The Cyber Boxing Zone Journal
(December 17, 1997)
by GorDoomWell the sweet science has wrapped up another year, so here is our December Issue, chock full of boxing commentary for our loyal readers enjoyment.
In this issue you will find Joe Bruno spreading his usual benevolence ... & articles by our usual stalwarts.
Randy Gordon examines the senior circuit of the sweet science.
Thomas Gerbasi writes a moving piece on the tragedy that Gerald McClellan life has become ... Enrique Encinosa writes about the colorful Cuban journeyman, Frankie Otero ... The unstoppable Cusack brothers, Derek & Adrian, let us know what’s been happening in Europe ... & another fine Irisher, A new writer, an 18 year old college student known as Tomas, weighs in with his take on Muhammad Ali ... Yours truly contributes a history of the Jr. Welterweight division ... & Barry Lindenman writes about the connections between Hollywood & boxing.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the CBZ’s newest & youngest contributor, 12 year old, BoxngRules. The way we met was in a boxing chat room. BR was moderating a trivia panel & I could tell the kid knew his stuff. I invited him to start writing for us & he took me up on it.
In an e-mail I asked him what got him into boxing & he sent me this:
Subj: Why I like boxing
I am a very big boxing fan and this is the reason: In about August,1996, I heard my brother watched a couple Rocky movies. I watched them myself, and after hearing about Rocky Marciano, I started studying the history of heavyweight champions. I watched a few bouts, mostly Mike Tyson or Roy Jones.
By December, 1996, I taped all the major fights. In February, 1997, I purchased my first Ring magazine, I got interested in the whole sport by then.
In March or April, I started buying Boxing Cards, now I have a whole collection. By May, I taped any and every fight on television. In June, when I got a computer, I opened a web site about boxing, which by the way is called Boxing 101, and the address is: http://www.angelfire.com/or/ultimateboxingguide/index.html
Now, I write big reports and fight reviews in my spare time, and for some reason, everyone I tell I'm 12 years old is very surprised. :) BoxngRules
Gotta tell ya folks ... It ain’t to often the Ol’ Spit Bucket gets charmed ... but this was one of ‘em.
Since early December, BR has been writing reports on all the major fights for us & doing a helluva good job! He’s got a preview piece on the Hamed - Kelley fight in our current news section that I invite everybody to check out ...
Speaking of the big fight card this weekend, be sure to check back to the CBZ on Saturday because there will be a few reports on the fights for everyone’s perusal - including one by the CBZ’s Boy Wonder ...
I have to say that 12 year old BoxngRules & 18 year old Tomas, give me some hope for the future ... Maybe boxing is still capable of attracting young fans ... I hope so, because the sport is going to need a lot of them if it is to survive into the 21st Century.
Once again I would like to remind everybody that we are looking for some more foreign correspondents. Anyone interested should e-mail me at, GorDoom@aol.com
Joe Bruno on BoxingSome random thoughts:
Should Evander Holyfield retire?
Last month on the CBZ my old pal and former colleague Randy Gordon wrote an open letter to Evander Holyfield imploring the 35-year old heavyweight champ to retire now, rather than risk any further injury in the ring. Now Randy is the type of guy who gets all misty-eyed and his bottom lips quivers when a cockroach checks into a roach motel and doesn’t check out, even if the roach motel, like in the commercial, has HBO in every room. And as for myself, nothing would please me more than to see Holyfield retire now, thus rendering Dung King with at least one less huge payday to stuff deep into his filthy pockets.
That aside, who are we to tell a man when he must stop earning a damn good buck for a living? Holyfield made 30 million dollars in his last Tyson fight, ($53 million total including endorsements for 1997), and he stands to make tens of millions more in a unification heavyweight title bout against Lennox Lewis. Holyfield knows the physical risks endemic to boxing, and if he is willing to take these risks, I tip my hat to him and say, “Right on, brother.” I’ll leave the breast beating and head shaking to those less callous than I.
Holyfield’s style of boxing is conducive to taking numerous blows to the head, but so was Joe Frazier’s style. Smokin’ Joe isn’t walking around on his heels and jumping to his feet every time a bell rings, so why should we fear the worst will happen to Holyfield? (Muhammad Ali’s present sad condition was most likely due to the beatings he took late in his career in the Larry Holmes and Trevor Berbick bouts, laid on him by the basest of all flesh peddlers Dung King.) If Holyfield were to lose in a unification fight against Lewis and take a beating in the process, then my feelings might change about Holyfield continuing his boxing career. But still, I would not feel it was my job to tell Holyfield to hang up his gloves.
A man’s got a right to do want he wants to do, and my weak-kneed liberal sisters in the press would serve us better if they spent more time deciding what we should do about Saddam Hussein’s threats to world peace, rather than infuriate themselves with minor issues like Holyfield’s health, the possible extinction of the greatly beloved spotted owl, or the earth’s imminent downfall due to he imagined threat of global warming.
Editor’s note: Isn’t it interesting that the same private interest groups who are fighting to ban cigarette and cigar smoking, have no such ambitions when it comes to tooting on a little weed?
Holyfield is second to Michael Jordan on the Forbes Top 40 1997 athlete moneymakers: Forbes 1997 list looks like this (figures in millions):
Name Sport Salary Endorsements Total 1. Michael Jordan Basketball 31.3 47.0 78.3 2. Evander Holyfield Boxing 53.0 1.3 54.3 3. Oscar De La Hoya Boxing 37.0 1.0 38.0 4. Mic. Schumacher Auto racing 25.0 10.0 35.0 5. Mike Tyson Boxing 27.0 0.0 27.0
As you can see, three of the top five money makers are in the fight game, but the figure that jumps off the page at you is the big fat zero under Bitin’ Mike Tyson’s endorsement figure.
In 1987, before Mike was waylaid by the dynamic duo of Ruth “Batwoman” Roper and Robin Givens, Tyson made millions in endorsement all over the world, because of the astute packaging of his image by his managers, Bill Cayton and the late Jimmy Jacobs. Tyson endorsed items like Pepsi and boxing video games, but now Madison Avenue wouldn’t touch the convicted rapist with a pole the size of Dung King’s rap sheet.
Well, how about making Mike Tyson the poster boy for the American Beef Council? Or maybe the cannibals in Africa could display Mikey Boy’s picture with the slogan, “If you can’t beat ‘em, eat ‘em.” Or maybe vegetarians............
All right, you get the picture. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.
HBO airs movie “The Life and Crimes of Don King”
Talk about wimpy. The HBO movie based on the life of Dung King that aired nationally in November pulled more punches than George Foreman did against Tommy Morrison. The hard-hitting book written by Jack Newfield bares no resemblance to the vapid piece of crap the movie turned out to be. Ving Rhames played Dung King, and although he visually looked like King, his character was more like King after a frontal lobotomy, plus four years of Charm School.
George Foreman himself called it a violent episode of Amos and Andy, pointing to stereotypical eyeball rolling and mispronunciations, and in that, Foreman said “It was five stars." Foreman also said, "It was entertaining, but it was strictly fiction."
But the best movie review of all was by trainer Teddy Atlas, who played Richie Giachetti in the movie. Atlas’ beef was, “The movie made King too human.” Just like the liberal media led By “Pistol” Pete Hamill tried to do for Mike Tyson.
The reason for HBO’s copout is blatantly obvious. King has been their hated enemy, since he took his ear-biting puppet Tyson to rival network Showtime. But since “The Dungster” is now the matchmaker for Evander Holyfield, the scum at HBO, like Seth “The Shrimp” Abraham, covered their bets by being not-too-nasty with the image of the man they may have to do business with in the very near future.
The sad thing is, knowing Abraham and how he and his cohort’s minds work, I expected no less. But what about Jack Newfield? This bleeding heart liberal, who wrote the biography of Bobby Kennedy and was publicly called a “scumbag “ by Dung King, permitted his fine literary work to be destroyed, all in the interest of squeezing out a few more doubloons for his own fat retirement fund. It seems that everything’s got a price, and that loud noise you just heard was Newfield’s journalistic integrity being flushed right down the crapper.
Another phony liberal icon is exposed as simply a crass con artist hustling to make a buck. Sho’ me the money indeed.
Editor’s note #2: You know you’re getting old and senile when left-leaning, mud-slinging Geraldo Rivera, whom I grew up cringing at on New York City’s 20/20 Eyewitness News, is staring to sound like the calming voice of reason. AARP, come and get me quick.
Mike Katz of the New York Daily News is obsessed with “Chicken.”
