fighting Marine would have fallen.
Result: Dempsey KO12 over Tunney
Dempsey vs Louis: This fight would have been very close. Mobility (Louis's weakness) would not have been an issue since both fighters would have been moving forward. Louis's hands may have been even quicker (if only barely) than Dempsey's, so he may have been the first to land. As hard as Louis hit, that might have been the deciding factor, particularly considering that Louis may have been the only heavyweight in history who really did throw every single punch in the book perfectly.
However, Louis was never comfortable against fighters who fought from a crouch, he did not have the best chin, and he was vulnerable to right hands. Dempsey fought from a crouch and his right was a lot better than Max Schmeling's. I suspect Dempsey would have stayed upright long enough to have caught Louis at some point or another, particularly if the fight turned into a brawl, and then taken him on out of there. I wouldn't put any money on the outcome, though; it could easily have gone the other way.
Result: Dempsey KO9 over Louis.
Dempsey vs Marciano: Marciano was a true warrior and an indisputably great fighter. His inhuman stamina allowed him to hurl really hard punches at an incredible rate (in terms of volume, if not speed). Though his wildness meant it usually took him a while to find the range, he always did find it, and there's no denying the guy could hit.
Still, if there is one great whom I am convinced Dempsey could have beaten every night of the week, it's Marciano. Basically, everything Rocky could do, Jack could do better. Specifically, if you took Marciano as a baseline, juiced up his right hand a bit and his left hand a lot, tightened his defense, doubled his reflexes, and gave him skin that didn't cut, then you'd have Dempsey. Dempsey and Marciano would have collided at center ring, whereupon Marciano would have started missing and Dempsey would have started landing. Very quickly, Marciano would have busted up and blacked out. Fundamentally, if Walcott and Moore could hurt Marciano, then Dempsey could have hurt him severely; and if Dempsey could survive Firpo, then he could have survived someone who took 9 rounds to polish off Don Cockell. A furious fight, but a short one.
Result: Dempsey TKO4 over Marciano
Dempsey vs Liston: Liston would have been tough; he was a more skilled, if less powerful, version of Foreman, and his straight left hand would have caused Dempsey problems (although, like Tunney did and Jeffries would have, Liston would have had a hard time planting that left on Dempsey's quick-moving chin). Still, Liston was not the hardest guy in the world to hit, a big minus against Dempsey. And, extenuating circumstances or not, one has to question Liston's heart based on his two pathetic surrenders to Ali (remember, unlike the other fighters on this list, Liston never won a tough fight in his whole career). In the final analysis, I see Dempsey as simply too tough and too determined to lose to Liston; I see him getting by the jab and out-quicking Liston on the inside until Sonny either burned out or quit.
Result: Dempsey KO10 over Liston
Dempsey vs Ali: Styles make fights, at least when the combatants are in the same "class", to borrow a term from horse racing, and Dempsey had the style to give Ali trouble. Dempsey would have fought Ali the same way Frazier did, hustling forward, keeping the pressure on, throwing a lot of left hooks, which Ali didn't like. Ali did not really have the punch to keep Dempsey honest, and so would have had difficulty the whole fight. Also, I keep thinking of the trouble Ali had with Henry Cooper. Dempsey was the same size as Cooper and had the same left hook. But, Dempsey had a right hand to go along with it, was much more durable, and, above all, didn't cut. Ultimately, I think
Ali's lightning hands and iron chin would have earned him a close decision, but, as with the Louis fight, I wouldn't put any money on it.
Result: Ali W15 over Dempsey
Dempsey vs Frazier: Frazier was similar to Marciano in terms of style and ability. Frazier was 20 lbs. heavier and so probably stronger, and didn't cut. Marciano was probably a little better boxer and a better 2-handed puncher (Rocky's left hook being superior to Joe's right cross). Both had solid chins (you can't fault Frazier for falling to Foreman, a puncher far, far beyond the magnitude of anyone Marciano ever fought), and both had wonderful endurance. Against Dempsey, Frazier, like Marciano, would have found himself in a heated brawl early on in which he would have been unable either to land cleanly on his speedy attacker or to avoid getting hit himself. Tough as Frazier was, he could only have hung in there so long.
Result: Dempsey TKO7 over Frazier
Dempsey vs Foreman: Until the last couple of years, Foreman was severely underrated by boxing experts (he was a great fighter as well as a great puncher), and he surely had the potential to simply bomb Dempsey, or anyone else (except maybe Ali), out of there early on any given night. More often than not, though, I think Dempsey would have had the sense and skill to stay out of Foreman's way for the 6-7 rounds it would have taken him to wind down, which Frazier did not have the versatility to do. After Foreman tired, Dempsey would have overcome him.
Result: Dempsey KO7 over Foreman
Dempsey vs Holmes: I think Dempsey-Holmes would have been fairly one-sided. Though he had fast hands and elegant boxing skills, Holmes was not exceptionally quick afoot and did not possess a big punch. Thus, he had trouble with aggressive fighters who put the pressure on him, like Ken Norton, Mike Weaver, and Earnie Shavers. Fortunately for Holmes, those guys all had glass jaws and (except for Norton) no stamina, and so ultimately wilted beneath Holmes' steady barrage. No one ever accused Dempsey of lacking either chin or stamina, however, and he would not have wilted. Moreover, Dempsey could lay on more pressure than all three of those guys put together. Further, he was harder to hit than any of them (Tunney, a quicker and more accurate puncher than Holmes, once said he was only able to catch Dempsey "cleanly" a couple times in their fights), so Dempsey would have paid a lower price for his aggression than those guys did. Finally, don't forget Holmes's career-long tendency to get hit by right hands over his left jab (Kevin Isaac, Renaldo Snipes, Duane Bobick (in the Olympic Trials), Shavers, Tyson), which punch was a specialty of Dempsey's. Any way you look at, Holmes would have been in trouble, though his great chin and heart would have kept him on his feet for a while.
Result: Dempsey KO11 over Holmes
Dempsey vs Tyson: As one writer recently put it, Dempsey was everything Tyson wanted to be, but never could be. At his best, Tyson was hard to hit cleanly, had fast hands, and, with either one of them, could hit harder than almost anyone who ever lived. But, he had some weaknesses. His biggest was his heart -- he got discouraged when the other guy fought back. In addition, his stamina was suspect, as was his ability (and willingness) to absorb punishment over the long-haul. Buster Douglas did not lay enough on him to have phased Frazier, Holmes, or Dempsey, but Tyson crumbled. Holyfield couldn't drop over-weight and over-the-hill light-heavyweight Bobby Czyz, but he dropped Tyson. Finally, Tyson seems unable to function in the face of aggressive counter-punching; he basically freezes until the other guy is finished. Tyson's loss to glass-jawed second-rater Douglas, when in shape (220 lbs. even) and in his prime (25 years old), demonstrates
conclusively that he is not of the same caliber as the others herein discussed. He was a great puncher, but not a truly great fighter; highly overrated.
Tyson would have come roaring out of his corner, missed with a few bombs, gotten hit back a few times (far harder than he ever expected), and then reverted into the tentative, one-punch-at-a-time fighter that he became against Douglas and Holyfield. Dempsey -- more than tough enough (despite his 30 pound disadvantage on the scales) to handle the occasional bomb with which Tyson might clip him -- would have spent the fight dashing in and out, mixing his punches to the head and body, and getting bolder and bolder as Tyson got more and more timid. Soon, Tyson would have become tired, dizzy, and discouraged. In short, out-toughed and out-classed.
Result: Dempsey KO6 over Tyson
Dempsey vs Holyfield: Yes, Holyfield surprised everyone by dismantling Tyson, and, yes, we all like and root for him, but I just don't see him as belonging among the true elite of the division. The real surprise of Holyfield-Tyson was the evidence that the Douglas fight was no fluke, and that Tyson has been vastly overrated for most of his career. A victory over Tyson, without more, does not qualify a fighter for ranking among the top 10 of all-time (see Douglas). Nor does the rest of Holyfield's career justify that lofty position. Remember, he had a great deal of trouble with Foreman and Holmes when each was well into his 40s. Looking at those fights, one has to figure that both those guys would've handed Holyfield his head when in their primes. Remember also the trouble he had against Bert Cooper, Michael Moorer, and Vaughn Bean, none of whom exactly qualifies as a hall-of-famer. Holyfield hits hard, but he is not a devastating puncher; he's quick, but I've seen quicker; he's a good boxer when he's paying attention, but he gets careless and can be hit; he's well-conditioned, generally, but I've seen him fade in the later rounds of a number of fights; he has heart, but I've seen him wobbled by mediocre punchers. In short, he is a first-rate heavyweight who stopped just a shade short of true greatness.
Dempsey did everything better than Holyfield does, and would have stopped him within 5 rounds. Unlike Tyson, Dempsey wouldn't choke or become unglued at the first sign of resistance.
Result: Dempsey KO5 over Holyfield
In the final analysis, Dempsey belongs in the very highest echelon of heavyweight greats; a champion among champions. For the record, I rate the all-time heavyweights as follows:
1- Muhammad Ali
2- Jack Dempsey
3- Joe Louis
4- George Foreman
5- Sonny Liston
6- Joe Frazier
7- Gene Tunney
8- Larry Holmes
9- Jack Johnson
10- Rocky Marciano
11- Jim Jeffries
12- Riddick Bowe
13- Evander Holyfield
14- Mike Tyson
15- Sam Langford
Bruno On Boxing
By Joe Bruno
Former vice president of the Boxing Writers Association and the International Boxing Writers Association
Looks like "Lord " Larry Hazzard, chairman of the New Jersey Athletic Commission, has stepped in it again -- bigtime. Hazzard, know for his tight-fisted and ethically-challenged control of New Jersey boxing, is on the bad end of a new lawsuit filed by two irate woman boxing officials.
World renowned boxing judge, Lynne Carter, and referee Velma Garrick have filed suit against Hazzard and the State Athletic Control Board, charging that the commissioner and the agency violated the women's civil rights when they were refused licenses to work in the state. Carter became the first African-American female boxing judge in New Jersey in 1982. Garrick has refereed more than 50 professional matches.
The woman filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Trenton because they believe Hazzard showed gender bias when he refused to renew Carter's license for 1997, and would not grant Garrick a license in 1996. The suit asks for damages in excess of $75,000. Neither woman was given a hearing.
"Given my track record, I can only believe that this happened because I'm a woman," said Carter, who has scored several world-title bouts for the World Boxing Association, the World Boxing Union, and the International Boxing Federation. Garrick, who has endured 10 surgical procedures to reconstruct the left side of her body, which was damaged by a collision at home plate during softball game in 1991, concurred.
"I think that, basically, it was rejection on gender because I'm a small female, and plus I'm handicapped," said Garrick.
