By: Hans Themistode
To every one else it’s just a number but too Canelo Alvarez (50-1-2, 34 KOs) it means everything.
It was clear that from the beginning that Canelo would become a special fighter. After all he turned professional at only the age of 15. He went on to knockout 11 of his first 13 opponents. That may sound impressive but in actuality it’s not. That’s what a young prospect is supposed to do. Dominate the level of opposition and continue to get better. Alvarez did exactly what he was supposed to do.
As the years went by and the opposition got tougher Alvarez only continued to dominate. He began to win belts on a much smaller level. None of those achievements meant anything to Canelo. No fighter truly cares about the those smaller titles. With all due respect to belts such as the NABF, WBC silver and intercontinental titles but they don’t hold much worth. Every fighter truly wants to become a legit world champion at some point in their career.
For Alvarez that time came at Super Middleweight in 2011 when he defeated Matthew Hatton by unanimous decision for the vacant WBC crown. Canelo went on to defend that title six times against incredibly stiff competition including Josesito Lopez, future hall of famer albeit past his prime at the time Shane Mosley and Austin Trout. In defeating Trout he would add his WBA title to his collection and become a unified champion.
We all remember his bout against Floyd Mayweather which ended in his first defeat. From there he went on to defeat a murderers row of challengers including Alfredo Angulo, Erislandy Lara and James Kirkland.
Victory in those matches were needed in order to set up a fight with the legendary Miguel Cotto for the WBC Middleweight title. Alvarez went on to defeat Cotto and become a two division champion. Since then Canelo has gone on to defeat arguably the toughest competition. In his most recent two bouts he took on the undefeated heavy hitting
Gennady Golovkin (GGG). The aforementioned GGG presented Canelo with his biggest and highest profile win of his career thus far.
The road to a Middleweight title now went through Canelo Alvarez. With so many big names in the division the options for his next fight were endless. A third fight with GGG seemed possible. A matchup with the young undefeated Jermall Charlo sounds even more enticing. Even a bout with current promotional banner fighter David Lemieux sounds like a great fight. We can’t forget about the other two Middleweight champions in Danny Jacobs and Demetrius Andrade. Becoming undisputed champion seems within reach for Canelo now.
Instead of choosing any of these fighters Canelo elected to go up to the Super Middleweight division and challenge WBA regular titleist Rocky Fielding (27-1, 15 KOs).
It was a perplexing moving to say the least when it was first announced. However when you sit down and think about it, the bout against Rocky makes all the sense in the world. Canelo isn’t just a great fighter but he’s also someone that studies the history of boxing and appreciates it. It’s why he is so honored to be fighting in Madison Square Garden this weekend. He has expressed pride in gracing the same ring as other great fighters have before him such as Muhammad Ali. More than anything it gives Canelo a chance to make history himself.
There have been eight Mexican fighters in the entire history of boxing that have gone on to win world titles in at least three different weight divisions. The number nine which was previously mentioned in the beginning of this article represents what a victory over Rocky Fielding this weekend means as he would become the ninth member on that illustrious list.
It won’t be an easy nights work for Canelo. Rocky will enjoy a significant height, weight and reach advantage. Alvarez will have a tough night ahead of him no matter what the critics may think of his opponent.
However with history only one step away Canelo is sure to step up to the challenge as he has done time and time again.
A victory this weekend will solidly his place in boxing history.
By: Ken Hissner
Kristian “Mr. Reliable” Laight from Warwickshire, UK, this past weekend passed the USA’s Reggie Strickland by having the most losses in the history of boxing with 277 along with 66 wins and 17 draws and stopped only 5 times.
Laight on Saturday lost to Connor Lee Jones, 1-0, at the Venue, West Midlands, Dudley, UK. He is already scheduled two more times at York Hall in Bethnal Green, London, July 14th against Simon Corcoran making his debut and at the same venue September 8th against Louis Isaacs, 2-0.
In his last fifty-one fights he is 0-49-2, having won fifty-two fights ago on September 03, 2016, over Sean Crowley, 1-0, by decision. There were twelve losses between that win and the win over Ali Wyatt, 5-34-2. Then 15 losses after beating Carl Chadwick, 2-0, on 2015. Then 31 straight losses prior to that win after defeating Aaron Flinn, 1-4, in 2014.
Peter Buckley, 32-256-12, of the UK reached 300 fights when he retired. The closest active boxer to Laight is Kevin McCauley a Hungarian fighting out of CZ at 15-169-12. There are a total of ten boxers currently active with 100 losses or more. Most are from the UK who still permits boxers with that many losses to fight.
The boxer with over 100 losses and 196 wins is George Marsden of the UK at 196-101-41, stopped 25 times. The boxer with the most losses without winning a fight was South African Bheki “Beck’s Tiger” Moyo, 0-73-2, out of the UK, only stopped six times. Currently Chris Gargano, of the UK, is 0-51-1, stopped seven times.
Half-brother of Reggie Strickland was Jerry Strickland, 13-122, stopped 78 times. Simmie Black, 35-165-4, was stopped the most times at 97.
This writer tried reaching Laight per the email address on www.boxrec.com but it didn’t register.
More Boxing History
By: Ken Hissner
This writer remembers reading about Brazil’s Eder Jofre seeing a dead chicken ran over by a vehicle in the middle of the road. He never ate meat again.
Jofre was 46-0-3 before this World Bantamweight champion was defeated. He added the WBC and WBA belts to his World belt. He had rematches with Argentina’s Ernesto Miranda, 15-3-1, who was living in Spain when they drew twice. He defeated Miranda twice when he was 40-3-4 for the South American Bantamweight title. Miranda ended his career with 99 wins. All four fights with Miranda were in Brazil. He drew with Manny Elias, 44-17-1, in November of 1965 between his only two losses to Flyweight champion Japan’s WBA, WBC and World champion Fighting Harada which both defeats were in Japan.
It took almost five years to defeat Elias, 51-21-2 in their rematch. It was in May of 1970. The first Harada fight ended in a split decision in Nagoya, Japan, in May of 1965. The rematch took place after the Elias draw in Nippon, Japan, in May of 1966.
Jofre’s third draw was against Uruguay’s Ruben Caceres, 11-1-5, in May of 1958 in Uruguay in Montevideo, Uruguay. In their rematch in July of 1959 Jofre knocked out Caceres in 7 rounds.
Jofre would only have his second bout outside of Brazil in August of 1960 when he defeated Mexico’s Jose “El Huitlacoche” Medel, 43-16-3, by 10th round knockout in a NBA Bantamweight eliminator at the Olympic Auditorium in L.A. In November he won the vacant NBA Bantamweight title knocking out Eloy “Emeterio” Sanchez, 25-12, in 6 rounds at the same facility. He had defenses against the former European champ then the Italian champ Piero Rollo, 53-6-6, stopping him in 9 rounds. He knocked out the OPBF champion Japan’s Sadao Yaoita, 43-9-2, in 10 rounds. He stopped the British champion Johnny Caldwell, 25-0, in the 10th round.
Jofre would travel back to the US in his next fight and win the Bantamweight World title stopping Mexico’s Herman Marques, 19-8-1, living in Stockton, CA, in the 10th round at the Cow Palace in Daly City, CA. Then give Medel a rematch knocking him out in 6 rounds.
Then Jofre would go to Japan for the first time knocking out Japan’s OPBF champion Katsutoshi Aoki, 33-1-1, in 3 rounds. Then travel to the Manila, in the Philippines, stopping Filipino Johnny Jamito, 33-2-2, who couldn’t come out for the last round after being knocked down in the previous round.
Next Jofre went to Bagota, Colombia, knocking out Bernardo Caraballo, 39-0-1, of Colombia in the 7th round. Next up was the first loss to Harada losing his title. After the second loss to Harada he moved up to featherweight. It took fifteen fights for him to win the WBC World Featherweight title by majority decision over Cuban Jose “Pocket Cassius Clay” Legra, 131-9-4, living in Spain, over 12 rounds in Brazil. Legra would have two fights after this losing to Nicaragua’s Alexis Arguello in his last fight by knockout.
