The Cyber Boxing Zone is at http://cyberboxingzone.com
This year promises to be a huge one for the boxing fan. It is likely that we will see Big George's last fight, and that will leave the Heavyweight contenders scrambling for recognition. Below Heavyweight, there are several big match-ups in the offing involving the likes of De La Hoya, Jones, Trinidad, Whitaker, Hamed, and Chavez.
This newsletter will also transmogrify from the ugly grub it is into a wonderful new features. With the help of some talented people, we are going to add many more graphics and interactive features to the web page. (And, by the way, a survey by Point Survey ranks the current AOL Newsletter web page as among the top 5% of all sites on the Internet). Of course, I must tip my fedora to the excellent work of the many people who have contributed and I urge you to continue.
I look forward to bringing the best and most current boxing news and features to the Internet this year -- so keep watching the skies!
Here are the results of the Boxing Poll from last month's Newsletter. I received responses from fans in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. A hearty thanks to all of you Pugilism Pundits who took the time to help us out with your opinions. If there are no percentages next to an entry, it means they received at least one vote but less than 5 percent. And, now, as Mills Lane (see below) would say, "Let's get it on!"
Well, that wraps it up. Thanks again to all of you fans who made this poll possible. Here's hoping for a few good matchups in 1996. Maybe we can try this again next year.
DATELINE: ABOARD THE USS PLANNED OBSOLECENSE SOMEWHERE BETWEEN PINAR DEL RIOS CUBA & THE GRAND CAYMAN ISLANDS ...
S'm'times, even the Ol' Spit Bucket, gets an idea or two that ain't so hot ... 'Course, I gots nobody to blame, except my own bad self & that scourge of the New York Islands ... the editor of this cyber-rag ... DeLisa! All my faithful readers, remember the demonic scheme, he set me up for, with the FBI & the Grenadian Special Forces ... Furnace Creek, was a cool domicile to chill out in for a couple of weeks. The cabana, mai tais & righteous reefer, not to mention the searing, vision shimmering heat, helped the Bucket restructure his shattered nervettes. After awhile though, the strange cries & howls, of the rutting, polyester, Boomer golfers, began to disturb my midnight creep ...
S' anyhow, it was time to make like an atom & split [Editor's note: You mean you went fission?] I decided I might as well get some of that cash that DeLisa claimed he'd stashed for moi in that Grand Cayman Islands offshore account ... so I caught a prop plane outta Corpus Christie & after a hellacious flight thru literal shit storms of hell I landed in Merida, the capital of the state of Yucatan.
Most of us 'Merican's, are oblivious to any thang, that's going on anywhere, that aint in the lower 48 ... but the Bucket's here t' tell y'all, those peeps have got a freakin' revolutionary war goin' on ... Yucatan, borders a Mexican state named Chiapas. For the last few years, Mexico, has had a bloody guerilla civil war brewing on it's hands, in Chiapas & Yucatan. You don't hear much about it in the USA, it's not as sexy & hot as, say, Bosnia ... but I didn't know that, when I boarded that wheezy prop plane, in Corpus Christie ... destination ( I thought,) Vera Cruz ... just a hop & a skip from Club Med & all those string bikinis ... One little puny gale force cross wind ... & the pilot turns off the " Drink Your Heart Out - While Your In The Air," sign, & the damn plane plunges like my hopes of getting laid, on the first date, with the strangely appealing, though wall-eyed stewardess... yeah, right ... So we land in Merida.
It's always hard for me, but I'll make a very long, tortuous story, short. I landed. Got body searched by customs ... & after a few hours of brutal interrogation, the battered Bucket was released ... Grabbed a cab to the center of town. Ended up in a real dive of a bar. Met a raunchy, drunken & decrepit 1st Mate of a cargo freighter. He was a Native American, whose tribe ( their name escapes me,) had named him Queer Trains - don't ask me, I couldn't figure it out either -after plying him with drinks & tall tales, the Bucket, was able to finally pry him away, from the one eyed, but lusty whore, he was seemingly, terminally infatuated with. He agreed to take me on board his ship, which was carrying some unnamed, but surely nefarious cargo, to the port of Pinar Del Rios, in Cuba.
The Grand Cayman Islands are roughly half way between Merida & Cuba, so dropping me off on the way was supposed to be no prob' Bob. I handed him a lotta green, making sure to point out that I didn't want to go anywhere near Cuba ...I figured, Fidel & his Angola scarred, veteran, angels of mercy, really wouldn't take a shine to the Ol' Spit Bucket ... & now I'm sending out this column, from a pitching, rusted bucket (no relation,) of a freighter in the middle of the Cara Bean ...
DeLisa, I hope you freakin' appreciate this ... I had to bribe the radio operator for a connection for my power book. This rusty tub is goin' down ... & I'm still on it .... this may be my last missive, DeLisa, but here is the column & if I should hit dry land, your gonna pay for it ... unless, as I've just overheard, we've been blown way off course, by the howling winds & raging sea & we are heading for a landing in Cuba ...
43 MILLION SERVED & COUNTING
43 million people watched Iron Thumb & Mathis display their wares at the Spectrum in Philadelphia. 43 million people! That was enough to land in the #8 slot in the Nielson ratings. Not only that, the night before, on HBO, the De La Hoya-Leija fight, saw a 20% jump in viewership for the network. Add the fact, that the Garden sold over 16,000 tickets & even the Spectrum, sold 8,000 way over-priced ones, for Thumb's performance. This makes it apparent, that boxing, is not quite as dead, as we've been led to believe. Marquee fighters, will still draw viewers in droves. You don't even have to put them in competitive fights.
The Iron Thumb-Mathis fight, had better ratings, than only the biggest Monday Night Football match-ups. To put it another way, this bout attracted slightly less than half the viewership of a Super Bowl. For an event, that garnered such bad to indifferent pre-fight publicity ... these are astonishing numbers, especially for a sport that has been left for dead by the mainstream media. So what does this all mean? It means, that the network heads, are going to take another long, hard look, at boxing. Despite the fiasco of the aborted original fight in Vegas & the rain of ill will, it generated for Tyson & the sport in general ... these kind of ratings, will further encourage the Fox network, to continue it's proposed monthly boxing series. Granted, there aren't too many fighters out there, with the larger than life mystique of a Tyson ... but the Bucket figures, that you could pull in good ratings by featuring fighters such as De La Hoya, Roy Jones, Whitaker, Trinidad, Chavez, Morrison, Bowe, or Holyfield against semi-decent opposition. Unless they buy expensive PPV fights, or subscribe to HBO or ShowTime, most of the public, has never seen these fighters.
Ali & Sugar Ray Leonard built their incredible followings, by appearing regularly on free TV. It's hard to get worked up over a fighter that you've never seen & only sporadically read about in the sports pages. Boxing desperately needs exposure. If only some of the power brokers & managers in boxing, were able to look at the big picture, instead of always going for the quick kill, they would see taking shorter money on a broadcast network, will pay off big, in terms of PPV money down the road. It's hard for the average fan to justify 30 to 50 bucks, for a fight in which he has no emotional investment, in either fighter. The way to develop that passion & hunger in fans, is by exposing them to the fighters. This is also a way of bringing in younger fans, to a sport, whose fan base is definitely not getting any younger. Most of the young fighters today, were inspired to get into the sport by their hero's, that they got to watch, as they were growing up. Fighters who fought frequently on network TV in the 80's . . . like Leonard, Hearns, Holmes, Hagler, Pazienza, & Duran ... inspired countless young men, to get into boxing, or become life long fans.
