Simon Bakinde: From Paris to Brooklyn
By: Bryant Romero
Well respected trainer and former professional boxer Simon Bakinde is now 17 years since he left his native France and now living in New York and training professional prize fighters at the Mendez Gym in Manhattan, while also guiding the careers and managing a couple of prospects he’s looking to develop as world champions. Simon has come a long way from the young fighter he used to be who was looking for an opportunity when he first came to America, to now managing and training fighters out of New York. Simon was an up and coming Cruiserweight prospect looking for glory when he first stepped foot in America; however his opportunity to make it big here never came, and he instead found his calling as a trainer. Boxinginsider recently caught with Simon as he reflected on his past life in France and how he got to this point.
“The year I dropped out of college, I was wondering what I was going to do in the future,” Simon said.
“I realized that I didn’t want to be in the office all day long. I love physical activities, training, fitness and other things, so I said ‘I got to do something,’ but I didn’t know what to do,” he said.
While still contemplating on what he wanted to do for his future, Simon turned to his uncle for some guidance. His uncle insisted that he get into a sport, which Simon did, so he tried soccer for awhile, but he hated the team aspect of it.
“I hated losing in soccer because the teamwork situation was a little of a problem for me. When we lost I hated the fact that it was everyone’s fault. I wanted to make sure that if anything goes wrong it’s my fault, it’s no one else, so I give everything I got,” Simon said.
So his uncle suggested perhaps track and field, which is a more individual sport. With his lone wolf mentality, Simon figured out that he wanted to become a boxer.
“I said I’m going to do boxing, so I went to a boxing gym, the closest one near me in a suburb near Paris,” Simon told me.
“I met the coach and I tell him ‘Listen I want to be a professional fighter and I want to be a world champion.’ And he said, ‘Listen all that is possible, you just have to work.’ So I said, ‘no problem we’re going to put the work in.”
Simon would start putting that work in the gym for the next two years and he competed in 15 amateur fights with just a lone defeat. Simon recognized that he had some talent in this boxing game; he decided to turn pro after just two years in the amateur ranks, but with no guidance from an experienced manager or a promoter backing him.
“I turn pro with no gameplan without any money behind me, with no manager, my coach was basically my manager,” Simon said. “He had no connections, so he was just letting me take fights left and right.”
Simon realized that he wasn’t getting the right guidance to his career, which resulted in some early losses. So he decided to make a change and added a different coach to his team, but he would soon see the dark side of the business of boxing.
“That coach was actually stealing money from me. He was lying on the contract and once I realized he was getting money under the table, I started to think about going somewhere else,” Simon told me.
After arriving to the States with a plan to make it big in boxing in America, Simon was looking for fights and he even fought for free on some of the promoters cards to just show them what he had. Unfortunately, Simon came to the U.S at a time when European fighters weren’t getting much shine compared to today. Simon was unable to break into the U.S. boxing market and after three years of waiting with literally no fights; he decided to train people instead.
Simon would develop friendships and partnerships within in the boxing world which have resulted in young fighters from France coming over to train with him. He’s learned from the mistakes that he made within his own boxing career and has made sure that that fighters he trains or manages will get the best guidance possible for a the most successful boxing career they could have.
He currently trains light heavyweight prospect from Paris Fredric Julan (10-0, 8 KOs), super lightweight prospect Yurik Mamedov (10-1, 3 KOs), and guides the career of Romain Tomas (7-1, 1 KO). I asked why these 3 guys came a long way just to train with him and do these 3 have what it takes to become a champion?
“I think these guys came to me because we create trust. Trust is number 1 no matter how much knowledge you have, or how much money have,” Simon said.
“The fight game is a sport with a lot soul and a lot of heart, a lot of emotion, so you got to make sure that people trust you fully.
“I created a comfort zone where people can trust me, but also get results.
“I think they have what it takes to become champion because they have dedication and a lot of faith in them and they work hard,” Simon said.
Simon was a defensive minded fighter in his younger days and as a trainer considers himself to be a tactician and that being the smarter fighter with a right strategy can overcome a lot of what a fighter deals with inside that ring.
“I am a tactician. Defense first which is my culture since I was very defensive fighter myself,” Simon said.
“Skill, technique, and all these things without strategy is very limited to me. Strategy can overcome a lot.
