May-June 2000

Hank Kaplan
Michael DeLisa
Stephen Gordon
Thomas Gerbasi
Ed Vance
Hank Kaplan, Tracy Callis, Matt Tegen, Harry Otty, Kevin Smith, Dan Cuoco, Larry Roberts
Chris Bushnell, DscribeDC, Francis Walker, Dave Iamele, Katherine Dunn, John Vena, Rick Farris
Enrique Encinosa, Randy Gordon, Pedro Fernandez, Joe Koizumi, Mike Moscone, Dr. Ferdie Pacheco, Jim Trunzo, Barry Lindenman, Pete Ehrmann, Monte Cox, Matt Boyd, Alan Taylor, Arne Steinberg, Lee Michaels, Joe Bruno, Lucius Shepard, BoxngRules, Adrian Cusack, Phrank Da Slugger, Pusboil.





















In the nether-noir  that is the cesspool essence of the sweet science, it ain't often that a cynical mo' fo' like The Ol' Spit Bucket, gets to feel freakin' loopy about any of the Grassy Knoll-like  machinations of the powers that be in boxing ...

 Let's jez say the "manly art", has been involved in some snarky, dire, circumstances, as it crept, crawled, & slouched toward the 21st Century. Truth be told, even The Bucket has questioned his motivation for being a boxing evangelist more than twice.

Gotsta tell ya folks, within the sturm & drang of the myriad of boxing expose's in the press lately .... Boxing's royal  flush down the toilet bowl of public opinion, crescendo'd on June 28 1997, when Leg-Iron Mike, committed the, "Munch In The Crunch".

That was followed up 2 weeks later by the Lennox Lewis-Henry Akinwande, Elmo Doll hug fest & yet another heavyweight championship DQ... From there to the turn of the millennium, with extremely fleeting exceptions, it's been a sad, seriously twisted tale, too sorry to recount ...

The day after that aforementioned, dark night, of June 28, 1997, The Bucket & his partner, Mike Delisa, came within a  C-hair of shutting the CBZ down.

Maybe we were a little over-amped, but we both believed that Leg-Iron had betrayed the sport to the point where it was indefensible ... & it wasn't until the Johnny Tapia - Danny Romero fight later in 97, that Mike 'n me felt even a scintilla of interest & hope within the squared circle.

Mike, who founded the CBZ, was adamant about shutting it down - I was also... But, there had already been 3 years of hard work by us & a myriad of contributors who had all found a voice within the hopelessness that is the modern state of boxing.

Many decades ago, way back in the early stages of the 20th Century, all the outlaw sports that captured the fascination of America realized that they had to get their shit together or they would not be able to maintain credibility  as a 'sport" & continue to hold the public confidence. The "Black Sox" scandal of 1920, was the wake up call.

Take the  NFL ... George Halas & his cronies were just guys out to make a buck & break a few bones promoting pay for play football, during the golden age of college football. This decidedly unattractive sport, was called, Pro Football. Instead of being carny hucksters taking their unsavory sport & teams from town to town in a totally disorganized fashion (sound familiar, boxing fans?), they formed a league, called it The National Football League, established rules & bylaws & gave themselves at least a semblance of the mantle of "respectability".

Since those halcyon, bygone days, every organized sport in America has done the same - & Baseball, had already instituted this concept in the latter stages of the 19th Century ...

So Whhhaaaaatzzzz Uuupppppp wit' Boxing???

In these pukingly politically correct times, boxing is a true anomaly ...Everything else in modern day Sports America is categorized, organized & corporatized into a seamless vacuum of advertising tie-ins to generate revenue flow ad nauseum, into the gaping maws of greed that seemingly keep the American Economy healthy these days ...  

Yeah, well .... The Bucket, could go on & on down this grim & hopeless road, but I will attempt to focus & meander on with this introduction to an outstanding issue of the CBZ Journal which by the way has
just been given a name.

From this issue forward the magazine name for the CBZ Journal will be known as, WAIL!, The Cyber Boxing Zone Journal ...

Once again, I digress ... The point of this diatribe is that thangs ain't been so good for boxing in the latter stages of the 90's ... But I been seein' glimmers of hope way off in the distance ...

  & boy howdy was the Ol' Spit Bucket surprised earlier this month when upon opening the USA Today sports section, I saw a feature on boxing. Not just a feature, but USA Today has instituted monthly rankings for the 8 traditional  weight classes. Not only that, but we are also gonna get a State Of Boxing report every month!

    The USA's new boxing columnist is Dan Rafael. I 've spoken with him a few times recently &  found him to be an engaging fellow, very enthusiastic & knowledgeable about boxing. This is a guy who actually knows & has seen the 8th ranked flyweight from Thailand, whoever he may be.

Impressive & very cool that they have chosen a guy that is so into the sport. It's also impressive that a national, mainstream, publication like The USA Today would make such a commitment to boxing.

For five years The CBZ has published the excellent rankings that are put out by internet boxing maven, Phrank Da' Slugger. From now on we are also going to include Mr. Rafael's rankings along with Phrank's. Naturally, there are differences in their rankings but since both of them are so impeccably
researched we will be presenting both sets from now on on our new
Rankings page.

In an upcoming issue of Wail! we will have an interview with Mr. Rafael, that I'm sure will prove to be of great interest.

Which brings me to the current issue. This one's massive folks. There are just too many great articles to introduce them all but there are four that I must comment on: First off we have two, new contributors, Adam Pollock & Dan Cuoco. I'm very pleased to debut two terrific new writers like these! These guys are real good & I hope we get to read them for many issues to come.

We also have the return of two of my favorite writers Pete Ehrmann & Barry Lindenman. Pete is a legendary boxing historian, whose meticulous research has graced the pages of The Ring Magazine, since the 1960's. He returns with an interesting article about "Red" Herring.

Mr. Lindenman returns with something truly unexpected. A boxing interview with, "The Red Rocker", Sammy Hagar, former lead singer for Van Halen. I have to admit to being surprised when I read it. I had no idea that Sammy was so into boxing. This is not a casual fan. Mr. Hagar knows his stuff & is a hard
core boxing guy.

I'm really pleased that Barry brought us this fascinating interview. So much so, that we will lead of the new ish with it.

We are also printing a very interesting piece by Aram "Rocky" Alkazoff, the winner of our Sonny Liston contest.  Suffice to say, this article needed a disclaimer.




By Barry Lindenman

Who would have thought? One of rock and roll’s biggest superstars is also one of boxing’s biggest fans. Affectionately known by his fans as “The Red Rocker,” Sammy Hagar’s boxing roots date back to the days when his father was a professional fighter. Fighting under the assumed name of Bobby Burns, his father Robert Hagar was a respectable fighter back in the‘30’s and 40’s. Early on, Sammy thought about following in his father’s footsteps until the early 1960’s when groups like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones turned him in the direction that would eventually make him famous around the world.

After paying his dues in the rock world much like a club fighter first pays his dues, Sammy Hagar first gained fame and fortune in the early 1970’s with the band Montrose. After tensions within the group forced him to leave Montrose, Sammy launched a successful solo career in the mid 1970’s. Classic hits such as “I Can’t Drive 55” and “Three Lock Box” proved to the world that whether in a band or as a solo artist, Sammy Hagar was a force to be reckoned with in the world of rock and roll.

Despite being a success on his own, Sammy Hagar’s music career took an unexpected turn in 1985 when he became the front man for the legendary group Van Halen, replacing the departed David Lee Roth. Sammy’s career with the band lasted twelve years, along the way producing such hits as “Best of Both Worlds,” “When It’s Love,” “Runaround,” and “Right Now.”

Sammy’s departure from Van Halen in 1996 also prompted the beginning of another career for “The Red Rocker,” that of entrepreneur. Sammy became the owner of the Cabo Wabo cantina in Mexico and soon after began marketing his own brand of tequila. Unlike most rock stars whose careers are destroyed by alcohol, Sammy Hagar’s career seemed to be fueled by it.

In 1999, Sammy bridged his love of tequila and his love of music with the release of the song “Mas Tequila.” The song became an instant hit and once again reestablished Sammy Hagar as a successful solo artist in the world of rock and roll.

Throughout his life, Sammy Hagar followed boxing as closely as his managers were following the music charts, befriending many of the world’s best fighters along the way.

Despite his extensive touring schedule, he often attends championship fights live and never misses a chance to view a fight on television. One need only hear him talk about the sport to realize that the same passion Sammy Hagar displays on stage as a rock icon, he also has for the sport of boxing.

BL:     I know your father boxed, as a featherweight I believe. Is that how you first got interested in the sport of boxing?

SH:      Absolutely. My father actually fought as a bantamweight, a featherweight and a lightweight. He fought Manuel Ortiz seven times. He fought him five or six times as an amateur and then I think a couple of times as a pro. My dad’s first eight professional fights as a bantamweight were knockouts. The guy could really punch. That was his trip but it ultimately ruined him as a fighter because when he realized he could just walk in there, hit somebody and knock them out, that’s all he tried to do. He got himself nearly beat to death. I think my dad had potential to be probably be a great fighter but after a while, he would fight anyone. It became a money thing for him. He had us kids and he had to make a living. So he’d take a fight for a couple hundred bucks and fight a guy that weighed 160 pounds. He didn’t care. My dad would pack his bags and get on a bus with my uncle and go down to the border towns in California and fight Mexicans for any amount of money, any size guy, on a minute’s notice. Later on, he tried to make me a fighter. 

BL:     If you yourself were a professional boxer, is there any particular fighter whose style you would you try and imitate?  

 SH:     Let’s see, one who doesn’t get hit a lot! I fought more like a Black fighter. I was more like a Sugar Ray Leonard type fighter. I was not a big puncher. My dad was a puncher and he trained me so when you’re a kid, the first thing you learn when you’re fighting a grown man is how to jab and move. My dad was so slow compared to me that I learned to become a very fast jabber. That’s the style that I was heading towards because I had brother who was three years older than me who was also into boxing, and I had my father. Those were the guys who I always put on the gloves with every day. Therefore, I learned to be fast.

BL:     What’s your opinion about the current popularity of women’s boxing?

SH:      There’s some pretty good fighters out there now. We all know about Christy Martin. She does a damn good job but to be honest with you, I’m not big on women’s boxing. It just kills me to see a woman get hit in the tits. It’s like a man getting hit in the balls! They’re in there and they take all those punches. It can’t be good for them. It’s just not flattering to see a woman get cut and spitting crap out of her nose. At the same time though, I have a different opinion about a woman than I do a man. I like to see a man get the shit beat out of him!  

BL:     Much of your music contains direct references to boxing. For example, your pictured on the cover of your greatest hits box set, “Unboxed,” in a boxing ring wearing trunks with gloves around your shoulders. And at the end of your song “Mas Tequila,” you say the phrase “no mas, no mas” which is what Roberto Duran said to the referee when he quit against Sugar Ray Leonard. Are these boxing references conscious efforts on your part are they just coincidence?

SH:      Even though boxing has always been such a big part of my life, they’re really just coincidences. To this day, I’ll drop everything to watch a good fight. I own Direct TV, only for boxing matches. You can ask my wife. I can watch any other sport imaginable now, but I’m just looking for boxing all the time. Boxing has always been part of my world. That photo of me in the ring was for a Rolling Stone photo session in New York. I suggested Gleason’s Gym so the next thing I knew I was dressed up in boxing gear. They used it in their book of greatest “Rolling Stone” magazine covers and I decided to use it for the cover of my “Unboxed” CD. The “no mas, no mas” thing just stands for anything no when you’ve had enough. But when I use it, it’s about drinking shot after shot after shot of tequila! That was a classic line though to use in a fight.

BL:     A few years ago, you recorded the song “Winner Takes it All” for the soundtrack of Sylvester Stallone’s movie “Over the Top.” Did you ever get the chance to meet him and talk boxing?

SH:      Oh yeah. We spent something like fourteen hours making that video. That was the first time that I met him. My partner in the Cabo Wabo tequila business Shep Gordon is great friends with Stallone. I’ve spent three or four Christmases and New Year's Eves with him over in Maui at Shep’s house. We’ve talked boxing a little bit but it’s funny, we’ve never really, really gotten deep into it.

BL:     If you were part of a celebrity boxing match, what celebrity would you want to get in the ring with and smack around for a few rounds?

SH:      That’s good. Let me really think about that for a second. There’s some people that bug me even worse than some guys that I’ve been in bands with. It would have to be Eddie (Van Halen).

BL:     That would be a one round fight for you though. That’s a cakewalk for you.

SH:      Well aren’t those the ones you want? Like I said, you want to be fast and not get hit. That’s the name of the game. 

BL:     How did your relationship with Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini first come about? 

SH:      I was always a fan of Ray. I’ve always loved those kinds of fighters like Ray and Arturo Gatti who get in the ring and are ready to die in there. Guys like that have always been my favorite kinds of fighters to watch. In Ray’s case, I think he became more famous for losing a fight probably than any fighter in history, the way he lost to Arguello. People saw his heart and soul in that fight and everybody fell in love with him, including me. My manager at the time, Ed Leffler, met Ray at a restaurant in Los Angeles and told him that I was a big fan of his. It turns out Ray was a big fan of mine as well. So we hooked up on the telephone soon after and from that day on, I knew he was my kind of guy. Ray has become a great friend of mine. He came to my wedding. He’s been to house many, many times. He comes to my concerts whenever I play in LA. Because he’s such a great human being, I really think the tragedy of the Duk Koo Kim fight affected him tremendously. He’s one of the most sensitive, sweetest people on the planet. I think that was devastating to him and he never really got over that.

BL:     Any plans to help out your good friend Oscar De La Hoya as he tries his hand at a music career?

SH:      Oscar jammed with me at the Cabo Wabo (the cantina Sammy owns in Mexico). He came up to sing with me on “I Can’t Drive 55.” It was so cool.

BL:     Can he sing?

SH:      Yeah. He was screaming. He wasn’t really trying to sing. But the guy’s handsome and the girls love him. Why not try it? As long as it doesn’t interfere with his boxing career, I would say more power to him. It’s really great to be able to do other things. That’s the great thing about success. It allows you the opportunity to at least try and do other things. He’s such a big star, especially in the Latino community. God bless him. If he makes a great record, I’d play on it. The main thing though is that Oscar is a great, great fighter and he shouldn’t lose that desire that he has to fight. Walking out on a stage is an easy gig compared to walking into the ring. If that starts to get good to him and he loses his boxing drive and fire, that would be a real shame because he’s one of the great fighters of all time.

BL:        Besides Ray and Oscar, who are some other fighters that you’re friends with?

SH:        Carlos Palomino is a gentleman and a really great guy. Ruben Castillo has always been a buddy of mine. I met Jerry Quarry a couple of times. We sat and watched some fights together at Ruben’s house. This was before he had his real problems. I can remember being at Ruben’s house with Ray Mancini, Ruben, Jerry and Mando Ramos watching Tyson and Razor Ruddock with the Jeff Fenech – Azumah Nelson fight on the undercard. It was a pretty strong room that night. I don’t know many heavyweights. Most of my fighter friends are in the smaller weight divisions. I’ve always found boxers to be the nicest, most gentle people that you’d ever meet. 

BL:     Who’s your favorite fighter of all time? 

SH:      I think Sugar Ray Robinson was just one of the greatest ever. Muhammad Ali as well. They were both such innovators of the sport. They brought new things to the sport. They could stand right in front of you and not get it. That’s just such an art. And now you got Roy Jones. At first, I liked Roy Jones. Then there was a period when I disliked him. Then when he knocked out Virgil Hill with one punch to the body. My God, it was like, wait a minute, this guy really is great. It’s just such a unique style of fighting. It’s sort of what Pernell Whitaker started. I think Whitaker was a great, great fighter. That guy could stand right in front of you, and you couldn’t hit him. Those are the kind of guys you want to see get beat all the time but you got to hand it to them. I think Sugar Ray Robinson was the first of those kind of fighters. It’s tough to find a better fighter than him.

BL:     What’s your favorite boxing movie of all time?

SH:      Without a doubt, “Raging Bull.” DeNiro was so unbelievable. He played my father in that movie. That was my dad right there. Beating the shit out of his brother, beating the shit out of his wife, hotheaded, accusing everybody of everything, doing all the wrong shit. I got Goosebumps watching that movie. It’s one of my favorite movies of all time.

BL:     Of the young fighters out there, is there anybody out there whose ability and style you think can restore some credibility back to the sport?

SH:      De La Hoya certainly has the ability. I think Trinidad certainly has it as well. A fight like the Morales – Barrera fight is all we need every once in a while. It isn’t just the fighters that we need, it has to be the fight itself. We have to see good fights. Look at De La Hoya. He fought Whitaker and Trinidad and now he’s fighting Shane Mosley. He’s not ducking anyone. I think he’s doing a great job for the sport. You can be the greatest fighter in the world but if you don’t fight the right people, you’re worthless. I think Lennox Lewis has so much potential but if he had Mike Tyson’s aggression along with his size and skill, he would be invincible. He doesn’t have any gumption. He’s like me. He doesn’t want to get hit.

BL:     Powerful, motivating type music (like the theme from “Rocky” and Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger”) often accompanies a boxer’s gym workout. What songs of yours do you think would be good selections for a fighter to listen to in the gym?

SH:      I think a song that I wrote with Van Halen called “Get Up” on the “5150” album has a lot of good boxing lyrics in it. Another song that I wrote with Van Halen called “Dreams” really motivates you mentally to really make it happen and go for it. If you’re listening to songs like these, you are not gonna quit. They’ll drive you. It’s like having a good trainer.  

BL:     Knowing the demands and potential rewards and pitfalls of both, would you prefer your teenage son to become a rock star or a professional boxer?

SH:       Certainly a rock star. In some respects, they’re very similar. The careers are short lived. If you make it, there’s huge money and unbelievable opportunities for about five years. They’re both a lot of hard work though. People think that rock stars are people that do nothing for a living. It’s the writing and the recording process that really takes up every second of your time. It’s a lot like training for a fight. The performance is like the fight. You stay focused for your two and ½ hours on stage. But when you’re writing or recording, you have to be in dreamland. You can’t have any distractions and you have to just let those ideas come.

BL:     If you were a professional boxer, do you think you would you call yourself Sammy “The Red Rocky” Hagar or would you have something else in mind?

SH:      I’m sure I’d be called “The Red Rocky.” It just kind of fits.

BL:     Are any other of your pals in the rock world also big boxing fans like yourself?

SH:        A guy who’s not necessarily my pal because I’ve never met him but I know that Billy Joel is a big boxing fan. Like myself, I think he used to box too. My old drummer from my days with Montrose, Denny Carmassi, is a huge fan. We’ve been to more fights together than any two human beings on the planet. Denny is definitely a boxing fanatic.  

BL:    You recently had your hair cut off on "The Tonight Show" for the organization "Locks of Love", which makes hairpieces for those children who have lost their hair from disease and medical treatment.  What do you think it would take for Don King to make a similar donation?

SH:      That mop of his! I don’t think anybody would want that on their head. I’d rather be bald.


  A Modest Proposal for the Preservation and Improvement of Pugilism,
with Specific Emphasis on a General Response to the Fallacies of the Purported Reformers of the Sport

by Ancora Imparo

When a thing ceases to be an object of controversy, it ceases to be an object of interest.
-- William Hazlitt, "The Spirit of Controversy (Jan. 31, 1830)

Cleombrotus ceased to be a pugilist, but afterwards married and now has at home . . .a pugnacious old woman hitting as hard as in the Olympian fights, and he dreads his own house more than he ever dreaded the ring.

-- Gaius Lucilius, Epigrams, circa 131 B.C.
Friends, have you ever seen a lousy fight? Lousy, that is, in any of the conventional ways -- match-up, performance, or result. If you have watched more than two fights you are certain to have seen one, so you need not feel unique. The effect on the viewer of a lousy fight, as we have defined it, frequently has one of two affects upon the viewer; it stirs the desire to (1) ban and abolish or (2) : (a) to overhaul and improve.

Reluctantly, I shall not seek in this discourse to address the former, although I reserve the option of rebuttal should the need arise to defend the uninterrupted participation in the sport by those who choose to do so. Number two intrigues me (scatological reference noted but ignored.)

How, then, may we "overhaul and improve" boxing without draining from it the noble and the beautiful? Before answering this important interrogative, we must move from the general to the particular, and muster a list of universal complaints. In short, what is it about modern boxing that has caused lawman and conman alike to explore ways of changing a sport that has remained essentially unchanged since the days of the Trojan wars?

One scientific survey has isolated boxing's chief ills: Lack of uniform rules, Alphabet organizations, corrupt promoters, sycophantic journalism, elderly round-card girls, and Max Kellerman. All of the varied and innumerable "solutions" are aimed at one or more of these issues.

Perhaps the most frequently cited "problem" with boxing is the lack of uniform rules. The reality is that boxing rules differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction in only the most inconsequential of ways. Perhaps in one state a "standing 8-count" is allowed while another does not. Another venue may allow a ringside doctor to stop a fight while yet another empowers the referee only. Quibbles, as in fact the basics remain the same. In boxing, there are not major differences between jurisdictions -- there are no different Leagues -- one using a designated hitter another not. Indeed, I have never heard a fan complain --"Gee, I wish we were using Nevada's rules here in New York." So, no, despite what you hear, the lack of uniform rules is not a major factor.

Another problem cited by nearly all the pundits is the proliferation of "Alphabet Organizations." Each organization names his own champion, the multitude of title-holders, world and regional, cheapens the meaning of the word champion, and confuses all but the most diligent fan. And most are run by foreigners. The fans themselves are somewhat to blame for this however, as the promoters and networks soon learned that even a concocted title belt translates to increased attendance, viewership, and geetch. Promoters who ignore "titles" and put on good solid club fights without regard to the "alphabets" simply do not survive. Fighters, fans, and haberdashers love belts as tokens of victory. Looking more closely at the history of the sport, in fact, one must realize that during Regency Boximania each battle had at stake the opponent's "colors," and the winner would leave the ring with a visible token for victory. (The difference there was that no weight divisions existed and the only title was that of Champion of England). One might suggest, then, that one solution to boxing's problems would be to make every fight a championship fight of one sort or another; alternatively, we could eliminate all weight divisions and anoint the "Champion" based on pound-for-pound skills. These potential solutions, valid, though facile, shall be set aside for now.

A global view reveals that the dissatisfaction derived from the remaining problems can be distilled into one abused word: justice. Or, to be more exact, the perceived lack of fairness at the various levels of the sport -- fighters are unfairly ranked and fighters are unfairly awarded verdicts of the promoter-influenced judges.

The majority of complaints that cross over from the small pond of boxing journalism to the larger cesspool of modern day sports in America arise when from out of these waters rises a stench fouler than putrefied fish -- the odor exuded by the bad decision. Every decade has its shouts of "robbery" that bring forth the reformers, who deluge the press and public alike with suggestions of open scoring, public scoring, neutral judges, solvent judges, judging clinics, ad nauseum. To wit I respond -- "Punch and get out!"

We must recognize here and now that no two persons view a fight the same way. The record books are littered not only with those lousy verdicts recalled today, but hundreds more that no one recalls or cares about -- one example, of multitudes shall suffice: Ken Overlin losing to Billy Soose. Irrelevant, well, you are right. The history quickly obliterates all but a tiny fraction, preserved in great part by reprinted articles in Ring.

This observation leads us to the modest proposal referred to in our title. A proposal so simple that it is sure to be adopted to the joy of villagers throughout the land: Revert to No-Decision bouts.

I'll repeat that again, slowly: Revert to No-Decision bouts. No decisions have a long historical predicate in the sport. For many years, right through the 1930s, they were commonplace. No Champion lost his title on a bad decision in those days as the kayo was the sole arbiter. Respected journalists of the day rendered their opinion as to the winner, and each fan had his choice of a plethora of newspapers and verdicts. everyone was happy. So, Panama Joe Gans could cuff Jeff Smith mercilessly for 8 rounds and be declared the loser in one paper while the winner in another. Genius I say!

Recently a group of boxing writers made a splash by announcing that they were taking on the arduous task of compiling "valid rankings" for the sport. I call upon these same writers to support our proposal. They already voice there opinions on the fights -- it will be easier to implement no decision bouts than to vote on miniflyweights from the Philippines.

Hence, the sport will be saved. Luckily there are a plethora of well-informed journalists in the sport, with more added every day. Indeed with the web, every fan can be a journalist, so everyone can decide his own winner. As Bones McCoy said of a scheduled brain transplant --"It is so simple even a child could do it!!"

To recapitulate, the salvation of the sport mandates the following ---

  • Every fight shall be for a championship
  • Each fan-journalist decides who wins, except for knockouts
  • Journalists decide who rates for a title fight (except those that the eat free food in the pressroom)
  • Youthful Round Card Girls Wear Thongs
Spread the word -- salvation is at hand. You can thank me with some hot chicken soup. Finis.


Joey Giardello: “I Thought I Could Beat Anybody”
By Thomas Gerbasi

From 1998 to the present, middleweight champions Bernard Hopkins, Keith Holmes, and William Joppy fought a combined 16 times.  Having said that, it’s little wonder that the former Carmine Tilelli laughs when asked about the state of the sport today.  “Aw, it’s terrible,” said Tilelli, who is best known as former world middleweight champion Joey Giardello.    12 fights and having a title fight?  Jeez, I had a hundred and something before I got one.  When they made so many champions, I stopped watching boxing.  Every fight was a championship fight.”

For the record, in 1950 alone, Giardello fought 16 times.  ‘Nuff said.

