I feel like writing this article in a different style. So many things happened on Saturday night at the Sergio Martinez-Paul Williams fight at Boardwalk Hall, that I’m just going to freeflow it all to you…
First reporter to take his ringside seat before 6 pm is Rick Scharmberg of Fightnews.com. Tom Hauser, comes in second by a few minutes. The six Corona round card girls are practicing their struts while holding cards and getting through the ropes with high heels.
Sergio Martinez ate fish and pasta as his pre-fight meal. His trainer Gabriel Sarmiento deserves to be a candidate for trainer of the year. Maybe he deserves the outright title. Sarmiento was watching and studying video of Williams-Martinez I on his phone the day of the fight, still looking for last minute clues to solve the Punisher Puzzle. Sarmiento told me at the first press conference that they knew they were going to win this fight and that HBO had to force Williams and Haymon to accept it.
Long conversation with Emanuel Steward who is massively impressed by his new heavyweight charge Tyson Fury. He says Tyson is very talented and will be a future heavyweight champ. He’s never been knocked down or hurt in a ring and has a very tricky style with excellent moves. He’s 6-9 or 6-10. Fury will be in Wladimir’s camp for Chisora in Austria next week. Emanuel says Tyson Fury is one of the most charismatic fighters he’s ever had, they went to a bar in Detroit and Tyson went up on stage and grabbed a microphone and started to sing. He’s always doing things like that.
He is the kind of person that people just gravitate to, where ever he goes people like him and crowd around him. If he was here tonight, he would be standing here and there would be a crowd of people around him. That’s just the kind of person he is.
Steve Cunningham was asked by a friend to fill in for a school speaking appearance (after another Philly boxer pulled out) 30 minutes before – with just 30 minutes notice Steve, a great guy, accepted and showed up with his world title belt and spoke and took pictures and signed for four hours. Steve Cunningham is great people and you don’t find many quality human beings like him in any sport. HBO should promote a guy like Steve Cunningham before putting on a Mayweather-Malignaggi farce.
Before the main event Steward comments that Williams doesn’t use his height or reach and doesn’t punch properly. He says he thinks Williams is really 6-3.
A Philly gym guy tells me Hopkins still hasn’t paid his own family member Willie “The Gladiator” Gibbs for sparring from several years ago. Hopkins supposedly feels Gibbs benefitted from the work and doesn’t need to be paid. George Hanson tells me Trevor Berbick was a great guy, yes, eccentric, but he always donated boxing equipment to send back to kids in Jamaica. Mike McCallum was not overly generous, to put it kindly.
The most beloved Philly fighter today is Steve Cunningham who always attends and supports amateur and pro boxnig shows. Joltin’ Jeff Chandler is also one of the most beloved Philly fighters. Hopkins is not.
A small contingent of vocal, flag-waving Hungarians have come to Atlantic City to support the American debut of Erdei. I talk to two guys who came from the DC/Virginia area.
Greg Leon is the advisor of Erdei and owner of Boxingtalk.com. When asked why he is not writing as many expose’s as he used to, he remarks that he has to do business with these **************. LOL. Greg’s a good guy and a credit to boxing.
Emanuel Steward said he was talking with Lennox Lewis on the phone yesterday and one of the subjects they discussed was what would have happened had the Lennox-Vitali fight not been stopped after the sixth. LOL. Still talking about that incredible fight. Emanuel is pretty certain that Lennox would have won by KO and his way of reasoning it is pretty convincing I must say.
Emanuel shares many insights into Wladimir who was taken away from home and family when he was 14 by the state because of his boxing and athletic promise. Wladimir’s parents have never been to a Klitschko Brother fight, not one. Emanuel has spoken to them on the phone.
Vitali and Wladimir used to spar but stopped right around the time Emamuel started working with them. They used to have brutal bloody competitive sparring battles. Emanuel says if they were to hypothetically fight in the future, one of them would be permanently damaged. He points out an example of kids in general, when two brothers fight, they can have the most vicious of battles. The fight scenes from that 60’s Japanese film “War of the Gargantuas” enters my mind.
Emanuel is concerned about Vitali fighting Solis, he says that Vitali is not going to get better now, and he is not able to put three punches together anymore, he’s gets off balance. He landed all night on Briggs but couldn’t put him away.
