Breland Training Wilder For Psychological Warfare Against Fury
By: Sean Crose
“Going pretty good,” Mark Breland tells me of his fighter, Deontay Wilder’s, preparation for a December showdown with Tyson Fury. “Looking sharp.” Breland, a former Gold Medalist and world welterweight champ, is sometimes uneasy when a fighter looks TOO good in the earlier stages of training camp, for it’s unwise to peak too soon. As it stands, however, the man is satisfied with Wilder’s progression.
Both Breland and Wilder are aware of the fact that Fury presents a unique challenge. Not only is the former heavyweight king after Wilder’s WBC heavyweight belt, he’s also, like Wilder, undefeated and awkward. What’s more, Fury is the rare opponent who is actually taller than Wilder is. For Breland, though, the concern right now is “basically that little awkward stuff he (Fury) does” in the ring.
Photo Credit: Mark Breland Twitter Account
Anyone whose seen Fury fight knows that he likes to play an elusive game by engaging in herky-jerky movements. “He tries to throw you off,” Breland says of the Englishman’s style. “He tries to get a rise out of you.” Breland’s aware of the fact that it’s a strategy that has worked for Fury on a large scale. “He’s not as stupid as people say he is,” Breland states.
It’s common knowledge Fury likes to get inside opponent’s heads before a fight even begins. Breland agrees that one of the reason’s Fury stunned then champ Wladimir Klitschko back in 2015 was Fury’s acute use of mind games before the bout. Men like Fury, Breland argues “want to see what they get out of you.”
Breland, who himself was always a cool customer in the ring, is preparing Wilder as much for Fury’s mind games as he is for the exchange of punches. “He’s going to try everything in the book to frustrate you,” he says of Fury. Breland isn’t impressed with those who run wild in this era of smack talk.
“These guys,” he says, “take it too far.” Breland advises that one should let the adversary do what he wants beforehand. “Just don’t hit him,” he says. “When you hit him, it’s a lawsuit.” So far, Wilder has seemed impervious to Fury’s taunts, which perfectly suits his trainer. Breland, however, is preparing his man for any contingency.
“I honestly think,” he says of Wilder, “if he catches him, he’s going” to knock him out. Yet Breland is ready for Fury to try to up the frustration level when he meets Wilder in the Staples’ Center ring on December 1st. “It can be a long, drawn out fight,” Breland states. Not that he’s worried. “Don’t get discouraged,” he points out. “He’s not doing nothing and you don’t have to do nothing.” In other words, don’t take the bait.
“Just keep tapping him with the jab,” Breland says. “Anything with Fury is mental.”
Interview with Gary Rae: A Painter and a Boxer
By: Oliver McManus
On the same card as Josh Taylor vs Viktor Postol, Gary Rae took to the ring for the eight time as a professional boxer with the 29 year old looking to move up the ranks as quickly as possible. A full time painter-decorator, I rang up Gary whilst he was poolside in Tenerife and, whilst I know I’ve got to refrain from too much of an opinion, he has to be one of the nicest guys I’ve met since I’ve started covering the sport of boxing.
Gary is unique in that his trainer, Mark Breslin, has been coaching him since the amateur days – way back in 2010, when the Barrhead super bantamweight first took up boxing – and their relationship, as he goes on to say, has developed to such an extent their like father and son. The following is our conversation, talking everything from last week’s fight, THAT relationship with Mark, targeting titles and, most importantly, what type of sweet he’d be – we’ll start about sixty seconds in;
… “I’m good Gary, I feel like I’ve woken you up!”
No what it is, is, I’m actually on holiday in Tenerife, we’d book it at Christmas time for my mum, my sister, my girlfriend and my eight year old nephew – his first time abroad – and when they first announced the fight it was a strange one, it was originally the 9th June and then they pushed it back a bit and I was flying out at six in the morning on the Sunday (24th) so I had to get from Glasgow back to Barrhead which is around an hour’s drive, pack my suitcase and then get on down to the airport.
How long are you there for?
Just a week, flying back out on Sunday.
I mean, holiday aside, the obvious starting point is the fight on Saturday (against Johnson Tellez), how do you feel it went?
