Boxing Insider Notebook: Muhammad Ali, Andre Ward, Vinny Paz, Lucas Browne, and more..
By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of July 26th to August 2nd; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Muhammad Ali: Fighter’s Heaven to be Released August 15th
“If there’s a secret to my fights, it’s how I prepare.” Muhammad Ali
“Forty-two years ago I photographed Muhammad Ali in the rural Pennsylvania sanctuary he called ‘Fighter’s Heaven’ as he prepared for the greatest contest of his career. Here was the most famous and contentious personality on the planet in his private retreat – the calm eye of the public hurricane – which was most of his life. While a global audience was fixated on his fate, I was able to record aspects of Ali virtually unknown.” Peter Angelo Simon, 2016
In October 1974, Muhammad Ali would attempt to regain the world heavyweight boxing championship title that was stripped from him when he refused the Vietnam draft seven years earlier. He faced the brutal, undefeated George Foreman in Zaire, Africa, the fight he had dubbed “The Rumble in The Jungle”.
Only weeks before, on August 11-12, photographer Peter Angelo Simon was invited to experience the private world of one of the most famous people on the planet as he prepared mentally and physically for the biggest challenge of his life.
In August 2016, Reel Art Press presents Muhammad Ali: Fighter’s Heaven 1974. These rare photographs, the majority previously unpublished, are presented as a 176-page hardback book. This two-day photo essay captures Ali the man, unguarded, away from the glare of the media spotlight at his Pennsylvania sanctuary. It includes a foreword by D A Pennebaker, foremost chronicler of American counterculture in the sixties, and an introduction by Peter Angelo Simon.
Non Televised Undercard Announced for Ward vs. Brand
Two-Time World Champion and top-rated pound-for-pound fighter Andre Ward (29-0, 15 KOs) will return to the ring on Saturday, August 6, to continue his conquest of the light heavyweight division when he takes on power-punching Colombian Alexander Brand (25-1, 19 KOs) at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. The event, which will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 10:35 p.m. ET/PT, will now include six bouts of non-televised action for ticketed fans to enjoy before the main showdown.
The promising undercard lineup will feature East Bay familiar, Bilal Mahasin and a collection of Roc Nation Sports’ brightest prospects including, Daniel “Twitch” Franco, Rudy “The Revelation” Puga Jr. and Darmani “Rock Solid” Rock. Roc Nation Sports’ sparkplug Maurice “Mighty Mo” Hooker also looks to ignite Oracle Arena as the card’s co-feature in a 10-round NABO Junior Welterweight Title clash against Tyrone Barnett.
Lucas Browne Volunteers for WBC’s Clean Boxing Program
Former WBA World Heavyweight Champion Lucas Big Daddy” Browne of Australia is upping the ante in his quest to clear his name and regain his championship by voluntarily enrolling in the WBC’s Clean Boxing Program.
The hard-punching Browne (24-0, 21 KOs) stopped Uzbekistan’s Ruslan Chagaev in round 10 last March in Grozny, Russia, to become Australia’s first-ever heavyweight champion. The dramatic victory, however, was nullified and Browne’s championship was stripped away and returned to Chagaev, post-fight, after he reportedly tested positive for the banned substance Clenbuterol.
Browne, who tested completely clean in a random drug test by VADA six days before the fight against Chagaev, staunchly maintains his innocence of purposefully taking any banned substance ever, and says he is taking steps to ensure he is never again accused of cheating.
“I’m proud to announce that I am now part of the Clean Boxing Program, which is being run by the WBC and VADA,” said Browne. “By voluntarily enrolling in this program I am able to be randomly tested at any time, 365 days of the year.”
Browne, who was the one who insisted that VADA perform drug testing before the Chagaev fight, says the decision to join the program was an easy one to make. “I have absolutely no issues with this, as I am a clean athlete and I believe boxing needs this kind of regulation. I welcome this aspect of safety for the sport of boxing. I despise all drugs, whether they be performance-enhancing or recreational.”
Browne’s manager, Matt Clark, says that by becoming Australia’s first fighter to volunteer for the program, his fighter will hopefully start a trend.
“Lucas is Australia’s premier boxer and resents drugs of any kind,” said Clark. “We hope that other fighters from around the world join Lucas and sign up for the program. Anything that makes boxing safer is a good thing.”
Browne and Clark say they are still fighting “tooth and nail” to clear his name and thank the public for the tremendous support they have received, worldwide.
“Having always been a clean athlete, I am totally opposed to any form of doping,” Browne concluded. “I’ve always felt that cheaters in professional boxing should be banned for life. With 21 KOs in my 21 victories, I’m of the same opinion as (current WBC World Heavyweight Champion) Deontay Wilder: If I was ever to use PED drugs, I might end up killing someone!”
Vinny Paz Movie to be Released November 4th
The upcoming Oscar Buzzworthy film, Bleed For This, the true story of boxer Vinny Pazienza (50-10, 30 Kos), who won world championships in several weight divisions and had the greatest comeback in sports history after experiencing a nearly fatal accident.
Open Road Films released the film’s action-packed, emotionally charged trailer to much acclaim last month.
