In the lobby, a black board with plastic stick-on letters announced that the mortal remains of Luis Manuel Rodriquez could be viewed in Room Nine.
Frankie Otero, former junior lightweight contender stood next to me as we gazed down on a withered corpse, neatly dressed in suit and tie. The body in the casket had a stone expression.
"It doesn't look like Luis," Frankie said.
"It's because he's not smiling," I answered, "you are not used to seeing him not smiling."
I turned away. I did to want to remember him like this, crated for eternal sleep.
The first time I saw him, I was a little kid, and he, a dozen years older, was then a young pro, undefeated in Havana rings. He stood on the sidewalk and performed for the children who recognized him, shadowboxing, soft shoe dancing and capping off the performance with an opera aria sung with a clear, crisp voice. Then, he shook our hands and walked away, laughing. He was cool by the standards.
Luis Manuel Rodriguez was born in Camaguey, in Western Cuba in 1937. By the time he was eighteen he had won several televised talent shows, as a dancer and crooner. He had also become Cuba's top amateur boxing talent, winning the national amateur title with ten straight knockouts.
He was a natural, Luis Rodriguez with his thin legs, round chest, wide nose and flashing smile did not look intimidating, but the black welterweight from Camaguey was a slick boxer with a crisp punch, dazzling speed and a cement chin.
Rodriguez turned pro two weeks before his nineteenth birthday. In thirty months he racked up eighteen wins and one no-contest, a bout stopped by rain at an outdoor arena. His undefeated ledger shows two wins over another young prospect also destined to wear a championship belt, Benny Paret, a knockout over spoiler Charlie Austin, a triumph over future British Empire Middleweight Champion Gomeo Brennan, and a clear victory of fringe contender Kid Pichique.
The year 1959 was sweet. Luis out-slicked former welterweight king Virgil Atkins, and scored six other wins over top-rated fighters. Joe Miceli, a veteran of over a hundred bouts was stopped in five, Cecil Shorts was finished off in nine. Isaac Logart was outboxed in ten.
The time was coming to leave Cuba. Fidel Castro was executing opponents by the thousands and laying out the foundations of a Marxist dictatorship. Luis Rodriguez headed North to Miami, where thousands of his fellow countrymen had sought exile over political repression.
In the three year period from 1960-1962 he fought twenty-five times. He lost two close fights with Emile Griffith and Curtis Cokes, while outscoring Cokes in a rematch. He beat former champion Akins a second time, out-pointed and stopped middleweight Yama Bahama in two matches, knocked out tough Gene Armstrong in a televised bout, out-slicked top rated Federico Thompson and Chico Vejar, and became the first fighter to stop brawler Ricardo Falech.
In his corner, the flashy Cuban had a trio of legendary fight men: Angelo Dundee, Luis Garria and Ferdie Pacheco.
"He was an incredible fighter," Ferdie Pacheco often told me, "Luis could fight on the inside or from a distance. He could attack or counter punch. He had a test jab and he would fir quick shots to the body then switch to the head. He slipped punches with ease, and he was very difficult to hit. Even when one could nail him in a solid shot, the follow up was impossible. Luis would slip and dance and bob and weave. If you were really good, you could hit Luis Rodriguez a clean shot, but it was almost impossible to nail him twice in a row. . ."
When Pacheco went on a ten city radio tour to promote his books, he was invariably asked who was the best fighter, after Ali, that he had ever worked with, and the answer over the radio, on ten occasions was: Luis Rodriguez.
"At the Fifth Street Gym," Frankie Otero remembers, "Luis sparred with fighters that were ten, twenty, thirty pounds heavier. Guys like Florentino Hernandez and Willie Pastrano, and Luis was trouble for anyone."
The greatest moment of his life came in Los Angeles, in 1963, when Rodriguez outscored nemesis Emile Griffith to win the welterweight crown. Less than three months later, Rodriquez lost his title in a hotly disputed fifteen rounder in New York, Griffith's hometown.
"I won the fight and lost the championship," Rodriguez stated several years ago, "It was New York. You need a flamethrower to boat Griffith in New York."
Rodriguez was not one to shine about a defeat. Nine weeks after losing the crown, he squared off against Denny Mayer in a Miami Beach ring. Moyer, a former junior middleweight champion, was a veteran of forty-six pro fights. Moyer had wins over a distinguished group of champions including Emile Griffith, Johnny Saxton, Virgil Akins, Sugar Ray Robinson, Benny Paret and Tony De Marco. The Oregon fighter had never been stopped.
Luis Rodriguez turned the trick. The Cuban outboxed Moyer, winning the lion's share of the first eight rounds. Attacking sometimes and countering others, Rodriguez decked Moyer in the ninth, stopping the Portland fighter.
"The Moyer fight was a magnificent performance," remembers Hank Kaplan, "then Luis had another heartbreak squeaker with Griffith. But what was really amazing was the way Luis plowed right through the middleweights. He fought the top fighters in the world in their backyards, spotted them ten or fifteen pounds, and licked them. Those that wanted a second shot, he gave a rematch, and licked them again."
Ruben Carter was the most feared middleweight in the world. The muscled, skull shaved, FuManchu mustachioed ex-convict had scored clean first round knockouts over Emile Griffith and Florentino Fernandez. The thin welterweight from Cuba fought Carter twice, winning both.
Skeeter McClure was a full-fledged unbeaten middleweight, a Gold Medalist from the 1960 Olympic Games. Luis decked McClure and beat him twice.
George Benton was a top contender that champions avoided. The crafty and solid punching Benton was no match for Rodriguez. Benton was stopped on cuts, for the first time in his career, in the ninth. Rocky Rivera was a brawler who had fought two wars with Joey Giardello. Rodriguez beat him easily over ten rounds.
Benny Briscoe was the hottest prospect in the middleweights, a tough left hooker from Philadelphia, destined to fight a draw with Carlos Monzon. Rodriguez beat Briscoe twice.
Rondon won the first bout, but Rodriguez won the second match.
"Luis was unfazed," remembers Hank Kaplan, "he was never bothered by how big a fighter was or how many knockouts he had. . . he was a welterweight fighting middleweights and light-heavies, and if they would have let him, he would have fought Ali. Luis Rodriguez belongs in the Boxing Hall of Fame."
After losing on cuts to Curtis Cokes in a title bout, Rodriguez had concentrated on the pursuit of the middleweight crown. On November 22, 1969, he toed the scratch against Nino Benvenuti, in Rome.
For ten rounds, Rodriguez outfoxed the Italina. He seemed headed for a second title belt, until a desperate Benvenuti threw a tremendous left hook that exploded against Luis' chin in the eleventh round. Rodriguez was stopped cold.
"It was the best punch Benvenuti ever threw," Luis Sarria once told me, "and when it landed, I knew it was over That punch would have knocked down a heavyweight."
Luis Rodriguez continued fighting for three more years. He still beat some top fighters, losing and winning to Jose Gonzalez, out pointing Bobby Cassidy and knocking out Tony Mundine. Back to back losses to club fighter Mike Lancaster and prospect Donato Paduano, convinced the thirty-four year old Rodriguez to hang up the eight-ouncers.
His 107-13-1 record included 49 knockout wins, and only 3 kayo losses.
After retirement he had trained amateur boxers, owned a bar, worked in a warehouse, and discovered booze. The last two years of his life were a nightmare of dialysis treatments. He was fifty-nine years old when death came to him in a Miami Beach hospital, near the Miami Beach Convention Center, where he had beaten Denny Moyer and a score of other good fighters.
Near the coffin there was a painting of a young Luis Rodriguez, wearing a title belt and boxing trunks. It was a Ferdie Pacheco original, brought by the fight doctor as a gift to the family.
In the picture, Luis was smiling.
What happened to Riddick Bowe is no surprise. It has happened to so many fighters before. When you take a serious contender lightly, you pay for it dearly. Muhammad Ali didn't even consider Leon Spinks to be a challenge in 1978. Leon shocked the world in one of boxing history's greatest upsets. Unbeaten Mike Tyson trained more with Geisha girls in front of him than sparring partners the night of February 23, 1990. That's the night Buster Douglas became a household name, doing the unthinkable as he manhandled "Catskill Thunder."
Who was Andrew Golota and how could he be beating up on "Big Daddy" Bowe? Easy. Golota was more of a pro than any of the media gave him credit for being. Bowe? He was more out-of-shape than anybody thought. He did what Muhammad Ali did against Larry Holmes in October, 1980, and what Roberto Duran did against Sugar Ray Leonard the very next month. He cut weight by dieting, more than by training. Somewhere around 40 pounds of chicken and ribs fell off his pachyderm frame in about eight weeks time.
This is strictly my opinion, but I believe that Bowe knew -- as early as the first hard punch he took in the first round -- that July 11 would not be his night. He knew it more in round two and for certain in round three, by which time he already had been hit be several low blows. By the time he was nailed a bullseye low blow at the end of round four, I -- and many of the ringside press -- believed Bowe was headed downhill quickly. His punches lacked power and speed. He was getting hit hard and stumbling. For him, defeat was imminent. My only question was, "Will he finish this on his feet or on his back." He was getting hit hard and stumbling when he did get hit. When he went down in round four, was he really hurt or was he looking to out-perform Will Smith and Denzell Washington? Only Riddick Bowe knows for sure.
The steady, hard punches kept coming Bowe's way. They were hitting the former champ and taking an effect. Bowe was steadily wearing down as his corner implored him to "Move!. . . Get out of there!. . . Don't stand with this guy!" It was Rocky II come to life. Bowe was breaking apart -- piece by piece -- every time he was hit. Referee Wayne Kelly, probably New York State's finest referee, continually implored Golota to "Keep your punches up." Finally, after taking a point from Golota in the fourth, another in the fifth and another in the sixth, Kelly had run out of patience. After Bowe doubled over from yet another low shot in the seventh, Kelly waved the fight over. He DQ'ed Golota.