In Jofre’s next two fights which were non-title he knocked out possibly Chile’s greatest fighter in Godfrey Stevens, 71-7-3, in 4 rounds. Then American Frankie Crawford, 38-17-5, was defeated over 10 rounds. In his first defense he would end the career of the former WBC champion Vicente “El Zurdo de Oro” Saldivar, 37-2.
Jofre would win six non-title fights before his final bout being a title defense defeating Mexican Octavio Gomez, 55-15-7, over 12 rounds. His final record was 72-2-4 (50) in October 8th 1976 at the age of 40. At age 82 Jofre is still seen at the fights in Brazil
More Boxing History
By: Ken Hissner
Ever Hear the Name of Uncrowned Champion Eddie Booker?
This writer recently asked my two favorite Historians Henry Hascup and Chuck Hasson. Hasson brought up the name of Eddie “Black Dynamite” Booker in his P4P all-time greats. I never heard of him and then went to www.boxrec.com and was I in for a shock! He beat Archie Moore, Lloyd Marshall (beat Sonny Liston) and Holman Williams to name a few.
Marshall and Williams were two of the most avoided boxers in the history of boxing. Booker fought from 1935 to 1944. He said when a fight with Charley Burley never materialized that Burley was “Just the best there is out there!”
Booker was from San Jose, CA, and was the San Francisco Golden Gloves champion in 1934 at lightweight. He fought as a middleweight as a professional.
Booker turned professional on January 15th 1935 winning his first twenty-one fights until a draw with Jimmy Wakefield, 21-7-6, on August of 1936. Then eight more wins including two fights after the Wakefield fight he defeated Wakefield.
Then, a pair of draws against Jackie Burke 68-13-17, in October of 1937, and Mickey Duris, 41-4-6, in January of 1938. This was followed with another eight wins.
In January of 1939 Booker met up with Holman Williams, 55-7-3, at Madison Square Garden fighting to a draw. Booker was 37-0-4, when he tasted defeat for the first time to future welterweight champion Fritzie Zivic, 79-19-5, at Madison Square Garden, in his next fight. Then, another loss to Cocoa Kid, 104-28-5, at the Arena in New Haven, CT. Seven straight wins would follow the back to back defeats.
Then came future light heavyweight champion Archie “Old Mongoose” Moore, 47-5-3, in February of 1941, at the San Diego Coliseum, in Moore’s hometown.
Three weeks later it would be another draw, this time with Shorty Hogue, 43-2-1, at the same facility. Two months after this he defeated Hogue. It would be a nine fight winning streak when he met Hogue for the third time and lost his State California Middleweight title.
Two fights later and Booker drew with Johnny “Bandit” Romero, 137-43-7, in May of 1942. Two fights later he stopped Hogue in eight to regain his state title. His six straight win streak ended defeating the ever dangerous Lloyd Marshall, 33-6-2, and a rematch with Moore ending in a draw. Then in the first fifteen round fight in the state since 1914, when he lost to Jack Chase, 49-5-4, and his title in January of 1943.
In Booker’s next fight he defeated Harry “Kid” Matthews, 30-2-4, but two fights later lost to Holman Williams, 107-17-6, in November of 1943. Two fights later he defeated Archie Moore, 59-7-5, in their third bout after drawing twice in January of 1944. The next month he defeated Frankie Nelson, 31-8-1. Then his final bout of his career against no other than Holman Williams, 113-17-6, in March at the Civic Auditorium, in San Francisco. It was their third meeting with a draw and a Holman victory. Booker would defeat Holman over ten rounds. He would retire due to an eye trouble.
What a sensational career for Eddie Booker. Twenty years and eleven days later he would pass away at the age of 57. He had a 66-5-8 record with 34 knockouts. He was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame and in 2017 the IBHOF.
More Boxing History
By: Ken Hissner
With no world champions in Philly here in 2018 you wonder about the “good old days!” This writer has expressed “the Philly Jinx” which seems to happen every time a Philly boxer gets a shot at the world title. An exception was Tevin “American Idol” Farmer getting robbed on December 19th losing by split decision to Kenichi Ogawa in Las Vegas. That was robbery at its best!
In the late 60’s and early 70’s Philly had such boxers as “Gypsy” Joe Harris, 24-1 (9), who won a non-title fight over welterweight champion Curtis Cokes and couldn’t get a rematch. He was referred to as a “bag of tricks!” He wrapped his arms around his body and you couldn’t hit him if you wanted to. He was a street buy that led to his downfall including being diagnosed as being blind in one eye that led to his career coming to an end.
Out of the stable that “Smokin” Joe Frazier was Willie “The Worm” Monroe, 39-10-1 (26). This writer was at ringside the night he exploited “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler. Hagler’s nose was red as can be in his second and could have been broken. Under new trainer George Benton Monroe’s new style was no longer hit and move, but stay in front and roll with the punches. This must have confused Hagler not expecting this. I saw Monroe at a weigh-in with a cast on his hand and asked “are you really going to fight Hagler again and up in Boston?” He replied “why not, I already beat him once!” Fast forward ahead and Monroe lost twice to Hagler after defeating him.
Bobby “Boogaloo” Watts, 39-7-1 (22), defeated fellow Philly boxers, Eugene “Cyclone” Hart and Monroe. His biggest win was defeating Hagler in 1976 by majority decision giving Hagler his first loss. I didn’t witness it but the decision was said to be controversial.
Like Monroe Watts gave Hagler a rematch in 1980 and was stopped in 2 rounds.
Today Watts is a trainer at a Recreation Gym at 22nd and Cecil B Moore a block from the famous 23rd PAL which had such boxers as Frazier, Harris, “Bad” Bennie Briscoe, Jimmy Young, Watts, “Classy” Al Massey and others run by “Duke” Dugent.
Eugene “Cyclone” Hart, 30-9-1 (28), won his first 19 fights by stoppage. He is the father-trainer of his son Jesse “Hard Work” Hart a recent title challenger for the WBO Super middleweight title. He recently won his first fight back. Hart defeated Stanley “Kitten” Hayward, drew and lost to Briscoe, beat Olympic Gold Medalist “Sugar” Ray Seales, lost to Watts, Monroe, Hagler, Vito Antuofermo and Eddie Mustafa Muhammad.
Stanley “Kitten” Hayward, 32-12-4 (18), got a title shot at the Super Welterweight champion Freddie Little thanks to Philly promoter Lou Lucchese in 1969 losing a 15 round decision. He earned it by defeating Emile Griffith who he would loss to in a return match. He defeated Cokes, Percy Manning, split with Briscoe, lost to Hart, Monroe and Harris.
This writer’s first live fight I attended was Hayward getting a “disputed decision” in my opinion over fellow Philly boxers Dick Turner on January 20th 1964.
Dick Turner, 19-2-1 (11), lost his last two fights, the second to Hayward that ended his career with a detached retina.
He defeated Isaac Logart, Manning and South American Champion Fredrico Thompson of Argentina who drew and lost to Benny “Kid” Paret and went onto win 150 fights.
In the late 70’s and 80’s it was the light heavyweights that promoter J Russell Peltz of Peltz Boxing had after promoting the middleweights in the late 60’s and 70’s. Hayward got a title fight but it wasn’t one of Peltz’s promotions. Peltz promoted “Bad” Bennie Briscoe’s three title fights. He also promoted Bantamweight champion “Joltin” Jeff Chandler’s title fights.
Peltz made up for it with the bigger fighters starting with Matthew Saad Muhammad, 39-16-3 (29), who won the WBC title in 1979 over Marvin Johnson who would become champion under Peltz.
Muhammad aka Matthew Franklin had wins over a pair of future champions in Marvin Camel and Mate Parlov in back to back fights.
Richie Kates, 44-6 (23), was from Bridgeton, NJ, one of the Jersey fighters that fought regularly in Philly. When he dropped Saad Muhammad face first he thought the fight was over. Nobody told Muhammad who got up and would go onto win the fight in 1978 for the NABF title. He had wins over future champions Murray Sutherland and Jeff Lampkin. He lost to Victor Galindez twice in world title fights. He defeated Jimmy Dupree and Don Fullmer.