It was great just to get the win, I felt it was a good fight but I was a bit slow to start. He was working well behind the jab and I feel the occasion was a real eye opener for me, I was looking round and thinking “that’s more than my mum and my girlfriend cheering for me”. It was an awesome atmosphere to come out just before Josh but I think I was trying a wee bit too hard for the stoppage. Near the end I was loading up trying to chase Tellez around the ring instead of cutting it off but it was a great experience for me and he was throwing some shots back, caught me with a couple.
He was only small but he really didn’t stop throwing punches, was it hard to get into your rhythm?
Yeah it really was, at the weigh in I knew he was pretty small but when we got into the weigh in I thought “my god, he’s tiny” and from then I knew it would be really difficult to catch him clean, I think a few times it was hard to get down to his level, I’m used to throwing shots straight, but he was so small and I don’t think I’ve even sparred with anyone that small but it was hard work to put punches together.
He could just roll and step out the distance, I have quite long levers but I couldn’t get the distance for a couple rounds; he was throwing the punches and moving around and his shots were ones that could have been dangerous if I wasn’t fully switched on.
I tried to keep it 1, 2, 3, back to basics and keep my distance, land some nice body shots. I haven’t seen it back myself but my coach, Mark (Breslin), was telling me to keep my distance and not to get involved too close because he was worried about head-clashes and getting a cut. I did end up getting a wee lump above my left temple from a clash of head – it was nothing major, it went down after a couple days.
And this was your third fight of 2018, how often can we expect to see you out in the remaining six months?
I would like to be out again as soon as possible, to be honest, I’m always of the opinion that although I still work full time, boxing is my other job and it’s my full time job, too. It’s my job to always be ready to fight – I’m a painter and decorator so at any moment I’ve got to go and paint someone’s house and I think it should be the same the other way round, I should always be ready for a fit. I’m always fit, I’m always in the gym and I live a healthy life so I am always ready whenever I get the opportunity.
Ideally as soon as possible but speaking with Iain Wilson, my promoter, I think he’s having a public show in Paisley Lagoon in October (6th) and I’d like to get out on that after a wee break but as soon as I get home I’ll be back in the gym; it would be great to have two or three by the end of the year, get to 10 and 0 in my second year as a professional, looking at what’s going to come up next and I’m excited to see what we can really do.
Not sure what’s happening with Josh’s world title fight, I see some rumours it may be in New York, but it’ll be great if it’s in Scotland so I can be on the undercard of a world title fight and that would be amazing.
How hard is it to fit training in and around working full time?
Yeah, I can’t lie, it is really hard to get through but as you say it is something I have to get used to because I don’t have loads of money where I can fund being a full time boxer so I work full time, get up at half four in the morning, go and do my training – strength and conditioning or runs – then I go out for eight, nine hours at work, get home and change my clothes and then it’s straight back out sparring, boxing training, strength and conditioning at night.
Every day is planned out from getting up and I try to get to bed as soon as I can, I don’t like to get to bed too late as sleep is really important for recovery and I always have a rest day…
… I have a rest day every Thursday and I’ll always go and visit my gran, go up and have a wee gab with my gran whilst Sunday’s are meal prep day and I’ll make 20-30 meals for the week ahead so, yeah, it is tough work but I love it, I love the sport of boxing and I’m trying to test myself to see how good I am – that’s all it’s ever been about, since the amateur’s and now I’m a bit older than most people at this stage but I’ll give it a good go.
The fight on Saturday was part of a Cyclone Promotions card, live on Channel 5, how did it feel to be on TV or was it just a regular fight?
No it’s a bit of difference, I felt, my first two fights were in Saint Andrews, in Glasgow, and they were broadcast on STV 2 – so not a big channel – but the difference from there to this one was massive, I felt quite a bit nervous and to see all the messages from my friends and family, I was trying not to think about it but I knew everyone back in Barrhead would be watching and wanting me to win and all of a sudden I started thinking “what if I don’t win, what if I don’t perform well” and I had to get rid of those doubts, my coach Mark was telling me it was nothing.
“As soon as you get in that ring it’s just me and you, nothing else matters, just listen to what I say and box well, try and enjoy it but don’t get involved with the crowd” and I think I did that okay, it wasn’t a bad performance, I’d have liked to put together a few more combinations but I did struggle with his height.