These days it's more problematical . . . there are no hot, rising fighters that we get to watch on TV regularly ... sure, you can catch 'em on the way up & on the way down, on cable ... but we don't see a Chavez, De La Hoya, Bowe, or Roy Jones's jr. as familiar faces on our weekend TV schedule. Back in the 70's thru the mid-80's fighters like Ali, Foreman, Frazier, Norton, Holmes, Camacho, Boza-Edwards, Chacon, Sugar Ray, Mancini, Hagler, Hearns, McGuigan, Rosario, Benitez, Duran, Arguello & Pryor, among others, were familiar faces in our living rooms, on a regular basis ... how many career's of young, up coming fighters in the 90's, have you been able to follow on free TV?... Well, the Bucket's hear t' tell ya ... None.
THE BROADCASTERSFor the average fan, major fights have become basically inaccessible due to ticket prices & location. Most of us don't chill out in places like Vegas or Atlantic City. The cost of travel, lodging & the fight itself is prohibitive. As a result, the great majority of boxing stalwarts, see the fights, via the tube.
The broadcasters can affect our perception of how we see a fight. A good team can heighten our enjoyment with useful inside info, enthusiasm & humor. The good ones understand the concept of less is more. By not being too intrusive, they can inform, as well as entertain us. The tone of their presentation is very important. If they get carried away with their hype, they can cast a pall, over even a very good fight, with excessive bombast & melodrama.
While we are not in an era of voluminous boxing broadcasts, there are still plenty of networks showing fights. In this piece, the Ol' Spit Bucket, is gonna examine some of the members of the teams on HBO, ShowTime, CBS, ABC, ESPN &USA. I haven't seen enough of the Prime Ticket team to form an opinion (you won't get that outta me too often!) & NBC's involvement is basically non-existent. Fox broke their cherry, with the Tyson-Mathis fight ... & since they used both, Bobby Czyz & Sean O'Grady, who are regularly partnered elsewhere, there really is no point.
In the Bucket's book, the four best, are Gil Clancy, Alex Wallau, Al Bernstein & Bobby Czyz ...Gil Clancy, is hands down, the most knowledgeable broadcaster in boxing. His depth of experience, as a manager, trainer & broadcaster is unparalleled. When Gil Clancy talks boxing, people listen. He knows what the hell he is talking about ... Alex Wallau, is also an expert analyst, who really knows his stuff. While stiffer & more formal than Clancy ... who is an archetypically classic boxing figure ... Wallau's cogent, analytical style is as effective, as it is informational ... Al Bernstein, is perhaps the most user - friendly of them all. With the experience of 15 years of weekly ESPN fights & a heavy schedule of PPV events; Bernstein is the most well versed & seasoned fight host in the world. The Bucket might also venture to mention that, while I don't have the figures in front of me, Al, has got to be near the top of the list if not on it, as the announcer, who has worked the most TV broadcasts, all-time. Bernstein has his detractors, many complain that he gets over-amped calling the fights. Hell, the man brings enthusiasm & a real love for the fight game, every time out. His blend of humorous, self deprecating wit, strong preparation & panache draws in fans (many of them women,) with only the most casual interest in boxing ... As an announcer, Bobby Czyz, comes across as a real man, in a field, replete with pussie's. He is the best boxer/announcer ever. His no bullshit style & unquestioned experience, as a former two time champion, gives him a lot of well deserved credibility. He presents himself in an engaging manner & expresses' his thoughts, in an extremely articulate way, for any broadcaster, not just a fighter. Which is fitting, since he is the only world champion boxer that's ever been a member of Mensa ...
There are other good broadcasters of course, but those are the four that stand above the crowd for moi. Some of the others I enjoy, are Pat Ryan, Gil Clancy's partner, who is a consummate pro ... he reminds me of Mike Patrick, Joe Theisman's partner, on the ESPN football broadcasts ... neither, blow their own horns intrusively, but are always extremely well prepared & lob insightful comments for their colorful co-hosts to hit out of the park. Dan Dierdorf, the MNF guy, is surprisingly effective as Wallau's partner. When you consider how few fights ABC shows; Dierdorf has for the most part, done well. While he doesn't have a boxing background per se, his years as an all-pro lineman in the NFL, certainly have given him a good understanding of the concept of one on one confrontations, physical punishment & the sacrifice & will, it takes to overcome. Dierdorf is a quick study & he has picked up on many of the nuances of boxing & his effort, along with his honest delivery, define him as a welcome addition to the limited fold of boxing announcers ...
Others, I find enjoyable ... t' barely tolerable, are, Dave Bontempo, Larry Merchant, Jim Lampley & Al Albert ... Bontempo, has a rugged, blue collar, definitely, East Coast, sorta style, that wears easy ... he really know's his stuff & delivers it in a congenial (for the lay boxing person,) manner, that works very well, with his simpatico & equally well versed, broadcast partner, Al Bernstein. Larry Merchant, or as my midnight running buddy & fellow correspondent, to this cyber-rag, DscribeDC, calls him, " The Cronkite Of The Canvass," always brings up a myriad of conflicting feelings ... On one level, the Bucket has nothing but respect for Merchant ... who since the 60's, has reported on the sports world, from forums as diverse as the Philadelphia Inquirer (were he served as sports editor) to his present day, pontificating posture, as the nascent, Andy Rooney, of boxing ... Before Larry, started taking himself so seriously, he was a very funny & raunchy sports writer, who once wrote the definitive ( & hilarious,) tome on betting on the NFL ... but that was long ago ... Nowadays, Merchant has fossilized into a archetype, that he would have once disdained ... his tortuously elaborate metaphors twist & turn leadened in the wind, with pseudo import. His partner, Jim Lampley, is what I imagine God created, when he decided us poor mortals, were evolved enough to behold the prototype yuppie. Lamps, is so smooth & suave he come off totally superficial. While there is no denying his love of boxing, there are at times, yawning chasms in his knowledge, you could sail a luxury liner thru. Case In point: The De La Hoya-Hernadez fight. In the first round, Lampley harped that it was unusual, for Genaro to come out fighting in an orthodox stance! Now, the Ol' Spit Bucket imagines, that an announcing team reviews tapes of a few prior fights of a boxer; especially if they've never seen him before ... & conduct interviews & time allowing, watch them in training. That Lampley could make so fundamental a mistake is incredible! Okay, s'now that I've slagged the poor guy, I do have to say that Lampley in his own disdainful way has induced some of the best commentary outta BG. His constant questioning & prodding of Big George produces some of the best ... & strangest responses from the big guy. As far as BG himself goes, the Bucket has written about him in the recent past, if you missed it ... now you have a reason to look up some of the back issues of this newsletter.
