The CBZ Newswire

Who’d Have Thunk It? Little-Known Boxers Best Future Pro Greats in Amateurs

by on Feb.10, 2016, under Boxing News

By John Scully


Chicago's Al Evans, at left versus Ray Mercer, knocked out a 15 year old Mike Tyson in the Amateurs. (photo courtesy of

Chicago’s Al Evans, at left versus Ray Mercer, knocked out a 15 year old Mike Tyson in the Amateurs. (photo courtesy of

Every boxer and trainer who has been in the game long enough can tell you about some guy that the overwhelming majority of boxing fans have never heard of before who has a story to tell. Every superstar boxer in the game knows of some guy from years gone by for whom they great respect. A guy he may have lost to during his formative years. A guy who impressed him with his skills, his talent, his power. Every boxing star wasn’t always the star. Along the way he lost fights to guys who were sharper, faster, stronger and, in some cases, just better.

Not everyone with superior skills and talent sees his way to the top of our game. Like the immensely talented but widely unknown to the masses Earl “The GOAT’ Manigault in basketball, boxing has plenty of guys who once upon a time had a memorable day in the sun that has been long been forgotten about by most.

In my own way I’d like to change that and bring some light to some of these guys who back in the day accomplished something that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

For example, I am not exactly sure who Dwight Flores of Roswell, New Mexico is but I wonder if he even knows that he defeated Vinny Pazienza in the 132 pound class at the 1981 National Golden Gloves tournament??

I am not familiar with a kid named Terry Lockette of Miami, either, but I do wonder if he is aware that as a young kid (maybe 13 years old) in the finals of that Ohio Fair in 1987 he won a decision over future 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist and WBA World Champion David Reid. He defeated Reid on championship night in the 112 pound Intermediate JO division.

I am very familiar with a guy by the name of Jose “Killer” DeJesus but you might not be. He was a life long amateur from Massachusetts who never turned pro because of a nagging back injury that prematurely ended his boxing career. Several years after I defeated him by 3-0 unanimous decision in the 1985 Golden Gloves he scored a second round stoppage, retired on the stool in the very same building and tournament, over future (and current) 154 pounder Travis Sims.

1984 Olympic gold medal winner Mark Breland of Brooklyn, NY racked up an amazing amateur record of one hundred and ten wins against just one single defeat that eventually made St. Louis’ Darryl Anthony, who scored a decision over the future two-time world welterweight champion in 1981, one of the most important footnotes in amateur boxing history.

Henry Matos of Springfield, Massachusetts was a pretty good New England amateur back in the early and mid-1980′s whose career highlight came at the 1983 New England Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions in Lowell when he won a finals night decision at 132 pounds over Mickey Ward one night after Mickey had defeated future two-time world champion Joey Gamache.

Regarding the Ward-Gamache fight the Lowell Sun reported it like this:

“At 132 Mickey Ward of Lowell and Joey Gamache of Vermont engaged in about as even a fight as you’re going to see. Neither boxer had anything resembling a clear edge in the bloody brawl but Ward’s aggressiveness in the third round probably won him the decision.”

I am not sure who Solomon Lopez of California is but I wonder if he realizes that the guy he beat at the 1978 National AAU tournament was future WBC/WBA welterweight champion Marlon Starling??

I never met Ernie Bennett, a former 201 pound amateur from just ninety minutes away in Rhode Island, and I am not familiar with his accomplishments as an amateur boxer but I would be willing to bet the highlight of his career came back in early 1982 when he scored a decision over future undisputed heavyweight champion Mike Tyson (Just a hunch).

Many knowledgeable boxing fans that are good with trivia know the name of Clinton Mitchell as the guy that defeated Bernard Hopkins in Bernard’s pro debut back in 1988. What most do not know is that many of us were familiar with Clinton way before that when he was one of the top amateur light heavies in the country. As a matter of fact, in 1986, he went to the finals of the U.S. Olympic Festival in Houston where he lost a decision to eventual Olympic Champion Andrew Maynard.

Chicago heavyweight Al Evans was decisioned in 1984 by Tyrell Biggs and stopped in 1983 by Henry Tillman. Those two facts make it even more surprising that, in 1982, he scored a stoppage (TKO) victory over…Mike Tyson.

You may or may not be very familiar with Maryland’s Leslie Johnson but I am because before he put together a 21-3 pro record he was a pretty solid 156 pound amateur who I first met in North Carolina in 1988 at the Eastern Olympic trials where he defeated Steve Manfredo (Peter Manfredo Jr’s Uncle). Les’s amateur career dated back to well before I met him, though, and one of his best victories, maybe the most notable, came at the 1980 Ohio State Fair where as an 11 year old 80 pounder he scored a decision over Chicago’s ten year old Montell Griffin

Rudy Cisneros was a 147 pounder boxing out of Marquette’s Northern Michigan University (before landing as a cast member on “The Contender: Season 2″) who scored a stoppage victory over the then-inexperienced future IBF welterweight champion Kermit “Killer” Cintron at the 2000 Eastern U.S. Olympic Trials tournament. Rudy also earned a decision victory the same year in a USA-Ireland dual meet over another future pro prospect in John Duddy.