All right Wolfman, it’s time to stop getting your neck all bent out of joint, and to quit calling Oscar de la Hoya “chicken” every time you mention his name. (Chicken de la Hoya, Chicken Ala King, etc etc...) It time to stop beating a dead horse (blatant cliche), and get back to what you are paid to do----report on the sport of boxing.
What exactly did Oscar do to you to incur such wrath anyway? Did he call you fat, unkempt and grotesque, which you certainly are? Or do you have the same intense hatred for good-looking Mexican American fighters that you always had in the past for Italian-American pugs like Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini? I always thought you treated Guineas like me the way you did because you were smacked around by a few tough wops when you were an obese, ugly twerp growing up in the mean streets of New York City.
Let me inform fight fans who weren’t around in 1980, that this is the same Mike Katz who was on the verge of quitting his job at the New York Times to go work for future-felon and big-bucks boxing promoter Harold Smith. Smith was arrested and served several years in federal prison for embezzling twenty-something million dollars from the Wells Fargo Bank, and when Smith went into the can, the Wolfman put his tail between his legs and crawled back to his job at the New York Times. That is, until long-time pal Vic Ziegel hired his butt-boy Katz into the sports department of the New York Daily News. Odd Couple Katz and Ziegel have for many years been the male version of the Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche liaison, without the sexual connotations and certainly without the attractive appearances. Ziegel, at least can write a bit (all right, maybe a lot). Katz is a shameless, cantankerous hack, with no sense of balance and no credibility to those who also cover boxing in the Big Apple.
And Wolfman, what the deal with the ubiquitous neck brace anyway? Is it by order of your attorney? Or do you just think it makes you look defenseless and somewhat enchanting to the opposite sex? Or maybe to the opposite species? Which in your case, is hard to determine anyway.
Are Calvin Claxton and Larry Layton (along with Joe Curly) two of The Three Stooges?
This is the question people in boxing are starting to ask, and Lord Larry Hazzard, the chairman of the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board, is not being quick to provide the answers. Layton and Claxton are the two blind-mice, or possibly crooked, boxing judges who scored the George Foreman-Shannon Briggs Linear Heavyweight Title fight decidedly in favor of Briggs, who on my scorecard won, at most, three rounds. Claxton scored it 116-112 in favor of Briggs, and Layton scored it 117-113 for Briggs. Steve Weisberg scored it 114-114--a draw.
But according to Wally Matthews of the New York Post, neither Claxton, nor Layton have ever judged a professional TITLE fight before, and, in fact, no one can remember a single PROFESSIONAL fight previously judged by Layton. Hazzard told Mathews, “Layton has done fights before.” But then was not able to provide a single instance.
As for Claxton, he did do one semi-major fight - the one between Ray Mercer and Tim Witherspoon on the undercard of Golota-Bowe II last December - and cast his vote for Mercer in a close fight that most of the spectators in the Convention Center thought Witherspoon had won. Except for that fight, no one can recall Claxton ever previously being a judge in a professional bout either.
The common denominator in the two fights judged by Claxton and the one judged by Layton, was that both fights contained a heavyweight managed by Marc Roberts (Briggs and Mercer), and despite evidence to the contrary, both of Robert’s fighters won overwhelmingly on Layton and Claxton’s scoring cards.
The word collusion immediately comes to mind.
According to a reports in the Associated Press, Irving Azoff and Jeff Wald, Foreman's promoters, have urged Governor Christine Todd Whitman and Attorney General Peter Verniero along with the Casino Control Commission and State Athletic Control Board to investigate the judges of the fight. "We polled over 100 media people, boxers, trainers and managers who watched the fight, and not one of them scored the fight for Briggs," Wald said. "This wasn't even a controversial fight. A controversial fight is when you argue and disagree. Outside of two judges ... there is no disagreement."
I’ve already pointed out in a previous column why Hazzard has gotten away with pulling crap like this before. Lord Larry is allowed to slide because the overwhelmingly liberal press is afraid to go after a black militant like Hazzard for fear of being branded politically incorrect, or even worse----a racist.
Matthews, like myself, will never be accused of being liberal, lackadaisical, or hospitable. We’re also both Italian-Americans and fairly good-looking (Sadly, Matthews more so than myself), and we both are renowned for letting the chips fall where they may (I hesitate to use my standard “Call a spade a spade” retort, less Al Sharpton and his hired minions picket my humble abode).
My prediction here is that nothing will happens to Lord Larry, and soon he will be on the same political ticket, along with Sharpton and Louis ( Rush Limbaugh calls him “Calypso Louie”) Farrakhan someplace in our fine country, and still garner 99 percent of the African-America vote. To those gullible souls who doubt this could ever occur, I give you the ex-convict mayor of Washington DC, Marion “The Bitch Set Me Up” Barry.
Editor’s note #3: The Christmas-gift lists I’ve been dropped from continues to mount. To all the rest of you: Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!! -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Never Can Say Goodbye
by Randy GordonHave you ever noticed that athletes--fighters in particular--have the toughest, most difficult time in knowing when to hang up their gloves? I will never stop being amazed at the parade of champions who, well, continue to continue. Unfortunately, George Foreman aside, their comeback stories never have storybook endings.
When I was Editor of The Ring (1979-1984), I witnessed the retirement and comeback and retirement and comeback of Muhammad Ali...and Sugar Ray Leonard...and Jerry Quarry.
When I was a fulltime sportscaster following my days at The Ring, it was I who talked George Foreman into ending his retirement of 10 years. What started as a joke between George and myself during a fight card in Houston, Texas, ended up becoming the greatest comeback of all time for Foreman and a headache for me and other commissioners, as well as an embarrassment (another one???) to our sport.
When I moved on to become Chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission, I dealt with one comeback request after another. If it wasn't "Comeback Theatre" all the commissions began dealing with thanks to Big George and the false hope he gave to so many over-the-hill, never-were and Foreman-wannabees, it was the "Theatre of the Ridiculous and Absurd," men in their fifties, sixties and yes, even seventies, applying for professional boxing licenses and daring us commissioners to turn them down. Guess what? In my seven years as commissioner, I was asked perhaps one dozen times to license men over 50. The oldest was, if I recall, 71 years young. Each threatened to sue me if I failed to give them a license. To each of them I had two words--"SUE ME!" Only one actually followed through on his threat. We were in court perhaps five minutes before the judge handed the 60'ish welterweight hopeful a verbal TKO defeat and sent him packing.
Did you see Tim Witherspoon lose big to Larry Donald on December 13 on HBO? "Terrible" Tim, (40 years old on December 27) certainly lived up to his nickname. Naturally, Tim had an excuse. He claimed a back injury he took into the fight cost him his mobility and firepower. I don't doubt he had a back injury. What I don't like is the fact he hid the injury. If Witherspoon didn't think the injury would affect him, he shouldn't have used it as an excuse when he lost. And if he did think it would affect him, why take the fight at all? I know. $$$$$$$$$$. In that case, perhaps he should be fined heavily and suspended for concealing the injury and doing nothing more than going through the motions and doing a poor imitation of the once-fine heavyweight he used to be.
The same can be said for Sugar Ray Leonard. Ah, yes, Leonard. I love this guy, I really do. I was commissioner when he was outboxed over 12 rounds in New York by Terry Norris. After the fight, I visited Ray in his dressing room as hoard of media waited outside his dressing room door. For perhaps five minutes I stood and talked with a red-eyed, puffy-cheeked Leonard, whose lower lip trickled blood. He explained that taking the fight against Norris was something he had to do, something he had to prove to himself.
"What did you prove, Ray?" I asked him.
"I proved to myself I don't have it anymore," was his answer. "I know now that's it's over, that's it's truly over." He was then two months shy of his 35th birthday. When I left his dressing room, I was sure--absolutely sure--that Leonard would never fight again. That was in 1991. That's why I was so shocked, when, in late 1996, Leonard announced he was coming back to face Hector Camacho. Leonard was 40.
Hiding a severe leg injury, Leonard was TKO'd by the light-hitting Camacho in the fifth round. Leonard surprised everybody when he disclosed the injury at the post-fight press conference. The injury cost him his second career loss and first by stoppage. It also shamed him in the boxing community, where he had been so revered. He is lucky nobody filed a class-action suit against both he and the promoter. It is a suit he probably would have lost, hiding the injury the way he did. I--any many others--paid $400 for a ringside seat and expected to see the best Sugar Ray Leonard that was available to us in 1997. What we got was damaged goods. Two subsequent comebacks--following his June 1997 induction into the Boxing Hall of Fame--fell through. What is going on? Is it that Leonard can't stand the thought that he lost to Camacho, that he was stopped? Deal with it! Live with it! Enough is enough. With Leonard it's not money. It's ego. Unfortunately, the want and need for money and the battle with one's ego leads to severe injuries in boxing.