Which bring us to the last foursome, up for discussion: Steve & Al Albert, Ferdie Pacheco & Sean O'Grady. The Albert's, along with big bro Marv, & now, their offspring, are becoming a sports announcing franchise. Unfortunately, only Marv, comes thru as a capable announcer. All three brothers have a quirky, idiosyncratic style, with their sonorous & orotund pronouncements. It work's well for Marv, because of his highly developed sense of the absurd, it falls flat with Al ,& Steve is unbearable. As mentioned before, only Bobby Czyz, keeps the ShowTime broadcasts from devolving into the totally surreal. Whenever I watch Steve Albert, I find myself focusing on the weird pelt he wears on his head & always end up wondering if it will slide off before the end of the broadcast. This keeps me from having to focus on the babble that comes out of his mouth. Steve, along with Pacheco, are without a doubt the two most irrelevant announcers in boxing. Ferdie, is a guy I used to admire.
Since the advent of the 90's, he has become more absurd with every broadcast. In the 80's, Pacheco was the front man for boxing on NBC & he did a good job. The last few years, he has reminded me of Howard Cosell during his decline. When you can't even get the names of the fighters correctly ... it's time to move on.
Which brings us to the final member of this undistinguished quartet; Sean O'Grady. Where to begin? Sean has been the earnest, Doogie Howser, of boxing. As an announcer, the best thing I can say about Doogie, er, Sean, was that he was a gutsy fighter. His bland, soporific pronouncements, have made him the master of the obvious cliche. The other thing that bothers the Ol' Spit Bucket, is that for a guy, that was such a blood & guts warrior as a fighter, he freaks at the first sign of a fighter bleeding under a little duress. He sure has gotten faint hearted in his retirement. I do have to admit, however, that he was perfect for the Tyson broadcast on Fox. The pedantically, obvious cliches he used to illustrate what was going on in the ring, was perfect for the millions of uninitiated ( to boxing,) viewers who tuned in. Sean's choir boy visage & platitudes, were palatable, informative & entertaining for all the boxing neophytes ...
********** RINSING OFF THE MOUTHPIECESince we've just interred '95 ... it's time to look back, & assess some key events that unfolded last year; as it might give us a glimmer about the coming year ... & it shapes up to be a good one. Three match-ups stand out already. Foreman-Moorer, Tyson-Bruno & Chavez-De La Hoya. All three of those bouts, should attract a lot of mainstream publicity ... but, before we look forward, the Ol' Spit Bucket feels compelled, to take one last gander, at the flotsam & jetsam of the pastyear ... The events that will stand out when I think back on '95 will be Iron Thumb Tyson's coming out party from prison ... Oscar De La Hoya, finally establishing himself, in a campaign that saw him vanquish 4 championship caliber opponents ... the twin tragedy's of the McClennan-Benn & Ruelas-Garcia bouts ... Don King, getting out from under yet another charge brought against him by the Fed's ... Evander Holyfield's courageous comeback fight against Ray Mercer & his subsequent collapse against Riddick Bowe ... The left hook that Tommy Morrison blasted Razor Ruddock with ... Genaro Hernandez, quitting like a dog, against De La Hoya ... Butter Bean, finally getting his ridiculous ass kicked, in the Garden, on the De La Hoya-Leija undercard ... Speaking of undercards, how about the parade of stultifying matches that both the Duva's & Bob Arum force down our unwilling gullets on every PPV showing ... the incredibly swift fall from grace, suffered by James Toney, once considered a possible all-time great, now a suety shadow of his former self ... the cheap shots Riddick Bowe cold-cocked Larry Donald & Buster Mathis jr. with, one during a press conference & one , while Mathis was already on the canvass; lotsa style points, Big Daddy ... the barely commented on passing of Howard Cosell, a truly bigger than life broadcasting giant, who single-handedly changed the presentation of sports broadcasting forever ... for that & the fact that he was the only national media personality, who stood up for Ali, when he was outrageously stripped of his title ... & helping keep interest in boxing, alive during the 60's & 70's ... & despite his many obvious flaws, Howard Cosell will always have a warm & fuzzy place deep in the Ol' Spit Bucket's crusty heart ... Remember, whether you liked Howard or not, when he announced a fight ( or a football game,) it automatically became an event ...
Other memorable events include, Azumah Nelson's inspiring comeback & title regaining fight against Gabriel Ruelas at the age of 37 ...the triple whammy that Buster Mathis Jr. suffered with the death of his father, the loss to Tyson & the death of his mentor & trainer, Joey Fariello on Christmas day ... Terry Norris finally disposing of Luis Santana, after 3 mind numbing fights ... There are more memory's, of course, but mostly of the kind that should be relegated to the slag heap of time ... besides, it's time to move on now that we've got all the happy horse shit of the holiday's behind us ...
We've got some good fights to look forward to ... Chavez vs De La Hoya ... like the first Leonard vs Hearns bout in the 80's, could very well be, one of the defining fights of the '90's ... Chavez, the consummate Mexican warrior, for many years the acknowledged pound for pound best fighter in the game ... against a young turk phenom, known as the " Golden Boy," who has mowed down every obstacle on his path to glory & riches ... this is the kind of hokey story line Hollywood uses to makes bad TV movies ... The Bucket's call, as stated previously, is Oscar by mid-round stoppage ... Foreman vs Moorer, is admittedly, more of a curiosity than a fight. Big George, god love him, has looked like crap ever since the Alex Stewart fight back in '92 ... anybody who watched the first fight, basically saw Moorer beat on Big George like a big bass drum for 91/2 rounds. It was a testament to Big George's middle aged stamina & power, coupled with Moorer's total disregard for Teddy Atlas' right on fight plan, that won the fight for BG ... the call from here, is that lightning isn't gonna strike twice ... Moorer by split decision ... Tyson vs Bruno ( It's a new year & a new start, so the Bucket, has decided to lay off the Iron Thumb schtick, unless Mighty Mike screws up again ... shapes up to being a very intriguing fight ... of what the Ol' Spit Bucket has seen in Tyson's two fights so far, the jury is still way out ... The one big difference the Bucket see's that is glaringly apparent in Iron Mike's two comeback fights, is the way he's been out muscled & shoved around in the ring. I can't remember any opponent ever mauling & backing up Tyson ... McNeely & Mathis, immediately jumped on Tyson fearlessly... If they had been more skilled, either one of them might have caused some serious damage. In the past, that kind of foolhardy strategy was unthinkable ... Iron Mike Tyson, was simply the baddest mo' fo' presently residing on this planet ... you didn't fuck with him, you just tried to survive & hope for the best ...
Back then, nobody got in Tyson's face, unless they were outta their minds or their name was, Mitch "Blood" Green ... the impunity with which both McNeely & Mathis attacked Iron Mike indicated that against better opposition, Mighty Mike might encounter problems he hasn't seen since Buster Douglas; 5 years ago ... It's hard to evaluate a fighter, in the limited amount of action we've had, to observe the 2nd Coming ... Iron Mike has always been an enigma to the Ol' Spit Bucket ... even more so these days ...