Joey Giardello, born as Carmine Tilelli on July 16, 1930, in Brooklyn, NY, was a fighter’s fighter.  With no amateur background, Giardello, whose father was an amateur fighter, began his boxing education in the pro ranks in 1948.  He scored a second round KO over Johnny Noel in Trenton, NJ, and a career spanning 19 years and 133 bouts began.

Giardello was by no means a power puncher, and he was mainly known as a no-nonsense cutie in the ring.  He could make you look bad, and while he could be flashy, he was a blue-collar worker who gained the respect of his peers quickly. 

One would think that a fighter with little power would want to stray away from the heavy hitters of the day, but not Giardello.  “I thought I could beat anybody. I feared no one,” said Joey.  “A slick guy would give me more trouble.  The punchers didn’t bother me.  They were slow.”

By 1951, Giardello had compiled a 35-4-2 record, and was ready to take on top 10 contender Ernie Durando.  Joey took a 10 round decision, and the boxing world began to take notice.

Giardello’s record in his next 12 bouts though, was a spotty 6-3-3.  This led top contender Billy Graham to deem Giardello a safe bet.  Joey was no such thing, as he took a ten round decision from Graham in Brooklyn in August of 1952.  A rematch was held in New York four months later, and Giardello won a split decision…until the New York State Athletic Commission stepped in.  Two NYSAC members illegally changed one of the judges’ scorecards, and Graham was given the victory.  But Giardello didn’t sit idly by.  He sued and took his case to the New York Supreme Court, which once again gave Giardello his rightful victory.

A third match was fought with Graham in March of 1953, and Billy took a 12 round decision.  Giardello was a legitimate contender now, but he would not receive a title shot for another 7 years, despite scoring victories over Gil Turner, Walter Cartier, Tiger Jones, Rory Calhoun, Chico Vejar, Spider Webb, Holly Mims, and Dick Tiger, with whom he split a pair of fights in 1959.

The win over Tiger, in November of 1959, earned Giardello his overdue title shot, against Gene Fullmer in Bozeman, Montana, for the NBA Middleweight title (April 20, 1960).  As Giardello remembers, “I thought I beat him.  All the newspapers said I beat him, but in his hometown, he got a draw.” The Fullmer fight was a war, punctuated by dirty tactics from both men.  “He was buttin’ me and buttin’ me, and finally I got underneath him and I came up with my head and busted his face.  We’re friends now though,” Laughed Joey.

The draw had an effect on Joey, as he told author Peter Heller in the book, “In This Corner”: “I thought that was it, though.  I didn’t think I would get another chance, because I didn’t have the same heart into the fighting game.”

Giardello continued to fight though, and after putting together a 9-5-1 record over the next three years, he was matched with the legendary Sugar Ray Robinson, with the winner to receive a shot at champion Dick Tiger’s title.  Suddenly, Giardello had his fire back.  “Mr. Ray Robinson was a great fighter, don’t get me wrong, but he would not fight me,” remembers Joey.  “Then he wanted to fight Dick Tiger for the title, and Tiger said he would fight the winner of Robinson and Giardello for the title.  So I beat him.  In those days it was hard to beat me.  It’s all according to how you train, and if I would have trained right, no one would have beat me.  I just wasn’t the best training fighter.”

The win over Robinson, in June of 1963, earned Giardello a December, 1963 shot at the world championship.  That night, December 7, was the high point of Joey Giardello’s career.  “Oh, that was it,” exclaimed Joey.  “I went all those years, 15 years, before I got the chance for the world title.  Robinson wouldn’t give it to me.  And Dick Tiger did.”  Giardello told Heller in “In This Corner”: “I was determined.  If I was fighting a heavyweight, I could have beat him that night…The only thing I remember is he couldn’t hit me…I knew this was it, I’m thirty three years old, this was it.  I knew the postman don’t ring twice now.  I trained good.”

Giardello held the middleweight crown for two years, before losing it to Tiger in a rematch in October of 1965.  As champion he won two non-title ten rounders over Rocky Rivero, and defended the crown with a clearcut 15 round decision over a hard punching challenger, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter.  The unanimous decision over Carter did not invoke any controversy until 35 years later, when a movie chronicling the life of Carter hit the Silver Screen.  In the movie, Carter is shown walloping Giardello, only to be robbed of a win by a racist decision.  This obviously didn’t sit well with anyone who saw the fight, especially Joey Giardello.  “I was the type of fighter who liked to win for my family, and for something like that to happen, it hurt.  I was very discouraged about it.”  A defamation lawsuit was later filed by Giardello, who said of the Carter bout, “He was just another guy.  I had boxed for almost 20 years, and I had fought Ray Robinson and every tough fighter out there.  It was just a regular fight.”

After losing his championship to Tiger, Joey Giardello fought four more times, losing two, with his final win coming over Jack Rodgers in Philadelphia on November 6, 1967.

Joey Giardello retired with a record of 100-25-7, with 1 no-decision.  32 of his wins came by way of knockout.  He was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1993.

“I want to be remembered as a tough fighter who took no baloney from anybody” said Giardello.  “I wouldn’t want anybody to wreck my career, by saying bad things about me to my children.  I want them to know who their father was.” To the sons of Joey Giardello, your Dad is a true champion.

  • Joey Giardello Ring Record


    By Adam Pollack

                Ever since the May 25, 1965 first round knockout of Sonny Liston by Muhammad Ali in their heavyweight championship rematch, debate has focused on whether Liston threw the fight.  Regardless of whether he intended to throw the fight, the focus should not be on Liston as much as it should be on Jersey Joe Walcott, former heavyweight champion and referee for the fight.

    It is clear that Sonny Liston was struck by a quick right hand from Muhammad Ali and fell to the canvas.  The punch that dropped Liston was so quick that many did not see it and called it a phantom punch, speculating that Liston went down without being hit at all.  Slow motion film of the bout revealed that Ali's rapid fire right landed on the left side of Liston's jaw as Liston came forward with a left jab.  Liston's head can be observed jolting from the punch.

    Despite the fact that the punch landed, many question whether the punch had enough force to drop Liston.  Force equals velocity multiplied by mass.  Clearly Ali's punch was extremely fast.  However, many felt the element of mass was missing, that Ali's body was not behind the punch. A careful viewing of the fight film, especially from a rare side view shown on the ABC rebroadcast, indicates that more of Ali's body was behind the punch than was apparent from the frontal view.  Rocky Marciano commented that the punch appeared to begin as an arm punch, but at the end of the punch, Ali does appear to put his body behind it. What is of most importance is not how much mass is behind the punch at its beginning, but at the point of impact.

    However, Ali was never known as a great puncher.  In Muhammad Ali's entire boxing career, his only first round knockout was against Liston. Ali went the distance with men like Joe Frazier and Ken Norton.  George Foreman stopped each in two rounds.  Foreman has said that Liston never
    backed up from him in sparring.  "I was afraid of him.  You didn't want to be in there too long with him."  If Foreman couldn't back Liston up, how could Ali stop him?  It seemed odd that Liston, who had never been knocked down previously, who was considered to be amongst the strongest
    heavyweights, should be dropped by one Ali punch.

    Some noted that Liston was observed with and had probably worked for members of the mob.  It was suggested that they might have bribed Liston.  Perhaps Liston simply had no heart.  What was lacking internally to motivate him to rise from the stool after the sixth round in the first fight may have affected his mental ability to take a punch in the second fight.  The drive, desire, and confidence may have been absent.

    On the other hand, the Ali blow was quick, and there is a saying in boxing that it is the punch you do not see that causes the most damage. Additionally, Liston had moved forward with his own mass with his left jab.  His own body weight propelled into Ali's fist, increasing the impact of the blow.  As fighters age, they often do not take a punch as well.  Some speculated that although Liston was listed as thirty-one, he was probably closer to forty.  As his birthdate is unknown, so too is his age.

    Lack of activity can also diminish a fighter's ability to take a punch. Other than the six round beating Ali handed him on February 25, 1964, Liston had not fought many rounds.  He had stopped Floyd Patterson twice in the first round, on September 25, 1962, and in the rematch on July 22, 1963, prior to his loss to then Cassius Clay.  Accordingly, Liston had fought only eight rounds in approximately two and a half years. Liston was reportedly in good condition prior to the bout, but then it was delayed as a result of an Ali injury.  Some believed that Liston lost his conditioning and sharpness following the delay.  Furthermore, if Liston had wanted to throw the fight, why would he choose such a punch?  He was hit with what appeared to be a more powerful and solid right a bit earlier in the round.  Surely he could have dropped from that punch if he wanted to throw the fight.

    There is no definitive proof that Liston took a dive.  It is clear that Liston was hit.  It is also clear that Liston arose from the canvas. There is nothing in boxing that says you cannot go down from a punch. After being knocked down, Liston at first struggled to rise, and then finally did.  After returning to his feet, he and Ali resumed the bout. If Liston truly did not want to continue, he could have remained flat on his back and pretended to be knocked out.  However, that is not what happened.  Liston arose and continued, just as many fighters do when they are knocked down.  At that point, Liston did what we would expect any champion to do.  Regardless of whether Liston went down legitimately, he arose and was prepared to continue.

    While it is unclear whether Liston legitimately went down, it is patently obvious that Jersey Joe Walcott's actions as referee were improper.  Referee Jersey Joe Walcott did not stop the bout because Liston was unable or refused to continue.  Rather, the bout was stopped because Walcott decided to stop the bout without providing Liston a count.  Therefore, it was the intervening actions of the referee which superseded any allegedly improper conduct of Liston.  It is these actions which should truly be focused upon.

    Judging the actions of Joe Walcott require no speculation.  However, in fairness to Liston, Joe Walcott's history deserves as much scrutiny as has been provided Sonny Liston.  The Ali - Liston rematch was not Joe Walcott's first involvement with a dubious first round knockout.

    On September 23, 1952, Jersey Joe Walcott was well ahead on points and on his way to successfully defending his heavyweight title against Rocky Marciano.  Although Marciano had landed big punches, Walcott had taken them well, and had even become the first man to deck Marciano.  However, the cumulative effect of Marciano's blows had sufficiently softened Walcott for a Marciano bomb.  In the thirteenth round, Marciano landed a thunderous right cross to Walcott's jaw, which knocked Joe out. Marciano had scored a comeback victory.

    On  May 15, 1953, Marciano and Walcott fought the rematch.  In this bout, Walcott did not demonstrate his superior boxing skills in order to mount a points lead as he had in the first bout, nor did he demonstrate the powerful counterpunching which had floored Marciano.  This time Walcott was hit by a single right hand which dropped him in the very first round.  Walcott almost immediately sat up and looked at the referee giving him the count.  Walcott appeared clear headed, looking at the referee and observing the count.  As he had his legs outstretched, he needed to bring them underneath him to rise from the canvas. However, Walcott did not attempt to rise until the count of nine.  By the time he arose, the referee had counted to ten.  Joe Walcott had been stopped in the first round.

    Although it seems clear based on Walcott's demeanor that he could have risen early in the count, begun to rise early in the count, or placed his legs underneath him so he could rise quickly when he needed to, he did not take any course of action other than to sit up and look at the referee counting over him until "nine" was reached.  At that point, it was too late to begin the process of getting his legs under him and pushing off the canvas with both his legs and fist.

    Jersey Joe Walcott, the man who had given Marciano so much trouble one year earlier and taken his blows for thirteen rounds, the man who had arguably defeated  Joe Louis in one bout and was ahead on points in a second prior to being knocked out in the eleventh round, had been officially knocked out in the first round.  Previously, the earliest Walcott had been stopped was six rounds, by Abe Simon back in 1940.

    Immediately following being counted out, a clearly cogent Walcott protested in vain.  Following the bout, the forty year old Walcott announced his retirement.  The question to this day remains, 'Why didn't the clear-headed Walcott even attempt to rise earlier?'  From the visual images alone, Walcott was more able to rise in 1953 than was Liston in 1965.

    Although not a referee by trade, the inexperienced Jersey Joe Walcott was appointed to referee the Ali-Liston rematch.  When the fight was introduced by the ring announcer, Walcott was conspicuously missing from the picture.  He was late entering the ring.  This was an ironic harbinger of things to come.

    By rule, Ali was required to go to the neutral corner following a knockdown.  Following the Liston knockdown, Ali taunted Liston and began dancing about the ring in delight.  Ali failed to go to a neutral corner, and the inexperienced Walcott was unable to send Ali to the neutral corner.  At first Ali circled the ring, hovering over Liston. Walcott attempted to catch up with Ali.  Finally, Walcott directed Ali to a neutral corner, who then disregarded the direction, continuing to circle the ring with his hands raised.  Thus, at no point did Ali go to the neutral corner and remain there until directed to approach ring center by the referee.  Ali completely disregarded the rules, and
    Walcott never enforced them.

    The neutral corner rule had been around for decades.  The rule stated that the ten count would be suspended until the fighter scoring the knockdown went to the neutral corner.  In the famous 1927 heavyweight championship rematch between Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney, Dempsey had knocked Tunney down, but failed to go to the neutral corner as required by the new rule.  It was not until Dempsey properly went to the neutral corner that the referee began counting over Tunney.  Although Tunney arose at the count of nine, he had been on the canvas for fourteen seconds.  This lead many to debate whether Tunney could have risen in time had the count begun before Dempsey went to the neutral corner. Thus, the neutral corner rule had not only been a part of boxing for over thirty-five years, but it was a famous rule as a result of the Dempsey-Tunney bout.

    Later modifications of the neutral corner rule provided that the count by the ringside timekeeper would begin immediately, and the referee would pick up the count from the timekeeper after directing the other boxer to the neutral corner.  In general, this occurs at about the count of four, but usually no later than seven.  At the very least, a fighter is provided three or four oral counts by the referee so he can rise in time.  If a fighter is so recalcitrant as not to go to the neutral corner, then as a penalty for failing to obey the rules, referees will not pick up the true count from the timekeeper, but will suspend the count altogether, beginning it again only after the fighter complies with his directions.  Never will a referee penalize a fallen fighter by not providing him a count at all as the result of the other fighter failing to go to the neutral corner.  Depriving the fallen fighter the benefit of a count as a result of the actions of the scofflaw opponent would provide a perverse incentive to fighters.

    Failing to ensure Ali's presence in the neutral corner, Walcott either attempted to pick up the count from the timekeeper or was distracted by Nat Fleischer, editor of The Ring, who informed Walcott that Liston had been down for over ten seconds.  At that point, Liston had risen and engaged Ali again.  Following his discussions with Nat Fleischer and/or the ringside timekeeper, Walcott finally turned around and again focused on the fighters.  Walcott stepped between the two combatants and terminated the bout.  At no point did Walcott provide Liston a count, as required by the rules.  It is amazing that Walcott was either unaware of the famous neutral corner rule or decided to disregard it.

    The purpose of a ten count by the referee is to provide a fighter the opportunity to rise within ten seconds.  By providing the fighter a count, the boxer can know exactly when to rise in order to continue the bout.  It is the exclusive responsibility of the referee to provide the fallen fighter the benefit of a count.  A fighter cannot be counted out by the timekeeper or a magazine editor.  A fighter is never required to provide himself a count and speculate as to when ten seconds have
    elapsed.  However, that is exactly what Joe Walcott expected Sonny Liston to do.  In the post-fight interview, Liston commented that he tried to pick up the count, but was never provided one.

    Not only did Joe Walcott fail to ensure Ali's proper presence in the neutral corner, he failed to suspend the ten count, and failed to provide Liston a count whatsoever. When Walcott failed to provide Liston this opportunity, he deprived Liston the same clear opportunity to rise within ten seconds that he had been afforded in his rematch with Marciano.  In hindsight, it is irrelevant that Liston was knocked down.It is clear that he arose and continued.  It is also clear that Walcott
    failed his duties as referee.  Joe Walcott, in terminating the bout, had once again become involved with a controversial first round knockout, and should properly be the focus of the Ali-Liston rematch.  Ironically, and sadly not a surprise in the sport of boxing, years later Walcott was
    appointed the New Jersey State Athletic Commissioner.



    He was the stuff that boxing lore is made of.

    They called him "Sellout Moe" and he was a chunky old man with twinkling eyes and a mischievous smile on his wrinkled face. In his youth he was a four round fighter, a topnotch trainer and corner, manager of world champions and contenders, but above all, Moe Fleischer was the king of matchmakers.

    There was a time long ago, before television and computers, even before frozen dinners and Hitler, when boxing flourished in America. In New York City it was common to have a dozen pro cards in a single week, sometimes four or five running on the same night in different neighborhoods of the Big Apple. Across the river, in New Jersey, pro cards ran weekly in Newark, Jersey City and other urban centers. The competition for fighters was fierce among promoters. To draw crowds a boxing card needed to build up local heroes, often in tough fights, and match together a show that would motivate the public to buy tickets even in lean times.

    It was the age of Moe Fleischer. At one time he was matchmaking eight cards a week in three different cities. One of his fight clubs was so successful that it experienced twenty-three consecutive sellouts, earning Moe his famous nickname.

    "I liked that nickname," he once told me, "It sounds a lot better than other boxing nicknames like "Fainting Phil" or "The Bayonne Bleeder." I had a good nickname. The newspapers made it up…"

    Before he became "Sellout Moe" he was just another kid from a poor Jewish neighborhood in Manhattan. He worked in the mailroom of a New York newspaper and would often run errands for a boxing writer better known for his expertise with a gun, the legendary Bat Masterson. As a youth Moe dreamed of following the path of Joe Benjamin, a neighbor who fought Terrible Terry McGovern, but reality sank in after being trounced in his first two fights.

    Studying to become a trainer, he worked corners almost daily. Although he was often younger than the pugs he cornered, Moe showed such hustle that a top manager named Slick Paddy Mullins offered him a chance to train a young prospect named Sammy Cohen. Moe turned Cohen into a flyweight contender who traded leather with Pancho Villa and Frankie Genaro.

    Moe Fleischer, barely out his teens, earned his living training topnotch fighters of the era, including the popular Jimmy Slavin, welterweight contender Sergeant Sammy Baker and lightweight headliner Bruce Flowers. The greatest break in his career came the same week Moe was wed. An offer was made for Fleischer to train heavyweight Tom Heeney. "The Hard Rock from Down Under" was scheduled to fight Gene Tunney. Unwilling to postpone his wedding or give up the chance to work a heavyweight title fight Fleischer did both. He married, took Heeney to the wedding reception and left on his honeymoon dragging his heavyweight along.

    "We would get up at five in the morning to do roadwork," Moe related years later, "My wife was not very happy with the strange arrangement but she had no choice. This was my job and I was committed to it, to a chance of a lifetime."

    Heeney did not beat Tunney but Moe established a friendship at that fight with a Cuban fight manager named Pincho Gutierrez. The Cuban journalist turned boxing entrepreneur hired Moe to work as trainer and booking agent for his squad of young fighters. The two best were Black Bill and Kid Chocolate.

    Black Bill was a Cuban flyweight named Eladio Valdez, who borrowed his ring name from an earlier Black Bill, a heavyweight who had fought Sam Langford. The little flyweight was a lightning quick combination puncher, a veteran of several years of pro fighting in Havana rings, often against bigger opponents.

    "Black Bill was one good fighter," Moe said in one of our interviews, "He could box, hit, fight inside or outside and he was slick, hard to hit. He had a lot of talent and he was in the top ten ratings for five years. I took him to Canada and he beat every one of those little guys over there. He fought in New York and won and lost with Corporal Izzy Schwartz and fought a thriller with Willie Davis. The trouble with Bill was his training methods. He was a hard worker at the gym but a harder worker with a woman, a bottle or a nightclub. People talk about Kid Chocolate and his partying…I tell you Bill was worse. He would get into street fights with bigger guys and get arrested. Bill drank, smoked, gambled and chased every skirt he could find, even though he had a wife that was twice his size…she weighed over two hundred pounds."

    Black Bill, also called the Cuban Ink Spot, fought Midget Wolgast for the flyweight crown in a New York ring, circa 1930, losing a tight decision.

    "By the time Bill fought Wolgast." Moe said sadly "he was washed up. Bill had suffered venereal diseases and was going blind and he hid it from me. When Pincho and I found out we retired him, but it was a tragic ending. He had not saved a nickel and was too troublesome to hold down a steady job. He drank more, tried to kill his wife and then shot himself with a gun in a New York boarding house. That was in thirty-four. Bill was a great little fighter but he was a wild boy."

    "Chocolate wasn’t easy either," Moe said, "he was a great champion but he threw his money away in expensive suits, loose women and sleek cars…but he was some fighter. I think he was the greatest fighter I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen them all. He could do everything and I saw him make some moves I’ve never seen other fighters make. He was so fast, that he would hit you three times with the same jab before you realized he had thrown the first one…Once we were fighting up in Pennsylvania and I left the dressing room for a few minutes. When I returned, I smelled gas. Someone wanted the local boy to win badly and they could have killed Chocolate with that open gas line. By fight time the Kid was woozy and I wanted to cancel the fight but the Kid insisted he could beat the local boy even drugged up. I beat him Moe-he said-I beat him. I was worried but Chocolate won every round. It was all instinct. He was a natural, the best fighter I’ve ever seen. If he had not whored around he would have been champion for ten years."

    Kid Chocolate had a career record of 132-10-6 with 50 KO wins. Sellout Moe worked with Chocolate in more than eighty of those bouts.

    My favorite Sellout Moe anecdote took place in the bleak days of the Great Depression.

    "Times were tough," Moe said in an old interview "but a man could get by on twenty dollars a month. I paid seven dollars rent for a nice apartment in New York. I was making ends meet but I was busy matchmaking in New York and Jersey and shipping fighters to other states. One day I get a call from a promoter in Connecticut. He tells me he has a local fighter who’s drawing good crowds and he has a Jewish convention in town and he needs a Jewish heavyweight for a sell-out. The purse is fifty bucks, which means a lot in those days. I could live for a month on my share of that fight, so I tell him I have a Jewish boy named Abie Cohen and we make the deal."

    Moe had no Jewish fighter but he did have an Irish veteran named Hynes who was willing to wear a Star-of-David in his trunks in order to feed his family. On the train ride over to Connecticut, Moe darkened Hynes graying locks by applying a burnt cork to the club-fighter’s scalp.

    Hynes was nervous by fight time. His opponent was a well-muscled, large, black heavyweight. At the time of his introduction as Abie Cohen, the Irish boy did something out of reflex that he had done in seventy-five previous fights: he crossed himself in a typical Catholic gesture.

    "The Jews in the audience gasped," Moe related, "but I told the promoter- Abie is of mixed blood. His mother is Catholic and his father is Jewish."

    Hynes hit the local boy a few good body shots and was repaid with a booming right hand that decked him at the end of the round. Abie Cohen returned to his corner on wobbly legs."

    "I had paid a kid to work the corner with me," Moe said, "and he started sponging water on Hynes head. To my horror, the black soot from the burnt cork started running down his face. It was Abie Cohen’s last fight. Hynes got stopped in the second and we were fined twenty bucks but with the thirty left over we had enough to pay the bills for a few weeks."

    Moe continued to work in the fight game, earning his nickname based on twenty-three straight club sellouts.

    "Like all matchmakers I had to give the local hero an edge," he said of his matching techniques, "but not too much of an edge. I made competitive fights."

    Moe slowed down during the fifties, not liking the characters that controlled the fight game. When his wife died in the sixties, Sellout Moe wanted to die also. He was despondent but was rescued back into the boxing trade by the Dundee brothers.

    "They saved my life," Moe said to this writer, "Chris said –Come on down to Miami Beach, Moe. Angelo has lots of fighters and we need someone we can trust to work with the promotions. This gave me a chance at life…I’ve known Chris since we were boys. Chris managed Midget Wolgast and we worked opposite corners when I had Black Bill…and Angelo I’ve known since he was a kid hanging out in the gym learning the trade from Ray Arcel."

    For over two decades Moe worked at the Fifth Street Gym, where he worked with young fighters and old journeymen. His glory days were not over, for Moe took on a young prospect from the Bahamas named Elisha Obed, molding the raw talent into a world champion.

    "Obed was a good fighter," Moe recalled, "He had a long reach, a solid right hand and good reflexes. I traveled all over the world with him, to Paris, to Brazil and Germany. He was the first world champion from the Bahamas and they treated me royally every time I visited Nassau. It was fun."

    Even living legends pass on. Moe died before the beloved Fifth Street Gym was torn down. His wake was held at a funeral home in Little Havana, a fitting place for a last curtain, for Moe had been an important part of Cuban boxing lore. Ferdie Pacheco, Angelo and Chris, Frankie Otero and Hank Kaplan were there, as was Joe Robbie, the sports entrepreneur.

    It was Moe Fleischer’s last sellout room.

    Enrique Encinosa can be reached at encinosa@hotmail.com

    Jose Napoles

    By Rick Farris

    Throughout boxing history the welterweight division has been blessed with exceptional prizefighters.  Names such as Walker, Ross, McLarnin, Armstrong, Robinson, Griffith and Leonard are just a few of the greats that come to mind.  However, another name cannot be overlooked when considering great 147 pounders,  Jose Napoles.

    Napoles' nickname "Mantequilla" is the Spanish word for butter and anybody who had the pleasure of watching this brilliant boxer perform understands that Napoles’ style was as smooth as butter.  It was a style that combined great boxing skill, devastating punching power and cool control of the ring. It was a style that created trouble for any opponent he faced.  I'd have to
    say the best way to describe Napoles’ style is "timeless".  It was a style that could unravel the old timers and the new breed as well.