“Strategy means you’re a thinking fighter, you have plan a, plan b, plan c, you have more than one gameplan,” he said.
Famed Kronk Gym Destroyed By Fire
By: Sean Crose
The abandoned building which once housed the famous Kronk Gym in Detroit has been destroyed by a weekend fire. Detroit police suspect that the incident may have been the result of arson. The building, which was known as the Kronk Recreation Center, once contained one of the most iconic gyms in boxing within its basement. From that gym’s confides, stars such as Thomas Hearns emerged. “What this building brought for me was a chance at life,” Hearns told the Detroit Free Press from the site of the blaze. “I got a chance to become somebody out of this building right here.” A call came into authorities Saturday night reporting the fire. Detroit’s fire department was subsequently unable to save the structure.
The Kronk Gym was the creation of Emanuel Steward, one of the fight game’s great trainers. Known as the Godfather of Detroit’s boxing scene, Steward not only helped give the world Hearns, but also trained such notables as Wladimir Klitschko, Andy Lee, Mike McCallum and Lennox Lewis. An electrician by trade, Steward started training amateur fighters in the recreation center’s basement in his spare time. By the time Hearns turned pro in the late 70s, however, it was clear Steward had found his true calling as a top tier trainer.
Steward went on to train literally dozens of champions in his basement gym. Kronk fighters could usually be noted for the fact that they wore the gym’s famous gold trunks. Steward passed at the age of 68 in 2012, yet by then the gym had closed been closed since 2006 (a new Kronk boxing facility was created in a former church). Still, Steward’s daughter, Sylvia Steward-Williams, told The Detroit News that her “father’s heart lived in that gym.” Ms. Steward-Williams added that “he’d still pay for the (property) even after we moved out because his heart was so much with those kids who wanted that space to train.”
According to the Detroit Fire Department, flames were already emerging from the second floor when help arrived. “We surrounded the building,” Deputy Chief Dave Fornell told The Detroit News, “and then the roof collapsed.” One firefighter was reportedly injured in the blaze and taken to be treated for an ankle injury. Thankfully, no one was reported severely hurt or killed. Firemen tried to fight the blaze for around four hours. “We are listing the fire as suspicious,” Fornell stated, “and it is an ongoing investigation.”
“It’s just sad,” stated Hearns, “to see that people didn’t value this place like we did.”
After Loss, Claudio Marrero Asked to Leave Gym
by B.A. Cass
A three-punch combination, ending with a left hook to the head, is what it took for Jesus M. Rojas to knock out Claudio Marrero. After Marrero hit the canvas, he sat up, shaking his head. He then put his arms over his knees. He seemed more shocked than wounded—as if the idea that a man could knock him out was something he had never considered. The referee started the count. Marrero got to his knees but after that did not attempt to stand. Yeah, you know, shit happens, he told his coach, German Caicedo, after the fight. This is boxing. Anyone can get knocked out. It was Marrero’s response to losing, rather than the loss itself, that first made Caicedo consider whether he wanted to continue training Marrero.
That night, Marrero texted Caicedo to see if they could talk. But Caicedo was at the airport, about to board a red-eye flight to Miami. He had to be back at his gym the next day to train Luis Ortiz for his now cancelled fight with Deontay Wilder. Caicedo and Marrero planned to speak when Marrero returned to Miami.
Marrero’s reaction to losing the fight was not the only reason Caicedo was frustrated. Although Marrero trained hard, he seemed to be letting his modicum of success go to his head; often, he could be heard talking about his “millions, ” and when people asked him about the fight he said it was “easy money.” Marrero also disregarded the entire fight plan. They had trained for a pressure fighter by “being first with your jab, counterpunch if he attacks, if he doesn’t attack, you’re first on your attack, and then you’re stepping around, stepping aside, holding your ground,” Caicedo explains. “Instead what he was doing was jumping around, running straight back into the ropes, surrendering and allowing Rojas to come in freely with no attack.” Marrero seemed more concerned with entertaining the crowd than winning. Multiple times, he dropped his hands and taunted Rojas.
Back in 2013, Marrero had lost in a similar fashion to Jesus Cuellar, who pressured him from start to finish. He handled that a little bit better, being a younger fighter, but he still lost by unanimous decision. After his loss to Cuellar, many people were saying that Marrero couldn’t handle pressure. But Caicedo stuck by his fighter, allowing him to maintain a residence in the Caicedo Sports facility. “He promised me he wouldn’t do that again,” Caicedo explains, “that he would better himself. He wouldn’t let his head get big. He would focus. But they were right all along. He couldn’t handle pressure. He can’t handle a little bit of success because his head gets big.”