That's where the commissions must take over.
I can look in the mirror and know I did my part when I was commissioner. I found little trouble in saying "NO!" to these guys when they asked for a license to resume boxing. I had less trouble saying "SUE ME!" when they threatened to sue because of something called "Age Discrimination." In boxing, "Age Discrimination" will not hold up in court. Why? There is no judge in this land (well, there may be one, but the trick is, go find him! Or her!) who will rule against a commissioner in this cause. Why? Because if that advanced-age fighter should be seriously injured in a bout, the judge's career will also be seriously injured, if not finished.
Comebacks will always be a part of boxing, like them or not. However, when George Foreman came back in what was "The Mother of All Comebacks," he created havoc in a sport which invented the word. An incredible amount of ex-fighters around the world saw him do it and make lots of money each and every time he fought. What I was told so many times was "If Foreman can do it, I can do it." I found those words to be incredulous. Here is some broken down heavyweight...or middleweight...or lightweight...who was only a club-fighter at best 20 years ago, thinking they can somehow return to make millions. In every case, the poor ex-pug had not a penny to his name and figured a comeback would get him at least a few more dollars. As Randall "Tex" Cobb used to say, "Better than getting a real job, right!"
So, inspired by George Foreman, who never did anything to discourage an over-the-hill fighter from returning to the ring, they returned. Or attempted to return. From A-Z, from (Vito) Antuofermo and (Alexis) Arguello to (Carlos) Zarate they returned. Commissions did little to stop them, cowering in fear of being sued. Sanctioning bodies were worse. They even encouraged comebacks by rating the washed-up pug (see the WBC's recent welterweight ratings, where they had 34-year-old Edwin Rosario listed up until the time of his death. The ex-lightweight champ was no contender, much less the world's eighth-best welterweight).
Boxing is a young man's sport. It always was and always will be. Any fighter who tells you that he's smarter than he was years ago is telling you the truth, no matter what his age. Any fighter--over 34--who tells you he is better than he was 10 years ago, is lying. To himself, not just to you. Yes, you do get smarter. But in boxing, athletes are not like wine--they don't get better with age. They decay. The legs go. The timing goes. The reflexes go. It all goes. For Sugar Ray Leonard. For Carlos Palomino. For Tim Witherspoon. For Larry Holmes. For all of them.
It's up to the commissions and up to the fans to put an end to the travesty of comebacks. Write to the networks and tell them you won't watch any more of the senior boxing circuit. If enough of us write, the networks will put an end to something that just shouldn't be allowed. If enough of us write, we probably will save some fighter's life, as punches really take their toll on the over-35 gang. Larry Holmes and the rest seem fine today. But what about tomorrow? What about 10 years from now? The damage we'll see then is being done now. It's time to end this ridiculous parade of the Senior Boxing Circuit. It's time to do our part.
I know I'm doing my part!
Requiem For a Middleweight
by Thomas GerbasiIt's been said that time waits for no man. This is especially true in boxing. As the DeLa Hoyas, Holyfields, and Joneses continue their assaults on their various weight divisions, there sits a forgotten champion in a room in Freeport, Illinois. There are no unification bouts, no million dollar paydays, and no visions of boxing immortality in his future. In fact, the brutal nature of his chosen vocation has rendered him blind.
This is no broken down old pug, no lifetime "opponent" used as cannon fodder for boxing's up and comers. This fighter was at the top of his game, one of boxing's pound for pound best. Gerald McClellan was on a collision course with Roy Jones Jr. to engage in a true 90's Superfight. But on February 25, 1995, everything changed...forever.
It's funny how some things leave a mark on your memory forever. On that Saturday night, I wasn't even planning on watching Showtime's tape delayed broadcast of McClellan's bout with England's Nigel Benn. McClellan had cut a path of destruction throughout the middleweight ranks, and I figured Benn to be another victim. But while watching ESPN's 11pm showing of SportsCenter, mention was made of the fight. The first word I heard was "tragedy". While waiting to see highlights, the anchors announced that the fight was still being shown on tape delay, so there would be none.
I was instantly on the phone to my father to see if he was still awake. He was, and he was watching the fight. The second round had just concluded. In the first, Benn had been sent through the ropes by McClellan. "Don't bother coming. This one will be over soon." my father said. But unfortunately, I knew better. I made it to the house one round later, and I watched the drama unfold.
Based on the eventual result, it was fitting that the fight was held in a darkened English arena. It was an eerie atmosphere, made more so by the soccer style chants of Benn's supporters. The fight itself was brutal, with both men taking loads of punishment. Benn hit the canvas again in the eighth, but he rose, taking the fight to the Champion. By the tenth round, McClellan was blinking constantly, and you just had a gut feeling that something was very wrong. Gerald took a knee twice, the second time for a 10 count.
The fight was over, and two things continue to bother me: the helplessness I felt at watching McClellan blinking in obvious distress, and Ferdie Pacheco's idiotic comments in which he questioned Gerald's heart. And while the mainstream sports press relegated McClellan to a couple of paragraphs in the back of the sports section, I tried my best to keep abreast of the situation. We all know the rest. McClellan slipped into a coma, and while he came out of it, his life has been destroyed forever. He is blind, confined to a wheelchair, and he will be under 24 hour a day care from his three sisters for the rest of his life.
This is a tragedy.
To this day, this whole situation makes me sick. And I can't even say that it could have been avoided. McClellan was no club fighter, he hadn't taken any beatings in the ring previous to this, and he wasn't at the tail end of a long career. He was approaching his prime, and within 40 minutes in a London ring it was over. It was quick, brutal, and final.
And of course this gives the AMA more fuel in their quest to ban boxing. And what can a boxing fan say? This fight was a war, a toe to toe battle which left one man disabled for life. I can't say a thing. Boxing is a brutal sport, and one which has a goal of knocking your opponent senseless. But that does not stop me from following the sport as fervently as ever. And if you're reading this, I'm sure you agree with me. But we can never forget Gerald McClellan.
Contributions to the Gerald McClellan Trust fund can be sent to:
Gerald McClellan Trust Fund
PO Box 150
c/o First Bank of Freeport
Freeport, Illinois 61032
STOP THE PAY-PER-VIEW RIPOFFS
by Alan AronHow stupid and gullible do the promoters and Pay-Per-View operators think we true boxing fans are ? Don't they realize that they are killing the sport and shooting themselves in the foot as well ?
The Holyfield-Moorer fight is a great example. We fans were treated to some dreadfully boring undercard bouts. I arrived late at my friends house and missed several of them. I understand that most of them went the full 12 rounds to a decision. The main event ( which is what everybody was paying for ) did not start until 1 AM here on the East Coast. How many people who bought the fight ended up viewing the fight "through their eyelids" because the Sandman got to them before Evander got into the ring ? Of course no apology from DK or any word of a rebate from Charles Dolan & Co (with his far-flung cable empire). Sorry suckers, we got your money.
Not only did this late start put people to sleep, it ended to late to make the Sunday papers. The first time it could make the papers was Monday. By this time it was stale news and had to compete for sports section space with the NFL Sunday games, the NBA and the NHL. Here on Long Island the bout also had to complete for space with many of the high school football games that were postponed to Sunday because of severe inclement weather that Saturday. Truly a lost opportunity to get some good publicity about two of the nicer people in our beloved sport.
I barely got being upset at the late start when something came to my attention that really ticked me off. According to Michael Katz's column in the N Y Daily News of November 18, 1997 a PPV "boxing event" has been scheduled. The promoters expect us to shell out $24.95 to see an overweight (208 pounds) and over the hill James Toney fight (?) an over the mountain Larry Holmes. They are going to try to sell this travesty as the first middleweight to fight a heavyweight in 40 or more years. To add insult to injury, or is it injury to insult in this instance, the promoters are trying to add Roberto Duran to this card.
Not only is a boycott of this fight in order, but a letter writing campaign to your local cable company is in order. Better yet, when you get your January 1998 cable bill there will be an insert advertising this February event. Take the insert and write something on it such as " you should pay me to watch this garbage". Only if the parties involved lose their shirts because the "steadies" don't buy this fight, maybe they will come to their senses. I would love to see a PPV with three good fights (like when you went to movie houses for the closed circuit Ali fights) then put up with the four or five garbage fights.
