The Other Boxing Hall of Fame: Graziano’s Across the Street
By: Patrick Mascoe
Walk into any sports bar today and you will notice they are just generic versions of each other. Often the only difference is their address. Hang a few hockey or football jerseys in the rafters and advertise the next UFC fight. Then turn all your televisions onto the sport’s channel, serve some average-tasting processed food, and you have yourself a sport’s bar.
If you are a boxing fan who wants to step back in time, when the only sport that really mattered was boxing, then I have a place for you. Head to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York. When you are finished there, walk across the street to Graziano’s World Famous Inn and Restaurant. I guarantee when you walk in you won’t be able to sit down. You will be drawn to the many pictures of boxing greats that flood every wall in the place. It is literally like stepping into another boxing hall of fame. The photos on the wall are fascinating: Joe Louis, Carman Basilio, Roberto Duran, and Jake La Motta, to name just a few, as well as a collection of original fight posters including a 1938 poster of Louis vs. Schmeling.
So who is responsible for preserving this rich heritage of boxing memorabilia? A lovely, gentleman by the name of Tony Graziano, who is both owner and head chef. In the small town of Canastota, this diminutive fellow possesses an almost mythical reputation. Born January 18, 1922, in Verona, New York, Tony still drives to work every day and works a full 8 hour shift in the kitchen. So what is Tony’s connection to boxing? He was Carmon Basilio’s first manager. He also managed Basilio’s nephew, Billy Backus, to a world title in 1970.
It is not just his connection to boxing royalty that makes Tony stand out in Canastota. It is also his service to his country and his community that have made him a legend. Tony served as a paratrooper with the 17th Airborne Division during World War II. He told me that being a paratrooper certainly had its risks. On one particular jump, he was stuck hanging in a tree. He was shot in the foot and had to pretend he was dead so that the enemy would stop shooting at him. After they left, he was able to escape. He also survived Normandy and later went on to liberate concentration camps where the survivors resembled living skeletons.
Upon his return from the war, Tony moved to Florida. Having boxed as an amateur and in the military, he decided to set up his first boxing gym in West Palm Beach. After getting married, he and his new bride headed back to Canastota where he set up boxing gyms there and in Syracuse, and Utica.
He was instrumental in the launch of Carman Basilio’s career, but it was Basilio’s nephew who he loved as a son. Billy Backus was really no more than a fringe contender when Welterweight Champion Jose Napoles chose him as an optional defence in 1970. Both he and his managers thought Backus would be an easy fight. However, in the first round, Backus landed a punch that opened a cut over the Champion’s eye. By the fourth round, the fight needed to be stopped and Backus was declared the new World Welterweight Champion.
As the years went by, Graziano’s became the place that the Hall of Famers would go for a meal and a few pints before the official induction ceremony. Mike Tyson was in a few months ago and asked, “Tony, where’s my picture?” “Mike, I have a picture of you up at the end of the bar – but you won’t like it cause you’re on your ass”. There at the end of the bar is a picture of Iron Mike on his back courtesy of Lennox Lewis. Tyson just laughed. Not even the former ‘baddest man on the planet’ can get mad at Tony.
All the while, as we spoke, Tony kept offering my wife and I food and kept saying “Don’t worry there’s no charge.” We had only just met and he was already showing his true colours. It’s probably why all those who work for him adore him.
According to Tony, some of the best boxers ever were guys who never made it out of the gym. They were too good and no one wanted to fight them. Back in the 40’s and 50’s, without a good manager, your career could be over before it ever got started. “Boxing today is not the same as it once was. In my day every kid boxed.”
Tony then asked me to come around the bar – “I want to show you something”. He pulled out a pair of 1922 bag gloves worn by the legendary Joe Louis. That’s what makes the place so darn interesting. Tony has boxing memorabilia everywhere and a story to go along with every item. He is everything that is good about boxing. To the youngest 97 year old you will ever meet, Happy Birthday Tony!
More Boxing History
2018 Fighter of the Year: Oleksandr Usyk
By: Jake Donovan
For the past 30 years, there has been no debate that Evander Holyfield is the greatest cruiserweight of all time.
That was until Oleksandr Usyk wrapped up his 2018 in-ring campaign.
The 31-year old southpaw from Ukraine hasn’t enjoyed the benefit of fighting at home since his final fight as a contender in Dec. ‘15. Each of his last eight starts have taken place on the road, all but one being staged in the home country of his opponent beginning with his title-lifting effort over then-unbeaten champ Krzysztof Glowacki in Sept. ’16 in Poland.
Fighting on the road is hardly a new experience for the gifted cruiserweight, who spent a healthy portion of his 350-fight amateur career away from his native Ukraine. Included among the lot were two Olympic tours, advancing to the quarterfinals of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and capturing a Gold medal during the 2012 London festivities.
It’s only fitting that every championship he’s won as a pro has come against the backdrop of a partisan crowd.
In 2018, Usyk (16-0, 12KOs) entered the lion’s den three times—twice in unification bouts and wrapping up the year with a defense versus a former champ, all taking place in sold-out arenas in packed with his opponent’s fans rooting hard for a hometown win.
His journey began with a trip to Riga, Latvia last January to face then-unbeaten titlist and local hero Mairis Briedis. It was already his third time facing an undefeated opponent in their home country, as he was the first to beat Glowacki (in Poland) and American contender Michael Hunter in the United States.
In Briedis, Usyk would receive his stiffest test as a pro, certainly a far more difficult challenge than having stopped former titlist Marco Huck in Germany the prior September in the opening round of the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament.
The first five rounds were anything but a clear-cut indicator that Usyk would even win, much less go on to enjoy a Fighter of the Year-worthy campaign. He first had to adapt to the brisk pace forced by the house favorite, then contend with a clash of heads in the 5th round which left him briefly wobbled and with reddening around his left eye.
It ultimately served as a wake-up call.
Usyk took over the fight once the second half began, his second-to-none conditioning carrying him to victory. Save for a minor scare in round nine and a final round last-ditch rally by Briedis, the second half surge was enough for the visiting Ukrainian to advance to the WBSS finals.
That led to his twice traveling to Russia: first to take in the other semifinals bout between Murat Gassiev and Yunier Dorticos one week later; then in July, for his finals meet with Gassiev in a bout that would leave the winner as the first truly undisputed cruiserweight champion in the four-belt era.
As it turned out, the hardest part in making history was getting to fight night. The unification clash itself was delayed by more than two months due to Usyk requiring elbow surgery, thus killing plans for a May clash in Saudi Arabia. The postponement worked out in Gassiev’s favor, in that the fight was relocated to his native Russia.
Home country advantage was the only edge he’d enjoy that night.
Usyk quickly took the crowd out of the equation, somehow reducing an undisputed cruiserweight championship contest into a one-sided sparring session in pitching a virtual shutout. Even before the final decision was announced, the immediate question was what the newly crowned World cruiserweight king would do for an encore.
The answer? A third road trip on the year, of course.
For months, the idea was floated of Tony Bellew challenging the WBSS winner—particularly if it was Usyk, who even entered a co-promotional pact with the Brit’s promoter Eddie Hearn. The union led to the finalization of plans for a November 11 clash in what would be a sold-out Manchester Arena in Manchester, England.
Even if Usyk opted to sit out the rest of 2018 following his win over Gassiev, he’d still serve as a leading Fighter of the Year contender. For much of the first half of his clash with Bellew, the risk of a third fight in an optional defense seemed to outweigh the reward.
That was, until the defending champ was ready to take over.
Once again displaying his superior ring smarts and conditioning, Usyk overcame a rocky start—and surprising scorecard deficit—to emphatically knock out Bellew in round eight. A textbook left hand landed flush, putting the former cruiserweight titlist down and out, a knockout loser in what would be the final fight of his celebrated career.
As for Usyk, it was merely the final moment of an unrivaled 2018 in-ring campaign. He entered the year at least a distant second in discussions of the best active cruiserweight of all time (Holyfield) and the best active boxer from Ukraine (Vasiliy Lomachenko).
Answers that were once foregone conclusions now warrant considerable discussion. Everything about the year that was for Usyk changed that mindset—while fittingly also ending any debate as to whether anyone else deserved the honor of being named the BoxingInsider.com 2018 Fighter of the Year.
2018 Knockout of the Year – Naoya Inoue KO1 Juan Carlos Payano
By Jake Donovan
Naoya Inoue’s 2018 ring campaign was the model of efficiency. In two fights, the unbeaten 25-year old from Japan needed just three total minutes of ring time and barely two dozen landed punches to stake his claim as arguably the best bantamweight in the world.
Two of those punches helped create the 2018 Knockout of the Year.
The boxing world was thrilled to learn of “The Monster” offering his services in the World Boxing Super Series bantamweight bracket. His entry was contingent upon his getting past 118-pound secondary titlist Jamie McDonnell, needing less than two minutes to accomplish the feat and claiming a title in his third weight class in the process.
Inoue’s inclusion in season two of the WBSS meant a jam-packed bantamweight bracket loaded with competitive matchups as opposed to most of the first-round serving as a foregone conclusion—at least on paper.
Juan Carlos Payano was three fights removed from his title-losing rematch to Rau’Shee Warren by the time he rolled up for his WBSS quarterfinals match versus Inoue on October 7. The two-time Olympian for his native Dominican Republic and former bantamweight titlist believed he faced enough world class competition in his boxing life to where he knew what he was getting himself into in drawing the first-round assignment versus Inoue.
He even considered it a blessing that he and his team arrives safely from his adopted hometown of Miami into Tokyo, despite the presence of Typhoon Trami which wreaked havoc in Japan, causing nearly $100 million in damage.
As it turned out, Payano wasn’t at all prepared for the level of damage that Inoue would inflict on that Sunday afternoon in Japan.
Only because he normally takes the first 0:30 or so of every bout to feel out his opponent did either of Inoue’s two bantamweight bouts last as long as they did. Payano pawed at Inoue’s parrying tactics before attempting to fire off jabs and looping left hands to the body.
Inoue never took the bait, nor did he bother to change his strategy. Circling his left hand around Payano’s extended right hand, the prodigious pound-for-pound entrant found just enough of a leak in his opponent’s defense to connect on a one-two.
The “two” was a thing of beauty.
A quick jab from Inoue caught Payano on the chin, freezing him just long enough follow up with a straight right hand. It was a shot that the Dominican southpaw never saw coming, pitching at the waist upon impact before falling back and crashing to the canvas.
Inoue strolled to a neutral corner before turning around to see that the fight was already done for the night. Payano’s legs quivered upon impact, before somehow peeling his upper body off the canvas as if he were prepared to continue. The effort was in vain, as the lack of feeling in his lower body disallowed him to do more than roll over, requiring assistance from the referee and ringside physician in being seated on a ring stool.
Not since a stoppage loss to Rey Vargas in the 2009 Pan Am semifinals had Payano even failed to hear the final bell in a given fight. He entered the pro ranks as one of the most decorated amateur boxers to ever come out of Dominican Republic, claiming two Olympic tours and more than 420 wins. Even in his rematch loss to Warren—a three-time Olympian for the United States—the margin of defeat was a single round.
Inoue needed just a single right hand to stake his claim as the man to beat in the WBSS bantamweight bracket—and to earn the BoxingInsider.com 2018 Knockout of the Year.
2018 Fight of the Year – Kosei Tanaka MD12 Sho Kimura
By: Jake Donovan
From early in his career, Japan’s Kosei Tanaka was mentioned in the same breath as countrymen Kazuto Ioka and Naoya Inoue as the type of prodigious talent who warrants your undivided attention whenever he steps into the ring.