After the fight with Rojas, Caciedo assumed Marrero would be back in Miami the next day, on Saturday afternoon. But Marrero didn’t return from Las Vegas until Tuesday. So you’re on vacation, Caicedo thought. Taking pictures in Las Vegas, partying with your friends. The loss didn’t affect you at all. Because of his training schedule with Ortiz, Caicedo wasn’t able to catch up Marrero until two days later. But he had already decided to let him go.
How did he break the news to Marrero? “Frankly,” Caicedo says. “I told him I don’t want to train you anymore and I don’t want you in the gym. I’ve got nothing personally against you other than this, but this is a big one. I can’t forgive this one.”
Caicedo realizes that anyone can lose. The loss isn’t what got to him. “He doesn’t have to be a world champion. I would have never kicked him out of the gym if he said to me, I’m so sorry, I screwed up, I fell apart, I was thinking about my son, I was thinking about losing, I didn’t want to lose. I completely screwed up. Then you say, shit happens, I get you. But that’s not what he answered when he answered me. What he answered was, you know, it’s no big deal, man. I just got knocked out, the same way I knock people out, they knock me out. It is what it is. We’ll try again.”
Not with Caicedo he won’t. Now Marrero will have to try again with someone else as his coach. He’s got to rebuild his reputation, which won’t be easy. He’ll be taken as an opponent and most likely won’t be treated as the A side.
Caicedo still thinks Marrero can become the undisputed. But he’s got to make that his goal and not lose focus when he gets a little bit of hype, a little bit of notoriety. “When he is completely ignored and not spoken about and is not the man, he’s the most humble, hardworking boxer—forget about in the gym, in boxing,” Caicedo says.
It’s important to remember Marrero is only twenty-eight. He has years ahead of him as a boxer—and potentially even good years if he takes Caicedo’s advice and goes back to being the humble, hard-working boxer that Caicedo first knew.
Follow B.A. Cass on Twitter @WiththePunch
What About Jorge Juarez? The Man Who Nearly Beat Canelo Alvarez
By: Brian Strahan
Mexico, has its own California. Baja California. A feral peninsula, encompassed by the Pacific Ocean to its west, and the Sea of Cortez to its east. At its tip, bordering that other California, lies Tijuana. A city known in the past as much for its pull of Hollywood celebrities, who could gamble in relative anonymity, as it was for criminality, which eventually, morphed into a city more associated with cultural growth.
Photo Credit: Tom Hogan-Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions
It was here that Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez came close to suffering his first professional defeat. An opening flurry of victories as a 15-year-old, came at something of a canter. Similar to the only man who would ever defeat him – Floyd Mayweather Jr – Canelo had a family in his corner. Just not his own. Not far from his modest home in Juanacatlan on the fringes of Guadalajara, his brother Rigoberto introduced him to Chepo and Eddy Reynoso.
From the Julian Magdaleno Gym, were the father and son team trained the flame-haired Canelo, his route was plotted. Impressed by his speed of thought and power, the Reynoso’s didn’t feel, but knew he was ready. Such was his ferocity at the 2005 Junior Nationals, in the southern, busy city of Tuxtla Gutiérrez; no one his age, apart from the foolhardy, wanted to face him.
Turning professional at such a young age, is no big deal in Mexico. Other nations may scoff at the youthful age that boys are thrown in amongst men to fight. But Mexican boxing can point to the robust nature of their success, rooted in the tough start they allow their young boxers. Mexico can boast having more than 150 professional world champions in its pugilistic history. Only the United States can champion a stronger record.
So, there was nothing unorthodox in Canelo facing fellow Mexican Abraham Gonzalez in his first fight; Gonzalez three years his senior. That chasm in physical development, a lot wider in teens then a corresponding chasm for even marginally older boxers. It mattered little, however. A total knock out in the fourth and final round for Canelo.
Little changed for his second fight against Pablo Alvarado, very much his elder at 26. It was, physically and literally, man against boy. Again, an irrelevance. Alvarado lasted two rounds before Canelo ended his night.