He definitely still has that awesome power & hand speed. In the brief, 41/2 rounds of action the Bucket has seen, none of his vintage, defensive moves were in evidence. In his own destructo way, the pre-90's Tyson could be a real cutie in the ring. Cus D'Amato & Kevin Rooney, drilled every trick in the book into him. The other missing ingredients are Tyson's jab & his combination punching. For a short & short armed heavyweight, he had an overpowering jab. It was more than just a range finder; as Bobby Czyz, terms it, he had a true, " shotgun jab," that could stun an opponent. Tyson's brutal combinations were the stuff of legend ... & they've been AWOL, since the Spinks fight, in '88.
Mike Tyson, once reigned as one of the most savagely fearsome heavyweights, that ever strode the throne. Only Dempsey, Marciano, & Frazier ever displayed that kind of single minded ferocity of will to overcome ... only Tyson, blasted opponents into a touch & go dance with the river Styx in such a completely overpowering manner ...but that was then, & this is freakin' now ... without the complete, well-schooled, very disciplined package he used to bring into combat ... Iron Mike Tyson aint so mighty. He needs all his skills operating at optimum. We're talking defense, upper body & head movement, hand speed, balance & blazing combinations. Without all these key components working in synchronicity, Mike Tyson, is just another small, vulnerable, heavyweight.
Question of the month: Why is it common place to see an athlete in football or basketball, copping a blow of oxygen on the sidelines after a strenuous effort; yet you never see a fighter being administered the same? There are no rules against it & the benefits would seem to be many. If it's good enough to help revive an Emmitt Smith, Jerry Rice, or Michael Jordan ... why not a Gerald McClennan or Jimmy Garcia? ...
Kenny Adams, Kennedy McKinney's trainer, predicts his man will win inside 8 rounds. He added that Barrera "has faced a bunch of dead men. He couldn't hang w/fighters like Salud and N'cita." What do you think?
There will be a 9 Feb card at Caesar's featuring De La Hoya and Chavez in separate bouts. Opponents TBA...
10 Feb at MGM there will be a card w/Bernard Hopkins making his 1st defense (9 months after he won the title!) against Joe Lipsey. Other co-main events TBA. One may feature Michael Carbajal.
Greg Page, Tony Tucker's trainer and now 37, has begun working-out again at the Ringside Gym and wants to come back. Maybe he could fight Tucker...
Tyson-Bruno tickets will range from $200 to $1000...
Finally found Duran's last opponent (Wilbur Garst) -- inactive for 2 years, 147#, fought exclusively in OK, 15-3 (7), beat bottom feeders, losses to the same bottom feeders... Janks Morton says Larry Donald will fight on the day or evening before the Super Bowl (the monthly Fox card). He said they have an oral agreement w/Tommy Morrison...
Oscar De La Hoya will not face Sammy Fuentes in Feb for the latter's WBO 140 pound title. Instead he'll face Charles Murray -- no word on why the change, but that big gust you hear is Fuentes' management's giant sigh of relief...
Is Oscar De La Hoya a pound-for-pound champ, or a schoolyard bully who needs to pick on someone his own size?
It's one of the hoariest axioms in the sport: a good big man beats a good little man. Or does he? Julio Cesar Chavez didn't beat Pernell Whitaker. Neither did Buddy McGirt. Larry Holmes didn't beat Michael Spinks. Marvin Hagler didn't beat Ray Leonard. Evander Holyfield, on a particular night, ripped Riddick Bowe. Going back a bit, Rocky Marciano plowed through the heavyweight ranks at a fighting weight roughly equivalent to today's smaller cruisers. The list goes on and on. On the other side of the ledger, you could come up with an equally long list of contests in which the naturally heavier man emerged victorious. So what does this prove? Mostly, that great fighters bring their talent with them as they move up (anyone remember Bob Fitzsimmons? Henry Armstrong? Billy Conn? Ezzard Charles?), while good or so-so fighters typically need their size to give them an edge.
Why does one man beat another in the ring? In a sport as full of intangibles as the sport of boxing, it's almost impossible to definitively decide which factors are responsible for a contest's outcome. Was it the weight that gave Terry Norris the edge over Meldrick Taylor, or was it the psychic battering Taylor's confidence took after the Chavez stoppage? Did ODLH trample Jesse" James Leija because of the size differential, or because Leija was previously pummelled by Gabe Ruelas? Was Ruelas' collapse against Azumah Nelson due to self-doubt remaining after the Jimmy Garcia tragedy, or the skills of the venerable warrior Nelson? What about age? Wear and tear on a fighter's body? Training conditions? Judges' bias? Ring size? Glove type? Loose or tight ropes? Fighting style? Mental focus? Springy or firm canvas? The result of virtually any fight can be spin-doctored by fans or detractors of the winner. While one side of a debate might call a win a statement of fistic dominance, the other might deride the loser as old, shot, overtrained, distracted, small, or any one of a hundred other adjectives.
One of the biggest knocks against streaking Golden Boy Oscar De La Hoya has been that most of his wins have come against smaller opposition. Personally, I believe that this factor is being overplayed. While Oscar's small edge in weight might have given him some physical or mental advantage, the weight question should hardly dim his accomplishments:
Oscar's detractors seem to be following the lead of The Boston Globe's Ron Borges and other scribes, who point out that Oscar has frequently drawn opponents like Jorge Paez, Leija and John-John Molina from lower weight divisions. This is not something you do, Borges points out in a September 1995 Globe piece, if you want to be remembered as " a Leonard or Duran." A Leonard...Hmmmm...Some of us have a vague recollection of Roberto Duran campaigning as a pretty fair lightweight, but his status as a little man was never made an issue when he rose in weight for the "Brawl in Montreal" (a fight Duran won!) or any of his later contests with Leonard, Hearns or Hagler. Nor did Leonard find his relative lack of size an insurmountable obstacle against Hall of Fame middle Marvin Hagler. Naysayers didn't diminish the impact of Hagler's explosive 1985 win over blown-up welterweight Tommy Hearns with quibbles about weight. When it came to the 80s "Big Four," being physically smaller never stopped the better fighter from winning, and fighting smaller foes never diminished the significance of a triumph. I guess nostalgia has a way of making us forget, eh, Ron?
True enough, in an evenly-matched fight, a naturally-brawnier frame can give a fighter a slight edge, allowing him to throw harder punches, bore inside more easily, and tire an opponent in the clinches by leaning. But the fact is that, with the exception of the Molina bout, none of De La Hoya's controversial title efforts have been evenly-matched fights. ODLH steamrollered such highly-regarded fighters as Hernandez, Ruelas and Leija, not with weight, but with fast and accurate combinations. A "good big man" beating a "good little man" typically wins by attrition, tiring his opponent, sapping his leg and arm strength, and wearing him down in the later rounds. ODLH blasted out Leija in two with precision and dispatch while hardly suffering a return punch. Ditto with Rafael Ruelas. The point is that these fights were not wars of attrition. These fights were examples of a superior fighter besting merely-excellent ones in all categories: speed, power, defense, strategy.