You've read and heard all about the fight for a week now. This was a major story. What happened in the fight is one thing. What happened when Kelly waved his hands over his head, then walked to Bowe -- now on his back -- and raised Bowe's left arm in victory, is another.
Madison Square Garden, whose name is magic and whose ring has played host to more legendary fighters than any other ring in history, became a war zone. Bowe's manager, Rock Newman, shot underneath the bottom strand of ropes. In from the corner came a member of the Bowe entourage, Jason Williams, walkie-talkie in hand. Golota cornerman Lou Duva bolted into the ring. Duva shoved the referee. Newman stepped over his fallen warrior and approached Golota, screaming at him. Harris went berserk, wielding his walkie-talkie upon the head of both Duva and Golota. The 74-year-old Duva went down. Golota, as tough a heavyweight as boxing has seen in years, was set to annihilate his assailant, but a Golota camp member held him back. By now, only seconds after Kelly had ended the fight, several more individual battles were going on.
Individual skirmishes broke out all over the ring. Then, it spread to the ringside press area, as fans began hopping the security gate which separates the working press from the fans. It escalated by the second. Ringside chairs, which were incredibly not banded together, were lifted and thrown by hoodlums who had been disguised as fans. A man in a wheelchair was flipped upside down. Dino Duva, the President of Main Events, promoter of Andrew Golota, had his pocket picked of $300 as he tried to both defend himself and get medical attention for his dazed and bloodied father.
Although it was reported that New York City police were notified of the riot at 10:48 p.m. (Eastern Time), a member of the NYPD, who asked not to be identified, admitted it wasn't until 11:13 that New York's finest were called.
Some, like actor Michael J. Fox, were fortunate, and escaped the war zone within minutes. Others were not so fortunate, as flying chairs and flailing fists brought them down in a heap, dazed, bloodied and bruised. Even top State Athletic Commission member Anthony Russo, attempting to restore calm, was beaten at ringside and required oxygen.
When the NYPD finally arrived, they did so in large numbers and in riot gear. Quickly, order was restored. But when it was, the famed and beautiful Madison Square Garden was an ugly, post-riot scene of overturned chairs and tables, of puddles of beer and soda and of the injured being attended to by EMS workers. When ring announcer Michael Buffer opened the main event with his famed "LET'S GET READY TO RUMBLE!" he never meant anybody to take him literally.
Although Dave Checketts, President of MSG, said a full compliment of security was on duty, it is now sadly obvious that was not nearly enough. Apparently, unlisenced personnel were allowed to be in and around Bowe's corner during the bout. Without security in the corner, Bowe's angry and volatile corner, led by Rocky Newman, stormed the ring unopposed, jumping the Golota corner and precipitating the riot. In direct contrast, a minimum of six security guards sat watch in the Bowe corner when Bose -- then heavyweight champion -- defended his crown against Michael Dokes on February 6, 1993 in MSG. Another six were stationed in Dokes' corner. That night, when Bowe stopped Dokes in the first round, a wild scene ensued, led by Dokes' enraged manager, Sterling McPherson, who objected to the stoppage. However, because of the amount of security on hand, any potential problem was swiftly brought under control.
As it stands now, several injured fans have instituted lawsuits against Madison Square Garden and Riddick Bowe. The New York State Athletic Commission, not to be held totally blameless for the situation, is reviewing the situation and talking to all parties involved, sorting out the licensees from the unlisenced. When the NYSAC does indeed arrive at how they will handle the situation against the licensees involved, they can do one of three things: They can fine each licensee, they can suspend him or they can revoke the license. In the case of suspension or revocation, you can expect the Association of Boxing Commissions, boxing's powerful collective group of regulators, to show full reciprocity. In other words, if a licensee, such as Rocky Newman, finds himself suspended for any amount of time, that suspension will be upheld by every other commission. The Athletic Commission has already rejected a Main Events protest that the decision should be ruled in favor of Golota, citing a confusing NYSAC policy which states that the referee should count in the event of a fighter being knocked down from a low blow. In that event, the fighter has to get up before the count of 10, and is then given up to five minutes to recover.
The damage caused to Madison Square Garden has been repaired. The cuts and bruises suffered by fans paying up to $300 for a ringside ticket have healed. But the injury to boxing lingers. What should have been a night in which a new heavyweight star was born became a night of infamy -- yet another one -- for boxing.
The sport will go on. It always does. But it's nights like these which make us all want to put on sunglasses and deny any involvement with the sport we call the "Sweet Science." On July 11, 1996, there was nothing sweet about it.
Even within the long-ago memories or recollections of boxing historians and fans of famous prizefighters, the name Jess Willard has almost fallen victim to near insignificance. Jess Willard, the one-time heavyweight boxing champion of the world, and who alone earned the title, "The Great White Hope", has faded from memory, compared to his predecessor Jack Johnson, and his rival, Jack Dempsey.
One wonders if historians have all the facts, considering that a little thing like Jess Willard's incorrect date of birth curiously never seems to get corrected. Jess Willard was born December 29, 1881 (not 1883) in St. Clere, Kansas. He was the youngest of 4 brothers born to Myron and Margaret Willard. Willard's father died in October of 1881, at age 37 from wounds received in the Civil War. Jess' mother remarried in 1891 to a man named Elisha Stalker, who had children from a previous marriage.
As Jess, his older brothers and stop brothers grew up on Mr. Stalker's ranch, the chores of the boys was as normal and customary as most of farm people. Jess got along with his brothers and step-brothers, but never liked going to school. It should be noted that Willard's first love was horses, and from his teens to adulthood, got work on ranches working with horses. Because Jess Willard was an unusually large man -- even in his teens (his brothers were of normal stature) -- he found that he was not suitable to become a cowboy. So, he did the next best thing: He broke and trained horses, sometimes obtaining the horses from the Pottawotamie Indians, and selling them to ranchers or the cowboys themselves.
Jess Willard grew up in the same area as the young girl he would someday marry. Her name was Harriet Evans, but is historically known as "Hattie". She was born in 1885. Jess and Hattie were married on march 13, 1908 in Leavenworth, Kansas. For employment, Jess worked in the livery stable business. He and Hattie moved all over the Midwest for Jess' line of work, landing in Oklahoma and Texas. It was also reported that he almost got work as a policeman in Oklahoma City.
There is no positive story as to how Jess got into boxing, but it probably started in December 1910, in Oklahoma City. While hanging around the Union Athletic Club, he saw his very first staged bout. It was December 30, 1910, between 2 welterweights, Harry Brewer and Clarence English.
Jess Willard's first exhibition bouts were in 1911; and so insignificant were they, that names of the opponents were not even recorded. Jess lost his first exhibition bout in the 3rd round, but won his 2nd bout in the 6th. The first known recorded exhibition bout of Willard's was on February 8, 1911. It was a 4-round bout with Billy Evart; and another exhibition on the same day, with Frank Mayo for 5 rounds.
Jess Willard's actual and very first fight was with Louis Fink, which was staged February 15, 1911, in Sapulpa, Oklahoma. Willard lost by a foul in the 10th round. Thereafter, Willard fought in at least 20 other bouts and exhibitions in 1911. On Victor McLaglen in Springfield, Missouri. Victor McLaglen became a well-known film actor of the 1930s and 40s, and who was known for his roles with John Wayne.
In 1912 Willard had 13 bouts and exhibitions. In 1913 he fought 13 more bouts, the most noted being with Gunboat' Smith, and Bull' Young, who died as a result of Willard's punches.
From 1912 or 1913, the world of heavyweight boxing and all of the U.S., was looking for someone to take the championship away from Jack Johnson, the black Heavyweight who became Champion in 1908. Racism was strong enough in the U.S. back then; and being a black athlete, and a black champion at anything, was very unpopular. So, the boxing world was looking for someone to put Jack Johnson -- this black man -- to the mat, and "bring the championship back to the white race." Jack Johnson's boxing style was not the subject of "sluggers", but of "speed". The question was, who could beat him. No white heavyweight fighter of that era seemed to earn the respect and marks of someone who could do the job. Not even Jim Jeffries, who came out of retirement in 1910 to try, but failed. A catch phrase arose, "A Great White Hope". What white hope was there who could beat Jack Johnson. That "white hope" became Jess Willard.
With Jack Johnson was on the run throughout the U.S. and South America for evading prosecution of "importation of women for prostitution", promoters finally arranged a site for a Willard-Johnson championship bout, first Juarez, Mexico, and then finally Havana, Cuba. Willard fought only 3 bouts in 1914.
In the meantime, Willard was cast in a 1-reel short film, "The Heart Punch". It was made in late 1914, but not released until February of 1915. As the record already shows it, Willard beat Johnson in 26 rounds of a scheduled 45-round bout, in simmering 100 degree plus humid temperatures of Havana. After the Johnson fight, Willard only boxed 4 other fights -- all exhibitions. Suddenly, Jess Willard was very popular -- in the world of boxing, of course, for bringing back the championship to the white race, and I the U.S. lucrative offers abounded -- the movies, the stage. Willard did a stint in vaudeville at Hammersteins' Victoria Theatre in New York, but the biggest deal was with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, and later the 101 Ranch Wild West Show, which he owned and operated from 1916-1918.
In 1916 Willard fought 6 times, one with Frank Moran. There were probably countless exhibitions in 1917, while with the 101 Ranch Wild West Show; and 4 recorded bouts in 1918. In 1919, just before Willard took on Jack Dempsey, he made a 7 reel feature file called "The Challenge of Chance", and is the only feature film he ever starred in.
1919 was the year that 24 year-old Jack Dempsey beat Willard in the 3rd round -- one of the most controversial bouts in history. No one can know for sure now, but photos of Willard's bruised body on one side only, plus the logic of a man going to the mat several times in the 1st round, but not again thereafter -- hints of something very suspicious in the fairness of that bout.