A mere 12 fights and three division titles into his career, the 23-year old from Nagoya has not only lived up to the billing but doing so while twice entering the record books. The latter entry—a 12-round majority decision victory over Sho Kimura to win the flyweight title last September—gets to make the rounds as the BoxingInsider.com 2018 Fight of the Year.
Tanaka (12-0, 7KOs) knew better than to expect a clear and easy path to his third major title in as many weight classes. A war with then unbeaten 18-0 Ryuji Hara in just his 4th pro fight was designed to brace the Nagoya-bred boxer for a historic run. His very next fight was a 12-round win over Julian Yedras to win the strawweight title in just his 5th pro fight, surpassing Inoue (six fights) and Ioka (seven) as the quickest in Japan’s history.
By the time he was lined up to face Kimura, he’d already claimed titles in two weight classes and survived the scariest moments of his career. Tanaka—just four months removed from turning back the challenge of then-unbeaten Angel Acosta—twice came off the deck to eventually stop Thailand’s Palangpol CP Freshmart in the 9th round of their Sept. ’17 war, vacating his junior flyweight title soon thereafter.
A win over countryman Kimura would give Tanaka yet another record-breaking achievement, joining Vasiliy Lomachenko in becoming the quickest in boxing history to win titles in three weight divisions. Lomachenko’s off-the-canvas stoppage win of Jorge Linares last May put the Ukrainian wunderkind in the annals of boxing history.
On the surface, Tanaka’s task seemed slightly less daunting. In countryman Kimura, he faced a defending flyweight titlist who was knocked out barely a minute into his pro debut before going unbeaten in his next 20 starts.
Among the lot was a rousing 10th round stoppage of Shiming Zou, a three-time Olympic medalist from China who was also fast tracked to the title stage. Kimura’s win at the time was considered a major upset, although his title reign has proven that the feat was no fluke.
Ironically, no greater proof came than in the 12 rounds of war he was willing to storm through versus Tanaka in his damnest effort to retain his title. The bout was Kimura’s third attempted title defense, having scored stoppage wins over former lineal champ Toshiyuki Igarashi and formidable contender Froilan Saludar leading into the September affair.
Tanaka initiated a slugfest from the start, scoring a barrage of body shots and right uppercuts in hopes of wearing down the defending titlist. There would be no such luck, as Kimura came roaring back after the first two rounds to launch a body attack of his own.
The tactic prompted Tanaka to slightly switch gears, doing his best to create some distance between the two whereas Kimura was determined to force an inside brawl. Both would ultimately have their way, with momentum swaying almost as often as punches were flying.
By the time the epic title fight reached the championship rounds, Kimura’s eyes were nearly swollen shut while Tanaka supported a mouse under his right eye. One last blitz from the challenger seemingly put the fight out of reach, but Kimura wasn’t quite ready to concede his crown.
The 12th round was nothing short of breathtaking, a slam dunk choice for Round of the Year up until Tyson Fury’s inexplicable rise from the canvas after what should’ve been a knockout blow delivered by Deontay Wilder in their heavyweight battle last December in Los Angeles.
Equally as stunning was Kimura’s ability to punch non-stop in the final round of his last fight as a defending titlist. Both boxers were dog tired by the time they touched gloves to start the 12th, but it was Kimura who initiated the action throughout the stanza. Tanaka seemed reserve to return fire only when necessary, but was forced to dig deep to find his own second wind when it was clear that the champ wasn’t about to ease off the gas.
Kimura was fighting on pure will, at one point even punching himself into a circle following a wild swing and a miss. Embodying their spirited affair was a sequence where the two simultaneously threw and landed right hand shots on three straight exchanges.
The final bell came with a two-way sigh of relief and a hearty embrace between the two warriors at ring’s center, where nearly all of the action took place with barely a clinch along the way. Judge Don Trella was stumped to declare a winner, his 114-114 card trumped by that of scores of 116-112 and 115-113 in favor of Tanaka.
With the win, Tanaka joined Lomachenko as the quickest in history to become a three-division champion. At 23 years of age, he was the third youngest ever to do so, right behind Tony Canzoneri and Wilfred Benitez.
Lomachenko led arguably the greatest amateur career ever while considered by many as pound-for-pound the best boxer in the world today. Canzoneri and Benitez have long ago gained enshrinement in the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
That’s already some incredible company for Tanaka to serve alongside, in addition to career-long comparisons to countrymen Inoue and Ioka, both of whom became three-division titlists a little bit deeper into their respective careers.
On September 24, he enjoyed some incredible in-ring company with Kimura—a historic night properly recognized by BoxingInsider.com as 2018 Fight of the Year.
Six of the Best – Unofficial FOTY 2018 Candidates
By: Ste Rowen
Isn’t it funny how quick the year goes when it’s packed with fights the fans want to see? Though with a few exceptions, the best have fought the best, therefore 2018 is wide open for fight of the year. Here we run through just six of the potential winners, starting with…
1. Murat Gassiev vs. Yunier Dorticos – February
It was arguably the most exciting World Boxing Super Series semi-final to call. Gassiev had cut down veteran, Wlodarczyk whilst Dorticos had vanquished the much feared, Kudryashov in the quarters.
The Cuban boxed brilliantly through the first half of the fight, testing the iron chin of Murat multiple times, but Gassiev remained stable where his fellow Russian, Kudryashov, had come apart. Having regained earlier lost rounds, the Russian began to overcome Dorticos’ best moves, which forced Yunier to put it all on the line in search of a knockout, which in turn led to the openings.
In the final round the IBF champ proved his quality, firstly with a perfect left-hook counter that sent Yunier down; then the second knock down with 60 seconds to go and finishing him off with a final 30-second assault that sent the Cuban through the ropes, and Gassiev into the WBSS final.
2. Sor Rungvisai vs. Juan Estrada – February
February gave us another FOTY candidate as WBC super-flyweight champion, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai took on Juan Francisco Estrada on ‘Superfly 2’ in Inglewood, California. In his first fight after dispatching of legend, Roman Gonzalez for the second time, Thailand native, Srisaket came out swinging in his usual rough and ready style whilst Mexican, Estrada went in search of neat openings. Within two minutes of the 12 rounds, a brawl had broken out in the ring.
The action was uncompromising as the two superfly warriors failed to let up for almost all of the 36 minutes they were in the ring. Much like GGG/Canelo 2 (we’ll get to that), Rungvisai and Juan Francisco were at times, able to punish the other, but unable to drop their foe. The action was non-stop throughout, but the Mexican threw much more than he landed in the final three rounds, although the final 60 seconds of the 12th is awards worthy on its own.
It all led to a majority decision in favour of champion, Sor Rungvisai. It’s probably a result of this bout that both boxers have taken two relative walk-over fights to end the year and hopefully setup a rematch for 2019.
3. Deontay Wilder vs. Luis Ortiz – March
One of the biggest criticisms labelled at WBC champion, Deontay Wilder is that his reign as champion has lacked named fighters, or dangerous opposition, then along came Luis, the supposed bogeyman of the heavyweight division, and the ‘Bronze Bomber’ showed the world his best to let everyone know he wasn’t just here to take part.
Ortiz proved he wasn’t all hype in the early rounds as he landed numerous counters and not even a slip could deter him from attacking. At the end of the 5th, despite being on the back-foot, Deontay wobbled and eventually dropped his Cuban foe with a pin-point right hook, that halted the momentum Ortiz had built up. Towards the end of seven, Ortiz landed simultaneous shots that forced the American to lean heavily and nullify his opponent’s onslaught, rather than execute his own.
The WBC champ somehow survived Luis’ blitz for another two rounds before a knockdown and finish in the 10th. The first was sloppy, and more of a push, but the conclusion was conclusive as the ‘Bomber’ just unleashed hook after unanswered hook before the Cuban eventually fell.
4. Jorge Linares vs. Vasyl Lomachenko – May
It started beautifully and ended brutally. With the WBA & Ring Magazine titles on the line, in his first fight at lightweight, Lomachenko looked to dethrone the Venezuelan in Jorge’s 5th defence of the title.
The Ukrainian enigma in Vasyl undoubtedly overtook the early to middle rounds of the fight. Linares was probably coming up against the only boxer who could outdo him for style. The sheer speed of the fight proved difficult even for the most hardened of boxing fans to keep up with.
Though Loma was on top, in the 6th Jorge hit his opponent with a flash knockdown that briefly turned the tied of the bout. Vasyl regained his momentum and eventually got the champion out there, before the final bell with a cruel body shot in round 10, to finish an early candidate for fight of the year.
5. Alex Saucedo vs. Lenny Zappavigna – June
A world title eliminator that became a classic. Alex Saucedo and Lenny Zappavigna went to war immediately. ‘Zappa’ seemed to have the speed whilst Saucedo of Mexico had the thudding accuracy. Not even the greatest boxing writers can do the action justice from round 2 to 5.
Whilst on the offense in the third, Lenny was dropped by a swift hook to hit the canvas for the first time. Testament to the Australian for not only surviving the round but also firing back with fearsome intent.
And then the 4th happened, a full two minutes where it felt like Lenny started and didn’t stop throwing up until the bell rang for the end of the round. It was Saucedo surviving this time, but survive he did, flicking a switch to steadily dominant proceedings into the 7th where the opposition corner threw in the towel to end their fighter’s ordeal.
6. Gennady Golovkin vs. Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez 2 – September
What more can be said about the repeat of Golovkin and Canelo’s 2017 Fight of the Year contender, this time with added needle – not that it needed it – due to Alvarez’s failed drug test at the end of last year.
It was a sensational 12-round back and forth. Both fighters pushed themselves forward and both were forced back. The magnitude of the event was matched with the relentlessness of the action.
Who won? Well, unlike the first fight where it seemed most picked GGG, this time round it was a lot closer, but it was the Mexican who took the split decision in a fight that had almost everything.
So there is, this writer’s, top six fights of the year. Special shout outs to Sho Kimura vs. Konsei Tanaka and Dereck Chisora vs. Carlos Takam that just missed out on this list, but don’t worry, FOTY is essentially meaningless in the grand scheme of things.
Just go watch them again to really appreciate your favorite fights of 2018.
President Donald J. Trump Inducted into Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame
By: Ken Hissner
“Donald Trump couldn’t make it due to his day job,” said ACB HOF President Ray McCline. It brought quite a bit of laughter at the CLARIDGE a Radissan Hotel Sunday in Atlantic City, NJ.
Master of Ceremony NJB HOF President Henry Hascup and Ring Announcer Nino Del Buono did a fine job introducing the inductees. India Mercer, daughter of WBO Heavyweight champion Ray “Mercilus” Mercer did a great version of the National Anthem. Atlantic City Mayor Frank M. Gilliam Jr. also spoke.
The four “Special Contributors” were Trump, Mark G. Etess (accepting Don Hurley), former IBF President Marian Muhammad and former WBC President Jose Sulaiman (accepting Jill Diamond WBC Honoree). Officials being inducted who were present were judges Joseph Pasquale and Jean Williams.
Media inductees there were photographer Ray Bailey, and writers Bernard Fernandez and David Weinberg. Of the four Operations inductees Diane Fisher-Cristiano was there and had the audience in an uproar of laughter and got a great ovation when being introduced. She has been a long time promoter and was most worthy of her induction.
Fighters being inducted who were there were former Cruiser and Heavyweight champion Evander “Real Deal” Holyfield who accepted his award first. He had another engagement and wanted to get going first but took about 20 minutes in his acceptance speech which was a good one.