Another Jersey boxer, Mike “Jewish Bomber” Rossman, 44-7-3 (27), from Turnersville, NJ, defeated Galindez for the WBA title but losing it in a rematch. He defeated Mike Quarry and Lonnie Bennett. He lost to Yaqui Lopez who along with Rossman and this writer attended the Saad Muhammad funeral. He lost to another New Jersey boxer Dwight Muhammad Qawi aka Dwight Braxton.
Braxton was 41-11-1 (25), and called the “Camden Buzz Saw” who was the WBC Light Heavyweight champion! He defeated contender James Scott in the Rahway Prison as did Jerry “the Bull” Martin whom he defeated. He lost to Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield twice, George Foreman (giving away 61#), beat Leon Spinks, but lost his title to Michael Spinks. He lived in Lindenwold, NJ, but lived in Camden at one time. He beat LeRoy Murphy and Eddie Davis.
Jerry “The Bull” Martin, 25-7 (17), beat Jesse Burnett in 1979 and Scott in 1980.
He lost to Kates, Saad Muhammad and Mustafa Muhammad. He defeated Anthony Witherspoon and Billy “Dynamite” Douglas. He was originally from Antigua.
Marvin Johnson, 43-6 (35), from Indianapolis was 5-1 in Philly rings losing his WBC title to Saad Muhammad and then in Indianapolis lost to same in a rematch. He defeated Galindez for his WBA title. He defeated “Prince” Charles Williams (future IBF champion) and Parlov. He was a member of the 1972 USA Olympic team.
More Boxing History
By: Ken Hissner
This writer had an old friend named Joe “Shannon” Schabacker who fought in the 1920’s and was trained by Jack Blackburn. Shannon bought Blackburn a new suit when he was ready to go to Detroit to meet the great heavyweight champion Joe “The Brown Bomber” Louis and his co-managers. He was well accepted and became the trainer of Louis.
Shannon had many tales to tell including when one of the all-time great if not the greatest lightweight of all-time Benny “The Ghetto Wizard” Leonard walked into a banquet of boxers dressed to the hilt with his hands in his pockets. There was Frankie Callahan the former featherweight champion drunk as a skunk yelling over at Leonard. When Leonard finally got within arms-length of the loud mouth drunk with hands still in his pockets he simply said “what do you want some more of what I have you in the ring?” The drunk didn’t say a word.
The best story Shannon told me was when he was still boxing and in the former world light heavyweight champion Philadelphia Jack O’Brien’s Gym in Philadelphia. The former champ and gym owner was well past his prime and in a suit.
In one of the two rings O’Brien had in his gym was a boxer from New England who was in Philadelphia for a bout and working over one sparring partner after another one. “Don’t you have anyone here that can fight,” said the boxer. So O’Brien started to take off his jacket to get in the ring with him when Shannon who was only a lightweight and would be giving away about twenty-five pounds volunteered to get in the ring. He kept moving and the big mouth couldn’t catch him. Shannon jumped out of the ring.
In the other ring was a boxer shadow boxing who yelled over to this big mouth “hey buddy, you need some sparring?” At first with a surprise look on his face the big mouth replied “yeah I need some sparring why don’t you come over here?”
Well, the other boxer came over and got into the ring with the big mouth and went on to beat him so bad that one of his ear’s had a cut on it. He never said a word just got out of the ring knowing his bout would be postponed.
Shannon followed the other boxer into the dressing room and said “hey thanks buddy for doing that for me.” The boxer said “I didn’t do that for you for guys like that don’t belong in the fight game. By the way my name is HARRY GREB. Yes, none other than the “Pittsburgh Windmill” and former middleweight champion who was the only boxer to defeat heavyweight champion to be Gene Tunney whose record was 79-1-4.
It depends on where you look but Greb’s record has been known as 262-17-18, 260-21-17 and 107-8-3. The moral of the story is “watch what you ask for” because you might be getting more than you bargained for.
More Boxing History
By: Ken Hissner
How many times do boxers fight in a small facility and become world champions and “forget where they got their start?” IBF World Super Middleweight champion Charles “The Hatchet” Brewer was “the exception!”
Turning professional in August of 1989 on a Peltz Boxing show Brewer won his debut at the legendary Blue Horizon in North Philadelphia. “Due to a knockout Brewer’s 4 rounder aired on USA Network,” said Peltz. Ron Katz of Top Rank saw this fight and signed Brewer to a promotional contract. He would go onto win his first fourteen bouts of which two were at the “Blue” and a dozen in Atlantic City, NJ. He would then run into a southpaw “spoiler” named Robert Thomas and lost back to back split decisions. This writer at one time well after this period of time put Thomas into several matches as his “advisor”. Eight of those fourteen wins were by stoppage. After losing those decisions to Thomas Top Rank dropped him. Brewer would go onto win eight straight by stoppage. It all started with stopping fellow Philadelphian Willie Harris, 21-1 and later Mario Munoz 14-0 among those eight wins. J Russell Peltz signed Brewer starting with the Harris fight.
“He was an aggressive big puncher with a wide-open style combined with a questionable chin, which made his fights exciting and a Philly crowd pleaser. Evidently like fans in Argentina and Denmark, where the local fighter NEVER loses, Philly fans were smart to the max and had no problem with the visitor winning, so as long as he did it in style. That’s how out-of-towner fighters like Billy “Dynamite” Douglas became huge local draws. So with Brewer, fans could rely on a good action fight, and one with the drama of an opponent always having a “puncher’s chance.” – That quote came from long-time writer Jeff Jowett now with Seconds Out.
Brewer was Ranked No. 6 when his streak was stopped with back to back losses at the “Blue” to Lonnie Beasley, 20-1-1 and Rafael Williams 32-13. Two fights later he lost to Rodney Toney 18-0-2. He would then go onto win nine straight including winning the USBA title over Frank Rhodes, 22-3-3 at the “Blue”. Rhodes was managed then by former Philadelphia Eagle coach Buddy Ryan. “It still rates in my book as the best performance ever turned in by any fighter at the Blue Horizon. It was a terrific shut out if you can imagine a 12-0 bout terrific,” said Peltz.
Two fights later he would defend his USBA title at the “Blue” defeating Greg Wright, 13-1-1. This would lead him to earning a world title fight set-up by his promoter J Russell Peltz. It was June of 1997 defeating Gary Ballard, 22-2-1, when he stopped Ballard for the vacant title that Roy Jones, Jr., vacated in Tampa, FL.
In Brewer’s next fight in his first defense he went “back to his roots” to be the first and only boxer to defend a world title at the “Blue” defeating Joey DeGrandis, 23-3. Next up would be European champion Herol Graham, 48-5, in Atlantic City whom he stopped. In his next fight he went to Germany and stopped USBA champion Antoine Byrd, 31-6-1. On that card would be German Sven Ottke who improved his record to 12-0.
The German promoter must have seen something he liked and challenged Brewer in a title defense against Ottke just two months later. Brewer would lose a disputed split decision. The first loss to Ottke was my fault. I thought the judge from Italy was neutral but was in the bag. US judge George Hill had it 117-111 for Peterson. “The other judges had it 115-113 and 116-112 for Ottke. What a farce,” said Peltz.
It would take eleven months to get a rematch. In the meantime Ottke would win half a dozen fights during that period of time. In September of 2000 the outcome would be the same with Brewer losing by split decision. The US judge had it 116-113 for Brewer.
Brewer would win two of his next three fights and get an opportunity to challenge World Super Middleweight WBO champion Joe Calzaghe, 32-0, in Cardiff, Wales, losing a decision. “It was the only fight under me that Brewer was dominated. He had Calzaghe buzzed late in the seventh round when the bell rang,” said Peltz.
Brewer would then defeat three good fighters in Scott Pemberton, 24-2-1, Etianne Whitaker, 27-8-2 and Freeman Barr, 25-3 and become the No. 1 contender under Peltz. It would be over a year before he fought again and got a title fight. “The contract ran out and he signed with Lou DiBella. Those three bouts earned him a shot at the interim World WBO Super Middleweight title in Germany losing to Mario Veit, 44-1. His next and final bout would be a loss in Copenhagen in April of 2005 ending his career at 40-11 with 28 by stoppage. Per Peltz “Years later I told him God punished him for leaving me for those last two fights. He said “maybe so!”