To all this the cantankerous Hazzard has issued a firm and final, "No comment."
Documents obtained by The Philadelphia Inquirer show that in June 1997, a New Jersey deputy attorney general, Charles F. Kimmel, wrote a letter to M. Mark Mendel, then Carter's attorney, explaining that referees and judges were "at-will" employees of the control board and therefore could be denied licenses without a hearing. The suit further charges that both women suffered substantial financial losses because of the volume of fights that are held in Atlantic City as compared with other East Coast venues. It also contends that their reputations as boxing officials were damaged.
Apparently, Lord Larry is the only one who think these two women are incompetent boxing officials, since both woman are licensed to work in nearby Pennsylvania.
"I think both women are very competent at what they do," Pennsylvania athletic commissioner George Bochetto said. He also vouched for the character of the women. "That's why we license them here in Pennsylvania."
Hell hath no fury like a women (two women) scorned. Let's see how Lord Larry weasels his way out of this one.
Instead of denying two women boxing licenses in New Jersey, Lord Larry should check the integrity, and competency of his male boxing judges instead. In a fight that never belong on pay-per-view in the first place, heavyweight Frans Botha of South Africa was robbed of another chance at Mike Tyson, when he was awarded a disgraceful draw against the amateurish Shannon
Briggs on August 7th in Atlantic City.
One judge scored the fight 95-92 in favor of Botha (my scorecard exactly.) The other two blind-mice, borderline-crooks scored the fight 94-94 -- a draw. Even more shocking was the fact that Botha had to win the tenth and final round by a 10-8 margin to get the bloody draw in the first place.
Before the scoring was announced, Bobby Czyz told Ferdie "The Fright Doctor" Pacheco, "Even though I though Botha won easily, knowing the scoring in New Jersey, I see a draw coming."
Freddie-- er-- Ferdie countered with, "There's no way anyone who saw this fight thinks Botha didn't win."
Wrong again Ferdie.
"I thought I won the fight," said Botha. "But when it came to New Jersey, I figured I had to knock him out to win. The power that his manager has with the New Jersey Commission made it obvious to me I wasn't going to win a decision."
Briggs told TV commentator Jim Gray after the fight that he thought he had definitely earned a draw. Gray quipped back, "That's the first time in my life that I ever heard a fighter say he thought he had tied."
Right after the fight, the reason for the two bad judges scoring this fight they way they did immediately became evident.
Briggs' manager Marc Roberts, real palsy with Lord Larry, admitted to reporters that negotiations for a Briggs-Tyson bout, possibly for Dec. 11, were already underway. A loss to Botha would have denied Briggs a chance at Tyson, and a career-high payday.
Think Lord Larry and his judges were made aware of the big-bucks negotiations by Roberts before the Botha fight?
Do bears do do-do in the woods?
The Tyson connection was also broached by Briggs when he told Gray, "I heard he (Tyson) called here during the fight and said, `Let's get it on.' It would be great to have that fight. I'm excited."
Who, outside of the denizens of Brownsville, Brooklyn, cares about this stupid fight anyway? Still, the vultures who run boxing plan to put this farce on pay-per-view at $39.95 a pop.
And anyone who shells out their hard-earned cash for this rubbish deserves to get beat bigtime.
Don't hide people. You know who you are.
Apparently, one "President" with a sexual problem in our fine country is not enough.
Ikemefula "Ike" Ibeabuchi, 26, nicknamed "The President", was arrested on July 22nd in Las Vegas. According to Lt. Tom Monahan of the Metropolitan Police Department's Sexual Assault Detail. "President Ike" was jailed on charges of sexual assault and battery with intent to commit sexual assault. Monahan also confirmed that in light of the arrest, the Clark County district attorney is taking a second look at a sexual assault accusation made against Ibeabuchi in December. Though Las Vegas police filed a report on the allegations, Monahan said, the district attorney decided there was
insufficient evidence to charge the boxer.
"The DA's office is now going to review that case," Monahan said. The "President's" problems stem from an incident reported at The Mirage, where police were called in response to a commotion in Ibeabuchi's suite. When police arrived, the 6-foot-2, 240-pound boxer had barricaded himself in the bathroom. Officers had to direct pepper spray under the door to make him surrender.
A 21-year-old woman who works for an out call service told police she was raped by Ibeabuchi after being called to his suite. (There was no mention of the desecration of any cigar) "This was not like a case of a dispute over money, or not a matter of services rendered and payment expected," said Monahan. "We believe this was forcible rape."
This was not the first time "President Ike' has been in trouble with the law. Ibeabuchi was jailed in Texas for a little more than three months in January 1998. He pleaded guilty to false imprisonment charges related to an August 1997 incident in which he drove a car containing a 12-year old boy
straight into a wall. "President Ike" escaped unharmed, but a criminal complaint stated that the boy "will never walk normally again."
Upon Ibeabuchi's release from jail in April 1998, Ike's mother said he would be treated for depression. Mom mentioned nothing about her little Ikela's roaming hand problems with women.
Ibeabuchi's promoter, Cedric Kushner, had been quoted as saying his boxer suffers from manic depression. Kushner, probably a little depressed himself, said after "President Ike's" latest arrest, "I don't know what to say other than I hope the charges are incorrect."
If you really think about it, this whole incident could be transformed by ingenious boxing entrepreneurs (Don King?) into a boxing promotion to end all boxing promotions. They could match a convicted rapist, Mike Tyson, against an alleged rapist, "President Ike," in a steel cage match to the death somewhere near the North Pole.
No rules. No referee. No ringside doctor. No TV. And most importantly, no return ticket for the winner.
Let these two deviants do what they will to each other, and never let them darken our doorways again.
I've heard worse ideas.
This is getting monotonous.
News Flash!!! Convicted rapist returns to the ring.
Tony Ayala Jr., one of the most despicable human beings I've ever met in the sport of boxing (and that's saying something) made his return to the ring on August 20th after spending sixteen years in the slammer for his second rape conviction.
"El Torito" (Baby Bull) stopped an outclassed Manuel Esparaza in the third round of their scheduled middleweight bout. Ayala showed some of the punching power that made him one of the feared fighters of the early 1980s before he was sentenced to 35 years in prison for the rape of a New Jersey woman. Ayala also showed plenty of ring rust against an opponent who lost his last fight on a sixth-round knockout, and would have had no business being in the ring with an Ayala in his prime.
"It felt like the old days,'' Ayala said. "I can't tell you how much this meant to me."
I hope he meant "the old days" boxing in the ring, and not when he was terrorizing helpless young women.
Any sportswriter who spent any time around Tony Ayala Sr. and his brood in the early 1980's felt like he was hanging with Ma Barker and her gang.
Tony's old man, Tony Sr., was hardly a positive role model for his troubled sons. Oldest son Mike, a world ranked featherweight, battled drugs throughout his career. Mike also had constant battles with his father, and sometimes it got downright nasty.
In 1980, Mike won a decision at the Felt Forum in Madison Square Garden. When I interviewed Mike after the fight, he asked me if I was going to Totowa's Ice World the following week to see his younger brother Tony fight the main event. I said yes, and Mike told me, "When you see my father tell him I said hi, and tell him I'm sorry."
A few days later, Tony Jr. won on an easy first round knockout over some Joe Schmoe for the Duvas out in Totowa, New Jersey. I did a quick interview with father and son, then I turned to Tony Sr. and told him what Mike had said.
Tony Sr. turned on me with angry eyes and screamed, "Tell my son Mike he can suck my pr......!" Tony Jr. was standing right next to good old dad as the father continued his profane verbal assault against older brother Mike.
Tony Jr. was first arrested for sexual assault when he was only fifteen years old. He attacked a young girl in the ladies room of a drive-in theater in his hometown of San Antonio, Texas. Ayala raped the poor girl, then roughed her up a bit. But because Tony Jr. was good with his fists, and had a promising pro boxing career, he somehow got off with only a slight slap on
the wrists. No prison time included.
Tony Jr. signed with the Duvas, and by 1982, he was one of the top junior middleweights in the world. This teenage snake was so vicious in the ring, he once spat at a fallen opponent named Robbie Epps.
Then Tony Jr. decided it was time to get down and dirty again.
Ayala was arrested for raping a young woman in her own bedroom in rural New Jersey. No slap on the wrist for El Torito ( El Disgratciata) this time. Thirty five years to life. But with the new math applied to his sentence, that somehow translated out to be only sixteen years in the can.
Ayala Jr. did his time, and like any citizen of the good old US of A, he is entitled to resume his wretched life outside prison walls.
Still, there's something obscene about this two-time rapist making $200,000 in his first fight in almost two decades against such inferior competition. And on pay-per-view to boot.
What disturbs me most is that not one woman's rights group picketed Ayala's first fight back, like they did at Tyson's when he fought for the first time after his rape conviction. In fact, before Ayala's fight, two middle-aged woman carried a large banner around the ring that read "Hispanic Women For Better Justice support Torito." These misguided morons even threw a brunch in Ayala's honor the following day on the campus of San Antonio State College.
Better justice for whom? Certainly not for the hundreds of women who are raped and beaten annually in this country.
This sickening display of misplaced loyalties makes me want to puke. Sorry, but I just can't help but wanting only bad things to happen to Tony Ayala Jr. in the future. Maybe soon El Torito (El Disgratciata) will be on the short end of someone else's fiendish fury.
Then justice might finally be served.
As an addendum to the Ayala story, one of Ayala's new advisors is the infamous, roguish, never to be trusted, but hard to dislike Don Elbaum. Elbaum has the reputation that if you shake hands with him, you better count your fingers quick.
One of the best Elbaum stories concerns a benefit dinner he once threw for the legendary Sugar Ray Robinson. At the night's end, Elbaum stood at the podium, and with tears in his eyes he presented Sugar Ray with a set of old boxing gloves, ones Elbaum claimed were the very gloves Sugar Ray wore in this first pro fight four decades earlier. Sugar Ray graciously accepted the gloves, then suddenly noticed they were two right gloves.
Elbaum just smiled and shrugged his shoulders.
GERRY COONEY FIGHTS AGAIN!!
By Dave Iamele
Attention boxing fans! Gerry Cooney is back and hes taking on his toughest test ever. Thats right, tougher than Jimmy Young, Ron Lyle, Ken Norton, Larry Holmes, Michael Spinks, and George Foreman (all former Cooney opponents). Hell, this may be tougher than all of these guys put together.
So what am I talking about? Has Gerry joined the ever growing list of ex-ex-heavyweights and returned to the ring for another comeback? No way, dont count on ever seeing that again. Instead, he has focused his attention on trying to eliminate the image and reality of the punchy, broke, ex-palooka that cant hold down a job and may or may not even have a home.