Mercer got a great round of applause when he was introduced for his induction. WBA Bantam champ “Joltin” Jeff Chandler, NABF champ Richie Kates and WBA Heavy champ Bruce “Atlantic City Express” Seldon were well received by the audience upon being introduced.
Hector Camacho Jr accepted for his father the late Hector “Macho Man”. Two division world champion Bobby ”Chappie” Czyz got a great ovation from the audience and had the them in stitches. He was followed by Vinny “Pazmanian Devil” Pazienza and they traded humorous jabs back and forth. Paz turned it into an R rated event and it can’t be in print the comments he said. He did say his most satisfying victory other than winning two world titles was stopping Dana Rosenblatt (in their first of two fights with Rosenblatt taking the second one).
In attendance were NJ Boxing Commissioner and IBHOF Referee Larry Hazzard, Sr., former Olympic, Light Heavy and Heavy champion Michael “Spinx Jinx” Spinks, 3-division world champ Iran “The Blade” Barkley, WBO Light Welter DeMarcus “Chop Chop” Corley, champ Legendary matchmaker Don Elbaum, Referee Alan Huggins, Olympic and WBA World Welter champ Mark Breland, NJ and PA inductee cut-man Joey Eye, trainer Aaron Snowell, judge George Hill, writers Danny Serratelli of Brick City Boxing, Frank Bartolini of Boxing News, Joe Santoliquito of Ring Magazine and this writer.
2nd Annual Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame Inductions Sunday at Historical Claridge Hotel & Casino
By: Ken Hissner
There will be 21 inductees Sunday going into the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame at the Claridge Hotel & Casino. It was quite an event in 2017 and it looks like it will be another good night.
In the Boxers category there will be WBU Super Cruiserweight, WBA Cruiserweight and IBF World Light Heavyweight Champion Bobby Czyz, WBA Heavyweight Champion Bruce “The Atlantic City Express” Seldon, WBA, WBC & IBF Cruiserweight and Heavyweight Champion Evander “Real Deal” Holyfield, WBC Super Featherweight, WBC Lightweight and WBO Light Welterweight Champion Hector “Macho” Camacho, WBA Bantamweight Champion “Joltin” Jeff Chandler, IBF Lightweight and WBA Light Middleweight Champion Vinny “Pazmanian Devil” Pazienza, WBO Heavyweight Champion Ray “Merciless” Mercer and NABF Champion Richie Kates.
In the Trainers and Cut Man category will be trainers Carmen Graziano, George Benton and cut man Ralph Citro. In the Operation category will be promoters Bob Arum, Dan Duva, Diane Fischer-Cristiano, and Ring Announcer Ed Darian.
In the Officials category will be Judges Jean Williams and Joe Pasquale. Also, Former Heavyweight Champion and NJ Boxing Commissioner “Jersey” Joe Walcott. In the Media category will be writers Bernard Fernandez and David Weinberg. Also, photographer Ray Bailey.
There will be numerous guests including Hector Camacho, Jr., Mauricio Sulaiman, President of the WBC, Michael Spinks, Larry Holmes, Riddick Bowe, Mark Breland, Marlon Starling, Iran Barkley, DeMarcus Corley, John Scully, Larry Hazzard, Sr., Steve Smoger, Dave Bontempo, Freddie Roach, Aaron Snowell, Plaxico Burruss, Eddie Alvarez, Clinton Portis, Jill Diamond and Mayor Frank M. Gilliam, Jr.
Sweet 16 Inducted into Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame
By: Ken Hissner
The 2018 Inductees were announced at the Ring One Veteran Boxer’s Association monthly meeting Saturday by Chairman John DiSanto. There will be 16 boxing people inducted into the Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame in May at their annual banquet.
Heading the list will be former middleweight contender Frank “The Animal” Fletcher, 18-6-1 (12). He won USBA and ESPN titles. One of the opponents he knocked out Ernie Singletary, 26-6 (8), will also be inducted. Both are in the Modern Boxers category. Singletary defeated Tony Braxton, Teddy Mann and Al Styles.
Also in that category inducted are Bethlehem’s Angel Cruz, 26-6-2 (7), who defeated one-time world champions Alfredo Escalara and Saoul Mamby. This writer’s first boxing main event promotion in 1981 with Cruz and Sammy Goss in a draw. Pittsburgh’s Johnny Morris, 27-11 (16), was the PA State Middleweight champion. He defeated Tony Dupas, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter and split with George Benton. Flyweight Larry Torpey, 14-4-1 (2), won a National AAU Championship in 1941. They are the 5 inductees in the Vintage category.
Inducted in the Modern Boxers category are led by Mike “No Joke” Stewart, 48-8-3 (25), from DE, who fought in PA some 18 times. He held the USBA title and defeated Ivan Robinson, Terron Millett, Chucky T and Ebo Elder. Featherweight Tony “Dynamite” Green, 23-6-1 (15), was the PA State champion and fought for the WBC featherweight title. He defeated Myron Taylor, Julian Solis, Tommy Barnes and Harold Rhodes.
Super Middleweight Marvin Mack, 18-8-1 (10), fought for the IBF world title in South Korea losing a disputed decision to Chong-Pal Park. He won the WBC Continental Americas title knocking out “Poncho” Carter. Mark Holmes, 38-1 (17), of Easton defeated one-time world champion “Buster” Drayton, Ben Serrano and Mike Baker. The brother of Frank Fletcher inducted is Anthony Fletcher, 24-4-1 (8), who was the PA State lightweight champion. He defeated one-time world champions Freddie Pendleton and Livingstone Bramble.
In the Non-Boxers category they were led by cut-man Stan Maliszewski, and followed by trainer “Pop” Bates, promoter Mike Acri, Dr. George Bonner and trainer Willie Reddish, Jr.
In the Old Timer’s category the lone inductee was former world heavyweight champion “Jersey” Joe Walcott, 51-18-2 (32). He defeated Ezzard Charles, Harold Johnson, Joey Maxim, Jimmy Bivins and Curtis Sheppard.
This meeting went well. This writers Friday didn’t go so well waiting for former WBC 2-division world champion Danny “Swift” Garcia to make an appearance at his gym for close to an hour with other members of the press. He finally showed 50 minutes late and went directly to his dressing room and was still there at 3pm when I left.
Then straight to the press conference for Saturday’s boxing event at the 2300 Arena. Boxing Director Greg Sirb decided to put the weigh-in in place of the press conference which was scheduled for 5:30 and at 6:30 it was still not started as this writer left the 2300 Arena. When there are obligations made by Garcia and Hard Hitting Promotions pushed aside by Sirb it isn’t fair to the public or the working press but that’s Philadelphia’s boxing for you.
Did Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran Duck Colombia’s Antonio “Kid Pambele” Cervantes?
By: Ken Hissner
The boxing world knew that both Roberto “Hands of Stone” and Antonio “Kid Pambele” Cervantes would be IBHOF inductees someday and they were right.
Duran ruled the lightweights after his defeat of Scotland’s Ken Buchanan on June 26th 1972 at Madison Square Garden. He was 31-0 when he suffered his first loss that to Puerto Rico’s Esteban “Vita” DeJesus, 31-1 (only loss to Antonio Gomez), at Madison Square Garden in a super lightweight match. Duran was knocked down in the first round and lost by scores of 5-4, 6-3 and 6-2.
DeJesus would drop down to lightweight and win the NABF title from Ray Lampkin, 19-0-1, in his next fight. It took until March 16th 1974 in Panama City to get his rematch with Duran and got knocked out in the 11th round. Like in their first match Duran was knocked down in the first round. Duran would sometimes get up to 200 pounds between fights. By then DeJesus was 42-1 and Duran 41-1.
Duran would win 4 non-title bouts coming in at 139 three times and 140 once. In December of 1974 Duran in a title defense scored a first round knockout over Japan’s lightweight champion Masataka Takayama, 21-5-1. In March of 1975 in his next defense it was his turn to defeat Lampkin, 29-3-1, stopping him in the 14th round. Lampkin’s was rushed to a hospital afterwards.
Duran won four more non-title bouts before defending against Mexico’s champion Leoncio Ortiz, 30-5-2, knocking him out at 2:30 of the 15th and final round. In his next fight he defeated former WBA Super lightweight champion Saoul Mamby, 18-8. Just 19 days later he was in Erie, PA, dropping 6 pounds and defeating the local boxer Lou Bizzaro, 22-0, knocking him out in the 14th round.
In October Duran scored a 1st round knockout over Alvaro Rojas, 15-7, of Costa Rica. In January of 1977 he knocked out Vilomar Fernandez, 19-5-1, in the 13th round. Two more non-title wins and in Philadelphia in September in a “grudge match” he defeated Edwin Viruet, 22-2, over 15 rounds. This writer got a picture with him prior to the fight. I have never seen anyone skip rope better than Duran.
Next up would be his final defense at lightweight in a “rubber match” with DeJesus, 52-3, stopping him in the 12th round at Caesers Palace in Las Vegas also capturing the WBC title in addition to keeping his WBA title.
Duran would go onto win 8 non-title bouts coming in as high as 151 in one of them. In June of 1980 he won the WBC World welterweight title from “Sugar” Ray Leonard, 27-1, at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Canada. In the rematch in November came the humiliating loss to Leonard at the Superdome in New Orleans quitting in the 8th round.
Duran would go 4-2 before winning the WBA Super welterweight title stopping Davey Moore, 12-0, for his title in the 8th round in June of 1983. In his next fight he stepped in with WBA, WBC & IBF Middleweight champion “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler, 57-2-2, losing a close 15 round decision by scores of 144-142, 146-145 and 144-143.
In Duran’s next fight in June of 1984 he suffered a devastating loss to former welter and super welter champion Thomas “Hit Man” Hearns, 38-1, in the second round. In February of 1989 he would win the WBC Middleweight title that Iran “The Blade” Barkley, 25-4, held by split decision at the Convention Hall, in Atlantic City, NJ. He had Barkley down in the 11th round. He would end up his career in July of 2001 with a record of 103-16 with 70 by stoppage at age 50.
Now let’s look at Cervantes. In December of 1981 he got his first title shot against Argentina’s Nicolino “El Intocable” Loche, 103-2-14, losing every round for the WBA World super lightweight title. In October of 1972 Cervantes would win the same title from Panama’s Alfonso Fraser, 30-4-1, at Panama City with a 10th round knockout. It was just four months after Duran defeated Buchanan. That’s about as close as they met.
In Cervantes next fight and first defense he won a split decision in San Juan, Puerto Rico, over Josue Marquez, 26-5-1. Just a month later, he got his revenge defeating Loche, 110-3-14, who couldn’t come out for the 10th round due to a cut. Just two months later he gave Fraser a rematch, 31-5-6, stopping him in the 5th round.
In September of 1973 Cervantes was home in Bogota, Colombia, stopping Argentina’s Carlos Maria Gimenez, 72-2-3, in the 5th round. On December 5th he was back in Panama stopping Japan’s Lion Furuyama, 30-5-2, over 15 rounds. Just two days prior to this in Panama Duran was winning a non-title bout knocking out Tony Garcia, 13-2-4.
Cervantes would win three more title defenses starting with Chang-Kil Lee, 22-1, with a 6th round knockout in March of 1974. In July he would knockout in 2 rounds Victor Ortiz, 25-6. In October in Japan he would knockout Shinichi Kadota, 35-7, in 8 rounds.