“He was from the same neighborhood I was from. I knew his mother and father. I started training him at the 23rd PAL. From then on he started picking up everything and was a dedicated kid who came to the gym and did what I told him to do. He had all the heart in the world. He was a real good kid. He never got in any trouble. He won the title and held it for a while. When it was time for him to retire I told him he did okay and to get out while he was ahead,” said Bobby “Boogaloo” Watts.
Knowing Brewer on a personal note he would agree to answer questions for this writer.
KEN HISSNER: You went from fighter to writer after your career was over. You are not only best known to being a world champion but the “only” Philadelphia boxer to defend that title at the Legendary Blue Horizon. Whose decision was that?
CHARLES BREWER: We had a team meeting at Peltz’ office and he brought up the idea of hosting a World championship fight at the Blue. We saw that, it would be the first time in the history of the Blue Horizon, that a reigning, world champion, would be defending their title at the Blue, so that was a plus. History was going to be made by “The Hatchet” of course, the fight was on!
KEN HISSNER: Were Augie Scimecca and Bobby “Boogaloo” Watts (co-managers) in your corner for the most part of your career?
CHARLES BREWER: Augie came on board upon me turning pro in 89’. “Boogaloo” had been my trainer since I was 14 years old.
KEN HISSNER: You would face two boxers that would retire undefeated in Joe Calzaghe at 46-0 and Sven Ottke at 34-0. What was your opinion on both of them?
CHARLES BREWER: Calzaghe, definitely one of the best, gotta give credit where credit is due. He fought the smarter fight in our battle. Ottke? The WORST ROBBERIES I’ve ever experienced in my boxing career. (He would have gotten the decision if it were in the US with Calzaghe. He beat Ottke twice but lost a hometown decision.” – Bobby Watts)
KEN HISSNER: You were 15-2 at the “Blue”. Was that one of or the one favorite place for you to fight?
CHARLES BREWER: Well, not necessarily. Of course I loved the hometown admiration I received at the Blue and that I was becoming a household name there as well, but I wanted to through boxing see the world, and I am ever so grateful, to have traveled internationally through boxing.
KEN HISSNER: I want to thank you for taking the time to answer these questions and also thank you for so many exciting fights you gave to us fans.
CHARLES BREWER: Thank you…… Boxing Fans, for becoming fight fans of Charles “The Hatchet” Brewer.
One Eye & a Bag of Tricks That Was Philly’s “Gypsy” Joe Harris
By: Ken Hissner
In the 60’s the baddest gym in Philadelphia was the 23rd PAL on Colombia Avenue. Such boxers as “Bad” Bennie Briscoe, “Cyclone” Hart, “Sugar” Hart, “Classy” Al Massey, Jimmy Young, “Boogaloo” Watts, “Smokin” Joe Frazier and the one-eyed “Gypsy” Joe Harris trained there.
“I came to the 23rd PAL from the 39th PAL and was one of the few boxers. The others there liked to go to war. One day in order to see whowas the baddest guy in the gym insteps none other than “Bad” Bennie Briscoe and “Gypsy” Joe Harris into the ring. There was no referee or trainers involved. It was only for about a one when police officer Duke Dugent who ran the gym with an iron hand jumped in the ring pulling the two of them apart! Duke yelled at the two and said NEVER AGAIN! You’ve heard of Philly Gym Wars?
This was best of the best,” said Al Massey.
Briscoe was the AAU 147 champion and had a jab coming up from the floor like a sledge hammer always coming forward. Harris on the other hand was as slippery as you could get using angles (due to the eye) with arms wrapped around himself and weaving around hard to hit.
“He don’t make plans because he don’t know what he going to do until he do it,” said Willie Reddish (trainer). Born in Camden, NJ, word is Harris was “bag snatching” on Halloween and got hit in the right eye with a brick! He was a jokester so when he took eye exams he joked and got by them.
I was there the night Harris was fighting “Irish” Bobby Cassidy, a southpaw, who was holding Harris with his right hand on Harris’ left shoulder and he still couldn’t hit him! He had a bald head and could slip punch after punch.
Harris’ biggest win was over then welterweight champion Curtis Cokes in a non-title fight at Madison Square Garden in New York City. He would be asked afterwards “where’s the party?” He replied “ain’t no party here man, I’m from Philly!”
Today Cokes would have been stripped of his title for he was “nowhere to be found” when Harris showed up in Dallas for the rematch this time for the title! There was no ring in the hotel lobby and Cokes was “out fishing” per the local newspaper with picture in a row boat! Harris would move up to middleweight never to get close to a title fight again.
Harris turned professional in November of 1964 in Worcester, MASS, stopping Fred Walker in 3 rounds. In 1965 he went 9-0. In 1966 he defeated C.L. Lewis over 6 rounds in a bout filled with bad blood between the two of them. In May of 1966 he took on fellow Philly fighter Johnny Knight, 14-4-1 improving to 13-0 with the last 12 fights all in Philadelphia.
In October of 1966 Harris took on fellow Philadelphian Stanley “Kitten” Hayward, 22-2-1, stopping him in 6 rounds though coming off the floor in the third round. Next up was Cuban Jose Stable, 27-8-2, defeating Sidney “Sweet Pea” Adams and C.L. Lewis in NY. Then he defeated Cokes, Philly’s Charley Scott and Hayward in NY before coming to Philly to defeat Dick Turner, 19-0-1. In 1965 he lost in a title fight to Emile Griffith before returning to Philly losing to Percy Manning. He would lose to Harris in 1966.
Harris would go onto stop Knight in a rematch in 1967. Then he had the non-title win over Cokes weighing 151 improving to 18-0 at MSG before returning to Philly weighing 160 defeating Teddy Wright, 46-15-10.He would return to Dallas in the co-feature to Cokes defending against France’s Francois Pavilla. Harris posted a win but was at 158 ½ while 3 months later down to 152 in a war against Miguel Barreto, 15-1, winning a close one. Then coming off the canvas in the ninth to defeat Cassidy and win a rematch with Barreto. In February of 1968 he beat Dick DiVeronica, 38-8, just 6 months to his career ending fight against former world champion Emile Griffith, 55-9 in Philly.
Just before the Griffith fight Harris would marry a bar maid in Atlantic City and disappear showing up at the 23rd PAL Gym. “I only had a week to get him back in shape for Griffith,” said Duke Dugent (ran the gym). He was up to 160 losing to Griffith over 12 rounds. His offense was not there but his defense was. His 24 bout win streak was stopped. This fight set an indoor attendance record in Philly.
Getting back into the ring with Manny Gonsalves was to be his comeback fight when it was finally discovered at the examination he had no sight in an eye. The charade and career for Harris was over. It was blamed on a gym war with C.L. Lewis who thumbed him and Harris hit him in return in the “family jewels!” With a blood filled eye it brought the attention of the physician.
This writer made an attempt to get Harris to either Puerto Rico or Canada where he would possibly be able to fight. I was with him at the 23rd PAL with Dugent and we went to his family doctor to get the records to prove he had been blind fighting for some time but the doctor was not there. I never saw Harris again and he never fought again! Harris was one of the most “colorful” boxers out of Philadelphia in their history! He was only 22 and lived another 22 years before dying from a heart ailment at age 44! He is still talked about in Philly gyms this day.
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Louis-Galento: A Hype Master Proves He’s More Than Just Hype
By: Sean Crose
Tony Galento had some kind of left. Just how powerful was the stocky heavyweight’s power punch? Powerful enough to send the great Joe Louis off his feet. If that isn’t a ringing endorsement, nothing is. Yet Galento isn’t remembered today for that left of his. Rather, he’s better remembered for his nickname, “Two Ton Tony.” If that moniker strikes you as a bit over-the-top then it still serves its purpose. For Galento was a master of hype. A product of Orange, New Jersey. Galento looked more like Edward G Robinson than a prize fighter, and he played his off-center persona to the hilt.
Nutrition? How’s pasta, chicken and plenty of booze sound for a man in training? Ring aura? Galento is said to have avoided bathing before a bout in order to disgust his opponent in the ring. Smack talk? A story claims Galento once heckled iconic comedian Jackie Gleason so endlessly during one stand up performance that Gleason, remembered today for playing “The Honeymooners’” Ralph Kramden, tried sending the fighter “to the moon” (needless to say, things didn’t end well for Gleason that night). Showmanship? Galento once fought a bear. Need more evidence? According to BoxRec: “On May 1, 1931, Galento fought three times and won all three fights. He reportedly drank beer between rounds.”
