WAIL! | The CBZ Journal | March 2005


Who's Hosin' Who?
Guest Editorial by Dan Hanley

Poem of the Month
By Tom Smario

Million Dollar Heist
By J.D. Vena

Flynn Outfoxes the Feds
By Robert Carson

Divorced but not Forgotten
By Ron Lipton

A Different Kind of Fight Night
By Ted Kluck

Touching Gloves With...
"Irish" Gil King

By Dan Hanley

A Look Back: Larry Boardman
By Dan Cuoco

The Sweet Science
Reviewed by Katherine Dunn

Cinderella Man [PDF]
By Michael DeLisa

The Good Professor [PDF]
By Don Cogswell

Flashback to the 2004 Hall of
Fame Inductions

Pictorial by Dan Hanley

Do you remember the old-time sports flicks where -- during some back-room chicanery -- the wrench was thrown in the nefarious works by those awe-inspiring words, "The fans will never stand for it!"? Well, apparently it wasn't a fight flick, 'cause the fight fan seems to cover his eyes, ears, and mouth.

When did they dumb us down? When did we become the doormat of sports? Where is it written that the most corrupt, inane, and outright ludicrous circumstance can be safely passed off on the gullible fight fan, who are the rubes of sport? I just wanna know.


by Dan Hanley

Let's begin this dissection with the amateurs. After the rape of Roy Jones Jr. in the 1988 light-middleweight Olympic final, amateur boxing opted to revamp its scoring process in order to prevent such a travesty from happening again. After all, it was well known that certain judges voted along partisan lines. What was produced, however, was a mutant that would have made the X-Men proud.

Introduced to the '92 Olympics was five automatons placed strategically around the ring -- formerly occupied by judges -- who rap away at a blue key and a red key. The success of this system was never more apparent than in the second-round matchup in the light-flyweight division between American Eric Griffin and Spain's Rafael Lozano. Griffin dominated the match and all five "judges" concurred with individual scores of 26-17, 19-10, 18-9, 10-9, and 8-5 for Griffin. But hold on a second! We're talking the new, revamped, infallible computer system that would prevent the shenanigans of the days of yore. It seems the new system took those scores, pureed them, and came up with a 6-5 score for Lozano. Huh?! It seems that, unless another judge pokes at his button within a second of his compatriot, then no point is scored.

Now, I was an ABF judge for over 10 years, back when we had to use our head. We knew how to "read" a bout. We also knew who was a weak judge, a strong judge and, dare I say, a partial judge. There was also such a thing as accountability. In today's market, you could be an outright pickpocket and come out of a horrendous decision looking like a hero. Think about it. All one has to do is delay his button poking, ensuring his score doesn't count, and be actually admired by his colleagues as one of the guys who at least scored it the "right way," while looking forward to his next "judging" gig. Zero accountability. And despite the Griffin-Lozano debacle, this system still flourishes today. Well, here's a brainstorm for the powers that be, who are too elitist to admit they blew it: It doesn't work!

Moving right along toward another area that has irked me for sometime, I'd like to know whatever happened to my 15-round title fights? We were told by our friends down Mexico way in the WBC that the title fight was reduced to 12 rounds for "ring safety." Whoooa, now, big fella! The least you can do is to wine me and dine me before you try to have your way with me. I mean, come on! Historically, European, South American, Commonwealth, and even British title fights were fought over 15 rounds. Are we saying suddenly the best of the best can't cope with 15 rounds? The landscape was altered somewhere along the line and, yes, I do know where it went awry.

In the late '70s to early '80s, we were no longer graced with a single world champion. We had plurality in every division. Moreover, in the lighter weights, the Top 10 was diluted further over the years by the greedy creation of the 105 lb., 108 lb., 115 lb., and 122 lb. divisions. Thus creating a void that had to be filled. That void was filled with fighters challenging for world titles that toed the mark not with 50, 40, or even 30 bouts to their name, but relative novices. Pugs that would be deemed clubfighters in any other era.

Compounding this obvious problem was the bold-faced audacity of the South Korean-friendly WBA to wheel in organ donors with gloves from Pusan and try to pass them off on us as -- get this -- number-one contenders for the title. I tired of seeing fighters such as Hi-Sup Shin, Tae-Jin Moon, and Deuk-Koo Kim courted as the leading contender, even though not one world-rated fighter graced their records. However, they all were OPBF champs. One can only suppose the Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation had found the keys to the WBA vault.

At least Hi-Sup Shin was mercifully put out of his misery in 79 seconds of his comical attempt at the crown gracing the head of the excellent Flyweight Santos Laciar. The same cannot be said for the beating and a half that Tae-Jin Moon absorbed from the flaming fists of junior-lightweight Rocky Lockridge. Moon ate leather for 11 rounds before he saw intervention. And of course, it is now part of boxing lore the ultimate price Deuk-Koo Kim paid for being woefully outmatched in his bid for 135-pound stardom. It was never more evident than in this bout how a boy was thrown in with a man, as the fists of Ray "Boom-Boom" Mancini punched a hole through this outgunned opponent, who never again awoke.

Am I a conspiracy theorist? Let me cite an example of someone not in on boxing politics.

Oscar Muniz was a tough, experienced bantamweight from the West Coast during the "Korean invasion" of the early '80s who could not get within sniffing distance of the WBA's Top 10, let alone a title shot. And, no, if you're asking, he did not hold an OPBF title. Regardless of the fact that he held a 36-3-3 log and had beaten Kiko Bejines, Freddie Jackson, and Jose Luis Soto, he was going nowhere.