Jess Willard retired from the ring. . . sort of. He fought in a half dozen exhibition bouts in 1922 in Los Angeles and San Francisco, California; and in 1923 made two attempts to make a comeback by fighting Floyd Johnson, TKOing Johnson in the 11th round. The last was in the same year, losing to Luis Firpo in the 8th round.
Jess and Hattie had 5 children -- 3 girls and 2 boys. The first, Zella, was born in 1909. She was followed by another daughter, Frances, born inn 1911. Their first son, Jess Jr., was born in 1913, followed by another daughter, Enid, in 1914, and then a son, Alan, in 1916. Willard sold his Lawrence, Kansas ranch house in 1921 and moved employment for himself. One was in real-estate. Another was owning the first ranch market, which was in Hollywood, on the corner of Vine and Afton. Jess Willard also earned his livelihood refereeing wrestling matches, which he tolerated, and disclosed of his firsthand knowledge of its fakery. In 1933 he appeared in a bit part in a boxing movie, "The Prizefighter and the Lady", with Max Baer and Myrna Loy.
Willard did some work overseas with the USO during WWII, but for the most part was a retired citizen. All but one of his children were married by the mid 1940s, and he had 6 grandchildren by 1953. Jess and Hattie lived in a couple of homes in the Los Angeles and Glendale areas before moving to their last house in the San Fernando Valley.
Jess Willard lived to the age of almost 87, when he died on December 15, 1968.
Roy then made mention of the fate of his friend and formally proposed opponent, Gerald McClellan. He said after reading an article in the Hall about Gerald's condition that he now knew he didn't think he would go visit him because he knew it would "tear him up, and I might not be able to go box again." Roy seemed genuinely moved and upset by the horrible plight of his pal and said that Gerald would have provided him with his best competition. After Roy's opening statements, he answered questions fans and reporters had for him --
Q: "We got a lot of little ones here, can you say something inspiring to them?"
Jones: "The best thing I can say to you young guys is that I started at age 10. The reason that I started so young was because to get a jump on everybody else. The one thing from boxing that I learned how it felt to win. That was the best thing in life for me, was to be able to come home and say -- I won. Something that I practiced on, something that I put a lot of time and effort into and rose to the top. Now I didn't win every time as an amateur, but still, it gave me more of a desire to want to go back and work extra hard so that I cou ld come back and ma ybe win next time. Learning that feeling made it a lot easier for me to say no to drugs and alcohol because I wanted to be the best when I got to where I am now, and that' s why it's so hard for the rest of them, James Toney, Vinny Pazienza, all of them. . . They want to move me, they can't move me 'cause I'm here to stay. Because I never did anything to default against myself when I was coming up. I never, to this day, had a drug, I never had alcohol in me, because I don't need those things. I have boxing, I have winning on my mind. I made that clear to myself when I first started boxing and that's the way I kept it. So it'll be a while before I do get beat, probably."
Q: Who do you think you want to fight next?"
Jones: "It really doesn't matter to me. I'm not a guy who picks on people, who goes calling people out, if they say my name, then fine, we can fight. If they want it, they can come and get it."
Q: Have you and Frankie Liles negotiated anything yet?"
Jones: "Well, Frankie is a Don King fighter, so to negotiate with Frankie, I'd have to negotiate with Don King. But we are in the process of trying to make something happen. I had to beat Frankie Liles two out of three times to go to the Olympics in 1988. He's a good fighter, he's left handed, he's tall, and he can punch. Now, I'm about 65-75 m.p.h. quicker than him, but he can punch."
DI: "What about Bryant Brannon you're supposed to fight?"
Jones: "Brannon's a pretty good fighter, he's the #1 contender right now, he's a little bit shorter than me and it's very difficult for a guy who's shorter than me to beat me because I can punch down on 'em and they have to reach up at me. I think he's gonna be in a little trouble."
Q: "How about Bernard Hopkins, again?"
Jones: "Hopkins is a fight I'm hoping to have maybe the mid part of next year. He's a good fighter, He's come a long ways. He knows that I can beat him, but he still wants to try again. I respect him for wanting to try and fight me because he wants to be the best, and to be the best you have to beat the best. So I respect that. He's very dedicated that's why I would gladly give him another opportunity."
Q: "How'd you feel in your last fight?"
Jones: "a little bit tired from playing basketball, but I felt good."
Q: "Do you think Nigel Benn would come out of retirement to fight you?"
Jones: "Benn's coming out of retirement to fight Stevie Collins, who he lost to in his last fight. I don't think he'll beat Collins, but I will be fighting, hopefully, Stevie Collins next year too."
DI: "What did you think about HBO's coverage of your last fight? They didn't seem very positive about Roy Jones."
Jones: "Wel l, you know pe ople in the sport of boxing are used to b eing able to order boxers around, dict ate what boxers do, make every move for the boxer and they only benefit from it. They sit outside and tell you how to go in there and do what you do best and I don't have that. So they don't know how to take to me and I understand that they get negative because they can't tell me what to do. If I'm going to out there and take all of the punches, then I'm going to decide where, when, and how I'm going to go out there and take all the punches."
Jones: "Well, you know, I like Vinny, but people like him sometimes, it's kind of like James Toney, they get beside themselves and what they don't realize is, all the guys now who are the best have a loss on their record, with the exception of Rocky Marciano. Nobody's God nobody's unbeatable, they have to realize that and when I see them go out and try to act like there's nobody on the planet can beat them, then I'm just gonna say come out with it, ya know?"
Q: "Will you go up to heavy weight, Roy?"
Jones: "I'm gonna try to. If I can get an honest 20 lbs on me, then I'll be glad to."
Q: "Who would you fight?"
Jones: "I tried to fight Michael Moorer, but he wouldn't take it."
DI: "Would you ever consider fighting for Don King?"
Jones: "No! With Don King, sure" (LAUGHTER) "I'll do this, I'll let him bring his fighter and make a deal with me and my people and me and his fighter will fight one another, but I wouldn't go sign a contract -- say 'OK Don, you go out and make my decisions for me', because I see what that has done to fighters in the past. It won't happen to me!"
Q: "Did winning the most outstanding fighter in the Olympics ease your pain any of not getting the gold?"
Jones: "No. It didn't really ease my pain because, it kind of took away from the fact that I really thought that I deserved winning the cup, but then it seemed like -- Oh, fine ya'll robbed me, now ya'll are gonna give it to me for sure. It kind of messed up the whole thing. I'm proud that it happened and I'm only the second guy to win the silver medal to get that award, but I truly felt I deserved it, just as I did the gold medal."
DI: "You talk about retiring early, you don't want to stick around too long in boxing. Do you have any set plan or any set number of fights you want, or a date for retiring?"
Jones: "No set number, but when I start getting hit too much or my eyes start to get cut, or when I start to swell up, it's getting close."
DI: "I think that you and Gerald McClellan would have been the Hagler-Hearns of the 90's and I don't see anyone out there now who could give you the kind of fight Gerald could have given you."
Jones: "No, I don't see anyone out there who could give me the kind of fight he could've given me either."
DI: "There's just nobody is there?"
Jones: "Not really."
Q: "James Toney, again?" Jones: "See, you have to make Toney prove himself again. When we fought the first time, everyone thought that he was the be st fighter in the world, which was go od. That's what I want, cause I want people to say, OK this guy may have a chance to beat him. That's competition. That's what makes me rise. When I go out and fight people that people say, ah he's gonna kill him, that doesn't do anything for me. I have to do it sometime to keep my title, but that's not what I enjoy. I want to fight somebody who's supposed to be able to at least. . . who you think if he catches him, then maybe he may be able to knock me out. That's what I want to fight."
Q: "Did you have plans to fight McClellan before he got hurt?"
Jones: "Yeah, in fact, I was gonna fight the winner of that fi ght. But when Benn won, Don didn't want to do that because D on doesn't totally have Benn. Him an d Fr ankie Warren had Benn together, so Do n King didn't want to make that fight. I was o ne of the pe ople who predicted that Benn would win the fight, the reason being because McClellan had let King guide his career and he had only fought one true fighter, which was Julian Jackson. julian doesn't have a chin, he can just punch. When he fought Benn, he was just so used to knocking everyone out, he didn't know what it was like to go out there and out box a guy. But Benn was truly a warrior, if you go there to knock 'em out, and your chin is not the best, he can knock you out. At one time, Benn was 22 - 0 with 22 knock outs. That's hard to do. Oscar De La Hoya didn't do that, Roy Jones didn't do that. Nobody hardly got that far with straight knock outs. I got about 19, I think. So, that tells you something about his punching power, and to go in and disrespect that, you're looking for an upset. And that's why I . . . "
Q: "He knocked Benn out of the ring -- "
Jones: "First round, but, when he came back, that made it even wo rse, because when Benn came back into the ring, he kep't trying so hard to knock Benn out because he knew he could knock Benn out if he catch him right, and that, in turn, made him more tired then he would have ever been if he had just used his jab, let Benn get tired, then knock Benn out."
Q: "If you could fight a legend, who would it be?"
Jones: "Ah, me and Sugar Ray Robinson, if that could happen." DI: "What did you say to Derrick Gainer after the tough loss he took against Kevin Kelly? Did you have any advice for him?"
Jones: "Yeah, my advice to Derrick was that now when you get an opportunity and it's in front of you, use your head. What happened was that he lost his focus before the fight happened, during training camp I wasn't there, I w as playing basketball and I called back once to see how training was going. He was in Pensicola w hen he was supposed to be in Jacksonville, he wa s trying to buy a car. If that's going to be more important to you then training, then when you get ready for the big fight, don't expect that your chances of winning are going to be as good as the guy who's been out there every day sweating day in and day out, never thinking about nothing else but keeping his title."
Q: "How many miles a day do you run?"