Make no mistake about it, Galento was a character. He also really knew how to promote himself. Here’s the thing, though – Galento knew how to fight, as well. This wasn’t just some circus act come to life, this was a real contender who was a danger to any man he faced. And so it was, that on June 28th, 1939, Galento met the great Joe Louis for the heavyweight championship of the world. Unsurprisingly, Galento played up the opportunity to the hilt. “I can lick the bum!” he claimed in classic, over-the-top fashion. No one, though, seems to have thought the man had much of a chance. Why would they have? It was the great Joe Louis he was facing, after all.
The night of the fight, Galento entered the ring, stocky and balding as always. Yet his manner just before the bout exuded the kind of antagonistic confidence that only a master of mind games can exude. During the pre-fight faceoff in the center of the ring, he reached forward and rubbed Louis’ head. Louis, however, remained gunfighter cool. Shenanigans weren’t a part of the man’s makeup – at least not in the ring. And, like all great fighters, the champion knew not to take the bait from a man clearly trying to make him lose the all-important mental battle.
The first round was something of a surprise. The aggressive Jersey slugger had a crouched, awkward style that Louis wasn’t able to figure out. What’s more, Galento was firing that potent left, which was finding a home on his opponent. By the second round, however, Louis found his range and was able to effectively send his stocky foe to the mat. Galento got up, but by the third round it was clear the man’s less than stellar conditioning was starting to get to him. For Galento’s movements had slowed and his awkward style had become choppy. In short, he was no longer as effective as he had been minutes earlier.
Sure enough, from the look on Galento’s beat-up face, it appeared as if the fight were over for all intents and purposes. Then, however, the unbelievable happened. Backed up near the ropes, Galento fired a perfect overhand left perhaps a millisecond after Louis launched his own left to Galento’s body. Louis went down…to the explosively vocal shock of the crowd. Not that Louis was down for long. Indeed, the champion may not have even been on the mat for a full second before he was back on his feet, ready to fight again (he was given no count). Still, Galento had, if only for a moment, backed up the hype.
And, sure enough, Galento was still able to land aggressively and hard afterwards. He was also able to hold Louis behind the head and punch, as he had previously for brief moments before tough guy referee Arthur Donovan would step in and break things up. Still, by the fourth, Louis’ great skill set proved to be too much. Backing his man up, the champion was soon able to make Galento’s head look like a punching bag. Before the round was over, Galento collapsed onto the canvas for the last time after Donovan got in between the two fighters. It wasn’t a single blow that did Galento in, it was the accumulation. Technically speaking, Louis sent his feisty antagonist to the mat without a punch. Indeed, it was the series of Louis’ brutal shots seconds earlier that led to Galento’s odd, delayed-reaction defeat.
After the bout, Louis took a much deserved vacation to Atlantic City. Long after his run-in with Galento, though, the famous champion was still able to recall Galento’s pre-fight antics with clarity. “Tony berated me something terrible before the fight,” he admitted, “He got to me, and I hated him for it. I never hated anybody before. I decided to punish him before I knocked him out.” Some guys simply have a knack for rubbing certain people the wrong way. Others guys actually love doing it. Galento was just one of those guys who loved doing it.
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STANLEY SCOTT: Knock Him Out or Be Knocked Out Was His Game!
By: Ken Hissner
“He was one of the most exciting kids I had at the Tropicana. He would walk in and knock his opponent out or get knocked out. He was a fan favorite,” said Don Elbaum.
Cleveland light heavyweight Stanley Scott, 11-16 with 11 knockout wins and 13 knockout losses is whom Elbaum is talking about. He was 8-2 when the losses starting mounting up. In January of 1982 Elbaum brought Scott into Atlantic City for his New Jersey debut since Elbaum was matchmaking regularly at the Tropicana Casino. He got a good start going 3-2 in A.C.
In April of 1982 Scott scored his career biggest win by knocking out Salvatore San Felippo, 17-2, of Jersey City in the third round in A.C. putting him into retirement. Scott’s last career win was over Tony Mesoraca, 10-2, of Philadelphia putting him into retirement in November of 1982 at the Tropicana in his last bout there. Scott seemed to have a way of “putting opponents into retirement” like in his third fight when he knocked out Greg Lamour, 8-2, of Chesapeake, VA, who hadn’t been knocked out before.
In 1980 Scott was put in 3 consecutive fights with Len Hutchins, 26-3-1, Murray Sutherland, 19-5 and Jeff Lampkin, 6-0, the last two being world champions before retiring.
Leave it to Don Elbaum to find a boxer like Stanley Scott!
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3 Olympic Boxing Gold Medal Winners in Papp, Stevenson & Savon!
By: Ken Hissner
Hungarian southpaw Laszlo Papp won Olympic Gold Medals in boxing in 1948, 1952 and 1956. When the Communist country of Hungary finally allowed Papp to turn professional in 1957 he was not permitted to box other than in Europe. Boxing promoter Lou Lucchese informed this writer that when he tried matching middleweight champion Joey Giardello with Papp the FBI showed up on his door step in Leesport, PA, questioning his interest in Papp. The fight was never made.
As a professional Papp was 27-0-2 (15), and became the European middleweight champion in 1962 and defended that title six times before being forced into retirement for refusing to coach the Russian boxing team in 1962. He boxed in Germany, Austria, France, Spain and Denmark. He defeated four Americans with the most known being Ralph “Tiger” Jones.Papp passed away in 2003 at the age of 77.His amateur record was 301-12-6 and was inducted into the IBHOF in 2001. In Helsinki, Finland in 1952 he defeated American Spider Webb. In 1956 he defeated future world champion Jose Torres.
Cuban Teofilo Stevenson was the Olympic Gold Medal winner in 1972, 1976 and 1980. Cuba withdrew from the Olympics in 1984. In 1972 he avenged a loss in the 1971 Pan Am Games to American Duane Bobick defeating him in the Olympics. He was awarded the Val Barker Trophy as the best boxer in the Olympic Games. In 1976 he defeated future world champion John Tate. He won World championships in 1974 defeating American Marvin Stinson and in 1978 defeating future world champion Tony Tubbs. In 1982 he lost to future world champion Francesco Damiani.
In the Pan American Games Stevenson in 1975 defeated future world champion Michael Dokes for the title. In 1979 he defeated American Rufus Hadley for the title. In USA-Cuba meetings he defeated Jimmy Clark three times and Tyrell Biggs the 1984 Olympic Gold medalist twice. He defeated American Philipp Brown in 1979. He was 302-22 in the amateurs. He passed away in 2012 at the age of 60.
Cuban Felix Savon won Olympic Gold Medals in 1992, 1996 and 2000. 362-21 was his amateur record. In 1992 he defeated American Danell Nicholson and Nigerian David Izon. In 1996 he defeated Luan Krasniqi. In 2000 he defeated American Michael Bennett and future world champion Russia’s Sultan Ibragimov. He defeated David Tua and future world champions Lamont Brewster and Shannon Briggs. Savon is 49 years-old.
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The Night Joe Louis Became An Icon
By: Sean Crose
Joe Louis is a pleasure to watch. Unlike many fighters who might be considered “Old Time,” there’s nothing archaic about Louis when one sees him go through an opponent. Styles may have indeed advanced – or diminished, depending upon how you look at it – since Louis’ time, but Louis was very much a modern fighter. For he was fast, exciting and very fluid. Footage of Louis shows that he wasn’t clunky, as Jack Johnson might appear to contemporary eyes, or wildly undeliberate, as Dempsey might seem. No, Louis on film is very much a craftsman, and an exciting one, at that. Watching the man’s fights – at least those of his prime – can be truly entertaining.