As the interview progressed it was clear to see that Gary was one of those guy’s in the professional scene still doing it for the love of boxing as opposed to trying to rake in the big bucks – of course that would be an added bonus but it’s not the driving factor – and there was one distinct inspiration for Gary in his coach Mark Breslin, himself 15 and 0 as a professional, and a man who Gary likens to a father-figure;
For me it’s so important (continuity), I need that. Mark has looked after me since I started boxing in 2010 as an amateur – he had a good amateur, and professional, career, I think he had 15 fights as a pro with 15 wins – he knows what it’s all about but he’s someone I look up to as a father figure. I don’t have a dad in my life and I’ve got a really good bond with Mark, he’s someone who’s got two children himself so he’s like the dad I never had, a really tight relationship, I can speak to him about anything and it’s good to know there’s a mutual trust and genuine care for each other outside of boxing.
Whatever happens Mark will look after me and he knows my mentality and how much I can endure and that we’re not going to fall out over anything because we know each other so well. It’s really great to have that and not many others have that relationship with their coach, other than when they train with their dad, Mark is just loyal to the end.
If we talk about motivation, what is it that gets you through those dark times?
Sometimes if I’m at work, I just sit there and I’m surrounded by paint and I think “I’m going to have work a bit longer, I just won’t go for that run tonight”, when I sit down for five minutes I just think even if I don’t have another opponent I’m always trying to improve, trying to work harder than the next guy to make sure I don’t get beat in the next fight and that’s the way I look at it. If I don’t do it then I’m not going to perform, I’m 100% or nothing with everything I do whether that’s painting or boxing, I always want to do the best job and I will always give 100%, blood, sweat and tears. If I don’t win I want to be able to say it was by the better man not because I didn’t give everything and I will never cut corners, I need to know I’ve given myself the best opportunity.
Super bantamweight at the moment, is there potential for you to move up or down a weight?
They billed the last fight at featherweight, I’ve no idea why…
You weighed in about 123 (lbs) or 124…
Yeah I was eight stone 11 pounds but I was told I could come in up to nine stone – they told me that two weeks before the fight but, by then, I was already down at eight stone nine so I just had a couple days where I could eat and I was eating and drinking. I’m one of these freaks of nature that can still make super-bantam really well, I’m really tall, I think I’m 5”10, I’ve always been slim.
I tell you what, Gary, I’m six foot and I weight about 7st 12lbs…
That’s incredible pal, that’s a proper freak of nature right there. You’ll know what it’s like, then, I’ve got no problem making weight even if I do eat a little bit so I could see myself getting to bantamweight if an opportunity were to pop up but I couldn’t go any lower. If anything were to pop up at bantam, super bantam, even feather, I’m not afraid to shy away from these fights.
Looking at titles then, how long is it before you’re in the mix?
If I’m honest I’m really not sure, I’m ready to fight for the Commonwealth title and I would like that by the end of this year or even next year. I know it was vacant for a while and I was ready, I’m not sure who had it now (Ashley Lane) but I think that could be a title I would be capable of challenging for by the end of this year. I think Thomas Patrick Ward has vacant the (British) title so I feel Jazza Dickens vs Martin Ward, I think Jazza would win that, and it’s been made for the end of July. I think that’s a while away and I need experience before I challenge one of those boys over 12 but I’ve been doing that in sparring. I think I would need more rounds to mentally tick the box to show myself I can deal with the pressure under the lights, I do keep myself fit but I think there would be a difference in the ring mentally, especially when they’ve been there and done it for a few fights, I think a couple of 8-10 round fights then I’d be happy to challenge anyone for anything that came up.
Joe Ham is the Scottish Area champion (although he lost his challenge for the Celtic belt), would you fancy that sort of level or would you rather go straight in with a bigger title?
I’m quite happy to go straight in purely because of my age, I know I don’t really have that long and I would like to just kick on after another couple of fights and try for the bigger fights. I’m not sure if at 34 I still want to be taking punches every other day, working a full time job, I can’t see that happening but if something were to come up, I’m like every other fighter, I dream of a world title but you’ve just got to work towards it and hopefully one day it can materialize, secure me financially for a few years and enable me to do it a bit longer but I can’t see doing a job and boxing AND, potentially, starting a family all at the same time.
