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


Lou DiBella: No Joe Palooka
By Dave Iamaele

Lamon Brewster, Unplugged
By Juan C. Ayllon

Touching Gloves with...
Clyde Gray

By Dan Hanley


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


Shadow Boxers
Photographs by Jim Lommasson

The Iceman Diaries
by John Scully

The Boxing Bookshelf
by Dave Iamele

'The Iceman Diaries'

Book excerpt by John Scully

John Scully vs. Alphonso Bailey, November 1989, U.S.A. TV:

When my manager asked me about fighting Alphonso Bailey in November of 1989 on USA's Tuesday Night Fights, I was a little skeptical at first. It was to be my second nationally televised appearance as a professional, and it would come against a guy that I knew about for quite sometime. Bailey at one time was the No. 1-ranked amateur light middleweight in the United States, and as a professional he owned an Atlantic City victory over long time No. 1-ranked WBC contender Dwight Davison.

My first TV fight was against Brett Lally just a few months earlier, and it was a fight that saw me have to really struggle to get down to 160 pounds. This fight with Bailey would also call for me to get down to the middleweight limit. I knew Bailey would be in good condition, because he had come to our gym recently as a traveling sparring partner for the headliner of the show we would match up on. IBF welterweight world champion Simon Brown. I had seen them work together and Bailey looked good.

I was not at all looking forward to getting back down to 160 pounds again as the fight would call for me to do, but at the same time, it was a fight that would be beamed all over the USA on USA-TV and it would be the semifinal to the very exciting and popular Brown. I didn't want to make weight but I wanted that exposure. I always found it hard to ever turn down a televised fight. It was one of the reasons I got into boxing in the first place! I didn't really feel like l could pass up an opportunity to get right back on national TV again, and I also knew that I should be in good shape for the fight because I would be going away to training camp before my fight with my stablemate, Troy "Schoolboy" Wortham, who was preparing for a big fight out in Las Vegas for the WBA 154-pound title with Julian Jackson. (After we got to Vegas, Jackson pulled out of the fight with a detached retina and Troy fought Future Champ Julio Caesar Vazquez instead.) After the failed fight with Lally I would need this fight to get me back on track in the eyes of the boxing public.

Our manager, F. Mac Buckley, got us a house out in a wooded area of Marlborough, Connecticut, where we spent our nights together -- me, Troy, and sparring partner Michael "Knock em' out" Bell. In the daytime we would drive to the gym in the Bellevue Square housing projects in Hartford and then return to the house in Marlboro at night. I didn't want to punish myself like I did for the Lally fight and weaken myself to make 160, so I decided to just eat more than I normally would (as opposed to almost starving myself) and let the chips fall where they may. After we got to camp, though, I began to realize (worry) that making 160 would not be any easier than it was for the Lally fight. I spent half the time agonizing over having to make the weight and the other half of the time not caring about it. Even though I had to make 160 for the fight, I would sneak peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, potato chips, and soda into the house with me at night and eat it in my room with the door closed. I was 21 and bored. I'd never been to training camp as a professional, and I had nobody watching over me, so I ate more than I normally would have or should have. I just decided to run more each day and if I still came in heavy then so be it. If they canceled the fight it would be fine with me. That is the mentality I had. I didn't want to go on TV and have a performance like I did with Lally, and I certainly didn't want to put myself in a position like that with a guy like Bailey, either.

The fight with Bailey was held at the Springfield, Massachusetts, Civic Center and would be the televised semifinal to the Simon Brown vs. Luis Santana IBF title fight. I came in at 163 pounds, a couple pounds over the contracted weight limit, and I was lucky that nobody made a big deal about it. Bailey was actually weighing just about the same as me so it was not an issue.

That fight was the only fight of my professional career that I had ever really been involved in a stare down. In almost every other fight of mine in my career, I used to bypass the stare down, because I always saw it as kind of a silly exercise. More often than not I would come to ring center for the instructions and I would turn my head away from my opponent, and when it came time to touch gloves I would try to get back to my corner without doing it and if the ref made me do it I would just look away from my opponent as I stuck my hand lazily out towards him so that he would have to touch gloves with me instead.