Although he was from the American South, Louis was very much a product of the city of Detroit, where he was raised. His first twenty plus fights showed just how brilliant the guy was, as he knocked out competitor after competitor. Here was a man who was the complete package, both skilled and aggressive. He was also an African American who white Americans might actually find acceptable. Although such a thing shouldn’t have mattered, it sadly did in Louis’ time. And the fact that the Detroit native was unassuming and easygoing – in other words, the exact opposite of Jack Johnson – greatly helped Louis along his career path.
Yet Louis was about to come across a major stumbling block while he was still in his early twenties. German heavyweight Max Schmeling might have been seen by some as a has been by the time Louis began to rise to the top of the heavyweight division, but the truth is that appearances can be deceiving. A former heavyweight champion of the world, Schmeling was confident he could best the young upstart, despite what people may have thought of his own career. Needless to say, Schmeling’s confidence paid off when he met Louis in the ring on June 19th, 1936 at Yankee Stadium.
For Schmeling ended up stopping Louis in the 12th round. It was one of those cases where an old master comes around and takes a flashy newcomer to school. Schmeling, strong, smart and disciplined, was able to best his man in impressive fashion. Louis, however, simply wasn’t a man to curl up in a ball and die on account of a single, albeit devastating, defeat. He went on to win his next eleven fights, ten of them by knockout or stoppage. But that wasn’t all, Louis also picked up the heavyweight championship of the world along the way, knocking out a game James Braddock in Chicago’s Comiskey Park just over a year after the Schmeling battle.
Louis was, in a sense, on top of the world. Not only was he a thoroughly dominant champion, he was the first African American to be heavyweight king since Jack Johnson decades earlier. And if that weren’t enough, Louis was arguably the best heavyweight titlist to date. Johnson and Dempsey were great, but Louis looked like he may well have been on another level entirely. He was something different – a standout – not only because he was an African American sports star, but because he was an explosive talent, as well. Sure, he had lost to Schmeling, but that was old news, right?
A rematch was eventually set for June 22nd, 1938, exactly one year after Louis bested Braddock. It was indeed an important and significant title matchup for the world to look forward to. Believe it or not, however, it was a battle that would have dark political implications surrounding it. “Because Schmeling was from Germany,” the International Boxing Hall of Fame points out, “the bout took on a broader meaning.” The IBHOF also states that during his career, Schmeling’s “title and image were used as a propaganda tool by Adolf Hitler to demonstrate Aryan supremacy.” And so a boxing match became a symbolic battle between freedom and tyranny.
The battle, however, was over about as soon as it started. This wasn’t going to be any replay of the first match, as far as Louis was concerned. He simply pummeled his man, knocking the former champion down several times before finishing Schmeling off in highlight reel fashion. Dempsey-Willard may have been the most brutal heavyweight title fight in history, but in its rapid onslaught of highly skilled violence, Louis’ knockout of Schmeling remains one of the most impressive – and frightening – in boxing lore. Needless to say, the heavyweight champion of the world had been avenged and the free world had struck a symbolic blow against the forces of injustice.
Yet, while all that is true, a keener eye is needed when it comes to the story of Louis and Schmeling. How odd it was, for instance, that the American hero of a global drama (and make no mistake about, Louis was, and perhaps still is, viewed as the hero) was black at a time where racism was the norm. Louis doesn’t get much credit for it, but – despite his flaws – he helped show his country that African Americans were not only equal to white Americans, but could actually be looked up to by white Americans, as well.
As for Schmeling, the poor guy really got a raw deal. He may have been from a country run by a mad regime, but you weren’t apt to find the guy making plans to round up Jews, march on Poland, or bomb London night after night. Schmeling wasn’t only a pawn of some evil forces, he was actually a pretty decent man. “Many years later,” the IBHOF claims, “it was revealed that Schmeling risked his own life by hiding Jewish children in his hotel room and helping them escape Germany.” Not exactly the picture of a goose stepping Nazi thug. Later in life, when Schmeling was a successful businessman, he went out of his way to help out Louis financially after his former foe had fallen on hard times.
In an age where biting irony is considered the height of sophistication, it’s refreshing to look back on the story of Louis and Schmeling, a tale where irony acts as a positive rather than as a tool of vicious snark. For an African America proved to be the role model his country needed, while his opponent proved to be far from the villain easy thinking would make him out be.
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Everybody Has a Game Plan ‘Til You Get Hit: The Anthony Macias Interview
Part Three of Three: The Gracie Hunter, The Janitor, and Fighting on the Side Shows
By William Colosimo | [email protected]
William Colosimo: That fight at UFC 6 obviously strained your relationship with Albin- but as far as Oleg is concerned, you came back at the next UFC to corner him vs Ken- so that match you had with Oleg didn’t hamper your relationship with him at all?
Anthony Macias: You know, he didn’t speak a whole lotta English when he was here then. We didn’t pal around like every day and stuff, it was just in the gym, and we’d hang around every now and then- but we weren’t really close friends. No, it didn’t… not from my point of view- I had a little animosity towards him- but that was my own fault, you know? I should’ve told Buddy to screw off, and… well, you’ve seen me fight Dan. And then, you’ve seen me fight Oleg. So, you tell me. Did I fight Oleg? (Laughter) It’s pretty obvious if you’ve ever seen me fight.
WC: So basically what you’re saying is if you’re willing to fight Severn, who’s a monster- why wouldn’t you be willing to fight Oleg, or put up a better fight against him, or-
AM: Well, not only that- he had a knee injury. Oleg had a knee injury, and he had that cut on his eye from UFC 5- which was only about three months prior to that- so yeah, yeah, I could’ve… I trained with him a little bit, so I already knew a little bit about his style, what he was gonna try to do. Dan- it was just… never seen the man, except for at the press conference- and just went in there and fought. So yeah, I would have fought Oleg.
WC: Oh, that makes a lot of sense- you knew his weakness with the damaged knee and the cut.
When you trained with Oleg, he was known for that tuck under knee bar and a guillotine- were there other techniques that he had that he was really good at that he never got to showcase in those early fights?
AM: Yeah, man- well, his ankle crank- he’s got a really, really good ankle lock. Not a heel hook or a toe hold, but a regular achilles ankle lock. The day that he fought Ken Shamrock in UFC 7- we were all staying in the hotel together: me, Buddy Albin, and Oleg- we were all staying in the same hotel. It was like a suite- it had two different rooms, or three different rooms. And he gets me up at like five in the morning- he’s like “Anthony, Anthony- let’s wake up and exercise like morning workout.“ I go, “Okay.” He gets me in a leg lock, and he will not stop cranking on it. My ankle goes “pop, pop”- I go “Oleg, Oleg, stop!” And he just kept cranking on it. So, yeah he had a really, really good ankle lock. That’s exactly what he was going for whenever Renzo up kicked him.
WC: He got Dave Beneteau with that in their second match too, now that I think about it.
AM: Yeah- he’s got a really good ankle lock. But his rolling knee bar was beautiful- I learned that quickly.
WC: You went on a tear right after your UFC stint- you were in three different eight-man tournaments, you won all three of them; that was all in ’96:the Oklahoma Free Fight Federation (OFFF) 1 and 2, I think, and then IFC-
AM: Yeah. Okay, well- let me get the record straight here. They’ve gotten a couple of tournaments, but what they’ve forgotten is, for Dale Cook- I fought on a Thursday- (Editor’s Note: 3/21/96) I fought an eight-man tournament on Thursday, which they didn’t get in Sherdog. Won an eight-man tournament there, then I went to Enid (Oklahoma) on Saturday, and won an eight-man tournament there. (Editor’s Note: the OFFF 2, held on 3/23/96)
WC: Where did you win the second one on Saturday?
AM: Enid. The first one was in Lawton, Oklahoma.
WC: Oh, okay.
AM: That may be on Alex Andrade’s fight (record), but it’s not on mine for some reason.
WC:I’ll have to check that out. So then, were both of those shows the OFFF?
AM: They were… it’s the “Freestyle Fighting Federation,” is what the organization was called. It was Tony Holden and Dale Cook.
WC: And was that March of ’96?
AM: Yeah, it’s March, I believe, of ’96.
WC: Okay. That was March, and then-
AM: Two days right before that, I’d fought another eight-man tournament down in Lawton, Oklahoma.
WC: And do you remember any of the fighters that you had fought in that one?
AM:Oh man. I do, man- I’ve got them on tape I think, somewhere. But it’s some VHS shit (laughter).