When you do retire from fighting would we see you as a trainer, a pundit or would you want to leave the sport behind for good?
Funnily enough one of my amateur coaches has often said he could see me in some capacity after I’ve finished as a fighter and I would love to give back to the Barrhead Amateur Boxing Club and help out there, bring through some young talent from my home town. It gave me so much and there’s plenty of people in Barrhead who go to boxing as a way out from family things, whatever it is, I would love to help out some young boy or girl have a professional career, or even just some amateur titles, to give back to my club that has given me, and still does, give me so much. They’re always watching me, supporting me, asking me questions and have always had my back. They tell me they look up to me and I’m always looking up at them, how strong some of the guys are, it’s a funny circle.
You were on the undercard of Josh Taylor vs Viktor Postol, did you catch that fight?
Me and my coach, and my second, we went out and we had, part of the deal, tickets to see the main event so we stayed and watched it together. It was a great fight and you could really see Josh learning on the job, it was a great fight, for a boxer and a fan to watch, you could see them both thinking and it was a really well matched fight.
I don’t want to get you to say anything controversial but what did you make of the scorecards?
Yeah I thought they were wide, I thought Josh won, don’t get me wrong, but I think Viktor Postol was competitive in every round so I can see, objectively, where some people like you or I would have thought Postol got a round, I can see why other people gave it to Taylor when it was 50-50. I definitely thought once Josh got the knockdown, the championship rounds were all his. I had Josh maybe 115-112, something like that, three rounds but it was a really eachy-peachy fight.
Do you think Josh Taylor is the best fighter in the division?
Oh absolutely, I think when Mikey Garcia moved up earlier in the year you could have said that he was the best but, now he’s back at lightweight, it’s hard not to say Josh is the best in the division.
And I want to end on a random question, if you were a sweet, what sweet would you be?
What sweet, erm, that’s a question.
If it helps I think you’d be a fruit pastille…
A fruit pastille? Ollie, you must be kidding. I tell you what though, I do like a wee kinder Bueno so I reckon that would be a fair shout – I don’t really do sweets but I do like a wee bit of chocolate; not like bars, dairy milk, but, I’ve got to admit, a Bueno is like my cheat food.
Thank you very much Gary, I’ll let you get back on with your holiday – don’t get sunburnt!
No worries Ollie, thank you for the opportunity mate, I’ll speak to you soon.
I don’t quite know how to round up this article, which is odd, but I’ve got to say that Gary, without doubt, is one of the nicest, most personable boxers I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to and there’s not a doubt in my mind that he has all the attributes for a successful career – I’m not quite sure why his nickname is Razor, mind, I think it should be Gary “Bueno” Rae.
Boxing Insider Interview with Mark Taffet: Claressa Shields is a Game Changer
Boxing Insider Interview with Mark Taffet: Claressa Shields is a Game Changer
By: William Holmes
Mark Taffet is one of the power players in the sport of boxing and has been for the past quarter century. He wrote the business plan to help launch HBO Pay Per View (PPV) Boxing in 1991 and participated in 190 PPV fights.
He’s currently 59 years old, and he left HBO because he wanted to be a part of the next generation of great athletes in the sport of boxing, and help in the development of the next generation of fans in the sport.
He was critical in helping make the fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao a reality, and believes that the place atop the mountain top in boxing is open now that the Mayweather/Pacquiao era is coming to an end.
Taffet also strongly believes that he can have a more direct impact on the sport of boxing through his own company Mark Taffet Media, and that impact is already being felt.
Boxing Insider recently had the privilege of speaking with Mark Taffet about his current involvement with the sport, his thoughts on the Pay Per View business model, the comparison between women’s mixed martial arts (MMA) and women’s boxing, his thoughts on Premier Boxing Champions (PBC), and other various topics.
Boxing Insider (BI): What projects have you been involved with since leaving HBO?
Mark Taffet (MT): I’ve been very fortunate to work closely with Luis Ortiz, who is one of the best, if not the best, heavyweight in the world today. I’m also working with Claressa Shields, who is a game changer and is a once in a century athlete who will not only change the face of women’s boxing, but potentially the face of all boxing, in years to come.