I cannot see how this card as constituted cannot help to bring more ridicule on the sport. Instead of spotlighting the nice guys of the sport, such Evander Holyfield, Michael Moorer, Oscar De La Hoya, etc., the spotlight lands on Mike Tyson, Blood Green and that ilk.
While I thought that George Foreman beat Shannon Briggs, I wonder if the judges were trying to send a message that they want to "Stop the Insanity" by taking some of the panache out of a Granpappy vs. Easton Assassin / Two Geezer from Caesars spectacle sometime in the future.
We boxing fans have to take to heart the title of the old sixties song by The Who-----"Won't be fooled again" or as consumer advocate David Horowitz' famous line "Be informed and don't let anyone rip you off".
Before bringing the 10-count to this article I would like to publicly pose this question to frequent CBZ newsletter contributor Randy Gordon:
Randy, in the last newsletter you made an impassioned plea to Evander to retire. One quote was "You overcame a cut and the brutal power of Moorer to rise high above boxing......." Another quote was "Sure, a match between you and Lewis is certainly one that will perhaps transcend boxing........"
The open letter and the above quotes from it show that you have a deep love of the sport. How can you reconcile your love of boxing and furtherance of the sport with the fact, if true, that Foxwoods has been mentioned as a possible site for this rip-off, since I believe that you are the matchmaker there?
I would like to wish the readers Happy New Year, Happy Kwanzaa, and Happy Hanukah. But most of all he exclaimed as he flew out of sight "Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Fight"
FRANKIE OTERO THE LAST OF THE GREAT CUBAN FIGTHERS
by Enrique EncinosaIn boxing, which is a business based on bullshit excuses, Frankie Otero has carved a reputation as an honest man. Frankie always told the truth, which is one of the endearing qualities that made him a local hero in Miami during the late sixties and early seventies.
There was an interview after the first bout against Ken Buchanan, which Frankie lost on points, when a reporter thrust a microphone in front of the Cuban lightweight.
"Do you think you were robbed?" the reporter asked.
"No, He beat me fair and square. He’s a terrific fighter."
"How about the knockdown?" the reporter insisted, "It looked like a slip to me..."
"Oh, no," Frankie interjected, "it was a clean shot. He hurt me. It took some effort to get up."
The Otero honesty, combined with a mop of curly dark hair, a pleasant smile and an elegant, flashy style, made the Cuban exile a popular drawing card in Miami Beach arenas.
The record books will tell you Otero had sixty pro fights. His 49-5-2 record includes 31 knockout victories and 4 defeats by the quick route. He was ranked number one in the world as a junior lightweight, fought on network television, and for a time was North American junior lightweight champion8 Otero scored wins over Love Allotey, Kenny Weldon, Bill Whittenberg. Felix Figueroa and Jimmy Trosclair. He lost to Ken Buchanan, Alfredo Escalera, Vilomar Fernandez, and Jose Petersen.
In his sixth pro fight he faced Willie Sands in Key West. There was no Florida boxing commission at the time and the local appointed officials were inept. In the dressing room, a cornerman started wrapping Frankie’s hands with a roll of electrical tape.
"What are you doing?" Frankie asked.
"No inspector here to supervise this," the cornerman answered, "so with this, you will hit like you have bricks in your hands."
"Wow," Frankie answered with his usual wit, "You better run to Sand's dressing room. I wonder what they are taping him with..."
Otero was one of Chris Dundee's most popular fighters, packing small arenas in South Florida. When he broke into the ratings, back in the days when the world had less than a dozen champions, Chris Dundee rushed into the gym to tell his protege the good news.
"So," Frankie answered, "Does that mean I have to fight really tough guys from now on?"
Hank Kaplan, the world's top boxing historian, saw almost every one of Otero's fights, from prelims to the top crust.
"Frankie was a tiger," Hank recalls, "when they knocked him down he got up and fought back hard. He had a lot of talent, boxed well, was quick, avoided punches, could fight inside and he had heart. Frankie fought some real tough guys, like Buchanan, Escalera, Jose Luis Lopez, Kenny Weldon and Victor Ortiz. The fans loved Frankie."
In his first year fighting main events, Otero twice beat a tough New Orleans lightweight named Jimmy Trosclair.
"The first time I saw Trosclair, I was impressed," Otero remembers, "The guy had a rosary tattooed around his neck. He looked tough. I remember thinking -what the hell are you doing in this ring, Frankie? You are a middle class college kid from a good family and you are going to fight this guy with a rosary tattooed on his neck? You should be playing golf. I beat Trosclair twice, outboxing him both times."
"Bill Whittenberg was another tough guy. He knocked me down but I got up and won the fight. Sometimes I fought better after I was tagged. It woke me up."
"Buchanan was very strong. I was a junior lightweight and he was a lightweight with lots of upper body strength. The first fight was close. I made him miss a lot and tagged him some nice shots, but he won it on the second half. In the rematch he stopped me in six. I just didn't have it that night."
Dr. Ferdie Pacheco who was on Frankie's corner from beginning to end, remembers an incident from the first Buchanan fight.
"Going into the last round," the fight doctor stated, "I emptied the ice bag inside Frankie's cup, to cool him down. He went rigid, his eyes opened in surprise and he said- Now, Doc, was that absolutely necessary?"
"I had a great team," Frankie remembers, "Richie Riesgo was my trainer, and Pacheco and Luis Sarria worked my corners. Chris Dundee was my promoter. I trained at the Fifth Street Gym and I sparred with champions like Luis Rodriguez."
One afternoon a young fighter from Panama named Roberto Duran showed up at the Fifth Street Gym. Chris Dundee attempted to match Duran and Otero in a main event.
"Chris and I were watching Duran spar with Vinnie Curto who was a top middleweight with an iron chin. Chris was telling me -I'll make this match. You can take this Duran guy- Just as Chris finishes saying this, Duran drops Curto. Now understand this, no one dropped Curto, not even top ten middleweights. He had a chin like reinforced concrete. And Duran, who was a lean, little lightweight put him down with one shot, with sparring gloves. I looked at Chris and he shrugged.-You fight him, Chris.-I said. Roberto and I became friends, but we never fought."
After retiring from boxing, Otero became a real estate broker in Hialeah. He owns a three bedroom townhouse and investment properties. Nancy, his lovely wife, works at Miami International Airport.
The boxing bug remained in Frankie's blood. Besides his real estate, Otero became a matchmaker, trainer and booking agent. He even returned to the ring, winning a couple of prelims before realizing that age had dimmed his reflexes.
Otero's boxing trips as a matchmaker and cornerman have provided trips abroad. Frankie has been in Brazil, the Bahamas and Europe. He has even bumped into fans who remember his glory days.
"I was in London, at the Thomas A'Beckett pub and gym and the promoter tells me -Hey, we have a celebrity here today, a movie star-... and suddenly this guy enters the room, looks at me and says -Hey, it's Frankie Otero, how are you doing?... I look and I don't know who the hell he is, but he's happy to see me... -Frankie-he says -it's me, Phil, from the Fifth Street Gym. Don't you remember me?.. I look at him and I remember this young amateur that was one of my biggest fans, used to follow me around the gym...I say hello to Phil, and I'm wondering what he's doing in London, and the promoter turns to me and says -I didn't know you are a friend of Mickey Rourke.... I just stood there, nodding my head. So Phil became a movie star. Go figure."
Otero's only regret is not having fought for a world title, although he was ranked number one in his division for a year.
"Negotiations fell through," he says, shaking his head, "Back then there was only one champion. Today with all the alphabet soup groups, I would have been a champion. Still, there's something to be said. I did very well at a time when there were some good fighters punching around."
SHOOTING FROM THE HIP: A MONTHLY TRIP AROUND THE FIGHT GAME
by Derek CusackNORMAL BUSINESS RESUMED
Now that the smoke has cleared from Roy Jones Jr.'s devastating correction of his sole professional 'defeat', Roy has given us ample time to reflect on his career.
Having been blatantly robbed of a deserved gold medal - well, the Korean economy can do with all the valuables they can hold onto - at the 1988 Olympics, Jones went on to win world titles at middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight without faltering once. He is beautiful to watch when on form: I, for one, will never forget the night I literally lost my breath while watching Jones swarm all over Thornton with like a hummingbird on amphetamines. So why are the press so reluctant to heap adulation upon him? Why are his fights watched by rows of empty seats? Why are most casual sports fans worldwide unfamiliar with the name Roy Jones Jr?