1980′s New York City amateur Lionell Odum was a young phenom who didn’t reach the professional heights his talent should have allowed him to but as an amateur he impressively defeated the likes of future world champions Eddie Hopson, Junior Jones, Shane Mosley and Kevin Kelley.

I don’t know anything about German Andy Liebling other than that he scored a 1987 decision at 156 pounds over future superstar Roy Jones Jr. at the junior (ages 17-19) world championships.

Back in the mid 1990′s there was an amateur boxing show held in Manchester, Connecticut that saw one of the junior olympic bouts on the card produce a result that didn’t mean very much at the time but now, maybe ten full years later, Hartford’s Jose Sierra (a kid that never even advanced to the open class as an amateur) can look back with pride and tell his friends (if any of them would even believe him) about the night he stopped future WBC 175 pound world champion “Bad” Chad Dawson (Dawson, to his credit, came back at a later date and defeated Sierra in a return match).

Kwak Kwi-Keun of South Korea probably never turned professional but he can always brag to his friends about the time in 1987 that he scored a first round stoppage at 165 pounds over future heavyweight champion Michael Moorer. Kwi-Keun, while unknown to American amateur fans, was a top level amateur middleweight back when he beat Michael. Roberto “Chocolate” Perez, however, was an unknown amateur outside of my area when as the New England champion he defeated then # 1 ranked Michael (representing Pennsylvania) in a 156 pound fight at the 1986 National Golden Gloves tournament in Iowa.

Terry Christianson of Omaha, Nebraska was a highly decorated amateur boxer who reportedly had over 300 amateur fights and was an accomplished title holder at weights from 139 to 165 pounds over the course of his career. In 1980 he lost to future world champion Johnny Bumphus at the nationals but rebounded several years later to score a 1986 National Golden Gloves decision at 156 pounds over another future world champion, Gerald McClellan.

Brian Shaw out of Mississippi impressively defeated future world champions Glen Johnson and William Joppy on his way to a silver medal in the 165 pound class at the 1992 National Golden Gloves.

Hartford bantamweight Hector Rosario had just one fight as a professional, losing to my stablemate, Angel Gonzalez on the undercard of my 1989 fight with John Wilkinson at the Hartford Civic Center. As a longtime amateur, though, Hector was an accomplished New England kid who scored, among many other victories, a 1984 decision in the finals of the Western Massachusetts Golden Gloves tournament over future European Flyweight champion Luiggi Camputaro and a 1987 decision in the semifinals of the New England Golden Gloves tournament over future top ten junior welterweight “Sucra” Ray Olivera.

One of Rhode Island’s top amateurs, Eric “The Energizer” Fagan, won many titles in his long career and probably defeated over one hundred people along the way but none of his wins can compare to his being the first boxer EVER to defeat Hawaii’s star Brian Viloria at the 1997 National Junior Olympic tournament in Marquette, Michigan. Fagan, one of New England’s most decorated amateur boxers in recent times, also scored Junior Olympic victories over future light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson and future 122 pound contender Mike-Mike Oliver.

I am willing to bet that most of you have not heard of the late 1980′s amateur super heavyweight named Robert Salters (boxing out of the U.S. Army) but I can assure that any top amateur from that era knows him, as I do, from his impressive stoppage (referee stopped contest) of the heavily favored Riddick Bowe at the 1988 U.S. Championships out in Colorado Springs.

I wonder if Marcus Johnson of Gary, Indiana realizes that the guy he beat by decision early in the 1994 U.S. Championships in the super heavyweight division was future WBC heavyweight champion Hasim “The Rock” Rachman??

Mike Johnson from Columbus, Ohio won a decision in the 125 pound finals over Thomas “Hitman” Hearns at the 1975 Ohio State Fair.

Mike Brown of Sagle, Idaho won a decision in the 132 pound finals of the 1986 National Junior Olympics over future heavyweight Champion Chris Byrd

Felix Nance was a journeyman professional boxer with an average record compiled against the likes of Kevin Rooney, Davey Moore and Pedro Vilella. His claim to fame, though, came as an amateur boxer in the late 1970′s when he scored a one shot knockout over future two-time world welterweight champion Marlon Starling at the Holyoke Boys Club in the Western Massachusetts Golden Gloves tournament.

And finally we go back to our final unsung make from the past, late 1980′s, early 1990′s star

Tony Gonzalez out of Las Vegas who scored a decision in a USA-CANADA duel meet at 119 pounds over future superstar and Hall of Famer Arturo “Thunder” Gatti.


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