    I had the opportunity to watch this great welterweight's career evolve into a world championship during the years I was boxing.  Napoles started out as a lightweight, but had to take on the best junior welterweights and welterweights in the world in order to get fights.  Napoles beat them all in
    convincing fashion until finally, with the help of a great promoter, a champion finally gave him a title shot.

    I'll give a brief run down of Napoles early career, however, my story begins in 1968, about a year before he won the title.  Although I never boxed with Napoles, I know three men who challenged Mantequilla for the title. Ironically, all three of these welterweight contenders challenged Napoles for the crown twice.  Much of my opinion of Napoles is based on the words of these three men who know him far better than those of us who saw him from ringside or watched him train in the gym.  You get to know exactly how great a fighter is, or is not, after banging it out with him for fifteen rounds. 

    The three contenders whom I am referring to are Ernie "Indian Red" Lopez, Hedgeman Lewis and Armando Muniz.  All three were talented and tough welterweights during the 60's and 70's, and all three agree that they never fought anybody better than Jose Napoles.

    Jose Napoles was born in Cuba on April 13, 1940.  He made his pro boxing debut in 1958, at the age of 18, and fought the first four years of his professional career in Cuba.  Between 1958 and 1961, Napoles put together a record of 17-1 (8  KO's) before fleeing the regime of Fidel Castro and making his home in Mexico.  Without the perils of living in a communist country,
    Napoles would now have a chance to make a name for himself in the world of boxing. 

    Mexico was almost perfect for Napoles, a Spanish speaking culture and rich in boxing talent.  Many of the world's best boxers under 147 pounds hailed from Mexico and the Cuban lightweight would have the opposition necessary to take him to the next level.  Of course, it wouldn't be easy.  Napoles wasn't a Mexican.

    After sixteen months of inactivity, Napoles resumed his boxing career in Mexico in July of 1962.  Napoles quickly scored three straight knockouts before winning a ten round decision over Tony Perez.  In a rematch, Perez was awarded a controversial decision over Napoles.  Napoles scored two more victories including a decision over the highly regarded Baby Vasquez before
    losing again, this time  in a ten rounder to Alfredo Urbina, one of the greatest lightweights Mexico ever produced.

    After losing to Urbina,  Napoles went on a rampage and won 18 straight with 17 knockouts, including KO's over Urbina and Perez in rematches.  He also defeated Junior Welterweight champs Carlos Hernandez and Eddie Perkins, Adolph Pruitt and scored two knockouts over L.C. Morgan.  After losing on a cut to Morgan in their third fight,  Napoles KO'ed Morgan for the third time. From there,  Napoles put together a string of victories that would lead right up to a shot at the welterweight championship.

    In 1968, the legendary George Parnassus became the boxing promoter for the newly built "Forum" in Inglewood, California.  Parnassus had promoted boxing for years in the Los Angeles area, as well as in Mexico.  Parnassus had a connection that would allow him to bring the very best talent up from below the border to Los Angeles.  He would feature the very best Mexican stars at the Forum and it was here that many would become world champions.   Champions
    such as Ruben Olivares, Chucho Castillo and Carlos Zarate won world titles in Parnassus promotions at the Forum, and so did Jose "Mantequilla" Napoles.

    Napoles made his U.S. debut at the Forum in Parnassus' initial promotion that featured bantamweight contenders Jesus Pimentel and Chucho Castillo.   I was anxious to see Napoles and was at the Forum that night.   However,  Mantequilla didn't give us a long look.  He KO'ed Lloyd Marshall half way thru the opening round.

    A few months later I got a little longer look at the future welterweight king when I saw him flatten Ireland's Des Rea in five rounds on the undercard of a featherweight main event featuring Dwight Hawkins and Frankie Crawford at the Forum.

    Hawkins was the number one rated featherweight at the time and helped train me for manager Johnny Flores.  I had heard Flores and Hawkins talk about how great a fighter this Napoles was and after seeing him in person at the Forum and in the gym I had to agree.  Anybody amazed by the talent of Roy Jones Jr. would be a lot less impressed had they seen Jose Napoles up close.

    In April of 1969, Jose Napoles would finally get a shot at World Welterweight Champion Curtis Cokes.  Napoles was 29-years-old and had been fighting professionally and defeating the best for 11 years when he stepped into the ring at the Forum before a sellout crowd of more than 18,000.  Many of the spectators had come up  from Mexico in buses that Parnassus had chartered and the sound of mariachis filled the arena.  Mexico had adopted the transplanted Cuban as one of their own and when Napoles climbed thru the ropes the Forum exploded with excitement.

    Napoles had his way with Cokes and battered the champion at well.  After 13 rounds referee Dick young stopped the fight to save Cokes from further punishment.  Jose Napoles had escaped communism, defeated the best in three divisions and now, after 11 difficult years was the Welterweight Champion of the world.  

    Less than three months after winning the title, Napoles gave Cokes a rematch and again stopped the former champion in the 13th round.   Like most champions of the era, Napoles didn't sit on the title between title defenses and stayed sharp with several non-title fights which he won by knockout.  Mantequilla finished out 1969 with a unanimous fifteen round decision over former welterweight and middleweight champ Emile Griffith in his second defense of the title.

    In 1970,  Napoles KO'ed number one rated Ernie "Indian Red" Lopez in fifteen rounds and scored two more knockouts in non-title matches.  Napoles closed out 1970 with his fourth title defense in Syracuse, New York against Billy Backus,  the nephew of former champ Carmen Basilio.

    Backus was given little chance of beating Napoles.  However,  after opening a cut over the champion's eye with a head butt in the 4th round,  the bout was stopped and awarded to Backus. 

    Six months later,  on June 6, 1971, Napoles would regain his title by destroying Backus in six rounds at the Forum.   I was 19-years-old at the time and had been fighting professionally for exactly one year.  I was scheduled to fight on the undercard of the Napoles-Backus rematch and
    remember all the excitement in the dressing room after Napoles had regained the title.  I had won my fight that night but the biggest thrill for me was not my win,  but having Carmen Basilio compliment me after my fight.  Basilio had worked his nephew's corner that night and was kind enough to recognize that I had done well in my fight.

    My most vivid memory of Napoles took place six months later,  as he trained for his next title defense against Hedgeman Lewis.  This would be one of two championship fights at the Forum along with a World Bantamweight title fight between champion Ruben Olivares and Jesus Pimentel.

    I was one of Ruben Olivares' sparring partners for the Pimentel fight and each day we would workout immediately following Napoles before a paying audience.  Promoter George Parnassus had his office at the old Elks Building,  located right off Wilshire Blvd. near Alvarado St. in downtown Los Angeles.  Today the Elks Building is the Park Plaza Hotel and sits right across from Macarthur Park. 

    Parnassus had a gym set up in the ball room of the Elks Bldg. with a ring at one end of the room against the stage and a couple of heavy bags, a speed bag and double-end bag on the stage.  People would pay $1 admission to watch the boxers train and we'd usually have several hundred spectators for each workout.   I recall that former lightweight champion Lauro Salas,  one of Parnassus' friends who'd fallen on hard times,  would collect admission at the door and Parnassus would let Salas keep the money so as the former champ could pay his rent and feed himself.  Parnassus was a legendary promoter and had a legendary soft spot in his heart for ex-boxers.

    Boxers are some of the friendliest people you could meet but people don't realize that most boxers,  regardless of how nice,  have a mean streak.  This was especially true of Jose Napoles.

    One of Napoles chief sparring partners was an L.A. club fighter named Baby Cassius.  Baby Cassius (Eric Thomas) knew this all too well after sparring with the champ.  I remember talking with Baby Cassius in the dressing room following one of his sparring sessions with Napoles.  Both of Eric's eyes were swollen and his nose was bloody.  Cassius would moan,  "All I wanna do is earn a little Christmas money, but this guy is killing me".  He also told me that he knew Napoles was drinking because he could smell alcohol on the champion as they were sparring.  I didn't feel sorry for Baby Cassius because he didn't receive any worse an ass whipping from Napoles than what I (or any sparring partner) receives when trying to punch it out with a great world champ.  That's the business.   However,  one incident involving Napoles between rounds of a sparring session will always stick out in my mind.

    Napoles had an assistant trainer in L.A. named Phil Silvers.  I never cared much for Silvers personally and it was obvious that Napoles didn't either.  Silvers job was to tie the champions gloves and give him water between rounds of sparring sessions.  One day,  after pouring some water into Napoles mouth between rounds of a sparring session,   the champ spit the water back into Silver's face.  He then smirked and turned around.  Not even the wildest fans watching the workout made a noise.  I remember how surprised I was to see this, and obviously, so was everybody else.  "What a jerk", I thought.

    A couple of days later I had a strange experience with Napoles myself.  One day after he finished sparring,  I was warming up for my sparring session with Olivares.  I was punching one of the two heavy bags on the stage and had my eye on Napoles as his trainer helped him slip on his bag gloves.  I wanted to see if Napoles was ready to hit the bag that I was warming up on and if he
    was I'd move to the other bag.  Napoles was the champ and he could hit whatever bag he wanted to hit.  It was his show,  not mine.  When I saw Napoles moving my way I assumed he wanted the bag I was punching and I respectfully moved to the other bag.  Napoles started banging away at the bag and I began doing the same on the other bag.

    As the next round started I saw Napoles approaching me out of the corner of my eye and he tapped me on the shoulder.  When I looked at him he motioned for me to move away from the bag and pointed at the other bag.  "No problem",  I thought to myself, and moved to the other bag.  As I'm punching the other bag I see Napoles heading toward me again and noticed a few of his friends smiling.   It occurred to me that Napoles was either trying to play a joke on me, or intimidate me,  or whatever.  Napoles again tapped me on the shoulder and waved me off the bag.  When Napoles began to hit the bag,  I tapped him on the shoulder and pointed to the other bag,  then stepped in front of him and began hitting the bag again.  Napoles grabs my arm and I turn to face him.

    In my mind,  I had set myself up for an ass whipping by the welterweight champion of the world.  However,  a fighter does not let himself get pushed around by another fighter and I looked him directly in the eyes.  We stood face-to-face for a few seconds that seemed like hours to me.  Napoles had a very serious look on his face and I didn't know what was coming next.  My trainer,  Mel Epstein,  saw what was going on and quickly stepped in.  "C'mon Ricky,  let's get ready for Olivares",  he said,  trying to pull me out of the situation.  All of a sudden Napoles begins to smile and turns toward Epstein,  motioning that it was Ok for me to continue working on the bag.

    I will never know what Napoles was doing but I assume he was having fun trying to see how much I would take.  One thing I did notice was that Napoles reeked of alcohol.  I was surprised, despite having this told me earlier by Baby Cassius. 

    A couple of weeks later,  Olivares stopped Jesus Pimentel in twelve rounds and Napoles won a very close fifteen round decision over the flashy Hedgeman Lewis.  Lewis was a very flashy welterweight along the lines of a Sugar Ray Leonard, but not the class of Napoles.  I realized that Napoles partying had affected his performance.  three years later,  Napoles and Lewis fight again and this time Mantequilla would ruin Hedge.  Lewis was never the same after the beating he took from Napoles in this title fight.

    The same was true with Ernie 'Indian Red" Lopez.  Three years after losing to Napoles in his first bid for the welterweight crown,  Lopez was given a second chance in 1973.   After the beating Lopez took from Napoles in this fight he was never any good again.  I remember talking with Lopez at the Main Street Gym in Los Angeles just a few days after his second fight with Napoles. I told Ernie I thought he gave Napoles a good fight and was shocked by Ernie's response.  "I'll never fight that guy again . . . for any amount of money!"   These aren't the kind of words that came out of the mouth of Ernie "Indian Red" Lopez.

    At 34, Jose Napoles, a blown-up lightweight who had become one of the greatest welterweight champs in history,  challenged another great fighter, Carlos Monzon for the undisputed Middleweight title.  Napoles was stopped in seven rounds.

    Napoles defended the welterweight title fifteen times and when he was the undisputed champ,  something that no longer exists.  his last two title defenses were against a friend of mine,  Armando Muniz.

    Like Lewis,  Muniz caught Napoles out of shape in their first match and almost won the title.  However,  in the rematch held three months later in Mexico City,  Napoles had his way with Muniz and scored a unanimous fifteen round decision win. 

    On December 6, 1975,  after holding the welterweight title nearly eight years,  Jose Napoles would make his last defense of the title at age 35.  Englishman John Stracey would stop Napoles in his hometown of Mexico City.

    After the fight,  Napoles would announce his retirement from boxing after spending more than half his life in the professional boxing ring.

    When thinking about the great welterweights in boxing,  don't forget the guy they called 'Mantequilla". He was a true all-time great. 

    Pernell Whitaker Vs. Gods, Monsters, and Superheroes
    By Lucius Shepard

        Thanks to Alex Hall’s brilliant analysis in the April CBZ magazine of how future Hall of Famer Pernell ’Sweetpea’ Whitaker would fare against boxing¹s all time greats, we can put that topic to rest and go on to consider how the Pea would handle even more powerful opponents.  It¹s clear that Whitaker would have no trouble with such fringe contenders as Wolverine (or any of the X Men, for that matter), the Thing (I’m talking the Antarctic vegetable guy here), and Hercules, but there are some significant challenges out there, and I¹ve chosen a few that I think will serve to measure Whitaker's greatness against a higher standard.

    It doesn't get much better than this--the ultimate contrast in styles.  The first few rounds are all
    Godzilla as the Tokyo Trasher flattens the arena and most of the adjoining buildings with ferocious stomps and tail smashes.  But the ever-elusive Pea avoids serious damage and by the seventh, Godzilla is breathing through his mouth, his flame is sputtering, and he¹s leaning on the surrounding skyscrapers to catch a blow.  In the tenth, utterly fatigued, the big lizard drops to a knee and takes an eight-count.  With Godzilla wobbly and off-balance, Whitaker delivers a
    body shot that puts him down for good at 2:12 of the stanza, crushing a considerable portion of the suburbs in the process.   ‘I ain’t takin’ nothin’ away from him,’ says the Pea.  ‘That¹s a tough motherfuckin’ reptile.  But I ain’t no damn city jus’ gon’ set there and let him squash me.’

    Pernell’s the quickest lightweight around, but compared to The World’s Fastest Human, he’s Turtle Boy.  The Flash lands at will.  Trouble is, he’s got even less pop than the Pea, and he¹s moving too fast--the judges can’t score what they can’t see (after all, they¹re not the PunchStat people).  The crowd jeers as Pernell chases the Flash round after round, unable to land his own shots.  In one of the most reviled and apparently uneventful title bouts in history, Pernell’s ineffective aggression is enough to snag the decision.

    WHITAKER versus ZEUS
    Those lightning bolts take their toll, but once the Pea brings the fight inside, smothering Zeus’ power, he makes it easy for himself.   Accustomed to three-round Olympian bouts, the Father of the Gods fades badly and is stopped in the sixth. 

    At first glance this looks like a breeze for the Pea, but given Whitaker’s reputation as a party animal, you gotta give any babe with a bustier and a magic rope a decent chance.  If he’s in shape and focused, Whitaker by 3rd round stoppage; if he's not, the Amazon Warrior Princess picks off his punches on her golden bracelets and hip shakes her way to a unanimous decision. 

    The gas-squirting lapel flower gives Whittaker lots of problems in the beginning, and he takes a pounding over the first four rounds.  But once he learns to avoid the gas by staying low, he gains the upper hand.  His posse starts chanting, ‘Wait’ll they get a load of Pea!’, and only the arrival of Batman thwarts the Joker’s henchmen from stealing the box office receipts.   The fighters spend much of the bout showboating and exchanging taunts, and ringsiders give the edge in the verbal battle to the guy in the funny-looking suit; but referee Mitch Halpern penalizes the Joker twice for making bad puns, and Pernell retains the belt via controversial draw. 

    For the first two rounds, it’s a brutal mismatch. Whitaker has never before absorbed such punishment and seems headed for his first KO loss.  His only hope is that the Hulk will lose interest and revert back to Doc Bruce Banner.  Midway through the third, however, the big
    green guy mistakes Lou Duva for the female Hulk, becomes aroused, and chases the jiggly septuagenarian off toward the dressing rooms.  Whitaker by DQ. 

    Probably the only challenger whose talent for ring generalship outstrips Whittaker’s, Braniac scores early and often; but he’s too old, too fat, and way too mechanical.  He quits on his stool after the fourth, causing his enraged manager, Doctor Doom, to destroy Philadelphia. 

    Like some pale wimp with an exciting haircut is going to be a match for the Pea...C’mon!   The Sandman’s got loads of attitude but no skillz to speak of.  He goes to sleep in the first, and Whitaker is seen heading for AC with the cute Goth chick.

    The Pea’s toughest test to date.  Darkness fills the ring, and Whitaker’s screams are heard in the back rows.  The Pea hangs in there for the full twelve, but there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind as to who the winner is.  There is, however, one power even greater than evil--the co-promoter of the bout, Don King--and two of the three judges vote for Whitaker.  The Dark Lord enfolds the judges in his black ring robe and vanishes with them to parts unknown, an act that leads to his being suspended for thirty days by the Nevada commission.

    On paper this one looks dead even, but once the bout begins it¹s clear that Whittaker is no match for himself..at least not for the godlike pugilist that the normally astute Mr. Kellerman envisions him to be. The KO punch--thrown by Kellerman’s Pea at 2:03 of the first--is so powerful, it serves to initiate a second Big Bang, thus creating a new universe populated entirely by Pernell Whitakers, all of whom worship god in the form of a pale young guy with gelled hair and a goatee.

    Next Issue:  Pernell Whitaker vs. the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the 7 Deadly Sins, and the LAPD.

    Diary of a Young Heavyweight – First of a Series

    Clifford  “The Black Rhino”  Etienne  

    As told to Thomas Gerbasi

    Clifford “The Black Rhino” Etienne is a 30 year old heavyweight prospect.  Etienne is currently 16-0 with 11 knockouts.  His most recent victory was a unanimous 10 round decision over highly regarded Lamon Brewster on the debut of HBO’s KO Nation Series. 

    Etienne was a standout student and athlete in high school.  His prowess on the football field earned him recruiting interest from Oklahoma, LSU, and Texas A&M.

    “I was born in Lafayette, Louisiana, but I grew up in New Iberia.  My Mom and Dad kept a tight rein on me.  We stayed in the neighborhood, outside the city limits, in the country.  I was really a loner most of the time.  When I started coming up in school, and playing ball, I got really popular.  It was something I wasn’t used to.  I just tried everything, and when they started letting the reins loose a little bit, I made some bad choices.”


    Etienne spent 10 years in prison, where he learned to fight at the age of 18. 


    “I was 18.  I liked boxing.  I used to watch it, and I’d never miss it on TV.  No matter what, people are going to try you sooner or later.  You’re going to get in a lot of conflicts.  That’s human nature, especially when you’ve got a lot of men together in one spot.  I handled myself like a real man the whole time through.  I respected everybody, and I was respected back, even from the wardens and correction officers.  I didn’t have too many problems.


    “I feel that because of the time I spent in prison I was preserved.  I haven’t been in any wars and took beatings.  I feel like I’m 23, 24.  My body is in good shape.  I’m not in a rush.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s patience.”


    Etienne turned pro in 1998 under the auspices of agent Eddie Sapir and Promoter Leslie Bonano.  Don Turner soon joined J.C. Davis as trainers of Etienne.


    “Being a fighter, you want to fight the good guys.  You want to make good first impressions.  Even if you’re not ready sometimes. My trainers feel like I’m ready to step up. I know I’ve got over 100 years of experience in my corner.  It’s another confidence booster.  But I’m not short on confidence by a long shot.  I train hard, I work hard, I eat right, I live right.  So I know that any time I get up in that ring, my opponent had better have done the same thing himself.  I’m serious.  When I get in there, I’m like, I’ll take my time, do this, do that.  But when I get in there and someone might catch me with a punch or something, BAM!  I just kick it up a notch.  It’s a war in there.

    Etienne’s work rate surprised observers, and made “The Black Rhino” a fighter to watch in the heavyweight division. 

    “They’re gonna see a fight. They’re not going to watch heavyweights hugging and holding.  Because my opponent’s going to have to fight when he gets in there with me.  Either he’ll fight or check out of the ring.  I throw a lot of punches for a heavyweight.  I work out like that, and I can fight like that.  I guess that’s why people are shying away from me.”

    Etienne soon learned that a young and talented heavyweight does not find too many people willing to fight him.  Was it frustrating?


    “In a way it is because I’m looking to step up, and I look forward to challenges, but I take it as a compliment.  I’m a humble guy.  I do a lot of hard work, and I know that the only way I’ll get something out of this is if I put something in.  So I put in a lot.  I love the game, man (laughs).  You’ve got to love it.  I get up in the morning, put my miles in, run hard.  After a fight, I don’t even stay home.  I just got married, and I was back in training camp a couple of days later."

    Fellow unbeaten Lamon Brewster stepped up to the plate in May of 2000, one of the few ready to take on the Rhino.

    “He’s a young guy, and he’s got skills.  I’m gonna put the pressure on him.  He’s never been knocked out, and I’m gonna see what I can do.  I’m gonna see if I can knock him out. 


    "I’m making a statement every time I get in the ring.  I’m making statements to all heavyweights, not just the one I’m gonna beat up in there…all of them.  Come in the ring, this is what you’re going to expect.  No less.


    "This is my life.  I’m at camp more than I’m at home.  I know that if I sacrifice now, I’ll see the benefits in the future. I’m paying my dues.    I’m studying my craft, I watch films, I try to learn from the older fighters, everything. My goal is to be heavyweight champion of the world.”


    To Be Continued…

    Tyson and Golota:  Two Peas in a Pod
    By Adam Pollack

    Recently, two talented fighters have demonstrated their lack of character in the face of adversity, proving that they are not great champions.  Lack of character has impeded the championship status of Mike Tyson and Andrew Golota.  When seriously challenged, rather than gutting fights out, these fighters have folded mentally, incessantly resorting to flagrant foul tactics.   The character flaws of Andrew Golota and Mike Tyson explain their behavior, and lend insight into what many believe are mysterious losses.

    Part of what makes a fighter a great champion is character.  A winner needs the determination to believe in himself and to persist under the harshest of circumstances.  A great fighter does not quit or resort to fouling when hurt or behind on points.  Rather, he continues to fight hard, within the rules, believing that no matter how far behind or hurt he is, he will eventually wear out his opponent and prevail.

    Just as character can help a fighter win, so too can lack of character lead to a loss.  Even talented fighters will lose the big ones if they mentally fold when things aren't going their way.  When a fighter lacks character, he may quit when encountering adversity.  Some fighters quit
    by deciding not to continue.  Some fighters quit by failing to give their best efforts, doing just enough to go the distance, some quit by not training properly, while others quit by getting themselves disqualified.  When a fighter with the character to gut it out in the face of adversity meets a more talented fighter who lacks character, often it is the fighter with character that wins the fight.  The boxing public should not be surprised when this happens.

    Andrew Golota's character flaws cost him in his fights with Riddick Bowe and Michael Grant.  Most observers are mesmerized and confused by the fact that Golota was ahead on points in these bouts before losing. However, although ahead on points, he collapsed under the pressures of a tough fight.

    Although he was winning the Bowe fights, Golota still took big shots throughout.  Against Riddick Bowe, he exerted himself more than he had ever done previously, and suffered more punishment than he had ever endured.  Golota found himself in fights with a man who no matter how often and how hard he was hit, wouldn't give up, and continued to throw hard punches back at Golota.  Under all of these physical and mental stresses, Andrew Golota lost his poise.  Boxing isn't simply about how well a fighter can dish it, but how well he can take it and avoid it.

    Especially in the second bout, when Golota was hurt and dazed or frustrated, he immediately resorted to fouling.  Although Golota was getting the better of Bowe, Riddick mounted his own punishment, dropping Golota for the first time in his career.  Golota resorted to low blows in order to get out of trouble after being knocked down.  When he hurt Bowe and could not land finishing punches as a result of Bowe's good rope-a-dope, Golota resorted to a head butt.  Golota was cut badly over both eyes, in part because of Bowe's punches, and also in part because of his own head butting.  Bowe showed his grit and determination and kept fighting hard.

    Late in the second fight, Golota was tiring, and Bowe landed a big right hand.  Shortly thereafter, tired, hurt, and frustrated, Golota failed to pass the test of a winner, to take punishment and continue to fight and win within the rules.  Golota flagrantly threw at least three low blows in a row.  Although probably winning up to that point, Golota had failed to fight intelligently enough to avoid punishment and fatigue which clearly affected him more than Bowe, as indicated by his inability
    to conform to the rules.

    Decisions make champions.  In both Bowe fights, instead of taking Bowe's punches or avoiding them, failing to realize he was ahead on points, in the heat of battle Golota could only think of his pain and frustration. He made the conscious decision to fail to comply with the rules.  Golota knew the low blows would have an effect, because when he was hurt or frustrated, he wanted to do the most damage.  He didn't throw his punches at Bowe's head or body.  He threw them where he knew they would have the greatest effect.  Sometimes that is all it takes to lose a
    fight and fail to be a champion.