Oscar's ring generalship thus far has been exemplary. His choice of opponents, while controversial, has reflected a desire to fight only quality boxers, a desire for nothing but big, crowd-pleasing fights. So why can't Oscar get the respect he deserves? Let me "weigh in" with a suggestion.Boxing has always maintained a blue-collar bias, and fans love an underdog, whether it's Iran Barkley KOing Tommy Hearns, or, more recently, Lamar Murphy nearly besting highly-touted Mexican lightweight Miguel Angel Gonzales. ODLH may be a lot of things, but he's no underdog. From as far back as Sullivan-Corbett and Dempsey-Tunney, the boxing public has perferred rough-hewn, hardscrabble brawlers to articulate fighters with matinee-idol looks and fat billfolds. The TV coverage, the accolades, the endorsements, the pre-and post-Olympic hype, have all conspired to make Oscar the "Golden Boy," the front-runner that will never live up to his advance billing, the star that people can't wait to see stumble.
Imagine the irony: in the era of Gastineau, McNeeley and Butterbean, a fighter whose last five bouts (Paez, Molina, Ruelas, Hernandez, Leija) have been against recent world champions is accused of setting up safe opposition.
Mystifying, to say the least.
Let it be said that, given the controversy, Oscar is doing the right thing. He is answering his critics by moving up and taking on a tarnished, but still formidable, bigger man, future Hall of Fame champion Chavez. Chavez has been campaigning for years at 140, and, should Oscar beat him on May 5, he will be making a strong statement to the boxing public, a public that may still respond to an ODLH win with shouts that Chavez' age and recent defeats have diminished him. Whatever. Let the record reflect that Oscar has challenged his critics in a way remarkable for a fighter so young. If he wins, he deserves the acclaim; if he loses, my bet is that he will accept defeat without excuses. And Oscar will still deserve credit for fighting the best, a risk that precious few of today's would-be Leonards or Durans seem willing to take.
In the last analysis, champions win. The win big; they win small. They win pretty; they win ugly. But they win. And Oscar is going to be a winner until someone leaves the excuses, stats, and rationalizations in the dressing room and defeats him in the ring. If there's any justice left in this crazy sport, ODLH won't end up the Larry Holmes of his era, a classic champion belittled for outside-the-ropes biases he's powerless to change.
Most believe that his fight will be a great test for "Mighty Mike," True, Bruno is old, and he lost a lot of skills, but so has Tyson. And when a fighter loses speed and accuracy, that makes him very easy to hit. Tyson, in his prime, was very seldomly hit. And when Tyson was hit a lot in a fight, he was KO by little known Buster Douglas. But let's face it, Bruno can't and won't be able to last past 8 against Mike. If Bruno wins, the only chance he has is by early Kayo. Even Oliver McCall was on the verge of Kayoing Bruno in the 12th round. The chance of Bruno winning a 12-round decsion is nonexistent. Let's take a closer look at the two pugilists:
Frank Bruno: I'm an American, but I like Frank Bruno. He's a very simple man that gives you simple answers. He not brash and isn't the type that brags (Lennox Lewis is the exact opposite!) Bruno knows that being champ does not make him better, it just makes him a bit more accomplished. To Bruno winning the belt meant a lot, but to me he beat an average HW in Oliver McCall. Not to take anything away from bruno, but I don't reconize him as a champ. Bruno has been very active before winning the belt. Wins over trial horses Rodolfo Marin and Mike Evans properly earned Bruno a crack at the crown! What I don't like is, since winning the belt, Bruno has remained inactive. For an aging fighter activity is the best thing to keep you sharp. Look at Hector Camacho and Julio Cesar Chavez. Camacho is still around because he is active. Since this fight with Tyson has been signed, Bruno is very happy and confident about his chances. But he has publicly trash talked Mike a little. I agree with what Bruno said, but you don't add fuel to the fire when your fighting the most dangerous man in heavyweight history. It's good to have self confidence, but Tyson already easily kayo Bruno, but I agree this isn't the same Mike or Frank!
Mike Tyson: "Mighty" Mike has been more like "Missing" Mike of late! In his first two comeback fights, Mike has looked very bad. Even against McNeeley, his timing was off and it showed. While he showed his power is still intact, how much can you gain from fighting a white media hyped fighter? (Gerry Cooney and Tommy Morrison) But, Limited Buster Mathis proved durable and worthy to fight Mike Tyson. Judging from when Riddick Bowe easily tore Mathis apart, most of us expected the same, but only sooner! Tyson was so inaccurate that it made me want to get into the ring and fight Mathis. But, as all Tysons' opponents fall victim to, his power finally caught Mathis! That's why I say Bruno must end the fight early. The questions still unanswered are Mikes' chin and stamina. I think Mike will be very focused on this fight. If I were Tyson, I'd want to fight Bruce Seldon first, just to win a belt and get some more skill back. So I give Mike credit for fighting the best of the 3 WANNABE Champs!
Here is how I evaluate the two Sluggers:
POWER: EVEN! Bruno wacked McCall often and hard. Tyson still has his Power.
SPEED: Big Edge to Tyson! His speed is still there and Bruno is slow.
CHIN: Slight edge to Tyson. Bruno has been stopped by Lennox Lewis and Tim Witherspoon.Tyson was halted by Buster Douglass, but that was his only knockdown.
STAMINA: Big edge to Tyson. Tyson proved he can go. Bruno has terrible stamina and tires fast!
DEFENSE: Edge to Tyson. Tyson is quick enough to slip punches. Bruno is tall and hittable.
CONDITIONING: EVEN! Both fighters work hard and come ready to fight!
INTANGIBLES: Edge to Bruno. Being Champ and Tysons' time off makes Bruno confident.
THE OUTCOME: The Las Vegas crowd will be pumped for this one. Ticket Sales will be a little on the downside, but those who pay will see a fight. Besides, the undercard will probably be worth the price. Don King has a way of putting together the best Fight Cards in boxing history! Tyson will enter the ring first, he will have a stale, mean, poker look on his face. He will sense the emotion of being champ and will be full of rage and fury. Bruno will also come out with fire in his eyes, but he will be a little stiff. Maybe it's fighting in the US, but Bruno looks a bit confused. Remember his fights with Tyson and McCall were in his Country of England!
Both fighters will try to stare each other down with a scary stare. But nobody puts fear in a mans heart more than Mike Tyson. Just before the bell sounds, Tyson will loosen up a little while Bruno gets some final instructions as if he is a robot!
The fighters come out for ROUND 1, and Bruno rushes right over and jumps all over Mike. After Bruno lands some shots, he backs up and fires a few slow jabs. Mike slips the jabs and unleashes a left hook that sorta wobbles Bruno. The crowd is on it's feet sensing a KO in round 1. Bruno shakes off the hook and rushes Mike again. Bruno goes back to holding the back of the head, which is very ILLEGAL! Tyson works the body while Bruno tries to clinch! Midway through Round 1, both fighters settle down and box a little. The reach of Bruno and the in-accuracy of Tyson let's Bruno land more often. Round 1 goes to Tyson for that punishing Left Hook!
ROUND 2: Both fighters look very fresh, and once again Bruno jumps right on Tyson. Tyson tries to throw back, but he is smothered by the size of Bruno. This is a good tatic for wearing down a smaller fighter (Bowe-Holyfield 1,2,3)! Tyson, is still able to bang the body, but Bruno is landing some decent head shots. Both fighters come to Ring Center and just go toe-to-toe. Tyson lands 2 hard shots, but Bruno answers with a straight right that hurts Tyson! With the second round coming to a close, Tysons' left eye begins to swell. At the sound of the bell, Bruno looks at Tyson as if to say, "Let's get it on!"