In May of 1975 it was Cervantes’ time to meet DeJesus, 45-2, knocking him down in the 1st, 12th and 15th rounds winning a lopsided decision in Panama. In November back in Panama he would stop Australia’s Hector Thompson, 55-4-2 in the 7th round. Duran the following month was in Puerto Rico defending against Mexico’s Ortiz. Cervantes was 5-0 in Panama and maybe that is why Duran never challenged him with either he or his people seeing how good Cervantes was.
In March of 1976 Cervantes in his eleventh title defense would lose his title to 17 year-old Wilfred Benitez, 25-0, by split decision in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Cervantes never got a return match. In January of 1982 Benitez then the WBC World Super champion would defeat Duran. After five wins Cervantes would get another shot at the vacant WBA title in June of 1977 in a rematch with Gimenez, 98-8-4, stopping him in the 4th round.
After a pair of title defenses Cervantes would go to South Africa and stop Norman Sekgapane, 51-6-1, in the 9th round. He had another three defenses including two against Miguel Montilla, 33-4-3, stopping him in the second one. In between those two defenses he was in South Korea defeating Kwang Min Kim, 15-0-1, by split decision. That gave Cervantes sixteen defenses.
Next up in August of 1980 for Cervantes would be future Hall of Famer Aaron “The Hawk” Pryor, 24-0, stopping Cervantes in the fourth round at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Coliseum. The hanger-on’s swarmed Pryor to the point he couldn’t get interviewed. Cervantes would go onto win his next four fights before losing his final one in December of 1983. His final record was 93-12-3 (45), while Duran ended up 103-16 70). Both would become IBHOF inductees. What a fight that would have been if they ever met. Duran vacated his lightweight title in January of 1979 after defeating DeJesus in their third fight. He would “skip” super lightweight and go onto welterweight eventually winning that title, the super welter and middleweight titles. He never challenged Cervantes for the super lightweight title. What a match that would be between Cervantes and Duran.
Why Some of Boxing’s Most Famous Fighters Don’t Belong in the Hall of Fame
By: Patrick Mascoe
Being great and being famous are two very different things. However, one of the characteristics that often go along with greatness is fame. Sometimes being famous leads to the assumption that one is great, but they are not one and the same. For example, when a baseball player is inducted into Cooperstown there is certain unwritten criterion that the player is expected to achieve. In a sense, baseball has deemed that certain numbers quantify one as being great. It may be 3000 hits or 500 home runs. In hockey, 500 goals will get you into the Hockey Hall of Fame. In these sports, excitement, charisma, and entertainment value do not define greatness – statistics do.
Entry into the International Boxing Hall of Fame is a lot more subjective. Statistics are still important, but charisma, courage, and bravery are also highly valued. As a result, not every boxer in the International Boxing Hall of Fame was great. Some were just very good. What allows them to be mentioned, in the same breath as the likes of Sugar Ray Robinson, Muhammad Ali, and Joe Louis, are their intangibles.
Statistics can not measure a man’s will to win or his ability to take a punch. They don’t gage fan excitement or exhilaration. For example, Floyd Mayweather is a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame. He exhibited greatness in the ring, was a multiple world champion, and remained undefeated throughout his career. Mayweather also possessed God-given talent that made it hard for the average fan to relate to.
When he clashed with Arturo Gatti, Mayweather made him look like an amateur fighter. Yet it was Gatti who could sell out venues and made every fight must-see-TV. The technically superior Mayweather was labelled “boring.” We as fans could relate to the Arturo Gatti’s of the world. We saw him labour and could appreciate his bravery and his tenacity. Floyd is boxing royalty while Gatti was boxing’s common man. Floyd Mayweather was great. Arturo Gatti was good, but made us feel great.
Arturo Gatti was not a great fighter. Nevertheless, in 2012 he was enshrined into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Gatti was not the only good fighter to enter the Hall. Other fighters also captured our attention. They shined so bright, we were mesmerized and captivated by their talents but failed to see their inefficiencies.
Here is my countdown of boxers who were very good, but not great, who rode a wave of excitement and adulation into the International Boxing Hall of Fame:
5. Matthew Saad Muhammad: In the late 70’s and early 80’s, Matthew Saad Muhammad was one of the most exciting fighters in boxing. He held the WBC World Light Heavyweight title from 1979 – 1981 and defended it eight times. He finished his career with a record of 49 wins, 16 losses and 3 draws. He was known as an all-action fighter, who was incredibly resilient. Just when it looked like he was on the verge of defeat, he would mount a magical comeback and win.
Muhammad was an excellent finisher and possessed considerable power. His one substantial weakness was his permeable defence. He fought every match as if he were working out on a heavy bag: all offense – no defence. His style made him fun to watch, but it also made him very easy to hit. Every fight, no matter how strong or weak the opposition, was a life and death struggle.
When we break down what Muhammad did in the ring, you have to wonder why he is in the International Boxing Hall of Fame. First of all, he lost a quarter of his fights. Yes, eight of his losses came at the end of his career, but they are still losses. Almost twenty fights into his professional career; he was still being matched against fighters with losing records. Even after winning a world title and right up to his retirement, he fought boxers with losing records.
Muhammad did defend his title eight times. However, none of those title challengers stood out as being exceptional. In one of his most illustrious fights, in 1980, against Yaqui Lopez, he was hit with twenty unanswered punches. He was on the verge of having the fight stopped, only to come back and knock out Lopez in the 14th round. Ring Magazine declared it the “Fight of the Year.” Yaqui Lopez was a solid fighter but he was a fighter who, during his career, challenged for a world title five times and lost all five fights.
The only truly great fighter Muhammad ever faced was Dwight Muhammed Qawi. They fought twice. Qawi won the first match and took Muhammad’s Light Heavyweight Title by way of a ten round TKO. In the return match, Qawi won again, this time in six.
Muhammad defeated a number of good fighters, but he never beat a great fighter. Many of his victories were against weaker competition and when he did fight good fighters, he had his hands full. He also lost 16 times during his career. Did he have the heart of a champion? Was he entertaining? Was he incredibly courageous? Yes. Yes. Yes. Was he a great fighter? No.
4. Arturo Gatti: He was known as an absolutely fearless all-action fighter. Much like Matthew Saad Muhammad, Gatti had a supernatural ability to endure punishment while always pressing forward. He held the IBF Jr. Lightweight Title from 1995-1998 and the WBC Super Lightweight Title from 2004-2005. He retired with a record of 40 – 9.
Gatti was involved in the Ring’s “Fight of the Year” on four different occasions. He defeated Gabriel Ruelas, was defeated by Ivan Robinson, and had both a victory and a loss against Micky Ward. These fights were character defining, monumental battles for Gatti, but the men he faced were themselves not great boxers. They were like him, good solid professionals.
His will, power, and iron chin always made him a formidable opponent. However, he was easy to hit and was often out-boxed even in victory. In Gatti’s first defence of his IBF Junior Lightweight Title against Wilson Rodriguez, he was completely schooled and had been taking a hellacious beating before coming back to stop Rodriguez in a desperation finish. Against Angel Manfredy, another good fighter, but never a champion, Gatti was again completely out boxed and the fight was stopped in the eighth round.
When Gatti actually faced Hall of Fame level competition, he came up considerably short. He fought Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather. Neither fight was even close. Against Oscar, the fight was stopped in five rounds and against Floyd, the fight was stopped in six. These outcomes showed that although Arturo was a great fighter to watch, he simply did not posses the same calibre of skill as the elite fighters of the day.
Arturo Gatti may very well have been one of the most exciting fighters of his generation. He possessed a great chin, great power, and a great heart. Despite those valiant qualities, he was not one of the all-time greatest boxers in history.
3. Ray Mancini: If you judged Mancini only by his boxing style, you would swear that he and Arturo Gatti came from the same family. Like Gatti, Mancini was an in your face, aggressive pressure fighter. He had decent power and a granite chin. Whatever he lacked in skill, he made up for with unbelievable heart. Mancini held the WBA Lightweight Title from 1982-1984 and retired with a record of 29 – 5.
Mancini garnered national attention, not only for his entertaining fighting style, but because of a heart-rending background story. His father, veteran boxer Lenny “Boom Boom” Mancini, missed his opportunity to fight for a world title because of WWII. Ray, who idolized his father, took up boxing with the idea that he could finish what his father had started.
After compiling a 20-0 record, Mancini was given the opportunity to fight for a world title. Unfortunately, it was against Hall of Famer Alexis Arguello, arguably one of the greatest boxers of his era. Mancini fought bravely and took the fight to Arguello, but was eventually stopped in the 14th round. For the media and for boxing fans, this only made Mancini’s story more compelling. He won his next two fights and was again given a title shot, this time against Arturo Frias for the WBA Lightweight Title.
Mancini stopped Frias in the first round after almost being stopped himself. His fairy tale life story had now taken on the happy ending that all fans had wished for. Along with being a good fighter, Mancini always appeared to be a genuinely good guy. He went on to defend his title four times against the likes of Ernesto Espana, Duk-koo Kim, Orlando Romero, and Bobby Chacon and fought two non-title fights against George Feeney and Johnny Torres. Bobby Chacon was the only recognizable fighter Mancini faced as champion, and he was a natural featherweight who had moved up in weight for this fight. This would be Mancini’s last professional victory.
Eventually, Mancini lost his title, as well as a rematch to Livingston Bramble. He then lost bouts to Hector Camacho and Greg Haugen before retiring. Mancini was both exciting and entertaining. During his career he faced off against three Hall of Famers. He lost to two of them and defeated one. Mancini’s sentimental story was greater than his skills. I can’t help but think that without the story, he wouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame. Instead, he would be regarded as being very similar to the likes of Vinny Pazienza, an entertaining fighter who is on the outside of the Hall looking in.
2. Prince Naseem Hamed: He was known for his elaborate ring entrances, his unorthodox boxing style, and his one punch knock out power. Nassem reigned as the WBO Featherweight Champion from 1995 – 2000. He retired from boxing with an impeccable record of 36-1. Always a polarizing figure, some feel he was one of the greatest featherweights of all time, while others including his former promoter see him as one of boxing’s greatest underachievers.
Prince Naseem’s story is not about what he accomplished, but rather about what he never tried to accomplish. He defended his WBO Title a total of fifteen times. This was back in a time when the WBO was even more insignificant than it is now. His resume of title defences was a who’s who of no-name, average fighters; Said Lawal, Daniel Alicea, Remigio Molina, Tom Johnson, and Jose Badillo. Prince Naseem never fought the best fighters available at the time of his reign. The fighters he never faced tell us more about him than the fighters he defeated; Azumah Nelson, Jeff Fenech, Gabriel Ruelas, Arturo Gatti, Erik Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Diego Corrales, and Johnny Tapia.
Prince Naseem fought the vast majority of his fights in the UK, where fans obviously seemed unbothered by the lack of aggressive matchmaking. It was only when he came to the United States that the Prince was really tested. He knocked out a very good opponent in Kevin Kelly in the 4th round of their epic battle at Madison Square Gardens. Despite the victory, Kelly was able to expose Naseem’s defensive shortcomings as he put him on the canvas three times.
In 2001, Prince Naseem finally engaged in a high profile fight against a world-class opponent, Marco Antonio Barrera. Barrera had agreed to move up in weight in order to fight the larger Naseem. How did the Prince fare against a legitimate Hall of Fame fighter? He was given a complete boxing lesson. Not only did Barrera beat Prince Naseem physically, it looked like he beat the will to fight right out of him. When Barrera lost to Junior Jones, he demanded an immediate rematch. When he lost to Erik Morales he came back and fought him two more times. What did Prince Naseem do after losing to Barrera? He fought someone named Manuel Calvo, was booed by his hometown fans for his poor performance, and never boxed again.
