Shutting Up Ratto: Part 1

by Pedro Fernandez


One of the daily papers I occasionally write is the San Francisco Examiner. They have a writer who for nearly a decade has been a favorite in Northern California.

His name is Ray Ratto. In a piece that ran earlier this week, Mr. Ratto said that boxing was in such desperate shape that it needs Mike Tyson. And that prize fighting is so low that it has to depend on a convicted rapist for mouth to mouth resuscitation.

What a crock of spit! The sport of boxing is alive and well Mr. Ratto, even though your readers would hardly know it seeing your acumen of pugilism is almost nil.

Right now boxing is at a point where Mike Tyson is nothing but a sideshow attraction. Every serious boxing person knows that Iron Mike, is well Aluminum. And that the days of the 93 second knockouts of world rated contenders are history.


There is no lack of quality fighters in the lighter weight classes. The division with a whole slew of superstars is the welterweight class and it's 147 lb. limit.

Besides the "Golden Boy" Oscar De La Hoya, who holds the WBC crown, there are the other world title claimants. Ike Quartey of Ghana holds the WBA title, while Puerto Rico's Felix Trinidad is the IBF beltbearer.

All three of the above are undefeated. Off his USA performance Tuesday night, you can add another unbeaten pug to the mix in '92 Olympian Vernon Forest. Add Mexican Jose Luis Lopez and you have the best top five in boxing.

The log jam at 147 lbs. seems to have been broken by Quartey and Trinidad as the two have agreed to fight on HBO November 14. The real problem is that Oscar is the draw, and he's too busy making money to risk a fight with one of the others.

Promoter Dino Duva of Main Events has a plan worked out that will unify the welterweight titles. After the Trinidad-Quartey bout, Duva envisions Pernell Whitaker meeting the victor in February.

That would make a May showdown between the last man standing, and the Golden Boy, the fight of 1999. Oscar De La Hoya "is" the Michael Jordan of boxing. He just needs to face the Utah Jazz and not the L.A. Clippers everytime out.


With both WBA champ William Joppy, 25-1-1, (19 Ko's) and IBF "world" middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins, 34-2-1, (26 KO's) defending their belts on SHOWTIME August 28, at the Las Vegas Hilton against legendary Roberto Duran, 102-13, (69 KO's) and Robert Allen who is 22-2, (17 KO's), the middles are heating up.

Although Allen is the #1 rated contender, Hopkins should chew him up and spit him out. Joppy, on the other hand will be known as the man who slew Hands of Stone for the last time.

Promoter Don King wants to unify the American working man's title. And this card, with the winners set to meet before the end of 1998, means solidarity at 160 lbs.

You may have thought I forgot to mention WBC guy Hassine Cherifi. I didn't. I just think that the Frenchman is a stiff. His only asset, the 'BC belt.

With the dearth of talent coming up, most notably Antwun Echols, 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist David Reid, Lonnie Bradley, Otis Grant, Robert McCracken of the UK, all of whom posses world class ability. The once beaten Canadian Grant is the only of the four who isn't unbeaten.

Echols, the U.S. and North America titleholder is an extremely exciting fighter with a 21-2-1, record with all 21 wins coming on the short end. His blasting out of Urbano Gurrola, the Boxino tournament champion was work well done.


Roy Jones is a boxer who prefer that he not be a fighter. Not one to give and take, he seems unaccustomed to taking a punch. That maybe because Roy is so fast, guys don't hit him. He's too busy kicking their ass to do anything but try and fend him off.

With his "once in a lifetime" skill level, Roy could by himself bring boxing back top the masses. He just lacks the zeal of a fighter. Or he is reluctant to release this emotion.

For if Roy Jones took his act to Germany and took care of 33-0, Darius Michalczewski, a Pole fighting out of Deutschland, and aired the fight on network TV with a great deal of pre fight publicity, Roy could make a statement to the world and finally put that 1988 decision in the Olympics behind him.

There are other 175 lbers. that deserve attention. Lou Del Valle ain't no bum as he put Roy down in an otherwise shutout win for Jones in July. And WBA guy Reggie Johnson is a completely different pug at light heavy than he was at middleweight.