ROUND 3: In between Rounds, Tysons' corner does a bad job on removing the swelling from Tysons' eye! At the start it is Tyson that runs over and jumps on Bruno! Just as Tyson gets near Bruno, Frank unleashes a sneaky left uppercut that rocks Tyson. Tyson appears very hurt but he wings Left and Rights at Frank. Bruno steps back and throws 2 more uppercuts, both graze Tyson but wobble him a little off balance. Tyson takes 2 steps back and comes inside strong. But, once again, Bruno ties him up and leans on him! Tyson complains to the ref and the ref warns Bruno. In the final minute of the Round, Tyson uses the jab and keeps Bruno at bay. With :10 left, Bruno ties up Tyson and lands another uppercut that Jolts Tyson and appears to buckle his knees!
ROUND 4: The crowd in Las Vegas is starting to sense an upset! Tysons left eye is about halfway shut, and Bruno is starting to breath a little hard! This round, both fighters don't rush out, they simply meet at the center of the ring! Tyson goes right to the body. His corner told Mike to throw the uppercut, but up till this point Mikes' uppercut has been worthless. A series of clinches and Bruno doing it on purpose, the crowd begins to boo.
But right after the booing, Tyson appearing to be frustrated throws about 10-15 punches. Most miss, and this makes him more confused than he's ever been. Bruno sensing the urgency of Tyson, throws double jabs that land square on the Left Eye of Tyson! Halfway through the round, Tyson appears to go into jab mode. Bruno get's tired of playing the jab game and rushes for Tyson. Both fighters look like they been in a 12 round fight already!
Tyson and his eye and Bruno and his stamina problems! With :42 in the round Tyson walks right into a hard left hook from Bruno! DOWN GOES TYSON!
Tyson drops to just 1 knee, and the ref starts his count. Bruno sensing the KO does not go to his neutral corner, and that gives Tyson time to get up and recover! :29 Left in the round Bruno rushes Tyson, but Bruno walks into a left hook from Tyson, and Bruno is temporarily stunned. At the sound of the bell, both fighters go at it and the CROWD is on it's feet!
ROUND 5: The Swelling on Mikes' face is starting to go down, but it's turning into a noticible mouse! Bruno comes out with more confidence than any round of his life. Tyson looks lackadaisickle and confused. Bruno bangs to the body and Tyson squints in pain. Tyson sensing he's about to lose, throws another 10 punch combo, but it's really pitiful. 2 or 3 land and Bruno seems unfazed! Bruno is landing 58% up till this point. While Tyson is landing a mere 37%. Midway through the round Bruno catches Tyson and hurts him again. Both fighters tie up and Bruno counterpunches a Tyson uppercut and DOWN GOES TYSON! Tyson is out of it. he rises at the count of 9, but he cannot continue to go on. The Winner And Still Champ Frank Bruno by technical knockout in the fifth round.
Boxing's "Return to the Mecca" of Madison Square Garden was a grand, gaudy, star-studded revival, with enough celebrities (Matt Dillon, Eddie Murphy, Mel Gibson, Willis Reed, Willem Dafoe, Norman Mailer, Lauren Hutton, etc.), spandex and spectacle to please even the most cynical scribes. And the fighting wasn't bad either.
The capacity crowd at the Garden encompassed nearly every sector of the NewYork sporting public: black-tie celebs; grinning and grizzled members of the fight mob sharing fistic fellowship (I swear I saw Emile Griffith and Arthur Mercante, Sr. glad-handing the double-breasted swells in Section 89); pumped-up Latinos who filled the seats beside us with rambunctious cheering (and went church-sermon silent when Jesse James took his canvas nap); black-leather-and-chinchilla To-Die-Fors (looking like they just sashayed out of Dan Tanna's rumpus room) with their buff Brooklyn beaus in tow. Throw in Rickles, a couple choruses of "Volare," and a $5 rubber-chicken buffet and you might as well have been lounging in the City of Lost Wages. I heart New York.
You know that it's been an "odd couple" of years in the sport of boxing when the brightest young stars on the horizon are named Felix and Oscar. On Friday night, Oscar De La Hoya notched his biggest win to date, fittingly enough, in Madison (Square Garden, that is). As for the "hefti" Butterbean Esch, he has apparently lost his 'unger and, after being clubbed into submission by his prospective "pigeon," was lustily hooted at by the capacity Garden crowd, who asked that he... never... return...
Okay, enough TV puns. Let's take care o' bi'ness.
In the feature bout, a 12-round tilt for De La Hoya's WBO lightweight crown, ODLH proved simply too strong, too quick and too explosive for the rode-hard-and-put-up-wet "Jesse" James Leija, who might be well-advised to consider riding into the sunset after his lukewarm performance. From the opening bell, Leija seemed to be in Oscar's thrall. He mounted no offense other than inexplicably wide and wild bombs from the outside. He seemed nervous, like a tenderfoot trying to sneak out of a cage of sleeping rattlesnakes. Leija, simply put, did not have the aspect of a man who came to win. In round two, Oscar dropped the challenger with a left hook so quick and precise it was nearly invisible and then, demonstrating his formidable closing skills, homed in to finish the job. The final combination, capped by another surgical left hook that dropped Leija for the second and final time with seconds left in round two, was a small miracle of kinetic economy. Leija's corner conceded for him at round's end, so physically and psychologically dominant was De La Hoya's performance. This defense was intended as a major nationwide showcase for Oscar's glittering skills and it was every bit of that. The fight clearly establishes De La Hoya as one of the sport's premier marquee attractions for the coming years, and should effectively silence all but the most oblivious critics.
The best action of the night came during the IBF junior lightweight contest matching locals Tracy Patterson and Arturo Gatti. Before the opening bell, devotees of Patterson (including a dead ringer for Wesley Snipes in "Demolition Man") combed the Club seats dispensing pictures of Patterson holding his championship belts, little realizing what collector's items those photos would become by night's end. The match was slow, deliberate and tactical, and the boobirds often came out to offer negative commentary on the lack of free-swinging action. To his credit, Gatti fought within himself, resisting the crowd's invitation to take unwise chances and controlling most of the first six rounds with a stiff jab, good defense and crisp movement. Patterson spent much of the fight coming forward, but accomplished little until the late rounds. Like the controversial Botha-Schulz bout, it was an example of the flashier fighter doing too little too late, waiting too long to turn aggressive and let his punches go. Gatti quietly put early rounds in the bank, notching points for ring generalship as Patterson vainly stalked, unable to get inside Gatti's ramrod-like jab long enough to work a viable combination. The later rounds saw Patterson step on the gas and work inside, shortening up distance and, at last, landing some significant leather. But even late in the bout, Gatti was cagey enough to box his way out of real trouble, and the early margin he had built up (augmented by a second-round uppercut that precipitated a flash knockdown) proved the difference, as the Jersey City challenger notched a unanimous title verdict by margins of one, three and five points.
