Rinsing Off the Mouthpiece
Poem of the Month
By Tom Smario
The 2005 CBZ Year-End Awards
By J.D. Vena
Women to Watch For in 2006
Lou DiBella: No Joe Palooka
By Dave Iamaele
Lamon Brewster, Unplugged
By Juan C.
Touching Gloves with...
Iron Mike Tyson: Myth or Monster?
Jess Sandoval: The Coach Says,
The Legend of the Cuban Baron,
By Enrique Encinsoa
By Pete Ehrman
Battling Nelson: Always Battered,
By Tracy Callis
the Cuban Bon Bon
By Monte Cox
BOOK REVIEWS AND EXCERPTS:
Photographs by Jim
The Iceman Diaries
by John Scully
The Boxing Bookshelf
by Dave Iamele
Rinsing Off the Mouthpiece
The CBZ is embarking on its 11th year online. In Internet time, that's like a century. & I
have to say that in the intervening decade, the CBZ has changed the Ol' Spit Bucket's life
in so many positive ways. I have forged relationships & bonds with people on the CBZ that
have truly enriched "Mi Vida Loca," to paraphrase one of my favorite fighters & boxing
& while the CBZ has been a true avocation in my life, & because of the incredible writers
& historians we have; I've learned more about boxing in the last 11 years than in my
Which is why it saddens me so much to realize boxing is on its last legs as a sport in the
United States. Boxing, like horse racing, has now become only an "event"
sport rather than a sport that draws daily interest from the general sporting public.
The only time you hear or read real coverage of horse racing is during
the Triple Crown stretch of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, & the Belmont. The rest of
the year the sport is basically ignored by the media.
The same thing has happened to boxing. The only time -- & it's been since the De La
Hoya vs. Hopkins fight -- that boxing has gotten big-time attention from the media is for a
superfight PPV. & since there basically isn't a heavyweight division anymore & there are
no rising stars that have crossed over like De La Hoya did, that's not happening in the
Which brings me to the point of this lash-up: Where are the new stars that are going to
keep boxing viable? Here we are six years into a new decade and century, & as far as I can
see there are only four "stars" of varying degrees of popularity that have been developed
in this decade: Jeff Lacy, Ricky Hatton, Jermaine Taylor, & Rafael Marquez. & out of these
four fighters, only Hatton is truly a star that can sell out the house on his own.
Fucking pathetic ...
Boxing is dying because its promoters either don't have a clue or don't care about
marketing the sport. I lean toward the latter, because in boxing, cooperation is sticking
your hand in the other guy's pocket.
This was made glaringly obvious to me this morning after talking to Lucius Shepard about
the Randy Couture vs. Chuck Liddell UFC card at the Mandalay Bay last night.
It was a PPV card, & the Mandalay was completely sold out. Tom Smario, another CBZ writer
who is also the best boxing cutman in the Northwest, has worked with Couture & other
fighters from Team Quest. In fact, after 20-plus years of working as a boxing cutman, it's
safe to say that Tom is a LOT more into UFC than boxing at this point.
I don't follow the UFC. Between boxing & the NFL, I simply don't have enough time to get
intensely into another sport. But the reports I get from both Lucius & Tom are absolutely
amazing when you compare boxing vis a vis the UFC.
Let's start with the live audience for UFC. Last night there were 18,000-plus at the
Mandalay, & at least 90% of the fans were in their 20s & 30s. Go to a big-time boxing card
& it's readily apparent that boxing has an aging fan base -- & with the exception of the
Hispanic audience, a rapidly dwindling one.
Young, hot Hollywood stars such as Paris Hilton & Vin Diesel were in the audience. In boxing,
we have Jurassic Hollywood/music-biz-types such as Clint
Eastwood, James Cann, Dustin Hoffman, Jack Nicholson, Gene Hackman, Sylvester Stallone, &
sometimes even Bob Dylan in attendance. None of those stars mean squa-doosh to the boisterous,
rollicking crowd that attends UFC cards. There is a palpable excitement in the air that you can
feel at every UFC event. That kind of electricity happens very rarely with boxing audiences
Recently in Portland, Oregon, there have been UFC matches with basically unknown
fighters. They put them on in large auditoriums, they sell thousands of tickets, & they
are always SRO with young fans loudly cheering on the fighters.
Turn on late-night cable & there are UFC & Pride cards on every night. This is a sport
that's mushrooming. It's a sport seemingly growing by leaps & bounds EVERY year.
Can't say that about boxing, can we?
So why is this happening? There's a number of reasons: TV exposure, good refs & righteous
decisions, & the fact that there are no smack-talking, porcine, James Toneys or man-tits
to be found on any of these fighters. These guys are supremely ripped, conditioned, & most
importantly, disciplined. You NEVER see two combatants in UFC that aren't prepared & in
Yeah, well ... Again, you sure can't say that about boxing. The UFC fighters are also
marketed extremely well. For instance, a UFC star like Randy Coutre sells thousands of
videos, T-shirts, & caps. In fact, these UFC stars make more in merchandising that for
actually fighting. When you compare the marketing & promoting of their industry to boxing,
sadly, there is no
comparison. In UFC the promoters & the fighters work together for the benefit of their
sport. In boxing it's all slash & burn with absolutely no view of the big picture & how to
ensure the survival of the sport.
& what is worse is that I don't see it changing anytime in the near future. & that is a
suicidal approach by boxing's powers that be.
Well, that's all the ranting for now, but before I conclude this screed,
I want to begin with one shameless plug:
The CBZ, honcho'd by my partner Mike DeLisa, has just released a two-DVD set of the famous
Ali vs. Marciano "fight" filmed in 1969. The package includes not only the match & its
different endings, but the famous original radio broadcasts from the original heavyweight
series conducted by Murry Woroner. There is also a documentary on the Rock & Ali & the
making of their fight, narrated by yours truly. You can find this at just about every
video store, or order online at
In this issue we feature a terrific & fascinating photo book of boxing gyms called
Shadow Boxers. I studied photography at the San Francisco Art Institute & have way
more than a passing interest & knowledge of the art. & "art" is the correct way to
describe this book, which also features essays by CBZ writers Katherine Dunn,
Lucius Shepard, & Tom Smario, among others.
The photographer, Jim Lommasson, is an incredibly gifted artist that I would compare
favorably with photograhic legends like Henri Cartier Bresson & Robert Frank. He captures
all the gritty realism of what a boxing gym & the people that populate them are all about.
Truly a great book!
Lastly I want to turn everybody on to one of the truly great boxing websites, the Philly
Boxing History site (www.phillyboxinghistory.com). If you are seriously into boxing, then you
know what an important part of its lore &
history comes from Philadelphia. John DiSanto, with help from the CBZ's outstanding boxing
historian & writer Chuck Hasson, have put together what I consider to be a must-see
boxing Web site.
Well that's it, enjoy the new issue!