Jones, in my opinion, possesses more natural ability than any of his contemporaries in boxing today. Pound - for - pound, and with both men in peak condition, Holyfield, Hamed and De La Hoya would all fall to Jones. Boxing is crying out for volunteers to hold it's head aloft into the 21st century following the recent low blows it has absorbed from Tyson, Akinwande, Golota and other lower - profile subversives like Chris Eubank, Bruce Seldon, etc...
De La Hoya fits the bill and has given a lot to boxing. Hamed has already brought a whole new audience to the sport in Britain and is poised to do likewise in the US. His difficulty in finding a balance between 'the show' and real life however (his recent ridiculous airport fracas with Chris Eubank being a public display of this private conflict) can repel some observers. Jones is the perfect candidate to hoist boxing onwards and upwards into 2000, but he doesn't seem in the slightest bit interested. Here lies the problem with Mr. Jones.
He is not interested. The only occasion (since he fought James Toney three full years ago) when his feathers were ruffled was when he entered the ring in August to prove Montell Griffin could not really live with him. He didn't like having a "1" after the big number on his record, so he set out to increase the larger number at the expense of the man who took away his "0." When Roy climbed between the ropes in Connecticut to wreak vengeance upon Griffin, he gave us a fleeting, brutal glimpse of what he is capable of doing when the mood takes him.
"Normal Business Resumed" read the headlines. Well, I'm afraid it's true. Roy is back to his old self. The same old self that kept us guessing as to whether he could beat Nigel Benn when both were recognized as the super middleweight division's top guns. The same old self that really didn't want to face Benn's conqueror Steve Collins but instead of saying so blamed the fact that he wasn't getting his ridiculous purse demand of $5m. for the fight. The same old self that most recently - and most disturbingly - relinquished his WBC light heavyweight belt in order to avoid facing Michael Nunn. Again the dust was blown off an old excuse from the Roy archives: This time he was upset that HBO were apparently planning not to screen the fight. Yup, normal business is resumed.
This is a nasty old habit for Jones. Bernard Fernandez of the "Philadelphia Inquirer" stated on tape last year that he knew for a fact Roy had "bypassed fights with Charles Brewer and Virgil Hill." Back then Jones was singing the usual tune: "Pay me and I'll fight somebody." At the time he was the highest - paid non - heavyweight in boxing.
Jones' attitude is particularly frustrating given that we know how well he can perform - and he probably would have conquered Collins, Benn, Nunn, Hill, Brewer and the rest. His fights against Pazienza, Malinga, Toney and Griffin (II) all showed us a hungry fighter with super - human ability displaying a masterclass of boxing at it's sublime best. As Mike Katz said of Jones' extra - curricular bobbing and weaving in the "New York Daily News," "He is an insult to his own talent."
His level of opposition has left a lot to be desired since the Toney fight all of three years ago. To watch old - timers like Jake La Motta (many of whose fights I have been privileged to see on tape lately) make so much of so little natural ability is testament to the human spirit. To watch Jones snore through twelve rounds with Mike Mc Callum and apologize afterwards for hitting him so hard is merely testament to Jones' 'slacker' attitude and lack of motivation. Boxing is the purest of sports, and if a fighter is performing to a script rather than giving their all, they are acting on the wrong stage.
I don't think any of Jones' contemporaries - from any of the weight divisions he moved through - could have beat him in the ring. However if Roy wanted to prove himself, as I believe he did at middleweight, he would face and beat all credible opponents available to him. Right now he could fight Nunn, Dariusez Michalczewski, Joe Calzaghe, Robin Reid, Frankie Liles, Lou del Valle...If any of these men write their way into the history books, future fight fans will wonder "what if Jones had fought them?" "What Ifs" already hang over Jones - Benn and Jones - Collins as both Nigel and Steve are now retired. Roy's chance to eliminate the "What Ifs" is now. And he won't remain on top of his game indefinitely.
So now Jones is flirting with the idea of mixing in cruiserweight/heavyweight company. Just as he did before. Just as he flirted with the idea of fighting twice on one card. Just as he played basketball on the day of a fight in June '96. Such baffling ventures will not win him a place in the Canastota Hall Of Fame - the circus hall of fame, maybe. For example, how many readers can remember who Roy beat on the same day he played professional basketball? A: Eric Lucas.
My opinion is based on Jones' career as a professional boxer, not Roy as a person. I happen to think he is one of the most decent, genuine characters we are lucky to be graced with in this sport. Having paid his expenses from the Bryant Brannon fight last year, Jones paid a substantial sum towards the Gerald Mc Clellan hospital fund and donated the rest to assorted charities. Kind gestures of this nature are a glowing example to sportsmen the world over.
Roy owes a debt to himself first and foremost however, and that is to use his God - given skill to the fullest. I believe this talent ranks up there with that of past greats such as Robinson, Pep and Ali: Jones just hasn't come close to proving it yet. For his sake, and for the sake of late 20th century boxing, he needs to.
WHEN WE WERE KINGS (BUDDY)
Frank Warren, top British promoter and handler of Naseem Hamed among many others, has seen his long - time partnership with Don King reach an acrimonious climax.
“Stin” King considered it his debt to acrimony to have a stab at sabotaging the Naseem Hamed - Kevin Kelley HBO show at Madison Square Garden on December 19, a card which will be promoted solely by Warren on King’s turf (indeed Warren is set to make history on the 19th as he will also promote a bill in London that night). This match has been a long time coming and is much anticipated by fight fans - the same fight fans who supported King for so long and taught him how to spell “murderer” as “m-i-l-l-i-o-n-a-i-r-e.”
This is not a new trait emerging in the King persona, it is just another outrage he has created which needs pointing out. Luckily King had no real chance of interfering with the show taking place, he was just being awkward. At least now we know who the ‘bitch’ was in the Warren - King partnership. Warren went as far as to compare the split to a divorce, while cryptic King said, and I quote, “I no longer want to be in partnership with Frank Warren. We walked down the bridal path together but he was unfaithful and I am not interested in being his partner.” Oo-er Missus! Don’t wing that there handbag too close to me!
Although I am not about to found an Irish branch of the ‘Frank Warren Fan Club,’ he deserves credit for putting his fighter’s interests first. Fans were crying out for Hamed to face quality opponents and King, for his part, failed to deliver. The mouth waters at the prospect of Hamed - Kelley, Hamed - Gatti and Hamed - Jones, fights which are now a real possibility thanks to the Warren - HBO deal which sees its first chapter opened on December 19th.
The loss of the Warren partnership is another sickening blow by boxing into the solar plexus of King: “Oh, his legs buckled from that one Al!” Sadly he fired back a competent jab by signing a deal with entertaining little big man Johnny Tapia, which will began with Tapia’s a unanimous decision over Andy Agosto on Saturday night. “Ma Vida Loca” Johnny? You ain’t seen the half of it yet matey!
Hamed refuted claims by “Juan” King that he had approached him with a view to King becoming his promoter, saying he didn’t trust King and would therefore never employ him. Hamed’s sterling trainer Brendan Ingle - who has been selfless enough to suggest Naz should count his millions, quit boxing and pick up a college education (much to Hamed’s amazement) - said he would never allow the King to become involved in the Prince’s career.
Finally, a piece of advice for readers with rodent problems: I discovered a number of rats in my back garden last weekend and decided, rather than fork out a small fortune having them killed, I would make some cash from my vermin. I have sent a proposal to Don King which offers him some new staff at a very reasonable price. After all, Tyson can not expect to regain his license next summer unless he finds a more decent and trustworthy management team than Horne and Holloway. Oh, the post - fight interviews….Oh, those intimidating ‘Rat Team Tyson’ ring entrances....
Having company around with whom he has so much in common should also help King through this long, dark, lonely winter. You never know, perhaps he could even find a lucky rodent to walk down the bridal path with.
HEROL GRAHAM - VINNY PAZIENZA FIGHT REPORT
by Adrian CusackHaving completed the obligatory post - fight interview, the normally soft - spoken Herol “Bomber” Graham turned to the crowd and loudly shouted “Yes!”
Indeed, Graham’s unanimous 12 - round victory over Vinny Pazienza was a triumph well worth celebrating. Remember that this time last year Graham was considered more washed up than a whale in the Sahara.
That perception changed dramatically in July when Graham turned back the clock in stunning fashion by stopping the undefeated Canadian contender Chris Johnson. Herol had retired in 1992 after losing to Frank Grant. The Sheffield stylist cited personal problems as the reason for that defeat and returned in November 1996 with an unimpressive points win over American Terry Ford. Another decision over Craig Joseph didn’t overload local Casualty Wards with high - blood pressure patients either. But next came the upset win over Johnson and suddenly Graham was back in the big time.
