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Friday Night At The Fights
by Steve Coughlin

With Guys Like These Around, It’ll Be Hard To Keep Up The Image …

It’s Friday afternoon in Chicago and for the first time in quite a while, we have a world-class fight card in town !!! The co feature pits hard-hitting Teddy Reid against Ben Tackie. When I saw that the fight was announced I placed it on my Fight of the Year candidates watch list. The main event didn’t look too shabby from where I was sitting either – Reggie Johnson vs. Antonio Tarver. The event’s promoter, former Chicago Heavyweight Bobby Hitz, always has a few local guys who like to mix it up for his supporting cards so I’m on my way to the Rosemont Ramada Inn.

I arrive an hour late to the event, largely due to an unnamed friend ( BELS ! ) who was driving that night thinking to himself “Friday Night Fights start at 8”, he must have meant 7:15”. Walking into the venue, I see Teddy Reid being lead to his dressing room. I still haven’t seen the fight but by the looks of him I knew he took a beating from Tackie. “I’m sorry that I’ve let everyone down” he says to someone next to him. The guys just lost and is on his way back to the drawing room and smaller purses and he’s worried about letting Other people down.

As I turn to get a coke from a vendor, I bump into a guy who’s either working in one of the corners or just wears silk robes to fight shows. But as he says “Excuse me” I notice that it’s former World Champion James “Buddy” McGirt.

Me :“That quite all right Champ. How have you been Buddy ?”

Buddy McGirt (BM): “I’m doing really well. How are you ?”

Me: “Really well too. Who’s corner are you working tonight?”

BM : “Antonio Tarver’s”

Me : “ I like his chances tonight but Johnson is a tough guy.”

BM : “This is a great test for Antonio. Johnson did as well as you can with RJ”

Me : “Who else are you working with these days ?”

BM : “I’m in Arturo Gatti’s corner tomorrow night.”

Me : “How much does something that exciting cost ya ?”

BM : “I know what you mean. Even though I’m working for him, I’m still a fan too.”

Me : “I’ve always wanted to ask you this question : when exactly in the first round

of the Pernell Whitaker fight did you hurt your left shoulder ?” BM : “The truth is that it was damaged in the fight prior to my tune up fight before the

Whitker fight. After a short layoff and visiting several doctors I was given a clean bill of health. But in the tune up fight it felt like I didn’t have the power I had in other fights.

Me : “I’ll always feel that you would have beaten him had you been healthy that day.”

BM : “That’s a really nice, thanks so much man. It’s still kind of a hard thing to swallow, knowing that I could have beaten a guy everyone considered the best fighter in the world if I had just been healthy. But hearing it from guys like you makes it easier to deal with. I hate to cut you short, but I’ve got to head back & get Antonio laced up. It was really nice talking with you. Have a nice evening.”

Now it’s time for a Chicago dinner classic, the hot dog. As I’m waiting in line, another guy bumps into me. “I’m sorry” says Antwun Echols. “I’m starving and I must be losing my vision.”

Me : “Who’s up next Champ ?”

AE : “You recognize Me ?”

Me : “ Are you kidding, I must watch that Brewer fight once a week !”

AE : “I’m glad someone enjoyed it ‘cause it wasn’t all that much fun being involved in it”

Me : “Any opponent yet ?”

AE : “Artie ( Pelullo of Banner Promotions ) is working on the next fight now. Probably in April or May. There are a few guys but nothing signed yet”

Me : “Kind of hard to prepare for a guy you don’t even know, isn’t it ?”

AE : “Yeah, but if you’re going to call yourself a professional you need to be ready anytime for anyone.”

Me : “Well, good luck to you champ. I’m always tuning in to see your work.”

AE : “Thank you for the kind words and for being a fan of the sport.”