Bleed For This highlights Pazienza’s ascendancy as a fighter in the mid 1980s, his struggle to overcome the neck injury that nearly kept him out of the ring forever, and his rise to become world champion once again, will appeal to boxing purists and casual moviegoers alike.
Bleed For This is scheduled for a limited release on November 4, 2016, before expanding nationwide on November 23, 2016.
David Benavidez Camp Quotes
Undefeated David Beanvidez is on the fast track to a world title opportunity and he will battle Denis Douglin in the 10 round main event of Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) on ESPN on Friday, August 5th, live from the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia.
Below are some quotes made by David Benavidez during his training camp.
On his recent training camp in Southern California…
“We had another great training camp out here in Long Beach, California. We put the final touches and wrapped up camp and I’m ready to go. There was plenty of good sparring and we worked on some things we know will help us in this fight. I’m in great shape and I feel sharp.”
On fighting in his first main event on ESPN…
“Fighting on ESPN is great exposure for me and my team, especially in the main event. We all worked so hard to get in this position and now it’s time to capitalize on this great opportunity. I know a lot of family and friends back home in Phoenix will be tuning in. I just want to shine out and perform to my best ability.”
On facing his opponent Denis Douglin…
“This is going to be a tough fight. I know Douglin is hungry to give me my first loss. He’s coming off three wins in a row, so I’m taking this fight very seriously. Being that he’s a southpaw, I’ll have to do some things a little different. We worked on all that stuff in camp so I know I’m going to be ready for anything he brings to the ring.”
On training with his father and head coach Jose Benavidez…
“My dad Jose has been guiding my corner from the first day I started boxing around three years old. Together we have a strong bond and I respect him very much. He’s come up with a great game plan tailor made for Douglin. He’s made a lot of sacrifices to help me get to this point and I’m very thankful to him for all that he’s done for me and my brother. I want nothing more than to bring him another great victory.”
On fighting on the East Coast for the second time in his career…
“The East Coast fans are very passionate about their boxing. Douglin, being that he’s from New Jersey, will have a lot of fans rooting against me. But I’m not going to let anything distract me from the task at hand and that’s coming back home with a win.
Brant vs. Fitzpatrick Headlines CBS Sports Network Championship Boxing
This Friday, August 5, 2016, in the Grand Ballroom of the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, California, Greg Cohen Promotions and Ringside Ticket Inc., in association with David Schuster’s Winner Take All Productions, will proudly present a quadrupleheader of professional boxing, televised live on CBS Sports Network (11 pm ET/8 pm PT).
In the night’s televised main event, red-hot WBA #4- and WBO #7-rated middleweight and current WBO NABO and WBA NABA Middleweight Champion, Rob “Bravo” Brant (20-0, 13 KOs) of Saint Paul, Minnesota, will look to keep his momentum going in a 10-round battle against Cleveland’s Chris “The Irish Ghost” Fitzpatrick (15-4, 6 KOs).
In the six-round super welterweight co-featured bout, Fort Worth, Texas, slugger Skender Halili (10-1, 10 KOs) will look to keep his perfect knockout record intact against experienced Ghanian veteran (now living in Silver Springs, Maryland) Ben Odamattey (16-14-3, 9 KOs).
In another televised four-rounder, undefeated former amateur world champion Cem Killic (5-0, 2 KOs) of Sherman Oaks, California, via Frankfurt, Germany, will take on pro-debuting middleweight Jerhed Fenderson of Las Vegas.
And in the night’s opening televised bout, red-hot prospect Malik Hawkins (8-0, 7 KOs) of Baltimore, Maryland, will look to keep his march to the top of the welterweight division alive against Portland, Oregon’s Sean Gee (3-4).
Chazz Witherspoon to Face Mike Marrone
Chazz “The Gentleman” Witherspoon will take on former world title challenger Mike Marrone On Saturday night, August 6th as D & D Promotions and Silver Spoon Promotions will present “Rumble at the Rink II” at the Grundy Arena in Bristol, Pennsylvania.
Witherspoon (33-4, 26 KO’s) of nearby Paulsboro, New Jersey established himself as one of the top American Heavyweights as the St. Joseph’s University graduate won his first twenty-three bouts with wins over the likes of Michael Alexander (11-0), Talmadge Griffis (24-6-3), Jonathan Haggler (18-1) before suffering his 1st defeat to future two-time world title challenger Chris Arreola via controversial disqualification.
Witherspoon went on to win three fights in a row, which was highlighted by an entertaining 8th round stoppage over Adam “The Swamp Donkey” Richards (21-1). That fight was voted Ring Magazine’s 2008 Heavyweight Fight of the Year.Witherspoon then dropped a fight to future two-time world title challenger Tony Thompson.
Witherspoon went on to score 4-consecutive knockouts which included a devastating 3rd-round destruction over Tyson Cobb (14-2).
Witherspoon then took on undefeated prospect Seth Mitchell on April 28, 2012 in a bout where Witherspoon had Mitchell badly hurt in several occasions before Mitchell came away with the victory.
Witherspoon has scored four consecutive knockouts which includes his last bout when he stopped Nick Guivas (11-2-2) in three rounds on August 15th in Atlantic City.
Marrone of Vero Beach, Florida has a record of 21-5 with 15 knockouts.