Graham reportedly told his promoter, Frank Maloney, to procure a meaningful opponent for his next fight. It is to Maloney’s credit that he came up with Pazienza. The Rhode Island star had been inactive since he KOed Dana Rosenblatt in August ‘96. He could scarcely have picked a more awkward opponent to return against. Graham has developed his own eccentric style: A bizarre mix - up of Pernell Whitaker, Mark Breland and Naseem Hamed.
Herol won the early rounds with his soft jab and occasional crosses and uppercuts. Even today his defense is a priceless asset, and Paz landed only 13 shots in the first 4 rounds.
Graham’s awkward style really began to frustrate the American in the fifth and sixth. Pazienza let fly with some wild haymakers that had more chance of hitting the Queen in Buckingham Palace than they did Graham.
The fight began to liven up in the seventh when Paz had his first significant success. A big right nailed Graham and a left hook seemed to hurt him at the bell. Herol landed a two - punch combination after the gong.
Graham, whose “Bomber” nickname is one of the most inappropriate in boxing, took the eighth, but a meaty right by Pazienza knocked him into the ropes at the end of the ninth. The “Pazmanian Devil” had his best round in the tenth. He landed a good right early on and, just when Graham had regained his momentum, a big flurry had Herol in bad shape towards the end of the round.
38-year-old Graham recovered to take the 11th before staging a memorable last round. For the first time Graham began to unload some real power punches and this effort sealed his victory. The expression of sheer delight etched on Graham’s face as he was declared the winner told its own story.
“It was a hard fight,” said Graham, “Vinny Pazienza is a tough guy. I beat him mainly on running away, but that’s my best ammunition - moving and jabbing - that’s what won me the fight.” When asked about a future world title fight he said “I don’t care who it is. Bring on Robin Reid (the WBC titleholder), anybody. I’ll fight anybody, anywhere, in their own back yard if they want. But I think they’ll run scared of me.”
The Paz man took his defeat well, saying “He won the fight, I maybe fell too far behind in the early rounds. He fought a good fight.”
Logically, the next fight for Graham would be an all - British world title fight with Reid. In my opinion, Reid’s style would suit the veteran and I would give Graham an excellent chance - even at his age - of dethroning the unbeaten champion.
The modest Graham is, by all accounts, an immensely likable man. It has become common to label him the best British fighter never to win a world title since he came tantalizingly close against Mike Mc Callum and Julian Jackson. Hopefully 1998 will be the year in which his dream is finally realized.
by TomasOctober , 2nd, 1980 and a argument rages in Muhammad Ali’s corner at the end of the tenth round of his fight with Larry Holmes. For the previous ten rounds Holmes has given his former paymaster a constant and painful beating, comparable to beatings that a prime Ali had given Ernie Terrell and also comparable to a peak Mike Tyson’s destruction of Holmes.
Now on an autumn night in the arena set up in the car park of Caesar’s Palace Angelo Dundee in is using his usual colorful language in arguing with Drew “Bundini” Brown. ”One more round” pleads Brown but Dundee replies furiously, “I’m the chief second and the ballgame’s over”.
A disconsolate and exhausted Ali sits with his head lowered as he is stopped for the first time in a career that has changed both boxing and the world in general. Many hardened media hacks remember it as their saddest night and there was both widespread relief and sadness when Ali was stopped at the end of the tenth. Only an hour earlier many (including Sports Illustrated had expected Ali to reach yet another miraculous high by dethroning Holmes but now the realization dawned that Ali was no longer superhuman but a mortal man at last.
There was to be one more sad and unnecessary episode in the career of the “Greatest”, when he dropped a unanimous decision to Trevor Berbick in a poorly organized promotion in the Bahamas. Berbick, at the time was considered a tough, strong and youthful opponent who would later go on to be knocked down three times by one Mike Tyson punch in 1986. Yet in Ali’s prime Berbick would hardly have even been considered as a sparring partner.(Ironically Berbick is still fighting, now in his forties he is regularly employed as a trialhorse.)Finally Ali retired, this time for good and the world waited for the next big thing.
The above paragraph is a massive injustice to the legacy of Ali. It only chronicles the pain of the last two fights of a career which spanned three decades and a social revolution that the world had not seen before. His final career record of 56 wins and only 5 defeats is as good as any but as usual the statistics do not tell the whole story.
Why then did I write the first paragraph I hear you ask. Well to put my life in context in relation to Ali’s it was necessary to write it as they were the only two Ali fights I was in existence for due to the fact that I was born in 1979. I grew up with “legendary” fighters such as Tony Tubbs, Gerrie Coetzee, Tim Witherspoon, Michael Dokes and James “Bonecrusher!!!” Smith as the heavyweight champions of the world.(All five as I am aware are still active, well ok active as any fortysomething heavyweight can be.)
Then we had Tyson, and I remember thinking as a ten year old that Tyson had to be the most indestructible, wrecking machine of a heavyweight champion that was ever seen, and let’s be clear about this, at the time a lot of “experts” agreed with me. Yet people would still tell me that Muhammad Ali would have taken Tyson apart. I scoffed at their stupidity surely there was never a heavyweight champion as good as Tyson, I thought.
So I set about finding out for myself, getting a copy of two videos, one was Champions Forever a documentary about all the great heavyweights of the 70’s (and I still think it far outshines Leon Gast’s When we were kings.) The second video was Ali against Cleveland Williams in 1966, which to this day is the greatest piece of athleticism I have ever had the pleasure to witness. It is the most artful destruction of any human being I have seen in the ring. In the three rounds that the slaughter lasted Williams (who was no Peter McNeeley or Bruce Seldon) failed to land one punch of any significance throughout the fight.
Almost better than Ali’s boxing kills was his gift for the gab which was as sharp, cutting and powerful as any left jab he ever threw. After these two videos I was converted and as Ali himself said, “Tyson’s good but he ain’t no Muhammad Ali.
Perhaps even more important than Ali’s boxing career was the impact he made on the whole world. Okay so Michael Jordan might have made $33 million last year but to many non-Americans Jordan remains a faceless image. There is a photo in Howard Bingham’s book of thirty years of Ali which shows a young boy from Libya, obviously from a poverty stricken area, his clothes are tattered and he is barefoot.He wears a white tee-shirt which has a picture of Ali and bears the legend “Muhammad Ali: our champ”
Even photos of Ali tell a story, there is a photo of Ali with President Clinton after the opening ceremony of the Atlanta Olympics and your eyes are drawn to Ali and not to one of the most powerful men in the world. Ali seems to dominate any photo he is in due to his powerful aura. Thomas Hauser stated in his biography on Ali that at the moment Ali stepped up to light the torch never was the world more united for one moment. Powerful a thought as that is it is probably true (although one man , Joe Frazier stated that he would have liked to push Ali in to the flame.).
It’s true Ali had his faults, who doesn’t and his constant belittling of Frazier was perhaps unnecessary but then again Frazier would never have achieved the worldwide acclaim he did without Ali. However compared to some of today’s fighters Ali’s pre-fight jibes were harmless.
I remember meeting Floyd Patterson some years ago and had my picture taken with him. Positively delighted I showed the photo to some non-boxing fan friends of mine. ”That’s me with Floyd Patterson I told them.” “Who?” they replied. “Floyd Patterson, he was a two time heavyweight champion of the world and when he won it was the youngest man ever to win a world title” I answered indignantly. “Oh yeah” they replied with much disinterest. In one last desperate attempt to get them to realize the significance of Patterson I said, “He fought Muhammad Ali twice.” Suddenly they became interested knowing that I had met a man who had been in the ring with the great Ali twice, never mind that Patterson had been a damn good fighter himself.
This December sixteen years ago, Muhammad Ali quit the ring. In those sixteen years Ali has gone from being the world’s best known boxer to the world’s greatest grandfather. Much has been written about Ali’s health and many people cringed at the man they saw lighting the Olympic torch, but that is Ali’s physical appearance, mentally he is as sharp as ever and cracks as many good one liners now as he did in his heyday.
Ali is constantly traveling the world and delights young and old with his magic-tricks. He gets thousands of letters per week and unlike other retired athletes his fame has not decreased. In fact if anything he is more famous and universally loved now than at any other time in his life. This is due in part to his condition which makes him appear more human now to many who disliked the brash Ali of twenty years ago. Mainly though many people of all religions see Ali in an almost saintly light due to his exhaustive goodwill and charity work. What is not in doubt is the greatness of the man and the boxer. Let me finish with a heading from the front of K.O. magazine from a few years back: “Shed no tears for Muhammad Ali”
THE JR. WELTERWEIGHTS
by GorDoomThe jr. welterweight division, like the jr. lightweight division, has a bizarre, truncated history, broken up by decades of inactivity ...