I’ve worked with Golden Boy Promotions, Roc Nation, and Main Events consulting for them on the fights of Canelo Alvarez, Miguel Cotto, Andre Ward, and Sergey Kovalev. I’ve also been fortunate to work with a number of new media companies, some of which I have a stake in, in the areas of podcasting or audio on demand; as well as in some new technology companies that are particularly important in the area of social media and social media monetization, which I think is one of the next great frontiers in the media business.
BI: One of the fighters that you currently work with is two time Olympic Gold Medalist Claressa Shields; but why do you think women’s boxing hasn’t been as popular in the United States as women’s MMA?
MT: It’s very interesting. I think it’s more of an issue of demographics than anything. MMA has been fortunate to appeal to younger fans, very much people between the ages of 15 and 34. Boxing in general appeals to an older audience, in many cases 50 years of age or older. That provided an advantage to MMA because of the more readily accepting audiences at the younger end of the demographic cycle.
Right now, because of the back end of the careers of Mayweather and Pacquiao, and the transition of the sport to the next generation, I believe there’s a unique opportunity for women’s boxing to experience a resurgence, and with a young woman like Claressa Shields who has the talent in the ring as well as the incredible charisma and vision outside the ring, I think women’s boxing is particularly well positioned to have a resurgence and reach the kind of popularity that women’s MMA has realized with Ronda Rousey, Holly Holm, Miesha Tate, and a number of other women the past few years.
BI: Do you think Claressa Shields could become a future PPV star?
MT: If any woman can captivate an audience, which is necessary for a successful PPV, it would be Claressa Shields.
Just today, this 21 year old woman, tweeted out a magnificent black and white photo of herself in a Flint, Michigan shirt juxtaposed against a young Mike Tyson with the two of them in virtually parallel poses, and she used only one word to describe the tweet.
Mood. M, O, O, D.
She has such a sense of the moment, of the significance of the moment she’s about to experience, at the young age of 21 in just her first pro fight, that tweet gave me and the people who viewed it chills. If anything, it exemplifies why I believe she has the unique capability to carry women’s boxing, and the sport of boxing on her shoulders in the years ahead. She has set some very lofty goals for herself. In her mind the words Claressa Shields and impossible never appear in the same sentence and never will. She’s made a believer out of me in a short few .
BI: Bob Arum recently stated that he thinks boxing PPVs will become few and far between, do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?
MT: I had the privilege of working on over 80 PPV fights in my career with Bob Arum. He is one of my great mentors. I have incredible respect for his ability and admiration for his energy. Bob knows better than anyone that PPV is a business of hits and misses; and it simply depends on what product you have on a particular day as to whether or not you’re going to be successful. There are no patterns, it’s simply a matter of the event you have at a particular point in time. PPV works when the fight is like a super bowl, when it’s a moment in time, when it’s an event that will cause people to watch, not individually, but in groups, where friends and family socialize together. Three, four, or five times a year PPV can be incredibly successful, as it has been for the past 25 years, and will be for the next 25 years.
I believe Bob agrees with that. He has fighters like Terence Crawford and Oscar Valdez and others who have the potential to capture the public’s imagination. I believe Bob will see many good days and many good fighters where he will be a supporter of PPV like he has been the past 25 years.
BI: When you were with HBO, did you ever consider televising MMA or the UFC?
MT: There were discussions at times over the past years about televising MMA. I wasn’t really privy to the discussions and the details, but I know that the company has a great tradition in boxing, a great respect for the sport and its history, and a real understanding of the value of boxing to HBO viewers.
BI: What are your thoughts on Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions? Do you think it helped or hurt the sport of boxing?
MT: That’s a great question….
Al is a very smart man with deep roots in boxing. He has a real passion for the sport of boxing, and a real vision for its success. It’s critical for the sport of boxing to succeed that it have broad platforms, and Al and the PBC brought a lot of networks that haven’t been televising boxing, big broad reaching networks back into the fold, and he and his team deserve a tremendous amount of credit for those efforts.
I think that it’s been a little difficult for the consumers to follow the story lines, because of the number of networks and the number of fighters that have been involved, but I think the idea at its core is a strong one and I think that it’s only positive for fans to see more boxing on more networks than in the years past.
BI: What’s your most proud accomplishment in boxing and what’s your biggest regret?