    Not only has Riddick Bowe twice defeated Andrew Golota, Riddick Bowe has proven he is a better fighter than Andrew Golota.  Some may argue that because Golota was ahead on points before being disqualified, he is a better fighter than Bowe.  This is not the case.  Bowe is the superior fighter because he had the character to continue to fight hard even when he was hurt, unlike Golota, who under the pressure of fatigue, the pain of Bowe's blows, and his own frustration, folded mentally and fouled. Riddick Bowe took the punishment and showed the discipline not to use the same flagrant foul tactics.  Regardless of whether low blows made
    Bowe look badly or not, Riddick Bowe sucked it up, took the punishment, and kept punching.  Bowe wouldn't go.

    In the end, it was Golota who folded.  It does not matter whether Golota quit on the stool, quit by going down, or quit by fouling.  If you know doing something will get you disqualified and you do it, you are essentially saying 'I quit.'  Golota's fouls were committed over and over and over again.  Points kept being taken off, and Golota had to know he would be disqualified if it continued.  To continue committing fouls  indicates Golota couldn't handle the punches landed on him and couldn't handle the fact that his punches were not having the effect he desired. Golota quit, even if on a subconscious level.  He gave up by failing to show true championship spirit and character.

    When Andrew Golota fought Michael Grant, Golota once again demonstrated his lack of championship character.  Ahead on points, Golota took some good punches.  After being knocked down, he arose and appeared able to continue.  The referee was ready to allow Golota to continue.  Despite being asked no less than four times if he wanted to continue, Golota said "No."  He decided to quit.  Instead of fighting and gutting it out the way Grant had when he was dropped twice, Golota resigned.  The Grant fight once again revealed the deeply embedded character flaws within Golota.

    Both Bowe fights and the Grant bout demonstrate that Golota seeks ways out of a tough fight.  No matter how badly Bowe or Grant were hurt or how badly Golota was beating them, Bowe and Grant demonstrated the willingness to fight to the death, and Golota couldn't handle it. Unlike those fighters who believed in themselves, Golota was unwilling to demonstrate the same discipline and character in the face of adversity.

    Riddick Bowe and Michael Grant defeated Andrew Golota's mind.  The punches landed by Grant and Bowe, and their ability to absorb Golota's shots, hurt and frustrated Golota  What Golota did with his body reflects his mental state.  On a mental level, Bowe and Grant were always ahead.  Most fans who view the fights from a simply visual perspective miss the entire picture.  From the world of the mind, it was Bowe and Grant who dominated the fights.  If these men kept fighting
    rematches, the results would be the same, because greatness isn't just about what you can see.  It comes from the inside.  If a fighter has not developed character, he will lose the tough ones.

    Just as Golota quit against Bowe, Mike Tyson quit in the rematch against Evander Holyfield.  It is likely that Tyson was mentally beaten going into the fight.  Tyson had been knocked out in the first fight, had no tune ups to build his confidence, and had an eye which was susceptible to opening up at the slightest contact, because he did not have an adequate amount of time to heal the serious cut he sustained in sparring just a few months prior to the rematch.  As a fighter cannot spar with a cut, it is also likely that Tyson did not receive an adequate amount of sparring.  Because money was the paramount concern, the rematch went forward nevertheless.  Mentally, everything was going against Mike Tyson.

    The beginning of a fight is usually when Tyson is at his best.  In the very first round, Holyfield was landing excellent shots on Tyson and had him going backward into the ropes. You could almost sense Tyson's fear and frustration mounting right then and there.  At that point, it is likely he suffered flashbacks to the first fight.  It had to be in his mind that Evander didn't just defeat him, but knocked him out.  Here he is in what he claimed was a sharper condition, and in the very first
    round his bogus excuse for the first loss went right out the window.

    Evander was dominating Mike right from the beginning, demonstrating that he had Tyson's number.  It was not likely to get better for Mike, especially given that he usually does most of his damage early, and is able to beat even those fighters who are able to go rounds with him because of the fact that he has mounted that early punishment.  Here, it was Evander doing the early damage.

    Tyson is frustrated and scared, so he tries to break Evander's arm in a clinch.  Evander punches hard with his right hand in both anger and self defense.  Already Tyson has begun to lose it.  He does not believe in himself.

    Shortly thereafter, Tyson is cut, as anyone who knows anything about the human body could have predicted, given the short period of time that large cut had to heal.  He is clearly disturbed by the cut and demonstrates his pain in the corner when his doctor works on it.  The fear and tension mounts further.  Nothing is going his way.

    The cut is symbolic of Tyson's diminished defense.  Early in Tyson's career, he was never cut in a fight.  This is due largely to his good defensive side to side head movement.  He was faster then, and could time his head movement better.  He has stood more erect recently, in a position to be hit or butted.

    Just as an aside, another  reason why Tyson keeps colliding with Holyfield's head is because when he did bob against Evander, he relied on bobbing left entirely too much.  Usually a right handed fighter will bob right more often.  When both right handers bob right, they avoid butting.  However, when one right handed fighter bobs left and the other bobs right, they often will clash heads, especially if the one bobbing left does so as he is moving forward (as is often the case with Tyson) or bobs both left and forward, bending a bit at the waist.  This is why head butts are so common when conventional fighters meet southpaws.  The southpaw favors his left side and the right handed fighter favors his right side.  As they are facing each other, they head into the same spatial area.  This is typical of Tyson's bobbing style, which has favored his left side especially recently.

    Back to the fight.  Tyson is getting hit, he is cut, and isn't doing much damage to Evander.  He knows he was previously knocked out by Evander.  Tyson comes out for the third ferociously, not as a result of strategy, but because of his frustration.  Even though he is landing some good shots, Mike cannot think about that, because in spite of his maximum intensity, Evander continues to land good counterpunches of his own, just as he did in the first fight.  At this point, the tension mounts even further.  The momentum of the fight has not changed in the way he had hoped, the way he is used to when punching with that intensity.

    Instead of believing in himself, believing that he can weather the storm and break Evander down over time even if his punches aren't currently having the effect that he would like, Mike gave up.  He did not believe he could win fairly.  He did not believe he could change the tide of the fight with patience and determination.  Therefore, there was nothing left to do but break the rules.

    Tyson went outside the rules in a way which he was sure would either throw off Holyfield's game, or would get himself out of a fight which he did not believe he could win.  We all know what that entailed.  After two points are taken off, the warriors battle again.  Evander fights Mike's fight, and does well.  The fear and tension mount further.  Tyson now knows he is going to get knocked out.  He tried to go outside the rules as a last resort to change the course of the fight, and it failed.  He knows this either consciously or subconsciously, but he knows it.  He therefore again bites Evander.

    Holyfield poignantly points out after the fight that fighters can get out of a fight by intentionally getting themselves disqualified.  He comments on Tyson's friskiness following the bout by saying that it is easy to show courage and the desire to fight once the fight is over.  If Tyson truly wanted to fight, he wouldn't have gotten himself disqualified.

    Realizing in boxing close call fouls will occur in the heat of the moment, Tyson's fouls have not only been flagrant, but his career demonstrates a pattern of recidivism.  Tyson's flagrant fouling has been a pattern throughout his career when he is frustrated.  He hit Biggs and Holmes with forearms, and continuously hit Ruddock below the belt. The more he is frustrated, the more he fouls.  Tyson's fouling will not diminish now, because he is only getting worse, only having more reason to be frustrated, and only having more reason to doubt himself.  It is clear that Tyson's character flaws manifest themselves through fouls.

    After the Holyfield rematch, he tried to foul his way out of the Francois Botha fight by attempting to break Botha's arm and hitting flagrantly on the breaks.  One would think that after being suspended for one year he would attempt to be cautious.  Like Golota, despite the recent debacles, his character shown through.  He recently hit and dropped Orlin Norris after the bell had rung.  Regardless of whether you believe Norris was acting, the fact remains that Tyson hit him well after the bell.  Enough time elapsed for the bell to ring three times and for Richard Steele to then say "break," before Tyson hit Norris.

    Likewise, Golota's character has also been revealed through a consistent pattern.  He bit Samson Po'uha on the neck after he was dazed by Po'uha's punches, and head butted Danell Nicholson, prior to the Bowe and Grant fights.

    Confidence is a gift.  It is a weapon.  Mike Tyson, despite his talk, does not believe in himself.  He never has, despite his success.  This may seem like a ridiculous statement, but there are people who, no matter how successful they are, do not have confidence.  Deep inside, they do not believe in themselves.  Mike Tyson is one of them.  Even as an amateur, Tyson was knocking guys out left and right.  Yet, Tyson's sobbing in fear before knocking out Kelton Brown in the first round is both touching and revealing.

    Despite ability, Mike Tyson and Andrew Golota's character flaws can lead to losses just like fighters with other flaws such as a bad chin, poor defense, or poor punch.  Without the mind, the body, no matter how talented, is useless in the face of adversity. Even more recently, Vitaly Klitschko also demonstrated that he lacked true championship character, quitting against Chris Byrd.  Eventually, if they fight long enough, all fighters' true colors are revealed.  Hopefully, one day Andrew Golota and Mike Tyson will develop character.  Right now, a bout between the two would not be determined by ability, but by whose internal fortitude broke first.

    Scott LeDoux: Part Two

    By Eric Jorgensen

    After he retired, Scott joined the Minnesota State Athletic Commission and also served a brief stint as a referee with Verne Gagne's American Wrestling Association (becoming an instant fan-favorite).  He retired from the AWA when his first wife passed away from cancer in 1983.

    Eric:   You served on the Minnesota State Athletic Chairman for a quite a while after you retired, didn't you?

    Scott:    I still do.  I've been there 17 years now. 

    Eric:   Have you ever tried to address any of the "corruption" issues we are seeing these days with ratings and the sanctioning of title fights and so forth through your position on the Athletic Commission?

    Scott:    I'd love to, but we really can't do a thing nationally.  Some day I would like to be able to go to the ABC [American Boxing Commissioners] meeting and address that group.  I would like that opportunity, but, not being a Chairperson anymore, I'm not invited to that.  I was a Chairperson for a couple of years there, actually.  In those days, I went to several IBF conventions and was able to have some input there and to say some things that I thought needed to be said.  In fact, I even debated Bill Richards once.  I debated him because he was talking about boxing and he was saying he wanted to put x-million dollars into boxing by setting up another commission -- a federal commission.  I said "what for?"  He said, "Well, I want to help the underprivileged kids".  I said, "that's all good and well, but, if you just give all the money to the people running the commission and trust that they'll spend it right, you're still going to have problems.  Why don't you put that money into the National Golden Gloves of America or one of those programs, if you want the money to reach those kids?"  That's where the money should go, because that program needs help.  It has been starving for 50 years.

    Eric:   Yeah, we haven't seen a National Golden Gloves fight televised in 20 years, I'll bet.  How did you become involved with the Commission in the first place?

    Scott:  Right after I retired a couple of guys asked me what I was going to do and I said "eventually, I would like to serve on the Commission".  As it happened, there was an open chair on the Commission and Governor Purvich heard about my interest and appointed me to fill the chair. 

    Eric:  What were/are your duties, exactly?

    Scott:   Right now my main duty is to review proposed matches to determine whether they appear appropriate or not, but in the past I've done pretty much everything commission-related you can imagine.

    Eric:   I guess that covers it.  Besides serving on the Commission, you also do a fair amount of public inspirational speaking, isn't that right?

    Scott:  Yes, I do a lot of speaking, things of that nature.  I do a lot of charity work, too.  I've done charity work for 25 years for different events.  I served on the National Board of Directors for the Make A Wish Foundation, and I have been honorary chair of American Cancer Society.  I also have my own golf tournament -- The Scott Ledoux Long Haul Classic.

    Eric:   Where do the proceeds go?

    Scott:  Make a Wish.  Its fun to do, a lot of work, but it's a fun event.

    Eric:  I know you recently worked as a color commentator for ESPN's Friday Night Fights with Max Kellerman.  How did that come to pass?

    Scott:  Well I met Max when I went out to audition for ESPN last fall.  ESPN called me to see whether I wanted to come in and do an audition.  So, I went in there and they had me work the audition with Max to see what I could do.  Initially, we had talked about me doing blow-by-blow and Max doing the analysis.  But, as the audition went along, it just turned itself the other way 'round and Max ended up doing the blow-by-blow and I ended up doing the analysis.  When it was over, Max -- a very bright young man -- said "it didn't make sense for me to do the analysis when I got a guy sitting next to me who boxed for 20 years and fought 10 world champions, he shouldn't be asking me questions." 

    Eric:   That's exactly right.  It seems like a strange decision from whoever the corporate executive was at ESPN

    Scott:  Oh, they we just looking for an audition.  It wasn't an audition for Max, it was an audition for me to see what I could do.  Anyway, I guess they liked what they saw, and that's how I ended up doing the Friday Night Fights a couple of weeks ago.  I thought the program went well, but who knows? 

    Eric:   You and Kellerman seemed to get along very well.  You guys had a nice rapport, at least from where I was sitting.

    Scott:   That's right, you have a guy who's  been 20 years in the game as a fighter and you have another guy who is very knowledgeable about the history and the ins and outs of the game.  I thought we made a good combination that way.  And, we got a good response.

    Eric:   So you're -- what? - waiting for a call from ESPN to see whether this will become a regular engagement?

    Scott:  Yes.  I don't know if we will do it again or not.  I'd like to, but we'll see what the network says.

    Eric:   I understand that you had a chance to spar with Michael Grant before his last fight with Lennox Lewis.

    Scott: I did.

    Eric:  What did you think of him prior to the fight?

    Scott:   As far as after I boxed with him? 

    Eric:   Right.

    Scott:  He was to me, very green.  He didn't have much of an amateur background, or at least he didn't have a very deep one.  He had a few amateur fights, but I don't think there were very many of them and they didn't occur over a long period of time.  So, he was inexperienced.  We were supposed to box two or three rounds, but we were only allowed to box one.  His people made the decision to stop it after we boxed one. 

    Eric:   How did that get set up in the first place?  Was that through ESPN?

    Scott:   No, that was me.  Well actually ESPN and I talked about doing it, to box with both fighters and then maybe do a report for the network about the comparison - how they stacked up.

    Eric:   So you called up and Grant's people, suggested a sparring session, and they said "come on down"?

    Scott:  Yeah, they said come on down and we will work with you.  I have been lifting a lot weights over the last several years and am in pretty good shape, so I thought it would be fun.

    Then, Lennox was going to box with me too, but, when I got to his camp, they said that they didn't know if they were going to do it.  Manny Steward had gone over to Germany to work in another fighter's corner and they weren't letting Lennox box without him - he wasn't doing any gym work at all.  So, I didn't get the opportunity to spar with him.  He teased me about it. 

    Eric:   Lewis did?

    Scott:   Yeah, he teased me about it.  He said "I understand you want to box with me".  I said "yeah, I do".  He said "you're getting kinda up there in age aren't you?".  And I said "well, you know, old men can surprise you."  So, he said "I can tell by your eyes you're very serious".  I said "yes, I am."  I said "what are you going to show me that I haven't seen already?"  He said "what do you mean?"  I said "well, I boxed with George Foreman, Muhammad Ali, Kenny Norton, Larry Holmes.  What have you got that they haven't got?" 

    Eric:   What did he say to that?

    Scott:   He just smiled and said "well, maybe someday we will get that done."  I said "I'd like that."  So I think, down the road, maybe in connection with one of his next fights, he'll let me come in and spar with him so I can get a better handle on what he has. 

    Eric:   That is really interesting.  That shows a more charming, jovial side to Lewis than you often see in the interviews.

    Scott:   You know that was the thing I was going to say is that I went in there with some preconceived idea that he was a very arrogant person who was going to be very difficult to deal with and work with.  I got a totally different picture when I left because he was very fun and friendly -- he had fun with me, he teased me and we laughed a lot.  One thing  . . . I had no idea he was that big.  I had no conception that he was a big as he was.  After boxing with Michael Grant the day before, Michael is 6'7", I'm thinking that Lennox is shorter.  No!  I want to measure Lennox Lewis because if says he's 6'5" I'm saying he's 6'6" or 6'7". 

    Eric:   No kidding?

    Scott:  He is a big man.  And not only is he tall, he is big.  That was the thing that really impressed me.  I had no idea.  When you look at pictures of the two of them staring at each other, you can see they are the same height.  Lennox is not giving away anything.  He may be saying he's 6'5", but I think he's bigger then that. 

    Eric:  How did Grant's camp treat you?  He always comes off as a very friendly guy himself.

    Scott:   Nice man.  Very nice young man.  I was very impressed with his desire and determination.  He is very open and talkative and quick to smile.  I enjoy that.  Of course, if you can't laugh with me, who are you going to laugh with?  I have fun.

    Eric:    I can tell.  You think Grant might come back and put something together?  Or, do you think that KO loss will be too much for him to get over?

    Scott:   I think that the most impressive thing about the interview with Lennox Lewis was that he said to me "I'm glad I'm boxing Michael Grant now because he is very green and inexperienced. He will be a force to be reckoned with down the road if he continues to work."  He said Grant has a lot of physical skills, he just doesn't have experience yet. 

    Eric:   Do you agree with that?

    Scott:   Oh, no question. 

    Eric:   What do you of some of the other big talents out there today, like David Tua and Ike Ibeabuchi?

    Scott:   Tua is a very tough fighter.  Tough guy.  Takes a good shot, punches hard, not the greatest skills in the world, maybe, but very durable.  A willing opponent who is going to come in and make you work for everything you get.  Those are the kind of guys who can upset the apple cart.  Like Oliver McCall.  Who thought he would have  a shot at beating Lennox Lewis?  He fooled all of us.  Who would have thought Oliver McCall even had a shot?

    Eric:   Boy, but that guy can take a punch. 

    Scott:   That's for sure.  For me, now that I'm getting older, I have learned that it's better to give than to receive.  It's like George Foreman said, people ask him "George, how can you be a Christian man and box?", and George says "God tells you to turn the other cheek and I only have 2 cheeks."  After 2 you got to start hitting back. 

    Eric:   He gets back alright.

    Scott:  Oh yes he does, ask Michael Moorer. 

    Eric:   Among 60 or 70 others.  I cheered for him against Moorer though.

    Scott:   Think about it -- he's 48 years old and coming out smiling at the crowd, enjoying the fights -- just a happy warrior.  How could you not like him?  How could you not pull for him, especially me at my age, same age as him, how could I not pull for him and hope he does the best?  You think about what he was 25 years ago, one of the most angry young men we have ever known, and all of a sudden we have a man at peace with the Lord.  How could you not pull for him? 

    Eric:   Yes, he really matured. 

    Scott:   Did he ever.  But, given where he grew up and what he's been through in his life, it's not surprising that he was a bitter young guy. 

    Eric:   That's true.  What do you think is on the horizon for Lennox Lewis and your old division generally?

    Scott:   Well, I don't think Lewis is going to be able to fight Mike Tyson.  I talked to Emanuel Steward right after Lewis fought Grant, and he said that he doesn't think that Mike will take the fight.  He said that Mike just got $20 million in a settlement against Don King.  He said they were having a tough enough time getting him ready for Savarese or what ever his name is.  The reason that fight got delayed was they couldn't keep Tyson in the gym long enough to get him ready, even for a guy like that. 

    Eric:   No kidding?

    Scott:   That's what I was told. 

    Eric:   I think Tyson's time as a world champion caliber fighter might be over. 

    Scott:   Oh, I agree.  I think it is, anyway, but who knows?  I would like to go box with him again.  I boxed with him in 1991 -- I would like to box with him again to see if he is still as vicious now as he was then.  If he is, I will have to change my mind. 

    Eric:   You got along with him pretty well, didn't you?

    Scott:   I think Mike is a nice man who has unfortunately had people around him that weren't good for him.  That includes Don King.  Don King did a lot of things to him that Mike Tyson wasn't able to deal with and now it's come out in court when he sued Don King and his lawyers and got $20 million.  Imagine how awful it was for Mike and think about fighting under those conditions, knowing he was in a bad place and that the people who were around him were not "for" him.  So, I think that he had a lot of anger as a young man growing up and Don King did nothing to take that anger away and did nothing to change the tainted picture of life that he has.

    Eric:   If you don't want to talk about this topic, just tell me, because I don't want to set you up, but, as long as we're on the subject of Mike Tyson, I'd like to get your thoughts on the Tyson/Holyfield ear-biting incident.

    Scott:   I don't have a problem talking about that.  I think that Mike Tyson got into a fight with someone he realized he could not out-quick and who could take his best punch and Mike just lost it.  I think that all those things were compounded by what was going on in his own life out of the ring with Don King's manipulations and controls and his frustrations with his IRS problems.  You think about all the issues he was trying to deal with and box at the same time.  I think that those things all happening together caused that reaction.  I just think he felt so angry and so frustrated that he couldn't get to Holyfield and couldn't take him out of there right away, that he reverted back to his old mind set, you know? 

    Eric:    I think that's a good analysis. 

    Scott:   I just think that that's all it was.  I like Mike.   I think that Mike is  a good person down underneath all of that.  I think he's been good to a lot of people, but I think that he hasn't had the best guidance.  I would say that if Cus D'Amato had been 20 years younger and were still alive, we would know a different Mike Tyson maybe right now -- one who was dominating the heavyweight division still.  But, after Cus died and he left Kevin Rooney, Don King brought in Rich Giachetti who let Mike could do anything he wanted.  Mike no longer had anyone he respected around to slow him down.  He didn't have anyone he respected enough to listen to.  I think that was the issue with Giachetti.  That doesn't say Giachetti wasn't a good trainer, it's just that Mike knew he could buffalo him.

    Eric:   It's a shame when that happens to the top fighters.  Look at Ike Ibeabuchi, for example.

    Scott:   Ibeabuchi - he's a whole different ballgame there.  This guy is very unstable mentally.  Doesn't know the difference between right and wrong.  He's got some major issues.

    Eric:   I think he's going to be cooling his jets in the slammer for a while he works those issues out however. 

    SCOTT:  Yeah, hopefully he can get some help.  From what I am told, he has no comprehension of right and wrong.  He needs a lot of help, but, to me, he was the brightest star on the horizon in the heavyweight division.  Almost invincible.

    Eric:   That fight he had with Tua was some kind of match.

    Scott:   Tua hit him with a right hand if I remember correctly, and Ibeabuchi just kind of shook and said "Okay, nice shot."  I'm like "wow!"  'Cause Tua can bang, you know.

    Eric:   He absolutely can.  I'm not sure that I think he's capable of beating Lennox Lewis right away though.

    Scott:  I don't know.  Right now Ruiz and Holyfield have to fight.  Then Tua's supposed to fight the winner.  But, whether or not he gets that opportunity, I don't know.  I think that the one thing that Lewis may do is to snub the WBA and let the boxing hierarchy know that it is not the sanctioning bodies that make big fights but the fighters who make them.  It's the champions and in particular the heavyweight champion who makes them.  I think that's an important point.  I think that, until they start paying the people who work for WBA, etc., enough money that they can't be "tempted", we are always going to have these issues.  Until they can pay them enough money so they're are not needing the extra money, we are going to have temptation there.  And, we also have to establish rules to keep promoters such as Bob Arum and Don King and those guys from controlling divisions the way they do. They do that by making any guy who fights one of their champions sign an exclusive contract which gives them the rights to promote the fighter's next 60 years worth of defensives if he wins.  That is just obscene.  I wish I could do something about that through the [Minnesota State Athletic] Commission, but we just don't have that kind of reach.

    Eric:  Maybe someday.

    Scott:  [Laughs] We'll see.


        Scott LeDoux, a born again Christian, is currently busy and happy, living in Minnesota with his second wife and several of their children. 

    by Tracy Callis

    Larry Holmes was tall, fast, powerful, and tough. He owned an awesome jab. That “thing” was lethal – a hard, thudding blow struck with accuracy and power. It was the “best jab in heavyweight history” (see The Ring 1999 p 126). It was usually his “weapon of choice”.

    And, that’s not all. He possessed a quick and stunning overhand right, which he could deliver “on time”, along with a walloping uppercut.

    These talents along with his steady movement, outstanding reach, and superior reflexes made him a great fighter. Odd (1989 p 60) wrote that he had a “killer punch in each hand.” Jay Bright, former trainer of Mike Tyson, said, “Holmes was the consummate boxer, very slick, very cagey, with a terrific jab and a nice right hand. He used every ounce of the ability he had” (see The Ring, November 1996, p 29).

    His greatest weakness was a vulnerability to an inside attack, against which he was always on guard. According to Larry, “I always fought better moving away than coming forward” (Holmes 1998 p 99), beating his man to the punch and then getting away. His anticipation of his opponent’s moves on offense and defense was uncanny – “when I was on top of my game, I swear I had a sixth sense that enabled me to see things before they happened” (Holmes 1998 p 112).

    A member of a large family brought up in poverty by a mother alone, he helped it survive by working as a youth. A possible “hell-raiser” as a teenager (according to Larry himself), he definitely raised “hell” in the ring.

    Holmes was an outspoken man who always said what was on his mind. Never as fancy with his words as his idol, Muhammad Ali, he was sometimes misunderstood - but always honest. Larry once said “I’m a businessman first and a boxer second” (Myler 1998 p 156). In the ring, he was all business and his record speaks for itself. Incidentally, he was an excellent businessman outside the ring too.

    Larry, along with Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali, dominated the heavyweight division as never before. He was called the “most dominant heavyweight king since Joe Louis” and it was written that his “chief weapon was his sterling jab” (see The Ring, November 1996, pp 28-29).

    He was an outstanding amateur fighter and began his professional career in 1973, winning 48 straight fights before losing his first contest in 1985. Mee (1997 p 158) called the loss a “controversial points decision.” He defended the title 21 times and gave credibility to the IBF Heavyweight title when he accepted it.