Jones: "Actually, now that I've gotten a little older, I can't run as much as I used to. My knees are a little bad. But I run an average of about 5 miles a day once I get ready to get in shape. I used to run an average of about 8 miles a day. Yeah, I used to love to run."
Q: "Come to Philadelphia and fight Hopkins."
Jones: "If I can get a good enough deal to go there, I might double challenge myself and go all the way back down to 160 lbs. and then go there to fight him. That'd be tough."
Q: "How about Madison Square Garden?"
Jones: "Well, you know you go to MSG, try to go to a fight and a hockey game might break out, you know -- you never can tell what might happen at MSG. (LAUGHTER) I don't mind going to MSG to fight, it's just that when I went last time, it was cold and they don't underst and that I'm from the South. I'm not used t o cold, I watch a movie on TV and it start snowing and my sinuses start running, you know? (LAUGHTER) They kind of gave me a hard time about that, but my job is, there again, to make sure that when Roy goes to fight, that Roy's in the best health for Roy's sake. Because if Roy's injured they're not going to come back and say well, we knew he'd get sick in the cold. He'll probably lose in MSG, that's it." Q: "How much weight do you have to lose before a fight?"
Jones: "Now, I only lose about six pounds, and I do that very intelligently. The highest I get is about 180. I come all the way down to 168, so I get about to 175 within the first four weeks, then the last week, I get down to 168."
Q: "Who were the fighters you watched and admired when you were growing up?"
Jones: "Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Robinson, (on tapes). My favorite fighters were Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Salvador Sanchez, Marvin Haggler, Tommy Hearns, Wilfred Benitez, and Willie Pep -- on tape a lot. Muhammad Ali, that's the reason I started boxing."
Q: "Roy, your fights are so one sided, I'm wondering, have you ever been hit, where you've said maybe you don't want the people to know you were hit hard, but inside you felt, wow, I just got hit real hard. How do you handle that?"
Jones: "The way I handle it is, I have been hit hard like that a few times where a guy hit me and like WHAM! I come back and said, well, I can't do that anymore and if it happens again, I'm like wait, wait. . . that's not supposed to happen, something's wrong here."
Q: "What about the rumor about you fighting Tommy Hearns?"
Jones: "I don't want to fight Tommy Hearns. What would I gain from beating Tommy Hearns? People be like, oh, so now he's picking on old fighters for no reason, you know?! Believe it or not, this guy followed me all the way to West Palm Beach, Florida. I'm playing basketball, I look, and there goes Tommy Hearns in the stands, what's he doing, you know? It's like they'll say I'm picking on him, when every where I turn there he is. Then I would get totally crushed if I beat him." (LAUGHTER)
DI: "What are your thoughts on Oscar De La Hoya as a fighter? Do you think he's as good as everyone thinks he is?"
Jones: "I would have to say he is truly as good as most people think he is. It's just that he has to do a little proving himself to me, because I've seen him go down in a couple of fights with fighters who weren't supposed to really put him down. Now, there putting him right up there with me as pound-for-pound the best, but to be honest with you, had I been knocked down twice in my career, I wouldn't be at the top of pound-for-pound the best, and I know this. So, it's things like that, that kind of can make people be cold against other people. But I'm not really worried about it. My thing is to please the public, to make you guys ha ppy when ya'll see me perform, and I don't really worry about the rest of it. So, I think he is really truly a great fighter. I would like to see him fight people like Quartey, just to test him, to see someone who could hit him hard. Just as hard as he can hit them and see how it turns out."
Q: "Do you think Whitacker has slipped as much as everyone seems to think he has?":
Jones: "Yeah, I think Pernell's life is catching up with him. I see him at different times, and he doesn't really care about setting a good example. He just does his thing and that will catch up with you in the long run."
Q: "Which do you prefer basketball or boxing?"
Jones: "I prefer boxing more because that's what people know me as. The thing about basketball, and let me expl ain this good, if you don't have a common opponent, somebody who people think that McClellan would have been, then you'll just sit there. You're on top and you'll think that why should I have to work so hard. Exactly what happened to Riddick Bowe. Now he may be at the point of no return, we don't know. I didn't want to see myself drop to that point, so what did I do? I challenged myself and started playing basketball because I knew I'd have to go a long ways to keep up with the guys playing basketball. That same attitude I tak e back to the boxing gym with me. Like I'm a nobody, like I'm a contender trying to get up to the top. That way, It'll be hard to beat me. But if I just stayed complacent, just boxed and didn't do nothing else, I was starting to lose interest anyway and somebody would come along and beat me easily."
Q: "Mike Tyson."
Jones: "Same thing, just got complacent with where he was and let himself fall by the wayside."
Jones: "Thank you, it's been great talking to ya'll and I'll try to sign something for everybody."
After the Q & A, Roy generously signed all types of items for fans. Everything from boxing cards, posters, pictures, hand-drawn pictures, to even basketballs. When Roy was finally done making sure everyone had gotten a chance for a signature, he took a couple of extra minutes to answer a couple more questions for me.
DI: "Any predictions on your up-coming bout with Bryant Brannon?"
Jones: "It shouldn't last no more than about 8 rounds." DI: "Any comment about the proposed fight with Virgil Hill?"
Jones: "If he wins against the German, I hope I'll be his next opponent."
DI: "What about Nigel Benn?"
Jones: "If he beats Collins, sure." DI: "Is there anyone out there you would personally want to fight?
Jones: "Michael Moorer."
DI: "What would you like the fans to know about Roy Jones as a person?"
Jones: "That I'm just a very down-to-earth person." DI: "How is your relationship with your father? Has it improved at all since the Sports Illustrated article on you?"
Jones: "No! Not improved at all."
DI: "Thanks a lot for your time and for coming out to see your fans in Canastota."
Jones: "My pleasure." I was sorry to hear that Roy had not had the opportunity to patch things up with his dad and he also seemed displeased. Here's hoping Roy, Jr. and Roy, Sr. can get together. Nothing is more important than family.
I would also like to thank Ed Brophy and the entire staff at the IBHF for making my visit enjoyable, as it always is.
================================================================= ================================================================== =================== ====================== =================== Gloves Off! ====================== =================== ====================== ========================================================== By David Farrell firstname.lastname@example.org The Problem with Michael Moorer =============================== There aren't too many fighters in the sport today about whom you'll find as many different opinions as he-who-has-no-nickname. In general, however, the consensus seems to be negative. To honor the crowning of boxing's latest two-time (and only southpaw) heavyweight paper champ, why not use this space to debunk the myths that exist about the man and get down to some real good reasons to criticize him? Myth #1 - Moorer has a glass jaw... ----------------------------------- Now, I'm not claiming his head's a block of granite, but the evidence that he can't take a punch just isn't there. ANYONE in the heavyweight division would've been KO'd by that punch from Foreman. If you think it didn't look like a hard shot, think again about who was throwing it. Then think of the trickle of blood from Moorer's mouth as he rolled over on the canvas (his inner cheek required some 15 stitches after the fight). In the post-fight press conference picture printed in Sports Illustrated, the side of his head was swollen up like Ali's after the first Frazier fight, with his lip the size of a garden hose. Yes, a helluva shot indeed! Considering Moorer's other knockdowns, he was totally unfazed by the Holyfield KD, while Evander had Riddick Bowe in la la land. The Bigfoot Martin knockdown was about as "flash" as they come, and Bert Cooper, who placed him in the passing lane of queer street, also did the same to Evander Holyfield, who most regard as having an iron jaw. MM came back to win all of these fights. It was absurd for some to suggest Moorer could be stopped by the feather-fisted Axel Schulz. Myth #2 - Moorer's southpaw style is a huge advantage... --------------------------------------------------------- There is of course some truth in this, but some disadvantage too that most people have not noticed. While the early heavyweight Michael Moorer was a puncher with a stick of dynamite in each glove, the current version seems to be a right hand only banger. The left cross has just about left his arsenal; I suspect this can be attributed to a hand injury. Now the problem is, all of his significant punches are thrown with the right hand, but with his shoulders already turned in the southpaw stance, it is impossible for him to get any leverage into the punches and his only effective blow is the stiff jab. This can be seen clearly in the Melvin Foster fight, where every time Foster was mildly in trouble it was from a jab; with no hooks or crosses to follow there was no chance of knocking out the journeyman. So no power punches = adios KO streak; it's unclear if this disadvantage totally nullifies the advantages of being a southpaw but it does certainly tip the scales a bit. Myth #3 - Moorer would've never won the linear title if he hadn't faced a shot Holyfield... ------------------------------------------------- Could Holyfield have been deathly sick & over the hill 6 months after his hall of fame performance in beating Riddick Bowe? Don't think so (more on this below). This was a full year and a half before his scary collapse in Bowe III; he simply lost to a better fighter in Moorer. People don't want to admit this because of Evander's warrior heart and Moorer's often complacent style, but it's the truth. Consider that a supposedly prime Holyfield beat George Foreman 8 rounds to 4, while Moorer was pitching a shutout through 9 rounds when he got overconfident and disrespected Big George's power. The adage states that in boxing you only need to make one mistake, and Moorer happened to make his against a man old enough to be his father. Other than that, he is a fine fighter who happens to fight in a lackadaisical, crowd displeasing style. This brings