Perhaps the biggest (and most welcome) shocker of the night was trialhorse Mitchell (2-6-1) Rose's utter pummeling of Great White Blimp Eric "Butterbean" Esch. Esch's ascendancy from bottom-of-the-card oddity to PPV co-headliner has been one of the strangest and most shameless scams in recent heavyweight history. Anyone with a casual working knowledge of boxing knows that Esch lacks even rudimentary boxing skills but, by parlaying his tough-man contest "credentials" and pairing him with a series of lamentable no-hopers, his promoters had managed to secure a roster of dubious victories and a coterie of actual fans for the swarming, corpulent chrome-dome. Rumors of a PPV "super bowl of stiffs" superfight with Peter "Fightus Interruptus" McNeeley were even beginning to spread throughout the more masochistic strata of the boxing community. It was going to be ugly when Esch finally met a fighter with a pulse. The ongoing Esch-travaganza had gotten just plain weird. Perhaps with a nod to Vince McMahon, Esch's promoters had even dropped his name from the program and the pre-fight introductions, choosing to have ring announcer Michael Buffer introduce their man, inna WWF-stylee, as simply "Butterbeeeeeeean." You had to wonder if they had trademarked the moniker, the way Titan Sports takes out trademark protection on "Diesel" and "The Undertaker."
As Esch strode to the ring, prophetically enough, in a Rangers jersey bearing the name "Graves," he must have expected little competition from Rose, a Bedford Stuyvesant pug of no distinction whatsoever. At the bell, he rushed at Rose in typical Bean fashion, hoping to surround his challenger in a cocoon of flesh. But Rose had enough savvy to fend off this mad rush and, by the end of round one, amazingly, had Esch moving backward to the surprise and delight of the crowd. Almost immediately in round two, Rose pressed his advantage, trapping Bean in the corner with a barrage that began with a clean right uppercut and included no less than five thudding right hands which found their way cleanly to Esch's reddening pate. When Bean failed to answer in kind, the fight was justifiably stopped, the third man mercifully sparing the grand old arena the seismic trauma of the inevitable Bean dip.
Although in the locker room, the winner was heard to utter that it was nice to "win, for once, "Mitchell clearly Rose to the occasion; Butterball may have survived Thanksgiving, but he got eaten up before Christmas. This fight was highly reminiscent of Mark Gastineau's Waterloo against Tim "Doc" Anderson; a sideshow fighter with no discernible skills taught a nasty and public lesson by a journeyman with a modicum of boxing finesse. Mailer, rumored to be taking notes for his upcoming boxing tome "Bean There," may have been crestfallen, but fight fans can breathe a sigh of relief, as this should signal the official derailment of the Butterbean money train. My simple advice to the handlers of the Bean: be frank. Rumors that Mel Gibson was approaching Da Bean about a starring role in his new film "Things to Do in New York City When Your Career Is Dead," have, to date, been unconfirmed.
In other bouts, upcoming heavyweight phenom Shannon Briggs made mercifully short work of Cleveland heavy Calvin "Country" Jones. Jones may be a little bit country, but Briggs had him a little bit rocked and rolled, pouring on a fast, furious and kinetic barrage of punishment that left Jones, at :54 of round one, waving woozily at the crowd as he tried to pull himself off the mat with the top rope. It was a frighteningly impressive display by Briggs, a heavyweight that his fellow contenders have every reason to "dread."
In a twin heavyweight debut, Jose Rosado TKO'd the bigger Adrian White at 1:13 of round two with a vicious right hand. White had been more impressive early, launching a fusillade of showy but ineffective arm punches, but Rosado worked inside in round two, shortening up what had been wide roundhouses and finally hitting paydirt.
A light heavyweight six-rounder between sacrificial lamb Don McKay and Norwegian nightmare Roar "Phi Slamma" Petajamaa was nearly over before it began. At 2:26 of round one, McKay suffered an "eye injury" after enduring awful punishment from Petajamaa, and the fight was stopped. Personally, I think the "eye injury" involved McKay finally seeing exactly what he was getting into.
The opening fight, a competitive and entertaining junior welterweight mill between Gerald Gray and Antonio "Torito" Rivera ended at the 2:28 mark of round nine when Rivera TKO'd Gray with a quick left hand. Gray had been the stalker, but Torito prevailed, ironically, as matador, frustrating Gray's charges with crafty defense and biding his time until the appropriate opening presented itself.
Best action of the night: a wild melee in the ringside seats after the ODLH contest involving a half-dozen spectators. Don't know who the guy in the suit jacket was who was doing the most frenzied butt-kicking, but Butterbean's managers may want to sign him up and market him as their new mauler "Prettyboy" (TM).
Biggest disappointment of the night (tie): the statuesque black woman with the bare midriff turned out NOT to be Naomi Campbell, and I had to take a bathroom break just in time to miss not only George Foreman's announcement of the upcoming Moorer rematch but also Ben Vereen's allegedly horrific rendition of the National Anthem.
Best bargain of the night: the $2 potato knish, a wonder of culinary engineering, and a bargain at twice the price.
Welcome back to the Mecca, boxing. We wish you many more golden nights like this one. I can't tell you how refreshing it is to see the fights back in an honest-to-God sports arena, where they belong, instead of some cheesy neon slot palace. Let's hope that this is a trend, and not just an isolated Oscar night celebration.
WBC featherweight championship:
Luisito Espinosa (a.k.a Luisito Koizumi) W12 Manuel Medina
Tokyo: Luisito Espinosa, the former WBA bantamweight champion, won the WBC featherweight championship by a unanimous decision over Manuel Medina. It was Medina's first defense of the crown he won from Alejandro Gonzalez.
From the first round, Medina was very aggressive; he moved forward, roped the challenger, and threw many punches, but in the 2nd, his right eye began to close as he took left hooks from Espinosa. Medina was aggressive nonetheless, and he hurt Espinosa in the 4th with a straight right hand. However, by the 5th, his right eye was totally shut, and he began to take many powerful counter-punches from Espinosa. In the 7th and 10th, Medina was staggered by Espinosa's combinations.
It was a very close fight, and it was a very tough fight to score. Medina was more aggressive and busier than Luisito Espinosa, and Espionosa's punches landed more effectively. Official judges' scoring was very close; 115-113, 116-112, and 115-113 (two American judges and one Australian judge). If Medina took the last round, he could have kept the title. Even though the fight was very close, Medina raised Espinosa's arm and showed a lot of sportsmanship.
"Medina was more aggressive than I thought he would be, so I was confused at first. I dedicate this victory to my country, my family, and my manager Joe Koizumi." said Espinosa. "Espinosa's punches were very hard, and he hurt me several times. I thought the decision was fair because he took the last 3 rounds. I could not box like I wanted to because of my swollen eye, but I do not want to use it as an excuse," said Medina.
Espinosa, Philippine, is due to defend his title against Alejandro Gonzalez in Feb.
WBA Middleweight Championship -- Shinji Takehara W12 Jorge Castro
Tokyo: In a major surprise, Shinji Takehara, Japan, captured the WBA middleweight championship by unanimous decision over Jorge Castro, Argentina, at Korakuen Hall. It was Castro's 5th defence.