Prince Naseem was far more flash than substance. Yes, he had a great record, but so did Butterbean. It’s not his many victories over subpar opponents that we should measure him by. It is his one loss and all the fighters he avoided that really define his legacy. Yes, he was famous, more for his ring entrances than anything else. That should get him on “Dancing with the Stars”, but not in the Boxing Hall of Fame.
1. Mike Tyson – From 1985 – 2005, Mike Tyson was the biggest name in boxing. Much like Prince Naseem, Tyson was a polarizing figure, both inside and outside of the ring. Once dubbed “the baddest man on the planet”, Tyson was the Heavyweight Champion from 1986-1990 and again in 1996. He was an intimidating force who possessed great power and fought like a ravenous predator. Tyson was well on his way to greatness. He became the youngest man ever to hold the heavyweight title and by February 10, 1990, he had a record of 37-0 with 33 knock outs.
Dramatically, the very next day, everything would change for Tyson and his cloak of invincibility would be shredded by Buster Douglas. Douglas was a tall rangy fighter with an excellent jab. He was a skilled fighter who often lacked motivation, yet against Tyson he refused to be intimidated. Despite being a 42-1 underdog, Douglas knocked Tyson out in the 10th round. It was at this point in his career that Tyson’s quest for greatness ended. No longer the intimidating figure he once was, his life began to fall apart.
He engaged in, and won two tough fights against Razor Ruddock. Then in July of 1991, he was arrested and convicted of rape. He spent the next three years incarcerated at the Plainfield Correctional Facility. Upon his release, he returned to the ring and defeated Frank Bruno to become the WBC Heavyweight Champion. The victory helped set up a much anticipated and long awaited fight against Evander Holyfield.
Going into the Holyfield fight, Tyson was considered a heavy favourite. Evander Holyfield was 34 years old and was thought to be washed up. Much like Buster Douglas, Holyfield was not apprehensive about facing Iron Mike and his celebrated reputation. By the end of the night, it was Holyfield’s reputation that had been boosted after stopping Tyson in the 11th round.
Their immediate rematch lasted only three rounds. Tyson bit Holyfield’s ear not once, but twice and was subsequently disqualified. This was the action of a man who chose quitting over fighting. As a result of his actions, Tyson had become a pariah. Numerous boxing commissions refused to grant him a license to box. In 2002, in Pyramid Arena in Memphis, Tyson once again challenged for the heavyweight title. This time he faced off against Lennox Lewis. Lewis dominated the match, winning by knockout in the 8th.
Throughout his career, Tyson fought four Hall of Fame fighters. He defeated Michael Spinks, a great light heavyweight masquerading as a heavyweight and a well past his prime Larry Holmes, who came out of retirement for an appealing pay cheque. He was thoroughly beaten by Lennox Lewis and lost to Evander Holyfield twice – once by knockout and once by disqualification (which was nothing more than a way to quit rather than being knocked out again).
Why is Mike Tyson in the Hall of Fame? The most memorable thing he ever did in a ring was to bite a man’s ear off. Tyson had a great start to his career however, along the way he was exposed as nothing more than a bully and a quitter. Tyson did not just quit against Holyfield. He also quit in the last fight of his career against journey man boxer Kevin McBride. Tyson could have been great; in the end I don’t believe he was even one of the top three best heavyweight fighters of his era. Lennox Lewis, Evander Holyfield, and Riddick Bowe were all superior to Tyson.
In conclusion, all five fighters mentioned on this list had one thing in common; they were aggressive warriors that endeared themselves to boxing fans. They were all great to watch, but they themselves were not necessarily great. Based on the intangible qualities of courage, bravery, and determination, I believe there is an argument to be made on behalf of Matthew Saad Muhammad, Arturo Gatti, and Ray Mancini, being in the Hall of Fame. However, there should be no room in the Boxing Hall of Fame for imposters like Prince Naseem Hamad and quitters like Mike Tyson, no matter how famous they were.
Is Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko 2017 Fighter of the Year?
By: Ken Hissner
The two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Ukranian Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko, 10-1, living in Oxnard, CA, moved up from holding the WBO Featherweight title to defeating WBO World Super featherweight Roman Martinez in June of 2016, and defeating in his first defense the former WBA Super World featherweight champion Jamaican Nicholas “Axe Man” Walters, 26-0-1 by stoppage in 7 rounds.
In Lomchenko’s second defense in 2017 in April defeated WBA World Super featherweight champion (his title not at stake) Jason “El Canito” Sosa, 20-1-4, of Camden, NJ, stopping him in the 9th round at the MGM National Harbor, in Oxon Hill, MD, stopping Sosa’s 17 fight winning streak.
In Lomachenko’s third defense in August he stopped Colombian Miguel Marriaga, 25-2, in the 7th round, at the Microsoft Theater, in Los Angeles, CA.
In December Lomachenko in his fourth defense stopped the former two-time Olympic Gold Medalist, WBO World Super bantamweight and WBA Super World bantamweight champion Cuban Guillermo “The Jackal” Rigondeaux, 17-0, in the 6th round.
Lomachenko was 396-1 in the amateurs while Rigondeaux was 463-12. This was a major event having a pair of two-time Olympic Gold Medalists meeting one another.
Lomachenko is now considering seeking moving up the lightweight to gain his third division world title. Egis Klimas is his manager who also has WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev, of Russia, living in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, among many other boxers and promoted by Top Rank.
Another considered for “Fighter of the Year” was Anthony “A.J.” Joshua, 20-0, in April, defending his WBA Super world heavyweight title stopping former Super World heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, 64-4, and stopping Carlos Takam, 35-3-1, in a not too impressive defense.
Also considered was IBF, WBA and WBC middleweight Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, 37-0-1, of KAZ, living in L.A. who in March defeated former WBA World Middleweight champion Danny “Miracle Man” Jacobs, 32-1, at Madison Square Garden, in NY and in September getting robbed being held to a split decision draw by former WBO World Super welterweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, 49-1-1, at the T-Mobile Arena, in Las Vegas, NV.
Boxing Insider Notebook: Groves, Arum, Holyfield, Hernandez, Eubank, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of November 21st to November 28th; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Holyfield and Arum Headline 2018 Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame Class
Evander Holyfield and Bob Arum headline the 2018 inductees into the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame.
The Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame (ACBHOF) has announced its 25 member 2018 Induction Class, which also includes President Donald J. Trump. This epic event will take place at The Claridge, a Radisson Hotel located at Park Place & Boardwalk in Atlantic City, New Jersey on June 1 – 3, 2018.
Atlantic City, New Jersey Mayor-Elect Frank M. Gilliam Jr. commented, “The future of boxing in Atlantic City is brighter than ever. Being the newly elected Mayor of the City of Atlantic City, New Jersey it gives me great honor to be a part of bringing the 2nd Annual Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame Induction Weekend back to our Great City. I believe boxing and Atlantic City has always been a natural fit and we see it returning to its glory days, and under my administration, we plan on welcoming it back wholeheartedly: Congratulations to the ACBHOF “2018” Inductees!”
The Claridge Hotel serves as the signature Corporate Sponsor for this knockout weekend, “The Claridge is proud to be in partnership with the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame and to continue to promote professional boxing’s exceptional history in Atlantic City,” says Cem Erenler, Vice President/ Operations & Business Development for TMJ Properties, the owner and developer of The Claridge. The iconic hotel, which is now part of the global Radisson brand first opened in 1930. “Hosting this signature event is in the best traditions of The Claridge, which for more than 80 years has been Atlantic City’s center for exciting events in sports and entertainment,” Mr. Erenler said.
Evander Holyfield stated: “I have many great memories fighting in Atlantic City, and I am honored to be inducted into its Hall of Fame.”
The 2nd Annual Induction Ceremony & Celebration Weekend will honor some of the world’s most prominent trailblazers from the sport of boxing: President Donald J. Trump, José Sulaimán, and Bob Arum are just a few names who will be enshrined with the 2018 induction class. Also expected to be in attendance; current and former boxing champions, and VIP Guests for a fun-filled weekend that’s highlighted by a black-tie evening, and the acclaimed, unforgettable Induction Ceremony.
“The Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame is here to stay! The epic success of our 2017 Inaugural Induction weekend was pivotal to our brand value in the boxing and business community,” said Rodrick Green Vice President and Business Strategist for ACBHOF. “We are excited about the economic and sports entertainment impact the ACBHOF will continue to have in Atlantic City. Thank you for your support and be reassured that at the 2018 Induction Celebration the bar will be raised even higher.
Over the next several weeks there will be updates on the schedule of events, room packages and expected VIP appearances on the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame and the Claridge Hotel websites and social media platforms.
“We’re excited about the ACBHOF 2018 Induction Class; I believe our nomination committee did an incredible job in selecting a diverse and richly deserving group of individuals. I’m extremely proud of this class because it contains three remarkable women: Diane Fischer-Cristiano, Jean Williams, and Marian Muhammad. The ACBHOF team along with our partners and sponsors are looking forward to June where we will pay homage to our 2018 inductees,” said Ray McCline ACBHOF President and Founder.
Tickets for Groves-Eubank Jr. Sold Out in Seven Minutes
It took seven minutes to sell out the Ali Trophy semi-final bout between WBA Super World Champion George Groves (27-3, 20 KOs) and IBO-Champ Chris Eubank Jr. (26-1,20 KOs) at the Manchester Arena on February 17, 2018.
Europe’s largest purpose-built indoor arena will be at capacity to witness what promises to be the biggest Super Middleweight night in years.
“This is a sensational start to the semi-finals of the World Boxing Super Series and the quest for the Muhammad Ali Trophy,” said Roberto Dalmiglio, Comosa’s CEO.
“I said before we went on sale that the fight between Groves and Eubank Jr. represents the boxing event fans cannot afford to miss, and I am happy to say that I was right.”
Said Kalle Sauerland, Comosa’s Chief Boxing Officer: “This is clearly the fight everyone wanted and I am sure this super-fight will capture not only a nation but a generation of fight fans.”
“The build-up is going to be huge and we can’t wait to go to Manchester for a sold out event between two spectacular rivals and world-class fighters.”
“We will work hard over the coming weeks to release extra tickets to meet the huge demand for this fight.”
The build-up to the all-British grudge match begins today when Groves and Eubank Jr. come face-to-face at a kickoff press conference at 2 pm in London.
ITV will be live streaming the press conference on ITV Box Office, YouTube and Facebook.
The Ali Trophy super middleweight semi-final between George Groves and Chris Eubank Jr. will be live on ITV Box Office on February 17.
Lucas Matthysse and Jorge Linares to Headline HBO Card at Los Angeles Forum
Two of the world’s most exciting fighters, Lucas “La Maquina” Matthysse (38-4, 35 KOs) and Jorge “El Nino De Oro” Linares (43-3, 27 KOs), will kick off the 2018 boxing year with a bang as they compete in separate world championship bouts on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018 at the “Fabulous” Forum in Inglewood, California. This special double main event will be televised live on HBO Boxing After Dark beginning at 10:20 p.m. ET/PT.
The first co-main event will see the 35-year-old Matthysse, an absolutely thunderous puncher out of Chubut, Argentina, facing undefeated Thai superstar Tewa Kiram (38-0. 28 KOs) in a 12-round battle for the vacant WBA Welterweight World Championship.