me to: The real problem with Michael Moorer ------------------------------------ Moorer's sleepwalking style is certainly not conducive to earning the admiration (or at least respect) that a top heavyweight champion should command. But it gets even worse - I'm not sure Moorer WANTS to be a well respected champion. He seems to enjoy his privacy and has often stated his desire to retire very young. This is reminiscent of Ken Norton's claim that he never really cared about boxing. In Moorer's case, think back to when he won the linear championship. The public had been salivating over a Bowe-Lewis match up, and Holyfield (who had taken Bowe's title) was eager to fight Lennox Lewis and reunify the belts. He was forced instead to fight Moorer as a mandatory defense. When Moorer took the title from him, what was the public reaction? Well, nothing. No one knew his name, and no one cared. There was no public outcry for a unification match with Lennox Lewis, and even boxing insiders didn't suggest the match occur until perhaps 18 months down the road (even though it would've been a great fight). Though it was a legitimate championship he had won, Moorer's style, personality and promotional strategy combined to make him perhaps the least cared about (legitimate) heavyweight champion of the Queensbury era. This is not the man we need heading up our sport today, and Mike Tyson should take care of the latest fractional champion if anyone cares enough to put them in the ring together. Holyfield Revisionism ===================== I've read a number of opinions on the Real Deal lately that seem to show people are looking back on his career through rose-colored glasses. Don't get me wrong, Evander will go down in history as one of boxing's great warriors. His battles in the ring have certainly been some of the most exciting fights of the last decade, and he has given us some of the most exciting rounds in boxing history (Foreman Rd. 7, Cooper Rd. 3, Bowe I Rd. 10, Moorer Rd. 2). Nevertheless, I've got to tell it like it is for all the misty-eyes out there: While he is certainly unhealthy and over the hill today, even in his prime he wasn't that great of a fighter. To hear some describe him, he was sort of a modern day Sugar Ray at heavyweight, when in reality the guy belongs in the Patterson/Norton/M. Spinks class of all-time rankings. Evidence??? Consider his successful title defenses. Two 116-112 type decisions over 42 year olds and a near knockout at the hands of a journeyman with 9 losses. It's a near consensus that Mike Tyson will destroy Holyfield this fall, but the often unspoken part is that it would've been a competitive fight back in late '91. Go watch the tape of the 11/91 Holyfield-Cooper bout, and recall that this was the night Evander was supposed to fight Mike Tyson. Tyson would've blasted him out easily then and now; Holyfield needs to brawl to beat tough opposition and this would've failed miserably against a banger like Iron Mike. Anyway, continuing on, he lost his title in 11/92 to Riddick Bowe. Although he fought a stupid fight for the last 11 rounds and lost by several points, the Holyfield legend was really created that night with the courage he showed in the last 3 rounds (particularly the 10th). He showed the same heart, and a better game plan, 12 months later in recapturing the title from Bowe. It was a career effort which, unfortunately, he could not sustain 6 months later in losing the title to Michael Moorer. Some people say Moorer beat an over the hill, sick Holyfield, but this argument does not hold water. How could the man be at the peak of his skills in November and shot in April? Sorry, he simply lost his second title to the better man that night. Holyfield's victory over Ray Mercer is somewhat open to interpretation, as is Lennox Lewis'. However, his loss to Bowe in their rubber match was a sad spectacle and indicative of a man who should retire with the glory of his final flameout that night, giving every last ounce of himself and nearly stopping the flabby Brooklynite before falling flat on his face and nearly meeting his maker. It will surely be a much sadder spectacle, and most likely without redeeming highlights, when he faces Tyson. It is to his eternal credit that his inspiring wars of the past 3 ½ years have caused many observers to forget the trials and tribulations that led to so much criticism in his first championship run. Let's all hope Evander survives 1996 to remember what will surely be a hall of fame career. Smokin' Joe: The Book and the Controversy ========================================== The recent autobiography of Joe Frazier has garnered an awful lot of attention and controversy. It seems that Smokin' Joe still harbors tremendous resentment towards Muhammad Ali for the taunting and insults Ali hurled at him in the 70s. Joe apparently goes so far in his book as to take some satisfaction in Ali's current condition of deterioration and still refers to "The Greatest" as Cassius Clay. This of course is going too far for the members of the press that have read the book, and there is an unspoken notion that the saintly immortal (and disabled) Ali should be beyond any criticism. While I have a hard time believing Joe really relishes Ali's current condition, it's not my intention to condone or excuse what he has said. I only feel that he has the right to tell his side of the story, and the right to still be angry. Most of us could only guess how humiliating it must have been for Joe to be called an Uncle Tom and White Man's Champ. Although the press ate this stuff up due to Ali's charismatic delivery, if anything it is the direct opposite of the truth. Joe supported Ali in any way he could during his exile only to have his supposed friend completely turn on him when his eligibility to fight was reinstated. Ali, who has often presented the picture of a devoutly religious man, certainly didn't behave as one with his dehumanizing taunts, which went far beyond sheer hype and attempts to create a mental advantage. It was, in reality, simple bullying of a far worse and more demeaning variety than the kind executed by Liston, Tyson, and the early Foreman. Ali's largely successful efforts to turn the entire Black American community against Frazier are the roots of Joe's hatred and completely destroyed a sharecropper's-rags- to-riches story that is as compelling as Ali's if people would simply take the time to listen to it. If anybody deserves to be criticized for this affair, it's "The Greatest". An argument could even be made that Ali actually became the "White Man's Pawn" an ugly caricature that he attempted to turn Frazier into. This is, of course, bordering on the ridiculous but is in fact no more ridiculous than Ali's argument, and it's a damn shame that people bought it. Smokin' Joe, a class act in and out of the ring, always let his fists do the talking. He didn't deserve the treatment he got from Ali in the 70's and he doesn't deserve the bad press he's getting today. Roy Jones Should Quit Boxing ============================ The above argument may sound more than a little bizarre to the majority of readers, but I'm starting to believe it after his fight with Eric Lucas. Regardless, I feel he is absolutely ineligible for top pound-for-pound honors based on the (lack of) competition he's fought. Shannon Briggs looked good blasting out 3rd rate opposition, too. Say what you will about blown up Jr. Lightweights and so forth, Oscar De La Hoya has completely demolished 5 well respected champions in his last 6 fights (Molina/Ruelas/Leija/Hernandez/Chavez). To this observer, no one else's recent accomplishments come close... But on to the claim at the top of this subject. Let me say up front that I am a Roy Jones fan; I like him as a person and think he's an incredible fighter. But I'm not the only one who thought the Jones-Lucas debacle was a disgrace. I don't believe for a second that an athlete like Jones would be affected one iota by playing 14 minutes of b-ball before fighting a tomato can like Eric Lucas. It was a ridiculous proposition that his earlier game would somehow make the fight competitive - Lucas wouldn't have had a chance if Jones had played an entire 48 minutes of basketball, ran 3 miles to the arena, and jumped straight into the ring. That's how big of a mismatch this was. To me it was obvious that Jones was carrying Lucas from the start, perhaps to deflect criticism of the mismatch, perhaps because it would look like a more impressive feat to play basketball and then box 12 rounds, whatever. Jones only threw his characteristic flurries on those occasions when Lucas snuck one through in the corner, and he still couldn't finish him. Towards the end of the fight, when Lucas was beginning to get beat up, Jones backed off rather than go in for the kill, which brings me to the reason he should leave the sport. Roy has become something of an anti-boxing advocate recently, what with the death of Jimmy Garcia (for which he sat ringside) and the disabling of his friend Gerald McClellan. He has repeatedly described his fears of being injured and conversely is concerned about hurting an opponent. In boxing, I believe it is necessary to accept (and to some extent, embrace) the violence and danger of the sport before one has any business climbing through the ropes. Kevin Kelley's performance on the undercard, coming back from adversity to triumph, is what makes this sport great. If Roy has a problem with it, he should probably leave and be remembered as one of the sport's great athletes, if not warriors. Heavyweight, in the Literal Sense ================================= Anybody who has followed boxing's marquee division in the last couple of years could not help but notice the remarkable weight and physique of Lennox Lewis and Frank Bruno. These men, 6'5" and 6'3" respectively and both weighing 247 lbs., are built like Greek statues, with not an ounce of fat on them. Particularly with Lewis' dreadlocks, he presents (as Jim Lampley is fond of saying) as imposing a picture in the ring as perhaps anyone in history. The obvious question is: so what? Does this do anything for him as a fighter? Yes, I would argue, and that something is negative. Adding large amounts of mass makes the muscles tighter and swing less freely. Punching power may actually be decreased, since it is determined more by the amount of inertia which can be translated by the turning of the shoulders and hips, etc., than outright strength. Hand speed and mobility are adversely affected as well. Lennox Lewis, who at one time perhaps rivaled Evander Holyfield as the most mobile heavyweight contender, is dangerously approaching Riddick Bowe's lethargic plodding pace and slow, heavy hands. Perhaps the worst thing about bulking up, however, is the amount of energy that all that muscle burns. Look at Frank Bruno vs. Oliver McCall. McCall never really laid any significant sock on him, yet Bruno could still barely stand in the 12th round. Moreover, he intentionally paced himself throughout the fight to be able to go the