The CBZ Newswire


Florentino Fernandez: An appreciation

by on Jan.31, 2013, under Boxing News, Guest Columnists, Obituaries

By Ferdie Pacheco
It is hard for me to accept the sudden death from a stroke of Florentino Fernandez. Not him. Not in the flower of his life. Life calls some strange shots.
All of the Cubans that Fled Castro’s Cuba in the sixties and sought fame and fortune in the 5th St Gym, have succumbed to the grim reaper.
Florentino remained untouchable by the grim reaper of the ring. He remained hale and hearty. He had survived some of the grimmest boxing matches seen on this planet. One punch was all it took to knock out a quality opponent. Among the brutal bell to bell savagery I have picked a Floro fight as the most brutal of all time. Mind you, I worked in every Floro fight and every Ali fight so I have witnessed ring savagery at its worst.
It is a close call with the Ali/Frazier Fight III, the Thrilla in Manila. That fight reached the limits of brutality, where one more round would have resulted in a ring death. Yes it was a tough fight.
Yet, I have picked Flora versus Rocky Rivero, for they fought four times and each fight reached that point of ferocity where you prayed for the fight to be over before somebody died. They split the four fights and that’s the way it should be. Rocky ended up his life as a suicide jumping out of a hotel window in Argentina.
Flora went skipping along happy and serene, until death took him by surprise the other day. How fitting. He wanted a quick knock out and he got it.
I am sorry as hell he died. I would have liked to have embraced him for one more time and tell him how much he meant to me and an entire Cuban community.
“You were a champion inside the ring and out. You go to your grave knowing you set an example for all our Cuban community you were a wonder to behold inside the ring, and a cheerful happy companion outside the ring. Every time I saw you lifted my spirits and I was so happy to see how well you were doing. I loved you.
Go with God, Floro, he’s waiting for you with open arms.
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Former Chicago Contender, Johnny Lira Passes

by on Dec.11, 2012, under Boxing News, Obituaries

By Juan C. Ayllon

Photos courtesy of

The late Mr. Lira in action at right.

The late Mr. Lira in action at right.

CHICAGO – Popular lightweight contender Johnny Lira passed away on Sunday, December 9th at Illinois Masonic hospital, according to Friends and family were in attendance in his final hour.

Mr. Lira was one of three top Illinois amateur welterweights in the 70′s, along with Pete Podgorski (now a boxing referee whom outpointed in two of three fights) and Lewis Velez, according to He also boxed as a middleweight, winning the Chicago Golden Gloves Novice title at that weight, as well as garnering a CYO sectional belt before losing to one Warren Thunder. (continue reading…)

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International Boxing Hall of Fame Flies Flag at Half-Staff in Memory of Canastota’s Champ Carmen Basilio

by on Nov.07, 2012, under Boxing News, Obituaries

1990 Hall of Fame Inductee Carmen Basilio

1990 Hall of Fame Inductee Carmen Basilio

CANASTOTA, NY – NOVEMBER 7, 2012 – The International Boxing Hall of Fame announced its flags will fly at half-staff in memory of Canastota’s welterweight and middleweight boxing champion Carmen Basilio. He passed away this morning at Rochester General Hospital in Rochester, NY at the age of 85.

“Carmen put Canastota on the worldwide boxing map and gave the village’s residents a sense of pride that couldn’t be matched anywhere in the world,” said Hall of Fame Executive Director Edward Brophy. “During the 1950s and 1960s Carmen was everyone’s hero. They talked about him in the coffee shops, grocery stores, gas stations and barbershops all the time. And they still talk about him today. He was loved, respected and idolized. His career and memories will last forever in the Village of Canastota.”

Basilio, nicknamed “The Upstate Onion Farmer,” was born in Canastota, NY on April 2, 1927. He twice won the world welterweight title, first from Tony DeMarco in 1955 and then from Johnny Saxton in 1956 before defeating Sugar Ray Robinson for the world middleweight championship in 1957. With an aggressive, charging style and a powerful left hook, Basilio scored wins over Lew Jenkins, Ike Williams, Billy Graham, Gil Turner, Art Aragon, Gasper Ortega and Don Jordan among others during his career. He incredibly engaged in five consecutive fights of the year: 1955 (vs DeMarco), 1956 (vs. Saxton), 1957 (vs. Robinson), 1958 (vs. Robinson) and 1959 (vs. Fullmer). His pro record reads 56-16-7 (27 KOs). (continue reading…)

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Halloween Special: Suicide of Yankee Sullivan

by on Oct.29, 2012, under Boxing News, Obituaries

By Christopher James Shelton

Disegni: Madame Coppolecchia – Art Director: Francesca Mazzilli


An Irishman lay dead on the Vigilance committee floor;

A severed artery with dull knife produced such bloody gore;

The pugilist had not been charged with any legal crime;

Although San Franciscans felt the pug overstayed his time.

(continue reading…)

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‘Mi Vida Loca’ Johnny Tapia Found Dead at 45

by on May.28, 2012, under Boxing News, Obituaries

Archived interview and fight report revisited in light of sad news

By Juan C. Ayllon

The late Johnny Tapia (left) slugs away in his bout versus Sandros Marcos (photo by Josh Walls)

The late Johnny Tapia (left) slugs away in his bout versus Sandros Marcos (photo by Josh Walls)

CHICAGO — According to Yahoo!News, former five-time champion Johnny Tapia, 45, has died. His turbulent life and boxing career was pockmarked with bouts of depression, addiction to cocaine and alcohol, and trouble with the law.

Along the way, Mr. Tapia had become a man of faith. However, as with many addled with addition, his storied struggles have racked him for many years. On May 27th, his lifeless body was discovered in his Albuquerque home.  No official cause of death was reported.  (continue reading…)

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