Now you know why I say this task appears harder than battling with Foreman or Holmes! The image of the down on his luck former coulda been a contender pug has been around for nearly as long as the fight racket itself. Cooney thinks its about time that changed. Thats why he is the chairman of F.I.S.T. (Fighters Institute for Support & Training) an organization that helps ex-fighters get on with their lives after the final bell has rung on their boxing careers.
I spoke to Gerry on one of his many visits to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York about his career in the ring, being chairman of F.I.S.T., his new cigar hobby, and other topics:
DI: Tell me about your pro boxing career.
GC: I had my first bout on Valentines Day 1977. I knocked out Bill Jackson in the first round. Basically, I fought in the 70s & 80s. In 82, I fought Larry Holmes for the heavyweight championship of the world. Prior to that, I had knocked out Jimmy Young, Ron Lyle, Kenny Norton which let up to my championship bout in Las Vegas in June of 82.
DI: What kind of amateur background did you have?
GC: I had a record of 55 - 3. I lost three fights. I was a two time Golden Gloves champion, and I fought on the U.S. team against Russia and traveled to Europe. I made it to the finals in 1976 by knocking out the 3rd ranked heavyweight, a Russian, in Madison Square Gardens. But my father was very sick at the time, and I chose not to go.
DI: As a pro, everything seemed to come together for you in the early 80s when you kod Jimmy Young, Ron Lyle & Ken Norton all within 4 rounds.
GC: Boxing is a sport you always want to take as far as you can go. I didnt plan to be a boxer in the beginning but as my career progressed, it began to look more appealing. I had my first major nationally televised fight in Atlantic City against Jimmy Young, who had just racked up nine wins, and I knocked him out in 4 rounds. Stopped him on a bad cut. Which got me a fight with Ron Lyle in Nassau Coliseum, and I knocked him out in one round, and that got me a bout with Kenny Norton. Norton had just beat Tex Cobb in a fight-off. The winner of Norton/Cobb was to fight me and the winner of that bout would fight Holmes for the championship. So in 1981, I fought Ken Norton in Madison Square Garden and knocked him out in 54 seconds of the first round.
DI: You had a lot of short nights, didnt you?
GC: I did. You know, I was lucky. I was always a good puncher, and I liked to have my opponent feel my power, and you could kind of see the fight draining out of him as you focused on the bout.
DI: What were your feelings leading into your championship shot against Holmes? There was a lot of pressure on you to do well. There was a lot of talk about the racial angle with you being portrayed as the great white hope ...
GC: It was like I wanted to go as far as I could and fighting for the heavyweight championship of the world was the greatest. Looking back, I wish Id have had more experience going into that bout. Leading up to it, I was a good observer of boxing over the years so I got a chance to see a lot of the hoopla that went on before the big bouts, and I really kind of tried to keep myself shielded from it somewhat. It was overwhelming, theres no doubt about it. I mean there were cameras there from all over the world. It was a heavyweight championship bout, so you know? I did the best that I could. I hung around with some good, close friends that I grew up with. I trained hard. Larry and I didnt really get along too well at the time because the promoters were trying to create controversy to increase interest in the bout. I think this fight was the single largest gate before pay-per-view. At that time, there was only close-circuit. So we had a great fight - I mean, he didnt like me, and I didnt like him and it was a natural. We found out later on that it didnt have anything to do with him and me, it was just the people trying to make money that created this atmosphere around us of dislike.
DI: With Larry, it was totally a money issue, wasnt it? He was upset that you, as a white challenger, were making the same money as him, the black champion.
GC: Well, you know, I think it was the first time that a challenger got purse-parity with the champion. He had some legitimate beefs. I mean, he worked with Ali for years, he was a great fighter and then when Ali kind of slipped away, and he came into the picture, he thought he would get all of the attention. But Ali was Ali, very charismatic and not that Larry Holmes is not, they were just two different guys. He was very bitter about that, I think, and I can understand that. So we fought and today were two different guys and we understand that it was just a game and that it had nothing to do with him and I. Ill tell you something thats kind of nice that a lot of people dont know. When we came to the center of the ring, he kind of tapped me on the glove and said, lets have a good fight and thats a true sportsman. Thats what Larry Holmes is, a true sportsman and a great champion.
DI: Do you think its possible for a white man to ever hold the world heavyweight championship again?
GC: Im sure there are great fighters out there. . . I think there are a lot more opportunities for the white athlete so he doesnt get pulled into boxing so much, but Im sure there will be. Im sure there will be a guy who comes along. Times have changed and boxing is a very interesting and powerful sport and in some place, some town in the United States, theres someone with the talent who will want to be a fighter and will propel himself to be the greatest.
DI: After the Holmes bout, you were out of the ring for a couple of years. . .
GC: I went through a lot, and I was very depressed, and I felt like I was a failure. I just felt. . . not very good about myself, and I kind of drifted around for a while and picked up the bottle a little and got off-track for a couple years. I was lost, you know? I didnt know who to trust and who not to trust and there were people who were telling me to not trust this guy and that guy. I found out later, they were the very people I never shouldve trusted. But I lost my father when I was 18 years old, and we had a sort of tumultuous relationship anyway, and I hooked up with these guys that were getting into the boxing business and they steered me in the wrong direction, and I kinda got lost for a while. They tried to get me to comeback. . . comeback (to box again), but I really wasnt feeling very good. Id get drinking and drinking, and Id get frightened, and Id take another fight. Not realizing that every time I did that, a little piece of me slipped way, and I couldnt get back on track. I mean, the difference between a world class fighter and a club fighter is split-second timing, you know, and how you respond. When youre drinking and not taking care of yourself, smokin - you kind of lose that edge. . . but as a human being, you want to believe. . . I mean Im 42 now, and I still want to believe that I could do what I could do at 25. But you cant. That was going on at the time. Then Id break away again and try to figure out what to do with my life and where to go, what to do. Then when I couldnt figure that out, Id take another fight. Slowly but surely, my ability was eroding and there came that day that. . . very day that I stepped into the ring with Michael Spinks very, very mixed up and not believing the fight was ever gonna take place and not taking care of myself and the fight showed it that night, that I really kinda fell apart. At that point, it helped me to turn a page in my life and realize that I gotta find some different choices. Thats part of the reason, what Ive been through myself and what Ive seen with other fighters, other sparring partners, who didnt know where to go, who to go to, what questions to ask. I started thinking to myself about my foundation, the F.I.S.T. Foundation - Fighters Institute for Support and Training - to help the fighters have a sort of safety net. A place where he can go to find out answers to the questions that he has and to find out where his strengths lie, and what is it that he really wants to do with the rest of his life instead of roaming around looking for handouts. You know, make him proud, make him skilled with job training and job placement, so he can be proud that he was a fighter, not feel shame because after all he did, he has nothing to show for it. I want to help fighters in need. I needed help myself at one time. You know, a few years ago, Mike Tyson was fined 3 million dollars. You know where that money went? It was used to pave the streets in Las Vegas! It should have been put back into boxing to help the fighters out. I mean, thats it, thats what F.I.S.T. is all about!!
DI: I imagine you are not a fan of the Legends of Boxing tour with the over 40 fighters boxing against each other?
GC: For golf, its great to have a seniors tour because theres no physical abuse youre taking. Boxing . . . you know a human being isnt like a car or a machine, when your parts wear out, you cant replace them. In fighting, you catch shots, which are much more serious in the later stages of your life. So Im really not feeling too keen on it. But Im a very big Larry Holmes fan, but I hope these guys can find other areas to go where they can feel just as proud. When youre an athlete, the roar of the crowd is a very powerful thing. Walking out of the dressing room in 1982, fighting Larry Holmes, and hearing the 32,000 people in Caesars Palace was very powerful. The sound and the vibration, the electricity in the air! Its hard to get that after boxing. I mean after youre done with boxing, how do you replace that? You have to learn other things, other skills. Life is like, theres six slices to the pie, but while youre a fighter, you are only concentrating on one slice. You have to develop and think about those other five slices. Sometimes, people need help with this process, and thats where the F.I.S.T. Foundation comes in. I feel a certain sadness about boxing because everyone loves the fighter but when Gerry Cooneys finished fighting, theyre developing another young Gerry Cooney and so the senior Gerry Cooney gets forgotten about and he hasnt developed any areas of his life except boxing. I hope this seniors thing doesnt stay around too long cause guys are really gonna get hurt now.
DI: So if they approached you and said, Gerry, were gonna give you a million dollars for a rematch with Holmes youd. . .
GC: Oh they have, they have! I told em, listen, pal, I cant even fight with my wife (laughs). You know I made some mistakes, and I screwed up and it was because I had a lot of questions and couldnt find the answers. I didnt even know the right questions!
DI: You think what if?, at all?
GC: Oh no doubt! The one fight that I feel a lot of disappointment and shame about is the Michael Spinks bout. Because he was nothing more than a blown up light-heavyweight and he did not. . . If he had fought the Gerry Cooney that fought Ken Norton, Spinks wouldnt have lasted a round with me. But because I was so disillusioned and off track, I really showed it that fight so I feel a lot of shame about that fight. In 1990, I fought Foreman, I kinda got my life in order, I got away from the booze and, in fact, I was promoting fights. I did some Camacho bouts, I co-promoted Duran/Leonard III, I promoted some of Foremans fights. One day, he came up to me and said, hey, how about a fight with me?, and I thought, nah, I dont like to fight! But then I got thinking to myself about all those years I was abusing myself, drinking and partying not taking care of myself. I thought now that Im straightened up, I think I can take Foreman, so I took the fight. So I got myself in shape, and going into the fight, I thought, Im gonna take him out. I almost did but thats what hurt me. Once I hurt him, I thought I could take him. Gil Clancy was telling me to move around for four or five rounds but my Irish took over, and I got caught with a shot. My timing was off, but that helped me to realize that now I have to move on. Im really proud that even though I lost, I answered the questions inside myself. I got myself in shape, took care of myself, I was excited about the fight. . . and I didnt win. But that helped me to close the door on that part of my life.
GC: With F.I.S.T., we have programs to help: aptitude tests to find out where a guys strengths lie, apprenticeship programs, counseling for alcohol or drugs, or whatever. Just help a guy get on track so he can take care of himself and feel good about himself. I want to help these guys to help themselves. I see fighters come here (to the Hall of Fame) who feel ashamed. They were great fighters but are ashamed because they arent doing anything with their lives, no money left. Theyre kind of hanging around looking and looking, but you cant look, you gotta do. . .
DI: How can interested people find out about this organization?