    During his career, Larry defeated such able men as Ken Norton, Earnie Shavers, Mike Weaver, Trevor Berbick, Leon Spinks, Tim Witherspoon, James “Bonecrusher” Smith, Ray Mercer, Muhammad Ali, Gerry Cooney, Randall “Tex” Cobb, and Renaldo Snipes. Larry wrote, “I never felt more alive than when I was fighting my best against a truly good fighter” (Holmes 1998 p 112).  

    Perhaps, his greatest effort came in 1978 when he defeated Ken Norton to capture the WBC Heavyweight Championship. In a “nip-and-tuck” bout and one of the greatest fights ever, Larry edged Ken in a disputed split-decision.

    In this bout, he showed the true grit of which he is made - a great fighter of the mold “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” According to the man himself, “This was the best fight I was ever in” (Holmes 1998 p 112).

    In an article in The Ring (November 1996 pp 28-29), Dave Anderson, sports columnist for the New York Times, described Holmes, “He could outbox you … he could also outlast you.” Teddy Brenner, former matchmaker, said, “Holmes had a good left hand, a great chin, and lots of heart.”

    Holmes, along with George Foreman, Jersey Joe Walcott, and Bob Fitzsimmons, proved that “old men” could fight successfully as heavyweights. All four of these talented fighters fought well into their forties and “whomped” many young studs that other top boxers did not want to fight. 

    Dangerous well past his prime, he tangled with the very best men available – including Ray Mercer, Evander Holyfield, Oliver McCall – and held his own. At the age of forty-seven, he fought Brian Nielsen for the IBO Heavyweight Championship and pounded the huge Dane before losing a split decision. He actively campaigned for a match with old George Foreman but it never came to pass.

    For most of his career, Larry lived in the shadow of Muhammad Ali.  As a sparring partner for the Champ, the young Holmes knew he could give Ali a hell of a fight and began to think he could beat him (Holmes 1998 p 62).

    In 1980, he met and defeated the great one in the ring and hated every minute of it. He battered his former mentor and had him at his mercy before the contest was stopped. According to Holmes, “Ali was my idol, a tremendous fighter, but he stepped out of his time into my time” (Bunce 1998 p 168). 

    Bert Sugar (1980 p 21) wrote “A younger, tougher, and better Larry Holmes ‘whupped’ him in every which way … Ali knew it was all over after the first round.” Many fans believe that Larry - with his height, reach, and power - may well have been a match for the “real” Ali in his prime.

    Mee (1997 p 158) wrote, “Larry Holmes was one of the most highly skilled heavyweights in history …” Dave Anderson described Holmes as a “terrific boxer with one of the best jabs I’ve ever seen. He was underrated, more or less ignored, because he succeeded Ali” (see The Ring, November 1996, p 28). Mullan (1987 p 152) wrote, “he suffered by following one of the sports legends, and he was never accorded the respect that his ability and record merited.”

    Myler (1998 p 156) wrote “Despite living in the shadow of Ali throughout most of his championship reign, Holmes earned grudging admiration from many fans as a fine champion.”

    Bunce (1998 p 190) wrote, “As the years pass Holmes’ status as a modern great increases. He fought on a regular basis and met all of the contenders and pretenders from a period when most of the heavyweights wasted their talents. Holmes is the best heavyweight from the tarnished years between the last of Ali’s sweet jabs and the vicious hooks of Tyson. If time had been kinder to Holmes it is possible that he would be held in even higher esteem.”

    Once at a press conference, Larry made a “Marciano slur” in which he demeaned the skills of the unbeaten slugger. He has since called Marciano a “great champion” and said he didn’t mean to impugn the “Blockbuster” as a man but only wanted to emphasize that he felt he could have beaten Rocky (Holmes 1998 pp 236-237). 

    Owning a 48-0 record at the time, he lost his next two fights and fell short of matching the 49-0 mark of the “Rock.” The two losses were to Michael Spinks and, this writer, feeling that Larry was better than Michael, has always seen these losses as questionable verdicts.

    Holmes has said, “Don’t feel sorry for me, I gave it my all”. He has also said “I owe everything to boxing” (Myler 1998 p 158). But, Larry gave back to boxing too.

    Sugar (1980 p 23) wrote of Holmes, “A man who invests boxing with a dignity it sometimes doesn’t deserve, he deserves better than he has received. This man can do it all.” Larry has stated, “Against all odds, I succeeded” (Holmes 1998 p 279).

    Herb Goldman, former Editor of The Ring Record Book and the International Boxing Digest (IBD) monthly boxing magazine, ranked Holmes as the #3 All-Time Heavyweight (The Ring, 1987 p 1071). The Ring (1999, p 126) ranked Larry as the #5 All-Time Heavyweight. In the opinion of this writer, Holmes was the #10 All-Time Heavyweight (and perhaps deserves an even higher ranking).


    Larry Holmes Career Record

    Bunce, S. 1998. Boxing Greats. Philadelphia: Courage Books

    Holmes, L. 1998. Against the Odds. New York: St. Martin’s Press

    Mee, B. 1997. Boxing: Heroes & Champions. Edison, NJ: Chartwell Books, Inc.

    Mullan, H. 1990. The Great Book of Boxing. New York: Crescent Books

    Myler, P. 1998. A Century of Boxing Greats. New York: Robson/Parkwest Publications

    Odd, G. 1989. The Encyclopedia of Boxing. Secaucus, NJ: Chartwell Books, Inc.

    Sugar, B. 1980. Holmes-Ali:The Last Hurrah (contained in The Ring, December 1980, pp 20-23). New York: The Ring Publishing Corp.

    The Ring. 1987. The Ring Record Book and Boxing Encyclopedia. New York: The Ring Publishing Corp.

    The Ring. 1996. Battle of the Legends (contained in The Ring, November 1996, pp 28-29). Fort Washington, Pa: London Publishing Co.

    The Ring. 1999. The 1999 Boxing Almanac and Book of Facts. Fort Washington, Pa: London Publishing Co.

    A Boxing Fan’s Dream – A Return to Sanity
    By Dan Cuoco

    I had a dream last night that boxing regained its sanity. The world’s leading boxing writers and broadcasters, fed up with the alphabet organizations, held an international boxing symposium to discuss boxing’s ills and what was needed to bring boxing back to the mainstream. Also invited to the symposium were noted ring physicians, trainers, and representatives of international boxing commissions. The consensus of that august body was that boxing needs to get back to its roots; meaning ignoring the alphabet boxing organizations, only recognizing lineal champions and returning to the original eight weight classifications.  Moreover, it recognized that the major problem with boxing today is that, with four or more organizations recognizing their own champions in 17 weight classifications, there are, at a minimum, 68 champions – 68 champions, ugh!!  No wonder boxing fans are confused and it’s so difficult to build a fan base.

    In order for my dream to come true, I believe one must return to boxing’s pre-alphabet era when being “Champion” meant something. Although there were abuses during the pre-alphabet era (for instance, Charley Burley was frozen out of a title shot and it took Archie Moore over 18 years to fight for the title) the basic structure of boxing was sound.

    During Ring Magazine’s golden era (Nat Fleischer’s reign as Editor) it was known as “The Bible of Boxing” and its “World Ratings” were the most respected in boxing. Ring Magazine’s stance was simple.

    “Titles should have the Tiffany touch, in a rough sort of way. Titles are won-in the ring- not donated, borrowed or bought, with utter disregard for rightful owners, just claims and the feelings of the paying public. They are a trust, belonging to no one individual and with no one body, as the boxing world is set up, having the right to proclaim a champion or participants in a match for a vacant crown. In the end it is the public who give sanction and blessing to a champion, accepting, or rejecting what is foist upon them.”

    The reason for returning to the eight original weight classifications is two-fold; (1) to make the championships meaningful again, and (2) to eliminate heavier fighters from gaining an unfair advantage by fighting in lower weight classifications (case in point: Gatti-Gamache, February 26, 2000).

    If Arturo Gatti is truly a welterweight or a middleweight, then he should be fighting in either of those divisions. The supposed reason the junior or super divisions were created was to allow fighters to fight in divisions natural to their body weight. We all know the real reason for their creation was not so noble. Instead, it was a way for the alphabet boys to get more sanctioning fees.

    My vision is to create one world wide rating system administered by a panel of boxing experts and chosen by the world’s leading sports writers and broadcasters. The ranking system would assume a status similar to the legendary Ring Magazine’s International World Ratings. These ratings would be the international ranking system and would replace all other independent rating systems. Recognition of this new system by every boxing publication and broadcast medium would – I hope – force the top rated fighters to face each other in order to gain worldwide fan acceptance as lineal world champion.  The elimination of all references to the alphabet titles by all boxing publications and broadcast media would neuter them. They would die a slow death by omission.  Under this scenario, if a fighter like Roy Jones, Jr. truly wanted worldwide recognition as champion of his weight class he would be forced to fight the lineal champion (Darius Michalczewski). Moreover, neither fighter would have to pay a sanctioning fee for a title that should belong to the paying customer – the boxing public.  For instance, the WBC charges 3 percent of a fighter’s purse. Why would fighters making multi-million dollar purses want to give the alphabet bandits such exorbitant amounts of money?  For example, Oscar De La Hoya’s sanctioning fee to the WBC for the Felix Trinidad fight was $600,000. This is ludicrous!

    I would envision each fighter engaged in a championship fight being charged a small fixed fee to cover the cost of both a championship belt patterned after the traditional championship belts of the past, and a press conference publicizing the awarding of The Lineal World Championship Belt. The award ceremony would be held in the city, state or country the champion resides and presented by a writer from the fighter’s locale such as Bernard Fernandez (Pennsylvania), Fabian Weber (Germany), Ron Borges (Massachusetts), Michael Katz (New York), Joe Koizumi (Japan), Ray Wheatley (Australia) and Reg Gutteridge (Great Britain).

    I believe these coordinated efforts would allow Boxing to regain its popularity and respect in the sporting community by forcing the best fighters to face each other for true public recognition. Furthermore, this should also reduce the amount of mismatches that are being perpetrated on the public in the guise of so-called world championship bouts.

    For illustration purposes, here is what the eight division ratings might look like.


































































































































































































































































































    But unfortunately this still doesn’t go far enough. There are two other areas that also need attention if we are to return to sanity. They are bad decisions and the pre-fight weigh-in.  


    Bad decisions have beleaguered boxing for over 90 years.  A number of boxing writers and commentators have recommended developing a ranking system for officials similar to the system used in baseball.  In baseball only the top umpires work the playoffs and World Series. Accordingly, it makes sense that boxing follow baseball’s lead and only assign top rated referees and judges to fights of significant importance. 

    Official weigh-ins have been getting a lot of ink since the Gatti-Gamache fight. Currently, weigh-ins are taking place 36 hours prior to fight time. The reason is supposedly for safety – specifically to eliminate the harmful effects of dehydration by affording fighters time to rehydrate themselves before the fight. In order to contend with this, I’ve heard that the Nevada Athletic Commission is contemplating having a second weigh-in the day of the fight and limiting a fighter to 7 percent weight gain.  If such a practice were in effect during the Arturo Gatti - Joey Gamache fight, Gatti would not have been allowed to weigh more than 150 pounds.

     This seems like a reasonable compromise and should be considered universally.

    In order for my dream to come through, boxers such as Oscar De La Hoya, Roy Jones, Jr., and Naseem Hamed must take a stand against the alphabet boys; boxing writers with international influence and respect such as Ron Borges, Al Bernstein, Michael Katz, Bernard Fernandez, Pedro Fernandez, Nigel Collins, Fabian Weber, Ray Wheatley, Joe Koizumi, Jack Welsh, Graham Houston, Bert Sugar, Wally Matthews, Reg Gutteridge, and Ken Kolasinski must not give the alphabet boys any press and stand behind the new rating system.  Broadcasters including Jim Lampley, Larry Merchant, Steve Albert, Bobby Czyz, Ferdie Pacheco, Barry Tompkins, Rich Marotta, Sean O'Grady, and Barry McGuigan also need to follow suit.   

    Who will champion the cause? Who will be the catalyst for change? If you feel as I do, then let your voices be heard.  


    By Chuck Hasson  

    Nobody ever loved the fight game more that Herman Taylor.  Probably no one was ever actively involved in boxing longer than Herman Taylor.  When he died on June 27, 1980 at the age of 93, he had put in fully 79 years as a participator in the sport, maintaining his office and conducting business, still looking to promote another show until about a week before he passed away.  This man literally worked his way up from the very bottom of his chosen profession, paying his dues, to being eventually recognized as truly one of the greatest promoters of all time.    

    He was born in 1887 and raised in the neighborhood around 6th and Catharine.  By 1901, Taylor, being the sole support of his mother and a younger brother and sister, convinced Jack McGuigan, promoter of the famed National A.C. located at 11th and Catharine, to give him a job.  Starting as a floor sweeper, young Taylor was to serve an apprenticeship that dealt with every conceivable aspect of the game and a father-son relationship was quickly established with McGuigan.  

    He was soon driving a horse drawn cart through the cobbled streets of Philadelphia, advertising the latest boxing show at the National, while clanging a huge cow bell and pointing to the fight posters that adorned the sides of the wagon.    

    By 1912, with the blessing of McGuigan, he was ready to promote his own shows and purchased the old Broadway A.C., at 15th and Washington, from Diamond Lew Bailey.  Taylor’s resume at this time already included his being a matchmaker. He had also managed a small stable of fighters and had, himself, boxed on some shows when a substitute was needed in preliminary bouts.    

    Taylor was an immediate success as a promoter and, by 1916, formed a partnership with Bobby Gunnis, staging outdoor shows at Shibe Park.  These open-air, all-star cards became famous nationally, importing the world’s best fighters along with top local boxers, to perform for appreciative Philadelphia audiences.    

    A typical show might have Harry Greb, Sam Langford, Jack Britton, Johnny Dundee, and Lew Tendler in separate bouts, making the evening a true extravaganza for the fans and leaving them hungry for more.  The “boy promoters” as they were dubbed, also presented their famous “Battle of the Champions” which featured lightweight ruler Benny Leonard kayoing featherweight titlist Johnny Kilbane before a huge crowd.    

    The pair soon branched out and was running cards at the Arena, the Baker Bowl, Municipal Stadium, and later, Convention Hall, Camden, Atlantic City, Newark and Nutley (New Jersey), using the same successful formula of presenting the fans with high quality attractions at popular prices.    

    Although Tex Rickard is given credit for promoting the legendary Jack Dempsey-Gene Tunney match on September 23, 1926, in front of 120 thousand patrons at Sesquicentennial (Municipal) Stadium, it was Taylor and Gunnis who did most of the legwork for that affair and they split up a hundred grand between them for their efforts.   

    As time went on, they continued giving the fans a steady diet of great matches including Benny Bass’ sensational knockout of Harry Blitman for Philadelphia bragging rights in 1928 with receipts reaching the hundred thousand dollar mark and, in 1930, the highly controversial victory, on deliberate foul, of Primo Carnera over George Godfrey at the Baker Bowl with 35,000 witnesses paying $180,175.  In another promotion, fifteen thousand Convention Hall clients watched as Max Schmeling was given a surprising setback by former Penn State football star Steve Hamas in a highly anticipated encounter in 1934.   

    Over forty thousand fans watched the last Taylor-Gunnis presentation on September 22, 1936 when Joe Louis finally knocked out the courageous Al Ettore in the fifth round at Municipal Stadium.  Tragically, Bobby Gunnis, right before the bout, had a heart attack and died.  It was widely rumored that Taylor paid Mrs. Gunnis her husband’s share of promotional profits years after his death.    

    Of course, these bouts were just some of the highlights of their regular successful shows featuring the likes of Mickey Walker, Jack Sharkey, Barney Ross, Tony Canzoneri, Babe Risko, Joe and Vince Dundee, Sammy Mandell, Luis Firpo, Kid Chocolate, Pancho Villa, Jimmy Wilde, Joe Lynch, and Maxie Rosenbloom.  In fact, they presented almost every major champion and contender of that exciting era along with such local stars as Tommy Loughran, Lew Tendler, Benny Bass, Battling Levinsky, Patsy Wallace, Matt Adgie, Midget Wolgast, Lew Massey, Johnny Jadick, Eddie Cool, etc., etc…    

    After Gunnis’ death, Taylor continued on solo, running a very profitable operation.  For many years, he was second to only Mike Jacobs’ New York outfit.  In fact, he was always challenging his “old friend” when Jacobs’ monopoly threatened to freeze-out most of the independent boxers and promoters.    

    When Tony Galento’s ornery and belligerent manner made him unwanted by the powerful New York Commission, and by Jacobs also (who considered Galento too big a risk for Joe Louis), Taylor signed Tony to an exclusive 5-year contract. He built him into the foremost heavyweight challenger and such a huge attraction that Jacobs had to relent and allow champion Louis to meet Galento in a sensational title match, and regretfully had to cut Taylor in on the promotion as well.  A few years later, Sugar Ray Robinson signed an “exclusive” contract with Taylor to promote Ray’s Philly bouts and provide him with a trump card when negotiating with Jacobs for important matches.    

    During the war years, Taylor’s business was booming and he promoted such title matches as Joe Louis-Gus Dorazio and Lou Salica-Tommy Forte, along with the Bob Montgomery-Ike Williams feud that raged in the city for three years and two classic and highly profitable battles.  Many local boxers reached international stardom under Taylor’s direction in the ensuing years from Montgomery, Dorazio, Wesley Mouzon, Billy Fox, Billy Arnold, Harold Johnson, Gil Turner, Percy Bassett, Joey Giardello, Georgie Benton, Len Matthews, Sugar Hart to Joe Frazier, Gypsy Joe Harris, Bennie Briscoe, Kitten Hayward, and Leotis Martin.    

    Herman Taylor’s greatest accomplishment came during the summer of 1952 when he staged three world title fights at Municipal Stadium.  In June, Jersey Joe Walcott successfully defended his heavyweight title against bitter rival Ezzard Charles with 21,599 on hand.  Then, in July, Kid Gavilan outlasted Gil Turner in a vicious war drawing a record gate for the welterweight class and 39,025 paid guests.  And, of course, the epic September struggle between Marciano and Walcott that Taylor simply called the “greatest heavyweight match I ever looked at.”    

    On Herman Taylor’s 76th birthday, in an article by Nat Frank, Taylor was asked if he would live the same life if he had it to do all over again.  His answer probably best summed up his life.  “And why not”, he said, “it has given me fame and fortune; has brought me in contact with the world’s foremost citizens; and enabled me to do numerous fistic presentations for the most worthy of benefits, whereby the City, State, and Nation benefited.”    

    When asked if he ever considered retirement at his advanced age, he replied, “on the contrary, it has given me added ambition to continue in the game I love.”  

    Bouts That Never Were
    By Don Colgan

    Carlos Monzon vs. Marvin Hagler
    November 2, 1978
    Luna Park, Buenos Aires, Argentina
    Promoter:  Tito Lectoure

    Fourteen title defenses into a reign that began with a brutal 12th round technical knockout of defending Middleweight Champion Nino Benvenuti on December 7, 1970 Carlos Monzon had established his reputation as one of the historical icons of the storied middleweight class.  His previous two title defenses against formidable middleweight challenger Rodrigo Valdez had begun to show fractures in the Argentinean's invincibility.  He had narrowly defeated Valdez during the summer of 1976 and during their return bout a year later Monzon found himself on the canvas courtesy of a Valdez right cross during the second round.  The great Monzon pulled himself together and gradually began to dominate Valdez, pulling away during the championship rounds and winning a clear cut decision, an improved performance over their first contest.

    As Monzon edged into retirement during the late summer of 1977 an outstanding contender was beginning to emerge in the competitive, talent laden middleweight class.  Born in Newark, New Jersey and raised in Brockton, Massachusetts Marvin Hagler had begun a painstakingly arduous climb towards the upper echelons of the middleweight class.  He ascension was rudely interrupted with two decision losses in three bouts to Willie "The Worm" Monroe and Bobby "Boogaloo" Watts early in 1976.

    However, Hagler avenged the defeat by Monroe with a 12th round TKO in February 1977 followed by a second round stoppage in August of the same year.  Early in 1978 Hagler twice routed British contender Kevin Finnegan and scored a unanimous decision over longtime middleweight title aspirant Bennie Briscoe, who had held the great Monzon to a draw 11 years earlier in Argentina, in August of 1978.

    What if Monzon elected to postpone his retirement and bowed to his enormous pride and competitiveness and agreed to defend his championship for the final time against Hagler, a magnificent boxer/puncher still several years shy of his prime.  The bout was held, as was often the case in Monzon defenses, at Luna Park in Buenos Aires, Argentina on November 19, 1978 and was promoted by the legendary South American Promoter Tito Lectoure.

    The better line reflected the sentiment that Hagler was tough yet still a notch below the great Argentinean titleholder.  Monzon was an 11 to 5 favorite over the intimidating, shaven Hagler when the two met at ring center and were given instructions by referee Juan Ramirez Gonzales.

    Monzon's tremendous reach advantage became evident in the first minute as he twice tied up the American against the ropes.  Hagler was short with a right hand and worked two hard left jabs into Monzon's face.  Monzon scored with a long left hook, missed with a right cross and caught a hard Hagler right flush on the mouth.  The champion established distance between himself and Hagler as the American's superior hand speed paid early dividends with a double right lead to Monzon's head and a hard left hook to the body.  A solid Monzon right sailed over Hagler's shoulder and a counter left hook to the liver made the champion wince as the bell ended what was clearly Hagler's round.   

    Rounds two and three witnessed Monzon having real difficulty in reaching his talented challenger.  Hagler's left jab's were scoring and the great champion's right eye was noticeably bruised by the middle of round three.  Monzon's most effective weapon in thwarting Marvin's attack was to utilize his clear-cut reach advantage and repeatedly pull Hagler into a clinch.  However, there was a price to pay as the challenger raked Carlo's body in close and delivered a solid right cross to the champion's cheekbone late in round three that forced King Carlos's to hold. 

    Early in round four Hagler began to abandon some of the early caution and respect he afforded Monzon.  He walked through the champion and began scored with stiff left and right hand jolts to the body followed by solid right hand leads to the head.  Monzon simply wasn't punching.  Other than the occasional left jab that penetrated Hagler's defense Monzon was occupying his time trying to solve Hagler and the challenger's power and ring mastery were delivering a painful message to the large, screaming crowd at Luna Park.  Their countryman was in peril of losing the championship.   

    Monzon's right eye was beginning to swell shut early in round five.  Hagler bulled the champion into his own corner and forced him to hold with a left hand smash to the ribcage.  Hagler scored with another solid right to the head, then missed a left right combination as Monzon was able to escape to ring center.  Hagler pursued the titleholder with no fear found himself on the receiving end of a crisp left, right, left combination to the head.  Hagler shook his head and retaliated with a hard right hand that Monzon parried.  The Argentinean throng roared as Monzon began to score with his trademark long left leads to Hagler's head.  Monzon jolted Hagler against the ropes with a hard right cross.  It was Hagler's turn to hold as Monzon had begun to find the range in what was Carlos’ first round. 

    Round six and seven saw the pace of the bout slow considerably as Hagler's earlier daring seemed to fade.  Monzon kept his distance and found the range with a series of left jabs that produced a slight swelling over Hagler's left eye.  Hagler worked his way in close at the end of round six and penetrated Monzon's defense with a hard right to the body.  The champion responded with a counter right to the bridge of Marvin's nose that drew a trickle of blood.  Monzon was taking body punishment during round seven yet had found the range with his masterful left leads to the challenger's increasingly marked face.  As the bell ended round seven the vaunted Monzon right lead had failed to find its mark yet the bout was becoming a closer affair.

    Round eight belonged to Marvin as Monzon seemed to be tiring.  Hagler switched to southpaw early in the round, something Monzon's corner had warned him would happen.  It affected Carlo's, took him out of his earlier rhythm and allow Hagler to score with numerous combination to Monzon's head.  The Hagler right jab now began taking it's toll, banging hard against Monzon's face as the titleholder's attempts at right hand leads fell short.  Early in round nine Monzon fired his patented right cross and Hagler slipped under the blow and answered with a powerful short right to Carlos's jaw.  This time Monzon was hurt.  His knees buckled as he attempted to backpedal.  Hagler rushed the champion and fired a left hook that would have dropped Monzon had it landed.  He ripped a right to the body and hard left hook grazed Carlos' neck.  The champion would not be totally denied.  He landed a counter right cross flush against Hagler's jaw and now it was the American's turn to hold.  The bell found the crowd roaring madly and their hero flashed a smile as he turned towards his corner.   

    As the bell rang for round ten Monzon stood in his corner, bathed in the adulation of his hometown crown.  He face grew serious as he advanced upon Hagler, scoring immediately with a sizzling left hook that ripped open a cut over the corner of Hagler's right eye.  Monzon scored with a right, a left hook, and a hard right to the body, then wrestled the American into a clinch in Monzon's corner.  Hagler missed with a right, then delivered a perfect left hook to the jaw that didn't faze Monzon.  Hagler missed with a right and caught a Monzon right hand to the mouth followed by two hard left hooks to the body.  Hagler replied with a left jab, right cross combination to Monzon's face.  Monzon was wild with a right, then connected with a solid left hook to the body while eating a hard Hagler right to the forehead.  Monzon scored with two long left leads to the head at the bell.