“I am honored to be able to fight for a world championship in just my second fight at welterweight,” said Matthysse, a former interim world champion at 140 pounds who has defeated the likes of former two-division champion Lamont “Havoc” Peterson, formerWBO Junior Welterweight Champion Ruslan “The Siberian Rocky” Provodnikov and former three-division titlist Humberto “La Zorrita” Soto. “I understand I am facing a younger, undefeated opponent, but I am confident that ‘The Machine’ will emerge victorious.”
Since turning pro at the age of 15, Kiram has torn through an astounding 38 opponents, with 28 of them never hearing the final bell. He won the interim PABA Welterweight Championship in just his sixth fight and defended it – and the full PABA Welterweight title – more than 30 times over seven years. This will mark his first fight outside of Thailand.
“I understand not many people know me in the U.S., but they are in for a big surprise on Jan. 27,” Kiram said. “I have never been defeated, and I am fully confident that I will return to Thailand with the WBA Welterweight World Championship around my waist.”
In the second co-main event, Linares, a 32-year-old Venezuelan considered one of the top fighters in the world, will make his second trip to the ‘Fabulous’ Forum in a row to defend his multiple lightweight world championships against the once-defeated Mercito “No Mercy” Gesta (31-1-2, 17 KOs).
“I have travelled all over the world to win and defend my titles, and I am looking forward to having my hand raised in victory once again in America,” said Linares, the three-division world champion who holds victories over world champions and contenders such as Anthony “Million Dollar” Crolla, Kevin “Mighty” Mitchell and Gamaliel “El Platano” Diaz. “I know that Gesta has speed and power, but he hasn’t been at this level before, and on Jan. 27, he’ll know what it’s like to face a world champion.”
Gesta, a 30-year-old from the Philippines, has not tasted defeat in six fights, beating quality opponents including Gilberto “El Flaco” Gonzalez and former contender Martin “El Brochas” Honorio. Gesta is getting his second shot at a world championship more than five years after dropping a unanimous decision to Miguel “Titere” Vazquez for the IBF World Lightweight Championship.
“I know firsthand how long it takes to get a shot at a world championship, and I will not allow this opportunity to pass me by,” Gesta said. “I understand Linares is a great fighter, but I know I have the skills, speed, power, and great coaching which will get my hand raised in victory.”
“What a way to kick of 2018 – with two of the top fighters in the sport taking on younger, hungry challengers,” said Oscar De La Hoya, CEO and Chairman of Golden Boy Promotions. “It’s not often you get two main events on one card, but that is what we will have on Jan. 27 at the “Fabulous” Forum. This card will help keep the momentum that boxing established in 2017.”
“This is a very important fight for Argentine boxing, for Lucas Matthysse and for Arano Box,” said Mario Arano of Arano Boxing. “Matthysse is ready to be a world champion, and we are more than sure that his win will make huge waves throughout the entirety of the Republic of Argentina and South America.”
“Thailand has never had a Welterweight World champion before,” said Taweesin Terry Laosuwanwat, Manager and Promoter of Kiram. “We are making history here, and Tewa [Kiram] will do anything to win this fight. Tewa has never lost before, and he will keep his undefeated record against Matthysse.”
The remainder of the undercard and the ticket information for this stacked event will be announced shortly.
Jose Lopez to Take on Avery Sparrow in New Co-Main Event on November 30th ESPN Show
Super featherweight contender José “Wonder Boy” López (18-1-1, 13 KOs) of Carolina, Puerto Rico will now take on Avery Sparrow (8-1, 3 KOs) in the new co-main event of the Nov. 30 edition of Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN at the MGM National Harbor in Maryland. The event will also feature the headlining debut of Lamont Roach, Jr. (15-0, 6 KOs) as he defends his WBC Youth Super Featherweight Title against Rey “Flash” Pérez (21-8, 6 KOs) in the 10-round main event. ESPN3 (English) and ESPN Deportes (Spanish) will air the fights live at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT. Undercard will stream on ESPN3 at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT. ESPN2 will air the fight at 11 p.m.ET/8 p.m. PT.
López, a 23-year-old contender who is coming off a four-fight win streak, has earned two regional titles since making his debut in Sept. 2011. In 2014, Lopez defeated veteran Leivi Brea to win the Interim WBC Fecarbox Super Bantamweight Title via first-round technical knockout. Two years later, López captured the WBO International Super Featherweight Title by defeating Edgar López Sasso via stunning second-round knockout. López was originally scheduled to fight against Miguel “Miguelito” González, but González was forced to pull out due to an injury suffered in his left arm when sparring.
Sparrow, who is also 23-years-old will took to take advantage of his first co-main event opportunity. The Philadelphian is coming off a four-fight win streak, defeating two undefeated prospects in his last two fights.
Fairfield, California’s Manuel “Tino” Ávila (22-1, 8 KOs) will take on Nick Otieno (31-12, 13 KOs) of Nairobi, Kenya in an eight-round featherweight fight. Ávila will return after his only defeat, which was in a tough battle against Joseph Diaz, Jr. on the Canelo vs. Chávez Jr. undercard in May of this year. The featherweight contender is looking to get back into the 126-pound mix before the year ends.
In the night’s swing bout, George Rincón (2-0) of Dallas, Texas will take on Jihad Wise (3-3, 1 KO) of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in a four-round 140-pound clash. Rincón’s brother, Alex Rincón, was originally scheduled to be in the swing bout, but the welterweight prospect who is currently signed to Golden Boy Promotions was forced to pull out and undergo surgery as he has been diagnosed with appendicitis.
Luther Smith (9-1, 8 KOs) of Alexandria, Virginia will open the night of boxing in a four-round bout in the cruiserweight division against an opponent that will be announced shortly.
Roach, Jr. vs. Pérez is a 10-round super featherweight fight for the WBC Youth Super Featherweight Title and is presented by Golden Boy Promotions. The event is sponsored by Tecate, “THE OFFICIAL BEER OF BOXING” and Hennessy “Never Stop, Never Settle.” ESPN3 (English) and ESPN Deportes (Spanish) will air the fights live from MGM National Harbor at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT. ESPN2 will air the fight at 11 p.m. ET/ 8 p.m. PT.
Tickets for Roach, Jr. vs Pérez are on sale and are priced at $75 VIP, $75, $55 and $35, not including taxes or fees. To charge by phone with a major credit card, call the Ticketmaster Contact Center at (800) 745-3000. Tickets will also be available for purchase online at www.ticketmaster.com and www.goldenboytickets.com.
Nico Hernandez Injured, Fight Posptoned
Due to an injury suffered by 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Nico Hernandez last week at training camp, this Saturday night’s “KO Night Boxing: Gold & Glory” card, presented by KO Night Boxing LLC, has been postponed until February 10, at the same venue, Hartman Arena in Park City, Kansas.
The 21-year-old Hernandez was scheduled to headline the event in his hometown against Hungarian flyweight champion Jozsef “Little Red” Ajtai (19-9, 12 KOs) in the eight-round main event for the vacant International Boxing Association (IBA) Americas flyweight championship.
The promoter plans to keep the card intact, as much as possible, and he is hopeful that Ajtai is available to challenge Hernandez for the IBA Americas title.
“Injuries are an unfortunate part of boxing, but the good news is that Nico will be 100-percent ready to go February 10th,” promoter John Andersen said. “I know that Nico feels that he’s letting everybody down but, at the end of the day, all that really counts is his health. He’s a tough kid who has his entire pro career ahead of him.”
“Over the last six months, Nico has become like family to the Hartman Arena staff,” said Hartman Arena Executive Director, Ben Bolander. “We wish the best for him and hope for a speedy recovery, so we can see him back here in February fighting for the title.”
TIckets to the December 2nd event will still be honored at the February 10 event. If ticket holders, are unable to attend the new event date, full refunds will be offered at the point of purchase. Tickets will remain on sale for the February 10, 2018 event date.
The Real Fight of 2016
by B.A. Cass
The fight between Francisco Vargas and Orlando Salido, which seemed to be just about everyone’s pick for 2016 fight of the year, was certainly a good fight. But thirty seconds into Round One and the two men were already in their first clinch, something that turned into a bizarre twirl. A minute later, Vargas was walking Salido back as if they were partners in an intermediate ballroom dance class. Yes, there were moments of intense onslaught by both men, and yes, the majority of the fight was brutal and entertaining. However, it was nowhere near as thrilling as the best fights of the past.
Over the week I watched nineteen fights, both female and male, from 2016. I had originally intended to watch twenty-four, but five of the female fights were not available online. (Click this link to get the full list of the fights I watched: http://bit.ly/2x65wKk.) I had two criteria for judging these matches. The first was that the opponents had to be well matched, meaning no early round knockouts or clear domination. The second was that that the fight had to be thrilling from beginning to end. This, unfortunately, disqualified Amanda Serrano, who KO’d Olivia Gerula in the first round of their fight. And while it was a pleasure watch the skilled Jelena Mrdjenovic, she was the more talented fighter in both her fights that I watched. On the male side, I was impressed by all of what I saw except by the Dillian Whyte vs. Dereck Chisora fight, which seemed to me just like two really big guys punching each other in slow-motion.
And while I was deeply impressed by the Carl Frampton vs. Leo Santo Cruz bout (I gave it runner up), one fight stood out from all the rest. And that’s Heather Hardy vs. Shelly Vincent, my pick for “2016 Fight of the Year.”
The public animosity between these two fighters has been well-documented. Vincent spent years trying to secure a fight with Hardy, going so far as to show up at Hardy’s fights to taunt and ridicule her. Their fans exchanged vicious words. Hardy’s mother may have even been involved in a physical altercation with Vincent at The Roseland Ballroom, though that has not been confirmed. In other words, this was the real deal, an epic fight three years in the making.
But put aside all that, and put aside the historic nature of the fight. (It was the first female boxing match televised in the US in over 20 years.) In fact, put aside everything and anything that didn’t take place in the ring that night at Coney Island’s Ford Amphitheater because it was, from beginning to end, a spectacular fight. There was no clinching, not a single moment when either fighter tried to save energy. Hardy and Vincent simply gave everything they had from the first bell to the last.
The New York based Hardy won by split-decision, which didn’t surprise Vincent, who had traveled from Providence to take the fight. “It being in New York, I knew from the gate that unless I knocked her out, I wasn’t going to get a W over there,” Vincent recently told me. “I had it six rounds to four. And two rounds she beat me. I admit that. She beat me those two rounds. But clearly I dominated. I kept moving forward.”
Devon Cormack, Hardy’s trainer, obviously doesn’t agree with Vincent’s analysis: “At no point did I feel Heather was losing the fight,” he told me over the phone. “She made the adjustments as the fight went on, more than Shelly did.” Still, Cormack acknowledges that it was close. “It wasn’t a perfect thing having a split decision, but I didn’t think it was that far removed, which is why I thought it made for an excellent fight.”
Vincent’s trainer, Pete Manfredo Sr., can’t figure out why there hasn’t been a rematch. All he knows is that it should have been done already. “It was the fight of the night, and it even had Errol Spence on the card that night. I thought Vincent/Hardy was a much better fight for the crowd, even the television crowd.”
Let’s be honest, though: if a rivalry like this occurred between two male boxers and their much-anticipated, widely-viewed fight ended in a close, split-decision win, the rematch would have already happened.
Still, Hardy remains hopeful for the future of women’s boxing. “If you put Holly Holm with someone like a Katie Taylor, or one with Cecilia Brækhus, that would be a huge money fight—maybe not in America but it would be a huge money fight because so much of the country follows MMA. Even when I had my first MMA fight, I got tens of thousands of new followers. I was on the MMA radio show with Ariel Hawani and like a hundred people had tweeted it out. And so the more public demand, the more popular it gets, the easier it will be.”