The weight class came into being on September 11th, 1922. That was when Pinky Mitchell (Another great name for a fighter! ), was literally granted his title following a completely unremarkable no decision ten rounder over one, Tommy O'Brien, in Milwaukee.
This largess was bestowed upon him by a promoter named Mike Collins.
By sheer coincidence, Mr. Collins also published the influential weekly, The Boxing Blade ... Collins, of course, also managed Pinky.
I know this is strange & twisted stuff, but it's true ... This little tale only illustrates how the devious machinations of modern day promoters like King, Arum, or the Duva's are hardly breaking new ground when it comes to sleazy opportunism ...
Anyhow, the first universally recognized & legitimate jr welter champion was Mushy Callahan (yet another great moniker!).
Mushy finally caught up with the hapless Pinky on September 21st 1926, & cleaned his clock unmercifully for ten brutal rounds.
Pinky had spent the intervening four years avoiding danger & amassing an unimposing record of 2 wins, 8 losses (3 by ko), 16 no decision bouts (lucky for him!) & 2 draws.
All in all, a not quite & very sterling title reign ... Or much of a beginning for what turned into one of boxing's vanguard divisions in the 80's & 90's.
But the strange, gnarled-twisted tale of the jr. welterweight division doesn't only begins in weirdness ...
The champions who followed Callahan where: Jackie "Kid" Berg, Tony Canzoneri, Johnny Jaddick, Battling Shaw, Canzoneri again & Barney Ross.
Ross vacated the title after he beat Jimmy McLarnin for the welterweight title in 1935 & the division died out until it briefly flamed back to life in 1946.
The "Jr." titles were accorded almost no respect in those days & it's a shame .... Out of the first seven champions of the division, three of them, Berg, Canzoneri & Ross were among the three greatest fighters in the history of boxing.
If the division had still been active, it's highly likely that Henry Armstrong & Sugar Ray Robinson, who fought in that weight range would have won that title. Hell, Hammering Henry defended the welterweight title twenty times, fighting the majority of them between 138-142 lbs.
On April 29th, 1946, Tippy Larkin (Pinky, Mushy & Tippy, ya gotta love it!), won the revived division's title by beating perennial lightweight contender Willie Joyce in Boston. Tippy defended the title once, in September of the same year & again defeated Joyce in twelve rounds.
Tippy never defended the title again & the division once again slipped off the edge of the boxing world ... Only to be revived thirteen years later, when Carlos Ortiz KO'd rugged Kenny Lane in two rounds, to established the weight class once & for all in 1959.
The OI' Spit Bucket has always been fascinated by this "bastard" weight class. Considering it's late beginnings & it's very choppy history it has produce some of the greatest lighter weight fighters in history.
Besides the immortals I mentioned earlier, such outstanding fighters as, Billy Petrolle, Carlos Ortiz, Duilio Loi, Eddie Perkins, Nicolino Loche, Antonio Cervantes, Wilfred Benitez, Aaron Pryor, Alexis Arguello, Pernell Whitaker & Julio Cesar Chavez, have toiled in the division.
Ever since Cervantes cemented his hold on the title back in 1972, the jr. welters have been a vital & exciting part of the modern fistic scene ... For a division that once struggled in anonymity, it has produced some of the marquee fights of the 80's & 90's.
Before we get into the Bucket's all-time rankings for the division, there are a couple of things I need to explain: These rankings are based on what a fighter actually accomplished within the jr. welterweight division.
For that reason, you won't see Alexis Arguello, Pernell Whitaker or Oscar De La Hoya in these ratings. The reasons for not including Oscar & Pea are the same ...
While I believe Pernell is definitely a hall of famer to be, his accomplishments within the division were scant. Basically, Pea had two meaningful fights at jr. welter. He decisioned perennial contender, Harold Brazier in a non-title bout & then he won the IBF version of the "world" championship via decision over the never impressive, Rafael Pineda. After a meaningless non-title bout, he then won the linear welterweight championship by decisively decisioning Buddy McGirt.
Oscar had only three fights within the division. He blew out over matched Darryl Tyson in two & the stopped a totally shot Julio Chavez in four. He followed that up with a decision over former WBC lightweight titlist Miguel Angel Gonzales.
I also believe that Oscar will eventually end up in the hall of fame. However, when Oscar & Pea eventually get inducted, it won't be for what they accomplished in the jr. welterweight division.
I've explained all this in order to stave off a lot of angry e-mail, questioning not only my sanity, but my parentage as well ... At any rate, all of the fighters listed in these ratings are there for what they actually accomplished within the 140 lb. division, not for what they may have accomplished in other weight divisions.
ALL TIME JR. WELTERWEIGHT RANKINGS
Even though the career peak of the first three fighters on this list was over sixty years ago they rank among the top lighter weight fighters of all time.
Barney Ross was one of the gamest fighters in the history of the sport. A great champion in three different divisions & though it's forgotten today, Ross, was only the third man to win three world titles in different divisions. Only Ruby Bob Fitzsimmons at the turn of the century & Tony Canzoneri ( Ross was also a lightweight & two time welterweight champion), had ever accomplished this feat. Even after Ross won the welterweight championship, most of his defenses were fought at around 138 lb.s.
For instance, when Ross beat Jimmy McLarnin for the welterweight title he only weighed 137 1/2 pounds!
Ross was not a KO artist, he was a technician who mastered the mechanics of boxing. His boxing skills, along with an iron will & determination that was second to no fighter in history, helped him overcome such stellar foes as: Ray Miller, Billy Petrolle,Tony Canzoneri, Jimmy McLarnin & Cerefino Garcia.
Successfully defended Jr. welter title ten times.
Dream match ups: Carlos Ortiz, Aaron Pryor, Julio Cesar Chavez, Oscar De La Hoya.
Tough Tony, a three division champion, when it really meant something, was also one of the greatest lightweight champions of all time. The hoary old cliche, they don't make them like that anymore-was cliche'd for Tony...
To illustrate just how tough Canzoneri was: In 1927, at the callow age of eighteen, he fought Bud Taylor, aka "The Terre Haute Terror" to a draw for the bantamweight championship. Keep in mind that Taylor, even though he was a champion, was someone even the sturdiest veterans of his era avoided fighting.
A year later, Tony out gutted the great Benny Bass for the featherweight title. Two years later he massacred Al Singer in one round for the lightweight title. The year after that he destroyed the storied Jackie "Kid" Berg in three rounds for the jr. welterweight title.
Tony Canzoneri was simply one of the greatest fighters of all-time.
Among his most famous victims besides the aforementioned were: Andre Routis, Kid Chocolate, Billy Petrolle & Lou Ambers.
Dream match ups: Nicolino Loche, Wilfred Benitez, Duilio Loi.
Along with Charley Burley, "The Fargo Express" ranks as one of the two greatest fighters too have never won a world championship. He was so feared in his day, only Canzoneri ever gave him a title shot.
Petrolle had soundly beaten Canzoneri in a non title ten rounder the fight before Tony won the lightweight title. It took a little over two years, but Petrolle finally got his one & only shot at a title ...
Unfortunately for him, it was in New York City. The Big Apple was Canzoneri's turf & they fought a tremendous fifteen round battle & Canzoneri got the nod. Reading contemporary accounts it's apparent that it was a tough, close battle, but the ringside scribes thought Petrolle was the victim of a home town decision.
Billy Petrolle, the once legendary & terrifying "Fargo Express", is probably boxing's greatest forgotten warrior. Ironically, Charley Burley has become famous for never getting a title shot ... Petrolle is probably doomed as far as ever getting the recognition he deserves.
Fought an incredible 157 recorded fights in ten year career.
Dream match ups: Carlos Ortiz, Aaron Pryor, Julio Cesar Chavez, Pernell Whitaker.
One would think that when a world champion, who went undefeated for his first thirty six fights & then fought another seventy one times before losing ... & goes on to retire with not only his title, but a career record of 116 wins, 3 losses (all were avenged), & 7 draws - would be hailed as an all time great & rapidly inducted into the Hall Of Fame.
Sadly, that is not the case with Loi. One of the greatest Italian champions has been relegated to the scrap heap of boxing's memory.
There are two reasons for this: He only fought in the U.S. once & Loi was hardly an exciting fighter to watch. On top of being a southpaw, he was a mauler with no KO power - as attested to by only twenty five knockouts in one hundred & twenty six fights.