GC: This is a tax-exempt program, and we can be reached at: P.O. Box 40, Fanwood, NJ 07023. Phone number, 1-800-419-9799, toll free. We need contributions to help get and keep these programs up and running. We have a wide assortment of people working with us - doctors, lawyers, accountants, whatever. . . that are committed to helping these ex-fighters. We want to let these guys know that we care about them, that there is help out there. We have a guy whos 8 - 28, whos still fighting. Hes got a wife and two kids. We want to help him get out of boxing. I wanted someone there for me. . . so I wanna be there to help these guys. So many of todays great stars want to do something to help out ex-fighters. Guys like Oscar DeLaHoya and Shane Mosley want to help but dont know how or where to go. Now theres a place to go, the F.I.S.T. Foundation.
DI: How did you get from the point of needing help to being in a position to help others?
GC: One day, I woke up and I thought, My God! Whos in control of my life and whats going on?, and I thought to myself, Ive got to stop this! I woke up the very next day, hungover, feeling the same way and it scared me. I spoke with some people and I realized I didnt like how I was feeling, didnt like where I was going so I . . . I think with most people you have to bottom out and you have to surrender and realize that you gotta reach out. I think everyone comes to that point sometime and says, God, please help me, and I did that, and I started to move forward.
DI: Changing the tone from all this heavy stuff. . . tell me a little bit about how you have become a cigar smoker. We have both been enjoying cigars as weve been talking. What got you started?
GC: Its great stuff, baby, I gotta tell ya! My friend and Vice Chairman, Norman Weiss and I went to a meeting at a cigar club, a luncheon, and I was offered a Cuban, and I thought My God, I dont want to smoke. Ive never smoked in my life. Nah, I cant stand it! My father used to smoke. After dinner, the owner of the cigar club came up and offered me a cigar, so I thought, o.k., let me try it, and I thought, Wow! where have I been and what have I been doing? Its an enjoyable thing. Everyone has their vices and their habits. I dont inhale but I worry a little bit about the health aspects of it. But I only smoke a cigar a day or every couple of days, and I enjoy it, and it calms me. Im really learning a lot about different tobaccos and different cigars and its a lot of fun!
DI: What are some of your favorite cigars?
GC: Well, Ill tell you, I really enjoy these Lars Tetens were smoking. Theyre great cigars. Theres a lot of them. . . Cohiba, Romeo & Julieta, Montecristo, . . .theres a lot of nice cigars! I dont know too much about it yet, Im still learning, but its a fun time. I gotta nice box I keep my cigars in. I got a nice lighter. A great cutter today from my buddy, Norm.
DI: Smoking cigars is very relaxing, isnt it?
GC: Yeah! I got a nice little place in my back yard with beautiful trees and at night time, I turn the lights on and I sit back and smoke a cigar with my wife and have a few laughs. I just sit back and enjoy it, you know?
DI: Theres a real camaraderie with cigar smokers. . .
GC: Where are these (Lars Tetens) made, Florida?
DI: Actually, New York.
GC: What kind of tobacco is this?
DI: Well, only Lars knows for sure!
GC: Did you buy these around here?
DI: No, Lars is a big boxing fan and every year when I come here to Canastota for the Boxing Hall of Fame Induction, he gives me whatever I want for the boxers and fans to enjoy. . . whatever. . . 100, 200, 1000. . .
GC: Why didnt you tell him to give you 150 for me (laughs).
Id like to thank Gerry for his time and for the efforts hes putting forth to help fighters and former fighters out. The F.I.S.T. is just getting started and, like all non-profit organizations, needs financial support. If you or someone you know would like to make a donation to the F.I.S.T., please call 1-800-419-9799 or write to P.O. Box 40, Fanwood, NJ 07023 c/o Gerry Cooney.
Gerry may not have been a heavyweight champion in the ring, but he is showing his championship heart now by helping out a group of people that fall through the cracks and dont know how to help themselves in many cases. These fighters gave everything they had for our enjoyment. Isnt it time to pay them back?
Cudas Corner: "Fit to be Untied"
by Matt Boyd
With the much anticipated De La Hoya - Trinidad meeting of the money-makers, and the ink wet (but finally on paper!) for the Holyfield-Lewis rematch of the excuse-makers, the business of boxing (and perhaps its integrity) is poised for a renaissance. But I find myself filled as much with trepidation as anticipation. Somehow, this seems too good to be true.
Theres only one thing I can see that could spoil this revival before the tent even goes up. And no, Im not talking about the grim prospect of a rematch between Mike Tyson the has-been and "Buster" Douglas the never-was. Im talking about the spectre that has loomed over all of boxing throughout 1999, and darkened what should have been the brightest moment in the sport this year. I am of course referring to that most dreaded of contest outcomes; the draw.
I find the prospect of a draw even more disturbing, given the magnitude of the upcoming Welterweight bout. The irony is that the fight between De La Hoya and Trinidad looks pretty evenly matched, at least on paper. If the world were a fair and impartial place, a draw between these two excellent fighters should probably be more readily accepted by the public than most any other. But the reality is, in the wake of the Holyfield-Lewis debacle, fight fans will not accept another draw in a big-time title unification bout, no matter how justified it seems on paper, or even how justified it seems on fight-night for that matter. We need closure, and we need it now.
We like to think of boxing as the purest example of competition, unfettered by needless complications and arcane rules. There are no silly lines painted on the ground to measure ones progress, no contrived obstacles to conquer, or arbitrary goal markers to surpass in order to earn victory. Boxing is, ideally, a contest of skill and heart, not rules manipulation. In that sense, it is perhaps the most fundamental representation we have of the nature of sport: the desire to best your opponent, the need to win.
And yet, boxing is the only major sport in which a draw is an "acceptable" conclusion to a contest. And by acceptable I mean "within the rules", not "satisfying to the participants and fans". No other sport tolerates such indecisive results. Can you imagine having to mint two Lombardi trophies because the Superbowl ended in a tie? Whod have bragging rights in the off-season? Whod get the last pick in the draft? Can you imagine the anticlimax of the bottom of the ninth inning of a tied seventh game of the World Series if you knew the game would end without a winner? Why bother to play seven games? Why bother to play at all? Even hockey, the ill-tempered and largely neglected stepchild of the professional sports family in the United States, doesnt tolerate draws in post-season play (though they mercifully suspend tie games during the regular season.) Basketball has overtime, Soccer has a shoot-out. The list goes on.
Okay, you say, but boxing is different. You cant just force the fighters to keep slugging away; somebody will get seriously hurt. True enough. But you can resolve draws without prolonging the contest. Consider this: The Kentucky Derby winners circle is only big enough for one horse, and they only stock one bunch of roses. They only chill one bottle of milk in Gasoline Alley for the winner of the Indy 500. Even so, the horses dont have to run an extra lap for a tie-breaker, and the odometers at the Brickyard never need digits that spin to 501. (Yeah, yeah, they dont have odos at all, but you get my drift.). Photo finishes ensure that even those races that are to close to call at the line are never judged to be draws in the books. The point is, the race isnt over until somebody wins.
This is no less true with boxing. The lesson to be learned is this: if you cant extend the contest to determine a winner, make the judging precise enough so a victor can be named in the allotted time. Sounds great in theory, doesnt it? But how to make it work?
What makes this issue even more confounding is that it seems that the epidemic of draws is a relatively recent phenomenon. In the old days the rules seemed to be more than adequate to decide a winner. I dont recall any draws in major fights prior to the current era. And in this day of Pay-Per-View fights, a draw is that much more offensive to the paying (through the nose) public. But to what do we attribute this rash of indecisive decisions?
It seems to me to be, like most unfortunate trends in sport, to be an unintended byproduct of a well-meaning but poorly thought-out rules change. Fans of Stock Car Racing will recognize such unintended consequences the next time they watch a restrictor-plate race. In the late 80s, well-meaning rules makers at NASCAR decided to slow cars down because they thought 210+mph was dangerous for drivers and fans alike. So they installed the restrictors, thereby lowering horsepower, which slowed the cars as desired. Unfortunately, the cars lost so much power that they lost the ability to pass other cars as well, so now fans must suffer through 3 hour long 40 car parades cleverly marketed as races.
The significant rules change to Boxing, also brought about by safety concerns, and instituted just few years before the NASCAR change, seems to have yielded an equally unsatisfactory result. The rules change was of course the reduction of the length of championship bouts from 15 to 12 rounds. The consequence is the increase in draw decisions. And no wonder, given the basic mathematical principle involved: that of odd versus even numbers. Put simply, 12 splits evenly, 15 doesnt. As you look closer at the typical scoring of a fight, it becomes that much plainer. If every round is scored 10-9, there cannot be a draw in a 15 round fight card. Only an exact balance of 10-8 rounds by the fighter winning fewer rounds, or equal rounds to each fighter balanced by a 9-9 round can yield a draw. But in a 12 round fight, you can easily split the 10-9 rounds six apiece and get a draw.
Even so, no conscientious fight fan would advocate going back to 15 rounds, given what we now know about the health concerns. So what then is a viable solution? At first I thought to resolve draws by adding the point totals from all three cards, giving the victory to the fighter with the highest total. But this is too complicated. It would undermine the simple elegance of the sport at a time when it needs all the elegance it can retain.
It was a friend who is only a casual boxing observer that suggested that boxing simply reinstitute an odd number of rounds. As is often the case, a fresh perspective can make all the difference. If 15 is too many for health reasons, then 13. Or if even one round beyond the 12th is too dangerous, then 11. And why stop at championship fights? 10 rounders could just as easily be 9 or 11 too. I think most boxing fans would forgo the symmetry of even numbers if they could be spared the agony of another draw in a big fight. Wouldnt you?
The Night the Irresistible Force met the Immovable Object:
By David Warren Kirsch
Many boxing matches have been tagged: "The Irresistible Force meets The Immovable Object." Very few matches live up to this moniker. One such bout took place on July 19, 1967 at Madison Square Garden. This was the night the irresistible force, Smokin' Joe Frazier, met the immovable
object George Chuvalo.
At the time, Joe Frazier, was a heavyweight contender seeking championship status. His record was 16 wins, 0 losses, with 14 K.O.'s. Smokin' Joe was a threshing machine of pain production; bobbing and weaving while winging as many left hooks as humanly possible. Frazier, at that point, was, indeed, a pretty irresistible force. Only two men were able to survive the distance with him, George "Scrap-Iron" Johnson, and the brutish Argentinean Oscar Bonavena, a fact they, most likely, regretted.
On the other hand, no one was going to question how immovable the Canadian Heavyweight Champion George Chuvalo was. In 62 matches which included names such as: Mike De John, Floyd Patterson, Ernie Terrell, Oscar Bonavena, Zora Folley, and Doug Jones, no one had been able to stop Chuvalo, much less knock him down. In short, the term "Granite Chinned" did not even begin to describe the thick jawed Chuvalo. He seemed impervious to his opponent's punches, soaking up everything they threw at him like a human sponge. He was seemingly indestructible, if not
Bouts like this always prompt analysis, the power in one fighters gloves versus the durability of the other fighter's chin, and so on. For prognosticators this fight was a real toss up. Neither fighter was
necessarily scientific minded. Chuvalo's style had been compared to Rocky Marciano's in that Chuvalo brawled his way on the inside to get to his opponent. Unfortunately, the Canadian Hard Rock lacked a lot of steam in his punches. This meant that most of his knockouts had come by the way of attrition, wearing down his opponents until they were too tired to do anything else but go down. Joe Frazier's style of fighting was also to get on the inside, but in contrast to Chuvalo, most of Frazier's knockouts came due to the fact that he hit a lot, and he hit hard.