Let’s hope Hardy is right. Let’s hope that the gods of the boxing world come together and align the stars to make this rematch happen. In the meantime, you can see Shelly Vincent fight in person at the Fox Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino on September 15th. (Buy your tickets here: http://bit.ly/ShellyVincent). And, though her opponent has yet to be announced, Heather Hardy is set to return for her second Bellator fight on October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
Follow B.A. Cass on Twitter @WiththePunch
Boxing Insider Notebook: Canelo, Golovkin, Reynoso, Connecticut Hall of Fame, and more….
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of August 8th to August 15th, covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Eddy Reynoso and Abel Sanchez Conference Call Quotes for Canelo vs. Golovkin
Eddy Reynoso, head trainer for Canelo Alvarez, and Abel Sanchez, head trainer for Gennady Golovkin, recently held a media conference call to discuss the upcoming bout between both of their fighters. Below is a few select quotes from that conference call.
Q. Obviously, the competition is between Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez, but I know that trainers are competitive, also, and certainly want to win for their own careers and obviously for their fighters’ careers. I want to know from your perspective, when you say it’s the two best fighters in boxing in a big, big fight that we have on September 16, how do you look at it in terms of the competition between yourself and your opposing trainer, Eddy Reynoso?
ABEL SANCHEZ: I think at this point if you consider those two fighters the best fighters in boxing, these are the two best trainers in boxing, also. Eddy and Chepo have done a great job with Canelo, and I think we have done a great job with Gennady.
The winner on the 16th is not necessarily the best fighter in boxing, but the best fighter that night. Same with the trainers. I think that the competition between us needs to be there so that we can prepare our guys to be the best they can be that night.
Q. Can you also tell me, we’ve seen Gennady knockout so many opponents, obviously didn’t get the knockout in the fight with Danny in March but he had a 23-knockout streak before that. But Canelo has had some spectacular knockouts himself in his recent fights; not necessarily Chavez fight but prior to that.
Both guys are looked at as punchers in this fight and they are both obviously very good boxers. When you look at the matchup, do you think this is more of a fight where Gennady is going to be the guy to be the biggest puncher or is he going to be the one to have to get the win to out-box Canelo? How do you view this matchup?
ABEL SANCHEZ: I see both guys being aggressive and I see Gennady being more physical. I see Gennady trying to dictate the pace. Canelo has proven that he’s a warrior. We’re looking for a tough fight.
I think that both guys are going to hurt each other, and they may go down. But I think we will be treated to a throwback fight like in the mid 80s when the four kings, the five kings, were around.
Q. You say you might see Gennady get knocked down. In his entire professional career and amateur career, there was no evidence of him being seriously hurt in a fight or even close to going down. Is that because you have that much respect for Canelo’s punching power, or are you just trying to hype this up a little bit?
ABEL SANCHEZ:No, no, I have respect not only for his punching power, but I have respect for Eddy and Chepo doing the things that are necessary to counteract some of the things that we’re going to be doing.
I think it’s a fight where it’s going to be a chess match at the beginning and then once you get past that point where they are trying to see what each other is doing, they are going to go at each other. And it’s going to be up to us in the corner to make sure we dictate what we want done and make sure that we come up with a different plan if the first one is not working.
Q. Similar to what I asked Abel as is related to the competition that exists between the trainer, Abel Sanchez was the 2015 Trainer of the Year, has got a lot of credit for the work he’s done, not only with Gennady but for some other fighters. Eddy has never been the Trainer of the Year. I think a lot of the people think the winner of this fight might be the Fighter of the Year. How big of a deal is it for Eddy to compete against another outstanding trainer like Abel Sanchez and maybe etch himself as a possible trainer of the year if his man gets the big victory?
EDDY REYNOSO: Good afternoon, everybody. Thank you. Look, at the end of the day, the most important thing for us is that our fighter wins. We’re doing everything necessary. We’re preparing so that happens come fight night.
Look, at the end of the day, with the results come all the recognitions and everything else will come with it. But the most important thing for us is to win September 16.
Q. To both Abel and Eddy, look, in the past, Freddie Roach, Mayweather Senior, they have all gotten the attention of the boxing world as some of the best trainer, but today, all eyes, all focus, is on Eddy Reynoso and Abel Sanchez. How important is it and how motivating is it that you guys are the top trainers right now and all eyes are on you?
ABEL SANCHEZ: Well, first of all, I’m extremely proud that two Mexicans are guiding the two best fighters in the sport and we are going to be meeting each other for supremacy on the 16th. I will be extremely happy that the fans recognize the fact that it’s not only Canelo as a Mexican, but Gennady has a Mexican style, but Eddy and I are both very proud Mexicans.
EDDY REYNOSO: We’re very, very happy to what we have achieved and happy doing what we love. And we’ve got to keep advancing, keep doing what we do best, and that’s winning and advancing; so that one day, hopefully not too in the distant future, we can be considered as one of the best in the game.
Q. Eddy, when GGG was introduced to mainstream, the American public, he was introduced with the label of “Mexican-style.” And that could be with influence, obviously, of his trainer being Mexican, Abel Sanchez. But the question is: Do you see him as a Mexican-style fighter?
EDDY REYNOSO: Yeah, you know, it obviously has some things of the Mexican style, because his trainer, there’s influence there. He’s taught him some Mexican style of fights. But let’s not forget at the end of the day, he’s from Kazakhstan; that’s where his roots are, and although he may have a little bit of the Mexican style that he’s been taught, at the end of the day, he can’t have the full Mexican style.
Q. To Abel, do you think that after September 16, after the fight, the winner will be considered pound for pound No. 1 in boxing?
ABEL SANCHEZ: I don’t think that’s something for me to say. I think that the journalists and the media at large and the fans will have their opinion. But I think that fight on the 16th, we have the two best boxers in the sport going at each other, so they can determine that.
But going back to what you asked Eddy, I think the Mexican style — part of the Mexican style that Golovkin has adapted, that the fans really, really like is the fact of his aggressiveness. It reminds us of some of the fighters of the past, great Mexicans of the past, like Julio Cesar Chavez and some of Olivares’ fights, and some of the old-timers that they used to give us those great, entertaining fights.
CANADA AMATEUR STAR LAVIOLETTE
HOPES TO ENHANCE HIS REPUTATION
AGAINST SPARROW SEPT. 8 IN PHILLY
Junior lightweight boxer Joey Laviolette may have a big reputation in Canada, but he is a virtual unknown in the United States. The 29-year-old native of Halifax, Nova Scotia, hopes to change that when he takes on Avery Sparrow, of Philadelphia, PA, in the scheduled eight-round main event Friday evening, Sept. 8, at the 2300 Arena.
The Sparrow-Laviolette contest tops a 10-bout card which begins at 7.30 pm.
Laviolette may be only 6-0, 4 K0s, as a pro, but he had a prolific amateur career in which he won 85 out of 111 bouts and four Canadian National Championships. He also was a member of the Canadian National Team from 2009 to 2011.
“My father used to train, although he never competed as a boxer, so he took me and my brother Matt to the gym when I was 10 years old and I just never left and that’s how I got started,” Laviolette said.
“When I was in high school I played recreational basketball and ice hockey but I never competed on a school team or in an official league.”
As for going up against a talented fighter like Sparrow (7-1, 3 K0s), Laviolette does not appear to be intimidated or fearful.
“It’s a big opportunity to showcase my skills against a good fighter,” Laviolette said. “This will be my first professional fight outside of Canada, but going to somebody else’s hometown to fight never bothered me as an amateur and I don’t think it will bother me as a professional.
“I competed in the Francophone Games in Lebanon (for French-speaking countries) and the Panama Games in Mexico and in various tournaments in Ecuador, Venezuela, Mexico and the United States a couple of times and I won the Ringside Tournament there in 2009.
“I feel I’m right where I need to be at 6-0 and this is a perfect point in my career to have a true test against Sparrow.”
A pro since 2012, Laviolette has boxed twice this year against a pair of Mexican featherweights. He out-pointed Juan Manuel Benitez over four rounds and stopped Emmanuel Villamar in six. Both fights were in New Brunswick, Canada.
Away from the ring, Laviolette works as a carpenter during the day and he also is a musician, occasionally taking part in small acoustic performances in local pubs in Nova Scotia. He plays the guitar and refers to himself as an intermediate piano player. His favorite Canadian fighter is Arturo Gatti, but his all-time favorite is Sugar Ray Leonard.
Laviolette has been married to his wife, Lisa, since 2012, and they have a 4-year-old daughter, Breah.
“I know there is a lot of buzz in Philadelphia and the boxing community about this fight with Avery Sparrow, a true test for me,” Sparrow said. “I feel truly blessed to have the family I have and the ability to compete in a sport that has captivated me since my dad first took me to the Citadel Boxing Gym when I was 10. This next fight with Sparrow is everything I have been training for up to this point.”
CES Boxing, FightNight Live to Partner for August 26th Pre MayMac Show Free on Facebook
Fight fans who want to whet their appetite prior to Mayweather-McGregor will be able to do so on Saturday, Aug. 26, thanks to a new partnership between veteran promoter Jimmy Burchfield Sr. and the FIGHTNIGHT LIVE Facebook series. CES Boxing and the tech-forward, fan-friendly Facebook broadcast platform are set to deliver once again – this time from Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut – from 6-9 p.m. ET on that Saturday before action heats up in the desert later that night.
Highlighting the CES Boxing card at Foxwoods’ Premier Ballroom is New London, Conn., native Jimmy Williams (13-0-1, 5 KOs), as he defends his WBC-USNBC Welterweight Title against veteran Bronx N.Y. pugilist Issouf Kinda (18-4, 7 KOs). Also appearing on the card: New London’s Cristobal Marrero (4-0, 3 KOs), Hartford’s Richard Rivera (2-0, 2 KOs) and Jose Rivera (3-1, 3 KOs), Miguel Ortiz (2-0, 1 KO) of Springfield, Mass., and others.
“CES Boxing starts the fireworks with a live, action-packed card at Foxwoods Resort Casino leading up to the Mayweather-MacGregor PPV,” proudly states CES President Burchfield Sr. “We are extremely excited to be partnering with Linacre Media to broadcast this event worldwide on the FIGHTNIGHT LIVE Facebook page.”
Tickets are priced at $55, $90, $155 and $325 and can be purchased online at cesboxing.com, foxwoods.com, or ticketmaster.com, or by phone at 401-724-2253 or 800-200-2882. As an added bonus, all CES ticket holders receive a free, reserved seat to the exclusive Pay Per View showing of Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor in Foxwoods’ Grand Theater.
“We’re happy to be involved in what will be a great night for fight fans all over the globe,” said Mark Fratto, Principal of Linacre Media. “In addition to the great crowd that Jimmy Burchfield Sr. and Team CES is sure to deliver with a packed, local card and the May-Mac PPV following on the big screen at Foxwoods, we’re thrilled to deliver all of the action from coast-to-coast and around the world through our Facebook FIGHTNIGHT LIVE channel. We hope a lot of boxing and MMA fans having fight parties will enjoy our free New England Facebook show on any device before turning their attention toward the desert and Showtime.”
The numbers on the FIGHTNIGHT LIVE series have showed promise and potential for the new platform. The July Roy Jones Jr. “Desert Showdown” from Phoenix, the May “Slugfest at the Sun” from Mohegan Sun and the June “Rosemont Rumble” from Chicago drew audiences of 65,000, 44,000 and 31,000, respectively, with more than 6,000 of hours of LIVE video consumed by Facebook users. In addition to the raw viewership numbers, the fully-interactive, fan-friendly productions have seen more than 27,000 collective live post engagements, including more than 15,500 “likes” or “loves,” more than 9,000 comments and 1,600-plus shares.