distance! Fat lot of good that did him (although of course he survived & won), and I can only blame his sheer mass for the lack of stamina. Bottom line: bulking up = good to impress the chicks, bad for boxing. ======================================================= HOLLIGAN BACK IN A HURRY Liverpool's Andy Holligan regained his old British Light Welterweight Title by knocking out Paul "Scrap Iron" Ryan at York Hall, London on July 13. The finish - at 2:09 of the first round - was the quickest in British Title history. The British Light Welterweight division has been in disarray in recent times. Ross Hale beat Holligan to take the Title which the Liverpudlian had held for three years. Ryan then caused the domestic shock of the year by crushing Hale in a round at York Hall on December 9, 1995. Ryan was then knocked out himself in a round by late substitute Jonathan Thaxton (in a non - Title fight) on February 10 this year. At his best, Andy Holligan (26-2) is a very capable boxer who packs a decent left hook. At 29 however, he hasn't got long left and has looked a diminished force since Julio Caesar Chavez ended his World Title attempt in five rounds three years ago. Ryan is two years older and his story is one which the people and newspapers love. The 'bad boy made good' rose to prominence from a tough criminal background in London. While he can certainly punch, his defense leaves a lot to be desired and he simply doesn't possess a solid chin. This was the decisive factor in this bout: Ryan started the fight doing the better work, but he hung his chin high while attacking Holligan. The challenger quickly capitalized on this flaw, catching "Scrap Iron" with a double left hook which sent him to the canvas for the full count. Surely there is nowhere left to turn now for Ryan (now 22-2). Holligan, meanwhile, will probably face another power puncher - Jonathan Thaxton - in his first defense. ( UNDERCARD ACTION) WILLIAMS MAKES IT FIVE London Heavyweight Danny Williams (23) comfortably notched up his fifth win in an unbeaten career by out pointing John Pierre over four rounds. Pierre, who can boast just three wins out of seventeen fights, never troubled Williams here. Williams is a real prospect who can punch hard and has a very committed attitude towards the sport. His first three wins came via the shorter route, and he looked as if he wanted a workout against Pierre. Williams picked his punches impressively to the head and body - working behind his solid jab. He also shows good hand speed and mobility. The referee scored all four rounds to Williams.* *All domestic and British Title fights are scored by the referee rather than by judges. BOWEN BROTHER ON THE RISE Paul Bowen from London brought his record to 3-0 (3) by stopping Mark Dawson in three rounds in a Super Middleweight contest. Bowen (23) showed a pleasing variety of punches and has quite a lot of power behind both gloves. Even at this early stage in his career, he was far too good for Dawson and this was somewhat of a mismatch. He floored Dawson twice in the second, first with a left hook to the head and then to the body. The referee stopped Dawson on his feet 34 seconds into round three. Bowen, a pro since February, is a cousin of Nigel Benn and his brother Michael is another hot prospect in the Super Middleweight division. Both brothers' styles are very similar to that of "The Dark Destroyer" and they appear to have the potential to emulate his feats. (OTHER NEWS) BENN - COLLINS II IS ON 1! Peter DeFreitas - the manager of Nigel Benn - said that Benn will accept the WBO's guarantee of a return with Super Middleweight Champion Steve Collins. Speaking at York Hall exactly a week after the anti - climatic match, DeFreitas said that Benn will "definitely" be back in action within the next four months. Although no dates or venues have yet been named, rumor has it that Frank Bruno - England's beloved Heavyweight son - will make a comeback in September on a bill headed by Benn. HAMED TO HIT DUBLIN Prince Naseem Hamed, the flamboyant WBO Featherweight Champion from England, will defend his title at the Point Depot in Dublin on August 31. This will be Hamed's third defense of his title and his second appearance in Dublin. He is coming off a second round knockout of Daniel Alicea, the fight in which he was floored for the first time in his career. Dublin will most likely embrace Hamed guardedly - some Irish won't approve of his showboating approach and others will see him as a threat to our own Wayne Mc Cullough. No opponent has yet been named, and Hamed said last week at a press conference that he would be prepared to fight McCullough in Dublin. This however is practically out of the question, with Wayne concentrating on a WBC Super Bantamweight Title challenge. ========================================================= IRISH/BRITISH BOXING NEWS GALLAGHER RETAINS BRITISH TITLE PJ Gallagher retained his British Super Featherweight Title in his first defense by controversially out pointing mandatory challenger Charles Shepherd on June 29. The fight lived up to the banner "The Bull and the Matador" with Shepherd's come - forward aggression against Gallagher's impressive boxing skills. Though Gallagher (now 17-0) normally pushes his opponents back, he found Shepherd's constant pressure hard to contain and generally failed to impose himself on the challenger. Gallagher also showed quite a leaky defense and was floored in the twelfth round. I had the fight even, but the judge scored it to PJ by a single round - his boxing skills just winning this hugely entertaining fight for him. Gallagher,23, can count himself lucky here - he was floored in the last round and only just managed to hang on until the final bell. He has now had three tough distance fights in a row, and needs to avoid taking unnecessary punishment. He also showed signs that he may be having difficulty making the weight. CARRUTH SCORES VITAL WIN Michael Carruth took a big step up in class on June 25 by stopping Chris Saunders in Mansfield. Saunders had just lost his British Title to Kevin Leushing in his last bout prior to this, and this 10 round Welterweight match meant everything to both boxers. Carruth (now 12-1) boxed cautiously from the start, working competently to the body and head of Saunders. Round five was the key point of this contest, and both fighters visited the canvas in this round. Saunders floored Carruth with a left hook early on, but Carruth railed back to knock his opponent down twice before the end of the round. Saunders had been thoroughly outboxed for the majority of the fight, and by the final round he had nothing left. An unspectacular combination of punches sent him down once more, and the referee called the action to a halt. This win - in a true crossroads fight - will greatly strengthen Carruth's bid for a European Title shot. THAXTON WINS FIRST BELT Jonathan Thaxton won the vacant IBF Inter - Continental Light Welterweight Title by knocking out Mark Elliot on June 25. Thaxton (14-3) made waves earlier this year by knocking out British Champion Paul Ryan in a non - title fight. This upset catapulted him into the public eye and secured him this title fight against last - minute substitute Elliot. A former Olympian, Elliot gave Thaxton plenty of problems during the early rounds and even floored him in round three. I actually had Elliot ahead going into round five. At 2:42 of this round however Thaxton did what he does best, producing a thunderous right hook which resulted in Elliot being counted out for the first time in his career. GRIFFIN STILL UNBEATEN Paul Griffin brought his record to 8-0 by out pointing Miguel Matthews over six rounds on the Carruth - Saunders bill. Griffin is showing signs of maturity having based himself in the Brendan Ingle stable in Sheffield. His impressive boxing skills are more polished, and he also has a new nickname, "Golden Boy" -a tough label to follow! Griffin dominated through this contest, and Matthews failed to match his mobility or speed. The referee scored all six rounds to Griffin, and nobody could seriously argue with his decision. O'GRADY TO BOX IN ATLANTA Irish heavyweight hope Cathal O'Grady is set to box in the Atlanta Olympic Games following the withdrawal of an Eastern Bloc fighter. O'Grady - the first Irishman ever to win a gold medal in the European Junior Championships at heavyweight - failed to qualify from both the European Senior Championships and the European Box - Offs. His exploits, however, caught the eyes of the European Officials and established him as Europe's no.1 standby boxer for Atlanta. Whether he wins a medal or not will depend largely on the luck of the draw, but with his ferocious punching power Cathal cannot be written off. At the age of 19, and having just entered the Senior ranks this year, he is capable of causing a sensation. ====================================================== FIGHT PREVIEW FOR NEWSLETTER JULY by email@example.com COLLINS - BENN PREVIEW Steve Collins will defend his WBO Super Middleweight Title against Nigel Benn in Manchester, England on July 6th. This promises to be a fascinating and thrilling clash which will almost certainly end the career of the loser. Collins says he has "been looking forward to fighting Benn for the last five years" and predicts that he will knock Nigel out. Benn says he is feeling as good physically as he has done and plans to "enjoy" the fight. This brought predictable retorts from the Collins camp who said that he could be hurt if he holds this attitude and that "he should play checkers if he wants to enjoy himself." Nigel Benn is every boxing fans dream: A lethal puncher with a decent chin who attacks from the first bell. He has never lost a World Title challenge and he has never challenged for a World Title on his home turf of England. In April 1990 he won the WBO Middleweight Crown in Atlantic City by knocking out Doug de Witt in the eighth round. He lost this Title to Chris Eubank in November of that year having knocked out Iran Barkley in round one of his first defense. In October 1992 he went to Marino, Italy to claim Mauro Galvano's WBC Super Middleweight Title via a third round stoppage. He defended the WBC Title nine times before losing on points to Sugarboy Malinga last March. He lost just twice before this: Against Eubank and Michael Watson, the latter a Commonwealth Title fight in May 1989. His finest hour was arguably the tragic victory over Gerald McClellan in February 1995. Because of his style however, Benn has been involved in a lot of wars - and whether he can rise again depends largely on what he has left at the age of 32. Collins (35-3) could also be described as a come - forward puncher, but only in his last four bouts. Prior to this, he was a tough boxer - counter puncher who always provided a tough test for the best in the world. He has never been stopped, and was only floored once (against Eubank last year). Collins, 33 is a more than capable boxer and has displayed tremendous heart in winning and defending his WBO Crowns. Steve Collins was seen