The third test of this fledgling career would prove more demanding. Miguel Vazquez – again three years his senior – may have been making his professional debut, but he had genuine potential. Potential that he would go on to fulfill. But this welterweight fight was out of reach for a fighter who would go on to win a multitude of titles. His only defeat in a valiant 2013 unification loss to Mayweather by majority decision. Still though, against Vazquez, Canelo was made work. The split decision went his way.
Pedro Lopez, a month later, didn’t offer a similar challenge. Back in Canelo’s hometown of Guadalajara, Lopez, a fighter from the former colonial city of Tabasco, had little vigour to offer. Another knock out. It would be the beginning of a trend in a career that bore little fruit.
So on to the Auditorio Municipal in Tijuana. Perhaps more famed for its seminal Friday night dose of Lucha Libre; the Mexican variant of professional wrestling. With its spirited masks and costumes and comic-book style heroes and villains; it appeals to the masses as a sport and entertainment.
On June 17th, 2006, there was substantially less of the fanfare for the meeting of Canelo and Jorge Juarez. Not that the night itself was sedate. Hector Velazquez, a Tijuana local, and a solid career fighter, was the main draw. After he discarded compatriot Guadalupe Hernandez in a deeply one-sided affair, the crowd simply dispersed.
The undercard, as Canelo and Juarez were, came after the main event. Perhaps not the most carefully structured running order. What it meant was a sparse attendance and a quieter atmosphere, despite Juarez being a local. But three victories from eight against a relative unknown, was not enough to keep seats filled.
Maybe they should have stayed. What was missed was Canelo being tested. That was the function of Juarez. To try the properly strong Canelo against someone who would hold firm. Where some previous opponents had struggled to match his intensity, Juarez used the physicality and experience that came with his 8-year advantage. Canelo tired in the fourth-round bout and Juarez made connections.
If he didn’t quite school him; Juarez was in his element. This was as evenly matched a welterweight contest as there could have been. Juarez would have more defeats than victories up until his retirement in 2011. In 2015 Juarez returned but has had eight defeats on the bounce since.
Still though, the two came together at a time and a night when there was nothing to split them. The triumvirate of judges scored it 37-39, 38-38, 37-39. A one-point difference anywhere along the way could have meant another easily forgotten victory for Canelo. Or it could have meant Juarez being the only person outside of Floyd Mayweather to defeat Canelo in his professional career; to date.
How much relevance it will have on Saturday, who knows? But it has relevance for Juarez. And not because he can dine off a former glory. But because he showed he could match someone who was on his way to becoming one of the world’s best.
WBC Minimumweight Champion Chayaphon Moosri Goes 46-0!
WBC Minimumweight Champion Chayaphon Moosri goes 46-0!
By: Ken Hissner
Too many times the Thailand boxers have built up records and WBC Minimumweight champion Chayaphon Moosri at 46-0 (17), is no exception.
In Moosri’s third bout he won the vacant WBC Youth title fighting an opponent who was 0-1 in March of 2007. He defended it 8 times. Several of his opponents had records of 0-0, 0-1 and 1-2. In December of 2009 he won the interim WBC International title and made 2 defenses. Then on January 2011 he won the vacant WBC International Silver title over a 7-5-2 opponent and made 3 defenses beforere-winning the vacant International title in November of 2011 making it 5 defenses.
In November of 2014 Moosri wins the WBC World title from a 14-4-1 boxer from Mexico and made 6 defenses. In his 46 fights he has defeated 29 opponents with winning records and 14 with losing records along with 2 debuting opponents and a 15-15-2 opponent.
Moosri is 31 and has been fighting for 10 years. His bio shows no amateur credentials. All 46 of his fights have been fought in Thailand. The WBA champion Thammanoon Niyomtrong, 15-0 (7), is also from Thailand. It would make sense for the two to meet in a unification bout. Mexico’s Jose Argumedo, 19-3-1 (11), holds the IBF titleand Japan’s Katsunari Takayama won the WBO title after losing his IBF title to Argumedo.
In December of 2016 and March of 2017 (his last bout) Moosri has won 6 round decisions in order to build up his record. A world champion shouldn’t be fighting 6 round bouts. It seems he is aiming to overtake both Rocky Marciano and Floyd Mayweather’s 49-0 record.