In retrospect, it might not have seemed like Chuvalo had much of a chance of winning this bout, but the truth of the matter was, at that point in time, Frazier was still in the testing stages of his career. Frazier had a very rough time in his bout against Argentine slugger Oscar Bonavena, being knocked down twice in the second round. In the fight with "Scrap Iron" Johnson, the bout previous to the Chuvalo bout, Frazier went the distance and he won ten out of ten rounds, but his face was so swollen that he came out looking like the looser. So it seemed that George Chuvalo was a very serious test for Frazier.
In the first round Frazier came out charging as per usual. Using his famous left hook as if was a whip, Frazier began lashing Chuvalo's face. By the end of the round Chuvalo had cuts around both eyes. However, The Chin did not give in.
In the second round Frazier delivered more punishment. In addition to the cuts, which were now bleeding freely, Chuvalo's face swelled and the area around the cuts turned a hideous purple. Yet, The Chin, did not give in.
In the third round, Chuvalo decided to brawl with Frazier in earnest. For his effort Chuvalo received applause from the Madison Square Garden fans and more punches from Smokin' Joe that eventually closed Chuvalo's eyes and still, The Chin did not give in.
Between rounds the ring doctor examined Chuvalo because his face looked like a mass of ground up meat.
In the fourth round, Frazier came out and hit Chuvalo with a left hook that landed squarely on the closed right eye. Chuvalo turned his back on Frazier and the fight was stopped. Even with this conclusion to the bout Chuvalo was still on his feet. His chin still would not give in, even though this was the first time he had been, in effect, if not in actuality, stopped.
So you ask me: "How good was Chuvalo's chin?" My personal opinion is, it was the best, but perhaps some post-fight facts and comments will further convince you.
Fact #1: During that fourth round a blood vessel leading to Chuvalo's eye erupted.
Comment #1: Chuvalo: "My eye felt like a Grapefruit and it felt like it was coming out."
Fact #2: Days later Chuvalo complained of having double vision and pain. It was found that he had an orbital fracture of his right eye-socket. Chuvalo's eye had fallen out of the socket and into the skin underneath. The tissue under the eye socket was bolstered by manufactured materials.
Comment #2: Chuvalo: "Getting hit by Joe Frazier was like getting hit at 100 miles per hour by a Pontiac."
In conclusion, the irresistible force embodied in Smokin' Joe Frazier had won the bout, but despite all the lethal left hooks and despite all the cuts, bruises, and fractures caused by said left hooks, the Canadian Heavyweight George Chuvalo remained, on his feet. His heart, will, and his natural ability to absorb punishment still made him, immovable.
Hail the Conquering Heroes....?
by Alan Taylor
It's fashionable these days to blame the diluting of the boxing scene and the current multiplicity of titles and 'champions' on the 'alphabet boys' - WBC, WBA, IBF, WBO, BBC, RSVP, RIP et al - and on unscrupulous promoters who, concerned only with protecting their meal tickets, put on a series of mismatches for a gullible viewing public. And in many respects the accusations appear true. But surely some, if not a major part, of the blame lies with the fighters themselves. With some notable exceptions the 'champions' of the nineties have been reluctant to risk their titles, to risk their reputations, to risk.....well, anything really!
While boxing fans have always had the desire to see 'dream fights' which maybe should have happened but, for various reasons, failed to materialize, it seems to me that the disappointment was more than made up for by the fights that did take place. For every Dempsey-Wills that didn't happen there was a Dempsey-Firpo that did. Perhaps if Carlos Monzon had stayed around a few years later we could have seen him fight Hagler but both had long reigns with regular, testing fights which will live long in the memory of those of us who witnessed them. Azumah Nelson v Barry McGuigan was a fight, as an Ulsterman, that I always wanted to see; but McGuigan gave us many exciting nights in the Kings Hall and Nelson, in a glorious career, faced the likes of Jeff Fenech and Salvador Sanchez among many others.
Sometimes I fear I'm becoming one of those old men who look at the past through rose-tinted glasses and love to tell anyone who'll buy them a beer that 'the fighter's in my day woulda made mincemeat of these tubes'. But I'm not that old and the fact remains that, perhaps because they fought more often, the percentage of mismatches appeared less. The champions of the forties, fifties, sixties and seventies seemed to face stiffer battles on a more regular basis than do those of today.
Consider. Ray Robinson won the middleweight title five times! He fought fellow hall-of-famers every other fight. Ray earned his Sugar. Would any of today's claimants face the likes of Jake La Motta six times? Perhaps they would - after all Jake is getting on a bit! Ali-Frazier II and Ali-Norton I & II weren't fought for the world title. Can anyone imagine any of the current crop risking their standing by facing dangerous opposition in a non-title fight?
Perhaps we were spoiled by the eighties. The Fabulous Four - Hagler, Hearns, Leonard and Duran seemed to be fighting each other every week. By contrast a meeting by two top middleweights was as rare in the nineties as it was common in the eighties. Sure Benn fought Eubank in the British WBO championships and their first fight ranks with any top middleweight clash but, for all the rumours, neither fought Toney or Jones, who fought each other but failed to raise our pulses very high.
Currently Roy Jones seems content to demand ridiculous money to knock over nobodies at a rate of only two or three a year. He's wasting his talent while shouting for a fight with Holyfield. When criticized for a poor performance he responded by suggesting that if he were paid more, he would put more effort in. Is this the stuff of legends. Joe Louis, who suffered from a lack of truly great opposition for much of his career, would have been hurt by such criticism and would have responded by fighting within a few weeks. The bum-of-the-month club they may have been but Louis faced them every month.
There are exceptions of course. Oscar De La Hoya, love him or hate him, has, on the whole, faced the best of his divisions. Or at least some of the best. He has faced Chavez twice, Whitaker and Quartey, and will soon face Felix Trinidad. Evander Holyfield can hardly be accused of ducking anyone and despite the Lewis debacle many of the Real Deal's fights have been true classics - the Bowe trilogy, the dismantling of the Tyson 'legend' and, further back, the first Dwight Muhammad Qawi fight.
But too often today's top fighters appear content to face substandard, non-threatening opposition in over-hyped pay-per-view contests rather than prove their superiority against their peers. From a business standpoint, perhaps, we cannot blame them. Why risk everything when they can get well paid for risking little? It seems that in the nineties it is the event, the circus trappings that counts rather than the contest. Too many fighters appear to believe that they are judged on the grandeur and spectacle of their walk to the ring rather than what they do once they get there.
Naseem Hamed - a British (and trying very hard to be an American) TV favorite - will face Cesar Soto soon. While I applaud the attempt to unify two versions of the Featherweight title I don't believe that Soto is the hardest fight out there. I'll be happy to be proved wrong but I also don't believe that Hamed really wants the hardest fight out there! Naseem talks a good fight but for years now the names of Azumah Nelson, Angel Manfredy, Marco Antonio Barrerra and, most recently, Floyd Mayweather have been bandied about as possible 'superfight' opponents. All well and good but none of these fights materialized and Hamed faced an old Tom Johnson and a selection of British domestic level fighters such as Billy Hardy, Paul Ingle and Wayne McCullough - looking increasingly vulnerable and shop-worn in doing so. Hardly the stuff on which legends are made. But this is not a rant against Hamed - he is not alone.
The mythical 'pound-for-pound' title seems to be on the lips of more fighters these days. They want to be thought of as the best without having to earn the designation. When was the last time we had a truly great middleweight clash? The cruiserweight division hasn't had a unified title since Holyfield. Look at Phrank Da Slugger's latest ratings in these pages (go on they make more sense than any alphabet body's works of fiction) - William Joppy to defend against Julio Cesar Green; Bernard Hopkins inactive since last February; Vernon Forrest bemoaning the lack of a welterweight title opportunity but seeming reluctant to face a fellow contender.
While there are undoubtedly many very good fighters around at the moment the vast majority will not progress to the ranks of the greats while they refuse to fight each other. There is no doubt that the governing bodies and promoters have there own agendas and that TV requirements dictate that otherwise meaningless contests are elevated to 'world' championship status but it is also true that without the fighters there would be no sport. And if the fighters really wanted to beat all-comers the fights could be made. It's sad.
Wanna go watch the wrestling?
"Its a Styles Thing"
By Monte Cox
What is that makes one fight or a particular match-up seem attractive, while another a "bore snore?" How come some fights have us so riveted to our seats we end up screaming in excitement, while others have us fighting to stay awake as we watch our beloved sport of boxing? Its the styles of the particular combatants.
Weve all heard the worn out cliché that "styles make fights." This is an ultra-truism in boxing. Not only do the styles of the fighters make a match more or less appealing, but it also helps decide the outcome of individual match-ups. Have you ever noticed that some fighters just have a difficult time when dealing with other certain types of fighters? Ken Norton and Joe Frazier always seemed to give Muhammad Ali fits. Roberto Duran had trouble with slick boxers like Edwin Viruet, Ray Leonard, and Wilfred Benitez. Why is it that Buster Douglas and Evander Holyfield just seemed to have Mike Tysons number? The answer is quite simple. Its a stlyes thing.
Style in boxing is the characteristic, mode and fashion of fighting employed by a fighter in taking advantage of his particular skills. Fighting attributes such as hand speed, quickness, punching power, chin, and stamina, as well as the personality of the individual boxer all contribute to the style he adopts.
There are 3 basic styles in boxing, plus a fourth that is more difficult to narrow down since it is a combination of two of the others (Ill cover it last). The 3 "basic" styles of boxing are "boxer", "slugger", and "swarmer (or crowder)."
A boxer also called a "pure boxer" is best described by the title of a book by one time Featherweight great Jim Driscoll, entitled "Outboxing, Or Long Range Fighting. (1921)." Representative of this style are boxers like Benny Leonard, Gene Tunney, Willie Pep, Tommy Loughran, Billy Conn, Maxie Rosenbloom, Muhammad Ali, and Pernell Whitaker.
The "slugger" has always been a fan favorite. Lacking the exquisite boxing skills of the "fancy dan" boxer types, the slugger is characterized primarily by his punching power. Examples of the slugger style are Stanley Ketchel, Terry McGovern, Max Baer, Rocky Graziano, Sonny Liston, George Foreman, and Mike Tyson.
