May 1, 2000
On Friday, the finals of the New York Golden Gloves were held in Madison
Square Garden. Twenty-four hours later, Michael Grant did his best to
imitate a sub-novice Heavyweight having his first bout at Our lady of Mt.
Caramel. Grant, fond of talking about new-age conditioning theories and
"fast-twitch" muscles, could barely control his nerves and was huffing and
puffing in his dressing room. Don Turner, his talented trainer, had finally
lost the sly, half-smile he had carried around with him all week. Turner's
face told the story -- this would be a blow-out. At 11:21, Grant started
his walk to the ring.
Five hours earlier, I stood outside the employee's entrance of MSG, mingling
with the autograph hounds, trying to get a sense of what the street vibe was
on the fight. Nobody cared. Most were hanging around with waiting to get
autographs from Boyz II Men. The limited boxing conversation concerned how
none of the boxers on the card would do well in Ultimate Fighting. I left
before slapping somebody for the sacrilige.
The crowd at the preliminary fights, thank god, was a good New York fight
crowd. I watched the sad ending of Tracy Patterson's career as he was
outpointed by Glascow's own, Scott Harrison, a cute little fighter with a
9-1-1 record. Harrison has good fundamentals and used a strong jab to do a
"paint job" on Patterson,who ends his career with a 63-8-1 (43 kayo) record.
A pox unto the commission who licenses him to fight again.
Next up, the massive Wladimir Klitschko squared off against David Bostice.
Klitscho came into the fight at 31-1 with 30 kayos, his sole loss a tko to
club fighter Ross Puritty. But, Klitscho actually has some skills; in two
consecutive fights now I have seen him hurt his opponent with a jab.
Bostice's record is peppered with some half-recognizable names such as
Everett "Big Foot" Martin and Mike Sedillo. Incredibly, though, Bostice
fought Sedillo just this past January -- and could not knock him out!
The fight not competitive. Wladimir's first hard jab stunned Bostice and he
was repeatedly clubbed to the canvas, though he struggled to his feet each
time. After the referee stopped the fight, he openly wept in his corner
while Klitscko paraded around the ring.
All during the undercard, the Garden was filling in, thanks to a strong
walk-up crowd by the New York fans. By the time Arturo Gatti entered the
ring, the Garden was 3/4 full. Gatti had the good fortune to face late-sub
Eric Jakubowski, who through a few half-hearted punches (that landed!) before
being dumped himseldf by a hard Gatti left hook. In the second, Jakubowski
went down again, then did the old "I-want-to-fight -but-I-am-groggy"
stutter-step and he got to go home early without having to worry about having
his purse upheld. Gatti, who is one hard puncher away from the retirement
home himself, was stumping for a fight with Oscar by year's end. A pox on
the Commission that approves that fight.
The Junior Jones battle with Paul Ingle took away the stench of the Gatti mess.
Boxing insiders knew that Jones had very little left, but had always given
his all during his career. Tonight, working with Teddy Atlas, Jones would
make a determined stand to capture the IBF Featherweight Championship.
Ingle, a tough little terrier of a fighter went to the trenches with Jones.
Jones, pressured, began to get sloppy and miss many punches. During one
clinch, a desparate Jones bit Ingle on the nipple, but the referee just waved
the fighters back together.
Jones, always the warrior, finally got off a wicked right in the ninth that
dumped Ingle hard. Ingle later admitted "The punch hit me flush. No matter
what, featherweight or anything, if that punch had hit hit them, they would
have gone down, I gurantee it." By the start of the eleventh, though, Jones
was completely fatigued. Ingle did not let him recuperate. After two
knockdowns, the ref jumped between Ingle and a wobbly Jones. Afterwards,
Jones said "Truthfully I haven't thought about [retiring]." A pox on the
Commission that licenses Junior Jones to fight again.
Since the Ingle-Jones fight went nearly the distance, the swing bouts were
cancelled, leaving Kevin Kelly in his dressing room.
At 11:22 Grant entered the ring to the cheers of the crowd, followed shortly
thereafter by Lewis, who was heartily booed.
The fight was perhaps the most pathetic display by a challenger in the
history of boxing, bar none. The outcome was clear to me 20 seconds into the
fight when the fighters clinched. Neither one wrestled or tried to move the
other back. Grant, for all his size and purported atheleticism, was
clueless. He swung a few wild punches which Lewis avoided, then was blasted
to the canvas. Lewis, holding and hitting, got credit for a second
knockdown, then advanced on Grant who was backing to the ropes.
Then, Lewis feinted Grant by looking at his feet; Grant froze, then was
drilled by a Lewis haymaker. Grant went down again, legs akimbo. He had
been caught b the old "your shoelace is untied" routine that I ahven't seen
work outside of Abbott & Costello movies.
Ringsiders were actually laughing at the utter haplessness of Grant. Lewis,
fearless in the second, actually began whipping right uppercuts from outside
-- a sign of total disrespect. Then, after Grant missed a jab and bent over,
Lewis simply held him behind the behind the head and slammed him with
another, finishing uppercut. A foul? Yes, but not tonight. Even Grant said
afterwards "It was a good move."
At the press conference, I believe Lewis was calculating his taxes. Grant,
happy to have survived, blamed his loss on unspecified "selfish reasons."
Lewis ended the conference by announcing his July 15 match with Franz Botha.
The press then turned their attention to Joe Frazier's daughter who was
plugging her next fight.