So on the night of the Bailey fight, I definitely didn't plan it, it just kind of happened. It maybe wasn't as great as the famous Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Wilfred Benitez stare down of 1979, but it was still pretty good. I was very serious and looking him directly in the eye while he was very cocky, saying loud enough so that it is audible on the TV telecast "It's showtime, baby, it's showtime!" I never took my eyes off him or changed my expression and, really, I felt kind of like I did when I was getting ready to fight my rematch with Kertis Mingo in the National PAL in 1987. I look back on that tape of the Bailey fight and I laugh, because I see my face and I remember how I felt at that moment in the center of the ring, feeling like I could fight anybody that was in front of me. That is a strong feeling to have. Boxing gives you a high like nothing else I have felt in my life. I look back now on my career in amateur fights, pro fights. and sparring and I have almost always done very well with guys that were cocky or showed me disrespect. When guys did that it made me stop thinking so much about what to do and how to do it and about my apprehensions. It took that to give myself that little feeling of disregard that I think guys like Vinny Pazienza and Arturo Gatti have naturally most of the time.

I trained pretty good for that fight and was doing some good sparring with Troy Wortham for his upcoming fight with Julian Jackson, but I didn't sacrifice as much as I have for other fights. I was sick of making 160 and wanted to move up to the newly created super-middleweight division, but my manager at the time didn't feel that 168 was a legitimate division yet, and he wanted me to stay at 160 where the money and opportunities were bigger. (My feeling was that if I am losing weight too much and not feeling well or fighting well because of it then there will be no money or opportunities -- but that's another story.) One thing that kept me going in training was when the promoter, Don Elbaum, was on a Massachusetts radio station one night talking about the fight and he said "I am very surprised Mac Buckley took this fight for Scully. Bailey is the type of guy that can come into a local guys backyard and knock him out and upset the whole applecart. Alphonso has been getting great work with Simon [Brown] and is a real pro. Scully might be in a little deeper than he thinks."

My lack of usual desire for the fight must have been apparent, because my manager at the time was in the paper saying how he might pull me out of the fight and put another guy in our stable in my place. But in the end, I was in the gym enough to take the fight. You might think that a less than 100 percent effort in the weeks leading up to the fight might result in a lack of conditioning, but nothing in boxing is as it seems, and I think of all my pro fights this one was one of the top-five performances of my career, especially seeing as how it came against a quality opponent. I think the reason I fought so well is because for one I didn't put a ton of pressure on myself like I normally would. I just decided that I would go in there and fight and whatever happened would be okay with me. I treated it almost like a serious sparring session, and I didn't suffer from a serious lack of eating. I let myself hold a few pounds and came in at 163 instead of killing myself in the last twenty-four hours to make the weight. I figured that if I was a little over 160 and they canceled the fight it would be okay with me. I wasn't going to kill myself for this one.

Maybe it was mental, I don't know, but every round that passed saw me gain more and more confidence. Bailey was always on me, looking for the knockout but that only served to keep me aware and ready and alert. I boxed him more than I had in any of my recent fights and I punched more that I had in any of my professional fights up to that point, too. I was also very happy with the body shots I threw in that fight! I like to look back at that fight on tape even today, and I am impressed with myself and my ability to throw sharp and strong body punches. That fight was probably the best one of my career in that department.

It was one of those fights like the amateur fight with Kertis Mingo, where I wish I could have bottled the feeling to save for a day when I would really need it again. But that is what makes boxing so frustrating and complex. Each day is so different. Sometimes you have no idea which one of your personas will show up on a given day.

I had a very good first round, even though I was kind of tight. I usually have a pretty good first round in my fights. The funny thing about being a boxer is that you become trained to do so many things that, after a while, you have no idea that you are doing certain things. I bet most boxers have watched themselves on tape in sparring or in a fight and thought to themselves, Wow, I didn't know I could do that. This fight was one of those fights for me. The crazy thing is that even though I didn't train superhard -- or probably because I didn't train super hard -- for the fight my legs were fresh and not beat down like they were for most fights. I had a lot of spring and bounce, and my movement was very fluid. I knew Bailey was a good puncher from the amateurs, and I made sure to keep alert and not let him get off on me. For the first half of the fight, I boxed good and punched good and got off some very nice combinations. One thing I was really excited to see on tape was that several times when I had him on the ropes, I would throw a hook to the head first and then to the body afterwards (conventional wisdom is to go to the body first). That is a combination made famous today by guys like James Toney, Mickey Ward, and Shane Mosley, but that fight is proof that I was doing that thing way back in 1989.