The third basic style is the "swarmer". The swarmer (or "crowder") is identified by his non-stop aggression and pressure on the inside. The swarmer throws more punches than a slugger, usually wearing his opponents down rather than blowing them out. Some examples of the swarmer style are Tommy Burns, Battling Nelson, Harry Greb, Henry Armstrong, Carmen Basilio, Jake LaMotta, Rocky Marciano, and Joe Frazier (some may argue the last two as sluggers but they fought more like swarmers).
When two long-range boxers meet the bout often turns into a strategic chess match, which can be quite boring to the casual boxing fan. Two sluggers going at it make for a far more entertaining, crowd pleasing affair. But what happens when fighters of opposing styles meet?
Typically, but not always, Boxers beat Sluggers, Sluggers beat Swarmers, and Swarmers beat Boxers. It depends on the level of skill each man possesses as to how any bout will turn out, but the contrast in styles does offer a distinct advantage or dis-advantage. It is much like the ancient Chinese "rock, scissors, paper"scheme. One style is better than another against a specific type of opponent, but weaker against the other.
When fighters of a similar level of skill meet, all other factors being about equal, the styles of the particular fighters may indicate the outcome of a given match-up. Boxers generally beat sluggers because they are quicker, and have better defense and mobility. Here are some examples of "boxers beat sluggers": James J. Corbett ko 21 John L. Sullivan (the first to prove that skill could overcome power), Gene Tunney W 10 Jack Dempsey, Cassius Clay Tko 7 Sonny Liston, Jimmy Young W 12 George Foreman, Buster Douglas ko 10 Mike Tyson, Ivan Robinson W 10 Arturo Gatti.
Swarmers generally beat boxers because of the contrast in styles. Boxers prefer to maneuver at long range while a swarmer crowds him, smothering his punches, as he forces his way inside where the boxer is less comfortable. Examples of swarmers beating boxers are Harry Greb W 15 Gene Tunney (Tunney won 3 of 4 but he was bigger), Marciano W 15, ko 8 Ezzard Charles, Jake LaMotta W 10 Robinson (Jake lost 5 of 6 but Robinson far superior- LaMottas style gave Robinson trouble though), Joe Frazier W 15 Muhammad Ali (Ali wins 2 of 3 but all tough fights), and Phillip Holliday W 12 Ivan Robinson. Swarmers often give boxers trouble even when they are nowhere near the same class, such as Troy Dorsey fighting a close decision with Kevin Kelley or Carmen Basilio beating Ray Robinson W 15.
Sluggers usually beat Swarmers since they are harder punchers and their opponents stand right in front of them. There are many good examples of this; Jim Jeffries W 20, W 25 Tom Sharkey, Gene Fullmer Tko 14, Tko 12 Carmen Basilio, Sonny Liston ko 1, ko 1 Floyd Patterson, George Foreman Tko 2, Tko 5 Joe Frazier.
The fourth style is the "boxer-puncher". He possesses many of the qualities of the boxer; hand speed, often an outstanding jab, combination and/or counter-punching skills, better defense and accuracy than a slugger, while possessing slugger type power. In general the boxer-puncher lacks the mobility and defensive expertise of the pure boxer. Examples of the "boxer-puncher" are Joe Gans, Joe Louis, Ray Robinson, Ike Williams, Alexis Arguello, Tommy Hearns, and Erik Morales.
A boxer-puncher may be classified as more of a boxer or puncher. For example Terry Norris was a fine boxer-puncher he destroyed a number of good opponents quickly. He then ran into Simon Brown who turned into a slugger and knocked him out, but in the rematch Norris turned pure boxer and danced his way to a 12 round decision. Fighters like Ray Robinson, and Ray Leonard were also boxer-punchers with excellent footwork. Fighters like Gans, Louis, and Arguello were more punchers but also had highly refined boxing skills.
Against the other three basic styles a boxer-puncher does well against pure boxers since they can often match hand speed, and possess the skill to eventually catch there elusive opponents with their harder punches. Examples are Sandy Saddler beats Willie Pep 3 of 4, Ray Robinson W 15 Kid Gavilan, Joe Louis ko 13 Billy Conn, Ray Leonard ko 15 Wilfred Benitez, Thomas Hearns W15 Wilfred Benitez.
Boxer-punchers also seem to have less trouble with swarmers than pure boxers since their greater power discourages much of the swarmers aggression. Some examples of this are Joe Gans W 42 Battling Nelson (Gans lost next 2 but was dying of TB), Joe Louis W 15, ko 8 Arturo Godoy, Jose Napoles W 15 Emile Griffith, Marvin Hagler Tko 11, ko 3 Mustafa Hamsho., Vince Phillips ko 10 Kostya Tszyu. Boxer-punchers, however are somewhat less successful against big sluggers, since they often lack the defense or mobility of the boxing stylist. Examples of this are George Dixon Koby 8 Terry McGovern, Carlos Zarate koby 5 Wilfredo Gomez, Alexis Arguello koby 14, koby10 Aaron Pryor, Thomas Hearns koby 3 Iran Barkley, Julian Jackson koby 5, koby 1 Gerald McClellan. Contrary examples can be named also such as Evander Holyfield ko 11 Mike Tyson, Alexis Arguello ko 13 Ruben Olivares, and Carlos Zarate ko 4 Alphonso Zamora where the boxer-puncher beats the raw slugger. The results of these slugfests often depend on who has the best defense or who has the best chin as in a slugger versus slugger match-up.
Many fighters are not so easily classified, those that are "unorthodox" are so named because they do not fit the proto-type of one of the classical styles and may lack some of their ability as a long-range boxer, an inside fighter, or in punching technique. Many of those mentioned such as Ray Robinson are versatile enough to adapt to more than one style. Not all boxers can be lumped into one category, but the style that one chooses does offer an advantage or dis-advantage against a particular opponent.
In the movie "Enter the Dragon" one of the fighters ask Bruce Lee, "What's your style?" If your not sure who to pick in the next great "Superfight", ask yourself, "what are the opposing stlyes?" Is he more of a boxer or a slugger? A boxer-puncher? A swarmer? The outcome of boxing matches will depend upon the talent of the principles involved. If they are fairly evenly matched and your not sure who to pick, or the outcome turns out differently than you expected, simply remember, "Its a styles thing."
The boxer over slugger, etc. idea was taken from the book: "Who Was the Greatest?" by R. Stockton and published by
Boxing Enterprises in Phoenix, Az in 1977.
(This essay appeared first in the July 9, 1997 issue of PDXS newspaper)
This goes to the press before the Nevada Athletic Commission disciplinary decision in the case of Iron Mike Tyson biting the ears of Evander Holyfield. As of this writing we don't know whether Tyson will be fined 3 million bucks and suspended for a year, or pounded for thirty million and a life time suspension. (The Nevada Commission subsequently fined Tyson 3 Million dollars--the highest money penalty in sports history-- and revoked his license for a year) No matter what the commission decides, the verdict has already been shrieked from the headlines and TV sets of America. TYSON BAD! The cover of Sports Illustrated magazine blasts "MADMAN !" in huge type. The tag is "A crazed Mike Tyson disgraces himself and his sport." Columnist Dave Anderson of the New York Times describes Tyson as a "mad pit bull." The adjectives are flying thick and nasty--"dirty, disgusting, repellant, bestial, loathsome, vile, animalistic, vampiristic, deranged, maniacal, cannibalistic, murderous, cowardly..." Bill Clinton was horrified. John Sununu and Geraldine Ferraro held a Crossfire debate on "Tyson Bite" which degenerated into a "Ban Boxing" rally. The press could scarcely be more enflamed if the guy had reached up Holyfield's rectum and ripped out his heart in front of the TV cameras. The conviction of Tim McVeigh didn't trigger this kind of venom. In fact, we haven't seen this much hysteria since the first O.J. verdict. "Bad" black men drive the press batty.
Tyson is being treated more viciously by the press and the public than any boxer in history--with the possible exceptions of Muhammad Ali in his anti-war, anti-white years, and Jack Johnson, who pissed off all the white folks by beating white fighters and marrying white women.
Other fighters have fouled as badly as Tyson in recent memory and have been dealt with very differently. Heavyweight Andrew Golota repeatedly hit Riddick Bowe with blatant low blows in two, back-to-back bouts. In each bout Golota was actually winning when he fouled. He was disqualified and lost, but he was not suspended or fined. In fact, Bowe's entourage was punished for the post-fight riot in Madison Square Garden. Roy Jones lost his title on a D.Q. for hitting Montell Griffith in the head while he was on his knees. Terry Norris lost his world title twice on D.Q.s for hitting Luis Santana when he was down. Neither Norris nor Jones were penalized further. Ray Mercer offered Jesse Ferguson a hundred thousand dollar bribe in mid-fight to take a dive in their 1993 bout. Mercer was never punished beyond losing the match. If Mike Tyson were burnt at the stake tomorrow, every sports reporter in America would apparently stand up and cheer.
But there is another way to look at the Tyson Bite affair. Try this.The bites were against the rules and should be penalized, but they were understandable and even justified. The sanctified Holyfield was fighting dirty. The ref was doing nothing to stop it. Tyson had to defend himself. The tradition in boxing is, if you're being fouled, foul in return.
MOUNTAINS OF MISINFORMATION
Much of the commentary assumes that Tyson often commits fouls and the bites are merely an extreme version of his usual unsportsmanlike tactics. Yet, despite being hyped as a monster throughout his career, Tyson is not a particularly dirty fighter. He rarely throws low blows even though he's shorter than most of his opponents. He hits on the break or after the bell occasionally, and he can wield a potent shoulder and elbow. Sometimes he clinches too much. This pattern is mediocre in the dirty boxing spectrum. Only the bites were extraordinary.
No one but Mike Tyson himself knows what was going on in his head that night, and his public apology explicitly said that he "snapped" as a result of the severity of the cut over his right eye which came from Holyfield's head butt in the second round. Immediately after the bout he said Holyfield was butting repeatedly and he had to retaliate to prevent further damage.
Tyson's version of events has been ignored, discounted as lies. Sports Illustrated described the bites as "completely unprovoked," and that is the prevailing view.
Two basic theories of motivation have been adopted by the critics. Both theories depend on the idea that Holyfield was completely dominating Tyson. 1) The Thug Impulse theory says Tyson is a brutal, animalistic thug and he behaved like a thug/brute under stress. The bites were impulsive results of rage at his inability to bully Holyfield. 2) The Premeditated Escape theory says Tyson deliberately set out to get himself disqualified to avoid the humiliation of losing to Holyfield again. This is Holyfields' own opinion, as expressed immediately after the bout. It has been augmented by the fact that before the bout trainer Teddy Atlas predicted a third round disqualification. Atlas was at a TV fight party at reporter Jack Newfield's place in New York and word of his prescience spread
rapidly. Asked afterwards how he knew, Atlas replied, "I know his character." Let it be noted that Atlas, for all his excellent abilities, has a deep personal hatred for Tyson.