MT: My most proud accomplishment was providing for many of the lighter weight fighters, who prior to PPV didn’t have much exposure and were not able to earn the money that they deserve, a platform for their success.
In 1993 when Michael Carbajal and Chiquita Gonzalez fought successfully on pay-per-view, it opened the door for the future success of fighters like Marco Antonio Barrera, Juan Manuel Marquez, Erik Morales, Manny Pacquiao and Julio Cesar Chavez. And as a result, those fighters and many others in lighter weight classes were able to reap the financial benefits that were previously unavailable to them.
I was very proud to help create an economic pathway for many great fighters to earn the money they deserve.
I don’t really have many regrets. I’m a very positive person. I was thrilled to be a part of a great 25 years of history in my reign at HBO sports. I’m proud of the fact that virtually every big fight that was available to be made came to fruition and was available for the public to view. There were a few that got away, but not many. I’m very proud of the little part of history I was able to be a part of and I really don’t have any regrets.
BI: Do you think a rematch between Mayweather and Pacquiao is feasible, and would you be interested in watching it?
MT: Well I don’t have the contact and privity with those fighters and their promoters; particularly with respect to the circumstances of a rematch that I had when I was employed by HBO, so I’m not in a great position to comment on that.
I do know that fight was the biggest of all time. It resulted in a gathering of fans watching boxing across the country like very few events in sports history. I was very proud of that.
I do think that because there were so many new fans that purchased the PPV that night, that had in their mind’s eyes an expectation of what might happen but perhaps didn’t have the depth of knowledge that core boxing fans had about what type of fight it figured to be, it resulted in some disappointment; but that simply was a factor of the greatness of Floyd Mayweather and the consistency of Floyd’s style when he wins fights.
It’s boxing, not MMA. Floyd practices the sweet science, and as beautiful an art form as it is, as it has been for all his 49 victories, some of the fans who never purchased boxing may have had a different expectation about the rock ’em sock ‘me level of action that might take place in the ring. That simply isn’t the style that got Floyd Mayweather to where he was as one of the greatest fighters in the sport’s history.
What happened that night in the ring was exactly what I expected if Mayweather were to win. If Pacquiao were to win, it would have required a different type of exchange that may have been more pleasing to the fans, but that was a Floyd Mayweather victory like many that preceded it and I think core boxing fans had a great appreciation for Floyd and his skills that night, but some of the fans that were there for the first time experienced some disappointment simply due to their lack of experience with the sport.
BI: If you could change on thing about boxing what would it be, and where do you see the sport in five years?
MT: I would like to see more of the meaningful matchups and important matchups for the fans take precedence over some of the business interests between promoters that sometimes dictate which fights get made and which ones don’t.
But I do believe that with fighters like Canelo Alvarez, Gennady Golovkin, Sergey Kovalev, Andre Ward, Terence Crawford, Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia, as well as the promise and game-changing potential of Claressa Shields, the sport has a great future ahead of it provided the best matchups get made for the fans.
Mark Holmes “Living in the Shadow” But Good Enough on His Own!
Mark Holmes “Living in the Shadow” But Good Enough on His Own!
By: Ken Hissner
Too many times when a boxer has an older brother or even a father like “Smokin Joe” and Marvis Frazier the one who “Lives in the Shadow” could be good enough to make it on their own. That was the career Mark Holmes had following in his brother Larry’s shadow, who was the world heavyweight champion! Mark finished with a 38-1 record with 17 knockouts.
Mark Holmes did well in the amateurs winning the 1977 PA Golden Gloves at #147 and turned professional in July of 1980 when the USA was boycotted by then President Carter. Between July and November Holmes won all of his 5 fights. He made his debut in Bloomington, MN, when his brother defended his WBC against Scott Le Doux. In Mark’s sixth fight he defeated Randy Rivers, 5-1-2 on the undercard of Holmes and Ali.
In Mark’s sixth fight came the future IBF light middleweight champion Buster Drayton, 8-1-1, of Philadelphia in Atlantic City, NJ, with Holmes taking a decision win. “I thought it should have been a draw,” said Drayton. In his ninth fight he knocked out Kenny Hodges, 5-1-2, on the Holmes and Berbick card.