At the same time, he was also a slick defensive fighter in his own awkward way. He could be remarkably elusive when the mood struck him. Too make up for his lack of power, Loi was blessed with an iron mandible & the stamina of a bull. This is best illustrated by the fact that he was never knocked down, much less KO'd during his career. Perhaps the only champion to have never been stopped or dropped.
While Loi was jr. welterweight champion he also held & regularly defended the European welterweight championship. During his reign he defeated top ten welterweight contenders like, Bruno Visintin, Chris Christensen & Fortunato Manca.
His two victories over a prime time Carlos Ortiz & regaining the title from the vastly under rated Eddie Perkins cement his standings among the jr. welterweights.
Ortiz, one of the greatest of all lightweight champions, also ranks high in this division. Though his stay was brief, it was memorable.
He won the title & resuscitated the moribund division with a 2nd round KO over rugged southpaw, Kenny Lane, who had decisioned him the year before. His first defense, a tenth round KO, was against the feared Mexican destroyer, Raymundo "Battling" Torres.
His last successful defense, was a close split decision over Loi. Ortiz lost his next two fights to Loi by the narrowest of margins, then he dropped down to lightweight & beat "Old Bones", Joe Brown for the title. From that point on Ortiz dominated the lightweights for the rest of the sixties.
Ortiz was the complete package as a fighter, great boxing skills, tremendous jab & right cross & he KO'd more than one opponent with left hooks to the body. Ortiz was also blessed with tremendous stamina, heart & courage. His only downside was alcoholism, which hastened his departure from the top rank of fighters from his era.
Only a fighter as great as Duilio Loi was able to derail him at jr. welter & all three fights were decided by the slimmest of margins
Dream match ups: Tony Canzoneri, Roberto Duran, Julio Cesar Chavez, Oscar De La Hoya.
6-Aaron Pryor/Jackie Kid Berg
Berg & Pryor had similar career glide paths. They both burned intensely in the fistic skies for a short period & they both thoroughly dominated their division at the peak of their careers.
They also had similar styles, throwing punches in bunches, non stop. They were the the whirling dervishes of their eras, overwhelming anyone that stood in their way. During their peaks, both of them were considered in the upper echelon's of the pound for pound rankings.
Pryor's career is recent enough that there is no need to go into great detail ... suffice it to say that he stormed through the division like a hurricane & had two career making KO wins over fellow hall of famer, Alexis Arguello. Sadly, his toughest foe was himself. Burdened by a crack cocaine addiction, Pryor's star burned out years earlier than it should have ...
Berg also flamed out mid-career. His peak was from January 1929 thru April of 1931. In that time frame his list of victims is awesome: Bruce Flowers, Stanislaus Loaysa, Mushy Callahan (twice), Tony Canzoneri, Kid Chocolate (first loss after 45 career fights), Joe Glick & Billy Petrolle. During that time frame he was universally acclaimed best fighter pound for pound in the world.
In 1931 he was derailed twice by Canzoneri (KO by 3, L-15) & was never the same after that.
Berg, like modern jr. lightweight IBF titlist, Arturo Gatti, had a style that was not meant for longevity. But like Gatti & Pryor, his fights were always epic battles.
Dream match ups: Each other, Julio Cesar Chavez.
7-Julio Cesar Chavez
The dominant lighter weight fighter of his era. At his peak, he simply destroyed his opposition. Chavez, who is still active, did have one weakness throughout his career: Fighters who were slick boxers, with good hand & foot speed gave him fits. Meldrick Taylor, Pernell Whitaker, Frankie Randall & Oscar De La Hoya being the prime examples.
Dream match ups: Carlos Ortiz, Duilio Loi, Antonio Cervantes & Aaron Pryor.
The legendary "Kid Pambele" was the corner stone of the division in the 70's. A tall, lanky fighter, always had reach & height advantage over his foes. Excellent defensive fighter who was also blessed with outstanding power. Made 16 successful title defenses over two reigns, most of them on the road. Among his most noteworthy opponents: Peppermint Frazier, Esteban DeJesus, Nicolino Loche, Wilfred Benitez & Aaron Pryor.
Never landed much anticipated bout with Duran, or tried to unify title. Greatest Colombian fighter ever ...
Dream match ups: Roberto Duran, Julio Cesar Chavez, Oscar De La Hoya.
One of the great defensive fighters in boxing history. Had an outstanding eighteen year career, covering one hundred & thirty six total bouts.
Met & defeated almost every top fighter of his era. Among his best foes, all of them world champions: Carlos Ortiz, Sandro Lopopolo, Eddie Perkins, Paul Fujii, Carlos Hernandez, Antonio Cervantes, Pedro Adigue & Alfonso Pruitt
All-time standing hurt by his complete lack of power, only 14 KO's during amazing career. Only lost four bouts in one hundred & thirty six fights..
Dream match-ups: Jackie Kid Berg, Tony Canzoneri, Aaron Pryor, Julio Cesar Chavez.
Many may disagree with rating Randall over such luminaries as Perkins, Arguello, Benitez or De La Hoya ... but these rankings, as I stated in the beginning of this article, are based solely on accomplishments within the 140 lb. division.
Frankie has had one of the all-time hard luck boxing careers & seemed destined to be nothing more than a club fighter after years of fighting on undercards & a drug bust that shelved him for all of 1990. He came back slowly, culminating with a revenge KO win over former champ, Edwin Rosario.
Thrown to the wolves against undefeated Julio Cesar Chavez in January of 1994 & shocked the world by thoroughly dominating Chavez for a unanimous decision & knocking him down for the first time in his career.
In the rematch, less than four months later, was seemingly on his way to stopping Chavez, when a clash of heads opened a deep cut on Julio's face. Title was stolen from Frankie when the WBC judges ruled in favor of Chavez.
Rebounded four months later, winning the WBA portion of the title from cagey veteran, Juan Coggi.
Gave Coggi a rematch & outrageous misfortune befell him yet again. Coggi, in an academy award winning performance feigned a coma after an insignificant head butt & was again declared WBA titlist.
Eight months later, Randall reclaimed the title by decision & went on to lose the title to Frenchman, Khalid Rahilou by decision.
Randall's story is a sad one, age, inactivity & dissipation have squandered what could have been a brilliant career. As a fighter, Frankie was the real deal. Intelligence, excellent boxing skills & agility, outstanding combination punching & a lethal right hand.
Ranked this high for the same reason Ray Leonard is ranked so highly among the post WWll middleweights. He beat the 800 pound gorilla of the division & unlike Leonard with Hagler ... Frankie left no room for doubt.
Dream match ups: Chavez for a third time, Carlos Ortiz, Pernell Whitaker.
Boxing and Hollywood
by Barry LindenmanHollywood filmmakers have always had a fascination with the sport of boxing. Now that the documentary about the 1974 Ali - Foreman "Rumble in the Jungle" fight, "When We Were Kings" won the Academy Award for Best Documentary at this year's Oscars, should we now expect a flood of Hollywood produced films about other famous or infamous fights?
If so, one would suspect that the titles of these films would definitely have a Hollywood slant to them. Using this premise, here are some famous fights and the proposed title of the film (borrowed from some previously made Hollywood movies) that might be used:Fight Proposed Movie Title Explanation Lewis - McCall II The Crying Game McCall in tears Holyfield - Bowe II Operation Dumbo Drop "Fan Man" drops in Holyfield - Tyson II Jaws Tyson bites Holmes - Cooney The Great White Hype Cooney fails Bowe - Golota I Foul Play Golota's low blows Bowe - Golota II Private Parts Golota's low blows continued Christy Martin vs. anyone Coal Miner's Daughter Martin's nickname Tyson - Seldon Navy Seals Men who've been known to take a "dive" every now and then Ali - Liston II " " Holyfield - Douglas " " Whitaker - Chavez Conspiracy Theory Highly controversial draw Roy Jones, Jr. vs. anyone The Natural Jones' natural boxing ability Maxim - Robinson In the Heat of the Night Robinson succumbs to intense heat Marciano - Walcott Rocky Horror Picture Show Classic one punch KO shot of Walcott Dempsey - Gibbons The Getaway Dempsey & Kearns escape after purse bankrupts the town of Shelby Vinny Pazienza - Vinnie Burgese My Cousin Vinny Speaks for itself Douglas - Tyson Tora, Tora, Tora Another Japanese surprise attack Butterbean vs. anyone The Blob Grossly out of shape heavyweight Ali vs. Frazier III True Grit Two Hall of Famers give it all they have-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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