Having watched a videotape of the three rounds of the fight several times in slow motion, we think Tyson was telling the simple truth. Holyfield was headbutting repeatedly and intentionally. The ref, Mills Lane, was doing nothing to prevent it. Tyson retaliated for furious revenge and to convince Holyfield to stop the tactic.
This is what we saw:
Holyfield came out from the opening bell with a rough-house strategy including consistent fouls-- throwing low blows, holding and hitting, wrestling and shoving, and above all using his head as a third fist. Toward the end of the first round the referee warned him about wrestling . "You know better!" Lane told Holyfield. The ref warned Holy for one low blow in the third round but ignored the rest. We counted three.
Taller than Tyson by at least three inches, Holy bent and crouched constantly to swing his head against Tyson's, and he frequently made contact. Tyson, having been cut and concussed by head butts in his first bout with Holyfield, was dipping and ducking throughout trying to avoid that cranial battering ram. Halfway through the second round Holy got the desired result. A headbutt produced a large, copiously bleeding cut beneath Tyson's right eyebrow. A training cut in the same spot had caused the bout to be postponed from its original date in May. Our view, based on the videotape, is that the butt was deliberate. The ref called the headbutt "unintentional." No points were docked from Holyfield. The cut was perfectly located to drain into Tyson's eye, obscuring his vision. The possibility loomed that the ref would soon have to stop the fight because Tyson could not see to defend himself.
Holyfield won both the first and second round on the judges cards. Tyson's use of the jab from outside--reportedly a strategy devised by his new trainer, Rich Giachetti--was not working against the longer armed Holy. But these were not lop-sided, humiliating rounds. Tyson held his ground and was still in the fight.
Between rounds, the plastic surgeon, Ira Truckee, who was serving as Tyson's cut man managed to stop the bleeding, but a flicked feather could make the cut spill open again.
The Mouthpiece Myths
Much has been made of Tyson coming out of his corner for the third round without his mouthpiece. Referee Mills Lane noticed it immediately and sent him back for it. Trainer Richie Giachetti was standing on the ring apron with the mouthpiece in his hand and slipped it in. The critics
like to claim this as a sign that the bites were premeditated, that Tyson intended to come out without his mouthpiece so he could bite freely.
This doesn't make sense. The fighter doesn't control the mouthpiece between rounds, the cornerman does. These PPV shows have microphones and cameras in the corners so there should be clear evidence if Tyson refused the mouthpiece. Certainly he and Giachetti could have cooked up a scheme days in advance--"when I tip you the wink, don't give me the mouthpiece..." But it's a big gamble to bet you can get in a bite before your unprotected jaw gets shattered by one of the best heavyweights in the world. And any competent referee will catch you before the first punch is thrown, as Mills Lane did. Nah. Far more likely that Rich Giachetti was rattled and incompetent. In every other case where a boxer comes out without his mouthpiece, the corner man goofed.
Once his mouthpiece was in, Tyson attacked in his old fast hooking fashion, looking for openings for a massive right hand. Holy covered to weather the storm and struggled to stay in the game, and get inside again with his head. A Tyson right to the body followed by a crunching left to the chin had Holy hurt and buckling when, in the split second before the first bite, Holy slammed the right side of his head against the cut on Tyson's eye. This placed Holy's ear just below Tyson's mouth and the
video-tape clearly shows Tyson reacting to the pain of the butt and then instantly chomping on that ear.
Holyfield claimed, after the bout, that Tyson spit his mouthpiece out first and then bit. That is the scenario used by all the critics to prove calculated premeditation. In fact, the video clearly shows Tyson's mouthpiece was still in place when he bit. This style of mouthpiece bonds with the upper teeth and allows the lower jaw to open. Only after Holyfield pulled away from him did Tyson bend over and spit the mouthpiece out, along with the chunk of Holy's right ear. The black mouthpiece and its trajectory are apparent on the video tape. Mills Lane, stepping in, bends immediately to retrieve the mouthpiece. Holyfield swirls stamping in pain, then turns his back and walks away. Tyson rushes and pushes at his back with both gloves. Holyfield bounces against the ropes.
Then there's a break in the action. Mills Lane first declares Tyson disqualified for biting, then changes his mind when the Nevada Commission doctor, Flip Homansky, says Holyfield can continue. Lane deducts two points from Tyson, one for the bite, one for the shove.
The fight resumes, Tyson has Holyfield hurt again, Holyfield's head swings into his face again and Tyson bites again. The left ear this time. His mouthpiece is still in. They continue fighting to the bell. Tyson walks to his corner with the mouthpiece in his mouth.
Tyson dominated this round on the judges score cards but the docked points eliminate the gain. Between rounds Mills Lane stops the fight, disqualifying Tyson for the second bite.
Tyson had turned the momentum of the fight and had Holyfield in trouble when the first bite occurred. If there had been a fourth round, Holyfield might have been stopped. Claiming that Tyson was looking for a D.Q. escape from humiliation doesn't compute.
Maybe Tyson didn't believe the ref would stop a mega-million dollar fight on the grounds of the fouls he committed, two bites and a shove. The cut made him vulnerable. He said he had to retaliate to protect himself. He couldn't butt in return because he would have been the more damaged party. Low blows weren't really an option--he's not adept at throwing them and his style doesn't lend itself to them. We think the bites were impulsive self-defense. Biting is against the rules. He shouldn't have
done it. But obviously he couldn't rely on Mills Lane to prevent Holyfield from butting.
The Neutral Referee
Tyson's idiot handlers, John Horne and Rory Holloway, made a monumental mistake before the fight when they objected to the assigned referee, Mitch Halpern, and allowed Mills Lane, the former District Attorney, now Washoe County District Judge, to fill in. (Mills Lane has since retired from the ring and dedicates his time to a 'People's Court" style TV show.) Lane has been a personal friend of Holyfields' for years. According to Holy's trainer, Tommy Brooks, "The night Holyfield lost to Riddick Bowe, Mills Lane cried tears." Lane has also been quoted long before this bout, saying that Tyson is a vicious criminal who should never be allowed to box. It's not surprising that Lane failed to notice the sustained strategy of fouls that the Holy one was using.
The blindness of the ringside commentators and the hundreds of reporters in the arena is more disappointing. They bought all the years of hype from both sides. Holyfield, the Christian Warrior, is good and everything he does is saintly. One irate fan told us, "It's not so much the bite as who he bit!" Tyson, the street thug, is bad. They've been wanting to punish him for a long time. Apparently there is nothing on the planet more terrifying and evil than a bad black man.
The Spin Doctors
Tyson faced a press conference alone the Monday after the fight and read a complete apology. He said he was wrong to bite. He said he would accept without contest whatever punishment the Commission handed out. He asked not to be suspended for life. He didn't blame Holyfield or Mills
Lane or anyone else. He took total responsibility for his actions. Many reporters dismissed the apology claiming it was "spin doctors" at work. No. "Spin" is when you try to pin the rap on somebody else. "But is he sincere?" they keep asking. Please. Obviously Tyson is deeply sorry.
Nobody goes looking for this kind of shit storm. Did anybody ask if Bill Clinton was "sincere" when he apologized to the victims of the Tuskeegee Experiment?
HINKY ON BITES
Biting is against the rules but rules don't exist unless there is some common inclination to act the opposite way. Biting is far from "abnormal" behavior, and this is not the first time fang met flesh in a boxing ring.
A favorite tale of Portland fight manager Mike "Motormouth" Morton involves his instructions to Andy "The Scapoose Express" Kendall the night before Kendall fought Dick Tiger in Madison Square Garden back in the 1960's. "Andy," Morton advised,"When the bell rings for the first round
go out and hit him hard in the balls. The ref will take a point away. When the bell rings for the second round, rush out and bite him hard on the ear. The ref will take another point away. So you've lost two rounds, but you've got eight more rounds to work and your opponent is damaged." Kendall failed to follow this canny strategy and lost a ten round decision to the master technician, Tiger.
Others have not been so persnickety. Heavyweight Andrew Golota bit Samson Po'hua on national TV two years ago and it raised a few eyebrows but not a ruckus. In fact Golota went on to win the bout with a fifth round TKO. Bobby Czyz declares he has been bitten. Jimmy Ellis has
confessed to biting. No suspensions or fines resulted. Evander "Holy" Holyfield himself has admitted biting "Jakey" Winters while Winters was beating him in an amateur match when he was 17. Winters says Holy drew blood. Holy points out that he bit the shoulder, not the ears, but amateur helmets cover the ears so there's no virtue in that.
Naming no names, we've seen boxer bites even in the Pacific Northwest. One dangerous ex-middleweight of our acquaintance reminisces fondly on the psychological terrorism of a well timed bite, and boasts of following up by blowing his nose on the wound. Boxing is not ping-pong.
Bites also occur in other sports. High school and college wrestlers have been known to take a nip. Tree Rollins bit Danny Ainge, and the NBA fined Rollins $5,000 and suspended him for two games. Not exactly the thirty million dollars and lifetime exile that many demand for Tyson.
Fight folk and experienced fans know all this but still, reflexively, declare themselves "shocked and appalled" in the face of the usual screams to ban the always maligned sport. No one calls for basketball to be banned when Dennis Rodman headbutts a referee or kicks a photographer. There is no roar to abolish the Catholic Church when priests molest choir boys. But boxing is different. And Mike Tyson is America's bogey man.
Exposing The Lineal Title Myth
By John Vena
One conventional belief I share with the boxing community is the dismemberment of the sanctioning organizations known as the Alphabet Soup. To a certain degree, however, one of its belt holders can sometimes deserve the distinction of the actual Champion in the eyes of many. For this reason, I have always shuddered at the mention of the term "linear title holder". What is the difference?
At present, Lennox Lewis deserves to be credited as the best heavyweight in the world. However, it certainly has nothing to do with the fact that he knocked out Shannon Briggs. Briggs, as you may recall, was the lottery winner who inherited the title by receiving an unpopular decision over a fighter (George Foreman) who no longer wanted the responsibility of being the Heavyweight Champion of the World. Lewis' claim has to do with the fact that he bested Evander Holyfield over 12 rounds.
Until this past March, Holyfield was widely regarded as the best heavyweight in the world for drubbing the man who everyone felt was the best. Please do not tell me that Tyson was not the best big man in the business at the time Holyfield whupped him.