for the majority of his career as the "nearly man." He challenged for a World Title five times and while he battled courageously on each occasion, he was unsuccessful until 1994. In October of that year, he won the WBO Middleweight Title from Chris Pyatt by virtue of a points decision. He then moved up to Super Middleweight to take Chris Eubank's WBO Crown at that weight on St. Patrick's Day (March 17) 1995. This was a huge upset - so to prove it wasn't just luck, Collins granted Eubank a rematch and out pointed him more comprehensively the second time - forcing Eubank into retirement. He went on to defend successfully against Cornellius Carr and Neville Brown - looking very impressive in the latter bout. Even Collins harshest critics must admit that he deserved his World Titles, for sheer persistence alone. He has amassed quite a few knockers since his arrival on the world scene, and has in many ways failed to capture the imagination and support of the Irish public. This writer, for example, will be flying to Manchester from Dublin on Saturday hoping for a Benn victory. The reasons for this lack of support are his often crude and tasteless public remarks along with the tactics he used to gain a psychological advantage over Eubank. Michael Watson has been sadly confined to a wheelchair following a grueling match with Eubank. Eubank fought with much more caution since this happened, and Collins preyed on his vulnerability by announcing that he would be hypnotized before entering the ring to challenge Eubank. Eubank took the bait, and was obviously restrained in this fight - afraid that Collins may take more punishment than his usual barriers would allow. Collins wasn't hypnotized as it transpired, but many - including myself - felt these tactics were distasteful and unsporting in the extreme. Both men have something to prove in this match. Benn retired briefly after being soundly outboxed in March, and this is his chance to show he still has something left to offer after 46 contests. Insiders have described Benn as a "wounded bull" since losing his coveted WBC belt while he himself claims he is "as relaxed as I've ever been." Collins also treasures his Title, feeling it is a testimony to his determination. Roy Jones reportedly had an agent at the Benn - Malinga bout to offer Nigel a stlg13m unification bout. Of course, this was out of the question following the Judges' decision - and if Benn fails on July 6 this match, which he wants so badly, will be out of the question for good. Chris Eubank is the common opponent here, both having met him twice. Benn was stopped in the ninth round of their first meeting and the rematch finished in a draw, although most felt that Benn won. As mentioned above, Collins out pointed Eubank twice - the only two losses on Eubank's record. Benn and Collins (receiving stlg800,000 and stlg1.2m respectively for this fight) have showed an enormous amount of respect for one another in the build - up to this fight, but sparks are sure to fly once the bell sounds in Manchester. The fight could go either way - Collins can frustrate 'The Dark Destroyer' by reverting to his old boxing style. If he can keep Benn at range he can win either on points or by a late stoppage. Benn is no mean boxer himself however, and his showing against Malinga was not representative of his skills. Benn is a true value - for - money fighter and makes no secret of the fact that he loves "a good tear - up." It's a tough one to call, but I see Benn rising from the ashes once more. I don't think he would return unless he has some fire still burning in his belly. I also doubt that Collins will be able to resist a war for more than four rounds no matter what his game plan may be. When they begin to trade, Benn will wear Collins down and stop him for the first time around the ninth round. ============================================================== FORGOTTEN FACES: Eduardo Lausse by Jim Trunzo ARGENTINA HAS PRODUCED a number of exciting and rugged fighters over the years. Luis Firpo immediately comes to mind thanks to one unforgettable moment when he knocked Jack Dempsey out of the ring during their epic heavyweight battle. More recently, Oscar Bonavena brawled during what might well have been the heavyweight division's most competitive decade, a ten year span that saw names like Ali, Frazier, Norton, Foreman, Lyle and a dozen others meet inside the squared circle. However, at another time, in another division, a little-remembered Argentinean fighter blasted his way through the middleweights: a fighter named Eduardo Lausse. Lausse, nicknamed the "Calf of the Pampas" because he was a middleweight, not out of disrespect, posted an 80-10-1 record with 66 of his wins coming by way of knockout. To say that the man could punch is like saying that Cindy Crawford looks "okay". The temptation would be to dismiss Lausse's record by postulating that he probably fought only in South America against "Argentinean cab drivers." That would be a misconception. Lausse, after establishing himself in his own country, frequently fought in New York, Boston and even Cleveland during the early and middle '50's. And he didn't take on bums here, either. In 1954 Lausse went ten rounds and won against tough contender Jesse Turner and knocked out club-fighters Jesus Varona and Joe Rindone. The next year saw Lausse at his peak when he stopped Gil Edwards in five rounds, did the same to rugged Georgie Small, took decision wins over Ralph "Tiger" Jones and Kid Gavilan, stopped Oscar Barreiro in two, beat Gene Fullmer in ten bloody rounds and capped the year by knocking out Johnny Sullivan in five frames. While it's true that Gavilan was at the end of an illustrious career when he met Lausse, Small, Jones and Fullmer where in or close to their primes. Fullmer, for example, had yet to fight for the middleweight title. As it turned out, the Fullmer fight was to be the high point of Lausse's career. His victory over Utah's favorite middleweight was Lausse's 30th win in a row and earned him the #4 slot in the middleweight rankings -- at a time when there was only one set of rankings! Lausse was in line for a shot at Sugar Ray Robinson's middleweight crown when, as so often happens, he had an off-night in Chicago and lost a split decision to a 9-5 underdog named Bobby Boyd. Lausse screamed loud and long about the verdict but it was to no avail. With the title bout out of the picture (back then that's what happened when you lost, unlike today when the loser of an elimination bout often has a better chance of getting a shot at the crown), the temperamental Lausse returned to Argentina in a huff. And stayed there for four years! Lausse was so disgusted with what had transpired in Chicago that he didn't fight for a full year. When he finally was lured back into the States, Lausse -- now age 32 -- vowed to stay in America until he'd fought for the middleweight championship. Lausse's U.S. comeback started out well when he knocked out Wilf Greaves, a New York trial horse, in four rounds. Lausse was aiming at a rematch with Fullmer, now the NBA middleweight king, but tough Carmen Basilio was standing in Lausse's way and would have to be dealt with first. In a tune-up fight prior to meeting Basilio in an eliminator bout, disaster struck again. Lausse, fighting against a supposedly easy touch named Marcel Pigou, Lausse walked into a right hand and was stopped in the 7th round, only the second time in his career that Lausse hadn't heard the final bell. Lausse returned to his native country, earned his 80th win by knocking out Victor Zalazar in nine rounds and retired. Eduardo Lausse brought a hell-for-leather style into the ring with him, one typical of the brawling fighters that periodically emerged from Argentina. Like Firpo before him and Bonavena and Victor Galindez after him, Lausse started throwing 180 degree punches in the dressing room and kept doing it until the final bell sounded -- usually with an opponent flat on the canvas. Slick moves and sharp punching weren't a part of Lausse's arsenal. His aggressiveness and sturdy chin made up for his defensive lapses, and Lausse's punch was obviously a major equalizer in any confrontation. ***************************************************************** I REMEMBER . . . watching with my dad and my uncles as Benny Kid Paret became entangled in the ropes and was pummeled by Emile Griffith. . . . my wife, a less than avid boxing fan, leaping off the couch in tandem with me, as Mike Tyson hit the canvas in his fight with Buster Douglas. . . . crying when I heard the news of Rocky Maricano's death in a plane crash. It was all the Italian-American community talked about for months. . . . seeing a young Mexican fighter put on a beautiful display of boxing (not brawling!) and stopping Danny "Little Red" Lopez. I wonder how great Salvador Sanchez would have become? . . . Cassius Clay turning his back on his career and changing his name to Muhammad Ali. I didn't know whether to cheer him or hate him. I would go for my army physical shortly thereafter. . . . thinking of Ali when he could speak clearly and make me laugh at his outrageousness. Now, I get a lump in my throat listening to him, though I know that he doesn't want my pity. . . . the parrot, Friday Night fights, Art Aragon, Kid Chocolate and a cast of thousands. . . . Requiem for a Heavyweight, The Harder They Fall, and Somebody Up There Likes Me. . . . my dad driving me past Sugar Ray Robinson's nightclub in Harlem and not understanding why we didn't stop. . . . listening to Howard Cosell and not realizing that, prior to his unexplainable desertion of the sport, he was the best that boxing had to offer. . . . watching in disbelief as an unknown named Kenny Norton beat Muhammad Ali, breaking his jaw in the process. . . . thrilling to every minute of an underrated classic between Norton and Larry Holmes. . . . believing that Gerry Cooney was different than Duane Bobick -- and wondering if he really would have been had he not been so coddled. ===================================================== July Ratings by firstname.lastname@example.org (Phrank Da Slugger) July Ratings (as of 15 Jul) HEAVYWEIGHTS Champion: Riddick Bowe 1. Lennox Lewis 2. Mike Tyson (WBC) 3. Michael Moorer 4. Evander Holyfield 5. Henry Akinwande (WBO) 6. Tim Witherspoon 7. Andrew Golota 8. Oliver McCall 9. Bruce Seldon (WBA) 10. Ray Mercer The Champion retains, but only because of the stupidity of his opponent. Golota put in a great performance and rockets to #7 -- and he could easily rise higher; Tyson-Seldon was called off (and now Don King says it's rescheduled for 7 Sep). Who cares -- I really hope Tyson accepts Lennox Lewis' offer and skips the easy win over Seldon. . . Goodbye, Michael Moorer the power puncher -- hello, new IBF titlist the boxer and defensive master. In a boring fight, neither he nor Axel Schulz showed much fire, but Moorer displayed solid skills and won the title. Schulz drops and Moorer rises a notch. Let's hope the new titlist is a bit more active than he was leading up