    Rounds 11 and 12 saw Monzon, in a workmanlike fashion, keep a hard left jab in Hagler's face while continuously wrestling the challenger into a clinch, occasionally pushing Hagler away when he got in close.  Marvin was clearly tiring and his blows were beginning to lack the sting of the first ten rounds.  Halger managed a hard right to Monsoon's jaw early in round 12 yet was repeatedly on the receiving end of Monsoon's hard, long left leads to the head.  Hagler's left eye was nearly shut and blood was trickling down his face was regularity, despite the best efforts of his handlers.  Early in round 13 Hagler revived, bulling Monzon into the ropes and hammering the Argentinean champion with a barrage of left hooks and right crosses reminiscent of the first five rounds.  Monzon seemed astonished by the renewed intensity of his challenger's attack yet weathered the storm, almost seeming to concede the round in preparation for final six minutes.  After all, Monzon had been there before.  These were the championship rounds!  

    Round 14 saw Monzon open the session with a sweeping right hand the caught the American on the side of the face.  Hagler was short with a left hook, then banged a hard right hand under Monsoon's heart.  Monzon tied up Hagler in ring center, then took a hard Hagler right to the jaw after the break.  Monzon's long, hard left began connecting with regularity, now rendering Hagler virtually sightless in his left eye.  Hagler tied up Monzon in his own corner, then dropped under a Monzon left jab and fired an explosive right hand.  However, Monzon dropped his left shoulder, slipped the blow and delivered his long awaited "Iron Mike", a classic right lead flush against Hagler's jaw.  The challengers head snapped back as he staggered backwards into his corner.  Monzon was upon Hagler like a leopard, delivering a terrific left hook and right cross to the head as Hagler, who can take a punch, had all he could do to avoid a trip to the canvas. 

    The two touched gloves at the onset of the fifteen round.  Hagler's eyes seemed glassy and Monzon knew he need every remaining minute to retain his cherished championship.  Monzon scored with a double left hook to Hagler's damaged left eye.  Hagler drew Monzon into a clinch.  Hagler missed with a right cross.  Monzon scored with a hard left to the head and missed a right to the midsection.  Hagler managed to deliver two solid left jabs to Monsoon's head, then missed with a right lead.  Monzon scored with a stiff left to the head.  Hagler was short with a right lead.  Exhausted, he again drew Monzon into a clinch.  Carlo's slammed a left hook to the body and worked a jolting short right lead to Hagler's head.  Hagler was short with a left hook.  Monzon ripped a left to the head, missed with a right.  Hagler's long left lead grazed Monsoon's forehead.  Monzon ripped two hard left jabs to Hagler's head and another vicious right lead to the body at the bell.

    The two gladiators embraced in ring center as the score cards were gathered.  The decision took a full ten minutes to render as the crowd roared it's approval.  116-114, 116-114, and 117-113, in favor of "Still the Middleweight Champion of the World, the great Carlos Monzon.   



    Note: This interesting account of Sonny Liston’s relationship with the mob contains many inflammatory and accusatory statements.  These statements are impossible to substantiate, and thus we provide this disclaimer that the statements in Mr. Alkazoff's  reflect the opinions of the author and not necessarily of the CBZ or its staff.  Whether true or not, this article provides an interesting read, and when the mob is involved with the sport…you never know.

    Sonny Liston's career is impossible to evaluate, because Sonny Liston was never a legitimate fighter.  This isn't to say he couldn't fight.  Sonny was a great fighter, with knockout power, a fine chin, boxing ability, ring savvy. and stamina.  But Sonny as so many other fighters in boxing was not legitimate each time he stepped in the ring.  You as a fan just never knew which Liston would show up.  When he made mistakes that were too obvious or unbelievable, it destroyed his credibility as a attraction.  He got caught in a terrible bind and basically blackballed.  He was too dangerous to fight legally, and could not lay down anymore illegally because he and everyone around him were in scrutiny after he lost the title.  

                Boxing fans don't like to hear this, and neither do sports fans in general, but many fights in boxing are fixed or helped.  Whatever you want to call it.  I have spent twelve and one half years in Federal Prison for racketeering crimes, and I knew many top named Mob guys.  I knew all of them from Chicago during the peak Liston years.  Without mentioning names I am still friends with, and correspond with a few of the biggest in that era even today.  These are things that we as ex fighters and boxing fans talked about on a regular basis.  

                "How the heck can a guy like Fritzie Zivic lose sixty five fights and then beat Sammy Angott, Jake Lamotta, Charley Burley, and beat up Henry Armstrong twice?" I asked _____ ________, my buddy from New York.  

                "Forget about it Rock," said _____.  "They took the handcuffs off of Zivic against Armstrong.  They let him kill Armstrong twice, then they put the cuffs back on him against Cochrane."  

                "What the hell happened to Willie Pep against Tommy Collins and Lulu Constantino?"  

                "He was gambling heavy and he needed the dough."  

                "What about Cerdan?"  

                "Cerdan had to make a deal. He fights straight up against Zale and if he wins, he fights twice against Jake.  He dumps the first one with a injury, and they fight the next one on the level.  It was the only way Cerdan could get a shot.  He was the best middleweight in the world all during the war. It was the only way he could get in.  He was from France.  He had to do business. George Kantner was in on it."  

                "What about Louis-Conn number two?"  

                "Conn was done after the war.  He partied the whole war through.  Louis was about the same, but Conn had no shot.  They were buddies and the money was there.  Conn wanted the bread before he quit.  He dumped without getting hurt.  Made a good bet on it.  Art Rooney set it up.  Louis was in on it too.  Easy money."  

                "How about Leonard and Duran?"     

    "Are you kidding?  Duran hated Leonard.  He owed big money in Colombia, and made the deal.  Only thing was he wouldn't lay down, so he quit.  He had a choice.  Either play ball or keep the lightweight title and fight for peanuts in Panama.  The Hearns fight was the same, and the third time against Leonard he didn't even try."  


         "Oh he got plenty of gifts. Early on they made Mando Muniz quit in his corner on a faked injury. Muniz got tired of getting hit so he worked Leonard's body a little. They sent him the word to lay off. Leonard didn't like it in the body. They needed Muniz's name on his record, and Muniz was quitting anyhow. He wanted the money."  

         That's the kind of conversations we used to have.  I heard about plenty.  Harold Green laying down for Graziano, Graziano giving it up for Chuck Davey, Jake LaMotta betting against himself in a Cecil Hudson fight, and Jack Dempsey throwing the Jim Flynn fight.  These guys were in the mob books, and thick with Frank Carbo, Blinky Palermo, and the Chicago bosses. They knew alot, and you could learn alot being around them.  

                Sonny Liston was a man they all knew well.  It wasn't hard to get fistic as well as personal information from them.  

                Sonny Liston's relationship to the mob was much like Jack Dempsey's relationship to Tex Richard and Doc Kearns.  You had a rough, tough, powerful, uneducated young guy who never had anything, and had known terrible times.  They got involved with money guys with clout, and for the first times in their lives they had money and became somebody.     

    These were different days and the power was in different hands.  There were no media spotlights and even a talented fighter like Liston could be left behind without the right friends.  Liston, like Dempsey was grateful and felt he owed these people everything.  He listened to what they said, and did as he was told.        Sonny Liston as Jack Dempsey knew the dark side of life.  They didn't want to go back.  They learned to eat, dress, talk, and live according to what they saw from their benefactors.  Sonny Liston knew poverty and prison.  He had no love at home, and knew hunger and beatings from his Father.  He was taken from being just another poor, big, tough, Black ex convict to expensive suits, respect, and money in his pocket.  He listened and did what he was told.  Nobody should ever not believe that.  

                As a fighter Sonny was one of the greatest heavyweights that ever lived.  He had a great jab and any boxing expect knows a great jab can take you very far.  It was every bit and better than Joe Louis's.  Like Dempsey he had a immense reach for his height,and big fists.  He also had the left hook of a Dempsey, and a excellent straight right.  If you watch his fights in his prime you can see he also had good legs, stamina, a excellent chin, and fine ring generalship and style.  

                What many people don't consider about Sonny is that prison hardened him, and trained him to be a disciplined man.  It was a discipline that few men out of that type of situation can attain.  Coming out of prison he went on to defeat every good amateur heavyweight in the United States including gold medal great Ed Sanders.  He became the National Golden Gloves Champion. 

                No doubt had Sonny tried, with his classic style he would have become a Olympic Champion.  His jab alone might have won that for him.  

                But Sonny was grabbed by people who wanted money, not schoolboy glory and he turned pro.  Undefeated he was good enough to beat a very good heavyweight named Johnny Summerlin twice in his sixth and seventh pro fights.  In his eighth pro fight he had his jaw broken by Marty Marshall in Detroit.  He lost the fight, but bravely finished the fight.  Sonny had the guts of a champ.  He avenged the loss by knocking out Marshall and outpointing him in two future rematches. People forget that when they brand him a quitter.  

                Following these, Sonny beat up a cop and did a nine month sentence. All this did was harden him further and toughen him up some more. He spent his prison time training and came out in 1957 and started fighting again after a two year layoff. Something that is not well known. Sonny then went on a rampage.   The three year rampage Sonny Liston went on in the heavyweight division has very few parallels in boxing history. Maybe the Jack Dempsey march to the title can compare from 1917 to 1919, but that's about it. Even Joe Louis had to win the title to catch up with Max Schmeling to even up what happened to him on the way up No doubt Mike Tyson, Rocky Marciano, and Joe Frazier beat up their divisions also, but their greatest moments came after they won the titles.  

                Sonny like Dempsey left them battered and beaten.  He beat every decent heavyweight in the world in getting to the champion Floyd Patterson. His victims read like a list of top ten heavys of the era. Earnie Cab, Wayne Bethea, Julio Mederos, Mike DeJohn, Nino Valdes, Roy Harris, Zora Folley, Eddie Machen, Howard King, and Cleveland Williams twice. He crushed them all with only Machen and Bert Whitehurst, two excellent boxers, going the distance with him by backpedalling.  

                When Sonny got his overdue title shot he proved his greatness by destroying a decent champion Floyd Patterson easily in two back to back one round knockout victories.  Not a easy feat to knock out Floyd Patterson twice in one round knockouts.  Muhammad Ali couldn't do that, and neither could Jerry Quarry.  Floyd also holds victories over Archie Moore, Tommy Jackson, Johansson, Cooper, Bonavena, Cooper, Machen, and got robbed against Jimmy Ellis.  Floyd was no bum, and Liston handled him like a kid.  At that time Sonny was considered a maneater by every boxing expert and trainer in the world.  

                What hurt Sonny was the timing of his victory. This was the beginning of the civil rights era, and the beginning of the FBI's battle to remove the Mob's stranglehold on labor unions, entertainment, Los Vegas gambling, and sports.  Sonny was immediately and secretly, labeled as a undesirable "Black man" by the NAACP and other Black organizations.  President Kennedy and his brother the attorney general were also in on this.  The heavyweight title as owned by Joe Louis was very important in forming attitudes of Whites towards Blacks.  In this important period in the civil rights battles, it was very positive to have a good role model in the heavyweight champion.  Certain powers made it known to organized crime, that Sonny was too dark skinned, his prison record unacceptable, his personality too course, and his managerial ties too incriminating.  They made it known that Sonny Liston being champ would bring "heat" on his backers, which was organized crime.  It was decided to sell the title.  

                Cassius Clay was young, handsome, light skinned, olympic golden, and had a personality that was bright and clean.  He was a good fighter with good legitimate backers from the South.  He was a clean liver and a good draw.  His family had a good reputation, and Angelo Dundee was in the camp.  He was chosen as the man to get the title.  

                Sonny Liston was told what to do and he was going to follow orders.  The title meant nothing to him, because he wanted to be a second Joe Louis, but what he got was a unforgiving public.  He was very bitter about that.  But knowing the world, he went for the money as usual.  

                Sonny Liston also disliked Cassius Clay.  He had a prison personality, and he thought Clay was a big mouth and a "sissy".  His thoughts were if they were in prison, he would have had Clay intimidated.  The few moments that they were alone and unsupervised, and Clay went into his "I am the greatest!" act, and put Liston in the "big ugly bear" position, Liston was furious.  He quickly let Clay know that he wasn't going for the joke.  On one occasion he slapped Clay, and gave him a further verbal threat.  

                It was no secret that he disliked what Clay represented, and figured he could beat him without any problem.  It was also no secret that Clay was a bit in awe of Liston.  

                If you watch the first fight you will see what I am describing.  Liston is boxing, missing, and putting on a show.  Clay is swinging very hard with both hands.  Liston took some stinging punches and did not appreciate this at all.  He was holding back and he expected the same from Clay.  He then asserts himself with a tremendous body attack to let Clay feel his power to teach him a lesson.  Clay then complains of something in his eyes, and wants to quit!  Angelo Dundee has to push him out of the corner to continue.  

                "Dundee had to promise him that Liston was in the bag and wouldn't hurt him," said a friend of mine, close to the top of the Chicago mob.  "The kid wanted to quit right then and there!"  

                That round is another in which Sonny punishes Clay's body.  The lesson was taught.  The next round Liston suddenly stops his aggressive attack, and Clay is back in control.  He finally quits, with a shoulder injury the next round.  He also had a bruised eye from Clay's stinging jabs.  

                Cassius Clay had the title, became a tremendous performer, changed his name to Muhammad Ali and became part of our sporting history forever.  Sonny Liston got a rematch.  It was a money thing.  

                He disliked Ali, belittled his ability, and hated losing his title to him so much. He wanted to show the world in his mind that everything was a fix. He wanted people to know things were not right in the matches. In his mind if he went down from a playful tap early, people would know, and everyone would still get paid. He did, and he was right; everyone did know, deep down.  

                No man on earth would beg an animal like Sonny Liston to get up after knocking him down. That would be like Marciano telling Joe Louis to get up, or Archie Moore saying the same to Rocky. No way. But Ali did. He knew what Liston was up to, and he wanted the result to be much more impressive. He knew what was set up for him, and wanted it to be right. Liston made it smell on purpose.  

                Problem was Sonny had bad strategy. The mob had lost it's power and ran for the hills after the terrible looking knockout. Frankie Carbo, Blinky Palermo and others were getting locked up. Things were changing. If it had been the thirties Liston would have continued on a good career. But not today. On the level no contender wanted to fight him. No way. Even if he was over the hill or old or whatever, no supposed great heavyweight in the golden age of heavyweights wanted to fight Sonny Liston. Muhammad Ali never scored a quicker knockout against anyone than Sonny Liston, but no one who fought Ali wanted to fight Sonny Liston. They all knew what happened in the Ali-Liston fights. The iron hearted, brave Chuvalos, Quarrys, Terrells, Fraziers, etc wanted no part of Sonny Liston. He was blackballed.  

                Hardly training he crushed the lower tier of heavyweights, the Clarks, Lincolns, Joiners, Johnsons, and the Chuck Wepners.  Eventually a wicked shot from a spoiling puncher named Leotis Martin stopped him in a fight he was winning.  Sonny was still dangerous, but tired and old.  Out of frustration he just retired and spent his money.  

                How old was Sonny?  Tough to say.  Prisoners from poor families have no problem hiding their ages.  Its routine.  Same with immigrants and the rural poor.  My father took years off of his age when he came here from the old country, and it was found out after he died that Archie Moore was actually younger!  The smart money all said that Sonny Liston was about thirty four when he won his title.  He could have won it at least three or four years earlier.  He was a great natural fighter with every asset and one of the great heavyweights of all time.  

                How did he die?  The word from those in the know was that Sonny seemed to think that he had carte blanche because of his past and because of those he knew, when it came to gambling.  He was let off the hook many times after losses he couldn't pay.  In the end bookies got tired of his losses and wanted their money.  Sonny then returned to his intimidating physical behavior, refusing to pay.  Eventually he lost his protectors and was murdered with a drug overdose.  Sonny liked his parties, but was never a drug addict.  

                The mystery about Sonny Liston was that he was a great fighter who committed a bad "fix" in the new mass communication age.  Too many people saw it.  He got caught and paid for it.  The tragedy was that he was a super fighter that never got appreciated, and should not have been blamed for circumstances about his career and life that might have been beyond his control.  He was never forgiven.

    Scaling Today's Heavyweights
    By JD Vena

    So there you have it.  After months of hype, two heavyweight hopefuls show that that is all they should be considered.  I'm speaking, of course, of the disgraceful performances of Michael Grant and Vitaly Klitschko.  Both were being touted as the prototypes of the modern day heavyweight and were expected to achieve milestones according to their believers.

    Prior to their most recent fights, this scribe knew that neither Klitshcko nor Grant deserved any of our undivided attention.  Though Grant showed some sterner stuff in picking himself off the floor a few times, he never gave us any indication that he had the ability to defend himself.

    Let's face it, Grant's claim to fame had more to do with beating up popular heavybags.  In his most notable win, he overwhelmed David Izon, whose strategy is to wear his opponents out by absorbing punches.  If you ask me, Izon may have come out on top in that bout had the referee known he could stand up under such punishment.  The punches that Izon took from Derrick Jefferson in their January bout looked far more damaging than Grant's.
    Grant's other "significant" victories were over proven yet respected losers, Lou Savarese and Andrew Golota.  Although I should say that Savarese, like Izon has tremendous courage, he is just a big guy who is there to be hit.  Savarese's most notable win was to another gentle giant (Lance "Mount" Whitaker) who elected not to fight during the late rounds.

    Which brings me to Andrew Golota, a man who one continues to hear (and some still believe) possesses an abundance of talent that could eventually win the big one for him if he only has his head on straight.  Why do we hear of such things?  Is it because he almost twice defeated washed up versions of Riddick Bowe, only to be frustrated by the dilemma of having to finishing the job?  He has proven to have no chin, stamina, or courage.  Golota has failed to show any of these qualities in every opportunity presented to him by the Duvas.

    Unfortunately, Grant's lack of boxing ability and poor chin will lead to his eventual demise.  If he is matched with another genuine top 10 contender (other than Chris Byrd), his career will hit rock bottom faster than it took Lewis to send him into the land of unconsciousness.

    Where as Michael Grant needed to be sent to the canvas to be defeated, one of his contemporaries needed an excuse to be defeated.  Vitaly Klitschko, despite looking unimpressive in his fight with Chris Byrd, just needed to remain upright for three rounds to retain his WBO title.  Instead, when the going got slightly tough, the 6'8'' Ukrainian complained of a torn rotator cuff and inexplicably quit.  He mentioned that the pain began as early as the third round; though we never heard through the between round translations of such adversity.  Even if his claim was legitimate, why couldn't Klitschko be seen wincing after missing or landing with his left hand?  I would have somewhat respected his surrender had the injury occurred during the ninth and climactic round.  That way we would have known that his left arm was useless.

    In the popular perspective, Klitschko quit when Byrd began to press him during the last few rounds.  Up until the point at which he surrendered, all that one can remember during the final rounds is the former 165-pound 1992 U.S. Olympian forcing Klitschko backwards.  I certainly can't recall Byrd as being aggressive in any of his previous bouts.  The damage done to Klitschko's reputation is irreparable and makes Grant's devastating loss look like a minor setback.

    Another unfortunate failed HBO experiment unraveled when Ike Ibeabuchi, one of the more talented of the heavyweight prospects, was arrested and incarcerated for raping a prostitute.  "President" Ike is now a resident at a mental facility awaiting a trial.  Though his triumphs over David Tua or Chris Byrd earned him the undeniable right to fight for the title, his inability to cope with the demons that have filled his head remove him from the title picture indefinitely.

    Some critics believe that since Grant, Klitschko and Ibeabuchi have exited the elite bunch, that today's heavyweight picture looks as dreary as an Edvard Munsch painting.  As we have come to find out, Ibeabuchi is a dormant volcano waiting to erupt.  Matters would have been better had Grant accepted John Ruiz' challenge so that the WBA would not strip Lewis for failure to defend it against Ruiz.  

    As Ruiz (and this scribe) predicted, Grant didn't have a chance against Lewis and the undisputed title would not have been fragmented had the big Brit not have known this.  As Lewis admitted, "Why wait until (Grant) gets good?"  Lewis and his minions know that Grant is not the genuine article.  As a result of his choice, boxing after only six months is once again without an
    undisputed champion.

    Though some feel that heavyweight boxing needs an undisputed claimant to the throne for credibility, what it needs is good scraps.  In HBO's KO Nation debut, viewers got just that when two hungry unbeaten prospects fought their hearts out to retain their "zeros."  Clifford "The Black Rhino" Etienne was dominant in his thrilling 10 round victory over Lamon Brewster, but it was
    Brewster who fought with the stubborn pride that makes us appreciate boxing's sacrifices.  Brewster appeared on the verge of scoring a late round knockout when he staggered the Black Rhino with his potent left hook.  As impressive as Etienne looked in just his 16th bout, imagine what Brewster would have looked like had he not lost his legs during the first round?  Brewster has balls that befit a rhino and like Etienne should be expected to produce more fireworks in the very near future.

    The big fight not too many pundits are making noise over is the Evander Holyfield-John "The Quietman" Ruiz battle for the vacated WBA belt on June 10th.  Though this fight has been associated with what Lewis calls "politricks," it has more assured excitement than any potential heavyweight match does this year.  Like Lewis had done twice before, number one contender
    John Ruiz and former three-time heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield are fighting for a title that has been stripped from its champion.

    Both Ruiz and Holyfield also appreciate the circumstances surrounding their historic match-up.  Twenty-eight year-old, John Ruiz of Chelsea, MA will be only the 8th Latino to challenge for a world heavyweight title and should he win the very first to do so.  Should Holyfield prevail, it will
    mark arguably the second time in boxing history which a fighter has won the WBA title on a fourth occasion, Ali being the other (Sonny Liston in '64; Ernie Terrell in '67; GeorgeForeman in '74 & Leon Spinks in '78).

    Besides the historical significance for each fighter, the two combatants pair up to favor an exciting war.  Holyfield has been considered a washed up fighter since his thrilling rematch victory over Michael Moorer in '97.  The thought of Holyfield being washed up, however, has been muttered for the past eight years. 

    Throughout his glorious career, the Real Deal has always fought a more controlled fight when his opponent has tried to take him out.  Only Riddick Bowe was capable of achieving such a feat and it came when Holyfield was reportedly ailing from hepatitis B.  Other than in his last encounter with Bowe, Holyfield always seems more comfortable when his opponents come to him so that he can utilize his tremendous counterpunching ability.  Neither Lennox Lewis nor Vaughn Bean attempted or employed this strategy during their 12 rounders with Holyfield, which is one reason as to why Holyfield looked awkward in those fights.  At the tender age of 37 it would be quite remarkable if Holyfield could again control the pace that his aggressive opponent is sure to set.

    At a time, John Ruiz was talked about as a heavyweight hopeful until the most deadly punch in boxing, the left hook of David Tua caught Ruiz flush on the jaw moments into their clash over four years ago.  Immediately, his critics discarded Ruiz as a "can't miss" prospect.  The devastating loss to Tua, however, turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Ruiz.  Just as Jack Dempsey's forgettable 1st round knockout defeat to "Fireman" Jim Flynn in the mid-teens had been dismissed, the painful learning experience developed Ruiz into a fearsomely fast starter.  In one of his comeback fights he brutally kayoed Ray Anis in less than 20 seconds.  Overall, Ruiz is 11-0 with 10 stops since the Tua fight and the average record of his last five opponents is 28-3.

    Though many have a thorough disregard for the WBA and their actions of prying their title from Lewis, no one can refute the Holyfield-Ruiz winner as the most logical #2 man in the heavyweight ranks.  Some would argue that the WBA should not be considered as an actual governing body.  Either way, the next bearer of the WBA belt will symbolize the greatest threat to Lewis' crown.  Should Ruiz win and Lewis not face him, it would confirm Ruiz' claim that Lewis had been ducking him all along when he opted for Grant instead of Ruiz as his first title defense.

    As of this writing, it has been said Lewis will next defend his two remaining belts against Frans Botha and not the mandatory IBF challenger David Tua.  Many experts feel that Lewis' safe picks for title opponents are to keep him at the helm long enough for a date with Mike Tyson.  Lennox Lewis has bravely guaranteed a knockout victory over the "White Buffalo."  Why not, Tyson and Moorer already have and Shannon Briggs nearly accomplished the feat.  There is no legitimacy in offering Botha a shot.

    If Lewis wants to disgrace the title, he will lose it in that fashion when he eventually faces Tua in the fall.  That's right, even Tyson knows that he may not get to be the guy who knocks Lewis flat. Though logic says that Holyfield's experience will defeat Ruiz and Lewis will beat Tua, it is my duty to inform you readers that the opposite will happen.  Expect Ruiz and his pulverizing jab to batter and stop Holyfield late in their fight and for Lewis' chin to catch up with Tua's vaunted left hook during the middle to late rounds.  Tua has proven that he can be outboxed, but he has also proven that his left hook can end a fight at any given moment.  Lewis' tendency to lose focus at certain moments will be his undoing. Of course, Lewis has to fight Tua in order for my prophecy to come true.  If Lewis decides to let the IBF (provided they are in existence by then) strip him, expect Larry Donald to stick and move to victory over the Terminator for the vacant belt.

    "Shadow Boxers"--Hope Rising in Fight Movies
    The award winning feature-length documentary about women's boxing has its premier theater run in New York City
    starting on Friday, May 12 at the Cinema Village, 22 East 12th St. between 5th Ave and University

    By Katherine Dunn

    Every decade or so there's another spurt of interest in making movies about boxing and we are now in mid-trickle.  In recent years, Bob Hoskins gave credible clumsiness to the black-and-white Brit drama "24-7", and Daniel Day Lewis was "The Boxer." 1999 gave us Woody Harrelson and Antonio Banderas perpetrating the farcical, "Play it To The Bone," while Jimmy Smits starred in the cliched-with-redeeming-bits, "Price of Glory." Coming off his role in the metaphorical "Fight Club," Brad Pitt plays a boxer and a gypsy (no up-chucking on the floor, please) in the upcoming "One Punch Mickey."  