By the sixth round I had started feeling myself and was feeling like I could do anything...very rarely have I felt more relaxed or more in control of myself in the ring during live competition. It felt like sparring, and that was a great thing. Bailey was relentless though, and he kept coming, kept working, and he brought out a lot in me. His desire and doggedness was what kept me going, throwing punches. I guess I was in a zone. In the sixth round I cut him after letting go a combination, and that brought out the killer instinct in me and I let loose with a huge flurry at the end of the round that had me thinking I was close to getting a stoppage victory. The round ended with him bleeding profusely from the cut and my confidence was sky high.

The seventh round went just as the sixth, and I knew I was the winner. By the time the final round came up, I knew all I had to do was finish the fight. I decided that I would box him the last round and show off some moves, dancing laterally, imagining I was Ali. Plus I had a cramp. A cramp has a funny way of making it so you don't want to get hit with body shots anymore, so I boxed and moved for almost the entire round, even surprising myself at how easily I could make him miss. I was an elusive guy when I chose to be. He never stopped trying though, and with about 20 seconds to go in the last round, he got in close with me and let a couple punches go that made me fight back hard. Emotions took over and we both finished with a toe-to-toe flurry to end the round and the fight. Good fight, good test for me, and it came against a solid fighter.

The decision was unanimous for me, and at that point in my career it was my most impressive performance and went a long way toward proving that the non-effort against Lally was somewhat of a fluke.

The funny thing about boxing is that sometimes right after a fight, the emotions run so high and your adrenaline is pumping so hard that you don't always know exactly what you are doing. I don't know how to explain it, but boxers should not always be allowed to speak right after a fight. Sometimes they say things that they either regret or can't explain when the dust has settled. Now anybody that knows me knows that money was never really an issue with me in my decision to box as a professional. I had fights early in my career where I fought on a Friday and my manager would hand me the money a few days later and I would say, "What's this for?" forgetting that I didn't even get paid for the fight! That's why it is so weird to watch a tape of me talking to Sean O'Grady in the post-fight interview. When they asked me what I wanted to do in my career, I said, "Well, you know, I would like to do what Sugar Ray originally did, get in, make the money and get out."

What?! I would never normally say that! I honestly have no idea where that came from or why I said it, and I can only guess that I was a little rushed for an answer on live television and that was all I could come up with. Years later a trainer I had named George Cruz said to me, "After you fight Maske, I would like to see you get a couple more good paydays so you can have enough to get out of this game." And I honestly didn't understand what he meant. He obviously didn't understand what I thought about this game and my career. I told him: "George, I don't want to make enough to get out of boxing. I am not in this to get a million dollars and get out. I want to make a lot of money and keep fighting as long as I will be able to. I don't want to stop." The funny thing about the fight with Alphonso Bailey was what happened afterward, when all the fighters were in the hallway in the bowels of the Springfield Civic Center waiting to get paid. That was in November of 1989. I think some of those people are still waiting. The promoter, Don Elbaum, apparently found his way out the back door with the cash box. Nobody got paid! My manager, F. Mac Buckley, paid me my purse a few days later out of his own pocket. Elbaum ended up going to jail not long after, I think it was for tax evasion. Boxing though is a funny business and our paths crossed again in 1993. I met up with him in Aspen, Colorado, when I was there sparring with Vinny Paz for his fight with Danny Sherry, and Elbaum was there with a cruiserweight named David Izeqwire. What happened in 1989 happened, and it was never even brought up in Aspen. As a matter of fact, Elbaum asked me if I would help David out with some sparring for a couple days. I said yes, because I could never turn down sparring like that (But...you know I got paid from the man in advance).

Epilogue: I know that even after I turned pro I was still heavily influenced by Muhammad Ali. I liked to trash-talk sometimes in fights. I like to joke around at the weigh-ins. I even still made the odd prediction here and there. I was reminded of that by a funny thing that happened today (September 4, 2004). I was in the old gym I trained at, and some of the very old lockers still had padlocks and equipment inside that people hadn't even had access to in a long time.

F. Mac Buckley, who happened to be my manager/trainer when I fought Bailey, was there trying to break the locks so he could get inside the lockers clean them out before putting new locks on. I helped him break one open and when I saw the black magic marker scribblings on the inside of the door I knew right away exactly whose locker it used to be. He asked me how did I know? I pointed to the inside of the locker where the following words, from November 1989, were still clear as day to read:


Contact John Scully about his book, The Iceman Diaries, at IceJohnScully@aol.com, or visit his Web site at www.IcemanJohnScully.com.

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