In the first, Takehara hurt Castro with a big right hand. In the 2nd, Takenara landed his combinations and body shots at will, and stunned Castro. In the 3rd, Takehara dropped Castro with a booming left hook to the body. It was the first knockdown Castro has had in his boxing career (He fought 128 times as an amateur and 104 times as a pro). Castro remained weak for the next two rounds, but Takehara failed to finish him.
Castro recovered soon after, and in the 8th he staggered a tiring Takehara with hooks to the chin, but Takehara came back strongly in the 9th and 10th, and almost dropped Castro with his body shots. Castro took the 11th and 12th, but it was too little and too late.
The decision was unanimous. Washington Gonzales scored 118-112, Manuel Gonzales 116-114, and Moon 117-111, all in favor of Takehara.
Takehara improved to 24-0(18). Castro dropped to 98-5-2(68).
Juan Coggi Tech W 4 Frankie Randall (WBA 140 lbs). Juan Coggi came into the bout stating that he had trained 7 months (that's right, months, not weeks) for this fight. Randall came in under a cloud of suspiscion of substance abuse. The first round was slow and even, neither fighter really establishing anything. The second round had Coggi doing most of the work, and Randall was getting frustrated. Towards the end of the round, Randall seemed to get his jab/strait right in well. In the third, Randall seemed to dominate the round with his jab/strait right, until Coggi scored an unusual knockdown. Randall moved oddly to his left (whether he was feinting, or just slipping on the canvas, I am not sure), and Coggi landed a left to the body and Randall went down. The ref (justly, in my opinon) called it a knockdown.
I felt Randall re-established himself in the fourth. In the fifth, Randall and Coggi clashed heads, a particulalry menacing clash, as both Randall and Coggi were coming in (not unlike Chavez/Randall two). Randall moved back, and Coggi went back to his corner. Once in his corner, he squatted down, then sat down, then lied down. The ref instructed Coggi to get up, but he was non-responsive. The ref gave Coggi 5 minutes to continue. Doctors examined Coggi, and for about the first 3 minutes, he was not doing anything. Then he started moving his head up periodically, and after the put him in a strecher, he seemed to get a bit agitated (even violent), yelling that he didn't want to go.
The WBA rules stipulate that after an accidental foul that happens past the third round, the winner is determined by whomever is leading on the scorecards up until the last completed round (in this case, the fourth). The scores were 39-38 and 38-37 (Twice). I had it scored 38-38. After the decision was announced, Coggi's seconds paraded around the ring in their victory celebration.
Carl King and Randall felt Coggi was faking, and King, Randall, and Don King called it "Another Luis Santana". Carl King claimed that someone in Coggi's corner instructed him to lay down. The Ref initially didn't believe Coggi was hurt. The doctors had no opinion. Coggi was hopsitalized for a "precautionary" observation of 24 hours.
My take on the incident is as follows: Given the disreputable past of Coggi (the Coggi-Eder Gonzalez I bout showed Coggi's manager's willingness to bend the rules in order to gain victory (or at least stave off defeat), it is not entirely impossible that Coggi was faking. However, in the interests of saftey and caution, you have to assume Coggi was hurt, and the ruling was correctly executed, no matter how poorly the Chavez-Randall II and Randall-Coggi II bouts make the rule look in practice. Had Coggi been permitted or encouraged to continue, and he actually had been hurt, it would have been horrible for Coggi's heatlth and suicide for boxing. Unlike the past tragidies in the ring, this would have been an example of a boxer who showed visable signs of inability to fight, yet was encouraged to do so, only to lead to further injury.
I really feel bad for Randall. He doesn't seem to get any breaks. As for Coggi, I don't trust him, and I feel bad about that. I hope he is not injured.
Magdaleno, 32, of Westminster, CA, and the speeding motorist, were dead at the scene. Magdaleno's wife and two children were taken to area hospitals with minor injuries, police said. Magdaleno was killed when his Jeep Cherokee was broadsided by the fleeing motorist who went through a red light. He was thrown from his vehicle and landed on a median strip, striking his head on the curb.
Magdaleno's record, 21-1-1, included a 10-round decision Thursday against an outclassed Roman Santos, the only boxer who stood in the way of his chance to fight for the WBC's lightheavyweight title. Magdaleno's only loss was in a title fight in Germany in 1994.
On a personal note, Ernie has boxed for local trainer Clyde Armijo for many years, having started when he was in his 20's. He was one of the nicest people around -- always working with the kids --helping out where needed -- a true representative of the sport.
RIP, Ernie. We will miss you.
This is what was happening in December of 1975 as reported by Ring magazine. The big story was also the fight of the century as Ali-Frazier's Thrilla in Manila was just that, a thrilla. This was their third and best fight as Ali successfully defended his title but it wasn't an easy victory. Frazier came but smoking as usual but Ali stood flat footed and traded punches with him early in the fight, Ali's rope-a-dope was also a bust, as Frazier hurt him while he was on the ropes. During the 13th round Ali landed a punch that stopped Frazier in his tracks, and even had him backpedal, that was the first sign that Frazier was beginning to fade. By the end of the 14th round Frazier's eyes were so swollen that trainer Eddie Futch told the referee that his man had enough and to stop the fight. The scoring up to that round was all in Ali's favor, 8-4-2, 8-3-3, and 8-4-2. [Editor's note: Terrible scoring by the way as Frazier was clearly in front. The NY Times of the next day had Frazier winning 8 of the first 11 rounds and still in front after 13.]
In a WBC title featherweight bout, champion Ruben Olivares loses a close split decision to David Kotey. When the decsion was announced a riot broke out, Olivares even grabbed the microphone and tried to calm the crowd down. The scoring was 143-142 and 144-143 fro Kotey and 144- 143 for Olivares.
Alfonso Zamora defended his world bantam title with a 4 rd knock out over Thanomsit Sukhothai. Both combatants had to duck debris before the fight because there was a riot caused by the decision in the previous fight between Art Hafey and Salvador Torres, Hafey won hometown favorite Torres. In the main event, Sukhothai, who is a deaf mute, opened a cut over Zamora's eye that was going to require some stitches. When the 4th started, Zamora was fearing they were going to stop the fight so opened a non stop barrage that finally floored the challenger for the count.
World Fly champ Miguel Canto successfully defended his title with an 11th round stoppage over Jiro Takedo. Takedo was completely overmatched and the ref stopped the fight before he got hurt.
In a battle between ranking heavies, Ron Lyle stopped Earnie Shavers in 6 hard fought rounds. Both fighters went toe to toe and never took a step backwards. Lyle went down in the 2nd round, the first knock down of his career, the fight then turned into a war as all boxing rules were dismissed. Shavers went down and out just 32 seconds into round 6. Afterwards, Shavers claimed that the Colorado Boxing commission favored Lyle, he claimed that Lyle got extra time to rest after he was knocked down and got extra time between rounds.
Roberto Duran was ready to take on all challengers because in his non-title fight with Pedro Mendoza, he only needed 27 seconds to end the fight. Mendoza's girlfriend was so angry that she jumped into the ring and went after Duran. Big mistake. He landed an uppercut that had her laying beside her boyfriend.
End Quote: "Breathe through the nostrils unless some physical defect compels you to breathe through the mouth." -- Philadelphia Jack O'Brian, Boxing (1930).
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