Another Thai boxer named Samson Dutch Boy Gym was 43-0 (36) when he retired. He won the World Boxing Federation super fly title in his fourth fight and defended it 38 times. Only thing is he defended against opponents with the following records:
1-7, 1-7-1, 8-16-2, 0-7 and 1-6. He never fought outside of Thailand.
Round 2 with Chavez and Roach
Round 2 with Chavez and Roach
By: Brandon Bernica
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. caused a minor furor this past week when he (sort of) announced
he will be reuniting with former trainer Freddie Roach via Instagram photo. While rumors of this
move have circulated for years, Team Chavez has been reluctant to move back to the Wild Card
Gym, where their relationship with Roach soured after his fight with Sergio Martinez in 2012.
Since that time, his team tried out multiple high-profile replacements, such as Joe Goosen, Ricky
Funez, and Robert Garcia. Yet most hardcore fans ascertain that Chavez’s weight issues, lack of
discipline, and inconsistent training schedule anchor the real struggle hindering his performance. Recently, he is 3-2 with no memorable victories to cling to. Combined with his out-of-the-ring
shenanigans (failing a drug test for marijuana, turning down a career-high payday and a chance
to fight Gennady Golovkin, etc.) and you have a once highly-esteemed fighter turned daily
In this vein, I venture to ask a question most fans would dismiss immediately: could
Roach raise Jr.’s game to the level it was destined for a few years back?
Chavez may never reach that level again. But improvement? Not out of the question.
Evidence clearly points to Roach as being Chavez’s most successful cornerman. With Freddie, he
amassed solid victories against Andy Lee, Sebastian Zbik, and Marco Antonio Rubio. That
success was augmented by Roach’s offensive style of training fighters that clicked with Julio. At
his best, Chavez thrives in the trenches, dominating the intricacies of the inside game. He angles
potent body shots much like his legendary father, Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. Carrying solid power in
close quarters and a strong chin able to withstand the most forceful shots, Chavez naturally holds
a skillset most contenders would trade for any day. Roach understands this and can cater training
towards revealing these tools, whereas other trainers working with Jr. for the first time may need
a couple fights to fully comprehend his tendencies. After all, Roach has inspired career
turnarounds for the likes of fighters such as Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto.
But as much as there is to enjoy on the surface of Chavez, there remains a lot more to feel
apprehensive about regarding his past. A buzz word fans often use to tag Chavez Jr. with is
“entitled”. Granted, this partially results from his every move being compared to his father. Yet
the moniker still holds truthful in many respects. Chavez has been criticized for arbitrarily
moving weight limits before fights, often resulting in unfair advantages in size inside the ropes.
Missing weight expresses a lack of professionalism that, sadly, Chavez has exhibited in other
areas as well. Leading up to his biggest title fight versus Martinez, Chavez was documented as
unmotivated, waking up late and even failing to show up to gym sessions. That same fight,
Chavez was outclassed for 11 rounds, failing to handle Martinez’s superior movement and
distance fighting. Though he almost mounted a late-round comeback knockout, his Argentinian
counterpart braved his way to the end, winning a lopsided decision. That bitter ending to the
initial Roach-Chavez stint leaves lingering questions about the efficiency of this teamwork in big
fights, mainly whether Jr.’s defense is adequate enough to win rounds against top notch fighters.
Afterwards, Chavez struggled to maintain the consistency needed to reach elite status in
the sport by jumping from trainer to trainer to search for the solution to his performance. Nothing
worked as well as it did with Roach. Outside of the ring, he left his long-time promoter Bob
Arum who had spent years selling the public on Jr.’s potential and talent. He joined advisor Al Haymon in an effort to reinvent his own brand. That wasn’t the remedy either; he was knocked
out by Andrezj Fonfara, forced to build from the ground up once again. Missing from this series
of events? Commitment. Chavez’s search for the cure to his career has rarely ended at a look
inside himself. Blame gets shifted to others. Social media posts from his accounts implore fans to
believe he’s changed, rather than attempting to prove it to the one person who counts: himself.
Maybe a switch back to Roach is the remedy he’s longed for. If that solution involves
becoming the fighter his dad was, his search may end in vain. That doesn’t make his chances to
salvage his career into one he can be proud of any less likely. First, he must acknowledge why
he’s fallen and fight with the hunger he once had. If he ends up with Roach, he must stay the
course, through victory and defeat. No excuses, just hard work and focus. Everything else will
fall into place.