Paul Williams and Al Haymon did not want this rematch with Sergio Martinez but were forced to accept it by HBO. Whenever a fighter shows reluctance and hesitations about accepting a proposed fight, HE NEVER WINS. Martinez said before the fight he was 100% sure he was going to win by KO. Lucas Matthysse told me three weeks ago that Sergio trains harder than any fighter he ever saw, and that it is “indescribable” to explain how hard he trains and what he does.
Paul Williams trained incredibly hard himself (did you see the video of his unqiue training of walking on hands up and down stairs and across bleachers at high school football field?). And Paul was confident – after all he won the first fight by a narrow margin because he was busier down the home stretch – but The Punisher for some reason didn’t want this fight. Somebody from team Williams, whoever it was did not want to fight Martinez again, whether it was Williams, Haymon and or George Peterson – but HBO forced it.
Did you see the look of supreme confidence of Maritnez before the fight? At the weigh-in staredown and in the ring Williams had to be asking himself, Why does this 35-year-old Argintinean look so confident about fighting me? It’s a disturbing thing to see your opponent looks so eager and confident. Never underestimate the importance of the psychological battle, boxing fans.
Al Haymon’s boxing world is falling apart. Arreola was whooped by Vitali and Adamek. Danny Jacobs was trounced by Pirog. Floyd is showing he’s a pure coward. Dirrell is suspected by many to have faked his way out of boxing Andre Ward and the Super Six tournament (on Haymon’s advice?). Berto is a knockout waiting to happen – and some insiders think it will come against #1 contender Selcuk Aydin who will likely be ducked by Berto. Aydin is an aggressive and heavy puncher with a style that fans will love. He is promoted by Oner and King. Based on the Haymon method of “very carefully” selecting opponents, do not expect to see Berto vs. Aydin next year though based on styles it could be a fight of the year, Foreman-Lyle calibre event.
With Williams getting knocked out – what has happened to the American black fighters? If Hopkins gets knocked out by Pascal next month, the only ones left will be Devon Alexander, Tim Bradley, Chad Dawson, Tavoris Cloud. James Kirkland, Steve Cunningham. These are all good fighters but do any of them have the potential to be Leonard, Tyson or Hagler level stars? Something is very wrong with the American amateur developmental system. Or is the mindset of today’s generation of kids the problem? Mike Tyson recently said he listened and followed everything Cus told him to do, today’s kids aren’t like that. Roy Jones and Floyd Mayweather’s ducking and dodging ways may have sent the wrong message to the next generations.
A prominent boxing expert says Floyd Mayweather has the ability to beat Pacquiao but he doesn’t believe it himself. He says Floyd has emotional problems – “look where Floyd comes from.”
There were about dozen or so white high school age kids at the fight. It’s very rare to see that demographic at a live fight which is primarily people over 35-30, mostly male. Just an observation.
Tony “The Tiger” Thompson looked good again beating Paul Marinaccio. Eddie Chambers attended the show and looks in excellent condition. He will make another title run beginning in 2011.
I think Max Kellerman is pretty good as a commentator for HBO but not at the post-fight inside the ring interviews. Somebody else should be brought in to do this, such as John Scully, Kevin Kelley, Sean O’Grady. There are many other boxing media people who could do this job better than Max does it, let’s be real. Look for my future column about how HBO can improve and refine it’s very, very good presentation.
There was a hush from the crowd for minutes after the Martinez one-punch KO of Williams which should be the KO of the year. The fans were awed by this performance by Maravilla who is without question a top 5 pound-for-pound fighter now.
Williams raised his hand high to acknowledge the crowd who still supported him as he exited the ring and went down the steps. Williams is a classy man who can accept winning and losing with equal grace.
Final thought: Sergio Martinez came out of total obscurity just a couple of years ago when Sampson Lewcowicz brought free agent Maravilla to Lou DiBella. How many more Sergio Martinez’s are out there, lost in obscurity, in foreign countries, working hard and waiting for their chances to shine? Unlike so many of the pampered, coddled and protected Americans who want big money for easy handpicked set ups.
The spirit of the sport is about the best vs. the best, and when that formula is followed boxing will continue to produce spectacular performances like Martinez vs. Williams, Tyson vs. Spinks, Hagler vs. Hearns, Pacquiao vs. Mayweather, Klitschko vs. Haye. When boxing produces garbage like Mayweather vs. Baldomir, Marquez and De La Hoya, Williams vs. Cintron, and tries to shill it as “the best”, boxing will continue to flounder.