At that point, a 10 year old runs up with a program for Antwun to autograph. You can see the smile on both of their faces as Antwun’s signing it. The little guy wants to show off his body attack to Antwun who just can’t resist. After the little guy lands a couple of shots Antwun starts to wobble. At that point I act as referee and put an end to the carnage. As I lift the overjoyed little guy’s hand in victory, M. Mark Biero comes over out of nowhere and announces “And the new Super Middleweight Champion of the World – this guy right here”.

On my way back to my seat, I see one of the prelim fighters icing his VERY swollen right hand. One of his friends approaches him and says “You beat that bum real good Joey”. “Hey, that guy’s no bum. He found out about the fight LAST NIGHT and he took everything I hit him with. Show him some respect Tony.”

The moral to this story ? For every Zab Judah and James Butler – men bent on giving the media all the ammunition to justify their attacks on the sport being an open sewer – there are MANY MORE true gentlemen like Teddy Reid, Buddy McGirt, Antwun Echols & Joey that represent Boxing with class & dignity. Any sport would be lucky to have guys like these in their fold.

Other Stuff :

Telefutura, the new Spanish-Language TV network, is off to a great start with the new 2 hour-long Solo Boxeo. The February 22nd show, featuring Jorge Paez vs. Tom “Boom Boom” Johnson, did a rating of 7 in primetime. Solo Boxeo is CRUSHING ESPN2’s Friday night fights in the ratings consistently. Could one of the contributing factors be that there’s no idiotvision, er I mean Bottom Line on Telefutura.

It is in my house.

I would like to see Senator John McCain sponsor legislation making it mandatory for HBO to employ Bernard Hopkins as a color analyst EVERY time Roy Jones Jr. fights. Seriously, Bernard knows how to push Roy’s button and, when he does, Roy really steps it up and reminds us all just why he IS worthy of his ranking amongst the elite of the sport.

Speaking of the Pound for Pound list, unless you’re Ricardo Lopez at my # 1, being the # 1 rated guy since 1994 hasn’t exactly been a safe place to be. All of these fighter have been rated # 1 AND lost after attaining the best –in – the – business stature: Shane Mosley, Felix Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya, Roy Jones Jr. & Pernell Whitaker.

ONLY Ricardo Lopez hasn’t lost.

As long as I’m on the subject, why doesn’t anyone consider Paulie Ayala a P-4-P candidate ? All he does in win against top-flight competition consistently. Maybe it is true - that nice guys finish last.

My P-4-P as of March 1st 2002 :

  1. Ricardo Lopes - Until he looses or retires he’s still #1
  2. Bernard Hopkins – Pounded the man I was foolish enough to consider better than Ricardo
  3. Roy Jones Jr. - Ask Glen Kelly how good a mad & motivated Roy is
  4. Marco Antonio Barrera – How bad must he want a piece of Junior Jones ?
  5. Koysta Tszyu – Class act who could be #1 if it weren’t for Vince Phillips
  6. Floyd Mayweather
  7. Felix Trinidad
  8. Oscar De La Hoya
  9. Vernon Forrest - When he beats another top guy I’ll move him up
  10. Paulie Ayala - I’ll practice what I preach and give the family-friendly Ayala his props Question for the Olympic President : When is Roy Jones Jr. going to get his gold medal ?

    Speaking of the Olympics, it’s nice to see that boxing isn’t the only sport with judges as competent as Euginia Williams. Then again, it really isn’t that nice.

    Upcoming fight & predictions :

    Spadafora vs. Manfredy (IBF Lightweight ) - Spadafora by decision.
    Wlady Klitschko vs. Botha ( WBO Heavy ) - Klitschko by KO
    Santos vs. Campas ( WBO Jr. Middle ) - Campas upsets Santos by KO
    Hamed vs. Calvo - Naz either back in big way or else he may be finished as top fighter
    Tua vs. GOOFi - Never really sold on either guy but I’ll take Tua to knock Lance goofy
    Calzaghe vs. Brewer - Calzaghe crushes solid Brewer to finally get some respect from US

    Get better soon Mom

    From the cheap seats, Steve Coughlin

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