WC: It looks like here on the Sherdog record, they’ve got you for one of the eight-man tournaments in February of ‘96. March ’96 was the other Oklahoma one. And then they had IFC 2. So you had the one that was uncredited, you said- and then it looks like those other three. So it might have been fourdifferent eight-man tournaments you won in 1996.
AM: Yeah, I did a little bit of work in ’96.
WC: At this point was this your career? Did you think this was what you were going to make your living at? Were you dedicated to the NHB at this time?
AM:Well, I didn’t know because… let’s see, ’96, there still weren’t any weight classes yet, I don’t think. You’re talking to a 180 pound guy by the time now, I guess, and I’m 180 pounds- against Mark Kerr? (Laughter) You see what I’m saying? So, I never got a call back from UFC or anything. I just tried to stay on the side shows, and I do a little work here and there. Had a little fun.
WC:And then after you won those four different eight-man tournaments, you went to Extreme Fighting 3 to fight Allan Goes. That was a frustrating fight, because he kept cheating.
AM: Yeah, dude- I don’t know why he didn’t get disqualified. I do not understand that. The commission was there. I could have bit his ear off just as easily.But I ain’t like that, that’s just, I’m not… I wasn’t brought up that way, brother. I’m not that kind of sportsman. “Aw damn it, you beat my ass, good job, hell yeah, let’s go again later.” You know what I mean?
WC: Unless I heard it wrong- it sounded like after he fouled you for I think the third time, you had tapped-but the referee was coming in to stop it anyway. Did he tell you that he was gonna disqualify him, but you tapped first?
AM: No, he didn’t say anything. I said”Get this mother f-er off of me”- because he kept cheating. He already head butted me a couple times, and fish hooked me. And so I said, “Get this mother f-er off me,” and I guess that was the verbal submission, so…
WC: I gotcha. I didn’t know if the ref was stepping in to stop it because of the disqualification or what.
AM:I’ll tell you the hardest I’ve ever been hit was by Vladimir Matyushenko in IFC. Dude, he hit me so hard I woke up next year.
WC:Is that the finals of the eight-man tournament you fought him in? That one?
AM: Yeah, that’s one of them.
WC: Okay. I remember the second one was pretty quick due to- I think- a cut over the eye?
AM: Yeah. The same eye that he dropped a knee on two months before- which I was stupid to take the fight; I should have waited six months and let my eye heal. And yeah, one punch cut it right back open- same eye.
He hit the hardest. And I’ve been… hell, I’ve ducked down into kicks before. And dude, that boy could hit (laughter). He didn’t knock me out, but I realized after the fight… me and my corner guys are standing there at the end of the cage- most people are leaving, and I’m like, “Where’s my bag?” And they’re like, “It’s in your hand.” And right at that moment, I woke back up and I don’t remember anything in between him hitting me the very first punch, and that moment of me standing there just saying “Where’s my bag?”It started coming back as time went on, but I didn’t remember anything right at that point. I was like “So… what happened?” (Laughter)
WC: So in that third fight of the night, you were basically on automatic pilot once…
AM: Yeah. Good guy though, he’s a nice guy too.
WC:And then a little bit after that, you had the Kazushi Sakuraba fight. Now Sakuraba, a lot of people considered him possibly the greatest of all time. You had a great back and forth fight with him. It seemed like his gas tank might have outlasted yours a little bit.
AM: Man, I took that fight on two weeks’ notice.
WC:Who contacted you about that one?
AM: Okay, there’s this little circle called Andy Anderson, Buddy Albin… (laughter) and if you’ll remember, Andy Anderson was at almost all of the IFC’s- he was the referee.
WC: I wanted to ask you about Andy Anderson. He fought on UFC 5, and then after that it seemed like every PPV you could always catch him in a crowd shot in the audience. Basically, what was Andy’s role in the NHB world? Did he become more of a promoter or a manager?
AM: Yeah, promoter, manager, kind of event coordinator… I know that the IFC that they did in Kiev, Ukraine- he basically paid for that entire show.
WC: What was your relationship with him? I know you said he was a training partner at one point.
AM: I had a great relationship with Andy. I worked for him for eight and a half, nine years- I managed about four different strip clubs- he owned a corporation, he owned different clubs. And I managed four of those clubs for him. We were real good friends, up until the point he went to jail.
But I guess he got contacted by… was it “EC”? Is that who does that, or…
WC: As far as who did Pride at the time?
AM: Yeah, yeah, I wasn’t for sure who it was.
WC: It was this company called KRS (Kakutougi Revolutionary Spirits) I think, for the first four shows, and then they got sold- and I don’t know what they were called exactly after that. (Editor’s Note: Dream Stage Entertainment)
AM: I met a bunch of different people, but I know none of them owned it. (Laughter)
WC: But anyway, Sakuraba… you guys were- in my opinion- pretty darn dead even in that first round. What are your thoughts-
AM: Man, he is a master, brother- he is a master.
WC: That he is. That’s what I wanted to ask you, now that you were in the ring with him- what were your impressions of him? Do you think he was the greatest, or one of the greatest of all time?
AM: Well, you know, definitely one of the greatest- of course. I don’t know about the greatest. Anybody could be: Anderson Silva, Royce Gracie at different points in their career- you know what I mean? But yeah man, he is definitely one of the greatest for sure. Strong guy, stronger than I thought he’d be. Doesn’t have the physique for the strength that he has. He’s got a… you see a country boy doesn’t look real big, but you know he’s been throwing hogs all day, or tipping cows, so he’s strong as shit. He’s got that strength. (Both laugh)
WC:How hard were his strikes?
AM: They were pretty solid, they were good. They didn’t have a lot of snap on them, but they were thudding. They were more thudding punches.
WC: What did you think was your downfall in that fight? Do you think more gas, because it was too short notice?
AM: Oh definitely more gas, and I had… let’s see, he was like a black belt and I was like a yellow belt (laughter) in skill level, you know what I mean?
WC: I gotcha.
AM: That’s how he made me feel. You know he was baiting me for shit with doing one thing to try to get me to do something else- and I was like, “Oh, we’re gonna play chess.”
WC: So he was really good with the feints?
AM: If you notice we were kinda talking back and forth throughout the fight. Neither one of us could understand each other, but we’re, you know…
WC: Oh- was he trying to taunt you, or trying to get into your head?
AM:No, I was like “Oh, good shot,” or “Oh no, you ain’t getting that,” whatever- stuff like that, just stuff you do through the fight.
WC:Did you have anything that you wanted to get out there? Anything I didn’t cover?
AM: No, man, I think we got everything straight, dude.
WC: All right. Anthony, I appreciate your time so very much.
AM: Hey, no problem brother.
The Great Battering: Dempsey-Willard
By: Sean Crose
Jess Willard may not have been a modern heavyweight, but he was certainly built like one. Standing over six and a half feet tall, the guy towered over the competition of his day. Born in the late 1800s, the man known as the Pottawatomie Giant had actually worked as a cowboy and only started boxing pro in his late 20s. Due to the man’s incredible size and strength, he was able to make his mark on the heavyweight division. Possessed of a terrific jab and, according to the International Boxing Hall of Fame, notable speed, the western giant climbed the ranks of the fight world.
Willard really made his presence felt, however, when he faced champion Jack Johnson in Havana in 1915. Fighting in an outdoor venue in well over one hundred degree heat, the fight was most certainly a grueling, if not exciting affair.
Indeed, a viewing of the bout can be rather monotonous, as not much seems to happen – until, of course, the 26th round, where a single Willard punch sends Johnson down for the ten count. Johnson, who was well past his prime and clearly out of shape, later claimed he took a dive. Willard replied that, if that were the case, he wished Johnson had done it sooner, since it was so hot in the ring that day.
That was Willard. Big, tough, and likeable. The guy went on to hold the heavyweight championship for years, but seems to have been more of a celebrity than a truly active athlete. Willard’s one true successful title defense was against Frank Moran in 1916. Aside from that he performed in – wait for it – Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show (which was quite the big deal at the time). He also did some circus work. In fairness, it’s said he didn’t want to fight while World War One was raging. While Willard was having his moment in the sun, however, a dark and ominous cloud was heading towards his direction.
