February 2006


Rinsing Off the Mouthpiece
By GorDoom

Poem of the Month
By Tom Smario

The 2005 CBZ Year-End Awards
By J.D. Vena

Women to Watch For in 2006
By Adam Pollack


INTERVIEWS:

Lou DiBella: No Joe Palooka
By Dave Iamaele

Lamon Brewster, Unplugged
By Juan C. Ayllon

Touching Gloves with...
Clyde Gray

By Dan Hanley


PROFILES:

Iron Mike Tyson: Myth or Monster?
By Jim Trunzo

Jess Sandoval: The Coach Says,
"Bundle Up"

By Katherine Dunn

The Legend of the Cuban Baron,
Ramon Castillo

By Enrique Encinsoa

Paul Thorn
By Pete Ehrman

Battling Nelson: Always Battered,
Seldom Beaten

By Tracy Callis

Kid Chocolate, the Cuban Bon Bon
By Monte Cox


BOOK REVIEWS AND EXCERPTS:

Shadow Boxers
Photographs by Jim Lommasson

The Iceman Diaries
by John Scully

The Boxing Bookshelf
by Dave Iamele


The 2005 CBZ
Year-End Awards


Compiled from the CBZ staff
by J.D. Vena



FIGHTER OF THE YEAR:
RICKY HATTON

After Kostya Tszyu's second win over Sharmba Mitchell in 2004, most historians were beginning to credit the longtime junior-welterweight champion as one of the division's all-time greatest. Many were beginning to feel that Tszyu would have proven to be too willful and skillful for such legendary fighters such as Pryor, Chavez, and Canzoneri. Though he had been showing some signs of age and had been plagued with injuries over the past few years, only a handful of experts expected much resistance from England's Ricky "The Hit Man" Hatton in his June challenge of Tszyu. While Hatton was unbeaten in 38 professional bouts, most saw the Mancunian as nothing more than a hard-working bleeder who would be chopped up by the great Kostya Tszyu. Though Hatton has always expressed a desire to face the division's best, his record included wins over has-been contenders and B-class opposition, nothing the great Tszyu hadn't already seen. A win over the Englishman would have been icing on the cake for Tszyu and another name fighter on his nearly perfect resume.

On the night of June 4, however, Hatton proved to be more of a fighter to be recognized as a potential all-time great than Tszyu. In fact, Hatton did the unthinkable -- he applied enough pressure and damage to convince Tszyu that a 12th-round effort by the Russian transplant would have been superfluous. Although it had been a close fight, Hatton showed that when the going gets tough, you don't quit on your stool as Tszyu had that night. After Tszyu's decision to quit, it wasn't difficult to imagine him succumbing to the pressure of great fighters such as Pryor and Armstrong. Hatton not only removed Tszyu's crown, he ultimately ended Tszyu's march to immortality.

As if defeating Tszyu was not enough, Hatton felt he needed to satisfy his obligation of proving he is the best 140-pounder in the world. Defeating rugged WBA champ Carlos Maussa in his next defense was mere window dressing for Hatton in earn the CBZ's Fighter of the Year for 2005. In defeating Tszyu in such shocking fashion, the Hit Man did a little more that night than just winning a world title; and whether or not he enjoys a long and distinguished reign, we are finally having the pleasure to learn what Ricky "The Hit Man" Hatton is all about.


FIGHT OF THE YEAR:
CORRALES TKO10 CASTILLO


ROUND OF THE YEAR:
CORRALES-CASTILLO I, ROUND 10

If 2006 turns out to be a year of all bad fights, it would obviously be detrimental to the sport. But if there is one fight this year that can compare to the excitement and drama of the first Corrales-Castillo war last May, then there'll be many satisfied boxing fans. Television-wise, boxing didn't have many good fights in 2005. It began with an exciting new rivalry between Manny Pacquiao and Erik Morales, which was a 12-round, back-and-forth war. Their action-filled battle, however, paled in comparison with what we witnessed in a lightweight unification between champions Diego "Chico" Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo a few months later.

The first Corrales-Castillo fight had all the drama of any of the Gatti-Ward classics and combined more consistent round-by-round action. The two stood in close and hammered each other for the better part of the fight; but perhaps what the fight will be remembered for most was how it ended. Prior to their meeting, Corrales had only tasted defeat twice, losing to Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Joel Casamayor. In both bouts, Corrales was stopped while standing on his two feet, insisting that he could have continued and won both bouts. Against Castillo, the end seemed clear after two brutal knockdowns from Castillo's left hooks. One more punch, let alone a knockdown scored by Castillo, could have prompted referee Tony Weeks to halt the slugfest. But Corrales was allowed additional time to recover when he deliberately spat his mouthpiece on the canvas so that Weeks would have his corner clean it. Weeks correctly deducted a point from Corrales for stalling, but it was well worth it for the desperate Corrales.