In 1981 Holmes went 11-0 in such places as Las Vegas, Scranton, Atlantic City, Cleveland and Detroit. He was offered a chance in May of that year by this writer to appear in an exhibition because I knew I couldn’t afford to pay him what he was making he said “I’d love to. I haven’t fought in Easton yet.” This was on the show I was promoting at Easton H.S. with 10% of the profits going to St. Anthony’s where both Larry and Mark boxed as amateurs. Being told by Mark I’d have to get permission from his manager, Larry I did just that. I was told by Larry “I ain’t putting my brother on some rinky dink show!” Shame because it would take 6 years and the “last fight” of his career in August of 1987 for him to appear for the first and only time in Easton.
Though Mark fought 9 times in Pennsylvania it was only once in Easton. He fought in Scranton 4 times, Bethlehem 3, Allentown 1 and Easton 1. His brother fought in Scranton 8 time of which 5 were at the start of his career. Mark fought in Nevada 15 times. He fought on the undercard of 8 times.
In Mark’s twentieth fight in the main event he stopped Mike Baker, 42-16-1, in Las Vegas. Less than 3 weeks later he fought on the undercard of Holmes and Cooney defeating William Page. In July of 1982 he had a second fight with Fred Reed whom he had decisioned 11 months previously knocking him out in Madison Square Garden it being his only time he fought in New York.
In November of 1983 Mark stopped Henry Walker, 19-22-1, on the undercard of Holmes and Frazier and I don’t mean “Smokin” Joe. His brother may have counted that as a title defense but Marvis was 10-0 and not rated against the 44-0 champion.
In 1984 Mark only fought 3 times but in 2 of them he stopped rick Noggle, 15-5, in Canton, OH, and defeated Odell Hadley, 13-3-1, on the undercard of Holmes and Bonecrusher Smith. In March of 1985 he defeated Cecil Pettigrew, 20-7-1, on the Holmes and David Bey undercard.
In August of 1985 Mark had his biggest fight against USBA middleweight champion John Collins, 32-1-1, with 28 knockouts while Mark was 32-0. It was held in Scranton, over NBC Sportsworld. Collins had defeated former champion Oscar “Shotgun” Albarado, 57-11-1, Bill Bradley, 16-1, Teddy Mann, 26-9, Lenny LaPaglia, 19-0, Ken Whetstone, 22-1 and two fights prior to meeting Mark he drew with contender Alex Ramos, 21-2-1. So Collins came in with a very good resume. He was taller and had the reach on Mark.
In the corner for Collins was well known trainer Carmen Graziano and the best cut-man in the business Philly’s Eddie Aliano. In the corner of Holmes was his trainer and his brother Floyd, along with another great cut-man from Philly in Milt Bailey. In the first round Collins came across the ring throwing a right hand trying to catch Mark right away. Collins was throwing the harder punches while Mark used his jab well and landing a solid right to the right cheek of Collins with about 15 seconds to go in the first round causing an abrasion under his right eye.
In the second round Collins came out more aggressively landing a hard right to the jaw over the jab of Mark and down he went. It was doubtful he ever regained himself after that first knockdown. Collins would go right after Mark landing 4 punches and throwing Mark to the canvas that referee Frank Cappuccino ruled a slip. Collins was right on him landing a two-punch combination and a right on the way down of Mark. Cappuccino immediately and wisely waved the fight off at 2:05 of the second round.
Collins was asked by Ferdie Pacheco if Collins thought the first knockdown punch would land that cleanly? No I didn’t think it would land that cleanly but I am glad it did. He had a good jab. He was quick you know,” said Collins. Pacheco asked why he was standing right in front of a puncher, “my jab was working good in the second round but I just got caught. I feel I will go back to the gym and work harder,” said Mark. His brother said “I know he’s a better boxer than Collins but he has to be more disciplined.
Mark would return 13 months later at Stabler Arena in Bethlehem defeating Doug Mallett, 9-2. A month later back at Stabler he stopped Brian Porreca, 6-1. Several month later he defeated Philly’s Ernest Jackson, 13-7-1 the end of 1986. He would win his last 3 fights over 3 months starting in Jacksonville, and Ft. Myers, FL, before having his final fight in Easton defeating Jerome Kelly, 8-4-3. Mark was 28 years of age upon retiring from the ring.
This writer will be nominating Mark for the PA BHOF with inductees being known in February of 2017.