Jack Dempsey was actually born William Harrison Dempsey in Colorado. A drifter with something of a shadowy background, Dempsey brought what could be described as a new style to fighting. Watching old bouts from the late 1800s onward, there is clearly a change in styles when Dempsey (and also Sam Langford) show up on the scene. Whereas boxing was largely an affair which involved a lot of holding in the early part of the 20th century, Dempsey had no time for such niceties. Oh, a fighter could hold Dempsey if he wanted – but he’d actually have to find a way to contain Dempsey in his grasp first. That was hard to do, as Dempsey was violence in motion, a twister tearing apart all in his path.
If you want to see the lasting influence of the man, look no further than Iron Mike Tyson. Similar hair style. Similar menacing, enigmatic air. Similar ring entrance. Its clear Tyson studied Dempsey and studied him well. Both were frightening customers. Willard, however, was the man to beat as America and the world headed towards the 1920s. With his enormous size, strength and – yes – skill, it’s hard to imagine someone like Dempsey, who wouldn’t even be a heavyweight by today’s standards, giving him trouble.
Yet those who argue that a good smaller fighter can’t beat a good larger fighter haven’t seen the Dempsey-Willard bout. Or maybe they just understand that Dempsey wasn’t just a good smaller fighter, but a great one, and that’s what made all the difference. For Dempsey was more than just an attack dog. He possessed solid defensive skills, as well. On top of that, he was hungry. By the time Dempsey stepped into the ring to face Willard for the heavyweight championship on July 4th, 1919, the man was ready for war. All these years later, it’s safe to assume that the massive Willard had no idea what was coming that afternoon in Toledo, Ohio.
For Dempsey ripped into his man from the word go. He dropped Willard not once, not twice, but seven times in the first round alone. That’s seven knockdowns. Of course, it’s important to remember that back then a fighter didn’t have to go to a neutral corner after his opponent hit the mat. Therefore, Dempsey stood over Willard after a given knockdown, only to viciously bang away again the moment he had the chance. It was brutal stuff, to be sure. Dempsey, however, almost lost the fight. After some confusion at the end of the first round, Dempsey left the ring, assuming he’d won. Needless to say, he had to get back before the referee counted to ten.
After safely returning in time to resume the match, Dempsey proceeded to bludgeon Willard for the next two rounds. It actually says something about Willard’s heart and strength that he was able to endure such a savage beating for so long. Even giants have their limits, though, and after the third, Willard had simply had enough. By refusing to get off his stool, he gave the heavyweight title to Dempsey, a man considerably smaller, but far, far more violent. Reports have survived in popular culture for years that Dempsey did seriously physical damage to Willard that afternoon. While those reports were most likely exaggerated, the brutality Dempsey inflicted on the man is still notable by today’s standards.
There was another rumor concerning the fight, though, one which doesn’t seem to have entirely been put to bed, which is far more disturbing. That rumor? That Dempsey had his gloves loaded that day. If true, what Dempsey did to Willard would literally be a crime. Here’s the thing, though – it’s probably not true. There’s no real evidence out there to strongly suggest or even imply that Dempsey had anything in his gloves that day other than his own potent fists.
The truth is most likely that Dempsey simply caught the bigger man by surprise, in the process laying down a first round thrashing Willard was unable to recover from. Willard and Dempsey were simply two men from different eras of boxing – and Willard’s era was just no match for the one Dempsey helped ring in.
More Boxing History
Don’t Call It A Comeback: Johnson-Jeffries
By: Sean Crose
Jack Johnson was not only the first African American heavyweight champion of the world, he was also quite the character. A freewheeling womanizer, Johnson committed the – at the time – unforgiveable social sin of sleeping with white women. If that wasn’t bad enough for some Americans of the era, Johnson also liked to flaunt his wealth and fame. Stories still abound. My favorite? The time Johnson got pulled over for speeding. He offered to pay more for his violation than was required. The officer pointed this out to Johnson, but the champion replied that all was well – he’d be speeding again on the way home.
Needless to say, Johnson rankled some notable people, most especially the author Jack London. While London wrote some great stuff, he was not at all happy with Johnson being champion. Sure enough, London called for Jim Jeffries, the former heavyweight champ, to come out of retirement in order to beat the current champion. The thing about Jeffries is that he didn’t seem too eager to fight Johnson. Undefeated as a pro, the man simply appeared to be content in retirement. Still, there was no doubt a lot of pressure for him to face the current champ. There was undoubtedly a lot of money to be made facing Johnson, as well.
And so, Jeffries agreed to the bout. It’s understandable why it may have looked like an exciting match on paper for reasons that weren’t race related. For one thing, Jeffries had been some kind of fighter in his day. A former sparring partner of James J Corbett, Jeffries had gone on to best Gentleman Jim in the ring twice. He had also bested Corbett’s former conqueror, Bob Fitzimmons, twice as well. Word is that when he heard Fitzimmons might wear loaded gloves into one of their matches, Jeffries said that was fine with him – he was going to beat the tar out of Fitzimmons anyway. And indeed, he won the fight.
That was Jeffries….a man who was essentially fearless. Like John L Sullivan before him, however, Jeffries wouldn’t fight an African American for the heavyweight title. Oh, he’d fight black opponents – just not for the biggest prize in sports. One can’t help but get the impression that perhaps Jeffries was bulldozed by the opinion setters of his time. He’d fight African Americans, but not for the championship. He’d long been retired, but then came out and battled Johnson. Whether intentionally or not, the man looks like he may have had a tendency to head in the direction of the wind.
If that were in fact the case, the wind led him in the wrong direction when he signed on to face Johnson on the fourth of July, 1910. The bout was to be held in Reno, Nevada and it was to be an enormous deal. Papers from New York to San Francisco wrote about the affair, detailing the fighters in training and speculating on how the fight itself might go. The promoter, Tex Rickard, the eventual force behind Madison Square Garden, was a force to be reckoned with himself. Not that the bout would need more momentum than it already had.
Jeffries, to be sure, had his work cut out for him. The man hadn’t had a fight in around half a decade. What’s more, he reportedly had ballooned in weight. A good sized heavyweight in his time, Jeffries had apparently tipped the scales at or above the three hundred pound mark since retiring. It was a grueling training camp, no doubt, but Jeffries was able to shed significant weight. What of those missing years, though? Would ring rust be the story of the day?
Perhaps ring rust could, in fact, be blamed for what happened in the Johnson-Jeffries fight, but there’s just as strong an argument that the end result would have been the same. For Johnson dominated Jeffries. Dominated him. The man seems to have never stood a chance, much like Tommy Burns, the former champion who lost his crown to Johnson, never stood a chance. Jim Corbett, Jeffries old mentor and nemesis, was in Jeffries corner for the fight. It was arguable Corbett’s verbal battle with Johnson throughout the bout was more engaging than the bout itself.
For the once indomitable Jeffries couldn’t even land clean on his man. Once again, Jack Johnson made it look easy in a highly publicized battle. Things finally came to an end in the fifteenth round, when Jeffries crumbled on several occasions at the gloves of his clear better and the bout was stopped. People have referred to Jeffries as a great white hope. If that’s indeed how he was seen that July day over a hundred years ago, that hope was dashed in less than an hour’s worth of combat. Johnson was champ and there was to be no denying it.
An interesting take in all this is the behavior of Sullivan, the former champion, who witnessed the bout live and in person. Ironically enough for the man who had arguably created the color line, Sullivan was quick to let the world know that the day belonged to Johnson, that he was an excellent fighter and that he had won fair and square. This does not appear to have been an act of Sullivan hitching his wagon to a star. For there were clearly those who would have appreciated it if he had diminished Johnson’s performance.
Sullivan, though, simply called like he saw it, and was honorable enough to offer praise to where it was deserved. Not everyone would share Sullivan’s belated even handedness, however. London’s writing regarding the bout comes across as both disappointed and resigned – though he too made it clear Johnson was the better of the two fighters that day. Johnson may not have changed hearts by beating Jeffries (not that he had ever wanted to), but he seems to have changed some minds. The days of the Texan’s success being coughed up to a fluke were over. Jack Johnson was there to stay.