Let's face it. The actual stripping of champions, like it or not, can be justified and unjustified. In the case of George Foreman, who won the lineal title by kayoing Michael Moorer; I believe it to be justified. I definitely do not agree with the fighters who were chosen to fight for his vacant titles, but Foreman was not doing service to boxing or his title. The fact that he chose to defend against the likes of Axel Schultz and Crawford Grimsley proves this. Unlike Lewis and Holyfield, who were mandated their belt fitters to face Zeljko Mavrovic and Vaughn Bean, Foreman CHOSE to fight lesser opponents. As a result of Foreman's poor taste in title challengers, the boxing media began to question the validity of Foreman's claim to the heavyweight crown and his rating rightfully plummeted.
The origin of lineage is derived from whom we feel to be the best. Ideally, it should be commendable to recognize one world champion per weight class. However, the meaning of the term "lineage" confuses me. What premise did we have to designate anyone the right to be called Champion? Why was the Negro Heavyweight Championship (back in the early 1900's) not considered as the most coveted title to be won. Realistically, its titlist was probably better than what white America regarded as World Champion? As we were to find out, Jack Johnson was far more superior to Tommy Burns when given the opportunity to fight him. Who knows how many recorded title defenses (he made 11 successful at the time) little Tommy could have racked up? In the next several years, Johnson wiped the floor with most of the same challengers Burns defeated?
In another instance, what if the "son of a bitch in the house" who stood up and accepted John L. Sullivan's challenge was Peter Jackson? Society has always formulated its opinion of which fighter is the best by naming the individuals to fight for the distinction of World Champion. America decided
long ago that Sullivan, the American Champion, would begin the lineage as the first Heavyweight Champion of the World under the Marquis of Queensbury rules; not his English rival, Charlie Mitchell who fought Sullivan to a draw.
What of Sullivan's lineage? If you trace it from when it began, it ended 22 years later when Jim Jeffries retired as undefeated Champion. Are we to believe that the reigns of Larry Holmes and Jack Johnson began when they defeated two former champions (Ali and Jeffries respectively) who had been retired a couple of years? When champions retire, there is no more lineage. The buck stops there. It does not mean that boxing is over. It means we need to find out who the best is. When Gene Tunney and Rocky Marciano retired as undefeated heavyweight champions, two men were chosen to fight for heavyweight supremacy.
The light-heavyweight division is also a perfect example of the invalidity of tracing lineage. When Michael Spinks relinquished his undisputed light-heavyweight throne, top-notch fighters were chosen to fight for his vacated alphabet titles. From that point we had to name a fighter who we perceived to be the best in the world. There is a consistent argument today as to whether or not Roy Jones Jr.
should be regarded as the premier 175-pounder on the planet. Why would he not be? He is also mentioned as the best fighter in the world pound-for-pound. Though Dariusz Michalczewski is unbeaten in his impressive career and decisioned the man widely regarded as the "Man" (Virgil Hill) at the time, he did so under convenient circumstances. With no disrespect towards Michalczewski, he defeated Hill two months after the fight had been originally scheduled but was postponed when Hill injured his foot. Hill's lack of recovery time was a clear indication as to why his usual stick-and-move style was absent in their unification match. In my opinion, the injury was the likely reason as to why Hill was easy prey for the "Tiger". One year later, a healthier version of Virgil faced an inactive Jones Jr. and was uncharacteristically knocked out with a shot to the rib cage! As George Foreman blurted at the time of the knockdown, "Unheard of!!"
Whether one believes that Michalczewski is the best light-heavyweight in the world or not, the reasoning should not be because he is the linear champion. He's not. His lineage is linked to no one. If anything, Jones or Michalczewski should hire a freelance referee to dig up the grave of Archie Moore, stand over him and have the ref count "10." After all, the "Ole Mongoose" was stripped for refusing to defend a title he never lost in the ring.
Though the sanctioning (no)bodies are a clan of imbeciles who do not deserve to be making money, should we dishonor the fighters and their achievements? Fighters aren't obligated to organize their own world championships. They are there to fight who is put in front of them. Boxing as it mirrors
society, is a sad reflection of our capitalistic world. As much as we would not like the sport to be confusing, the game must go on. When and if the political arena of boxing is cleaned up, it all barrels down to who can prove it in the squared circle to the public eye.
Y2KO Is Here... Welcome To The Millennium:
De La Hoya vs. Trinidad
By Francis Walker
Fight fans the world over have waited with extreme anticipation beyond recognition during the last four years for just one fight. What better time for the top-two welterweight champions of the world, both Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad, to meet? In a promotional package entitled "Y2KO," De La Hoya vs. Trinidad will collide on the brink of a new millennium.
De La Hoya-Trinidad, promoted by Top Rank, Inc., will be televised exclusively on TVKO Pay-Per-View courtesy of HBO Sports at a suggested retail price of $49.95.
There has been so much talk of what would happen if De La Hoya would ever clash with "Tito" Trinidad, that now that the dream will become reality, everyone is suddenly speechless. And amazingly enough, rightfully so!
De La Hoya-Trinidad is one of those rare fights in which two champions, both of whom are undefeated, are in the prime of their careers. This is it folks! The winner of this bout would be recognized as the most dominant welterweight champion since Sugar Ray Leonard. The loser of this contest will have to wake-up the next morning realizing that his title, his undefeated record, his credibility, as well as his dominance as the supreme force at 147 pounds, has been surrendered to a better fighter.
In what is being hyped as the most explosive welterweight championship battle since Leonard-Thomas Hearns I 18 years ago, De La Hoya, the WBC kingpin, and Trinidad, the IBF boss, will look to make their marks as all-time greats.
The odds are dead even with De La Hoya emerging as a slight favorite since the bout will take place not too far from De La Hoya's birthplace of East L.A.
Despite what the oddsmakers declare, however, ringside experts believe that De La Hoya is in grave danger of losing. De La Hoya, famous for beating guys smaller and less explosive than he, has struggled to impress at 147 since dominating the 130, 135, and 140 pound classes.
While he has looked good against lesser foes in David Kamau (KO 2), Wilfredo Rivera (TKO 8), Patrick Charpentier (TKO 3), and Hector Camacho (W 12), the "Golden Boy" has struggled in big wins over former four-division champ, Pernell Whitaker (W 12) and former undefeated WBA welterweight titlist, Ike Quartey (W 12). In fact, some feel as though De La Hoya lost both encounters.
Recently, against Oba Carr (KO 10), the best welterweight in the world to have not won a world championship, De La Hoya stuggled throughout the contest. His punching was off target and he took punches he should have never taken. The difference was that Carr did not have the firepower to stand up to Oscar. As a result, Carr fell to De La Hoya the same way he did when he fought Trinidad nearly five years ago.
Trinidad not only beat Carr (TKO 8), but also holds victories against Camacho (W 12) and Pernell Whitaker (W 12). Trinidad has looked better but has not fought the quality of opposition De La Hoya has. Also, Trinidad has never competed in an event of such great anticipation against a fighter who is more popular and more recognizable than himself. And never has Trinidad fought a fighter who has cleaned-out his previous levels of competition which included big wins over Whitaker, Quartey, Carr, Julio Cesar Chavez, Genaro Hernandez, Migel Angel Gonzalez, Rafael Ruelas,
John-John Molina, Jessie James Leija, and others...
De La Hoya, an American-Mexican, who, as a member of the US Olympic team in '92, is one of only two fighters to win Olympic gold in the amateurs this decade. He has fought in big fights thoroughout his entire career and is a lock for the Boxing Hall of Fame before he turns 28. Once again, De La Hoya takes center stage as the main attraction against the toughest fighter he will ever face during his peak.
Trinidad, who gained vast exposure, but fought the biggest bouts of his career prior to switching to HBO, mainly fought on much lower cards on Don King shows.
Since Trinidad is naturally more gifted, a lot of people pick him to win. But De La Hoya continues to learn, and should be able to blast Trinidad in the later rounds.
by Ed Vance
Am I tough enough? That is the question. It all boils down to 'to be or not to be', or something like that. Readers at home, give me your answers now. To be, or not? Are you tough enough?
I always thought I was. I still think I am. But as I progress towards middle age I have to ask myself: Do I really have what it takes to be a man? Am I the hunter/provider for my family?
Lets look at this in two parts:
1: Am I the hunter/provider for my family?
Yes. I am. While I have never been an avid hunter or even ever hunted before (unless you count the time I pulled a .22 bolt action rifle given to me by an ex-Detroit cop who was dating my mother on a couple of kids who where trying to impress my sister by throwing snowballs against our townhouse in Taylor, MI) I do provide for my family. My wife and myself have three children that I support quite nicely, thank you. But I can only do that because my wife stays home with the children, instilling in them the family values that we both think that they should have.
2:Do I have what it takes to be a man?
My wife would say yes, because I can answer yes to the previous answer. On the other hand, Steve Rowe (a man I have not seen for at least 13 years) might answer different. Skid, as we used to call him, was in the Navy with me. He was an ex-bouncer from Detroit who used to get in fights with Marines from a neighboring base on a regular basis. He would always tell me that to truly be a man you had to go out and either kick ass or get your ass kicked on a regular basis. Now while I don't truly subscribe to this point of view now, at the time it made a certain kind of macho sense. I have to say I joined him on more than one occasion and did enjoy myself.
If you've read this far, which would be a surprise, you may be asking yourself 'What the hell does this have to do with BOXING???'
You've given me this long, give me a little more and I'll get to the point.
Last Saturday I was off from my main job (I am a programmer), not working on my secondary job (under paid and over-worked webmaster of the CyberBoxingZone), and not quite ready to go to my newest part time gig. My wife was on the phone talking to a neighbor, and I was channel surfing. Pretty soon I had made it up to the FX channel, you know the one, FOX gone cable. And do you know what was showing? The tough man competition.
Tough man. I remember watching the Lima Bean (if you don't know who this is, refer to last issue's article by yours truly entitled 'Shame and Butterbeans') fight. I remember saying to myself 'I could do this'. And, watching the spectacle, I once again thought to myself 'I can do this'. Can I do this? Or better yet, why would I want to do this?
I am six feet tall, and weigh in at 265 pounds. I have never been more out of shape than I am right now. I am a desk jockey for god's sake. And I want to climb in the ring?
Yeah. I do. Is it to prove how tough I am? Maybe, but I don't think so. Is it to prove that I am a man? No. I have nothing to prove to anybody. I have a beautiful wife and three of the most beautiful kids in the world who all think that I am superman.
Maybe I just need a goal to strive for. My doctor has already told me I need to bring the weight down. My friend across the street said he'll be my cornerman, and he's the one with the heavy bag. It's a start.
Toughman takes place this month in Albany GA. I won't be in shape for that one. A year from now? Who knows. Maybe a year from now I'll hear the ring announcer say something like. 'And the toughest man in the Georgia area is. Ed Vance!!!'.
Until then I'll train, and I'll keep an update at the Zone. Any trainers in the north Atlanta area want to take on a charity case?