            None of these flicks is in a class with the great "Fat City", or even "Raging Bull" (a fine movie but not about boxing. The DeNiro character could have been a pushy plumber and it wouldn't have changed the story). They are not of the "Rocky" caliber, though maybe they equal some of the sequels. Still, they are indications of interest by a new generation.

             Although George Foreman's TV sit-com died fast and wingless, Showtime has announced the Monday, June 26 debut  of "Resurrection Boulevard", which is billed as the first-ever TV series based in a boxing gym, and features an appearance by the unquenchable Johnny Tapia.

             One fresh angle popping up in the recent flow is movies about women boxers. We can see it as part of the same fighting-femme wave that brings us Xena, Warrior Princess, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the interchangeable chin kickers and elbow wielders of various action films.

            The fact is, more women are boxing now than ever before and they occasional achieve a spark on the national media horizon.  The fictional drama, "Girl Fight", which knocked socks off at the Sundance Film Festival this year will debut in theaters this summer. Several made-for-TV
    documentaries have floated on and off the small screen. On a bigger scale, the 1999 documentary "On The Ropes" featured the stories of three amateur boxers, all trained by the same coach in a New York gym. One of the boxers was female and her classicly tragic tale and her intense personality exploded from the screen, throwing the rest of the movie into vagueness by comparison. "On the Ropes" is currently being re-made as a fiction movie.

             A goofy oddity in the myth structure of Western culture is the deeply imbedded notion that women are usually "Good"--well-intentioned, nurturing, and non-violent when compared to men. A by-product of this myth is that when women choose to do something violent, even if generally despised--Boxing, for example--some of the "good" bias follows along and tends to soften the edge of the public view. After the first shock of seeing women bashing each other around in the ring wears off, there's a tendency for the genteel types to think 'Oh boxing can't be all that bad. Women do it.' Silly, but there you are and we might as well take advantage of it.

             Enter "Shadow Boxers," one of the most gorgeously produced and passionately convincing tributes to boxing this female fight fan has ever seen on screen. "Shadow Boxers" is a feature length documentary that has been harvesting awards at film festivals on two continents for the past year. It's theater debut took place this month at the Cinema Village in New York with rave reviews from the Village Voice and the New York Times.

             The films' producer, writer, editor and director is Katya Bankowsky, a former amateur boxer and successful television commercial producer. Bankowsky, the head of her own production company, Swerve Films, says she hopes the New York run will prompt a distributor to pick the film for national theatrical distribution, but if that doesn't happen she'll foot the bill to get the film out in Los Angeles and San Francisco before selling it to TV.

             Documentaries usually don't do well in the theaters—their natural life is on TV with a library/archive presence in video rentals. Since television audiences often hugely outnumber theater audiences, that's not necessarily a bad thing. But a film has to have at least a minimal exposure in theaters to be eligible for Oscars and other such movie-type awards. This year, the boxing documentary "On The Ropes", which cropped up in a few art houses around the country, was nominated for an Academy Award. Next years documentary nominees for the Oscar should
    include "Shadow Boxers."

              Cinematographers Anthony Hardwick and Tony Wolberg combine lush color footage with crisp black-and-white news-style clips in this sharply edited, fast moving film. The spooky, driving original score was composed and performed by Argentine vocalist, Zoel.
              Although "Shadow Boxers" is a film about female fighters, it demonstrates a solid understanding of what it means and what it takes to be a warrior of any gender. Smartly designed to be viewed by non-boxing fans,  it seems to captivate people who know little about the sport and may even be hostile to it. The rewards for the actual fan are all the richer. The film's subjects are real people living and talking through the real, though seldom discussed, ABC's of boxing. Why you do it. How hard it is. What it feels like to work your heart out but lose, to be knocked out, to get up and start over again. What winning is.

              The male burden of the stiff upper lip prevents a lot of men from talking much in public about the tough things, the heart and gut stuff that inspires or wounds.  Women in our culture are taught to blab about everything so they get the credit for having "feelings." These young women are experiencing things that men have endured forever, but they talk openly and unashamedly about what's happening. It's startling, and fascinating, to hear that, for all the visible gender differences, the women feel many of the same things that men do about boxing.

               Mostly, "Shadow Boxers" is about Lucia Rijker--the undefeated 139 pound women's world champion--considered by many scholars as one of the most complete and dangerous fighters in the female ranks today. But it also looks at beginners, some just playing and exploring, others dreaming toward the zone where Rijker operates.

                The film starts with the bang of Rijker's punch as she shadow boxes in near darkness, and then slides into the cavernous reaches of famed Gleason's Gym in Brooklyn. It's 1995 and New York women are training to compete for the first time ever in the New York Golden Gloves.  These particular women are a different breed than the Hollywood stereotypes of boxers--articulate adult professionals, many with college degrees. We see the corrections officer, the literary agent, and, among others, the intently pale film-maker herself, Katya Bankowsky.

               She began making the film as she was training for the '95 Gloves because she understood that this was history in the making.

               Bruce Silverglade, the owner of Gleason's, is interviewed on screen talking thoughtfully about how there have always been women in the sport, just not many of them.

               There were female gladiators in Rome, of course. And tough farm girls in the British boxing booths at fairs of the 19th century. Though women have fought for pay in the United States since the turn of the century, they were never allowed to learn the sport as men do, in amateur programs. Imagine, for comparison, that you could try out for the Yankees when you turned 18, but until then you weren't allowed to pick up a ball or a bat. Never permitted to set foot on the field. Most women fighters were starting from a similar state of inexperience, but amazingly, a few of them managed to be pretty good. The famed British bantam, Barbara Buttrick, for instance, who battled around the U.S. in the 1940's and early '50's.

              Then, in 1993, a 16 year-old girl named Dallas Malloy filed a gender discrimination law suit against the national amateur organization, US Amateur Boxing, Inc. in federal court in Seattle. Malloy won. The national organization was forced to allow women to compete as amateurs. In
    October of '93, in Edmonds, Washington, Malloy fought and won the first ever women's amateur match in the United States. She never fought again, but she'd changed the fight world. Now there are nearly two thousand registered, competing female amateurs in the United States. Forty-two
    nations have women's amateur boxing programs. There's talk of introducing women's boxing in some forseeable Olympic Games.

                But in 1995, as Katya Bankowsky's camera prowls Gleason's Gym, it's still brand new, scary and highly controversial. The questions are simple. Can women survive boxing? Can boxing survive women? Sharply cut clips give us crusty coaches and trainers, male boxers, and of course the sweating women themselves, all talking about it.

                 Jump to the high octane excitement of the New York Golden Gloves...the fight action....the winners and losers...how they feel about it afterwards, and where they go from here.

                 What they would all like to be, of course, is Lucia Rijker--the intelligent, regally dignified, and movie-star beautiful warrior. Move over, Xena. The film shifts into a full-blown portrait of
    Rijker, narrated by her soft voiced, thoughtful commentary. We follow her through workouts with her trainer, Freddie Roach, at the Wildcard Boxing Club in L.A., to a pastoral training camp in upstate New York where she trains, lives and eats beside James Toney and his sparring partners, and on to fight after fight.

                The only narration is Rijker's voice talking about what she does and why she does it. She tells her own history.  As the Dutch-born daughter of a white woman and a black man, she followed her older brother into a kick-boxing gym at the age of 12. She fell in love with the combat
    sport and ruled her weight division, undefeated, with four world titles over a decade. In the mid-1990's she abandoned kick-boxing and moved to Los Angeles.

                Rijker studied boxing, first with Joe Goossen in the 10 Goose Gym where she sparred with Gabriel and Rafael Ruelas, her close friends to this day. She was undefeated as an amateur with five bouts. She switched trainers, moving to Freddie Roach. She turned pro a week after slugger Christy Martin fought Deirdre Gogarty, winning a bloody and ferocious battle on the undercard of the 1996 Mike Tyson-Frank Bruno rhino waltz. Martin landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated and women boxers became the flavor of the day for promoters big and small.

                 Don King had Christy Martin. Arum signed Rijker, though he has always been openly opposed to women boxing. She was on her way.

                 Katya Bankowsky and her camera crew began following Rijker fairly early. The TV fight footage is spliced in with the lush film work. the crew tracks her through Holland and the European Championship and  an interview with her blonde mother, as Lucia translates from Dutch to English and back again.

                 Since "Shadow Boxers" was completed, Rijker won the world title and broke with Bob Arum. Rumored reasons include Rijker's increasing price to fight, and Arum's preference for pretty Mia St. John beating up on petrified waitresses. The message from Arum seems to be that women's boxing is not a real sport but a novelty act --soft giggly porn on the level of jello wrestling. St John did a centerfold for Playboy and has made appearances in a couple of physique-flashing TV shows. But, almost in defiance of Arum, she has also continued to train and her once laughable boxing skills are creeping into hailing distance of the respectable.

                   Rijker signed a limited promotional agreement with America Presents....a re-connection with the Goosens, and is currently hoping for a fight on the upcoming Tyson card.
                   The jury is still out on the future status of female boxing. But "Shadow Boxers" catches Rijker, and the women's sport at that crucial, trembling moment when the game is tough, but anything seems possible. It's enough to make you fall in love with the ring all over again.


    By Randy Gordon

         My dad could fix anything.  Bicycles...Airplanes (both real ones and model ones)...Engines...Model trains...Lawnmowers...Chairs...Tables...Sidewalks...  Driveways...Toilets...Shelves...Desks...Drawers.  Like I said, he could fix anything.  When a toy of mine would break and I'd show it to him, Papa G. would merely say, "Hmm, it certainly is broken.  Well, then, let's fix it!" 

    Later, in my teenage years, when a leather lace from my baseball glove snapped and I said, "Dad, my glove broke," he'd look at it and say, "Yep, it certainly did break.  Well, then, let's fix it!"  When Papa G. got his hands on something, it ran perfectly.  He's retired now and living the life of luxury.  Perhaps I should call him and see if he wants to undertake the task of fixing two things which are badly broken and desperately in need of repair.

         One is boxing's ratings system.

         The other is the New York State Athletic Commission.

         For years I have complained about boxing's ratings system.  I think we all have. 

    I have never trusted the ratings of the WBC, the WBA, the IBF, the WBO, the WBU, the WAA, the IBO, the IBC -- or the ratings of any other of the alphabet soup organizations.  Have you? 

         Twenty years ago, when I was the Editor of Ring Magazine, I screamed and hollered that the sanctioning bodies and their phony ratings are killing the sport we love.  Well, these cancers we call sanctioning bodies haven't killed it yet, but the destruction has been slow and painful to watch.  It's actually been more like an agonizingly slow water torture than anything else.

         Quite frankly, the ratings we've looked at courtesy of any of the alphabet soup boys have never been wonderful.  I mean, we all can do ratings and none of our sets will ever look the same.  I might not agree with yours and you might not agree with mine.  However, at least our ratings will be one thing:  They will be H-O-N-E-S-T.  You and I both know that word has no home amongst the ratings of any sanctioning body.  Just ask Doug Beavers.  Ask Marvin Hagler what he thinks about having been unrated and unranked and kept out of the U.S. Championships back in 1976-1977.  Ask Carlos Zarate about a "contender" he defended his bantamweight crown against who had no right being in the ring, much less in the top 10.  Or Roy Jones, who defended his light heavyweight crown against a heckuva nice NY city cop who somehow wound up at the top of the ratings heap.  

         Now, there are some ratings I really don't mind.  Some fans and writers put out their own sets of ratings.  The CBZ's Phrank Da Slugger puts out a good set of worldwide ratings.  I trust him.  Even I keep my own ratings (if I can't trust myself, who can I trust???).

         Recently, a Wall Street lawyer, Howie Sirota, founded an internet site
    www.Boxingranks.com -- which ranks 10 boxers 17 different weight categories.  The ratings are done by the Boxing Writers of America.  Included on the blue ribbon panel are men like Larry Merchant, Bill Gallo, Pete Hamill and George Kimball. The media picked up on this novel idea and went "WOW!  What a great idea!!!"  Uh, hello...Knock, knock.  A few years ago -- like 21 of them -- Bert Sugar came up with this idea and I implemented them when we were together at Ring Magazine.  The idea worked beautifully.  Bert and Steve Farhood do that very same thing today at Bert's great bi-monthly magazine, "Bert Sugar's Fight Game."  So, while Sirota's ratings will unquestionably be
    done without bias and payoffs, his idea is certainly not new. 

         It's just that we are so fed up with the phoniness and hypocrisy of the whole broken-down ratings system that we'll try anything new thrown our way. 

         Boxing's ratings are more than broken.  They are Humpty Dumpty falling off the wall and getting stampeded and trampled after that fall by the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. 

         Once upon a time, I used to watch boxing on network television.  That was in the 1970's and 1980's.  When was the last time you watched a boxing match on ABC?  On CBS?  On NBC?  Ahh, yes, NBC.  As far as our sport is concerned, NBC stands for "No Boxing Coverage."  Aside from the Olympics, they haven't televised a pro boxing match since the mid-80's.  They didn't
    like the sanctioning bodies, they didn't like the smelly, phony ratings, they didn't like more champions in every division than legitimate contenders, they didn't like the business.  To them, boxing was broken and they weren't in the "Fix It" business.  They got out and have stayed out all this time.  They'll return when we fix it ourselves.  Whether it's Phrank Da Slugger's ratings or
    Bert Sugar's or Howie Sirota's, something needs to be done.  Hmm.

         Dad,  I need your help.  We've got these horribly broken ratings here, and...

         Then there's the New York State Athletic Commission.  NYSAC, as the abbreviation goes.  Formed in 1920, it is one of the oldest state athletic commissions is the country.  It, too, is like Humpty Dumpty and the ratings. 

         You don't have to be a genius to know that if something is broken, you fix it.  If it's not broken, well, there's nothing to fix.  You don't touch it.  In 1995, New York State judhes and referees were given their licenses and assignments by the Athletic Commission.  Shows were being promoted
    without a hitch.  Obvious mismatches took place in other states.  Weigh-ins were conducted without problems.  Controversies were few and far between.  And in the cases where there were controversies, none were because of incompetence or dishonesty on the part of the commission.  In 1995, the commission was running just fine.  Then, in stepped a new administration.  With that, the New York State Athletic Commission fell apart.  More accurately, it was taken apart.  Gov. George Pataki and his henchmen, led by Sen. Alfonse D'Amato (thankfully, New Yorkers were wise enough to vote this creep out of office!), began to fix the NYSAC.  There was one problem, however.  The NYSAC wasn't broken.  Everybody knows that if something isn't broken, it doesn't need to be fixed.  Pataki and D'Amato fixed it, anyway.  Oh, how they fixed it.  They fixed it but good!  They took a finely-tuned, well-honed machine and turned it into junk.  They took an expensive sports car and turned it into a jalopy.  I know.  I was the operator of that machine.  I was the driver of that sports car.  And for five years I kept quiet.  I'll be silent no longer.  Maybe I should have said something a long time ago.  But then, the wounds were still fresh, the scars too obvious.

         "Sour grapes," is what people would have said.  So, I walked away, licked my wounds and embarked on a new career.  When I said things, I said them to my wife and children and to my very closest friends.

         Since the day I left office, in mid-June 1995, the New York State has been an embarrassment.  To the sport of boxing.  To the taxpayers of New York.  To its brother and sister commissions.  To the Governor.  And to itself.

         I don't blame the entire mess on Gov. Pataki.  I blame it on those who advise him.  Obviously, whoever that is or whoever they are know little -- very little -- about the inner workings of the sport and of the players involved.  If they did, they never would have installed Floyd Patterson as my
    successor.  Patterson, as likable and as decent a man as you will ever meet, was ill-equipped for the job.  I knew that from the moment I found out the appointment was going to him, but I certainly couldn't, wouldn't, shouldn't and didn't say anything to anybody.  Anybody except my wife and family.

         "I really love Floyd," I told them.  "I wish him all the luck in the world. He's going to need it, because they are using him bigtime.  He's in way over his head."

         A few months into his tenure, Patterson made the remark that he had never heard of AIDS.  I still contend his words were taken out of context because of the slow manner in which Floyd speaks.  I'm sure he was taking a breath after saying, "I never heard of AIDS, until..."  The media never allowed him to finish.  All that registered with them was that Patterson never heard of the disease which took his brother's life.  They jumped all over him.  Patterson was then muzzled by the Governor's office and never addressed the media again unless every word was carefully scripted and questions to him were kept to a minimum.

         Following Patterson's muzzling, a power struggle ensued within the commission, with no less than four men locking horns in an effort to become Executive Director and in effect, run the commission.  For at least one year, the commission was flying on automatic pilot, with nobody truly steering the ship.

         It was in 1997 that Patterson was embarrassed in court when he represented the NYSAC during a lawsuit.  During testimony, Patterson's memory was shown to be weak and forgetful, at best.  At worst, it was shown to be non-existent.  It was obvious he could not lead the New York State AthleticCommission, and he stepped down. 

         A few months later, Gov. Pataki named Melville Southard as the new Chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission.  What the NYSAC needed was a true-blue boxing guy with administrative skills.  What they got was an attorney who enjoys watching the sport.  But mostly they got a Republican with connections who has made financial contributions to The Party.  Since
    taking over in September 1997, Southard has given new meaning to the word "anonymity."  Of course, the anonymity could certainly be by design, with Gov. Pataki's office slapping the same muzzle on Southard as the one worn by Patterson for two years.

         Under Southard's leadership, or whatever it is he does, the NYSAC was involved in one of the biggest officiating scandals boxing has ever seen.  That scandal took place on March 13, 1999 in Madison Square Garden, when a non-New York judge, Eugenia Williams, had her mind anywhere but in the ring in two successive rounds.  Her error cost Lennox Lewis a victory over Evander Holyfield.  Later, she was to say the referee blocked her view of the action.  Yet, a replay clearly showed the referee as never being in Ms. Williams' view long enough to make a difference.  Apparently, the commission allowed Ms. Williams to judge without making her take out a New York Judge's License.  Their failure to license her was an aggregious error which should have never happened.  The controversy was incredibly embarrassing for Gov. Pataki.  I
    cannot even fathom the same thing happening in places like Nevada and Pennsylvania, states which have two of the best boxing commissions.

         And how about the travesty of the Arturo Gatti-Joey Gamache weigh-in?  Who was zooming who on that one?  Apparently, it's going to take a jury to decide.  More embarrassment for Gov. Pataki.

         Recently, the New York Post barraged NYSAC with a scathing three-part story.  Following that, the Post blasted them again.  It was like the aftershock of a major earthquake.  The first quake made quite a rumble, registering a 7.0 on the Richter Scale.  The aftershock was another strong jolt -- a 6.5 -- but not lasting nearly as long.  The only human tragedy seems to be NYSAC Executive Director Anthony Russo, who has been MIA for over a month.  The rest of the staff escaped without injury, which is truly amazing, especially after such a journalistic quake.

         Prior to the N.Y. Post expose, the NYSAC would hand out passes to political VIP's for major shows.  The seats weren't merely high-priced ringside seats.  They were seats with or directly behind commission personnel.  The bigger the show, the more VIP's were on hand.  I once had a
    N.Y. Senator call me up a few days before the fight and ask me for two good tickets.  Then he reminded me, "I sit on the Senate Finance Committee, which approves the Governor's nomination of you."  I told the Senator I had no tickets, no comps, no press passes and no commission passes.  He wasn't happy.   At the Oscar De La Hoya-Derrell Coley bout at MSG, I looked around ringside and saw commission personnel who indeed belonged there.  I also saw
    their husbands, wives, girlfriends, politicos and friends.  One of the three commissioners -- Rose Trentman -- brought her husband along.  He sat there with a camera a took photos all night. I guess he was the "Official NYSAC Photographer" that evening.  One veteran New York fight observer later said, "I have never seen so many commission moochers and hangers-on in my life.  I think the New York State Athletic Commission set a record with the amount of freebies they gave out that night.  There should be an investigation into that, alone." 

         Recently, the NYSAC was set to allow a medically-suspended fighter into the ring.  It was really nothing, though, just a little bone in his neck which was missing.  What could have happened to him in a bout against murderous-hitting Arturo Gatti? 

         Following the fight, Anthony Russo packed his gear.  He hasn't been seen at the commission since,  No announcement was made whether he was taking off two weeks, two months, two years or two light years.  Hopefully, other changes to this broken, shattered commission will be made soon, and will come from direct order of the Governor. 

         The New York State Athletic Commission recently hired veteran referee Arthur Mercante Sr. to give seminars to their officials.  Heaven help them.  He is not a judge, never was a judge and I would never, ever hope he would become one.  As a referee, he was a great one.  Not the best or even in my top 5 of all time, but certainly in the top 10.  When I was Chairman, Arthur said to me, "You should bring back "Saving by the bell in any round."  He also wanted the referee to be a scoring official.  He basically wanted me to go back to having rules from 60 years ago.  His seminars should be wonderful!

     I can only wish the NYSAC luck.  They have become so pathetic that it's truly sad.

         The place has really fallen apart in five years.  If there was a "Boxing Monopoly" game, the New York State Athletic Commission would be the inexpensive, rundown purple properties just past "GO" -- Mediterranean Avenue and Baltic Avenue.

         Papa G., do you think you can come out of retirement and fix this wretched, broken down commission?      

         ASIDE TO JIM LAMPLEY AND LARRY MERCHANT:  After watching Roy Jones dismantle Richard Hall and listening to you guys, all I can say is "Calm down!"  Larry, if anybody should be pistol whipped, it's you.  And Jim, the New York State Athletic Commission should not investigate referee Wayne Kelly.  They are lucky if they know where the file cabinets are!  Perhaps you should be investigated.  Kelly did nothing wrong in that fight.  Watching the fight, I was saying to myself, "Get ready to stop it, Wayne, get ready!"  He was getting ready.  At that time, Lampley and Merchant were already screaming for Kelly's head.  Kelly was on the money with his stoppage.  Jones was hitting fast but not all that hard.  Hall was so together that he immediately argued with Kelly about the stoppage.  No, Wayne Kelly didn't make the wrong call.  Jim Lampley and Larry Merchant did.

    Rebel Red Herring

    By Pete Ehrmann


    Poor Red Herring.  His name is known today, through no fault of his own, only as a political smokescreen (“A subject intended to divert attention from the main question.”) rather than for anything he accomplished in the boxing ring.  The record books don’t even list him on the roll of world champions, although Herring considered himself one and, 75 years ago, brought Nashville, Tennessee its first title fight of the last century.

    Gulfport, Mississippi was actually the hometown of Bryan “Red” Herring, who got his nickname on account of the color of his hair.  Not long after he became a prize fighter around 1915, starting his career in Nashville, he became “Rebel Red Herring”, known throughout the South for, as the Nashville Banner said in 1925, “loving to mix things up and possessing great ability to take punishment as well as give it.

    On January 13 of that year, Herring demonstrated all those qualities to a fault when he and another Nashville favorite called Young Jack Dillon smacked each other around at the Page Building arena on Fifth and Commerce Sts., in what was called by the Nashville Banner’s Lewie Little “the greatest and hardest fought glove scrap ever staged in this community.”

    Dillon was knocked down by Herring five times in the course of the eight-round fight; Herring went down three times, and before the final round was heard telling his handlers that he was too weak to stand up.  But somehow he did, and the fight was declared a draw.

    Today, a boxer involved in such a war would take a long vacation before getting back into the ring.  But just four days later, Herring went 10 hard rounds with aptly-named lightweight contender Sid Barbarian in Detroit.  Fans booed when Barbarian was announced the winner.

    Incredibly, Herring and Dillon went at it again at the Page arena on February 9.  And, more incredibly still, they trumped their first thrilling contest with a battle during which, Lewie Little reported, “the spectators came out of their seats and turned into a howling, screaming and excited mob.” Both fighters went down again, and after eight rounds the unpopular decision went to Dillon, perhaps as a reward for not falling for it when, in the last round, Herring “tried an old trick, telling him that his shoe was untied, hoping that (Dillon) would look down” so he could wallop him.

    On March 27, Nashville papers announced that Rebel Red would face “well-known Eastern fighter” Young Ketchel at the Page arena the following week.  That same night, Herring was again in a Detroit ring, where his opponent was Myron “Pinkey” Mitchell of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

    Mitchell was a tall, awkward boxer who, in October of 1922, became recognized as the charter junior welterweight champion of the world.  He didn’t earn the diamond-studded belt that went with that honor in the ring, the way fighters had won championships going back to boxing’s bare-knuckle days, but rather in a way never used before or since to crown a boxing champion.

    He was elected to the throne.

    A boxing magazine called The Boxing Blade, headquartered in Minneapolis, took it upon itself to establish a new weight division between the 135-pound lightweight and 147-pound welterweight classes.  In an effort to boost circulation, the Blade invited new subscribers to anoint the first champion by voting for their favorite.  Mitchell was the top vote-getter, and while his junior welterweight laurels were derided by many as a “mail-order championship”, today Mitchell is still recognized as the original titlist in the 140-pound division.