Facebook FIGHTNIGHT LIVE has been delivered to fans absolutely free since its May 2017 launch courtesy of corporate partners like Barbour One 9, Talent Management and Entertainment Production (www.barbourone9.com) and Northeastern Fine Jewelry (www.nefj.com).
On Saturday night, August 26, live from Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard, Conn., fans can expect a high-impact, multi-camera streaming experience complete with graphics, animations, replays, interviews and an announce team anchored by blow-by-blow announcer Michael Woods of the TalkBox Podcast, NYFights.com and The Ring and analyst Xavier Porter of BrooklynFights.com, Notorious Boxing and the “Shoot the 5” radio show. To provide spectators with a fully-interactive ringside experience, commentators will ask and respond to questions from the Facebook audience throughout the broadcast.
Created and produced by Linacre Media out of New York City, the FIGHTNIGHT LIVE series features multiple camera angles, graphics, replays and behind-the-scenes access and interviews. The streamed shows are available globally wherever Facebook is available. The initiative not only enables fans from around the world to tune in, but also gives up-and-coming fighters a global platform to showcase their abilities, gives promoters an accessible “broadcast” solution and gives sponsors the ability to reach a mass audience via branded content.
More FIGHTNIGHT LIVE dates will be officially announced in the coming weeks.
FIGHTNIGHT LIVE is available online at: https://www.facebook.com/FaceFIGHTNIGHTLIVE/
Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame Class of 2017 Announced
The Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame (CBHOF) has announced its six-member Class of 2017 to be inducted during the 13TH annual CBHOF Gala Induction Dinner on Saturday night, October 28, in the Uncas Ballroom at Mohegan Sun.
The new CBHOF inductees are pioneer boxer “Professor” Charles Hadley, ring physician Dr. Tony Alessi, international boxing judge Clark Sammartino, referee/judge Dick Flaherty, boxing writer Dan Parker and boxer/boxing contributor Hugh Devlin, Sr.
“We continue to break barriers at CBHOF as we induct ‘Professor’ Charles Hadley who may have been the best ‘pound-for-pound fighter of his era,” CBHOF president John Laudati said. Like many black athletes of this period, he never received the recognition he richly deserved. The CBHOF will rectify that this year. Other members of this year’s class are equally deserving and represent all aspects of this great sport. Dr. Alessi is not just an accomplished ring physician but also a world-renowned sports doctor. Clark Sammartino is one of the best judges in boxing. Dan Parker is an International Boxing Hall of Famer whose career as a reporter is unparalleled in any sport. Hughie Devlin Sr.’s contributions to this sport in Connecticut are immeasurable. We look forward to seeing boxing fans of all ages at this year’s dinner. It will be a wonderful evening for our inductees, our award winners, and especially for their family and friends.”
Fighting out of his adopted hometown of Bridgeport, Tennessee-native “Professor” Charles Hadley (25-13-6, 14 KOs) was the reigning World Colored Heavyweight Champion from 1881-1883. His professional career was from 1869 to 1891.
A familiar figure at ringside for major fights at Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino, Dr. Tony Alessi is a graduate of the University of Rome who moved to the Nutmeg State after completing his residency and neuro-muscular fellowship at the University fo Michigan. Alessi is a neurological consultant to the Connecticut State Boxing Commission, as well as the NFL Players Association and New York Yankees Player Development. He is based in Norwich, where he CEO for a medical management company.
At the height of career as a boxing judge, Clark Sammartino would average 100 bouts a year, including 10 world championships. A Providence native and Brown University graduate, he started judging boxing matches after he retired as an oral surgeon. The 80-year-old Sammartino has judge fights involving some of boxing biggest stars such as Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Oscar de la Hoya, Julio Cesar Chavez and many others.
An accomplished referee/judge from Braintree, Massachusetts, who now lives in Glastonbury, CT, Dick Flaherty has worked numerous notable fights featuring Bernard Hopkins, Chad Dawson, Vernon Forrest and Sal “Canelo” Alvarez, among the more notables. Flaherty is best known for judging the first of three Arturo Gatti-Micky Ward fights, held at Mohegan Sun, voted the 2002 Fight of the Year), in which Dick scored the Round of the Year (ninth), 10-7 for Ward, and the fight, 94-93, in Ward’s favor. His score proved to be the difference as Ward won a 10-round split decision.
Waterbury, CT-native Dan Parker was a Waterbury sportswriter back in the early part of the 20th Century, whose articles in the New York Daily Mirror later exposed corruption in boxing. He exposed International Boxing Club (IBC) corruption and, due to Parker’s crusade, it was disbanded. Parker is induced in the prestigious International Boxing Hall of Fame, as well as the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame.
Hugh Devlin, Sr. (22-13) made his professional boxing debut in 1927 at the age of 18, stopping Johnny Lorenzo in New Bedford, Mass. He developed into one of New England’s top featherweights, fighting across Connecticut in New Haven, West Haven, Waterbury and New London. Devlin’s contributions to the Norwich boxing community made him an icon in southeastern Connecticut. He opened a restaurant in New London where menus were shaped like boxing gloves.
Individual Connecticut award winners were also announced: Jimmy Williams, Conn. Professional Boxer of the Year; Kevin Bonilla, Conn. Amateur Boxer of the Year; Hector Rosario, Contribution to Boxing; Danny Schiavone, Professional Boxing Official of the Year; Sachs Medina, Amateur Boxing Official of the Year:
Tickets for the CBHOF 13th annual Gala Induction Dinner, reasonably priced at $90.00, will soon go on sale and be available to purchase by calling Kim Baker at Mohegan Sun (1.860.862.7377) or Sherman Cain at the Manchester Journal Inquirer (1.800.237.3606 X321). Doors open at 5:30 p.m. ET, cocktails from 6:00- p.m. ET (cash bar), followed by a full sit-down dinner.
Go online to www.ctboxinghof.org for additional information about the Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame, its 13th annual Gala Inductee Dinner, event sponsorship opportunities, or past CBHOF inductees.
The Legend of Salvador Sanchez
By: Kirk Jackson
Salvador “Chava” Sanchez 44-1-1 (32 KO’s) was an amazing fighter accurately fitting the mantra, “A talent gone too soon.” He passed away 35 years ago, yet his influence still permeates throughout the boxing world.
On August 12, 1982, Sanchez perished in a collision involving his white 1981 Porsche and two trucks on a highway north of Queretaro, Mexico.
Trainers, fighters, fans still to this day remark on the extraordinary skill set of Sanchez and wonder what could have been.
Although he passed long before I was even thought of, I can’t help but look back and pay respect to one of boxing’s greatest fighters. Plus Sanchez possessed a cool curly fro.
The Hall of Famer was a complete boxer possessing speed, power, an endless supply of energy and excellent counter-punching abilities.
Analyzing Sanchez’s style, one of his greatest strengths was his balance and footwork. This allowed Sanchez to thrive offensively and defensively as he was renowned as a great counter-puncher.
When observing Sanchez, one may say, “He has a tendency to move and bounce around a lot.” And what may appear as wasted movement, is actually Sanchez finding his rhythm, range and timing his opponents.
Sanchez was always able to effectively transfer his weight from the back foot to the front foot, transitioning from offense to defense seamlessly.
This required balance, maintaining proper distance between his feet, bending of the knees, shifting weight; intricate stuff. The movements are subtle but masterful when a lens is placed on the significance.
These movements along with balance allowed Sanchez to thrive off punching in between the exchanges; a rare skill not many fighters possess.
For example, long reigning middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin rarely counter punches his opponents. He doesn’t really have to.
Golovkin is so effective from an offensive standpoint with his ability cut the ring off and force fighters into retreat mode with his precision and power punching.
When fighters actually attempt to fight back or better yet initiate the attack, they can push back Golovkin and temporarily nullify his momentum.
Examples include former welterweight champion Kell Brook and former middleweight champion Daniel Jacobs.
When someone throws combinations at Golovkin, he has a tendency to shell up with his high guard, not utilizing head movement or trying to punch in between the exchange.
One of Sanchez’s patented moves was to dip down and shoot a punch from a low angle; an awkward punch often catching opponents by surprise.
From a defensive standpoint, although an elite counter-puncher, Sanchez had a tendency to get hit every now and then.
What Sanchez did effectively however, was roll with the incoming punches; by rolling with the punches, the defender can lessen the impact and mitigate the damage.
Comparatively speaking, Floyd Mayweather for instance is a different type of counter-puncher. Mayweather has a series of defensive tactics and tricks to smother punches and effectively dodge attacks.
Mayweather is prone to dodge the incoming punch with a pull-back countering motion; straightening his spine and snapping his neck back, pulling his head out of range and countering (typically with a right hand) in return.
Many times when Sanchez would avoid a punch he would come back with a series of punches (as opposed to one) in return.
Even while eating a punch, he is bouncing off his toes, springing into action and hurling several punches back in return.
Sanchez also had a tendency (much like Mayweather) to use his forearm for offensive and defensive purposes. It’s probable the self-proclaimed “TBE” intently studied Sanchez in his younger years.
Standing 5’ 7” with a 68 inch reach he was monster at featherweight. Due to his ability to slip punches and his mastery of range, Sanchez was essentially effective in close-quarters, within the pocket and from the outside.
Along with blazing hand speed, Sanchez appeared to have an endless supply of energy. He is one of the more well-conditioned athletes you’ll ever see. For any anime nerds out there, his level of endurance is similar to the Nine-tailed fox in Naruto.
It can be said, one attains greatness through experience and Sanchez certainly started young.
Sanchez turned professional at the young age of 16; similar to boxing prodigy Wilfred Benitez (turned pro at age 15) and current great fighter in the making Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (turned pro at age 15).
Five years into his professional career at the age of 21, Sanchez captured gold winning the WBC Featherweight Championship by stopping Danny Lopez in thirteen rounds on February 2, 1980.
Sanchez would knock Lopez out again four months later.
Over the course of 29 months, including 9 title defenses, Sanchez essentially faced and defeated the best fighters in the featherweight division. Ruben Castillo, Juan Laporte and Patrick Ford were impressive fighters.
Sanchez’s busy schedule matched his busy style in the ring.
Lopez, Wilfredo Gomez and Azumah Nelson are the most notable names and impressive wins on the resume.
His highest profile fight was arguably against the WBC super-bantamweight champion Gomez. The Puerto Rican star 32-0-1 (32 KOs) was undefeated at the time and stopped in eight rounds; serving as one of the quintessential bouts in the Mexico vs. Puerto Rico rivalry.
1981 was a big year for Sanchez as he shared The Ring honors as “Fighter of the year” along with Sugar Ray Leonard.
Sanchez successfully defended his WBC featherweight title for the ninth and final time stopping Nelson in fifteen rounds at Madison Square Garden in New York City on July 21, 1982.
Unfortunately less than a month later, tragedy struck and Sanchez lost his life.
We can only wonder the path and series of fights that awaited Sanchez. A rematch with Nelson or Gomez was a possibility.
Or even greater aspirations and a meeting against another legend Alexis Arguello was a possibility. Sky was the limit for Sanchez.
Sanchez undoubtedly had a large impact on boxing, influencing the likes of Mayweather, Julio Cesar Chavez, Ricardo Lopez, Juan Manuel Marquez and countless others.
All we can do now is speculate the what if’s and celebrate the moments he created in the thing. As a fan of the sweet science, I’d like to thank Salvador Sanchez for all of his contributions.