Exciting and willing to take chances to win, had Reggie fought like this in the early days, James Toney would of never went into a fight with Roy Jones undefeated.

Olympian Antonio Tarver, and Montell griffin, a DQ winner, and a KO loser to Jones, are two other worthy fighters at 175 lbs.


When the general population talks about 105 lb. athletes, they are usually talking about Russell Baze, Corey Nakatani, and Pat Day, who are three of the best riders in the horse racing world.

But ask a boxing fan who is "down" with 105 lb. pugs, and you will hear the names of WBA champ Rosendo Alvarez, 24-0-1, (16 KO's) and WBC guy 46-0-1, (35 KO's) Ricardo Lopez.

These two hooked it up in March, but a controversial ending that resulted in a technical draw demands a rematch. Throw in 4'8 Baby Jake Matala and you have a great threesome.

Although I used to believe there is a size difference between 108 and 105, I've changed my mind, thus I am grouping both divisions. At 108, Saman Sorjaturong is the WBC titleholder and considered the best. Lopez dusted him in two rounds a few years ago.


Being the novelist that I am, the 112 and the 115 lb. weight classes are made into one. Right now at flyweight, there is Mark "Too Sharp" Johnson, 35-1, (25 KO's). The DC native is in a class all by himself. And he maybe the best pound for pound in the world.

At 115, there are some worthy names besides the champion Johnny Tapia who holds the IBF and WBO trinkets. Danny Romero and WBC guy Gerry Penalosa are also there. But Tapia vs Johnson Albuquerque would do 30,000 people with the right priming.


Boy was I mistaken when I said all these weight divisions were necessary As it turns out, Pedro only contributed to the further watering down of this great sport.

In fact, I would like to combine the bantams and super bantams (118 and 122), as well as the featherweight (126 lbs) and junior lightweight divisions while I'm at it.

At 118, IBF champ Tim Austin, an unbeaten 1992 Olympian out of Cincinnati needs to forget about 118 unless Johnny Tapia is next on his plate. Austin needs to move on WBC champ Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, and Junior Jones if the Brooklynite survives his trip to the dungeon like Tijuana Bull Ring on September 12.

Kennedy McKinney, twice the WBO titilist may lay a more solid claim to the world throne than Morales. Thus a showdown is mandatory. Guys on the doorstep at 122, include unbeaten Willie Jorrin, and Wayne McCullough who Jorrin beat in Ireland as an amateur. Add unbeaten Angel Vasquez to the cocktail, and there again is a great cast.


Angel Manfredy is the champion at this weight. Forget what sanctioning group's belt he wears, El Diablo is El Supreme-o at 130 lbs. At 126, we have Ham-head, aka Prince Naseem Hamed.

Undefeated and unabashed, Naz is one of the top draws in the game. And he's also one of the hardest punching. Combine that with his Beatle-like royalty in Europe, and you realize that it's probably only a formality that Ham-head will clean up the division at 126, unless his dent able chin comes into play.

There are a lot of guys for Hamed to fight. But a fight with Manfredy, in the U.K. or the U.S. with the right kind of rig (P.R. wise) would be another fight that would be considered "superfight."

Although Genaro Hernandez has never been beat at 130, I have to give Manfredy the edge in tenacity, power, speed, and boxing ability. Hernandez has for the longest time gotten by on his 5'11, 130 lb. torso alone.

That may continue in his October 3, clash with 1996 Olympian "Pretty Boy" Floyd Mayweather on HBO from the Las Vegas Hilton. This match should serve as a world title elimination fight with the winner to meet El Diablo.

In the next week, we will examine a number of other weight divisions.

Pedro Fernandez

The writer has his own web site at E Mail: Catch "Ring Talk" my syndicated talk show on boxing that airs Saturday and Sunday on the TALK AMERICA Radio Network(s) at 11:06 PM ET. The show is also carried LIVE on the Internet at While the Saturday show is two hours and airs on TALK AMERICA 1, Ring Talk Sunday is an hour in duration and is heard on the TALK AMERICA 2 aka "The Deuce."

BOTH TALK 1 and TALK 2 have separate live Internet audio channels at

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