    But Red Herring isn’t listed as the second one, despite what happened in the sixth round of his fight with Mitchell.  Referee Slim McClelland had already warned the Milwaukee boxer several times for hitting on the break, as the fighters were coming out of a clinch.  But when Rebel Red’s hands were down as they separated once more, Mitchell took the opportunity to smack him on the jaw with a right uppercut that laid Herring out like a week-old flounder.

    Instead of counting him out, McClelland promptly awarded the fight to the unconscious Herring on a foul.

    “We win the title!” shouted Herring’s manager, Emmitt Kinsalla.  Referee McClelland agreed, and so did one of the ringside judges.  But the Mitchells—Pinkey and his brother-manager, Billy, did not, on the ground that the contract for the fight didn’t stipulate that the fighters weigh in at or below the 140-pound junior welterweight class limit.  Herring weighed 139, but the champion was 146.  Therefore, they said, it wasn’t a title match.

    Lest the logic of their argument fail to carry the issue, the Mitchells promptly sent the championship belt home to Milwaukee so that Herring couldn’t get his hands on it.

    When The Boxing Blade created the new weight class, the magazine also established a “Junior Welterweight Title Commission” to oversee it.  Two of the three commissioners were from Milwaukee.  Nevertheless, Kinsalla dutifully filed a protest with them, and pending the outcome insisted that his man was the new champion.

    Thus an eight-column headline in the Banner of March 29 proclaimed that the Herring-Ketchel match two days hence would be no fandango between two run-of-the-mill pugs, but Nashville’s first ever world title fight.

    A debate about that might have provided more excitement that the fight itself.  Ketchel’s press clippings indicated he was a dynamo, but against Herring he was a dud.  Herring fiddled with him for two rounds, knocked him out of the ring in the third and then out of the fight.

    Banner sports editor R.E. McGill was unimpressed.

    “We had never considered Red Herring championship material,” he wrote.  “He is a likeable fellow with a great willingness to give and take.  He also knows considerable boxing.  We would like nothing better than to see Red Herring hold the title for a long, long time.  If his opponents are no more than Young Ketchel, then Red Herring will hold the championship until he is no longer able to avoid stepping on his beard.”

    Herring’s reign lasted considerably less than that.  In fact, just twenty-four hours later the “Junior Welterweight Commission” announced that because Pinkey Mitchell didn’t weight 140 or less against Herring, his title wasn’t on the line in Detroit and therefore Red Herring was no more champion of the world than he was a star of the Grand Ol’ Opry.

    While that didn’t stop Rebel Red from billing himself as junior welterweight titlist, as far as the boxing record books are concerned he was just whistlin’ Dixie.

    Lennox Lewis Don't Impress Me ........ Much!

    By Alan Taylor

    A few things need to be stated right at the start.  I am British.  I consider myself to be as patriotic as the next guy - as long as the next guy isn't modelling a Union Jack like it was the height of fashion and dressed from head to toe like a 1965 Pete Townsend.  I do not believe that John Wayne won the Second World War or that the Enigma code was broken by some Yanks in a submarine.  I live in a nation with a history that goes back more than a couple of centuries, and it is a rich and varied history.  I may treat it sometimes with a self-depreciating sense of humour (not 'humor') but I am proud to be from the right hand side of the Atlantic Ocean.  But, and please don't tell anyone, I have two dark secrets - Naseem Hamed irritates me and I don't like Lennox Lewis!

    Given that Hamed irritates everybody I need not dwell on that but I feel that I must try to explain the second, if only for the benefit of my jingoistic compatriots.

    I have followed Lewis's career closely since he beat Riddick Bowe in the 1988 Olympic final.  Yes, he won the gold medal for Canada but it's not that that I hold against him.  I do not consider Lewis to be a Canuck fighting under a flag of convenience, as many have suggested.  He was born in East London and, while he doesn't speak wif' a cockney tongue Guv'nor, he was entitled to return home where he would, let's face it, receive more recognition that in Canada.  I laughed when Donovan 'Razor' Ruddock suggested in his Jamaican brogue that, 'Lewis is as Canadian as I am'. No, when Lewis decided to turn professional in the United Kingdom, I believed that we might have a heavyweight who could do something.  Now I realise that boxing is an individual sport.  Fighters do not compete for their countries and, to be honest, at other weights I don't really believe that nationality counts for anything. But this is the heavyweight division. This is a division where the leading contenders from these islands have invariably struggled to be second rate.  Before Lewis our 'heroes' consisted of Tommy Farr, who did not get knocked out by Joe Louis, and Don Cockell, who, despite hurling his face repeatedly against Rocky Marciano's fists for round after round, just failed to take the title.  Then, of course, we had Our 'Enry.  Henry Cooper was the pride of the Kingdom.  People still talk in hushed tones about how he almost destroyed the hopes of the young upstart Clay.  If only the bell hadn't rung - which it did - and they hadn't taken all that time to replace Cassius's torn glove - which they didn't, but that's another story.

    And I'm forgetting Big Frank.  Frank Bruno was a fighter who was groomed to fail in the great British way.  He was fed a lot of lambs and was then thrown to the lions.  Bruno failed in every big test he was given but it didn't matter because he had some amusing catchphrases to make up for his lack of mobility, chin, talent.......

    From the start Lewis looked different.  I never subscribed to the 'next coming of Muhammad Ali' rubbish that some, including Emmanuel Steward who should know better, still spout.  To me Lewis looked like the second coming of George Foreman.  He was tall and powerful.  He showed no footwork of the Ali type (I have yet to see him get both heels off the floor at once -
    except against Oliver McCall); or even of the Joe Louis variety,  which seemed more likely.  No, Lewis, like the young Foreman, just leaned forward and bludgeoned his opponents.  He displayed no real finesse, no really accurate punching, just clubbing shots which eventually saw off his opposition.  Occasionally he took too long to dispose of journeymen fighters but he was learning.

    When he made short work of Gary Mason, the then unbeaten British champion, it began to look as if my faith in Lewis had been justified.  Lennox began to be spoken of as a serious contender for Evander Holyfield's world crown. He held the British, Commonwealth and European titles and was to be matched with the aforementioned Razor Ruddock in a final eliminator for the world

    Although many predicted that the Ruddock fight had come too soon for Lewis he proved them wrong - in style.  On Halloween 1992 Lennox Lewis was Donovan 'Razor' Ruddock's worst nightmare.  The British press was full of 'Lewis Cuts the Razor Down to Size' and similar headlines as, quite simply, Lewis blew Ruddock's challenge away.  He looked awesome that night.  He jumped on Ruddock from the start and clubbed him to the canvas.  He kept hammering Ruddock, a fighter who had stood up to Mike Tyson's shots for 19 rounds, with powerful, if sometimes wild, shots until the fight was stopped early in the second.  Lewis looked the business that night but, with the benefit of hindsight, it was then that his troubles began.

    Of course, Lewis' problems were, for the most part, not of his making, but it was the way he reacted to them that frustrated.  Two weeks after Lewis' demolition of Ruddock, Riddick Bowe narrowly defeated Evander Holyfield in one of the best fights of the 'nineties.  He immediately insulted Lennox and, a few weeks later, dumped the WBC belt in a rubbish bin (not a trash
    can) during a visit to London.  Now, technically, Lewis was in the right; he had beaten Ruddock, was the number one contender and Bowe seemed to be ducking him.  But Lewis could never win a war of words with the loquacious Bowe.  He was laid back,  considered his answer a little too long to win a fast paced argument and, most irritating for me, developed the habit of referring of referring to himself in the third person.  Handed the WBC belt that Bowe had thrown away, Lewis should have been talking trash, winding Bowe up to the point that the fight was inevitable.  Instead we got, 'Lennox Lewis has to decide what's best for Lennox Lewis', and, 'the fans know who the true champion is'.  Unfortunately for Lewis, the fans considered Bowe to be the true champion and, while Lewis fought the likes of Tony Tucker (past it), Phil Jackson (never at it) and our own Frank Bruno (?!), it was the other title holder who grabbed the headlines.  Firstly Bowe, after defending against two soft options in Michael Dokes and Jesse Ferguson, faced Holyfield in another classic, with the added bonus of a sky-borne invasion by the 'fan-man'.  Holyfield then apparently had a heart attack in the ring, but still went the distance with Michael Moorer, who then lost to 45 year old, George Foreman.

    While all this was going on Lewis lost his title to Oliver McCall by second round KO.  A lucky punch it may have been but it put Lennox firmly on the sidelines.  And so it was to continue.  The now 'chinny' Lewis should surely have accepted the short end of the purse if he had really believed he could beat Bowe.  That the Bowe fight never happened could be the nail that
    Lewis's career will hang on.  Lennox accepted step aside money to allow Tyson to fight Bruce Seldon.  He then faced a crying Oliver McCall in a rematch for the WBC title vacated by Tyson and watched while Holyfield won acclaim as an all-time great by beating the iron out of Mike.  'It could have been me!!!'

    The majority of Lewis fights since the Ruddock fight have been, in some fashion, tainted - McCall was disqualified for crying; Akinwande for hugging; Bowe-basher, Andrew Golota may have been on drugs; both Ray Mercer and Zeljko Mavrovic seemed to land too many punches on Lennox.  He seemed to be trying his best to look bad.  That for every Ruddock or Golota blowout we have had three or four disqualification wins, struggles against journeymen and the excitement of the chess games Lewis loves, speaks volumes. The worst moment, for me, was when Lewis seemed to narrowly beat Holyfield and was awarded a draw.  It was immediately branded the worst robbery in boxing history.  Lewis appeared on an incredibly boring TV special in Britain - it's hard to sustain an hour's programming when you seem to lack personality.  There was too much hand wringing and not enough gnashing of teeth for my liking.  Can you imagine Louis, or Marciano, or Ali, or Holyfield, responding, as Lewis did when asked why he didn't try to stop Holyfield.  Lewis claimed that he boxed Holyfield at long distance because he was concerned that Evander might KO him!!  Not the stuff that heroes are made of.

    My opinion of Lennox was not helped by his appearance in the ring.  It's petty, I know; it's got nothing to do with boxing; but Lewis's tying of his dreadlocks in a 'bun' similar to that which my Granny used to wear....well!!!

    Holyfield seemed to be the only one wanting to fight in the rematch.  Lewis was tentative and, despite his vow to 'bring his own judges', never came close to having Evander in trouble.  This time he didn't deserve the decision, although I again called it close.  When it was announced that Lewis would face Michael Grant, apparently the best of the 'young' heavyweights, I actually 'hoped' that he would be flattened.  And then.... Lewis took Grant to the cleaners.  It was quick.  It was brutal.  Again there was no finesse, no accuracy in his punching.  He held and hit.  But there was power.  Grant was bludgeoned even more effectively than Ruddock had been.  I have to admit I was impressed!  Grant might have been glass chinned, I don't know.  Perhaps the heavyweight scene is so poor that there is really no competition for Lennox.  There again, perhaps the opportunity exists now for Lennox Lewis to make his mark.  If he does not I will not be surprised.  However, I didn't want to be impressed with Lewis's victory, but I was.  I was very impressed.  I don't know if it's Lewis or me, but I may be becoming a fan.  Watch out, Yanks! Now where's my Pete Townsend jacket?

    By Lee Michaels


    HBO, which already rules the boxing airwaves with its World Championship Boxing, Boxing After Dark and TVKO programs, recently added another horse to their stable: KO Nation.

    First, one must ask why HBO would need another boxing program. The answer is simple: the more airtime George Foreman doesn't get, the more credibility HBO gets.

    HBO suits, on the other hand, would tell you otherwise. Airing on weekend afternoons, Nation, with its hip-hop oriented, slicker look, is geared towards a demographic boxing has yet to conquer: males, ranging from teens to young adults.

    If this is the case, did Nation hit its target during their premiere telecast?

    Absolutely not.

    Go to Nation's website,
    www.hbo.com/konation, and you will read the following
    description of the show:This innovative new fight series will feature up-and-coming
    fighters in a double-header format. In addition to hot music, sexy dancers and edgy graphics, the events will be hosted by Ed Lover with expert analysis by Kevin Kelley.

    Kevin Kelley? Whatever happened to Oscar de la Hoya as the analyst? What, HBO
    didn't forsee Oscar's training time possibly interfering with telecasts? Puh-leaze. Kelley is an articulate, personable and knowledgable boxing man, but it was painfully obvious that he was trying too hard to impress the audience.

    Besides the above cast of characters, Nation also boasts a familiar name with its unofficial ringside scorer, Julie Lederman, daughter of Harold. And the funky music you hear on Nation is brought to you by none other than boxing's best DJ, the man puttin' it on wax, Max Glazer.

    Just wave yo' hands in the ayyy-ah! Wave 'em like ya just don't kayyy-ah!

    Translation: Just wave your hands in the air! Wave them like you just don't care!

    But I digress.

    If Nation is aiming for the aforementioned demographic of young males, then it needs to become more of an educational tool. Remember, these viewers will only become older. If Nation doesn't pull these newer, younger boxing fans into the sport and teach them what it's about, then they're simply killing the next generation of viewers who will one day become the target audience for WCB, BAD and TVKO.

    But for now, Nation is a whole universe away from educating anyone on the sport of boxing.

    So what needs to be fixed?

    Popularity-wise, Kelley is no De la Hoya, but with a man who's been through some wars on their very own network, HBO needs to produce segments with Kelley that teach viewers about the technical aspects of the sport. What is it like to train for a fight? What's the difference between a jab, uppercut and hook? What's it like fighting with one eye completely shut and then scoring a KO?

    As for Julie Lederman, she should host a 30 second feature on every Nation telecast (it can be the same one, repeated on every telecast) describing the basic rules for scoring a fight. Not only does this educate the greener boxing fans, it sets up what is often a recurring theme in boxing matches: scoring controversies. If a fight on Nation goes to the cards and there's another Holyfield-Lewis I, at least the viewers can now be on the same page as the announcers when trying to understand the debacle that just happened before their very eyes.

    Musically speaking, I have no problems whatsoever with younger, hipper music being played during telecasts. But DJ Max Glazer should be "scratched" out of the lineup. I can listen to the music just fine without seeing who's playing it for me, thank you very much.

    Set-wise, some, like boxing traditionalists, have compared the boxer entrances on Nation to that of pro wrestling - in other words, too glitzy. However, gearing the aesthetics towards the younger generation is a smart move by HBO. Why? A kid is flipping through channels, sees a boxer making his ring entrance, mistakes Nation for wrestling and stops clicking channels. Sure, that kid may see that it is boxing and continue flipping through channels. Or he/she may not. It's all about recognition, which eventually translates into more money for HBO.

    And now the dancers, The Knockouts. Some colleagues of mine found this aspect of Nation to be borderline smut material, especially since Nation is geared towards youngsters and is aired in the afternoons. Personally, I could comment on my feelings about them needing to get out of the house more often, but I'll leave that alone. Fact is, the dancers truly serve no purpose in entertaining any viewer, regardless of age or gender. They are simply irrelevant to what people are tuning in to see, which is boxing.

    However, if you do want to see true, old fashioned smut on HBO, please tune into any of their Real Sex, Sex Bytes or Taxicab Confessions programs.

    Former Yo MTV Raps! co-host Ed Lover is also an absolute non-necessity. HBO wants a hipper, younger version of boxing? Fine. But please leave one of boxing's most traditional moments alone. Having Lover do the fighter introductions is like Michael Buffer and Jimmy Lennon putting out a rap album together. Stiff and yucky. Fighter introductions can sometimes be more dramatic than the fights themselves. What HBO could do to rectify this is discover a ring announcer for the new millennium with a unique style of his/her own that will target a younger audience. Even further, Nation can launch a nationwide contest that searches for the "Ring Announcer of the Millennium." The catch: they must be between the ages of 18-25. Nation can also update it's viewers, via telecasts and the internet, on the search for the "next great ring announcer" and have that person debut on one of their telecasts.

    You may have noticed that I have yet to mention Nation's blow by blow announcer, Fran Charles.

    There's a reason for that - who the hell is Fran Charles?

    Charles has been on the airwaves in New York City as a local sportscaster, but he is hardly the "name" announcer that is needed on Nation's telecasts, especially with de la Hoya on the ropes. As much as I hate to admit this, a Kevin Harlan (he of TNT's boxing telecasts) type character might be the solution. Harlan doesn't come off as a boxing scholar, but that's what Lederman and Kelley are there for. Harlan-like enthusiasm is what a show like this needs from a blow by blow man.

    Graphically, HBO delivered, especially with the interactive questions with viewers at home. They came off as both informative and timely, and are a definite building block for future productions.

    Of course, none of the above matters without the fights themselves. Without competitive cards, the shows are nothing. Good fights are good fights, and they take place in one place only, the squared circle. When the bell rings, all the music, fancy set production and graphics don't mean diddly squat unless there are competitive fights to watch.

    As a pure boxing fan - and I believe that I am speaking for all boxing fans out there - I want to see KO Nation succeed, especially because HBO has such a wonderful boxing tradition. However, this show needs to be different than the others, while at the same time respecting a tradition-laced sport in boxing. It's a tough task, but if there is one network that can pull it off, it's HBO.

    Hopefully, KO Nation will be a success, and will lead to what I believe is a huge necessity for boxing fans on television: a boxing magazine show. The closest hardcore boxing fans get to any kind of inside information on television is on Friday Night Fights on ESPN2. While Max Kellerman and Brian Kenny form a great 1-2 punch, their strong news segments are not complimented by strong fights. Therefore, it's hard to watch a full 2 to 2 1/2 hours of Friday Night Fights.

    What better way for HBO to compliment a boxing show than with a half-hour, uninterrupted, uncensored boxing magazine show, a la Inside The NFL? The show can not only update viewers on any relevant boxing news, but it can provide viewers with in-depth, personality driven features that are often missing from many telecasts.

    Plus, it's another promotional tool for their boxing programs.


    ...Still astonishes me how awful Michael Grant's gameplan was heading into his bout with Lennox Lewis. You train weeks...heck, you dream your whole life for this very moment, and you decide the way to win a title and respect from your boxing peers is to turn it into a toughman contest?

    Give credit where credit is due. Lewis had an answer to Grant's mayhem, and it came in the form of his big right hand. And the future only looks brighter for Lewis, especially with people throwing out names such as Mike Tyson and David Tua as future opponents.

    Because both men are so much shorter (5-10, 5-11ish) than Lewis (6-5), the only way they could cause any damage to him would be to get inside of his long reach. It's likely they'd both be met with big right hands before they do any damage. And that means lights out.

    ...In the toilet bowl known as women's boxing, Freeda Foreman (George's daughter) and Maria Johansson (daughter of Ingemar) will be fighting on the same card in Vegas on June 18th. Unfortunately they are not fighting each other, thus eliminating the possibility of a double knockout.

    ...On July 15th, Kostya Tszyu will defend his World Boxing Council super lightweight belt against Mexican Julio Cesar Chavez. Is this the way Chavez wants to go out, by taking a beating at the hands of a better, younger fighter? Or does he have a choice due to his financial woes? Forgive me for saying this, but this fight will likely be bloody and quite sad when it is all said and done.
    ..."Boxing reform." Two words, one question. "How?" Some have suggested a "blue-ribbon poll" of writers and boxing historians to take over the ratings system. Great idea on paper, but it's a magnet for corruption. In other words, promoters paying off writers in exchange for their fighters getting high rankings. Still, is this a better solution than the current ranking system? Absolutely. I don't know what the concrete solution is in order to clean up boxing, but I do know that until our
    government decides to recognize it as a sport - and fighters as athletes who deserve benefits and pension plans - then there will be no true reform.

    Questions or comments? Please e-mail me at leebubba@aol.com

    “Lewis v. Grant: U.K. Garden Party” 

    By Dave Iamele

    “Too Big” is what the promotion was called for the heavyweight championship bout pitting England’s champion Lennox Lewis against U.S. challenger Michael Grant.  Perhaps it should have been called “Too Bad.”

    It was too bad for many of the fighters appearing on the undercard.  After David Bostice was pummeled from pillar to post by Ukrainian giant Wladimir Klitscho for most of their five minutes together, he cried openly on his stool.  Tracy Harris Patterson had to end his fine career on a loss after unheralded Scott Harrison out-hustled him for a ten-round decision.  Tracy gave his all, but just doesn’t have the stuff anymore.  Too bad.  

    Too bad for New Yorker Kevin Kelley who didn’t even get to fight on the card because of time constraints.  Considering his last few bouts, maybe it’s too bad he hasn’t retired.

    It was too bad for both Arturo Gatti and his opponent, Eric Jakubowski:  too bad Jakubowski couldn’t have beat Gatti if he had a shotgun, and too bad that beating tomato cans like Homer Gibbons or Jakubowski isn’t going to prepare Gatti if he does get his dream match with De la Hoya.

    Too bad for Junior Jones who got KO’d by England’s Paul Ingle after a gutsy effort.  Junior should join Kevin Kelly and Patterson and make a trifecta of retiring New York fighters.  Too bad also for Poison’s trainer, Teddy Atlas, who tried to coax one last title-winning effort out of a worn warrior who has already given his all.  

    As far as the main event goes, it was too bad for Michael Grant that he lacked the experience and skill to make a more competitive championship bout instead of just being on the receiving end of a five-minute ass-whuppin’.  If Grant really was the best available contender for L. L., then it is also too bad for the heavyweight division and boxing fans.  

    Too bad for Grant’s trainer, Don Turner, that in four tries he could not come up with a winner against Lennox (with Henry Akinwande and two times with Evander Holyfield).  

    I would be remiss if I did not add that it is also too bad that Lennox had to mar his dominant performance with some illegal tactics.  Too bad this seems to be becoming another facet of Lennox’s offensive arsenal.  Too bad that normally excellent referee Arthur Mercante, Jr., did not at least warn the big Brit. for his holding and hitting.

    Too bad this much anticipated match-up of the big men turned out to be no match-up at all.  Oh well, I coulda’ told ya’ so!

    Few fans were on hand at the Garden when the night’s first bout got underway promptly at 7 p.m.  South Africa’s Phillip N’Dou was victorious with an 11th round TKO over Mexico’s Edgar Barcenas.  N’Dou advanced to 19-1-0 (19 KO’s), Barcenas dropped to 18-5-3 (13 KO’s). 

      Moving right along, Zab Judah’s younger brother Daniel KO’d his foe, Giacono Etano, at 1:35 of the very first heat of a scheduled four-rounder.  

    After Tracy Patterson’s loss to Scott Harrison via a ten-round decision, fans began to fill in the arena for the start of the televised portion of the evening’s card.  The broadcast began with Klitscho’s round-and-a-half drubbing of Bostice.  According to CompuBox punchstats, Wlad “only” hit Bostice with 50 more punches than he got tagged with (a whopping 56-connected punches to 6 connected)!  Every PPV show should open with a bout featuring a boxer in tears after he has been bombed out, shouldn’t it?  

    The first big cheer of the night was reserved for New York favorite Arturo “Thunder” Gatti, who continued his winning ways over no-hope opposition.  The crowd cheered Gatti’s seek-and-destroy attack on hapless Eric Jakubowski, who has a loss to his brother listed among the many “L’s” on his record!  

    The only real competitive bout on the televised portion of the show was the match-up between Brooklyn’s Junior Jones and the U.K.’s Paul Ingle for Naz’s hand-me-down IBF featherweight title.  After much back-and-forth action early, it appeared that Jones might strike gold one last time when he dropped Ingle in the ninth round.  It was Poison’s last hurrah, though, as Paul showed tremendous heart to rally back and stop Junior in the 11th stanza.  If this is Jones’ last bout (and I doubt it), at least it was an exciting and competitive one.  

    Much will be written about Lewis’ two-round blitzkrieg over Grant.  Many people will cite Grant’s lack of experience as the key to his first defeat.  They will be correct—but only to a certain point.  Lennox Lewis has matured greatly under the tutelage of Kronk Punch Master, Emanuel Steward.  No longer is L. L. a one-handed fighter tentatively pawing with his jabs, seemingly content to live-and-let-live during his athletic contests.  Lennox appeared a little gun-shy after the Atomic-Headcase Oliver McCall hit his eyes-closed home-run shot off Double L to capture his fifteen minutes of fame.  But Lewis proved with his performance that he is now willing to stand and trade when push comes to shove.  Along with his newly found self-confidence, Lewis now seems more acutely aware of his power and how to use it.  If Manny Steward doesn’t have anything to do with that, I would be surprised, as power-punchers are his forte.  (They didn’t call Tommy Hearns the Hitman because Steward taught him awesome defense!)  

    The criticisms of Lennox—both in and out of the ring—are unwarranted.  Out of the squared circle, Lennox is engaging and personable, if somewhat of a private person.  As far as inside the ring goes, a few more dominating performances like this over the likes of David Tua, either of the Klitschkos, or Mike Tyson, and Lewis’ “PPV sell-ability” surely will rise.  Americans love a big-punching heavyweight—English or not.  

    As far as Grant’s future … not too bad!!  He pocketed $4 million for his effort and still probably could beat 90 percent of the heavies rated today—and there is always a heavyweight title of some kind up for grabs.  

    So while it was too bad that the 17,000+ fans on hand at MSG and the PPV buyers did not see a longer, more competitive main event, at least it was an action-packed few moments of mayhem.  It is also too bad that for all the knocks Grant is receiving there may not be any competition out there that would fare any better against Big Len.  Unfortunately, it is this writer’s opinion that the incarcerated and highly troubled Nigerian, Ike Ibeabuchi, may be the only boxer capable of really testing or besting Lewis.

    It may have been too bad for Junior Jones and Michael Grant, but for Paul Ingle, Lennox Lewis, and British boxing, it was ALL GOOD.

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