Despite the additional recovery time, it didn't seem imaginable that Corrales could survive the round, Corrales' chief second, Dan Goosen informed his charge that he more or less had to "fight him inside now," Corrales went for broke and got home with some brutal right hands and left hooks that stunned the granite-chinned Castillo. After a brutal volley of shots to the head, the bout was stopped after a final right hand had left Castillo helpless and limp against the ropes. Just like that, one of the greatest fights of all time had ended and a rivalry like no other had been born.

If this fight demonstrated one thing, it proved once again why boxing fans can put up with controversy and some dismal fights. Fights like this one are well worth the black eyes.


KO OF THE YEAR:
CASTILLO KO4 CORRALES

Seeing Diego Corrales on the canvas is never much of a surprise. Though his toughness can't be questioned, Corrales has been dropped more than 10 times in his career. But we've seen this lanky, proud fighter not only beat the count, but come back and KO his opponent. That was the case the first time Corrales met Jose Luis Castillo, and what we expected the second time they clashed.

Though their highly anticipated return match was marred by controversy with Castillo unable to beat the scales, whether it was intentional or not, there was much surprise as to how this one ended. In continuing where they left off, Castillo and Corrales entered the phone booth for another war in the first round. It was clear that having the added weight favored Castillo, but no one expected the end to come so abruptly. In the fourth, Castillo found redemption in the form of a brutal left hook, which knocked Corrales flat on his back. To his and everyone else's surprise, Corrales, finished the fight in that position.


UPSET OF THE YEAR: RAHEEM UD12 MORALES
Imagining Erik "El Terrible" Morales losing at lightweight isn't something you'd regard to be a complete shocker. Morales had spent the better portion of his career as a strong super-bantamweight and featherweight killer, but eventually you'd have to think that his advantages in size and strength would diminish as he entered new divisions. That's why it came as a surprise when the lightweight that dominated him over 12 rounds in September was a natural featherweight, also new to the lightweight division. A clash of styles and the determination of Zahir Raheem, a 1996 U.S. Olympic bronze medalist, proved to be too much for Morales who, for the first time in his career, seemed to be looking past his opponent. The speedy Z-Man performed like Superman that night, and despite his lone loss to Rocky Juarez (who lost his world title to Humberto Soto in an August upset), he should be now be considered a top-flight fighter in the junior-lightweight division, should he elect to move back down in weight.


COMEBACK OF THE YEAR:
GUILLERMO JONES

In 1998 the boxing world first took notice of Panamanian Guillermo Jones when he challenged France's Laurent Boudouani for Boudouani's WBA junior-middleweight title. What first might have struck you was the fact that Jones stood 6-foot-4 despite weighing under the 154-pound limit. What then may've baffled you was that he wasn't awarded the decision at the end of the 12-rounder. The controversial bout was ruled a draw, which forced a rematch, this time won controversially by the Frenchman.

The next time we saw Jones, he was competing at cruiserweight. To everyone's surprise, Jones was doing pretty well despite making a titanic leap over three divisions. Jones earned his third world-title shot against longtime WBO champion Johnny Nelson by snatching wins over unbeaten Tim Williamson and contender Sione Asipelli. Unfortunately for Jones, the third time wasn't a charm. The ringside judges scored this one a draw.

In April, Jones faced undefeated Steve "USS" Cunningham and lost a close and some felt a controversial decision. To no real fault of his own, Jones seemed destined to be one of those fighters that couldn't win the big one, but one month later, Jones proved why his path could end in brighter pastures. One month after the Cunningham defeat, Jones met top-rated contender Kelvin "Concrete" Davis. Prior to this bout, the only man to stop Davis was current cruiserweight king O'Neil Bell. In stunning fashion, Jones, the hard-luck, onetime skinny junior-middleweight kept the fight out of the judge's hands by knocking out Davis in four rounds.

In September, the giant Jones took another giant step closer to earning his fourth title shot when he beat the rasta out of former cruiserweight champion Wayne "Big Truck" Braithwaite. Braithwaite was widely considered to be the best cruiserweight in the world prior to losing to Jean-Marc Mormeck the same night Jones lost to Cunningham. To most ringsiders, Jones' latest wins could've been viewed as upsets; but had some close scores gone the other way over the years, we could be watching a multi-division champion. If he doesn't eventually win a world title, one thing we do know about Guillermo "el Felino" Jones is that this cat has the attitude of a champion and doesn't discourage easily.

Contact J.D. Vena at editors@cyberboxingzone.com.

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