Until, Jeff Chandler, perhaps reading the WBA's press realeases, opted for an "easy" nontitle tune-up against Muniz. Unlike his Korean counterparts, Muniz knew what he was doing inside the ring. He had acquired a little thing called experience, picked up over 42 hard professional fights...and made the best of it. Muniz pounded out a 10-round decision over the exceptional champ and showed the Top 10 ratings up into the mockery it was. Regardless if he lost the title rematch, Muniz shone in both fights as a true contender. What we have established here is that patronage picks were now rife in the boxing world and something had to be done about it.

The WBC, hot on the coat tails of the Deuk-Koo Kim debacle, took the first step. The penny had dropped, and Senor Sulaiman & Co. decided they had to do something in the name of "ring safety." After all, with all these champions now floating around looking for work with only a couple of pounds between divisions, a title challenger could conceivably have only 15 or 20 fights before being poached from his apprenticeship and thrown into the lions den. These inexperienced kids were going to get hurt. So, our friends south of the border did the only moral, unselfish thing they could, they voted to disband the WBC in order to pave the way for a solid, experienced Top 10 with one champ at the helm competing in evenly matched world-championship bouts.

Oh, come on, guys! You knew I was kidding, right? I mean, "moral and unselfish" should have been the dead giveaway. What, give up the cushy jobs that the sanctioning fees provide? No, I'm afraid our friends with the WBC, faced with the dilemma of having more six-round preliminary fighters -- or title challengers, as the WBC likes to call them -- wheeled out of the ring on gurnees, opted to "dumb down" the title fight to 12 rounds. It was either that or have them wear 16-ounce pillows with headgear and three minutes of rest between rounds. With the new distance in place, the WBC took the lead in the race for ring safety, cleverly skirting around the "deserving challenger" issue. Or did they?

Not learning anything from the WBA's unwarranted challengers being carried from the ring, the WBC matched Pomona, California's Albert Davila with Mexico's Kiko Bejines on September 1, 1983, for the vacant WBC bantamweight title left vacant by Lupe Pintor's abdication. A good matchup on paper? Sure it was. Two highly talented bantams ready to inaugurate the 118-pound division with a nice, safe 12-round championship fight. There was just one problem: Bejines, the WBC's number-one contender, hadn't fought in a year. Moreover, he'd dropped a decision in his previous fight. Now, can someone please tell me how in the hell Bejines still held the number-one slot? The fight itself was unexceptional, but Bejines was ill-prepared due to his inactivity and was flagging towards the end.

The abbreviated distance did not save him, as he was stopped in the12th round and shortly thereafter collapsed. He died three days later. Would three or four good 10 rounders in between have spared Bejines his tragic fate? It wouldn't have hurt. Did the WBC realize that this was not the answer? Of course they did. At their next convention, they voted unanimously to disband their organization in order to....oh, yeah, we've covered this already. Actually, a similar event took place on May 6, 1994, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Defending champion Gabe Ruelas put his junior-lightweight laurels on the line against Columbia's Jimmy Garcia. The end result was Garcia getting punched into oblivion in 11 tragic rounds. Much like Kiko Bejines, Garcia hadn't won a fight in almost a year, and his only activity between the Ruelas bout and his previous win was a one-sided comprehensive pasting by Genero Hernandez in a bid for the Californian's WBA 130-pound title. Credentials, indeed! Whose palm was greased on that one? Remember, my friends, 15 rounds doesn't kill. Greed kills!

And who would know more about that than the Armani-decked alphabet boys, who have made their living by snowing the boxing public?

Okay, gang, on the last leg of my gripe session, I just want to say how much I hate how the media tries to shove the term all-time great down our guileless throats. This is a term I hold in great esteem. And having said that, let's talk Bernard Hopkins. To begin, I think Bernard Hopkins is an excellent fighter. Good fundamentals, very strong, and continues to defy the ticking clock. But at the beginning of his bout with Oscar De La Hoya, something struck me. HBO's prefight stats, aimed at glorifying the combatants' achievements, walked us through a "notable win" category. For De La Hoya, they displayed wins over Rafael Ruelas, Julio Cesar Chavez, and Fernando Vargas, and they conceivably could have continued on with his wins over Pernell Whitaker, Ike Quartey, Arturo Gatti, Oba Carr, and so on. Indeed, De La Hoya's resume is a who's who of several divisions.

However, it was now Bernard Hopkins' turn at hype. Under "notable wins," the HBO stat sheet showed Felix Trinidad and Robert Allen. Huh? That's it?!

That's because, my friends, that is it!

So much emphasis has been placed on Hopkins' title defenses that the numbers are clouding our perception. We are so liberal with the term all-time great that we're neglecting the body of work. I mean, outside of De La Hoya, Trinidad, and a very jaded Simon Brown -- all welters or junior-middles with middleweight ambitions -- Hopkins' record is a solid cure for insomnia.

But don't take my word for it. Instead, try a novel approach. Look at the Executioner's record and ignore the parenthesized words indicating "title defence." Now what do you see? I see a consistant but ordinary record belonging to a fighter who would likely be a main-event fighter in the Monzon era, who might crack the Top 10 in that same era (provided fellow Phillies Briscoe, Monroe, Hart, Watts, and Hayward were looking the other way), who would be lucky to get a title shot at the dominant Argentinean. It's not altogether Hopkins' fault that he arrived in a woefully barren era, but he failed to enhance his historical standing by opting for ridiculous "defences" over the talentless Bo James and Morrade Hakkar.

Nevertheless, on paper, Hopkins holds the illustrious record at 160. And for that he should be lauded. However, when one brings up the term all-time great and mentions the name Bernard Hopkins don't be looking in my direction. Because no one's hosin' me!

See ya next round,
Dan Hanley

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