to his 2nd title shot. . . And Henry Akinwande was very impressive in KOing Jeremy Williams to take the vacant WBO title. He didn't have much in front of him, but he survived the onrushing Williams and remained calm, even went inside to land some painful uppercuts and outside to establish his jab. He moves up to #5. CRUSIERWEIGHTS Champion: Nate Miller (WBA) 1. Marcelo Dominguez 2. James Toney (WBU) 3. Ralf Rocchigiani (WBO) 4. Alexander Gurov 5. Adolfo Washington 6. Chris Okoh 7. Torsten May 8. Fabrice Tiozzo 9. Karl Thompson 10. Akim Tafer #1 Dominguez continues his dominance of the division. He TKOed former #10 Patrice Aouissi when the challenger refused to continue to fight. At this point, I'd pick Dominguez over anyone here, including the Champion. Next up: #4 Gurov. . . Quitting isn't awarded here -- Aouissi exits, despite a decent performance. . . Rocchigiani defended his belt again in another mismatch. This time, he beat the ancient Bash Ali. There are some good fights to be made here -- I wish he'd engage in some of them. . . Well, I'll say it again: this is probably Toney's last month. June was supposed to be it, but his fight against Charles Oliver (supposedly for his stupid WBU trinket) was contested at 184 lbs -- well within the Cruiser limit. Again, we'll see this month -- he's set to defend said Lt Heavy title in Aug, and I'll reassess then. . . Former title challenger Akim Tafer returns after winning the EBU title. As I reported last month, Washington and May will vie for the vacant IBF title in Aug. Good match-up. LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHTS Champion: Henry Maske (IBF) 1. James Toney (WBU) 2. Dariusz Michalczewski (WBO) 3. Virgil Hill (WBA) 4. Graciano Rocchigiani 5. Montell Griffin 6. Eddy Smulders 7. Lou Del Valle 8. Merqui Sosa 9. William Guthrie 10. Mohammad Siluvangui Little action this month, but the big news is a possible Sep unification match between Champion Maske and #3 contender Hill. Also, Michalczewski defends against Rocchigiani in Aug. Big happenings on the horizon. . . Toney, Sosa and Griffin active, as well as Guthrie who stopped one-time contender Ramzi Hassan -- he rises a notch. . . Another big fight will happen this fall: Griffin and future Hall of Famer Mike McCallum will vie for the vacant WBC title. GOOD match-up...I hope to see Del Valle back soon. He got robbed against the insufferable Hill, and I hope he stays active. . . A real good fight would be Toney-Smulders. Oh well, I can always hope. SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHTS Champion: Roy Jones (IBF) 1. Steve Collins (WBO) 2. Frank Liles (WBA) 3. Nigel Benn 4. Vincent Nardiello (WBC) 5. Thulane Malinga 6. Henry Wharton 7. Michael Nunn 8. Charles Brewer 9. Luciano Torres (WBF) 10. Frederic Seillier Wow, some news to report this month. . . 1st we had a good match that ended disappointingly. Collins retained his title when Benn twisted his ankle in a freak ring accident. Nothing was gained or lost, so each remains in place. Benn initially said he was retired, but when Collins offered him a rematch, it may have changed his mind. I like Collins -- he doesn't seem to be afraid of anyone; guys who offer rematches aren't (an idea Ray Leonard could've learned). . . Malinga showed his win over Benn was a one-shot deal. He lost his title to Nardiello w/hardly an argument. He rises perhaps a bit too high, but its a tough argument to put anyone below him any higher either. His reign won't last too long w/guys like Wharton and Torres at the top of the WBC's list of challengers. . . A couple months ago I was impressed w/Nunn who weighed 168 and looked good. Now he shows up at 184. Nunn and Toney should engage in a catch-weight bout. . . Bryant Brannon disappears after months of inactivity. Reportedly he's idle while waiting for a title shot at Jones. Dumb. I'd be fighting the best comp I could find to prepare for the world's best fighter. Anyway, he's been dropped. . . Seillier re-ascends w/a win over Mauro Galvano. . . Torres is mysteriously idle. Oo, the WBF is gonna be mad since he's not defending against its top challengers. He begins to drop beginning next month. MIDDLEWEIGHTS Champion: TITLE VACANT 1. Bernard Hopkins (IBF) 2. Keith Holmes (WBC) 3. Simon Brown (IBC) 4. John David Jackson 5. William Joppy (WBA) 6. Jorge Castro 7. Quincy Taylor 8. Anthony Stephens 9. Shinji Takehara 10. Lonnie Bradley (WBO) 2-time Champion Brown continues to surprise. Like Azumah Nelson, he continues to come back w/impressive fights against top opponents. He enters a strong #3 after solidly defeating Glenwood Brown, also taking the latter's IBC title (if anyone cares). . . Joppy enters, showing Takehara was very overrated and a flash in the pan. The still-unproven Joppy enters just below John David Jackson. . . A career at an end: Chris Pyatt loses to a zero and exits. . . What happened to Taylor? The loss to Holmes wasn't THAT devastating. He begins to drop next time. . . Aaron Davis drops, a result of displacement. . . The titlists: Hopkins defended after these were done against another ring worm in a replay of his Feb massacre of Scott Frank. Hey, Bernard, how about JD Jackson, Taylor or Stephens; Joppy looks to defend against Jackson, which would be a good fight. Jackson was active, but may be on the slide as his opponent, a journeyman, put him down twice; Holmes wanted to defend against Castro, but the former titlist pulled out. Some say he's ducking mandatory challenger Richie Woodhall. Right; And finally it actually looks like WBO titlist Lonnie Bradley may face a live opponent when he defends against Brown in late Aug. I look for the title to change hands. JR. MIDDLEWEIGHTS Champion: Terry Norris (WBC & IBF) 1. Winky Wright (WBO) 2. Julio Cesar Vasquez (WBA) 3. Andrew Council 4. Paul Vaden 5. Bronco McKart 6. Laurent Boudouani 7. Carl Daniels 8. Emmett Linton 9. Gianfranco Rosi 10. Vincent Pettway Wow, talk about flip-flop -- in the early spring this division was abuzz w/activity, while the 160-lb class was idle. Suddenly, all of the action is north of here; One big reason for this is the loss of 2 rated fighters here -- Simon and Glenwood Brown fought each other at 160 lbs and won't appear here again. So the previous #3 and #7 guys are gone, elevating everyone up a couple notches; Only guy who fought this month was Boudouani; Champion Norris has gotta be frustrated. 2 fights canceled in 2 mths and it looks like Vasquez may retire. Hopefully they can arrange for Terry and Wright to get in the ring; Not much to choose from, but I raised newly active former-titlists Rosi and Pettway. Hey, don't blame me. WELTERWEIGHTS Champion: Pernell Whitaker (WBC) 1. Felix Trinidad (IBF) 2. Ike Quartey (WBA) 3. Oba Carr 4. Jose Luis Lopez (WBO) 5. Luis Ramon Campas 6. Pat Coleman 7. Vince Phillips 8. Derrell Coley 9. Adrian Stone 10. James Page A mismatch was averted when Trinidad-Ray Lovato (as part of the Tyson card) was canceled. Carr is his mandatory, but it looks like he'll take his chances w/Quartey instead. Too bad Trinidad is being made to wait for Whitaker and De La Hoya. But the real bad news is that it looks the Lovato blow-out will be recycled for Sep; Lopez-Campas has been rescheduled for late Aug. Can't wait; Ho-hum, Champion Whitaker will rematch w/Wilfredo Rivera. Anything to put off a match w/Trinidad; Phillips active and moves ahead of Coley. Good to see him back so soon; Hector Comacho, now a Middle, exits. Page debuts after an impressive win over Rocky Balboa. He faces Stone next. JR. WELTERWEIGHTS Champion: Oscar De La Hoya (WBC) 1. Frankie Randall 2. Kostya Tszyu (IBF) 3. Julio Cesar Chavez 4. Charles Murray 5. Juan Coggi (WBA) 6. Giovanni Parisi (WBO) 7. David Kamau 8. Dingaan Thobela 9. Khalid Rahilou 10. Miguel Angel Gonzalez Murray continues to be impressive. He more than got revenge against Jake "The Heart" Rodriguez and moves up 2 notches; Parisi was successful in defending his title. He got up twice but still managed to hold onto his WBO crown against Carlos Gonzalez. Methinks that if the fight were held anywhere but Italy we'd be talking about a new titlist; What's up w/Randall? His May rubber match w/Coggi was predictably canceled, but he hasn't done anything since. What's next? Rumors had him challenging Trinidad. That would be a mistake; As for Chavez, I'd rather see JCC-Randall III in Dec than a redundant loss to the Champion; Thobela active; What happened to Kamau? He's only had one fight since his gutsy challenge of Chavez last yr. Ditto Rahilou (except the part on Chavez). Both begin to drop next mth; Mago active, and it was announced he will challenge De La Hoya in Oct. Expect to bid him farewell in Nov. LIGHTWEIGHTS Champion: TITLE VACANT 1. Orzubek Nazarov (WBA) 2. George Scott (WBU) 3. Phillip Holiday (IBF) 4. Stevie Johnston 5. John-John Molina 6. Jean-Baptiste Mendy (WBC) 7. Lamar Murphy 8. Ivan Robinson 9. Cesar Bazan 10. Demetrio Ceballos Little action this mth in this bland division; The only move was idle David Totteh exiting, and Demetrio Ceballos entering. Some may remember Ceballos, who lost a controversial decision to Robinson last yr; Johnston active, staying active for his title challenge of Mendy; What's up w/Nazarov? He doesn't even have one of those WBA set-up defenses scheduled. Here's hoping he faces a top contender soon; Robinson back in the ring again, prepping for a possible challenge of Holiday, and a certain KO loss; I'd like to see Gabe Ruelas try for a title here. SOMETHING to add some excitement to this weight class. JR. LIGHTWEIGHTS Champion: Azumah Nelson (WBC) 1. Arturo Gatti (IBF) 2. Regilio Tuur (WBO) 3. Tracy Harris Patterson 4. Gabriel Ruelas 5. Jose Vida Ramos (WBF) 6. Jungsoo Choi (WBA) 7. Anatoly Alexandrov 8. Robert Garcia 9. Jacobin Yoma 10. Justin Juuko A bit of activity, but not much at the top; Gatti was active in a non-title fight (and weighing 137). Next up for this exciting young titlist is Patterson in Sep; Haven't heard from Tuur in a while. Ditto Ruelas, who drops next mth; Yoma corrects a misstep in KOing Affif Djelti in 1 rd, gaining revenge and showing character; Garcia active; Aaron Zarate drops after remaining idle since losing to Ramos; And Juuko debuts -- he's a solid prospect who no one wants to face. FEATHERWEIGHTS Champion: Luisito Espinoza (WBC) 1. Tom Johnson (IBF) 2. Wilfredo Vasquez (WBA) 3. Kevin Kelley (WBU) 4. Manuel Medina 5. Naseem Hamed (WBO) 6. Jose Badillo 7. Alejandro Gonzalez 8. Angel Vasquez 9. Derrick Gainer 10. Juan Marquez Espinoza cements his place w/another win over another solid challenger, Cesar Soto. Great potential fights on the horizon w/Johnson, Vasquez and Kelley; Eloy Rojas exits as it appears that he actually is retired; Juan Marquez comes back w/a good win over Freddy Cruz; Gonzalez is on the watch list as it is up in the air if he'll fight again. Little on the horizon, but that's indicative of the whole sport.
End Quote:"You know me, I'm pious & I'm humble. I'm just in the hurting business."
-- Mike Tyson, September 6 1996
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